1800’s: First Findlay Settler
By R.L. HEMINGER
The first permanent settler in both Findlay and Hancock County was Benjamin H. Cox. He was a native of Virginia. He came to Ohio early in the new century, settling first in Greene County, then in Logan County. He served as a scout in the armies of General Hull and General Harrison.
At the close of the War of 1812, Mr. Cox, who had lost the sight of one eye, came to Fort Findlay. He had often visited the fort on the Blanchard River and in 1815 brought his family here and took possession of a story and a half hewed-log house which had been erected by a sutler (one who sells provisions) of the garrison, during the war.
A daughter was born to the Coxes in 1816. She was the first white child born in the county.
Mr. Cox was described as a typical backwoodsman. He cleared and cultivated some of the land near the fort and kept a small tavern. He was fond of hunting, the early records indicate. He was on friendly terms with the Indians.
When Wilson Vance arrived in the fall of 1821, to settle here and organize a community, Cox gave Vance his house and removed to a smaller cabin. In 1823, Cox left for Maumee and later lived near Portage in Wood County, subsequently moving to Indiana, where he died.
Jacob and William Moreland came from Ross County in 1821 to settle here. They built a cabin on the north bank of the river. William was elected overseer of the poor in 1824.
John Simpson also came here from Ross County in 1821 with his son John. The father was killed by a falling tree limb two years later.
John Gardner and family arrived in 1822 and settled on what is now the site of Maple Grove Cemetery. He was later elected one of the town’s fence viewers.
Isaac Johnson and his family came in 1827. John Boyd also was an 1827 arrival, as was John Jones, who was elected constable of the town soon after his arrival. Jacob Foster came in 1828 and William Dulin arrived in 1830.
Leonard Tritch came from Crawford County in October 1829, and entered 160 acres on the east edge of the town. He was a native of Maryland. He was a carpenter and followed that trade here. His wife died in 1838 and he passed away in 1842. A son was Parlee Tritch, father of the late Dr. J.C. Tritch. The wife of Dr. Charles Oesterlen, discoverer of gas in Findlay, also was a daughter of Leonard Tritch.
Abraham Schoonover, a native of Pennsylvania, came in 1830, while John Baker, Richard Wade and Henry Folk also were 1830 arrivals. Wade later moved to Jackson Township and struck a vein of gas while digging a water well. This is reputed to have been the first gas discovered in Hancock County and was one of the reasons Dr. Oesterlen felt it might prove profitable to drill for gas on a big scale locally.
Robert Bonham Sr., a native of Pennsylvania, came to Findlay in 1830. He died in 1875 when 83 years old.
Daniel Andreck, John Bishop, John Harritt, Benoni Culp and Jacob Feller were 1831 arrivals. The latter was a native of Pennsylvania. He was married to Miss Mary Powell, of Fairfield County, and they had a large family consisting of seven sons and five daughters.
John Byal arrived in 1832 and William Byal in 1833, both coming from Stark County.
Other settlers in 1832 included Thomas G. Whitlock, Alvin Schoonover, Peter Deamer and Samuel Spangler. In the spring of 1833, Anthony Strother arrived. Frederick Diduit, a native of Scioto County, reached here in 1833. He married Helen Gilruth, daughter of the Rev. James Gilruth, a pioneer Methodist preacher in this locality.
Other arrivals around 1834 to 1836 included Samuel K. Radabaugh, Emanuel Phifer, Henry Baker, Samuel Snyder, George Hollenbeck, Samuel Switzer, Henry Baer and Aaron Alban.