STANTONTOWN — Sitting at the southern edge of Morrow County, this township dates back nearly 220 years.
It was settled in 1798 by Cyrus Benedict and his wife, on the banks of Alum Creek. This was an early custom similar to what the Indians did.
Today it is a relatively quiet except for the constant stream of traffic on State Route 229 connecting Marengo to the east and Ashley, in Delaware County, to the west.
Early residents included the Friends settlement on Indigo Run, and the Randolph, Fleming and Whipple settlements further down Alum Creek. The Morehouse and Woods were located on the Basin Creek.
It once was called West Liberty; later adopting the name of Stantontown because its first and only settler for some time was Jesse Stanton. Thus, the name Stantontown has carried through two centuries.
The Stantontown Cemetery is well kept and is the lone visible sign of that village’s identity.
But it has an interesting story from the late 1700s. There is a memorial on the grave of Mary Thatcher, who at the age of eight, was captured by Indians and recovered by her father five years later.
A retired couple living near Stantontown came there for the remote location and to escape city life 16 years ago. That is becoming commonplace in southern Morrow County.
They claim they “never heard of either one” when the towns of West Liberty and South Woodbury were mentioned.
The churches and schools at that time stood side by side or were under a single roof. Alum Creek Friends Church was prominent in the early 1800s.
Mount Hesper Seminary, a Quaker school, sat on a hill across the road from Alum Creek Friends Church. It was built in 1843 and it “taught hundreds of young men and women who came from far and near,” according to historical accounts.
It was founded by Jesse and Cynthia Harkness. Enrollment figures ranged from 50 to 100 students.
A grove of trees Jesse planted remains today.
Colorful names abounded in Peru Township, with Zenas Root, Jesse Champlain, Stein Sackett, Jacob VanDeventer, Noah Agard, Peleg Bunker, Asa Deford, Asahel Potter and Jirah Smith among them.
Like most townships in this area a Methodist church was erected. The Methodist Episcopal Church was built in 1840 in South Woodbury. A Baptist church was set up six years prior.
A salt well (400 feet deep) was drilled on the Fleming land in 1817, but lasted only a couple of years because it was not profitable.
The first reported marriage in the township was that of John Keese and Sarah Benedict in 1815. The first burial was a year later when Aaron Benedict Sr. was laid to rest. This came before any roads were laid out.
Each town had general stores, blacksmiths, mills and shoemakers in those early days. All are gone and only a few residents remained by the late 1900s.
From 1810 to 1820 the nearest post office was Berkshire. A Bennington post office was established to carry mail weekly.
The route changed several times and became a twice weekly trek from Sunbury to Mount Gilead. In 1862 a daily route was set up from South Woodbury to Ashley.
Industry came and went in the township.
At one point there was a spoke and hub factory, an egg packing business and a bee enterprise. Buckeye hats were crafted by hand in and around Stantontown as late as the first quarter of the 20th century.
Sheep farming was the primary agricultural endeavor. The township was made up of rather small family farms, raising livestock and poultry. Larger farms are the rule today, complemented by newer housing starts as the flight from Columbus extends northward into Morrow County.
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