Native American Tribes

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Ohio is known for eight principal Native American tribes.  They were the Delawares, Miamis, Wyandots, Ottawas, Senecas, Shawnees, Mingos, and the Eries.  Central Ohio was peopled largely by the Delawares, Miamis, Shawnees, and Wyandots. Many Indian relics and artifacts have been found in Union County and are displayed at the Union County Historical Society.


Our Heritage  Union County Historical Society 1949

Charles W. Fairbanks

1852 - 1918

Charles Warren Fairbanks was born May 11, 1852, on a farm near Unionville Center, Union County Ohio.  He attended the public school at Unionville Center and the Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware Ohio. He studied Law in Cleveland Ohio and was admitted to the bar in 1874.  That same year he married Miss Conelia Cole. The young attorney applied himself so diligently that by 1880 he was made General Solicitor for the Railroad. He was one of the first lawyers in the Middle West to be recognized as a business counselor in large affairs.  


Early affiliating with the Republican party in Indiana, he took an active interest in all its politics and candidates.  He was twice elected to the United States Senate from Indiana. In 1905 he was elected Vice-President of the United States with Theodore Roosevelt as President.  He passed away on June 4th, 1918.

Our heritage Union County Historical Society 1949

Cornelia "Nellie" Fairbanks

1848 - 1913

Cornelia “Nellie” Fairbanks was the wife of Charles W. Fairbanks, the 26th Vice President of the United States.  Both Cornelia and Charles were born in Union County: Cornelia in Marysville in 1848 and Charles in Unionville Center in 1852.  Cornelia was the daughter of Ohio State Senator and Union County Common Pleas Judge Philander Cole and his wife Dorothy Witter.  The house where Cornelia was born is located at 230 South Main Street and is one of the oldest buildings still standing in Marysville.

Cornelia attended and graduated from East Union School in Union County, which has since been demolished.  The identical sister school on the west side of town, West Union School, is still in existence, at 120-122 West Fourth Street.  From a young age, Nellie had an intense desire to learn and loved literature.  Her love of learning helped her succeed both at college and later in life.  While in school, Cornelia was known as a charming and popular young lady, an outstanding scholar, and an inspiring public speaker.  She loved the outdoors, particularly the activities of both horseback riding and gardening.

Philander was a strong supporter of women receiving an education, despite the disdain for the notion at the time; he encouraged each of his three daughters to attend college.  As such, Cornelia had the opportunity to attend one of the oldest institutions of high education for women: Ohio Wesleyan Female College.  She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1872; just five years later, the school merged with Ohio Wesleyan University to become a co-educational campus and allow women to secure an equal education opportunity with men.

As the times began to change at the turn of the century, statistics have shown that nearly 60% of high school graduates were women, over 30% of college students were women and women received about 20% of the bachelor’s degrees awarded annually.  Prior to this, women were lucky to receive any form of formal education.  Cornelia and her sisters were part of the first generation of women to graduate from female colleges.

While at college, Cornelia worked as assistant editor to the Ohio Wesleyan student newspaper, overseeing all information about the women’s college.  The head editor of the paper was one Charles Warren Fairbanks.  Despite their acquaintance through the newspaper, the two did not have any relations that were not strictly professional while students. 

After they graduated, Cornelia returned to Marysville, while Charles worked in Pittsburg and Cleveland as a reporter for the Western Associated Press.  Charles completed law school in Cleveland and passed the Ohio Bar in 1874.  Months later, Charles and Nellie met a mutual friend’s party and became reacquainted; they soon began courting, as was the custom of the time.

On October 6, 1874, the couple married in Marysville.  Shortly thereafter, they moved to Indianapolis.  The city was a growing metropolis at the time and was quickly becoming a regional railroad center of the Midwest.  Charles began practicing law as a railroad attorney, which was a booming market full of wealth opportunity.  As such, the Fairbankses rapidly built a substantial fortune through the railway industry.  They were part of a new middle class that was growing and prospering.  The couple had five children between 1875 and 1888. 

In her spare time, Cornelia studied law so that she could help her husband prepare legal briefs and review manuscripts of his speeches.  She supported missionary work and was seen as spiritual, though not self-righteous.  Nellie was deeply involved in women’s clubs and supported the admission of black women to such organizations, despite social aversion at the time.  Cornelia’s father, Philander, was involved in the Underground Railroad in Ohio and was an ardent supporter of President Lincoln during Nellie’s childhood, which likely led to her contemporary views of racial equality.

In the early 1880s, Cornelia began her influence in politics at home, by advising her husband about his law practice and entry into politics.  She organized the first all-women’s literary club in Indianapolis in 1885 to study literature, art and social, political, and domestic science.  Through her involvement in women’s clubs nationwide, Nellie was able to meet speakers and guests from around the country – she was in the midst of developing her political base to be used in the future.  Cornelia was described by her peers as a complex woman: she was devoted to family and the home, but not domesticity, she was feminine yet a suffragist and proponent of women’s rights.

Charles was elected a U.S. Senator in 1896, so the Fairbanks family moved to Washington D.C.  They lived at the corner of 18th Street and Massachusetts Avenue, near DuPont Circle.  Although their house was less pretentious than that of their neighbors, their large dining and reception rooms were perfect for social gatherings.  Nellie was known as a social leader; her time in D.C. established her reputation as one of the most popular, graceful, and tactful hostesses of the official set. 

Two years later, in 1898, Charles was appointed Chairman of the American Delegation to the Joint-High Commission with Britain by fellow Ohioan and friend, President William McKinley.  He was tasked with settling the boundary dispute between Canada and Alaska.  As Cornelia loved to travel, she joined her husband in his trip to the Alaskan Territory.  She kept notes of her travels and used them to prepare talks presented to various clubs and organizations to which she belonged.  The Alaskan people appreciated the hard work of Charles’ on their behalf so much so that they named a city for him, a city that is now the third most populated in the state.

Cornelia was ascending the ranks of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) by the start of the twentieth century.  Members of DAR, who designated national officers with the appellation “General”, considered their President General to be the female equivalent of the President of the United States.  Their conventions were covered by national newspapers much like the conventions of both the Democrats and Republicans.  Their leaders were experts in parliamentary procedure and the elections were vigorously fought. 

The President General election of 1901 was between Cornelia Fairbanks, Emily Ritchie McLean and Emily Warren Roebling.  Interestingly, none of these influential women lived to see national women’s suffrage in 1920.  Despite her husband’s involvement in politics, Nellie was personally qualified as a national woman: she was actively involved in DAR at a national level before her husband’s election, she had founded the first literary club for women in Indianapolis, she was the first woman appointed to the Indiana State Board of Charities, and the year prior had been elected a director of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.

Cornelia won the 1901 election and in her acceptance speech, she indirectly defined her role as a mediator among factions in order to keep society up to a high standard of splendid achievement as she would during her four years of presidency.  Nellie firmly believed that women should vote and take part in politics and was an outspoken supporter of women’s suffrage two decades before the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. 

One of Cornelia’s major accomplishments through her time as President General was to raise funds for the Memorial Continental Hall in D.C.  The hall was built to honor ordinary men and women whose labor had built the nation.  She raised $8,000 (equivalent today to about a quarter of a million) by delivering a stirring address urging the purchase of the land for the hall.  This was the costliest and most impressive monument of its kind ever built by women of this county or any other; it was also the first building dedicated to all the recognized heroes – both male and female – of the American Revolution.

Nellie spent the next four years of her presidency in speaking engagements around the country.  Her leadership demonstrated that women’s organizations could function well despite the press showing caricatures of political disagreements of DAR in negative terms.  She frequently demonstrated an understanding of leadership that would have served her well had she been able to enter national politics.

When Charles was nominated for and elected Vice President under Theodore Roosevelt, it was remarked that he owed half of his success to his wife – her gracious temperament, her cordial handshake and genial greeting that had led to her great popularity.

After Vice President Fairbanks left office in 1909, and following a lost presidential campaign as a running mate to Charles Evans Hughes, Cornelia and Charles spent several years traveling the world.  The Fairbankses made stops in the Hawaiian Territory, Japan, China, the Philippines, India, Egypt, the Holy Land, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Austria, Germany, France, and England.  They even made an appearance in King Edward VII’s court.  Several pieces of Cornelia’s attire from this royal experience are displayed at the Smithsonian Institution.

On October 24, 1913, Cornelia died at her newly built mansion in Indianapolis after a nine-day episode of pneumonia.  Hundreds came to the funeral at the Fairbanks’ home and many more visited to pay respects before the services.  She is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.

By: Shannon Conroy

O.M. Scott

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This is the History of O. M. Scott, the founder of the O.M. Scott and Sons Company now called



Contrary to popular belief, Orlando McLean Scott was not born in Marysville. He was born in Licking County, in a small town south of Newark, Ohio, named Jacksontown and nicknamed Jacktown. 

His great-great-grandfather, Hugh Scott, migrated from Ireland in 1670 to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. His American-born son Abram became the father of another Hugh II, who was a left-handed blacksmith and also ran a hardware business. In 1774 Hugh II left Gettysburg and moved west to Pigeon Creek, Pennsylvania. In 1811, a third Hugh, moved his wife and 9 children to Ohio, along Zane’s Trace. They arrived at Jacksontown, where this Hugh Scott had purchased 230 acres from a man that was a veteran of the Revolutionary War.

There James Scott was born. James had 3 girls and 5 boys, one of which was Orlando McLean Scott, born in 1837, nick-named Landy.

In 1857 the Scotts moved to Delaware, Ohio to seek more business opportunities. Delaware was 15 times larger than Jacktown and had industry and education. Landy was 20 years old and went to teachers college there and became a teacher in Olentangy Village. In addition, he worked for a butcher shop.

 In 1862 the Civil War started. Confederal General Braxton Bragg, was threatening Cincinnati and the Governor called for volunteers to defend Ohio. Landy volunteered and joined the 121stOhio Volunteer Infantry. Due to his butcher shop experience and teacher education, he was made Quartermaster. The Quartermaster was in charge of supplying the troops with food. The first battle he was involved with, was in Perryville, Kentucky, where they stopped General Bragg.

After that, he was placed in General Sherman’s army in 1863 and marched with him to the sea, through Atlanta and Savannah. During that time he was made Sargent and then second Lieutenant in 1865. He was 28 years old.

 Landy’s business sense saw a need among the soldiers for paper and pens. He wrote home and arranged to buy quantities of both and sell them to fellow soldiers. He did this throughout the war.

The war was winding down and the soldiers were heading north. On March 20th,  Landy was riding a horse looking for food for the troops in Bentonville, North Carolina, when he was shot in the right thigh by a Rebel sharpshooter. Luckily it missed the bone or it would have had to be amputated. He was loaded into a horse-drawn ambulance and carried three days to a hospital in Goldsboro.

 General Lee surrendered on April 9th, President Lincoln was shot on the 14th, on the 26thall the Confederates surrendered. Landy spent 6 weeks in a hospital in Goldsboro, N.C., lying on the floor most of the time due to a lack of beds. 

After healing, he was mustered-out in Columbus, Ohio and looked for work there, but he was influenced to go to Marysville by A.B. Robinson, a Marysville resident, whom he served under during the war. He went to Marysville in the spring of 1866. Marysville had over a thousand residents and a young lady named Herriot Guthrie, whom Landy had grown-up within Jacktown.  

Landy made friends in Marysville and lived in a boarding house. His war connections put him into contact with a Marysville banker, William W. Woods, that wanted to take advantage of the agriculture in Union County and started a grain elevator in Peoria six miles away. Woods chose Landy to manage it and he traveled daily to the mill by horse or sleigh.

Peoria had a railroad connection with the Atlantic and Great Western railroads and they shipped grain to Chicago grain markets. Landy learned the business and was at the hub of Marysville business life and soon wanted to work for himself.  He teamed up with a chap who worked as a railroad agent, who had the same business interest. This was Robert Henderson who was the same age and his ancestors had come from the same part of Pennsylvania as Landy. They decided to open a store on South Main Street and sell farm implements, hardware, and sewing machines. In 1868 Landy was elected village recorder and then became a trustee. Then he bought a lot at 6thand Plum streets, which would become the site of the original O. M. Scott Seed Elevator. He bought the lot from Noah Orr, the Marysville Giant. Then in 1869, he left the partnership with Henderson and bought a hardware store on South Main.  He married his Jacktown sweetheart, Harriet Guthrie, she was 18, he was 33 years old, and he was on his way to starting a great business: The O.M. Scott and Sons Company.

Submitted by Ron Boylan

Edward Weller

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1808 - 1889

Edward Weller was born in England in 1808.  He received his early training in pottery from his father, Thomas Weller.  Edward came to the United States when he was 25. A few years later he moved to Watkins, Union County Ohio.  He was immediately attracted to the yellow clay of this region. He bought a parcel of 90 acres of land along Milford Center Road and decided to go into the pottery business.  He made crocks, jars, jugs, bowls of all sizes, pots, plates, mugs,and vases. He also made drainage tiles for farmers. His son, Thomas Weller joined the business and the business was called Weller Tile and Pottery (1855). It was a huge business in Union County for 50 years.  Edward passed away in 1889 at the age of 89. His son Thomas continued the business until 1900.

Our Heritage  Union County Historical Society 1949

Reuben Partridge

1823 - 1900

Reuben L. Partridge was born in Wilmington, NY in 1823. In 1836 Partridge moved to Marysville and began to learn the carpentry craft while building carriages with his brother. In 1855 Reuben accepted his first contract to build the first self-supporting bridge in Union County. By 1866 Partridge was building bridges full-time. In 1872 he received a patent for his truss design. By 1883 Partridge had built over 125 bridges, most of them in Union County and nearby counties. Over the course of his life, Partridge served as a member of the Marysville City Council, as the Paris Township Clerk, and as a Paris Township Trustee. He was a part of the first militia formed in Union County. He also was very active in raising money and support for service groups from Union County who served in both the Mexican War and the Civil War. In 1896 he designed a Victorian-style home in Marysville as a 50th wedding anniversary gift for his wife. Partridge died in August 1900, as a result of injuries he sustained while removing a covered bridge.

Noah Orr

1836 - 1882

Noah Orr was born in Darby Township in 1834.  He was always greatly oversized for his age. He was well over seven feet tall. At age 17, he was working as a farmhand when P.T. Barnum, the showman, heard of him.  He was interviewed to be the “giant” in Barnums “Greatest Show on Earth”. Orr was reluctant to consider the offer, but his employer, Mr. Andrews, realized that his size, so often an odd handicap in ordinary pursuits, would here be an unusual and profitable asset, and urged Noah to accept.  He traveled with Barnum for many years, visiting many parts of the world. He eventually left to establish his own company with a group of midgets called “Lilliputions” and playing “Jack the Giant Killer”.


Noah loved children and his famous large chair was a gift from his juvenile friends.  This chair is displayed at the Union County Historical Society. Noah Orr passed away in 1882 at his home in Marysville from complications due to rheumatic fever.


Our Heritage  Union County Historical Society

"The Original" Bessie Brown

1889 - 1955

Born in April of 1889, Bessie Brown was one of the first Marysville born-and-raised singers to make it to the spotlight nationwide.  She is known as “The Original” Bessie Brown and recorded between 1925 and 1929.  In addition to singing, Bessie also acted and performed vaudeville.

Bessie was the only child of Thomas E. Brown (1860-1891) and Dora H. Evans (1867-1912).  Just eight months after Bessie was born, her father took off and little is known about his later life.  Dora and Bessie were forced to move in with Wiley and Parthinia Evans, Bessie’s grandparents, who likely raised her.  By 1891, Dora had remarried and moved to Columbus, leaving Bessie to grow up in Marysville.

Wiley Evans was born a free man in North Carolina; until his dying day, he kept the pass proving his freedom on his person.  In 1860, Wiley moved to Union County and quickly joined the Cotton Slash Settlement of Free Blacks.  He later moved to Marysville, where he had eighteen children – including Dora Evans. 

Wiley’s wife, Parthinia Mayo, was likely a relative of Joseph Mayo; both Parthinia and Joe came to Marysville from the South as free blacks leaving the likely conclusion that the two knew each other.  Known around town as “Old Uncle Joe Mayo,” he is well-remembered as playing a very active role in the Marysville Underground Railroad. Uncle Joe’s parents were owned by the slaveholder and importer – also named Joseph Mayo.  The slaveholder was lost at sea after attempting to find a wayward slave cargo ship; however, in his will, he set all of his slaves free, providing he should not return.  Uncle Joe came to Marysville in 1848 at the age of 49 and worked as the principle well-digger and cleaner of the city.  On the side, Uncle Joe was an ardent worker of the Underground Railroad.  At the time, Marysville sat on one of the main lines which runaways were conveyed to Canada.  It is estimated that Joe helped 250 men and women make their way to freedom.

As evident in these flashbacks, Bessie was the descendant of influential and distinguished members of the Marysville community.  However, Bessie herself went on to make history.  Bessie attended Marysville schools where she was known for her euphonious soprano voice.  She is not listed as a graduate of Marysville High School.  By 16, Bessie married Henry Alfonso Smith and the couple had one daughter, Helen; three years after marriage, the pair divorced in 1908 and Bessie moved to Chicago to start a career in acting, singing, and vaudeville.

During the height of her career, Bessie is known as a classic female blues, jazz, and cabaret singer.  She is also known to have worked as a male impersonator due to her unique deep voice.  She was most active during the years 1925 to 1929.  She is billed at “The Original” Bessie Brown, but also worked under pseudonyms Caroline Lee and Sadie Green.  In addition, Bessie appeared in revues such as the Moonshine Revue, The Whirl of Joy, and Dark-Town Frolics.  Although she was based in Cleveland, Bessie performed – and achieved fame – primarily on the East Coast.


In her musical recordings, Bessie is characterized by her deepened tone of voice, without any notable African American dialect.  Her recordings were backed by some of the most prominent Harlem musicians of the time.  Many of Bessie’s songs displayed strength that are now considered empowered anthems, such as “Song from a Cotton Field,” “Ain’t Much Good in the Best of Men Nowadays,” and “He Just Don’t Appeal to Me.”  A compilation album including the bulk of her known recorded works was released by Document Records in 1996.

Bessie is not to be confused with her rival, also named Bessie Brown, who was active during the same time frame.  Her rival worked the Theatre Owners Booking Association (TOBA) circuit with George W. Williams, her husband.

On August 11, 1920, Bessie married Clarence Bookam Shaw and the two moved to Cleveland.  Bessie’s daughter, Helen, remained in Marysville and was likely raised by her great aunt, Flora Evans.  Helen graduated from Marysville High School in 1924.  Bessie kept a strong connection with Marysville and occasionally returned to see her daughter and aunt. During her visits, she would often sing at the Marysville African Methodist Episcopal church for events.  

In 1940, Helen was living with her mother in Cleveland.  Bessie was listed as a night club singer earning a yearly income of $1200 (equivalent today to about $22,000) and Helen – aged 33 and unmarried – worked as a junior clerk in a retail office earned $860 a year (equivalent to $15,785).  By April of 1941, Helen married Arnold L. McReynolds in Cleveland.  

Bessie retired from Cleveland and moved to Florida, where she passed away on March 3, 1955 due to a heart attack.  Helen passed in December of 1977, and Arnold in October 1990, both in Cleveland.

The Brown family was well-known in the Black community of Marysville from before Bessie’s time to well after; her descendant Clifton Brown went on to serve as the first Black Mayor of Marysville, serving from 1975 to 1979.


By Shannon Conroy