Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday for the next 12 weeks The Daily Sentinel will be publishing articles of Township Tales and Tidbits as told at the recent Chester Shade Historical Association Banquet. This is the first in the series of articles.
OLIVE TOWNSHIP — The land now designated as Olive Township was originally part of Athens County, but was “set off” in 1819 during the reallocation of land from Gallia and Athens to form Meigs County.
The township is named for Olive Reed, daughter of Major Reed, who came to the area after the War of 1812; (Major was his name, not his rank). He later became a Meigs County Commissioner and Justice of the Peace.
The township’s municipality of Reedsville is one of the highest points in elevation along the Ohio River between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. The name was also taken from the name Reed — originally Randolph’s Landing, it became known as Reedville when Thomas C. Hardman became postmaster 1863, and later became Reedsville (with an s) in honor Major Reed’s brothers.
Settlers to another town, Long Bottom, arrived before 1800; William Buffington joined the Rairdon and Colman families in 1808. As the population grew, a gristmill, post office (which was kept on a farm), churches and stores were built.
In 1819, as recalled in the Pioneer History of Meigs County, “this locality (Long Bottom) was an almost unbroken forest,” and the leading business of the place was “the working up of the splendid forest into staves, and the manufacture of various kinds of caskets.”
The east side, Olive Township is bordered by the Ohio River, and according to Mary Cowdery, Long Bottom has always claimed the title of being the location of the sharpest bend in the Ohio River.
Cowdery related that she was not sure if this was an official statement, but said “when watching boats navigate the sharp bend, one often notices the difficulty, and only the most experienced pilots are able to do so with ease.”
As the township land was cleared of trees, settlers found the soil ideal for farming, and the area became known for large vegetable farms.
Current industry in the area is the Chester-Tuppers Plains Water Wells and Treatment Plant located in Long Bottom. The plant has been providing drinking water for the township and surrounding areas for over 45 years.
Olive Township was home to numerous schools during its development. Those schools are now closed, and the township’s educational system is part of the Eastern Local School District.
Landmarks include Forked Run State Park, Belleville Locks and Dam, and John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail markers.
Several historic cemeteries in the township include the final resting place of Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War soldiers.
The township is rich in history, and continues to explore and acknowledge those early settlers. On June 20, 2015, a Patriot Grave Marking Ceremony for Revolutionary War Patriot Jacob Cowdery (1762-1846) was held at the Cowdery Cemetery in Long Bottom.
Mary Cowdery closed the interview with, “There are many churches in the township that strive to be a guiding light to the people living in the area…Olive Township is a good place to live.”
Written by Lorna Hart, with contributions from Mary Cowdery. The information on Olive Township was presented by Meigs County Bicentennial Ambassador Brielle Newland during the Chester Shade Historical Association Banquet.