The Township of Dover, Athens County, Ohio

Personal and Biographical

Daniel Weethee was born in New Hampshire in 1779. He was a cooper by trade, and saved money enough, during his youth, to buy a tract of land in what is now Dover township. At the age of nineteen he set out for the northwestern territory, made the tedious journey on foot and alone, and reached Marietta about the middle of December, 1798. The next spring he and another young man, Josiah True, came out to Dover, traveling through the woods by the aid of a compass. Arrived here they built a log cabin for their joint occupancy (they were both unmarried), and lived together about three years. Mr. True managed, by hard work and by selling skins, furs, etc., to secure means enough to purchase a piece of land, and bought part of the farm now owned by his son, Austin True, where he lived during the rest of his life. Thus they lived for about three years in this truly pioneer fashion, with no companions but the forest trees, and no neighbors but the wild game of all sorts which abounded near their cabin.

In 1802 Mr. Weethee married Lucy Wilkins, daughter of John Wilkins, one of the early settlers of Athens township, and the next year Mr. True married Almira, a daughter of Solomon Tuttle, then living on the creek a few miles above, in what is now Trimble township.

In 1804 Abraham Pugsley came in with his family, and settled on the section south of Mr. Weethee and Mr. True. Mr. Pugsley, who was a good citizen and excellent man, reared a large and respectable family here. He was drowned during the winter of the “cold plague” in 1814, while crossing the creek on the ice to visit a sick family. His oldest son, John, died several years since. The youngest son, James, is living, though very old.

One of the daughters of Abraham Pugsley had a singular adventure in early life. She was married, when only thirteen years of age, to a man named Neal. Her husband enlisted in the army in 1812, and, after he had left home with his company, on a keelboat, from the mouth of the Hockhocking (where they then lived), for Newport, Kentucky, the rendezvous, his wife determined to follow him and share his fortunes, whatever they might be. She started down the river alone in a canoe, and passed the first night in the little craft on the water; but the next day overtook her husband, and proceeded with him to St. Louis. Thence his company was ordered to some point further west. While going up the river the boat was landed for some purpose, when Indians fired from an ambush and killed her husband and the infant in her arms, wounding her at the same time. The company, with Mrs. Neal, returned to St. Louis, from whence she rode on a pony all the way back to her father’s in Dover township. In 1817 she was again married to Mr. John Fulton, and died in May, 1866.

In 1800 the Sweat family came to Dover, and settled near the present site of MilIfield. In 1802 John Sweat built a rude mill there for grinding corn, which was greatly prized by the settlement. Even persons from Athens made use of this mill till the Gregory mill was built, about four years later.

In 1802 Azel Johnson, with his family, settled in Dover, on the creek and joining the Weethee farm. Many of his descendants are still living in the township. Azel and Benjamin Johnson are sons of his.

The Nye family, consisting of Ebenezer, the father (a native of Tolland, Connecticut, who came to the territory in 1790), and four sons, viz: George, Neal, Nathan, and Theodorus, came out from Marietta in 1814, and settled in Dover about a mile north of Chauncey. The eldest son died in 1825, leaving a widow, Mrs. Lydia Nye, now living at an advanced age with her son, George Nye, on the place first occupied by his father. The other brothers removed to Meigs county, where their descendants are numerous and respectable.

In 1820 the Nyes and some others formed a company to bore a salt well, on the place where Jeremiah Morris now lives, but, after boring to a considerable depth, abandoned the undertaking. Ten or twelve years later it was resumed by John Pugsley, who, after boring a little deeper, struck a vein of good salt water. This was the first successful salt well bored in the Hockhocking valley. About this time (1820) came the Cass, the Chadwell, the Nesmith, and the Pratt families, who have lived in Dover nearly fifty years, and are all excellent people.

Three sons of Daniel Weethee, the pioneer, are now living. Daniel W. Weethee lives on a fine farm in Trimble township; Lorentius Weethee owns and occupies the old homestead in Dover; and Jonathan P. Weethee, who graduated at the Ohio university in 1832, and has been actively engaged during his life in the ministry and in teaching in this and other states, is now the president of Weethee college at Mt. Auburn, in Dover.

Josiah True, the companion and friend of Daniel Weethee; was born in New Hampshire, October 25, 1776, came to Marietta in 1793, and to Dover township in 7800. He held the office of justice of the peace in Dover, from 1815 till 1851 and was respected and popular. He died September 16, Mr. True was one of the founders of the “Coonskin Library,” of Ames, and always a leader in pioneer improvements. One of the first spinning wheels introduced into Dover was bought by him in 1803. Having accumulated a few bear and deerskins he carried them on his back to Zanesville, forty miles distant, purchased the wheel with the proceeds of the skins, brought it home on his back (walking all the way), and made the round trip of eighty miles in two days.

Most of the early settlers engaged more or less in hunting, depending mainly on the forests for fresh meat. On one occasion Josiah True and Cyrus Tuttle, his brother—in—law, drove a bear into a cave on the farm now, owned by Mr. Austin True, in Dover. They succeeded in shooting the animal in a narrow passage of the cave, and, having fastened a hickory withe to his nose, were about to drag it to the open air. Mr. True entered the cave, and got behind the dead bear to assist Tuttle in shoving it out, when another bear, hitherto unobserved, came rushing from the rear end of the ‘cave, directly on and over True’s back, crushing him down on his face with great violence, and so made its escape out of the cave.

Mr. True, at a very early day, bought some choice apples at Marietta, and sowed the seed from them, from which he established the first nursery attempted in the county. Most of the old orchards on Sunday and Monday creeks were planted from this nursery, and some of the trees are still bearing.

Nehemiah Davis, “Elder Davis,” a native of Maine, came to Marietta in November, 1797, lived in Washington county several years, and removed to Dover township in 1808. While living in Washington county, Elder Davis organized a Baptist church, believed to be the first Baptist church in Ohio. He died August 23, 1823. Some of his descendants are living in the county, and a granddaughter married Colonel James H. Goodman, present state auditor of Ohio.


 

Natalie Cottrill, “An Annotated Biographical History of Athens County, Ohio”ProGenealogists (Online: ProGenealogists, Inc., 2004) [some original text by Charles M. Walker, published in Cincinnati, Ohio by Robert Clarke & Co., 1869, History of Athens County, Ohio and Incidentally of the Ohio Land Company and the First Settlement of the State at Marietta with personal and biographical sketches of the early Settlers, narratives of pioneer adventures, etc.], http://www.progenealogists.com/athens/dovertownship.htm.

 

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