Nathaniel Beastley laid out and surveyed Marion Township in a six-mile square grid layout in 1821. A map dated 1834 already shows the Belmore-Defiance Ridge as an available road through southern Henry County. The road was originally an indian trail.
Many of the first settlers located along the Ridge (now Co. Rd. Y) because it was high and dry and provided a good natural road to Defiance. Early travel was by foot with settlers going to high spots, the Ridge or railroad tracks, then walking to their destination.
Population of the township in 1861 was 195, 513 in 1870 and 1202 in 1880.
Four villages have existed in the history of Marion Township; Edwardsville, Gallup, Woodville, and Hamler.
Most settlers of the township were of German and Irish descent.
Marion Township was named after General Francis Marion, a well-known Revolutionary War hero.
Ridgeland is the oldest town in Marion Township. The first settlement was made in Dec., 1841, by Samuel Hashbarger, father of the famous Wisconsin hunter.
Edwardsville was laid out on the ridge near the township cemetery by George W. Edwards and John Rayle on September, 1863. A post office was established there in 1861, but the U.S. Postal Service insisted on calling it Ridgeland. The hamlet never grew much beyond two or three dwellings even though W. P. Young maintained a thriving sawmill, stavemill and tile manufactory within a stone’s throw. He also was the postmaster of Ridge-land later on.
It was only natural that some business endeavors be promoted at the juncture of the railroad and the Ridge. It was said Gallup was named after one of the men of the D&LN construction gang.
Gallup became a shipping and transportation center. It had a stockyard and livestock buyers. As business increased, two railroad sidings were needed to handle the amount of freight that moved in or out of Gallup.
With the coming of the automobile and the motor truck, the end of Gallup was imminent. The post office and express office closed, passenger trains on the railroad were suspended and sugar beets were trucked directly to the processing plants. Finally, in April of 1936, an overheated electrical motor set fire to the elevator and Gallup was no more to rise from its ashes.
Around 1850 settlers appeared in Marion Township. They came to harvest the forests for building materials and clear the land for farming. They were hunters, woodsmen, builders, and farmers. Early settlers needed to be versatile to survive.
The first few families to settle in this immediate area gave their settlement the name Belton. Soon thereafter, the name was changed to Hamler. The town was named after John Hamler, whose home at one time was on the west side of Allen Street, between Belton and Randolph streets.
Hamler grew rapidly. Several saw mills were built to handle the harvest of logs. With this rapid population growth there developed a great need for roads, schools, churches, stores, and medical facilities.
The coming of the railroads accounted for much of the town’s growth. The B & O Railroad began operations around 1873. The DT&I Railroad came in 1896. With the coming of the railroads, the future of Hamler was assured.
In 1888, Hamler had a population of 500 people.
Today, Hamler continues to provide the essential community services. The people of Hamler take a justifiable pride in the town’s many business establishments and the friendly and efficient people who operate them.
In 1882, Fred W. LeSueur of Defiance, came into the Hamler area, buying up a large amount of timber ground in Section 1 of Marion Township. It is thought that it may have been a company, therefore the oldtimers called it the LeSueur Co.
The area was full of virgin timber of the best quality. The main complex of buildings plus about 30 homes, rooming house, hotel, office and ashery covered a large portion.
The town was known in the community as Woodville. But, because Wood County had a town by that name, the post office was known as LeSueur.
About 40 rods south of the main crossing was a large brick head and stave dry kiln heated for rapid drying with tracks running the full length of the building. On the west side was the large stave, bolt and hoop mill. Foundations are still in the ground.
It is claimed that this was the only factory in Ohio where all the parts of a barrel were made. These component parts (hoops, staves and heads) were shipped by rail in package form to conserve shipping space.
On July 2, 1894, about 9 p.m. the brick dry shed started on fire. The shed, full of dry, one-inch material, was like a furnace. The entire barrel business was gone and it was the end for the company.
Many houses were moved for dwellings. Some were moved to Hamler. Others were dismantled for their usable lumber. The hotel was traded for a horse years later. There are still a few Woodville homes in the area. The last one to be moved was taken to the Deshler area in 1957.
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.