Defiance County

First Settlers of Washington Township

The first white man to locate in the present bounds of Washington Township was Jesse Donley of Athens County, Ohio, who came in 1827 and remained two years.  On returning to the Raccoon Ridge of his native county, he remained two years, and in 1831 became a permanent resident of Washington Township, locating on the quarter section two miles east of [what is now] Ney.  Here was born his daughter, Eliza, on October 2, 1831, the first white child born in Washington Township, whose early playmates were Indian children. Jesse Donley laid out a town on his farm and called it Texas, but his house was the only one built there! Donley died in 1843. With Donley came his father, his sister-in-law Nancy Donley, a widower and family, his brother-in-law, Zacheriah Hurtt, and Peter Dodd and their families.

Andrew Bostetter came in 1837 from Jefferson County.  William Pearce and family came in 1836 from Richland County but soon afterwards he died.  Linius Doud and family came from Geauga County in 1840, locating east of Ney.  David Strawer and family came from Ross County in 1842.  Hezekiah Hanna came from Fairfield County in 1841.  Then came his brothers William, Henry, Isaac, and Nathaniel, the last in 1845.  Isaac located in Tiffin Township. 

Levi Tarr came from Richland County in 1841 and drowned at Brunersburg, June 8, 1848.  William Pearce, Jr., came in 1844.  Benjamin Lintz came from Stark County in 1844.  George Keller came in 1845 from Pennsylvania. Archibald Campbell in 1845 also came from Pennsylvania.  John Kintner came in May 1844 from Columbiana County first settling in Mark Township for a short while.

George Ridenour came from Harrison County in May 1839.  In 1846 he laid out Georgetown in 28 lots on his farm.  In time it grew and when the Cincinnati and Northern Railway came, Georgetown became Ney, as the name Georgetown conflicted with the other Georgetown in southern Ohio.  The town really commenced to grow when the right of way for a railroad was laid out but which never was built.  In the hard winter of 1843-1844, Mrs. Ridenour took the straw from her beds to feed the suffering cattle.

Washington Township was organized in 1848.  The population in 1848 was 98.  Samuel Ridenour, Zacheriah Hurtt, Andrew Bostetler and S. P. Camerson were early Justices of the Peace.
Voters in 1845 were the following:

There may have been other voters but they are not on record.

A contract between the trustees of Washington Township and John Donley and Zacheriah Hurtt, dated 27 March 1845, agrees to pay them $40.00 to build al bridge 216 feet long, 12 feet wide, 14 feet high, over Lock Creek on the farm of John Ury on the east side of what is now Ney.  Nathaniel Hanna split and furnished the planks and timber for this bridge.


  1. Historical Atlas of Defiance county, Ohio 1876 pp. 20-23
  2. History of Defiance County, Ohio 1883 pp. 369-374
  3. The Chronicle (newspaper) Sherwood, Ohio  5 Jan 1912

(Submitted by David W. Bennett)

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