By Ralph and James Boggs (1953)
THE FIRST PERMANENT white settler was Michael Ingle who came from *Virginia and settled temporarily in Montgomery County. He received his land patent November 15, 1804 and shortly thereafter settled at the mouth of Harrisons Creek probably in the vacated cabin of McDonald. He is said to have prospected north up the Stillwater River before 1800 and in 1804 he entered two separate tracts of land, one in Newberry and the other in Newton Township; that in Newberry being the Northwest Quarter of Section 20.
*Later research shows that Ingle was from Bedford County Pennsylvania.
Michael Ingle, a tanner by trade, is important in the history of Newberry from the fact that he brought 800 acres of land into a high state of cultivation. He also produced some very fine leather in his tannery and, his well, dug through the rock, was the only one in the settlement for ten years. He also is said to have grown the first wheat in the township. In 1810 he purchased his third quarter section which became very valuable for its quarries. He erected the second house in what is now the confines of Covington, having built a double log cabin where the Eshleman Funeral Home now stands. He and his first wife raised a family of seven sons and, four daughters of whom all but three stayed in the township. The descendents of Michael Ingle now living in Newberry are very great in number. He was in the Revolutionary War, died in 1839 and is buried in Highland Cemetery.
Following Michael Ingle, came in 1805 John Miller, Elijah Reagan and Sylvester Thompson, followed shortly by Samuel Brown. Subsequently came William Coats with his son, John Coats, and his son-in-law, Daniel Wright. Samuel Brown stayed but a short time but John and William Coats built cabins and stayed. Daniel Wright also built a cabin which was situated at the southwest corner of Main and Spring streets, this being one of the first six cabins in the township. In 1810 Jacob Ullery purchased land but did not occupy it until 1811. This was the southeast quarter of section 30, later noted for its quarries and proved to be the most valuable property in the township.
When the War of 1812 broke out the cabins of nine families dotted the forest. At this time the settlers all left their clearings for temporary safety from the hostile Indiana who were expected to invade this area. Some went to Montgomery County, some to the Ludlow settlement; Ingle went to the stockade in Newton Towsnhip, and Ullery to Lostcreek Township.
Michael Ingle, John Miller, William Coats, John, Coats, Daniel Wright, Elijah Reagan and Jacob Ullery were seven of the nine families living here in 1812. The names of the other two are unknown. Sylvester Thompson shortly after his arrival moved to Newton Township. Also taking out land were Phil Swartzell, William Pearson and David Burnstrager but it can not be ascertained whether they ever settled here or not.
On June 18, 1812 The United States declared war on Great Britain. In Ohio the Americans were vigorously attacked by the British, supported by the, Indians under the leadership of Tecumseh. On the 30tb day of April 1812, Brigadier General Edmond Munger sent communications to Captain George Buchanan of Milton ordering him to form the 2nd regiment, which would be attached to the 5th brigade of the 1st Division of Ohio Militia and to see that they were fully equipped and ready to march at a moments notice. To his regiment were added Lt. James Caldwell of Piqua and Ensign Gardner Bobo of Spring Creek. By July 10, 1812 this regiment was composed of, in addition to the three commissioned officers, four sergeants, four corporals and forty privates. The regirnent was assigned to the Stillwater Valley and adjoining territory and began almost immediately the erection of a block house at a point across the Stillwater River from the mouth of Greenville Creek. This blockhouse was first called “Buchanan’s Block House” and later referred to as Fort Rowdy but this was not accepted by Captain Buchanan. This fort consisted of a blockhouse and a tower in the southwest corner with a stockade enclosing a section north and as far east as the St. Marys Road ( High Street) and enclosing a good spring under what was later the hotel building. In his communications Captain Buchanan referred to this as “Fort Buchanan” and so it was thereafter called such.
Orders to muster out were dated July 20, 1812 and all men were dismissed who were stationed west of the Miami River unless hostile movements of the Indians required their services. Captain Buchanan and his regiment marched to Troy July 13, joined other companies there, and all marched to Piqua to remain until the peace council was over. Although Fort Buchanan was used by the families in the neighborhood as a place of refuge during emergencies, there is no indication that it was ever again used as a military post. The war was brought to a close December 14, 1814 by the Treaty of Ghent which provided for joint commissions to determine disputed boundary questions between the two countries.
Early in 1814, before the treaty with England, we find the settlers returning, the number of immigrants augmenting and the clearings increasing. John Cable west of Stillwater; John Hay north of him; John Harrison and his sons, Richard and Bargitto on the creek that bears their name; above Cable, John Trotter, on the creek named for him; the Templeton brothers Samuel, William, and David joining Trotter; John Carson and Samuel Nicholson in the same neighborhood; Sylvester Thompson and Joshua Falknor, south of Ullery and in 1816 Amos Perry opposite the falls on Greenville Creek; and William Knox on Trotters Creek. John Barbour joined the Trotters Creek settlement in 1817. We cannot mention all who came, but only such as became prominent and permanent citizens in those early times whose descendents are with us now.
1816 to 1835 – Amidst most picturesque environments on the Stillwater River, Covington had its beginning as a community on the east side of the Stillwater when early in 1816, Daniel Wright, in partnership with Jacob Ullery, laid out 36 town lots in section 30. Wright’s portion covered the site of Wayne’s encampment, the timber having been cut off by Wayne’s army. These 30 lots lay between the St. Marys Road (High Street) and the east bank of the Stillwater. Three streets were laid out and named, running north and south; first, Water Street, next to the river and on the bluff; Main Street at the foot of the hill; and High Street, being the St. Marys Road and also the section line between 29 and 30. Three streets crossing at right angles were: first on the north, Wright Street, next Ullery Street and then Spring Street. Wright Street and Ullery Street were named for the men who laid out the town and Spring Street was named for the beautiful spring that burst from the rocks beneath the shade of a white oak grove that grew upon the bluff. The original plot was surveyed by Benjamin Cox and was called Friendship. It also was called Oldtown, Rowdytown, Stillwater and Newberry before the name of Covington was adopted in 1835. The first post office was called Stillwater and was located on Wright Street half way between High and Main on the south side.
Elijah Reagan built the first house on the same lot Michael Ingle built a double log cabin. These two buildings were built about 1816. John Ingle built a hewed log cabin on the northwest corner of Main and Wright streets. A small log house was built on the southeast corner of Main and Wright streets and on the opposite corner someone built a hewed-log two story house which was never finished and rotted down. On the site now occupied by the Burk Drug Store, Noah Hanks put up the first store in Newberry Township which was also the first frame building about 1826.
At the end of ten years, after the platting and survey, of this town, it had but three families living in it, two vacant houses, one house, Daniel Wright’s had been burnt, and twelve years elapsed after the town was laid out before a new house was erected. In 1828, Singer and Hilliard of Piqua built a frame building for a store room which in 1880 was still standing and was the oldest building in the village at that time. For years Covington was only important in so far as it afforded the farming community a chance to exchange their products for “cash or trade”.
Michael Ingle tanned the first leather, 1819, and his reputation as a superior workman lived after him. The Hank brothers established a tannery in 1820 which was known as the Covington Tannery and was located on the east side of Main Street and just south of the present armory grounds. Between 1816 and 1817 Phillip Hartzell settled west of Greenville Falls and was the first to manufacture pumps. Benjamin Lehman operated the first wool carding machine in the locality and subsequently; in 1826 Thomas Bolles added a fulling machine to the industries of the place. An English syndicate of Smiths first built and operated the large flour mills and distilleries at Greenville Falls. The copper shops were no small part of their milling interests, working 40 men, while in their saw mills lathes turned out a large class of miscellaneous wood work. In fact this was one of the most extensive and flourishing enterprises of its day in western Ohio, and taken as a whole, represented a large manufacturing establishment. In 1817 the first distillery was erected and followed by four in succession and whiskey was floated to New Orleans in considerable quantities.
One of the most interesting phases of pioneer history was the utilization of the country’s water power. Our township has more than its share of streams on which many mill sites existed. The first to erect mills were Noah Davenport and his brother-in-law, Wagner. He purchased a tract of land from Michael Ingle near Harrison Creek and Stillwater and in 1815 established a grist mill and started to erect a saw mill. About the same time Jacob Ullery erected a saw mill on Greenville Creek in the southeast corner of section 30. He also started on a grist mill. Davenport was first grinding and Ullery was first sawing and both mills operated many years before another mill was built. In 1820 more settlers came, mostly from Pennsylvania; Phillip Hartzell Jr., Bob Casper, The Mohlers, Shellabargers, more Ingles, Kensingers, Hollopeters, Cassels, Wagners and Wises. They were followed shortly by the Fahnestocks, Crowels, Whitmers and Hoovers. All these settlers had very large families and any family with less than twelve was called a small one. In 1825 the Covington Tannery went out of business and in 1826 was purchased by Benjamin Lehman who operated it until 1830 when he sold to John Ross. In 1825 Michael Ingle planted the first wheat and no longer harvested it when the barn caught fire and burned to the ground.
NEWBERRY TOWNSHIP had not been long settled when the need was felt for an educational system. The first house for this purpose was erected at a spot which is now half way between route 36 and the Highland cemetery, on the west side of the road. It was built in 1815 or 1816 and did not long remain. The second school house was built about 1819 a half-mile farther north on the east side of the road (Highland Cemetery) and remained long in use. The first teacher in the house was Andrew Ballard. In other parts of the township school was held in dwelling and vacant cabins, one being the Trotters Creek settlement where John Barbour and Benjamin Dunham taught. In 1824 an acre of ground was deeded to Newberry Township on whicn was built a hewed-log school house. The first teacher in this building was William Dowler who taught for several years; other early teachers were James Perry and Moses Mitchell. As the population increased we find the township divided into districts each having its brick school house and an acre of ground for recreation. This system prevailed until 1931 when the last building was abandoned for the centralized system. The buildings were sold at auction, some being used for dwellings, storage, etc. One, No. 7 was sold to the American Legion for a meeting house.
The Trotters Creek Church was organized in 1820 by Mr. Stackhouse and the meetings were held in homes and barns. Caleb Worley became its pastor in 1824 and continued as such until 1846 at which time the congregation merged with the Covington Christian Church.
Meetings of the German Baptist Church were held as early as 1816 in barns and dwellings under the leadership of Michael Etter. The Harris Creek Church was built in 1855 due to an increase of members in that locality. In 1892 the non-progressive branch of the German Baptists left their church in Covington and built a frame meeting house east of Covington on the Farrington Road. In 1950 it was torn down and replaced by a modern brick structure. Prior to this the congregation had split and part of the m purchased the old number nine school and remodeled it for their church in 1931.
The Greenville Creek Christian Church was organized by Caleb Worley in 1843 and their first church was built in 1844, being replaced in 1882 with the present structure.
The Union Church on the Union Church Road no longer exists having been recently torn down due to the fact that the building was no longer safe. This was one of the oldest churches in the township. (Built 1852.)
The St. Johns Evangelical Church located on the Shelby Miami County line was organized in 1875 and was mostly served by the pastor of the Covington Lutheran Church. This church was destroyed by fire in 1938 and the members united with other Lutheran Churches.
All burials at this time were made in small family cemeteries or in churchyards, the largest and oldest being that at Sugar Grove. The family graveyards were very numerous and every section had two or more. These small cemeteries today are being cared for by the Township Trustees.
The growth of Covington in this period was very slow, the village having only three families in 1826. On August 29, 1828 Robert and William Robertson laid out the plot of New Jefferson which was a spot between Main and High Streets beginning at the section line north of the railroad (today) and extending south 57 rods. This was later added to the Village of Covington.