SALEM TOWNSHIP — Roy Midkiff is proud of his long association with Star Grange #778 and focused his account of Salem history primarily on Star Grange.
“Star Grange is the oldest organization in Salem Township, established, 145 years ago on March 23, 1874. When it started there were 37 members, 22 men, 15 women. They meet in a house where the building is now sitting. After two years the members purchased the one half acre of land for $25 and built the Grange hall.”
The purpose of the nationally established organization was to bring farm families together and advocate for legislative issues that affect those in the farm community at all levels of government.
A newspaper article written in 1881 reported the organization had grown to include 139 members. Another article from 1884 wrote that the group had enjoyed a picnic.
Through the years Midkiff said Star Grange has supported numerous educational opportunities for both adults and children and has continued to be a place for farm families to socialize.
One project was purchasing dictionaries for third graders in the township and organizes a Fun Day for students. Midkiff said members also volunteer for projects at Carleton School in Syracuse, provide fruit baskets to those less fortunate, encourage participation in 4-H, and enjoy many other community activities.
Midkiff said in the past members would sell coal for eleven-and-a-half cents per bushel and a cord of wood $1.50 to raise money for the organization.
The site of Star Grange was recently honored with a bicentennial marker by the Meigs County Bicentennial Committee.
A Tale involving wolves in Salem Township as told by Eliza Watkins in the “Pioneer History of Meigs County” involves the family of Salem’s first settler Captain James Merrill, a sea captain who decided to settle in the Northwest Territory on land purchased from the Ohio Company. Apparently, Merrill did not give up his seafaring life entirely, as noted in the following story.
Mr. Erastus Stow, at an early period, when a young man, was employed by Captain James Merrill to stay with his family in Salem while he (Captain Merrill) was taking a vessel from Marietta to the ocean. Young Stow started with ten bushels of corn to get ground on the Ohio or Muskingum.
After being gone a week, he returned to the mouth of Leading Creek. He then took a bushel of meal and started for home and walked as far as Mr. John Miles, where he stopped and borrowed a horse and proceeded on his way.
Before he reached home it became dark, and wolves began to howl and made an attack on him. Both he and the horse were frightened. He threw off the bag of meal, put his feet on the horse’s flanks and his arms around the animal’s neck and made all speed to his home.
When he arrived, Mrs. Merrill and the family came out, having heard the noise, and with firebrands drove the wolves away.
The next day they found the sack of meal, which had been torn open, but the contents not destroyed.
Such incidents did not often occur, and the people did not seem to apprehend much danger. Women and children often went through the woods, hunting berries and grapes, or frequently to hunt the cows, that would often stray from home.
· Named after Salem, Massachusetts by members of the Ohio Company.
· One of 14 townships in the state of Ohio with that name.
Township Tales and Tidbits for Sutton Township were presented by Roy Midkiff during the Chester Shade Historical Association Banquet. There is so much to learn about Meigs County, so many interesting “Tales and Tidbits”. If you have some you would like to share, please send them to L.Faudree.Hart@gmail.com. Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for The Daily Sentinel.