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Glenn Longaberger Articles on Dresden, Ohio

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Glenn Longaberger was a local historian. He wrote the following articles, which were published in Dresden's The Transcript.

Looking Back on James Blunt

"One of the first settlers who came to Muskingum county seeking new land just after 1800 was James Blunt from Virginia. He found what he wanted two miles down the Muskingum river from Dresden. Here he built a cabin which was still standing a few years ago although covered with boarding. No trace of it is there now except a dug well, foundation of a chimney and a great spreading hackberry tree which probably was left to shade the cabin.

James was unmarried when he came and soon married Elizabeth Cullins, the daughter of an old Indian fighter who helped make the border safe for settlers. Clearing the forest for crops, the couple raised ten children, nine to maturity as seven girls married and are mentioned in his will in 1851 as, Mary Butler, Jane Gould, Susan Lane, Eliza Campbell, Ellen Campbell, Sarah Murchson, George and Thompson. James Blunt’s first wife Elizabeth, died and he married Hannah Cordray, who bore him three children. Two girls, Johanna, who married Jasper McCann and Phoebe, who married Finley Williams. Jasper who was an old time school teacher, and Johanna stayed on the land on the east side of the old Dresden road, where the cabin stood and Finley and Phoebe took the land on the west side where a small cabin stood and later built the frame house on what is commonly called Riverhill.

James Blunt prospered and by 1827 had a store in Dresden on the northeast corner of Main and Mountain Sts. (9th) It must have been of logs as until 1830 Dresden only consisted of about 30 log structures. Here he sold the few necessities of the time and bought hides. His day book, which is in the possession of a great grandson, Harley Williams, lists many old residents as customers: John Bainter, Abraham Butler, Ebeneezer Bland, Archibald M’Cann, George Cordray, John Brown, Dr. David Pierce, Joshua Comer, Benjamin and Samuel Adams, Nathan, James and William Cordray, Jacob Lane, William McGlade, Morecai Ogle, Alexander Struthers, John Spurgeon, John Shaw, Ayers Stradley, John Jacobson, John E. White, James Ford, and many others not only from Dresden but Muskingum and Cass Twps., who came over the very poor roads of the time, to trade."[1]

"Blunt had the store at least until 1842 and prospered to accumulate a sizeable estate — which consisted of goods on his farm, notes due him from money lent, bonds, cash, and farms in Kansas and Iowa. This was divided equally between his children, less what he had already given them, according to his will. So the Ohio country was good to James Blunt."[2]


Looking Back on Lewis Cass

"Prior to 1800, the only feasible route for settlers to enter the Muskingum County area was by way of the Ohio and Muskingum rivers. The heavy virgin forests were not negotiable even by horse for only the foot trails of the Indians wound through them. Then after the Zane Trace was cut from Wheeling west after 1796, it was soon enlarged from a mere trail among the stumps of trees to a road over which wagons, with much effort, could negotiate it- Muskingum County was formed in 1804 and Jefferson Township at about the same time. Cass’ Bottom, settled In 1801 by Major Jonathan Cass, was the first permanent settlement in northern Muskingum County.

The eldest son of Jonathan and Mary Gilman Cass, who was born in Exeter, NH. in 1782, was Lewis Cass. He could remember when his mother held him up to the window to watch the celebration when the U. S. Constitution was signed.

After he finished his education at Exeter Academy, he joined his family at Wilmington, Del., where his father was stationed as a Major in the Army and taught school for a while. But he soon decided that teaching school was not for him and followed his family to Marietta and then to Zanesville and when Muskingum County was formed in the new State of Ohio, he was the first admitted to the bar to practice law, and became the first prosecutor of Muskingum Co., and prosecuted the first murder case in Muskingum Co.

In 1806, Lewis was elected a State Representative and in 1807 was appointed a U. S. Marshal, a position which he held until the War of 1812. In 1806 he married Elizabeth Spencer, daughter of General Spencer of Revolutionary War fame.

The couple settled on land given to them by Major Jonathan Cass and built a double log cabin. Here several of their children were born while Lewis attended to his duties as State Legislator and U. S. Marshal, which entailed much traveling, mostly on horse back. This local residency certainly entitles northern Muskingum County to lay some claim to him, even though he was not native born. He was probably the most notable personage to emerge from this locality. While the exact location of his cabin home is not established, it probably was near where the home originally called Riverdale stood east of Trinway, now the Jennings farm. There are numerous spots where once log cabins stood in the bottoms, which can be recognized by broken dishes, etc., in the fields. One such place is near Riverdale and Lewis Cass sold this land to William Evans, who first started Riverdale."[3]

"Here the Lewis Cass family lived simply until the threat of war with the English in 1812 stirred him like his father to come to the aid of his country, and he was given the command of a company recruited at Dayton, who went to the defense of Fort Detroit. But despite their heroic efforts there, Fort Detroit was unnecessarily surrendered by the cowardly Gen. Gage to a much inferior force of English troops and Indian allies. Lewis was parolled and came back to Cass’ Bottom where when his parole was up he recruited a company from a headquarters in the maple grove of a thousand trees on his land near his home. He was commissioned a Major General and took an active part in the defeat of the British at the Battle of the Thames and recovery of Fort Detroit, which ended for all time the interference of England In the affairs of the U. S.

In 1815, Cass sold some of his land here and bought large tracts near Detroit. The sale of which later made him very wealthy.

He was given command of Fort Detroit and when the Michigan Territory was formed, he was its first Governor. Lewis Cass took an active interest in the affairs of the Territory, making many trips over it and understood the problems of the settlers and the Indians.

In 1831 he was appointed Secretary of War, and in 1832 participated in the Black Hawk Indian War. In 1836 he was made Minister to France and while there wrote a book on France and the French Court. After serving in France until 1842, he was a candidate in the primary for U. S. President, but lost, but in 1845 was elected to the U. S. Senate and was nominated for the Presidency to run against Zachary Taylor, the hero of the Mexican War, in 1848.

Taylor was too popular at that time and Cass lost after a bitter campaign. Cass was reelected to the Senate in 1849 and served as Secretary of State under Buchanan. Lewis Cass died at the age of 84 in 1886."[4]


Looking Back on William Evans

"In 1829, William Evans, whose ancestral home was called Clermont, near Clonwell, County Tipperary, Ireland, decided to come to America. His wife had died, leaving him with an infant daughter named Mary Ann, who was now 11 years old.

The father and daughter, who were very close, probably on account of the death of the mother, came first to Cleveland. They remained there about two years while the lather looked for a suitable place to settle permanently. He found what he wanted in a tract of bottom land on the Muskingum River—1,000 acres which he purchased from Gen. Lewis Cass. He choose for the location of his home, which he called "Riversdale,” a site near the river just east of now Trinway.

The logical method of travel from Cleveland then would be the recently completed Ohio Canal which was begun in 1825 and the side cut from the main canal, (which passed along now Rt. 16), to the Muskingum River at Dresden would pass just west of Evans’ property. Whether William Evans who in 1831 brought his daughter to Riversdale and began to clear the virgin forest growth from these fertile bottom acres first built a log home, or occupied the one Lewis Cass had built, is not known, but he soon built a brick home which later became the rear portion of a larger structure built of brick with stone quoins on the comers.

This must have been a strange and possibly frightening place for a motherless 13 year old girl to come to a clearing in the almost trackless forest from across the ocean. She accompanied her father to the fields where he worked along with his hired hands in clearing the land.

William Evans must have been a man of varied talents, for along with the arduous work of carving a farm out of the forest, he had time and ability to paint an album of the native birds as he observed them. This album of a couple dozen birds in their natural colors, is still preserved by his descendants. The writer has made both slides and color prints of them and they are as true and bright as when William Evans painted them around 135 years ago.

In 1841, at the age of 23, Mary Ann Evans married William Cox, who was an English Army officer who sold his commission and came to America. In 1843, William Evans died and was buried in the Cass cemetery near Riversdale. Here Major Jonathan Cass was buried in 1830. William Evans could have known Jonathan Cass just before he died thru his dealing with Lewis Cass."[5]

"To Mary Ann and William Cox six children were born before Mary Ann lost her husband in 1857. She was left with a large family to raise and a large estate to manage with no close relatives to help her, but she was equal to the task and even raised two boys who were orphaned when one of her tenants died and asked her to care for them. They were well-known locally as James Brennen and John McNammara. Jim Brennen was a local hack man and McNammara was associated with the Dresden Rock Plaster Co., which operated for a number of years around 1900 in the building now occupied by Breithaupt Lumber Co.

Of the six children born to Mary Ann and William Cox, one died in infancy, Edward died suddenly while attending Kenyon College, one became Mrs. James Copland, mother of Charles and William Copland; another was Mrs. George Spease, mother of Laurence Spease; and another was Mrs. John D. H. McKinley. Of all the children born at Riversdale only one, a granddaughter on the McKinley side, is still living, at the age of 90, at Toledo.

There are many stories about. Mary Ann Cox. How she was always ready to help in times of trouble and especially during floods, which were a frequent thing in Cass bottoms. One story is that she had trained a horse which she rode everywhere, to go to Dresden alone when everyone was busy on the farm, and the postmaster would tie the mail to the saddle and the horse would return riderless, back home.

Mary Ann Evans, who came as a child of 13 to this raw wilderness, saw the birth of the Ohio Erie Canal, knew Dresden when it was a settlement of 30 cabins, saw the decline of the canal when the railroad passed through her property on its way west, saw the C&MV RR junction at now Trinway and a village laid out next door to her home.

After 66 years at Riversdale, one cold, icy day in March, 1897, Mary Ann Evans Cox fell in the yard of her home and broke her hip, from which injury she died Sunday, March 7, 1897. She is buried with her father, husband and children in Cass cemetery just across the field from Riversdale. The farm passed through a succession of owners as Cassinghams, Widney, Slack, Randals, Darling and present Jennings. The north part, from the railroad to the Coshocton County line became the Spease farm."[6]


  1. Longaberger, Glenn. "Look Back." The Dresden Transcript, 24 January 1974, p. 1.
  2. Longaberger, Glenn. "Look Back." The Dresden Transcript, 31January 1974, p. 1.
  3. Longaberger, Glenn. "Looking Back." The Transcript (OH: Dresden, 4 January 1973), p. 1.
  4. Longaberger, Glenn. "Looking Back," The Transcript (OH: Dresden, 11 January 1973), p. 1.
  5. Longaberger, Glenn. "Looking Back," The Transcript (OH: Dresden, 18 January 1973), p. 1.
  6. Longaberger, Glenn. "Looking Back," The Transcript (OH: Dresden, 25 January 1973), p. 1.


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