BEDFORD TOWNSHIP — Kim Romine and her ancestors have a long and continuing presence in Bedford Township, and she told several stories during her presentation of “Tales and Tidbits: Bedford”at the Chester Shade Historical Association Banquet.
“My grandparents and great grandparent lived in Bedford Township, and they shared some stories with me as I was growing up. Not a lot of exciting things happened, other than a few fires and aliens landing.”
Romine said in regard to the alien landings there was nothing she could verify, so she chose not to include them.
She began her story by saying, “Bedford was originally part of Athens County, and one of the original townships surveyed. One of the first settlers was Harley Kingsbury. He came to the area to farm in 1810, and he was just not a good farmer, so bad in fact, they named his property Kingsbury’s Deading.”
Other settlers had better luck. According to Meigs County Pioneer History, John Newell, a tanner and shoemaker, came from Massachusetts in 1816. Although he had purchased land in Bedford Township, his family stayed in Fairfield County, Ohio, until 1819, “when he had cleared the land and other families had settled in the neighborhood.”
Another settler mention in Meigs County Pioneer History is Job Story, “one of the earliest settlers of that township and a pioneer abolitionist who ever dared to vote his sentiments even in old Bedford. He died in 1883, aged 91 years.”
The township was known for orchards, distilleries, and poultry production, and Romine’s Great Grandmother Hinze worked in the Maple Lawn Poultry facility. Now the Maple Lawn Brewery is named for it.
She remembers her mother and grandmother telling stories about the time the wells were being drilled.
“My mother and grandmother told me stories about the big oil and gas big boom in the 1940’s. There were wells being drilled all over Hemlock Grove. At night the lights were so bright it was like day, everyone would bring their lawn chairs and watch the drilling, it was entertainment. What do you do in a small town in the days with not very many roads or cars, they had to have something to do, it was exciting!”
“It was a big boom to the local economy, at one time Bedford Township was the most productive oil township in Ohio. Now all that’s left are lots of holes in the ground.”
Romine then shared a personal story, and the reason for her interest in Hemlock Grove.
“The Hemlock Grove post office was open for 133 years. As a small child I remember spending time in Hemlock Grove with my great grandparents. We would go to post office, there were about 36 cubby holes, and you would get your mail from one of the cubbies. Then we would go to the grocery and get AJM, All Jersey Milk, you would get bread, and then ‘neighbor’ with people.”
There were five post offices: Burlingham, Kingsbury, Flora, Darwin, and Hemlock Grove, which has the title of being in operation the longest, from 1851 to 1984.
Romine’s great grandfather Avery Nelson was a post master from 1912 to 1921, and also a Meigs County Commissioner.
She said who she remembers at the post office was Mildred Smith.
“I remember Mildred Smith, “Sidder” as she was called, as postmaster. She served from 1956-1984, and when she retired they closed the post office. Her license plate had the Hemlock Grove zip code on it, 45738.”
By that time Romine had, “gotten to know her really well. Sidder also managed the Hemlock Grove Cemetery and mowed the grass, and when she could no longer do it, now I do it, my great grandfather Nelson is buried there.”
As an aside, she said Bedford Township had a fife and drum corps that was organized in 1885. In 1900, the group marched in the Pomeroy Political Parade for the McKinley- Roosevelt presidential election. Jim Hazelton, my neighbor, was part of the corps in the 1930’s.”
She said she couldn’t find any other survivors, but “I mow past them in the Hemlock Grove Cemetery, I recognize the names!”
“When Sidder couldn’t drive anymore, I asked her what she would do with her license plate number, I told her I would like to have it, and she gave her permission.”
Now, Romine proudly displays 45738 on her vehicle.
When asked why it was important to her, she said, “Because I plan on living the rest of my life in Hemlock Grove, and the 45738 zip code for Hemlock Grove lives on!”
Presented at the Chester Shade Historical Association Banquet by Kim Romine. Written from the Tales and Tidbits transcript with additional information included by Lorna Hart.