As we Clinton Countians get ready to celebrate our 100-year-old courthouse this October, I was remembering my Ohio History teacher, Mrs. Mary Vance. I wrote about her once before and how she opened my eyes to our local history.
I remember being taught, and I also had to do a little research, that Clinton County along with 22 other counties made up the Virginia Military District. This land was reserved by the State of Virginia to satisfy its payment to its soldiers’ service for the American Revolution.
Soldiers were given a claim of ownership of land on their rank and years of service. Many of these individuals and their families settled in the area and are also entombed.
On Feb. 10, 1810 the General Assembly of the State of Ohio passed an act establishing the County of Clinton. Clinton County was named in honor of George Clinton, who was the Vice President of the United States. Our county seat was later established on Aug. 2, 1810 and it was first named Clinton.
On Sept. 10, 1810 the name was changed to Armenia. On Dec. 31, 1810 the name was again changed to Mount Pleasant.
The Clinton County Court of Common Pleas on Feb. 11, 1811 then ordered the name changed to Wilmington and also ordered that the name could not be changed without a Legislative Act.
The first Grand Jury of Clinton County was held on June 19, 1810. This information was obtained out of “History of Clinton County Ohio, Its People, Industries and Institutions” (Albert J. Brown, A.M. Supervising Editor) and I will be summarizing from this text.
At this grand jury only one indictment was returned — on a Cornelius Quick for horse stealing. The trial was conducted the next day and he was found guilty. Mr. Quick’s attorney asked the court for a new trial and the court granted a new trial which was held on October 17, 1810.
“Again Mr. Quick was found to be guilty, and damages in favor of the prosecuting witness, James Doherty (or Daugherty) were assessed at $2.25”. The court also ordered Mr. Quick to receive 50 lashings, on Saturday Oct. 27, 1810 at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Mr. Quick was also ordered to pay a fine of $20.
After the verdict was announced by the court, Mr. Quick requested Sheriff Jonathan Harlan to “retire him for a moment.” As the sheriff walked with Mr. Quick, Mr. Quick (as reported) “manifested considerable more nimbleness of step than had been noticed before. Mr. Quick gained distance on Sheriff Harlan and he bounced away like a deer.” Please do note that while I was researching this, the records also stated that “this was the nearest approach to a public whipping for a crime ever attained within the county.”
Clinton County has many living history sites: the Carnegie Library in Wilmington, the Wilmington College Administration Building, the Port William Dam, the Covered Bridge on Martinsville Road, the Blanchester Armory, the Sara Rose House in Sabina, Wells Toys in New Vienna, and many more.
Clinton County has approximately 23 miles of US 68, which on June 1, 1998 the Ohio Legislature designated “Simon Kenton Memorial Highway” which runs from the north edge of the Simon Kenton memorial bridge over the Ohio River at the municipal corporation of Aberdeen in Brown County and extends to the north boundary of the municipal corporation of Kenton in Hardin County.
We as Clinton Countians are privileged to have such a wealth of history. So, when out and about, take time to look around at our great County and visit some of our history.
Kelly Hopkins is the Past All-State Post Commander for the VFW Post 6710, President of the Clinton County Leadership Institute and currently the Chief Bailiff of the Clinton County Common Pleas Court.