Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Digging Into Rush Township History

Rush Township and Rushtown have an interesting history with more than their share of mystery. The Utts and a few others came here in 1797 and 1798. Then, many others came soon after, of whom are recalled Dan'l Kirkendall, George Herod, Thos. Jones, Thomas Arnold, Jas. Wallace, Wm. Russell, Mrs. Hester Brown and family and John Shultz.
Rush Township was the last of the municipal divisions of the county organized, and was taken wholly from Union Township, June 3, 1867. It is named for Dr. Benjamin Rush, an early physician and Founding Father of the United States.
From its beginnings of white settlement, Rush has been known for its immense quarries of freestone – as evidenced in the Inskeep Stone Works – and its popular inland waterways. However, to trace the history of human population in the area, one must research history dating back thousands of years ago. 
Tremper Mound

The Tremper Mound and Earthworks are located in Scioto County, Ohio about five miles north of Portsmouth on a plateau overlooking the Scioto River. The Hopewell culture (100 B.C. to 500 A.D.) – an archaeological periodization pre-contact American Indian people based on shared cultures and technologies – are believed to have built the mound and earthworks. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. The site proved to be one of the most prolific and important mounds ever investigated. 
The Tremper Earthworks included an earthen enclosure roughly in the shape of an oval with flattened sides. The oval was 480 feet by 407 feet with an opening in the southwestern part of the enclosure. At the center of the enclosure was a large, irregularly-shaped mound. Some people believed it was an effigy mound built in the shape of an animal, such as a tapir or even an elephant. Neither of these creatures lived in North America at the time the mound was built. It is still not clear if the mound had been built as an effigy.

William C. Mills of the Ohio Historical Society (now the Ohio History Connection) excavated the Tremper Mound in 1915. At the base of the mound, he discovered numerous postmolds that revealed the outline of an ancient wooden structure 200 feet long by 100 feet wide. The pattern of postmolds showed that there had been a main building with several smaller chambers at the eastern end.

Evidence supports that here was a large charnel house here. The complex pattern of compartments in the house gave the mound its odd shape. The Hopewell culture probably built additions to the charnel house over the years.

Unlike the Hopewell groups in Ross County, those using the charnel house at Tremper did not bury their dead in single graves or log tombs. On the contrary, about 375 persons were cremated in the 12 crematory basins. The remains were interred in 4 burial depositories. A fifth depository was empty at the time of the excavation. Two people were buried in graves beneath the floor of the charnel house.
The most significant discovery made at Tremper Mound was a collection of more than 500 objects that had been deliberately broken up and left in one of the eastern side chambers. Included in this deposit were 136 smoking pipes, most of which had been made from catlinite or pipestone. Ninety of these were effigy pipes and were carefully sculpted in the shapes of a variety of creatures. Some of the pipes look like hawks, owls, herons, and cranes. Other pipes found at Tremper resemble bears, wolves, dogs, beavers, cougars, otters, and turtles. 
The remarkable animal effigy platform pipes of the Hopewell culture are among the most delicate and naturalistic of these sculpted effigies. Tests have shown that the majority of the pipes were made from Sterling pipestone from northwestern Illinois.

The animals may represent the spirit guides of shamans who smoked the pipes to induce a trance state to assist with rituals of healing. Each animal may represent an individual's guardian spirit. The animal generally would be facing the shaman as he or she smoked the pipe. All of these pipes apparently were gathered together, smashed to bits, and buried beneath the mound at Tremper. Why? The mystery remains.

Many of the Tremper pipes are now on display at the Ohio Historical Center in Columbus, Ohio.


 Crichton's Inn
Crichton's Inn
Crichton's Inn was located near where McDermott-Rushtown Road connects with State Route 104 and the Ohio Canal. For those in Southern Ohio, it was a popular summer vacation spot with a large dining room, accommodating up to 100 people; 30 guest rooms; and a space in the yard for summer tent camps to house the overflow.
Visitors could access the inn by rail – a Norfolk & Western station was located in Rushtown a short distance away – or by canal – the Ohio-Erie Canal was also nearby.
Crichton's was known as a “swinging place” with a very popular attraction. Edward A. Glockner explained: “There was a hug forty-foot handmade hammock up there, and boys and girls would go up there and swing each other!”
Besides the gigantic hammock, entertainment at the inn included music, dancing, meals, hiking trails, and outdoor games The resort also offered a medicinal herb garden with cultivated ginseng, billiards, horseshoes, and a “two-lane bowling alley where you had to set your own pins.”
Marjorie Drew Lloyd relates, “When you arrived, there were fresh linens for the guests – the next clean linens you washed for yourselves. Guests also cleaned their own rooms, and families vacating the city heat would come for a month and do all their own cooking. It was nice, a home away from home, and even in the off-season, the inn's 30 rooms generally were full on weekends and holidays.”
Crichton's Inn closed in 1919 “when another mode of transportation was encouraging people to seek more complex entertainments farther away from home.” 
The Ohio and Erie Canal
The Ohio and Erie Canal, which was under construction in this area 1830-1832, crossed the farm of George Heroedh, a stone contractor. He built the Elbow Lock, Camp Creek culvert, and more. While the canal was being dug, his wife Elizabeth often cooked for 60 or more hungry workers.

George promised his wife when his contract was up, he would build her a Baptist church on their property. Until then, members met in homes. Some canal workers attended services and helped George burn bricks to build the new church called Bethany. The church was dedicated November 30, 1834, and was home to 127 members at the time.

Slaves also traveled this area, and in 1861, workers left their jobs to join the war causing Ohio to privatize the canal until 1877. In 1881 the G.A.R. formed, holding meetings at Bethany for living veterans.

Lock 49 at Rushtown 

Rushtown, Looking North

A Curiosity

On the farm of Henry Russell, on the top of what is known as Campbell's Hill is a spot – a depression of the earth's surface – to the extent of twenty feet in diameter, and about three feet deep. It is very nearly circular in form and its peculiarity is that it generates heat in winter. It is said that “in the coldest weather, with snow on the ground all around it, and the thermometer below zero, no snow as found in the depression or hole, and on holding a thermometer on the bottom it rose to fifty-six degrees above zero within ten minutes.” The depression has a pebbly bottom, very little dirt seen, and “has probably filled up in part.” This is known to be the condition of the spot since its discovery. Where does the depression lead? This is yet another unsolved Rush Township mystery.


Henry Towne Bannon. Stories Old and Often Told, Being Chronicles of Scioto County Ohio. Baltimore: Waverly Press. p. 274. 1927.

Andrew Lee Feight, Ph.D., “Canal Lock 48 & Rushtown,” Scioto Historical.

Newsletter of SCCOGS and the publication History of the Lower Scioto Valley.
Ohio and Erie Canal in Scioto County, Ohio.”

Virtual First Ohioans.” Section 5-B. Ohio History Connection.

Tremper Mound and Earthworks.” Ohio History Central.

Added Later -- Info on "The Curiosity"

 Patricia Williams, Retired English Instructor of Lucasville wrote ... 

"The William Russell mentioned in this story is my 3x great-grandfather. He came to this country as an orphan, first to Philadelphia, then down the Ohio to Maysville. He moved to Adams County and married Nancy Wood, daughter of Benjamin Wood. He lived sort of back and forth between Adams and Scioto counties. He was the first clerk of courts of Scioto County, served in the state legislature, and three terms in the US House of Representatives. He moved to Rushtown at the mouth of Brush Creek. He and a son were the first two people buried (on the same day!) in Rushtown Cemetery.). I've never been able to find out why they died at the same time.

"The James Russell mentioned was William's son. My father once hiked to the top of Campbell Hill ( directly across from Lucasville with the flasher towers) and saw the hot spot for himself. Another son, Albert, died in a confederate prison camp in Georgia and is buried at Marietta GA."

Patrick Crabtree, Local Historian and Naturalist or Lucasville ...

Patrick told me about the steam hole, which he said was situated on what was originally known as Camel Hill. While hunting, he found a meteorite near the site, which he described as a rather small frog-pond like indentation near a huge old hickory tree. He didn't retrieve the mass at the time, but after seeing a Nova presentation about such fallout years later, Pat and a friend attempted to find the steam hole. 

This trek was taken after an earthquake on the New Madrid fault line. Pat said he and his friend discovered that the entire landscape had changed -- gone was the steam hole and even the huge tree. He believes the spot was the site of a meteorite strike, and he thinks his find years earlier was just a part of a much larger object that hit and formed the steam hole.

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