P.O. Box 443, Napoleon, OH 43545

Henry County, Ohio, Historical Society

Bartlow Township

Bartlow Township is situated in the southeast corner of Henry County where Henry, Wood, Putnam and Hancock join. It was not organized until 1854, at which time there were not enough electors living in the territory to fill the township offices. It became necessary at this first election, which was held on a pile of railroad ties, for one person to assume the duties of several offices. There was no need for electioneering!

The township was named in honor of Cornelius Bartlow, who had settled in section 36 in 1851, and was the first settler in the township, it at that time being a part of Richfield. Earlier still, it, together with all of the rest of Henry County, was a part of Damascus Twp., organized in 1823.

In 1855, there were but four resident tax payers, who with the Dayton and Michigan Railroad, paid taxes totaling $488.12.

Many causes contributed to the slow development of this area. It was the only part of the county that formed a part of the actual “Black Swamp”, low, flat, wet, with no outlet of any kind for the water that covered the whole surface. Nine-tenths of the land was owned by land speculators, the land not being for sale, and besides there were plenty of more desirable and better located lands that could be had cheaply.

The construction of the Dayton and Michigan R.R. was the first real break made in the wilderness. The construction of this road necessitated drainage, but it was quite superficial. A large reservoir was constructed at the place where Deshler now stands, and the surface water drained into it through Brush Creek, and became a main watering place for the railroad. The real improvement of the township came in 1869 with the construction of the Baltimore and Ohio Railway. A frame building was erected and a supply store for the contractors and employees opened at the reservoir, and the D. and M. then made that place a regular station, giving it the name of Alma.

The west branch of Beaver Creek, Hammer Creek, Beaver Creek, Brush Creek were all cleaned out, widened and deepened. So began the conversion of the swamp to the fertile farms of today!

According to Historical Atlas of the World published in 1875 by H. H. Hardesty and Co. of Chicago, there were only 342 acres of land under cultivation in Bartlow Township. The total acres of land in the township are listed at 22,434 with a value that totals only $91,380! Now, a hundred years later, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to purchase 100 acres for that sum!

Few of the names of land owners in the township a hundred years ago are familiar here today. Among those that are, may be mentioned the Blues, Oberlightners, Spanglers, Van Scoyocs, Smiths, Millers, Wendts, Lees, and Browns. In 1875, Mr. J. G. Deshler, still held title to over 6000 acres in the township.
Of land that is today in possession of descendants of the same surname there are two: the farm of Howard Van Scoyoc in section 36 which was first owned by his great grandfather and his father, and the farm of Nelson Spangler in section 18 which was first owned by his grandfather’s brother Levi Spangler in 1851.

Today fertile fields cover nearly all of the township. From the air, it appears like a vast, orderly, and very beautiful garden. However, it seems that the pioneer zeal to clear the land has been carried a little too far for the ultimate good of the land. It remains to be seen if our farmers of today will be equal to the challenge of preserving the remaining woodlands and conserving the soil that is their basic and most valuable resource.

(Reprinted from Henry County, Ohio. A Collection of Historical Sketches and Family Histories Compiled by Members and Friends of The Henry County Historical Society, Volume I. Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas, TX, 1976.)