From The History of Clark County, Ohio
Chicago: W.H. Beers & Co., 1881 - Page 443
By Oscar T. Martin
One of the pioneers in the profession of medicine in Springfield, Dr. William A. Needham, came from Vermont in 1814. He first lived in a small log house in the vicinity of Lagonda, but, in 1817, moved into his new frame house on the southwest corner of Main street and the alley east of Limestone street, opposite the building now owned by William Burns. The Doctor became a popular physician and leading citizen. He was a jovial man, full of quips and pert sayings, and his social qualities and kindness of heart gained for him a large circle of friends. He was the father of the wives of Samson Mason and Jonah Baldwin, and died in Springfield in 1832, aged sixty-five years.
Elijah Beardsley, originally from Connecticut, came to Springfield in 1815, bringing with him a wife, two sons and six daughters. He first occupied a log house that stood near the southeast corner of Plum and Main streets, and, with all its inconveniences, he made it pleasant to many a weary traveler who wished to tarry for the night. One of Mr. Beardsley's daughters in later years married Ira Paige, and another, Laura, married James S. Christie, who, with her husband, is still living, and among the oldest of the present inhabitants of this city. Except a temporary residence of nearly three years in Cincinnati, Mr. Beardsley lived in Springfield until his death, October 2, 1826, aged sixty-six years.
Maddox Fisher, who came from Kentucky with his family in 1831, became one of the most enterprising and public-spirited of the early settlers fo Springfield. He possessed considerable wealth, and, soon after his arrival, purchased twenty-five lots, at $25 per lot, of Mr. Demint, most of them being located in the vicinity of the public square. He opened a dry-goods store on Main street, a little west of Limestone street. While prosecuting with energy his own trade, he was ever ready, by his influence and wealth, to aid in the improvement of the place he had chosen as his home, and which he believed would eventually become a large city. In 1814, he built a cotton-factory on the Rocks, near where Mill Run empties into Buck Creek, taking the place of Demint's old mill. It continued operations a few years, when it was changed into a flouring-mill. In this mill he did a profitable business until November, 1834, when the mill was destroyed by fire, at a loss of $6,000. The building of this factory, and afterward mill, seemed to have marked a turning-point in the history of Springfield. Prior to this, little business was doing; the inhabitants appeared discouraged, real estate had depreciated, and hard times were depressing. But this improvement of Mr. Fisher's gave a new impulse to trade and further growth. In 1815, he built a two-story brick house on the east side of Limestone street, just north of the public square, designing the same for a store and dwelling. In 1825, he built a handsome residence on the corner of North and Limestone streets, which afterward was partially incorporated in the fine dwelling of the late Dr. Robert Rodgers. in 1824, he served, with general acceptance, as Postmaster, and, in 1830, he erected the store and residence (since enlarged and built into a handsome block of four stories) now owned by his son, M. W. Fisher, on the southwest corner of Main and Limestone streets.
Mr. Fisher was a native of Delaware, where he was married at the age of twenty, after which he moved to Kentucky, and thence to Springfield. He was a man of medium height, somewhat fleshy, a true gentleman of the old school, a leading member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, quite entertaining in conversation, and very hospitable and kind to strangers, as well as to his numerous friends. He generally wore a straight-breasted, dark broadcloth coat, and his polished, silver-headed cane, and his well-filled silver snuff-box in one of his spacious vest pockets, were his constant companions. He died in this city October 22, 1836, in the sixty-fifth year of his age.
Ira paige was another prominent person who settled in Springfield in 1814. He was a native of Massachusetts, and, soon after his arrival, he established a woolen-factory, with Mr. James Taylor as partner, near by or in the basement of Fisher's flouring-mill, where jeans and flannels and woolen rolls were manufactured for customers. This business was continued by Mr. Paige for more than fifteen years, and was considered then an extensive factory. In 1832 and 1833, he represented the county in the lower branch of the State Legislature, and subsequently he became an Associate Judge of the Common Pleas Court, and sat upon the bench with Judges Service and McKinnon. During the latter part of his life, Judge Paige was engaged in farming. He was a man of excellent judgment and good, sound sense, coupled with intelligenct, strict integrity and fine social qualities. By his influence and force of character, he added much to the moral and social condition of the village and town. He died in Springfield in July, 1847, in the fifty-eighth year of his age.
James Johnson, a native of England, came to Springfield at an early date, and, in 1816, he built a large two story stone house on the south side of Main street, between Factory street and the alley east. He built also a small, one-story adition on the east end of this house, where, in 1817, he manufactured cut nails by hand. The nails used in buklding Dr. Needham's house were made here, and for several months the citizens were supplied with the article from Mr. Johnson's factory. He afterward removed to Pike Township, on Donnel's Creek, where he had purchased a farm, and erected a small mill. He here spent the remainder of his days. The two-story stone house was taken down in 1871, by Edwin L. Houck, who erected in its stead a fine three-story block, with a spacious hall in the third story.
The last of the early settlers to whom we shall here call attention is Robert Christie, or Maj. Christie, as he was more familiarly known. He came from Washington County, Vermont, in the fall of 1817, with his second wife and eight children, and his aged father, Deacon Jesse Christie, then in his eighty-first year. A small frame house on Main street, below Yellow Springs street, was his first residence, but the year following his arrival he located on what is now known as the Bechtle farm, a part of which now constitutes the largest portion of Fern Cliff Cemetery. There was an unbroken forest from his residence east as far as Demint's cabin, extending north several miles. The land occupied by Wittenberg College and Fern Cliff was heavily timbered, the maple predominating over other trees. The wild grape festooned the trees in wild luxuriance. The species known as the fox grape was a very desirable fruit, and gathered in large quantities. Small game, with occasionally specimens of larger and more dangerous animlas, furnished sport for the expert hunter. A species of panther and several deer were shot while the Major resided on this farm. The Major was a wide-awake man, nervous, and quick in all his movements, and had a very intelligent and social family. His humble but hospitable dwelling was often the scene of merriment and good cheer, and the frequent resort of the neighbors and friends. On the 8th of April, 1819, his daughter Mary was married to Louis Bancroft. Their wedding tour was simply a horseback ride, both riding the same horse, from the farm to their new abode in the village. On the 8th day of April, 1869, Mr. and Mrs. Bancroft celebrated their golden wedding — in all probability the first event of the kind that occurred in the annals of this city.
A singular circumstance occurred in Maj. Christie's family while residing on the Bechtle farm. Their youngest daughter, Sarah, who was then in her teens, was very ill with the typhoid fever, and preparations were made for her shroud and funera. But a young physician who called to express his sympathy for the afflicted family, on seeing the supposed corpse, thought he discovered that the vital spark was still lingering. After labored efforts, her resuscitation was effected. She fully recovered from the illness, and lived to be twice married and rear a family of four sons and two daughters.
Of Maj. Christie's sons, two of them, James S. and Jesse Christie, Jr., became residents of Springfield, where they were influential men, taking an active part in the promotion of all that pertained to the welfare of the people. They were both for many years Elders in the First Presbyterian Church. The elder, James S. Christie, was particularly active in all the religious movements of the churches. He had the entire confidence of the people, and was several times recipient of the unsolicited office of Justice of the Peace.
The youngest son of Maj. Christie, Robert, was an early settler of Scott County, Iowa, and at one time an influential citizen of Davenport, Iowa. In August, 1822, Maj. Christie died, in the forty-seventh year of his age. He was buried with Masonic honors, in which fraternity he held an exalted rank. In January of the succeeding year, his father, Jesse, followed him, in his eighty-seventh year.
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