Clark County, Ohio

History and Genealogy



Glacial Drift


From 20th Century History of Springfield and Clark County, Ohio by Hon. William A. Rockel
Chicago: Biographical Publishing Co., 1908


Clark County is in the line of the glaciers descending from the north in the glacial drift period, and to this fact owes the richness of its soil. The rock foundation being limestone, this valuable ingredient became thoroughly mixed in the surface. Upon this question Professor Orton says:

"The other great division of the soils of ohio, viz., the drift soils, are by far the most important, alike from their greater area and their intrinsic excellence. Formed by the commingling of the glacial waste of all the formations to the north of them, over which the ice has passed, they always possess considerable variety of composition, but still in many cases they are strongly colored by the formation underneath them. Whenever a stratum of uniform composition has a broad outcrop across the line of glacial advance, the drift beds that cover its southern portions will be found to have been derived in large part from the formation itself, and will thus resemble native and sedentary soils. Western Ohio is underlaid with Silurian limestones and the drift is consequently limestone drift. The soil is so thoroughly that of limestone land that tobacco, a crop which rarely leaves native limestone soils, at least in the Missippi Valley, is grown successfully in several counties of Western Ohio, 100 miles or more north of the terminal moraine."

Scattered granite bowlders are found in almost every part of the county, increasing in number toward the northwestern part of the county. However, in no place are they found in such great quantity as to seriously impede agriculture. North, in Champaign County, the surface is more thickly covered with them, in some places making a serious impediment in the way of the agricultural use of the soil. There is much to suggest in the formation of the Mad River Valley that between the hills upon the sides of this valley there flowed a mighty stream from the north, merging into a raging, roaring torrent from rock to rock south of the Masonic Home, west of the city. There is no evidence of any volconic action in the formation of the soil in this county.

This drift has been found to vary widely in the depth of its formation in places not far apart, near St. Paris, Champaign County, Ohio. It has its maximum depth of 530 feet, while in the digging of the Mast well not more than 20 miles away, it was found to be only three feet. At the Whiteley well within less than a mile from the Mast well, the drift was 125 feet.


Singular Growth of Timber


Undoubtedly the soil formation has much to do with the kinds of timber that has grown thereon, and a rather singular matter in reference to the growth of timber has been observed along the borders of the Mad River Valley, more especially that part of it which is north of the City of Springfield. On the hills and uplands west of the valley the timber is beach, poplar, sugar, oak, hickory and walnut. While on the east side of the valley there is not a beach or poplar tree to be found and only occasionally a sugar, the prevailing timber being oak and hickory. From this fact the lands east of the river have received the designation as the "oaks" or the "oak hills" while the land west including German and Pike Township has been designated as the "beech."


Prehistoric Man


While remains presumed to belong to another race may have been discovered in this county, there is no particular evidence of the existence of the prehistoric man, and upon this matter it may be interesting to quote Prof. Wright's opinion. It is the opinion now of scientists that man did exist in the glacial period. Prof. Wright says:

"In my original 'report upon the Glacial Boundary of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky,; I remarked that since man was in New Jersey before the close of the glacial period, it is also probable that he was on the banks of the Ohio at the same early period; and I asked that the extensive gravel terraces in the southern part of the State be carefully scanned by archaeologists, adding that when observers became familiar with the forms of those rude implements they would doubtless find them in abundance. As to the abundance, this prophecy has not been altogether fulfilled. But enough has been already discovered in Ohio to show that man was here at that early time when the ice of the glacial period lingered on the south side of the water partings between the lake and the Ohio River. Both at Loveland, and at Madisonville, in the valley of the Little Miami, Dr. C. L. Metz, of the latter place, has found this ancient type of implements several feet below the surface of the glacial terrraces bordering that stream. The one at Madisonville was found about eight feet below the surface, where the soil had not been disturbed, and it was in shape and appearance almost exactly like one of those found by Dr. Abbott in Trenton, N. J. These are enough to establish the fact that men, whose habits of life were much like those of the Eskimos, already followed up the retreating ice of the great glacial period when its front was in the latitude of Trenton and Cincinnati, as they now do when it has retreated to Greenland. Very likely the Eskimos are the descendants of that early race in Ohio.


Prehistoric Animals


There is no doubt that prehistoric animals, if I may use the term in that way, those that existed in the mammalian period or age, wandered over much of the territory occupied by this county, the remains of mastodons having been found in the lands west of the Urbana Pike, near the Franklin SchoolHouse, and in the valley of Buck Creek, not far from Catawba Station, and near the Columbus Road, on a farm of William E. Yeazell, in the southeastern part of Pleasant Township, and also near Brooks Station. Some of these remains are in a fair state of presevation and I believe are now in possession of Wittenberg College.