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* Like most river bottoms, it forms a valuable soil, and is not subject to the disadvantage of occasional overflow. East of the beach ridges, and between them, the plain is of a rich, friable clay loam, entirely stoneless, and varied near the ridges by streaks of sandy loam. It is formed of fine material derived from the Erie clay, and spread smoothly by lake currents. Lying so nearly level that the water of rains runs off but slowly, it has accumulated a rich store of vegetable mold, and needs but thorough drainage to develop its wealth. This covers the greater part of Pulaski, Brady and Springfield ; but in the latter towns are some slight swells exhibiting the gravelly clay of the western portion of the countytruncated knolls of the Erie clay that were not covered by the lacustrine deposits.
BUILDING AND ROAD MATERIAL. Williams County contains no stone quarry, and the great depth of the drift forbids the hope that one may be discovered. In the northern and eastern towns, bowlders have sufficed for the foundations of farm houses; but most of the land east of the lake ridges lacks even these.
The entire subterranean water supply is from the sand and gravel beds of the Erie clay. Where the country is rolling, springs abound along the streams, and nearly everywhere water can be cheaply obtained by boring. In the western and northern parts, shallow wells, ten to twenty feet deep, generally suffice; but, in the remainder, a depth of fifty feet is not unusual, and many wells exceed one hundred feet.
The famous artesian wells of the Maumee Valley, the first of which were developed at Bryan, in 1842, have their source in the Erie clay. They have now become so numerous, and the search for them has been so general, that their distribution in this and the adjoining counties is pretty well defined, and some explanation of them may be given. They are found in a belt of country which, in common with the other geological features of the vicinity, has a northeast and southwest trend. Its western limit is the more definite, and, through Defiance County and the southern part of Williams, follows close to the upper beach line; the belt then follows more to the east, and terminates in Gorham, Fulton County. Its width varies from two to ten miles, and seems to be affected by the proximity of a deep cutting stream, as the Maumee River, or the lower course of Bean Creek. The beds of sand are sometimes isolated and dry, and sometimes connected in broad systems, through which water percolates, following the descent of the land. West of the upper ridge, it finds its way to the surface at many points, forming springs along the streams; and the water, in neighboring deep wells, rises no higher, or but little higher, than these springs. East of the ridge, the unbroken lacustrine clay cuts off the discharge through springs, as far as the nearest deepcutting stream. This taps the sand-beds, and lowers the head for some distance; but the sand, through which the water seeps, affords sufficient resistance to maintain an artesian head near the ridge. The discharge, though copious, is sensibly limited. Every new fountain well diminishes the flow of those near it, and, as the number of wells in a locality increases, the head is lowered. I am informed by Mr. Hess, a well-borer in Bryan, that in that place it has fallen about three feet in the last seventeen years, so that many wells, which originally flowed, now have to be furnished with pumps. The source of this ever-welling water, artesian and otherwise, is, of course, higher than the discharge, and, consequently, west of the lake ridges. Its perennial flow suggests a distant reservoir, while the small percentage of its mineral constituents, and their variable character, point to one near at hand. The superficial, yellow portion of the Erie clay, is, in great part, permeable, and, storing a portion of the water that falls on it, yields it gradually to the underlying sand beds whenever it touches them. This, the ordinary explanation of springs rising from the drift, seems to me quite adequate to account for the supply of these wells.
The mineral impurities of the well, and spring water of the country, are as variable as the constitution of the clay from which they are derived. No analyses have been made, but the general facts are appreciable to the
The usual earthy carbonates, constituting it “hard” water, are always present, though not often in great amount. Oxide of iron, accompanied by sulphydric acid, is very common, and frequently in considerable force, giving a yellow coating to the spouts and troughs that convey the water. A few wells, in various localities, afford what is called “ bitter water."
This is rendered noxious, and fortunately, at the same time, unpalatable, by the presence of an iron, alum, or perhaps copperas. One well is worthless, from the presence of a gaseous hydro-carbon, and I am told that one or two others are tainted by the same.
STRYKER MINERAL WATER. In 1865, a well was commenced in Stryker under the superintendence of Hon. William Sheridan, Jr., of that place, in search of oil. With some intervals the work was continued until 1867, when it was abandoned, a depth of 860 feet having been attained. More recently, attention was attracted to a heavily charged mineral water that was met in limestone, probably of the Hamilton group, at a depth of 230 feet. In February, 1870, an analysis was made by Prof. S. H. Douglas, of the University of Michigan, which exhibited the presence of elements in the water of the highest medicinal value. The gas rises continuously, keeping the surface of the water in a state of ebullition. Periodically, a large volume finds vent at once, escaping with great force, and carrying the water with it in a foaming torrent. This continues from ten to twenty minutes, when the flow of gas gradually diminishes to a minimum, and the water subsides to eight or ten feet below the level of the ground, from which position it slowly rises until the next discharge. If the well is left open, this occurs in about six hours, but, by partially closing the top, it can be indefinitely delayed. On the other hand, it can be induced, after a shorter interval, by agitating the water in such manner as to give it a vertical oscillation. It would appear that the gas collects in some reservoir over a body of water, which it gradually displaces. When the water is forced so low that a little gas can escape by way of the well, it rushes out so rapidly that it blows away some of the water from the opening; it can then escape still more rapidly, and by this reciprocation the aperture is cleared, and a large volume of gas discharged at once. From the repetition of this process arises the periodicity of the overflow. By checking the escape of the gas above, it is prevented from rushing violently out of its storehouse, and an equilibrium is maintained, and it is easy to see how the agitation of the water would serve to precipitate the emission. This explanation is, of course, not demonstrable at the well, but is at present the only one suggested that seems to accord with the phenomena. A trifling amount of petroleum rises with the water, and, at the commencement of the discharge, the odor of carbureted hydrogen is plainly discernible, mingled with that of the sulphydric acid, but it is afterward lost. As the discharge progresses, there is a change likewise in the taste of the water. The well-known narcotic properties of the gas have been illustrated in the putting to sleep of several visitors.
NATIVE TIMBER. The primitive forest growth was tall and compact throughout the county, with the exception of a few hundred acres of “oak openings” (partly on clay and partly on sandy soil) in the township of Northwest. There are no prairies. The native timber was chiefly white elm, beech, white and burr oak, white ash, sugar and swamp maple, linden, sycamore, black, red and white oak, white wood, black and white walnut, black ash, elm, iron wood and buckeye. Of the small growth, or undergrowth, were
, dogwood, elder, black hiaw, plum, chokecherry, crabapple, prickly ash, papaw and sumac. Crossing the beach line to the more level country, less change is found in the variety of species than in their relative abun dance. The oaks, the sugar maple and the beech become less prominent. [For a portion of the above statements, the writer is indebted to the late J. H. Klippard, Secretary of the Ohio State Board of Agriculture.]
INDIAN AND FRENCH TRAILS. Since the settlement of the country by Europeans-Fort Wayne and Maumee City, in 1680, and Detroit, in 1710—and when French trading posts became established between the places named, lines of communication by trails were opened between these posts, and good traditional authority exists for the belief that at 'ast one of these Indian and French trails passed through Williams County. Maj. Suttenfield and wife passed over it on horseback, after Hull's surrender of the Northwestern army in the latter part of the summer of 1812, on their journey from Detroit to Fort Wayne. But railroad tracks and plowshares, a generation and more since, destroyed all vestige of this and many other trails that were so often trodden by the once powerful tribes who held dominion over this country.
COUNTY DRAINAGE. It is stated by Mr. Solier, the y.esent efficient County Auditor, that there has been expended by Williams County within about the last ten years, in the construction of open ditches alone, the enormous proximate sum of $250,000. Some sixty or seventy ditches have been built, several of which are many miles in length, and are now great outlets to large tracts of swampy land that have been reclaimed and subjected to cultivation. Two things in the county are rapidly contributing to the destruction of malaria : 1. The splendid system of tile and open drainage; 2. The constant opening of new and old lands to the action of the sun. It is stated by prominent physicians, who have long resided and practiced in the county, that within the last twenty-five years the decrease in malarial ills has been more than fifty per cent. This can be due to nothing else than a destruction of malarial causes by the cultivation of the soil and by drainage. Not satisfied with the results of the past, this county, in conjunction with Defiance County, is at present engaged in constructing the Forty-six Mile, or Big Swale, Ditch, which, the Defiance Times says, “is probably the longest ditch in the State of Ohio." It is to commence near Bryan, thence, with many ramifications and branches, is to extend southeast and finally find an outlet on the north shore of Maumee River. The cost has been variously estimated at from $60,000 to $150,000. There are at present about twenty tile factories in the county, furnishing in the aggregate about sixty thousand rods of tiling per annum, almost the whole of which finds a speedy utility within the limits of the county.
POLITICS OF WILLIAMS COUNTY. It has been said, and probably with much truth, that a cotemporary and active participant in political or religious conflicts that had divided populations of communities and States would be incompetent to write impartial history of scenes in which he had been an actor. Hence it has been affirmed that no one, on either North or South side, conspicuous during the progress of the late civil war, would be enabled to write a a faithful history of the great American conflict, and that the true historian who will undertake that work and prosecute it to right conclusions may not yet have been born. The writer of this was, at one time, engaged in the struggles of parties for political supremacy (not, however, immediately in Williams County); but he may with truth say that the heated passions engendered by former controversies have, with him at least, cooled down, and years ago have ceased to disturb him, and he therefore undertakes, with unfaltering belief that partisan animosities and prejudices have so far perished from his mind as to enable him to write an impartial and truthful history of the politics of Williams Countygenerally, however, supporting any statement he may make by official data that no one would attempt to controvert.
Williams County was organized the same year (1824) that the remarkable presidential contest occurred between Jackson, Adams, Clay and Crawford. The administration of Mr. Monroe had been so pacific and conciliatory in its measures that the party lines previously existing had become almost obliterated, and it appeared to be conceded that his policy had established “an era of good feeling." Means of communication with the outer
"” world inhabited by civilized people were then so limited, and newspapers and documents so scarce and difficult to obtain, that the political excitement among the new settlers was not sufficient to disturb neighborhood tranquillity. But when the election, under the forms of the constitution, was transferred to the House of Representatives, after the meeting of Congress on the first Monday in December, 1824, and when it became known that, by the decision of the House, the popular voice had been disregarded by the choice of John Quincy Adams, and intelligence of the result finally penetrated the fastnesses of the dwellers in the Northwestern Ohio wilderness, it aroused a feeling that had a tendency to form political classification, but sharp party lines during many years were not drawn, and even when they were did not embrace candidates for the popular suffrage of a lesser grade than Federal and State officers, and rarely extended to candidates for merely local offices, yet, in process of time, political organizations upon a broader basis were formed that contested for possession of the smaller grade of offices, and from 1828 onward the organization of political parties, although occasionally broken, has been generally compact.
The Abolition party ever had only a slight foothold in the county and so with the Anti-Masonic party. Until 1834, and for several years on