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Highland County, Ohio Display Google Map of this location (if available)

  • Place Notes
      Ohio was designated as a Territory 13 July 1787, and became a state March 1, 1803 as the 17th state. It was formed out of The Northwest Territory Lands, Pennsylvania Lands, Virginia Lands, Massachusettes Lands and Connecticut Lands.

      Highland County was established 18 February 1805 from Ross , Adams, and Clermont Counties. In 1810 Clinton and Fayette Counties were created from portions of Highland County. Clinton County was formed from Warren County in 1810. Warren County was created 24 March 1803 from Hamilton County.

      This History of Highland County territory covered to about 1811, was taken from a book, "Early History of Highland County Ohio" by Daniel Scott, 1890. The book does not go far enough to cover the period of our Webster, Ridings, Ambrose, and Pulse settlement. Websters and Pulses came in 1817 from Virginia. Samuel Ridings came in 1833. Ambroses came in 1815, also from Virginia.

      Three Creek brothers and Simon Shoemaker, Jr. and Sr. came about 1804. West Creek, a descendant of Joseph Creek, married Sarah Webster, a daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Webster. Other Websters married into families of other hardy pioneers. Most of these early families were from Virginia.

      The first settlers in 1775 - 1800 to the area later known as Highland County and adjacent areas in the Old Northwest Territory faced many dangers and handicaps. Many early settlers were murdered by Indians. The Shawnees and Wyandotte Tribes were especially dreaded in this area and they ranged over a wide area, burning settlers cabins, murdering , scalping, or capturing the first white settlers. Sometimes children and women were captured and taken to Indian villages where they were kept unless rescued by other whites. Sometimes the Indians would allow a settlement to survive a hunting or trapping season, and then would invade the camp, murder the settlers, burn their cabins, and steal their horses, supplies and pelts.

      These early settlers generally came down the Ohio River to the Sciota River and came inland. They often came from Kentucky having emigrated there from Virginia, Pennsylvania, and other old states.

      It was only after the Indian Wars and the defeat of the various tribes by General Anthony Wayne and his troops and the subsequent treaties that the area was considered suitable for permanent settlement. Survey parties were dispatched into the Ohio area. Survey parties still encountered Indian raids and other adversities.

      By 1800, settlement began in earnest and townsites were established and surveyed. The early settlers encountered many adversities and trials and tribulations. For the most part, the settlers helped each other. Earlier, an occasional white man would team up with the Indians and spy on the settlers for the Indians.

      Hillsboro was ultimately laid out as the county seat, it being the highest elevation around and abounding in Springs flowing with fresh water. The land was owned by William Hill.

      The population that settled Highland County were a hardy, industrious class of people, mostly from the southern states. Many were sons of the Cavaliers of Virginia. There were comparatively few older people who settled in Highland County. The emigrants were poor, often very poor, having used all their resources in making the journey to Highland Couinty.

      Whiskey was a staple in just about every cabin in those early years. Even children drank it. It was not considered harmful and everyone was generally healthy. Distilleries were an important part of their settlements.

      The first divorce filed in Highland County was Simon Shoemaker against wife Elizabeth on grounds of willful absence from bed and board by elopement a short time after marriage. The case was later dismissed.

      John, Joseph, and Jacob Creek emigrated from Virginia and settled with their families in 1805. They were industrious and useful citizens. Joseph Creek was a good mechanic able to more than the average settler in making or creating many of the necessities of life in that era.

      Joseph Creek made the first Loom ever made in Highland County--made for a Mrs. Blount. People came from far and near to get weaving done. The Loom was in constant use. Joseph continued to make Looms and eventually most cabins had them.

      John Creek, Michael Stroup, and Philip Wilkin among others served on a Grand Jury in 1806 in a term of Common Pleas Court.

      It was absolutely necessary for every head of a family in the early settlements of the County to be able to turn his hand to many occupations now esteemed as arts and professions. He fad to construct as best able with few and often poor tools in his possession or which he could borrow, all the indispensible implements for farm and household.

      The women had to be just as able in meeting the needs of her family. She had to create with limited supplies, foods, clothes and other necessities of her family. Each family attempted to raise flax to make Linsey to be used in making clothing. They also tried to raise sheep for the wool to be carded by hand and spun and woven into material for winter clothing. Raising sheep was difficult because of the weather and predatory animals.

      The women had to search for wild berries, fruits, and greens for food. Also, when seed was available, they planted gardens.

      Frequently they had to assist their husbands in clearing ground, cutting wood, building cabins, helping with the crops, husk and grind corn for corn meal, and hunt for the cows. The wives had to do laundry under adverse conditions, the repair clothing while the family slept, so they would have warm clothing to wear in the morning.

      The furniture was mostly crude, homemade from timber readily available. Bright pewter plates were commonly used. Heavy oak buckets, a skillet and hominy pot were also principal utinsels of a cabin. Table service was often made of wood.

      There were no regular physicians in the County in the early days. Older women usually performed the necessary work of Doctors when needed.

      Each man built his own cabin with help of family members and pretty much all his domestic necessaries - shoes, plows, harrows, sleds, etc.

      The first county seat was at New Market. Court sessions were usually held in an open area in the timber. Also county commissioners sessions were usually held in such an area before public buildings such as a courthouse was built.

      People had secured lots in New Market on the strength that it would be the County Seat. However New Market was not selected.

      Highland County was completely covered with timber and undergrowth in the beginning of settlement. Clearing land for farming and for roads    favorable for wagons was difficult. For this reason roads were first developed where they were considered indispensable. The first roads were destitute of bridges and many stumps about a foot high were usually left in the roadway. The fallen trees were rolled to the side and served as a fence along the road.

      Grinding Mills were a necessity for the early settlers. Several types were in use. Some were built along creeks for water power. Others were built to use horse power to turn. In the case of the horse powered mill, each farmer customer had to bring his own team to power the grinder mill to grind the grain. Some other member of the family had to go along to sift the bran from the flour or meal. The settlers believed the bread made from their own ground grain was better than any other.

      Mattresses were ticks filled with corn shucks, leaves, or straw. Beds were framed up with tree limbs across stakes driven into the ground in the cabins.

      In the early days game was plentiful. Deer, turkeys, and other edible small game abounded. Bears were numerous early and were hunted for meat, grease and fur.

      Michael Stroup first came to New Market. He made and sold woolen hats. He set up a hatters shop. Another early settler was Anthony Stroup. Anthony Stroup gave land for the cemetery between Allensburg and Lynchburg which is known as Stroup Cemetery. Quite a number of Stroups, Pulses, and Websters are buried there. Thomas and Elizabeth Webster, David and Sarah Pulse, and many of their children are buried there.

      We have visited Highland County in 1986, 1990, 1992 and 1993. It was a privilege to walk where my ancestors walked, worked, played visited cemeteries where many of them are buried. To see the homesites where these ancestors lived their lives was a thrill.    

      180 years has elapsed since the first of these ancestors came to Highland County. One hundred years have elapsed since some of them left this earth. It is my desire to return again to Highland County to seek further knowledge and vision of the past of my forebears. Highland County is a very interesting area and Hillsboro is a most interesting city.

      There are many homes that were built in the 1830s that are still fine homes and are still in use.

      Hillsboro is a very historic city. Another joy in visiting Highland County was meeting several new-found cousins - descendants of my early Highland County ancestors..

      Lowell W. Shire
      Fredonia, Kansas
      January 1994