The is the last of the series of the history of the 13 townships of Greene County is Xenia Township. Xenia Township was officially established on Aug. 20, 1805. This was the first township established by the County Commission. In 1879 the census counted 2,080 persons. Only 197 could read and write.
Originally a very large township, a portion was given to Miami, Ross, Cedarville and New Jasper Townships. The exterior boundaries remain as they were in 1853. Another change occurred on Dec. 31, 1955. The Greene County Commission granted a petition “for a change of township lines in order to make them identical in whole with the limits of Municipal Corporation of Xenia, Ohio or to create a new township out of the portion of Xenia Township included within the corporate limits of the City of Xenia,” thus when Tecumseh Township was established, Greene County had 13 townships.
The county seat was chosen in 1803 on property near the center of the county. The new county seat was called “Xenia.” Legend says that Rev. Robert Armstrong was so impressed with the hospitality shown to him by the residents he suggested a derivative of the Greene word meaning “Hospitality.” To this day, the city is known as the “City of Hospitality.”
A square of land, where the present court house stands, was donated by John Paul to be used for government purposes. Soon the city was platted and county authorities began having their meetings in a nearby tavern until a suitable building could be constructed.
Before the pioneers came, a village called Old Chillicothe was inhabited by the Shawnee Indians. The village was home to Tecumseh, Blue Jacket, Black Fish and other well-known Shawnee Indians. Daniel Boone and Simon Kenton were held captive at Old Chillicothe for a time. After the Shawnee left the area, settlers moved to the site and gave it a new name “Old Town.”
The first house in Old Town was built by William Thorn between 1812 and 1815. Orin North and Joseph Bullard opened a blacksmith and wagon-making shop in 1817. However, the village was not platted until 1839 by Moses Collier. By 1870 more than 200 individuals were living there. Businesses included a grocery, shoemaker, flour mill and distillery.
Twin brothers Abner and Amasa Read were clock makers by trade who began making clocks here in 1817. They were able to acquire considerable acreage in the area and then operated a furniture manufacturing business. There are still some Read clocks in the possession of collectors.
In 1825, their woolen mill “The Xenia Factory” was employing 20 men who were able to convert 6,000 pounds of wool into 1,182 yards of broadcloth which sold for $3.50 per yard. They also produced flannel and blankets at 70 cents per yard.
Later Amasa decided to become a steam doctor. The doctor provided this type of treatment. The patient would be placed in a warm room, wrapped in blankets until sweating, then sponged with cold water, re-wrapped in a blanket and left to recover or die, as the case might be.
At Goes Station, The Miami Powder Company was located just north of Xenia along the river bank. The original company was formed in 1846 by the Austin Brothers, later acquired by Joseph Warren King who became a major supplier of gun powder during the Civil War. Later it became the Peters Cartridge Company. Some of the brick buildings can still be seen near US Route 68.
Taw.awa Springs was one of the finest resorts in the state. Located at present Wilberforce, people came from miles around to enjoy the excellent cuisine, lodging and spa.
In 1833 the Ohio annual conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church adopted a resolution to provide schools and temperance societies and it shall be the duty of every member of the conference to do all in his power to promote and establish these institutions among our people. A committee was formed in 1853 by the Cincinnati Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church to work with the AME church to establish an institute of higher learning. In 1863, Tawawa Springs was purchased along with 52 acres of ground. This became the institution known as “The Wilberforce University” named in honor of the noted British statesman and abolitionist William Wilberforce.
In 1891, Payne Theological Seminary opened as a part of the university and later the Combined Normal and Industrial Department was established. This portion of the college became a separate entity known as Central State College (later University). CSU was officially established in 1947 as a state college while Wilberforce University remained under the control of the church.
The Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Orphan’s Home was established to benefit the children of those who fought in the Civil War. The children were raised in a home-like manner, attending school and church on the premises. When their education was completed, they were ready for full-time jobs.
Before Xenia became the county seat, a town named Caesarsville was laid out at the Route 68 crossing of Caesars Creek with the hope that this would become the county seat, but when Xenia was selected, the town was never developed.
Other area in the township include Amlin Heights, just north of Xenia and Deweysville formerly an “outlying hamlet” near the present intersection of Cottage Grove and Kennedy Street in Xenia.
The April 3, 1974 tornado caused considerable damage throughout the township.
Joan Baxter is a local resident and weekly historical columnist.