Tag Archives: Ohio

Harveysburg Free Black School

In honor of Black History Month we are sharing a fascinating story of slavery, education, abolition, freedom, and overcoming adversity. In 1831, Dr. Jesse Harvey (1801-1848) and his wife Elizabeth Burgess Harvey (1801-1888), members of The Society of Friends, started one of the first free black schools in the Northwest Territory. Dr. Harvey built the one room school building on his own land in Harveysburg, Ohio. The Harvey’s were known as active abolitionists within the area and were confirmed conductors of the Underground Railroad. The school was commonly referred to as the East End School and remained open from 1831-1906, when it merged with the Harveysburg School District.

Map 1856

Warren County Map, 1856. Map details the property owned by Dr. Jesse Harvey and Stephen Wall.

Map 1867

Warren County Map, 1867. Map details property where the Free Black School was located (African School)

Colonel Stephen Wall (1791-1845), a southern plantation owner from Richmond County, North Carolina, reached out to Dr. Harvey regarding a group of mulatto children that he would like to provide an education for. Shortly after the school was established Mr. Wall sent eight of his mulatto children, along with one of their slave mothers, to live in Harveysburg. In Col. Wall’s last will and testament he emancipated all eight of his children and provided them with financial security, which included all the land Col. Wall had purchased in the Harveysburg area.

Captain Orindatus Simon Bolivar Wall, Col. Wall’s most renowned child, went on to become many great things such as a shoe and boot manufacturing shop owner,  recruiter and Captain in the Union Army, lawyer, politician, and much more. The Wall children used their land to further propel their success. Deed records show that part of the Wall property eventually became the site of Zion Baptist Church. The remainder of the property was sold off to fund their future success. The freedom that Col. Wall had given his children along with their secure financial future allotted them the opportunity to overcome adversity. All of his children went on to become independent and productive members of society.

Deed 32 - 491

Deed Record, Volume 32 Page 6

Further reading regarding the Wall family and the Free Black School can be found at the following links:

Karen S. Campbell Blog “Captain Orindatus Simon Bolívar Wall ~ From North Carolina to Harveysburg to Oberlin to Washington D. C.”

Dallas Bogan Article, 2004



Roads to people nowadays are a part of our lives. It’s never a question of whether we will be able to get from A-Z, our GPS will choose the fastest route utilizing the many roads within the county. In the early 1800’s this was not the case, typically there were only roads that led from one town to the next and the roads built to navigate through town. Early settlers traveled by waterway or trails that were established by the Native Americans to navigate through the county. One way that people could ensure a road that ran to their property was to propose said road to the county and pay for it. Neighbors would  occasionally get together to accomplish this goal. Many of the major routes throughout Warren County were established this very way.

Warren County Records Center & Archives has a book with a map collection of proposed free pikes within the county from the late 1800’s. The maps themselves are hand drawn and hand painted with extraordinary detail. They provide us with a snapshot of how the residents and county officials envisioned progress within the county. In addition to documenting potential progress these maps can be utilized for analyzing current progress, genealogical information, and change in the natural landscape as a result of progress. No matter the end use, these maps are beautiful and provide researchers with a rich opportunity to examine primary documents at their finest.

Map - Lebanon and Deerfield Turnpike

Lebanon and Deerfield Turnpike

Map - Halls Creek Free Pike

Halls Creek Free Pike

Map - Williams Road Improvement

Plat of The Williams Road Improvement

Death Records and their Usefulness as a Research Tool

The idea of being able to use death records for research can be a morbid thought. The fact of the matter is that there is an abundance of useful information that exists within these records. First off there are numerous types of death records. For Warren County we have three types available to the general public for research: Statement & Report of Deaths by township 1885-1908, Death Records 1867-1908, and Coroners Inquests 1873-1908.

Death records can be a great place to start researching family history because they can be one of the most comprehensive record of information about the person when they passed. The death record index and Statement & Report of Deaths typically includes the following information: name, date of death, condition (married, single, widowed), age, place of death, place of birth, occupation, father & mother’s names, race, cause of death, place of residence, and who reported the death. Having all of this information in one place can easily direct researchers to their next destination of records. For instance if you know your great grandmother passed away in Warren County but are unsure of her place of birth these records can provide that information. Another useful type of family research that can be obtained from these records is family medical history.  You can track such genetic health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, cancer, etc.

Tracking the causes of death within a county is fascinating, especially if you survey this information chronologically. The causes of death become more detailed and complex as medical knowledge advanced throughout the decades. In one year you could have the cause of death listed as “kidney disease” and a few years later it is listed as “Bright’s Disease” which shows the isolation of a  type of kidney disease. You can also track the transition of what certain illnesses were reported, i.e. when influenza was previously listed as La Grippe. This also varied according to the physician or individual who reported the death. The introduction of new technology also introduced new causes of death such as “killed by cars” or “killed on railroad”.

The images below represent examples of how these records can be used. The first images include a township that kept useful comprehensive records with all of the requested information. In the next 2 images these show the first recorded death by “flux” also known as “dysentery” in the year 1868. Following this initial case there were 28 sub sequential deaths caused by the spread of dysentery throughout the county.


Salem Township Statement of Deaths, 1887


Salem Township Statement of Deaths, 1887


Salem Township Statement of Deaths, 1887


Warren County Death Record, 1867-1881


Warren County Death Record, 1867-1888

Let’s Go To The Fair!

How did the Warren County fair come to be?

Prior to the organization of the Warren County Agricultural Society in 1849, several exhibitions of agricultural and mechanical products were held at Lebanon.  The first annual fair of the Warren County Agricultural Society was held on the farm of John Osborn, just east of Lebanon, on September 26 and 27, 1850.

In 1852 the society leased 10 acres of land from Robert G. Corwin, Esq. for fair purposes.  An admission fee of 15 cents was charged for all persons not members of the society. The first fair on these grounds, which constitute a part of the present fair grounds, was held on September 22 and 23, 1852.

The original Society had 214 members, which was one of the largest in the State at the time. Ezra Carpenter of Clarksville, the first president, disclosed that the first fair met the guidelines that had been set by the officers and members.  In 1858, the society reported a membership of 1,300, 22 acres of ground, leased for 7 years, with improvements thereon worth about $2,000.  At the fair of 1857, $800 was awarded in premiums, the largest of which was $30 for the best-conducted experiment on 1/8 of an acre of Chinese sugar-cane, with the product in sugar or molasses.

In 1872 the society owned 30 acres and continued to build up the fairgrounds. Fairs have been held every year since the organization of the Warren County Agricultural Society, except for 2 years while the Civil War was in progress.  The 2015 Warren County Fair has already begun and will end on July 25.  For more information about the fair, visit the Warren County Fairgrounds website.

A Proposed Layout of the Warren County Fairgrounds, circa 1908.

A Proposed Layout of the Warren County Fairgrounds, March 26, 1904.

In February 1941, the Warren County Commissioners planned for a new grand stand at the Fairgrounds.

In February 1941, the Warren County Commissioners planned for a new grand stand at the Fairgrounds.

An article about the fair from The Western Star Newspaper, September 27, 1900.

An article about the fair from The Western Star Newspaper, September 27, 1900.

Warren County Fair research was done by the Records Center & Archives Administrative Coordinator Patricia Grove.  Thank you, Pat!

Trivia Question: What group was barred by law from competing for premiums in the 1st Warren County fair?  The answer will be revealed next post!

Answer to July 13th question:  “Big Captain Johnny”

Francis Dunlevy: Soldier, Legislator, and Warren County’s 1st Judge

Who was Francis Dunlevy and why was he important?

Francis Dunlevy

Francis Dunlevy

Francis Dunlevy was a distinguished pioneer born in Winchester, Virginia on December 31, 1761.  The eldest of four, Dunlevy moved with his family to Catfish, Pennsylvania in 1772. He then volunteered in the military as a private in 1776 before he was fifteen years old.  He served at least eight different times against various Indian groups before turning twenty-one, tending to his studies when he could.  After the Revolutionary War, Dunlevy went to Dickinson College where he studied to become a Presbyterian minister.  He soon changed his religious views, identifying more with the Baptist church and gave up religious studies to become a teacher.  Dunlevy moved with family again to Washington, Kentucky in 1790, eventually making his way to Butler County, Ohio in 1792 where he opened a classical school and married Mary Craig.  He moved the school to Lebanon in 1797 and continued it until 1801, becoming the first teacher of ancient languages in the Miami Valley.  In an attempt at public office, he lost his first special election for a seat in the Northwest Territory Legislature in 1799 to Isaac Martin.  Dunlevy was successfully elected as one of seven representatives from Hamilton County and served in the Territorial Legislature in 1801.  In 1802, he was elected as a member of the Constitutional Convention.  Born in a slave state, Dunlevy witnessed the evils of slavery in Virginia and voted against every attempt to allow it in Ohio’s first constitution.   He even took it one step further and was in favor of equal political rights for all men, regardless of color.  At Ohio’s first election, Dunlevy was elected a member of the Senate in the Legislature.  Before adjournment, this body selected him as one of three President Judges of the Court of Common Pleas for two consecutive terms where he oversaw the Southwestern circuit made up of ten counties.  At the close of his second term, Dunlevy felt compelled to practice law to help support his large family.  He persisted tirelessly in his legal pursuits and attended the courts of several surrounding counties, becoming the first judge of Warren County.  After 50 years of labor as a pioneer, soldier, teacher, legislator, framer of a State Constitution, lawyer, and Judge, Dunlevy retired at the age of seventy.  He died October 6, 1839 at 78 years old and is buried at the old Baptist Cemetary in Lebanon.

Excerpt:  Common Pleas State Record

Excerpt: Common Pleas State Record “A.” May Term 1807. State of Ohio vs. Joseph Little & Jonathan Cone. Warren County, Ohio. Pages 102-103.
“Pleas held for the County of Warren within the State of Ohio on the third Tuesday of May in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seven before the Honorable Francis Dunlevy Esquire Presiding Judge of the Court of Common Pleas for the first circuit and Jacob D. Lowe, Ignatius Brown, and Peter Burr, Esquire associate judges assigned to keep the peace in and for said county and also to hear and determine (diverse) felonies, trespasses, and other misdemeanors committed in the same county.”

Trivia Question: Who was the famous Indian that Francis Dunlevy encountered at the Battle of Sandusky?  The answer will be revealed next post!

Answer to July 6th question:  The Great Depression