SCIPIO TOWNSHIP — Scipio Township has several claims to fame, including the strongest man in Southern Ohio, a town named for a president, the township named after a Roman general, and “The Devil’s Table.”
Settlement began in 1799 with the arrival of Jeremiah and Rachel Riggs. They built their cabin in the area now known as Pageville and were the parents of the first child born in the township.
Other settlers followed, including Samuel Downing. According to “Meigs County Pioneer History”, Downing journeyed from Waterville, Maine, in 1815 “overland to Pittsburg and then floated down the Ohio River on a raft or flatboat to Gallipolis, Ohio. In February, 1818, he removed to Scipio Township, Meigs County, where he purchased land and opened a valuable farm.”
Records show he was a surveyor, served as justice of the peace, township officer, and one of the first county commissioners. The first district school house was built of logs and located on his property.
His son George was a blacksmith and a surveyor, served as justice of the peace, and helped organize an independent company of militia. “Pioneer History” describes him as “a large, well-proportioned man, of great strength, supposed to be the strongest man in Southern Ohio. Many stories were told of remarkable feats of lifting great weights and other exhibitions of strength.”
The town of Harrisonville was arranged in 1840, and named in honor of William Henry Harrison, who served as a U.S. congressman and senator from Ohio. Harrison was elected as the 9th president of the United States the same year that Harrisonville was bestowed his namesake.
It is hypothesized that Scipio Township was named after Scipio, New York, and Scipio, New York was named for Scipio Africanus, the noted Roman general who defeated Hannibal during the Punic Wars. Scipio was purported to be one of the greatest military strategists of all time, and many cities throughout the world are named in his honor.
“The Devil’s Tea Table”, an unusual rock formation, has long been the subject of curiosity and photo opportunities. Currently, information as to its name and discovery were unavailable.
In closing, an interesting Tidbit was published in The Meigs County Republican Wednesday, October 2, 1889: The barn of Arthur Gibson, of Scipio Township, Meigs County, took fire in a very mysterious manner one evening recently just at dusk. Mr. Gibson had the horses and closed the barn. He had eaten his supper and was just starting to see a sick neighbor when he saw a light in his barn. Hurrying to the barn he found the bedding on fire behind two horses and the flames almost reaching the hay above. Help and prompt action saved the premises. Mr. Gibson is wholly unable to account for the origin of the fire as none of the family had been about the barn with fire, matches or cigars, and he feels sure that he hasn’t an enemy in the world who would thus lay a hand on his property.