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Family Histories


The following appears to be from Tallow Light and the Washington County Historical Society:


The following article was supplied by Mrs. B. F. Cogswell, a member of our society.  As such, it was a typescript copy.  Consequently, we will not credit misspelled words to the author of the original manuscript, nor label these sometimes quaint twistings of the alphabet with a sic.  In other words, without the original manuscript (Its location being unknown at the present), we cannot determine how many transcriptions the present typescript copy represents.  Beyond this, there are references to certain families and persons who have been mentioned in some detail in previous bulletins.  In this case, for the sake of the article, we will indulge in repetitions. 



(Newport Township Area)

By Charles L. Dana


The first exploration of this territory now consisting of the State of Ohio was made by the French in the year 1680.  The Ohio Company organized in New England in 1786 was composed of men who had served in the Revolutionary War, and who purchased a large tract of land north of the Ohio River, paying for it in Continental money.  This was the first sale of public land made by the Government.  The first permanent settlement made in the Ohio Valley was on the Ohio Company Lands at Marietta, the pioneers landing at the mouth of the Muskingum River on the 7th day of April 1788.  Other settlements were made along the Valley soon after the war between the British government and the Colonies had practically prohibited emigration to this county.

            The first I will mention is Col. Joseph Barker, who was born in New Market, N. H., in 1765.  He was married to Miss Elizabeth Dana of Amherst, N. H., in 1789.  They came to Belpre, Ohio, in this county, the same year.  He died in 1843 and she died in 1935.  Joseph Barker, Jr., was born in Belpre in February 1790.  He was the first white child born in the township, and is said to be the second white child born in the State of Ohio.  He married and moved to Lower Newport in 1821 and built a frame house and lived in it until he built the brick addition to the house (now occupied by George Henry Holdren) in 1832.  He was married twice, his first wife was Miss Malissa Wilson Stone, and to them four children were born.  His second wife was Mrs. Mary Ann Shipman, and to them four children were born.  He was prominent in public life.  He died in Lower Newport in 1860.

            Joseph Holdren was a farmer and a shoe maker.  He came from Pennsylvania to Newport Township in 1801.  His wife was Miss Grace Coleman of Trenton, N. J.  She died in the year 1842.  To Joseph and Grace Holdren were born eleven children, as follows: Nancy, John, Betsy, Mathias, Joseph, Ruth, Polly, Grace, Susan, Sophia and Coleman.  Coleman  Holdren owned and lived a number of years on the farm now owned by Andrew and George Smith, in Lower Newport.  His family moved to Marietta where he died in 1875.  The children of Coleman Holdren were: Joseph, James, Mary Ann, Julia and Fanny.  George Henry Holdren who is a member of this club [Valley Farmer’s Club] is a son of Thomas Holdren who was a grandson of Joseph Holdren, Sr., and wife Grace Coleman Holdren. 

            We next come to the Middleswart Family.  Abraham Middleswart was born in 1787.  He lived near Pittsburgh, Pa., where all his children were born.  In the year 1815 he moved to Ohio and settled in Lower Newport.  He had fifteen children.  Among them were Jacob and Clark who settled in Lower Newport.   After Clark’s death his family moved out west.  Jacob Middleswart was born 28 December 1793 near Pittsburgh, Pa.  He married Miss Eleanor Fulton, 24 May 1835.  To them were born twelve children, three died when young, nine lived to be grown up, as follows: Hamilton, Francis, George, Austin, Ner, Sarah, Anna, Emma and William.  Of the five men four served in the Union Army, one (William) being too young.  Jacob Middleswart died 14 December 1861.  His wife died 8 August 1891.

            The Plumer Family was eminently a pioneer family.  Jonathan Plumer was born in Newburyport, Mass., in 1724, married 6th June 1744 to Mehitable Harrison.  They had three sons: Nathaniel, Paul and Jonathan in 1753.  He married Miss Facett and removed to Old Town near Fort Cumberlin, where he engaged in Indian trade.  He furnished commissary supplies to the army under Gen. Braddock.  He placed his wife and children in the fort and joined the army.  When he returned he found another child had been born, named William Plumer.  William Plumer had nine children.  Directly after Wayne’s defeat of the Indians, emigration became active toward the upper valley of Beaver.  Mr. William Plumer must have followed.  They removed in 1802 to Kentucky, but not being satisfied they moved to this community in 1804, on the farm now owned by his grandchildren.  His son John, married Jane H. Fulton, in 1831.  He died 10 May 1889, his wife having died in 1876.  They left a family of three sons and two daughters:  Happy, Eliza and Charles occupy the homestead, Fulton the oldest son lives in Iowa and John lives in Marietta.

            Sereno Hollister, son of Roger and Hannah Hollister, was born in East Glastonbury, Conn., 10 August 1797.  He came to Marietta in the year 1819.  He was married 22 Feb. 1823 to Mary Ann Ryan, who was born in Ireland, 27 June, 1799, and with her parents came to this country about 1802 and settled on the farm now occupied by Charles Hollister.  To this union were born five children: Dwight, Charles, Almira, James and George.  After the death of his first wife, which occurred in 1937, he brought his parents from Whitehall, N.Y. to reside in his home.  His mother lived about a year, his father, Roger Hollister, died in 1851.  He was married a second time, 4 November 1838, to Cynthia A. Brooks who was born in Athens County 22 September 1811 and died 23 December 1848.  To them were born three children: Mary, Elizabeth R. and Harriett.  Sereno Hollister lived for sixty-one years on the farm, which is still the home of his son.  During the active years of his life he followed the occupation of Stone Mason.  He died 2 September 1880.

            The next on the list is the Racers.  Benjamin Racer, Sr., was born in Normandy, France in 1752 and came to this country when a boy.  His family were all, with the exception of himself, killed by the Indians.  He, by showing so much bravery, skill, and fleetness of feet evaded them for several days and won for himself the esteem that caused them to favor him and to adopt him into their home where he lived until becoming tired of that kind of life, when he liberated a prisoner that the Indians captured and escaped with the prisoner and joined the British Army.  He married the daughter of Maj. David Chestnor of the British Army, and came in 1798 to Marietta, bringing his wife and four children: Dennis, Benjamin, Mary and Elizabeth.  They came to the farm in this valley in 1816.  He died in 1823 on the farm afterward owned by his son, Benj. Racer, Jr., and now owned by Ezra Racer.  Three of Benj. Racer, Sr.’s, children married into the Holdren family.  Benj. Racer, Jr., was born in Wyoming County, Pa., 24 March 1785, was married in Newport to Miss Susannah Holdren who was born in Trenton, N. J.  He afterward married Abigail Churchill.  He was the father of sixteen children, as follows [names not listed] who with one exception lived to be grown up.  They all settled within the township except Mary who married Jonathan Middleswart and resided in the state.  All of Benj. Racer, Jr.’s, children have passed away except Ezra and Mrs. Ann Alcock.

            Among the English emigrants coming to this settlement in the year 1795 was a man by the name of Caleb Thorniley.  He with his wife and nine children left Cheshire, England, early in the year, arriving in this country at the port of New York, from this point they came through Pittsburgh, Pa., in wagons.  On account of sickness in the family they were compelled to stop there.  Two daughters died and were buried in the cemetery in Pittsburgh.  The family made the journey from Pittsburgh to the Little Muskingum creek in boats, landing on the 18th day of July 1796.  William Thorniley returned to England in the fall.  After settling some business and visiting friends and relatives he returned to his own home in the wilderness bringing with him three young men; Joseph C. Cole, Joshua Armitage and William Holt.  Joseph Cole took a tract of land on the left bank of the Little Muskingum creek, about three quarters of a mile from the Ohio River.  A number of his descendants are living in this community.  Joseph and William live on a part of the old homestead and are grandsons of Joseph C. Cole.  Joshua Armitage married a daughter of William Thorniley.  She died and he remarried and went to Cuba where he and his family were murdered at the time of the Insurrection of slaves.   William, the oldest son of Caleb Thorniley, married a Miss Markham in New York City.  They named their oldest son, Phillip Van, in honor of the small boys of William Livingston, with whom she had lived before her marriage.  They had in all seven children, namely: Phillip Van, Caleb, Augusta, Harriet, William, Cornelia, John and Thomas.  Phillip Van had a family of seven children, as follows: William, Walter, Wallace, Willis, Warren, Willard and Samantha.  William another son had five children, who are: Samuel, Elizabeth, Augusta, Eliza and Laura.  John Thorniley was the father of William (called Tanner Bill), Caleb, Mrs. Adaline West, Mary Ann, Thomas C., John, James, George, Elizabeth and Harriet.  The Thorniley’s have been a prosperous family and have helped make the valley what it is today. 

            We next speak of the Smith family.  Samuel Smith came from Connecticut.  He was a sailor and farmer.  He came to the Ohio Valley in 1803.  He married Miss Jemima Bradley and to them eight children were born: Stephen, Susan, Esther, Joshua, Charles, Henry, Frederick, Elizabeth and Eliza.  All have passed away except Joshua, Frederick and Elizabeth.  Joshua lives in W. Va., Frederick in Florida and Elizabeth lives in this neighborhood.  The Smiths were among our earliest gardners and have always been our best gardners.  The children of Stephen and Susan Smith are: Roena, Joshua, David, Samuel, Rachel, William, Albert and Anna.  According to the best information that we can get the family of Wests in Fairfax County, Va., is the oldest of the family of which we have any definite knowledge.  He lived in Fairfax County, Va.  His wife, Sarah Trammel, came west with her children, making her home with her son John and died in Brown County, Ohio, about 1828.  Their children were: Thos., Wm., John, Hugh, George, Robert, Nancy Sally and Libby.  Nearly all the children came to the Ohio River about 1800.  Wm. and Hugh settled near the mouth of Cow Creek, W. Va., about 1803-4.  Later Wm. Married Susannah Reed in Fairfax County, Va., and their children were born there.  She died about 1822-3.  He was a cabinet maker.  He was drowned in the Ohio River near the mouth of Bull Creek, W. Va., about 1827.  Their children were: Newman, Wm., Russell and Susan.  Newman married Eliza Sharp; Russell, Amanda Harness; Susan, Tunis Middleswart.  Wm. was born in Fairfax County, Va., 23 Feb. 1796 and came to Ohio with his parents early in 1800.  He was a volunteer in the War of 1812 and 1814, and was Colonel of the Wood Co. W. Va., militia in the twenties.  He married Elizabeth Compton, 16 May 1819, moved to Washington Co., Ohio, to the farm now owned by their son, Wm. West in 1827.  He died in May 1866, his wife died 9 Jan. 1867.  Their children are: John A., James C., George W., Henry C., Wm. W. and Thos. J. John, James and Wm. settled on farms in the Valley. 

            Solomon Harness and family moved from Morefield, Va., to Wood Co., W. Va. [all references to W. Va. Should be Va.]  about 1815 and settled on what is now known as Ness Farm above Waverly, W. Va.  Granville Harness, the son of Solomon was born at Morefield, Va., 5 August 1798 and moved with his parents to Wood County, W. Va.  He was married to Jane Compton in 1826.  She was born in Winchester, Va., 19 May 1797.  They lived at Calf Creek on his father’s farm until 1831 when they moved to Washington Co., Ohio on the farm above the mouth of the Little Muskingum, where they lived the rest of their lives.  The farm is now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Kraft.  Granville Harness died 2 June 1870, and Jane Compton Harness died 9 Nov. 1874.  There was born to them five children, as follows: Virginia C., John L., George W., Solomon and Kathrine W.  None are now living but Kathrine.  John L Harness married August Thorniley in 1853.  Kathrine A. Harness married Theodore Kraft in 1866.  Virginia C. Harness married Capt. Hunter in 1889.

            Thos. and Bain Posey were the original Posey settlers of the Valley, coming from William County, Va., in 1813.  Thos. Posey was married to Amy Petty and to them were born seven children: Anney [?] married Jane McKibben in 1822.  One daughter was born to them and two years later she died.  Henry married Susan McKibben, eight children were born to them.  Three are living, Henry died in 1880.   Alexander married Mahalla Morrison.  Nine children blessed this union.  After her death he married Mrs. Ellen Northrup.  Later he married Miss Kalkins. He died in 1882.  George married Mary Riley in 1838.  Ten children blessed this union, one only living.  George Posey died 31 July [cannot read the date] at the age of ninety-three years, four months, having attained the greatest age of any of the family.  Thos. died in 1854, aged twenty-one years.  Dudley Posey married Rachel Racer for his first wife and Susan Philips for his second wife.  He died in 1899.  Wm. Mar. Elizabeth Williams. Sidney married Benj. Racer.  Alfred and Jessie left here years ago.  Eliza married Wm. McKibben.  Bain died in 1860, his wife years before. 

            Sarah Brown married Wm. Alcock who owned a cheese farm in Cheshire, England, where they lived until 1797, when they sailed for America, arriving at Marietta in Nov. 1797.  They bought a farm four miles above Marietta.  They brought with them large quantities of fine cloth, velvets, etc., which together with money was entrusted to a relative and lost, this left them in the wilderness without money or friends.  Wm. Alcock died in 1799 leaving a widow and seven children.  Thos. the eldest was sixteen years of age.  In 1813 he married Sally Holliday Wells of Winchester, Va.  He loaded boats with produce and took them to New Orleans.  The return trips were generally by vessel from New Orleans to Baltimore, Md., and from that city he walked across the country to Pittsburgh, and from there home in a canoe.  Twice he walked home from New Orleans carrying his gold in a leather girdle around his waist having also his gun, blanket, skillet and killing what he needed, often sleeping with the Red Man for whom he had never had any but kind words.  He kept the first and only ferry across the Little Muskingum, running until the Marietta and Newport pike was built in 1839.  He died March 1860.  His wife died in July 1874.  Thos. Alcock, Jr., lived and died in the same home in 1878.  His widow and son George live on a part of the same farm.  There were ten children born to Thos. and Sally Alcock: Margaret, Wm., Sarah, Thos., Robert, Mary Ann, Martha, Sally, Richard and Nannie.  Three died in infancy, Martha died at the age of thirteen.  Thos. married Ann Racer.  Robert never married.  Mary Ann married Dudley Racer.  Sally married Dr. B. F. Hart.  Richard married Cynthia Middleswart.  Nannie married Dwight Hollister and resided in California. 

            The Miller family we can trace back to 1806 when John Miller moved from West Chester County, N. Y., to Fearing Township, Washington Co., Ohio, and engaged in farming.  In 1825 he moved to the farm now known as the Miller farm and built the house (now occupied by L. E. Miller), which he moved into during the flood of 1832.  He was born in 1777 and died in 1840.  His son, Robert T. Miller, was born in Fearing Township 20 June 1809.  He married Marietta Fuller in 1838.  They had five sons and four daughters: Jane Plumley, John W., Charles A., Emmaline, Robert T., Jr., Lucy Thorniley, George W., Mary Mitchell and Lewis E. Of these, Charles, Robert, Lucy, Mary and Lewis are still living.  The farm was originally entered by Col. Robert Taylor in 1798, who came to this country from Rhode Island and who died soon after, being the first person buried in Mound Cemetery in Marietta (1801).

            Capt. Timothy Buell and his brother Gen. Jos. Buell, came to Marietta in 1789 from Klintworth, Conn., now called Clinton.  Capt. Timothy Buell was born in 1768 and died in 1837.  He served in the War of 1812, represented Washington County in the State Legislature and was sheriff and Tax Collector for Washington County for a number of years.  He was married at Covington, Ky., to Sally Dewitt in 1795 and settled on the farm now occupied by Mr. T. L. Buell.  After the death of his first wife he married [?] McAlister.

            Wm. McAllister and family came from Colbrook, N. H., in 1815 and settled on section 16, the farm now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Loren Olds.  The original land grantor patent signed by Martin Van Buren is in the possession of Mr. and Mrs. Olds.  The family consisted of self, wife and twelve children and an aged father and mother, both of whom died in 1816 and were buried in Mound Cemetery, Marietta.  Wm. McAllister died of cholera while down the river on a flat boat in 1819 and was buried at Hartford, Ind.  It is rather remarkable of seventy descendants of said William McAllister now living, none have the name of McAllister.  The children of Wm. McAllister are: James, Camilla, Harry, Polly, Rebecca, Irene, Nancy, Wm. Jr., John, Frances, Hainer and Madison.

            We now speak of the Cogswells.  Harry Cogswell was born in Whitehall, N. Y., in 1791.  He came to Marietta, Ohio, in 1821.  He married Polly McAllister about 1824.  She died in 1825.  In the year 1827 he married Elizabeth Carlisle who was born in Providence, R. I., in 1804.  They came to Marietta in 1807 in covered wagons and settled at Whipple, Washington Co., Ohio.  She was the mother of six children.  She was the daughter of Maj. Benjamin Franklin Carlisle; she died in 1890.  Harry Cogswell was a soldier in the War of 1812 while a young man.  He taught school in 1823.  He kept the ferry at the mouth of Duck Creek.  He was a farmer by occupation.  He died in 1859. 

            John Stephenson was born in the year 1793 in Hagerstown, Md., and came to Marietta in 1812 and enlisted in the United States Army the same year.  After the close of the war he engaged in the shoe business in Marietta.  He engaged a number of hands called journeymen to make shoes which he carried on horseback to Hagerstown, Md., and Harrisburg, Va.  He would take about thirty horses and fasten sacks of old shoes on each horse and would take several men to ride and lead the horses.  He would make it a point to arrive there at a time when Court was in session and by so doing he could make sale of his shoes and horses and then would buy leather and bring back to make more shoes.  He married Louisa Gravin in 1824.  She was born in Harrisburg, Va., in 1808, came to Marietta in 1810, and in 1847 they moved on the farm east of Duck Creek now occupied by R. J. Stephenson.  The family came from Maryland in covered wagons at a cost of one hundred dollars for a family which was a good deal at that time. 

            In conclusion I will just mention the names of some early settlers of whom I was not able to get information.  The families are as follows: The Hills, Howards, Bells, McKibbens, Broughs, the Ryans and many others….

            Note: The author of the above article, Charles Luther Dana (1845-1905) was a son of William Pitt Dana (1817-53, of Dea. Stephen, of Capt. William) and Susan E. Shipman.  Charles L. Dana married 5 Nov. 1866, Mary Racer (1842-1927)


The following item was furnished by Mrs. Otto (Grace) Gibson:


Christmas Eve on Harmar Hill


‘Tis midnight hour on Harmar Hill,

The city slumbers down below

Electric lights like fire-flies glow,

And ev’rything is hushed and still.

As slow the hours drag away,

I think about the days agone

And anxiously await the dawn

To usher in the Holy Day.


In rapturous dreams of baby dolls

My little one now calmly sleeps,

While here and there a shadow creeps

Along the dingy cottage walls;

And, as I hang her little toy

Upon the tiny Christmas tree,

The distant years come back to me

And I am but an anxious boy.


For, while I dream beside the hearth,

I seem to hear a dear one tell

A story that I love so well

About a Babe of Royal Birth.

I list’ to catch her voice again,

But singing breaks the magic spell,

And soft and sweet, o’er hill and dell,

Comes “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men.”


                                    ---James Martin Shawhan.

From Unpolished Pebbles

Published, 1902


And thus with those of yesteryear, we wish you all A Merry Holiday!