Bounding through Brown & Adams County in Search of History

A couple of weekends ago, Sally, Andy and I visited my mother in Brown County.  We decided to take a jaunt around the area to visit a few of our favorite places, and hopefully, to find a few new points of interest. 

This crypt occupies the summit of the hill, shaded by a large tree

This crypt occupies the summit of the hill, shaded by a large tree

Brown & Adams Cty Sept 3, 2009 009

Georgetown:  A Beautiful Tomb

Our first stop was the Georgetown Cemetery, where we encountered this very interesting and elaborate crypt in a prominent location.  The marble statue at the apex of the roof is still beautiful in spite of (or perhaps because of ) the patina she has acquired over the last 90 years. 

Two women are interred here; their relationship to one another is not evident.  Clearly, the older of the two women purchased the tomb, as it is her name that adorns the lintel over the door.   The names of the occupants and their dates of birth and death are inscribed on tablets beside the steps up to the door.  Who were they?  If you know about Mary Shelton or Mary Cochran, please post a comment and enlighten us.

Mary Shelton

Mary Shelton


Mary Cochran

Mary Cochran

Incidentally,  if you visit Georgetown, you should visit U.S. Grant’s boyhood home and the school he attended as a young man, both of which are open to the public. 


Ripley, Ohio - destination of many fugitive slaves before and during the Civil War

Ripley, Ohio - destination of many fugitive slaves before and during the Civil War

Ripley: Home of Abolitionism in Ohio


After a hearty lunch at the Fireside Restaurant in Georgetown (highly recommended!) we headed down the road to Ripley, Ohio.  Ripley was a very important town in the days prior to and during the Civil War; it was a hotbed of  abolitionist activity, a major stop on the Underground Railroad, and the home of  Rev. John Rankin.  Rev. Rankin and his sons were conductors on the Underground Railroad, providing safe conduct to numerous fugitive slaves on their way to Canada and freedom.   Harriet Beecher Stowe was highly influenced by Rankin’s anti-slavery activities.  Sights not to be missed in Ripley include the Rankin House (check it out at,  the monument to the first abolitionists in Ohio, and Freedom Landing (right below the monument). 

Witness Tree seen from the riverbank

Witness Tree seen from the riverbankWitness Tree tablet

Freedom Landing

Freedom Landing


Commemorative tablet at Freedom Landing

Commemorative tablet at Freedom Landing

The trip to Ripley is well worth the drive – while you’re there, stop at Rockin’ Robin’s for ice cream – it’s a 50’s style soda fountain with great atmosphere.  Word of warning:  the “single dip” ice cream cone is a LOT larger than you’d think!

Adams County Heritage Center and a Brush with My Ancestors

 I have long known that my maternal grandfather’s ancestors were the first settlers of Adams County, Ohio.  Two  Ellison brothers made the journey down the Ohio River in 1790 along with seventeen other men and their families, all of whom had been offered property in return for settling at Massie’s Station, later called Manchester, Ohio.  Manchester was the first white settlement in the Virginia Military District.     Col. Daniel Collier, listed among the field officers of the 2nd Brigade, Ohio Militia in the War of 1812, was an early settler and leader of the community.  His son-in-law, Andrew Ellison was my great-great-great-great-grandfather (assuming that I’ve correctly calculated the number of greats, that is).   Andrew’s family owned a two-story log house on the ridge road (later called Vaughn’s Chapel Road) in Adam’s County built around 1803.  Why did I tell that story?  Well, for two reasons: first off, as a child, I played in that house, which was still standing on the original site right up until the late 1980’s, when it was sold, disassembled, moved to Loveland, Ohio and reassembled (or so I’m told – please contact me if you have info on this matter).   My Aunt Hattie Osman lived there with a flock of turkeys, ducks, geese, and a few score of cats until her death.  On the hill behind the house was the Ellison family cemetery where Andrew and many others are buried.

Plaque on the Heritage Center Building

Plaque on the Heritage Center Building

The second reason for this rambling account is that I recently paid a visit to the Adams County Heritage Center in West Union, Ohio to get a close look at great(x4)-grandpa Andrew’s rifle.  It’s in a glass case, incorrectly labeled as a cap & ball “musket”.  What it is, in fact, is an Ohio made half-stock hunting rifle (muskets are military firearms) of about .45 caliber with a beautiful curly maple stock and handmade iron furniture.  It is a cap and ball firearm, and that fact is troublesome.  You see, for Daniel Collier to have owned the rifle originally, it would have to have been built before percussion caps existed.  It would have to have been constructed as a flintlock rifle, then converted to percussion at a later date.  I’m not an expert, but such things did happen, so I’m assuming the rifle is authentic as represented.   I hope anyone who has information on these items will contact me – it would be nice get the facts straight and save the information for posterity.  

Andrew Ellison's rifle is the lower one in the photograph

Andrew Ellison's rifle is the lower one in the photograph


The label is inscribed "Cap & Ball Musket, Powder Horns, Circa 1840, Originally owned by Andrew Ellison (1811-1894), Son-in-law of Col. Daniel Collier, Presented by Stanley and Louise Rowe

The label is inscribed "Cap & Ball Musket, Powder Horns, Circa 1840, Originally owned by Andrew Ellison (1811-1894), Son-in-law of Col. Daniel Collier, Presented by Stanley and Louise Rowe









Since I’m also a bit of a fanatic about old bikes, I couldn’t help but notice a “Ben Hur” bicycle, circa 1890, stashed away in the back corner of the museum.  It has pneumatic tires, long since collapsed and hardened, wooden rims, wooden fenders laced onto the frame with cotton cordage, wooden handlebars, and an amazingly intact leather saddle with a relief opening in the center.  The relief opening looks exactly like those on modern “men-specific” saddles of today.  If you like bikes, you should check out this unique example of late 19th century technology.

Headbadge shows the name Ben Hur

Headbadge shows the name Ben Hur


How about those wooden handlebars?

How about those wooden handlebars?


The wooden fenders are laced to the frame with cotton cord, still intact.  Also note the flat tire - pneumatic tires were rare in 1890.

The wooden fenders are laced to the frame with cotton cord, still intact. Also note the flat tire - pneumatic tires were rare in 1890.



Outside the Heritage Center is a public area paved with bricks, some of which are dedicated to people who lived in the area, or have donated on their own behalf.  One of these bricks is inscribed in memory of my grandmother and grandfather on my mother’s side. 

Grandma & Grandpa Ellison's brick

Grandma & Grandpa Ellison's brick

 It ‘s nice to see that so many former residents of Adams County are remembered here.  Adams County Ohio is one of the most impoverished areas in the United States, with a per capita income of around $16,000.  Those of us whose parents were born there would do well to go back once in a while and think about how hard they worked to help us get to where we are today.

17 Responses to Bounding through Brown & Adams County in Search of History

  1. Chris Fagan says:


    I read with interest both this article as well as yours which dealt with your 1962 visit with Hattie Osmon. This past summer I too made a pilgrimage to Adams county. I am descended from Daniel Collier’s eldest son James. I did not make it to the cemetery near Dunkinsville but I plan to. I did however visit both the local newspaper office and the heritage center. I was referred to a gentleman who writes historical articles for the paper and spoke with him at length. He told me that the house was indeed sold, dismantled and moved to a suburb of Cincinatti (Loveland?). He also told me that the current resident of the Daniel Collier farm (Hattie’s Place)was named Moore. Mr. Moore was the person who sold the original house and for sure knows where it was re- erected. Also I was told that this gentleman is quite a nice person and would welcome a respectful inquiry as to the house’s specific location. I plan to contact him so that I can visit the house as well. I’m sure a quick google would turn up his telephone number if you are interested in finding the house.

    I look forward to hearing from you,

    Chris Fagan
    Brunswick, Ohio

    • danakennedy says:


      I suspect that the gentleman to whom you spoke was Stephen Kelley, who, in case he didn’t tell you, is also a descendant of the Collier family. I’m interested to hear about Mr. Moore, as I am hoping to contact him myself sometime soon. Please keep me posted and I’ll do the same for you.

      Dana Kennedy

    • Diana says:

      Just to let you know the house was dissasembled and erected to scale in Loveland. A very nice elderly couple live there. It is located at west Hatt Swank road. You wont miss it as they have a sign at the end of the drive way. I drive public transportation and pick him up alot.

  2. Michael Collier says:

    I am descended from Daniel Collier as well, but my grandfather does not know which son. My family went to Adams County but could not find the Collier Farm and i would like to contact the current owner as well. Also, I have always wanted to see a portrait of Daniel Collier and I was wondering if such a portrait exists.

    • danakennedy says:

      If you travel to Dunkinsville in Adams County, you will find Chapel Road. Chapel Road follows the ridge in a southerly direction. At the summit of the ridge, on the right side of the road, is the site of the Ellison Farm. This is the site of the log house referred to in my post, which was built by Daniel Collier’s son-in-law, Andrew Ellison. Collier’s farm was said to be “over on the next ridge”, whatever that means. The Ellison farm is now owned by the Moore family. As to the Collier farm, I suggest you contact Stephen Kelley via the Adams County Historical Society for information. Steve is a local historian. As to the portrait of Daniel Collier, there is one hanging in the Adams County Heritage Center, in West Union, Ohio. Andrew Ellison’s rifle, reputedly given to him by Daniel Collier, is also on display there.

  3. C.B. Collier says:

    My Family line came thru Daniels son, Richard. I have been to West Union and saw the rifle but did not see the portrait of Daniel. I guess I didn’t know it existed. Does anyone know if a copy could be had? I would love to have one. I live in Fla. now and can’t very easily go there. Any info would be greatly appreciated. C.B. Collier

    • Michael Griffin says:

      I am a descendant if Daniel Collier Sr. through Daniel Collier Jr.and down to my mother Opal Nedine Collier, still alive at 87, not to be mistaken as the Opal Faulkner Collier in Texas, deceased in 2000.
      I have been hoping somebody has a picture of the portrait of Daniel Collier they could scan and send me for my Collier book.It is completed and could ad more info in another printing.
      I have quite an extensive geneological file on the collier line and ancestry.
      I could Use of course any other stories and facts on Daniel and his ancestors.
      I could send info to who is interested of stories and facts.


      Mike Griffin

      • Mark Baker says:

        My gg Grandfather was Daniel Boone Collier 1836-1906 Adams Co then removed to Lincoln, OK
        I am desperately trying to make the connection between him and Col Daniel Collier.
        Anyone know?
        Mark, Sydney, Australia [o43376541 at yahoo dot com]

      • Margaret Stanton says:

        I would be very interested in your genealogical file on the collier line and any stories you may have. My husband is a descendant of Daniel Collier through his daughter, Catherine Collier, married to James Jackson.

        Margaret Stanton

  4. DennisStivers says:

    I found your artical to be very interesting. I am also a decendent of early settlers of Adams county Ohio. My 4th great grandfather was John Stivers who had a farm of 641 acres (Brier Ridge) awarded to him for his time in the revolutionary war. I just visited the Brier ridge church and cemetery yesterday.
    Dennis Stivers

  5. Cindy Ellison Watson says:

    I too am an Ellison Descendant, but of Arthur Ellison. In about 1977 I visited Hatie Osman and took photos of her and the house. In those days the house could only be reached from the north, not from Dunkinsville. As we drove the road turned from paved to gravel and then narrowed to to point that we had to stop and walk up the hill to Hattie’s. We were greeted by a gaggle of geese (her alarm system) and then as we knocked on the door she replied from the other side asking what we wanted. I said we were looking for info on my line of Ellisons. She opened the door holding an ancient rifle. she immediately knew the answers I was looking for without opening a book. Being from Northwest Indiana and a history lover this was one the most exciting experiences I ever had. She was an amazing woman. It was a true step back in time.Going in that cabin and seeing how nothing had changed in about 175 years in that house was like being on the set of Daniel Boone.I could have sworn though that she said that Daniel Collier built the cabin. She told a story about how he had come through that area as a soldier and said if he could he would come back and build a home there.Am I confused on this? I was so excited about being there that I accidently had my tape recorder on play and not record. Boy do I regret that. I went back there two years ago and found the site but it was fensed off with no trespassing signs so I didn’t get to see the cemetery.

  6. Calvin Crutchleo says:

    Visited the cabin on West Hatt Swank road yesterday. Older gentlemen that moved the house marked each log and each fireplace brick for exact assembly. He is very, very ill but his wife gave me a tour. The place looks like a museum. She was extremely nice. I pray for him but, like the cabin it appears that it is his time to move to a better place.

  7. Thanks a ton for spending free time to compose “Bounding through Brown
    & Adams County in Search of History Midlife Adventures on the North Coast”.
    Thanks again -Kristofer

  8. Margaret Stanton says:

    I am very interested in Daniel Collier history. My husband is a descendant through his daughter, Catherine Collier (married to James Jackson). I hope to travel to Adams County and visit the places there. If anyone can share information, I would greatly appreciate it.


  9. I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but
    your blogs really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back down the road. All the best

  10. Hello just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you
    know a few of the images aren’t loading correctly.
    I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.
    I’ve tried it in two different web browsers and both show the same

  11. robert barnhill says:

    I grew up on a farm close to this farm And remember Hattie very well. Many stories now coming back. I was present when the log house was dismantled, (Lonnie Moore sold it for $6500) and have a few of the hand made nails. I also have a rifle barrel that was found in the barn after the place was dived and sold. It is blacksmith made running from 15/16″ to a shade over 1″
    And am now collecting original components to rebuild it, as the bore is still excellent…I am on facebook, and will help anyone that wishes. I am Robert Barnhill (Tokahe Inaji)

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