Introduction

There is no known "official" history of Darrtown. The best we have to work with are the Darrtown-related articles, journals, and/or stories that are handed down from one generation to the next. This "History" section of Darrtown.com provides an unofficial, well-intentioned, collection of such information.

 

Some items, in this website, conflict with others; such is the lot of those who attempt to capture history. We gather as many pieces of the puzzle as we can, position them to the best of our ability, and a more accurate record of the past gradually evolves.

 

If you have information that enriches this collection of Darrtown-related history and/or makes it more accurate, please contact the Webmaster.

"History never looks like history,

when you are living through it."

John W. Gardner (1933-1982)

 

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Early History

1802: The arrival of Conrad Darr, Robert Ogle, and William Ogle in Milford Township

1803; The construction of the Kyger family cabin

1814: The platting of Darrtown

1817: The opening of the Hitching Post tavern

1825: The opening of the Darrtown post office, which closed in 1907

1848: The construction and operation of Lane's mill.

Events leading up to the birth of Darrtown!

 

In 1802, Conrad Darr and Robert Ogle, and William Ogle, all from Pennsylvania, entered Section 28 of Milford Township, Butler County, Ohio. After making the entry, they returned home.

 

In 1803, Conrad Darr and Robert and William Ogle brought their families with them, and divided the section. Darr took the south half; William Ogle, the north-west quarter; and Robert Ogle, the north-east quarter. The section cost $1.25 per acre.

 

In 1805, Milford township was organized, which is only two years after Ohio was admitted as a state.

 

In 1814, April 4, Conrad Darr laid out Darrtown, and named it for his family (some early records cite the village as "Darr's Town").

 

Webmaster Note: The basic facts (above) regarding the birth of Darrtown appear in multiple sources; most notably pages 562-574 of the Butler County OHGen Web Project. To visit that site, click here.

Original Plat Located

 

Background: In early 2012, the Darrtown Bicentennial Steering Committee desired information about the "town square," i.e., the four public lots in the center of Darrtown.

 

At the request of Committee representatives, Darrtown native, Marvin Russell researched the records at the Butler County Register's Office and provided both the image at the right and the text that appears below.

 

The Bicentennial Steering Committee commends Marvin Russell for the time and effort that he voluntarily gave to locating this historic document!

 

Webmaster Note: A larger version of the original plat appears in the Maps section of this website.

The text of the original plat record appears in cursive handwriting, as seen in the diagram above. Marvin Russell's interpretation of that handwritten record reads as follows:

"Darrtown is laid off in the South West corner of Section numbered twenty eight in township numbered five of Range number two East of the Meridian line drawn from the mouth on the great Miami River in the county of Butler and State of Ohio.

The course of Main street is North thirty minutes West the course of Oxford Street is North eighty nine degrees and thirty minutes East, all the other streets and alleys are parallel to one or of said Streets, the streets are each three (poles-16.5 ft. ea.) in width, except Main street and Oxford Street, which are four poles wide, the alleys are each one pole wide.

The lots marked A. B. C. D. are each six poles square and are to be appropriated to publics uses. The half-lots numbered 60, 61, 68, 69 are each six poles square and all the residue of the in lots are each twelve poles in length from east to west by six poles in width from north to south containing each seventy-two square poles.

The out lots are twenty-four poles north and south by twenty poles east and west contain each three acres of land.

Given under my hand, this fourth day of April in the year of the Lord one thousand eight hundred and fourteen.

Conrad Darr

Proprietor of the town

State of Butler County of Butler remembered that personally appeared before Matth. Richardson one of the Justices in and for said county the above named Conrad Darr who declared and acknowledged that the above plan and description of Darrtown is correct and that the lots marked A. B. C. D. are for public uses, and that the streets and alley’s are to be kept open the purpose of passing and re-passing forever, and decides that this plat, description and the acknowledgment be recorded agreeably to have given under my hand US seal this fourth day of April in the year of our Lord eighteen and fourteen.

Matth. Richardson {seal}"

 

Three Newspaper Articles Tell Story of Darrtown's Founding

 

Webmaster Note: As of December 1, 2013, we have three newspaper stories that tell the story of how Conrad Darr founded Darr's Town and advertised lots for sale. The stories appear below, in reverse chronological order - which is the order in which these stories were found.

 

    1994 - Hamiton Journal News - written by Jim Blount

    1931 - Hamilton Evening Journal (the 1931 story incorporates the 1814 story).

    1814 - Western Star

1994 - Hamilton Journal News Article Recounts Early History of Darrtown

The following information was taken from an article, written by Jim Blount, that appeared in the Hamilton Journal-News, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 1994.

"Darrtown was 'high, dry and healthful,' Conrad Darr's 1814 advertisement claimed

"The 'high, dry and healthful situation can not be exceeded by none in the state,' boasted a Butler County developer in describing his available real estate.

Conrad Darr also emphasized there were 'more than 50 never-failing springs' near Darr's Town -- now Darrtown -- in his advertisements in weekly newspapers in 1814.

In 1802, Conrad Darr, Robert Ogle and William Ogle -- all from Pennsylvania -- paid $800, or $1.25 an acre, for the 640 acres in Section 28 of Milford Township. Darr and his wife, Catherine, established their family in the southern half of the section while the Ogles split the remaining 320 acres.

After farming some of the land for 10 years, Darr laid out a town, gave it his name, recorded the plat April 4, 1814, and placed ads in area newspapers. His description of the land started with this 82-word sentence:

'Laid out by the subscriber, a new town west of the Great Miami in Butler County, called Darr's Town, nearly between the towns of Hamilton and Eaton, being about nine miles from the former and about 17 miles from the latter, and very nearly on the line from Lebanon to Oxford; being situated on the farm where the subscriber has lived upwards of 10 years; and for a high, dry and healthful situation can not be exceeded by none in the state.'

The ad continued with a reference to the 'more than 50 never-failing springs' in the vicinity.

'Also within ninety poles of the town,' the ad said, 'is a seat for water works, which promises early and superior advantages to almost any in the county. Also, a grist mill, building within one mile of the town, together with a number of both grist and saw mills in complete operation, within three or four miles of said town.'

'This town being in the middle of the richest part of the Miami country and uniting so many superior advantages, together with the solicitations of a number of merchants and mechanics, have induced the subscriber to commence on Thursday, the 5th day of May next, and continue from day to day until the whole be sold or offered.'

Darr said terms of the sale would 'be made known the first morning of the sale,' and they 'will be easier to be complied with than what is common in this country.'

He said 'the plan of said town can be seen either at the recorder's office or with the subscriber. All kinds of mechanics, merchants, etc., are particularly invited to attend.'

Early county histories identify Abraham (or Abram) Darr -- not Conrad Darr -- as Darrtown's first resident and first merchant, possibly before the town was platted. Later, he was a Milford Township justice of the peace.

Abraham Darr also became the town's first postmaster in 1825, operating the service from his store and tavern. The post office continued for 82 years -- from Jan. 18, 1825, until Jan. 31, 1907.

The early histories report Conrad Darr, the town's founder, donated land for a Darrtown Town Hall, which was built in 1826 or 1827. It doubled as a church. A Darrtown school was built by George Howard, and a cemetery was laid out in by Thomas Cooch and a Mr. Markle."

 

1931 - Hamilton Evening News reports "Darr's Town" story from 1814 news item

 

The April 1, 1931 edition of the Hamilton Evening Journal included a story about an advertisement that appeared in the April 1, 1814 edition of the Western Star newspaper, published in Lebanon, Ohio.

 

The 1931 news item from the Hamilton Evening Journal included the following explanation of how the 1814 Western Star news article surfaced:

"The copy of this now historic publication was brought to the Journal office by H. W. Carey, mayor of village of Trenton. The publication is the property of his wife and was originally subscribed for by her great-grandfather.

Of special interest is an article, headed "Darr's Town." This was dated April 1, 1814 and advertises the sale of lots for a new town, called Darr's Town, which was laid out by Mr. Conrad Darr, on his farm. This town, of course, is the site of the present village of Darrtown and, when originally platted, was expected to become what Hamilton is today, the most important city in the county."

The verbatim account matches that which appears in Jim Blount's 1994 Hamilton Journal News account (above).

The headline of the 1931 Hamilton Evening News article read:

"Early Dreams Of Darr's Town in 1814

"Time Worn Copy of 'Western Star' Tells Story of Butler's Early History During War

of 1812, Darrtown Then In Making By Conrad Darr"

1814 Western Star report tells story of Darr's Town "in the making"

Early Darrtown Area Residence

 

The image, at the left, was provided by Kirk Mee III. He reported that his father, Kirk Mee II, told him that this dwelling was the home that Dan and Ann (Teegarden) Kyger built in 1803.

 

The structure was located on the west side of the intersection of Shollenbarger and Lanes Mill roads.

 

The property (in 2008) is owned by Richard "Butch" Green.

 

Webmaster Note: In 2012, Harry Ogle loaned papers to this website that provided more background information about the Kyger cabin and the Kyger family. To access that resource, click the following link to the Kyger Family.

1817: The Hitching Post Opens for Business

 

The following information appeared in Lane's Mill

 

Lane's Mill, located approximately three miles west of Darrtown on Lanes Mill Road, was a combination saw, grist, and fulling mill, that was constructed in 1848, and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Unfortunately, the structure fell into disrepair and was razed in the first decade of the 21st century.

 

To reach the site of Lanes' Mill from Darrtown, travel west, from Darrtown, on Schollenbarger Road and then south on Lanes Mill Road.

 

For more information about, and photographs of, this historic mill, click the following link to access the Lane's Mill page. which was a newsletter disseminated by persons associated with the tavern business in Ohio. The following is not the entire article, as it was originally published; the text was edited for brevity.

“In 1802, Conrad Darr, an early Butler County settler, purchased half of Section 28 from the Symmes interests for $1.25 an acre and in 1814, he laid out the village that now bears his name, Darrtown.

In Milford Township, Abram F. Darr was the first to settle here and kept a provisions store-inn for several years. Drovers walking sheep, cattle, and hogs to Cincinnati would put up here for the night and rest.

Mr. Darr opened Darrtown’s first tavern in 1817 on Lot Number 52, calling it the “Hitching Post,” because of the large, crude tying rail in front of the tavern-inn, an important stop on the Hamilton-Fairborn Stage Coach line. Here one could get a free drink or a gallon of whiskey for 50 cents in the customer’s jug-or 75 cents a gallon, if the tavern furnished the jug.

Distilling became an important industry in the vicinity. If it was a good corn year, whisky became legal tender in the area and a most popular medium of exchange. James Bradberry owned a log still house as early as 1817, which in later years, was replaced by a native stone building. Abram Darr opened his own distillery in 1832. Mitchell Marshall conducted a 15-barrel establishment from 1845 to 1852.

Members of the most respected families in the community were tavern keepers; Aaron Chamberlain, Stephen Kendall, and William Kirkpatrick kept taverns here in later years. All notices of town meetings, elections, newly passed laws and ordinances were posted both in and outside the taverns to inform citizenry, much as is done by the newspapers of today. Bills of Sale, notices of auctions, and records of transfers were also posted. Everyone in the township would flock to the tavern-inns, if they wished to known what was going on. There, too, one learned all the gossip or scandal that was bandied about the locality. These gathering places were truly the “hub of community life.”

If you have family roots to Darrtown, perhaps your great grandfather-and maybe even your great-great grandfather-hitched his horse to the rail outside the Hitching Post, Butler County’s friendly tavern, the building that is now almost a century and a half old.”

Lane's Mill

 

Lane's Mill, located approximately three miles west of Darrtown on Lanes Mill Road, was a combination saw, grist, and fulling mill, that was constructed in 1848, and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Unfortunately, the structure fell into disrepair and was razed in the first decade of the 21st century.

 

To reach the site of Lanes' Mill from Darrtown, travel west, from Darrtown, on Schollenbarger Road and then south on Lanes Mill Road.

 

For more information about, and photographs of, this historic mill, click the following link to access the Lane's Mill page.

 

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