Editor’s note: For many years, local historian Jean Wallis provided a feature to The Times-Gazette called “Highland Guideposts.” She is updating and resubmitting some of those articles from time to time, including this one.
The first newspaper in Highland County was established in 1818 by Moses Carothers, a native of Berkeley County, Va. The Times-Gazette had its beginning as the Hillsborough Gazette and Highland Advertiser.
The first newspapers were printed in a building on present day Governor Foraker Place owned by Allen Trimble. Although the name has changed from time to time the newspaper has kept the populace in Highland County informed of what is happening in southern Ohio. Today the Times-Gazette is 198 years old and in two years will celebrate its 200th anniversary.
Highland County has produced three state governors, two governors for Ohio and one for Idaho. Hugh Allen Trimble was born 1783 in Augusta County, Va., becoming Ohio’s 8th and 10th governor. Joseph Benson Foraker was born 1846 in Paint Township, Highland County, becoming Ohio’s 37th governor and a United States Senator. Charles Gossett was born 1888 in Pricetown, Salem Township, becoming governor of Idaho in 1944.
The first post office in Highland County was New Market, with Jonathan Berriman, a native of Cumberland County, N.J., as postmaster. During the 19th century, 62 post offices were established in Highland County. Today only seven remain, Mowrystown, Sinking Spring, Hillsboro, Lynchburg, Highland, Leesburg and Greenfield.
Washburn Hill in Brush Creek Township is the highest point in Highland County with an elevation of 1,343 feet and located northwest of Fort Hill. It is named for the pioneer Washburn family who settled in the area in 1803. At the foot of the hill lies the Washburn family burying ground where sleep many of Brush Creek’s early settlers. The township trustees have restored the cemetery and built a road up to the graveyard.
During the first decade of the 19th century James Finley was known as the “New Market Devil,” the son of the Rev. Robert Finley, a Presbyterian minister who later joined the Methodist church.
James Finley became one of the leading circuit riders of the Methodist church and wrote five books on Methodist history. Two brothers of James also entered the ministry, John, who died at the age of 25 years and is buried in the back yard of a house in Augusta, Ky., which in the early days of the town was a Methodist church. WIlliam Finley, along with Michael Stroup, laid out the Mad River Road from New Market to Springfield.
The village of West Liberty was platted in 1817 by William Simmons. In 1836, when David Reece, the proprietor of Reece’s Mill (later McCoppin Mill) was serving the county in the state legislature, the citizens of the village had Reece petition to the legislature to change the name to Marshall. Some of you older folks will remember when Marshall was sometimes called Slabtown.
The village of Belfast was platted in March 1834 by James Storer, Jonathan Weaver and Lancelot Brown. In 1845 a post office was established and it was discovered that there was already a post office by the name of Belfast in Clermont County. So the postal department changed Belfast in Highland County to Bell. In 1910, after the post office in Clermont closed, Belfast got their name back.
The village of Mowrystown was platted in May 1829 by Samuel Bell, an influential businessman in Hillsborough and large land owner. The town was named in honor of Squire Abe Mowry, a highly respected citizen of the village.
We will continue next week with more Highland County history, including a look at Lynchburg, Paint Township, and some county court history.
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