|Clinton Township within recent years has been so rapidly absorbed by the municipality of Columbus that there is left but little of the original township. What is left, however, is very valuable on account of its proximity to the capital. It is bounded on the north by Sharon Township, on the east by Mifflin Township, on the south wholly by the city of Columbus, in which is included a tract stretching all the way from the western to the eastern boundaries of the township, and on the west by Perry Township. The limits of the city extend to the northern boundary of the township, thus cutting it into two parts, one on the east and the other on the west of the city. North High Street, practically bisecting the township, has long been built up solidly almost to the verge of Worthington in the next township north. This extension of the city has enormously increased the value of the land. A small tract of land, lying on the west side of High Street, just north of the Fuller farm, and containing thirty-one acres, for instance, was offered for sale in the nineties for $2900 and with difficulty found a purchaser. It would probably be hard to buy it now for less than $100,000. The farms bordering High Street, just north of Clintonville, now a part of the city, sold not so many years ago for $500 and then $1000 an acre and have been cut up into city lots which have sold since the beginning of the twentieth century for several times the price paid for an acre. In subdividing these purchases into city lots the promoters have made such restrictions as to the value and size of the buildings, as well as to the character of the business to be carried on there, that the tone of the community is of the highest kind. The Olentangy River, originally known as the Whetstone, runs from north to south throughout the western part of the township, and the road on the western bank of the river is rapidly taking on the appearance of a suburban street.
Probably the first settler in the township was Balser Hess, who, with his wife and eight children, practically chopped his way through the woods from Ross County to the site chosen by him for a home on the west bank of the Olentangy opposite what is now known as North Columbus, a part of the capital city. His descendants still own two splendid farms, equipped with large and handsome dwellings and farm structures, although a few years ago a part of one of these farms was sold to the Ohio State University, which has acquired a large area in the township, west of the Olentangy, on which the agricultural and live stock activities of the institution are carried forward. Mr. Hess was a tanner and shoemaker and in those early days people came from as far away as Chillicothe to engage his services in those trades. Among other early settlers were Hugh and Elijah Fulton, Samuel McElvain, John Hunter, David Beers, John Wilson, Denman Coe, Joseph Ahrum, Jordan Ingham, Daniel Case, Thomas Bull and John Smith. The last named was president of the first total abstinence society and of the first anti-slavery society in Franklin County. He was a deeply religious man and for many years, in later life, acted as missionary among the Ojibway Indians of Minnesota. These first settlers bought their lands from the original owners, Jonathan Dayton, who held the title to half the township, and John Rathbone and George Stephenson, who each held one quarter.
They were followed by Edward Stanley, Sr., Ezekiel Tuller, John Buck, Philip Zinn, Sadosa Bacon, Alexander Shattuck, Henry Innis, Samuel G. Flenniken, Casper Kiner, Walter Fields, Frederick Weber, Windsom Atcheson, Joseph Pegg and J. J. Little. The name of Flenniken lingers only as that of a short road, parallel with King Avenue and running from the Olentangy River to the Starr Road on the west. Joseph Pegg settled on a farm, which was added to until it comprised more than 200 acres. It was bisected by High Street and now comprises the southern tier of Clintonville. It was the first of the farms which were bought and platted by the promoters. ‘Squire Pegg, the last owner of the tract, first sold that part which lies west of High Street and the phenomenal march of the city northward soon forced the sale of the rest of the farm, on the east side of this main highway. It is now as densely settled as any residential part of the city. The Kiners, Ionises and Atchesons settled in the eastern part of the townships and their farm lands, now parts of the city, made their descendants rich. Their names were attached to streets and roads and are borne by prominent citizens who are descendants of those pioneers. It has been only a few years since the Innis farm was cut up into lots and placed in that form on the market, but it is already solidly built up and Cleveland Avenue, which runs through it, would now hardly be recognized as the Harbor Road of the earlier days. Harbor Road was so called because many years ago it was in the midst of a small wilderness which gave harbor to criminals trying to escape from the law. In the vicinity of what are now Fifth and Cleveland Avenues extensive brick kilns were located and the rough element collected there, being largely recruited by French Canadians, many of whom were fugitives from their own country, made it a place to be avoided unless the traveler attended to his own business and kept strictly on his way. It retained this character only a few years, however, and is now the center of an industrious and prosperous population.
One of these pioneers, David Beers, Sr., had a long and romantic career. At the age of seven years he, with his two year old sister, was captured at their New Jersey home by the Indians. Their mother was undoubtedly murdered by the savages, but the children were carried into Canada, where he remained until he was exchanged after the French and Indian War. His sister was carried to Upper Sandusky and remained with the Indians all her life. She was married successively to three Indian chiefs, the last being the noted Wyandotte leader, “Between-the-Logs.” Her brother discovered her whereabouts after many years and visited her, but could not induce her to return to civilization. Mr. Beers lived to the age of 104 years, dying in 1850. His son, David Beers, Jr., was a famous hunter and, as the township abounded in wild game, he had plenty of opportunity to indulge his tastes. Deer were found along the Olentangy much later than would be thought possible in consideration of the quick settlement of the territory, four being killed in 1840 on the Morse farm by W. S. Shrum and John Fleniken.
The first collective settlements in the township were made by Solomen and George W. Beers, who platted forty acres into lots and named the place North Columbus. It was long a separate community from Columbus, but it is now and has been for many years a solid part of the city. A mile north of this location Alonzo Bull laid out some building lots in a design of a village. The plat was never recorded, but the place grew up into the village of Clintonville, never incorporated, but having a postoffice until it became a part of the larger city. Of all the fine farms which abutted on High Street in Clintonville in those days, the only one left is half of the old E. A. Fuller place, with its impressive big red and white brick residence under trees that tower on the lawn. The part of the farm that lay on the east side of High Street long ago went into the market as building lots and was quickly absorbed. This farm, during the life of E. A. Fuller, was a show place in more senses than one. Mr. Fuller was a famous horse trader and dealer. He sold stock of all kinds on terms of all sorts and his name was on more chattel mortgages, taken to insure delayed payments, than upon all other chattel mortgages together which were filed in the county recorder’s office. Scattered over the farm were horses, ranging from the cheapest to the highest priced, and rolling stock of all patterns, age and grades. The place, even with this assortment of goods and live stock, was always in good order. Mr. Fuller long was the buyer of horses and mules for the Columbus Street and Railway Co.
A school was opened in the township in 1809 by a Miss Griswold, member of one of the first families, and the children who lived east of the river had to wade the stream to attend. She was followed by Michael M. Baker, Becky Gordon, Diadamia Cowles, Timothy Sedgwick, Rachel Cook, James Ferson and Dr. Bull. Churches began to spring up in 1819, when the Methodists organized. The Baptists and Presbyterians followed and an Episcopal church was built in the western part of the township. The Winebrennarians erected a brick church which afterwards became a dwelling. The Union Cemetery, on the west bank of the Olentangy opposite North Columbus, was established close to the Union Episcopal Church, and is still in use. Many of the older residents are buried there and it is used by some of their descendants who removed to the city.
At one time three distilleries were in operation in the township and there was also an extensive manufacture of bricks. This latter industry has been succeeded by a pottery manufacture, for which an extensive plant is in operation close to Worthington. There were several saw and girst mills in the township, of which one, the Weisheimer mill, is still in operation, under steam power of course. It has a branch mill farther down the river, at King Avenue and the Hocking Valley Railroad. There was for a long time an old mill at North Columbus and the dam could still be seen for some years after the opening of the twentieth century. It was along the eastern bank of the Olentangy, opposite the river above this dam, that Olentangy Park, a popular amusement resort, was laid out. Along the line of Fifth Avenue, the southern limit of the township, a number of factories were built after the beginning of this century, when that section was a part of the township, but this land has all become a part of the city of Columbus.