Week 25: #52 Ancestors – Unexpected
By Eilene Lyon
I’ve long known that there are pioneers of many stripes in my family background. But I didn’t expect one of them to have been the first settler in Cæsers Creek Township, Greene County, Ohio – a location that is less than 20 miles from where I finished high school in the same county. I did not discover this until long after I permanently left Ohio, of course.
David Painter, born in Winchester, Virginia, in 1761, was part of a group of Quakers who chose to move to the Northwest Territory around 1800, because it would remain free of the institution of slavery, an affront to their religious beliefs.
Arriving first in Waynesville, now in Warren County, the Painter family followed an Indian trail to stake a claim near the creek that bears their name. This trek took place in the spring of 1802. They built a cabin and planted their first crops: potatoes and corn.
David Painter and his wife, Martha “Patsy” Faulkner, were the grandparents of my ancestor, William Walter Painter. William Painter was the second settler in Winneshiek County, Iowa, so he had a role model for his wandering ways.
Martha and David had four children. Hannah was the eldest. Next was Jesse. Then came Jacob. The youngest, Thomas J. Painter, was my 4th great-grandfather. Hannah, then age 16, and Jesse remained in the family cabin during the winter of 1802-3 to protect the family claim, while the rest of the family returned to Waynesville for a time.
One history of Greene County waxed eloquent about the character of David Painter and family:
“At the time of the Painter family’s settlement here, there were only three cabins between Painter’s cabin home and Waynesville, but soon afterward other settlers of the same creed of this sturdy Quaker flocked into the township, and a Friends society was organized. Painter himself was instrumental in the organization of this society. The death of this old settler occurred about 1840 and since that year all of his children have followed him to the grave.
“The Painters were ideal settlers, for they were a thrifty, steady and yet enterprising family. Moreover, their adherence to the creed of the Friends was instrumental in their becoming valuable and moral citizens of the new county and neighborhood. Even though the teaching of the Friends is against war, this first settler of the township waxed warlike when it seemed that a wholesale butchery of whites impended after Hull’s surrender at Detroit.
“On that Sabbath morning when the news of the disaster arrived in the settlement, David Painter, under the exigency of the moment, shouldered his rifle and march[ed] off to join the volunteers who were hastening to Urbana to protect the Ohio settlements from the Indians who were reported to be coming southward.”
Jesse Painter had a farm near his parents and in 1837 he decided to formally plat a village around his business establishment:
“Before the village was laid out, the site was a part of the farm of one hundred and fifty acres which belonged to Jesse Painter, a son of David Painter, the first settler of Caesarscreek township. Before the town was laid out Jesse Painter and Jonathan Oglesbee owned country stores on its site, where the residents of the surrounding country came to purchase their supplies.
“A short time before 1840 Painter decided that the modest trading point could take upon itself the dignity of a village of considerable importance and since he was the owner of the surrounding land he secured the services of Moses Collier, the county surveyor, who platted the village in the latter part of the summer of 1837. The work was finished on September 7,1837, and on the 16th of the same month the plat was received for record and recorded by J. H. McPherson, the county recorder…”
Jesse sold his 55 lots for 20 or 25 dollars each, depending on location. Paintersville was the only village in the township, but today, though it is still on the map, it is just a residential community. The post office closed in 1910.
Also unexpected is that these ancestors on my paternal side were contemporaneously living not far from some of my ancestors on my maternal side. I haven’t found any crossovers in their family trees, but who knows? It could happen someday.
Feature image: Home of Jesse and Elizabeth (Smith) Painter in Paintersville in mid-1800s. (Courtesy of BrickyardBum on Ancestry.com)
Broadstone, M.A. ed. 1918. History of Greene County, Ohio: Its People, Industries and Institutions, Vol. 1. B.F. Bowen & Company, Inc., Indianapolis, pp. 227-234.
Robinson, George F. 1902. History of Greene County, Ohio. The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago, pp. 562-4.