Clark County, Ohio

History and Genealogy



The Erection of Clark County


From The History of Clark County, Ohio
Chicago: W.H. Beers & Co., 1881 - Page 238


On the 20th of February, 1805, the Legislature passed an act establishing the county of Champaign, by the third section of which act "the temporary seat of justice" was fixed "at the town of Springfield, at the house of George Fithen, until the permanent seat of justice be fixed by law." This was the little log town clothed with the dignity of a county seat, and hopes and aspirations kindled, which were not to be relinquished without an effort to preserve them. Urbana was laid out as a town in 1805, and, through the efforts of influential men, who were interested in the new "plat," the county seat was permanently removed there. But Springfield had tasted the sweets of public honor and patronage, besides the near town of Urbana was a rival, as a center of population and settlement, and, during the war of 1812, it was a Government military post; so, as soon as there was a sufficient number of people who naturally came to Springfield to "mill and meeting," the subject of a new county began to be agitated, the result of which was that on Saturday, December 24, 1814, Mr. McBeth, of the House of Representatives, presented petitions from the inhabitants of Champaign, Madison, Miami and Green Counties, praying for a new county to be set off from those counties, agreeable to the boundaries specified in the petitions.

Mr. Newel presented remonstrances from inhabitants of Champaign, which petitons and remonstrances were read and referred to a committee, with leave to report a bill or otherwise: "Ordered, that Mr. Davidson acquaint the Senate therewith."

"Monday, December 26, Mr. Huston presented at the Clerk's desk remonstrances from the inhabitants of Greene County, which were referred to the same committee, to whom were referred the said petitions, etc." Having fairly introduced the subject, and escorted it over the threshold of the House of Representatives, it will not be necessary to follow it through all the verbiage of the journals of the Senate and House, for the three years which followed its introduction.

"Saturday, January 28, 1815, on motion the said bill do now pass, whereupon, on motion, ordered that the further consideration of said motion be postponed till Monday next."

But the bill was not called up again this session, warranting the presumption that its friends found themselves too weak to secure its passage, and wisely preferring not to have the precedent of an unfavorable vote.

December 28, 1815, Mr. Bell moved the order of the day, whereupon the House resolved itself into a committee of the whole, and, as such, amended the bill by striking out the first section and the enacting clause. "Resolved, that this house agree to the report of the committee of the whole. The question being taken, it was decided in the affirmative — the bill was therefore lost."

The next appearance of the subject is in the journal of the Senate, under the date of Wednesday, December 16, 1816, when it came up under the head of unfinished business of the last session, etc.

Passing over several pages of matter, which record the "ups and downs" of the bill, the final entries are transcribed from the Senate journal.

Saturday, December 13, 1817, "the Senate went into committee of the whole." * * * * * "Senate took up the amendments reported by the committee of the whole, to the bill to erect the county of Clark, which were agreed to." "Ordered that the bill as amended be engrossed, and read a third time on Monday next."

Monday, December 15, 1817, "an engrossed bill intitled, etc., * * * was read the third time."

It was immediately put upon its passage and was passed. Yeas, 17; nays, 10.

Tuesday, December 23, 1817, "the Senate received a message from the House of Representatives, by Mr. Hawkins:" Mr. Speaker, the House of Representatives have passed the bill entitled an act to erect the county of Clark."

Thursday, December 25, 1817, the bill was signed by the Speakers of both branches of the Legislature, as being duly enrolled; Mr. Lucas from the joint committee of enrollment deposited it with the Secretary of State, and took his receipt therefor.

And so the long fight was ended. Ohio had gleaned another wisp for the sheaf on her escutcheon, and had added one more dart to its bundle of arrows. As a "Christmas gift" she had granted the right of local representation and self-government to the plucky pioneers of "Little Clark," and made them a community by themselves with a "local habitation and a name," the retrospect of which confirms even the brightest visions of those who struggled for this conclusion.

The creation of Clark County was the most bitterly contested of any of the early counties of Ohio. The nominal objection urged was that the territory proposed did not fill the constitutional requirements of 400 square miles. The real trouble seems to have been personal dislike and jealousy, between the leading citizens of the principal settlements of Green and the proposed county of Clark. It is unfortunate that the names of the principal actors in the controversy cannot be learned from the journals of the Legislature of that day, for, names excepted, the records furnish, to an active mind, a detailed history of the long struggle.

Perhaps more Governors of Ohio participated, in one way or another, in the passage of this bill than in that erecting any other county in the State; they were Thomas Kirker, Othniel Looker, Thomas Worthington, Jeremiah Morrow, Duncan McArthur, Robert Lucas and Joseph Vance. The passage of the bill and its excellent management throughout the unequal contest was more directly attributable to Daniel McKinnon, Senator from Champaign County, and one of the first Associate Judges of Clark County; Joseph Tatman also did good work, as a Representative, and was made one of the first Associate Judges. At the time of its erection, the taxable acreage of the county was 229,624 acres, then valued at $528,644, or an average price of less than $2 per acre.

The whole number of voters was 4,648, and the total population amounted to 8,065.

"When the news of the passage of the bill reached Springfield, the citizens assembled at the tavern kept by my father (Cooper Ludlow), on the northwest corner of Main and Factory streets, and celebrated the occasion by the burining of tar barrels in the street, and a free use of apple toddy and the other accompaniments belonging to a great jollification of that day." *

Of the authors of the petition, or those who signed it, or any of the details, there is no known evidence, except that of hearsay. At this late day it would be interesting to know who first suggested the name of Clark, who circulated the petition, and some of the incidents concerning its rise and progress at home, as well as in the Legislature.

* Dr. Ludlow