Green Township Through the Years
In 2009 Green Township celebrated its Bicentennial. Let’s take a look back at Green Township Through the Years since 1809.
Green Township Through the Years
Green Township’s story is typical of many suburban communities in Ohio. Simply stated, it’s the story of the thousands of ordinary, hard-working people who have called it home over the past 201 years.
The township was named after Revolutionary War General Nathanael Greene. While most maps and references to the township have dropped the final “e” over the years, an early township prominent citizen and Ohio state legislator, Charles Reemelin, mentioned in an 1882 speech that the township was named for General Greene, a Revolutionary war hero and one of George Washington’s key generals.
When first settled, Green Township and all of Ohio were part of the “West.” In 1788 John Cleves Symmes, Revolutionary War veteran and member of the Continental Congress, received a charter to purchase the land north of the Ohio River and between the Great Miami and Little Miami Rivers. One of the first tasks facing Symmes was measuring or surveying the land in this “Symmes” or “Miami” Purchase. The land was laid out in a square grid pattern called “townships” so it could be easily identified and sold. Green Township was one of those original surveyed townships, although it wasn’t established as a governmental unit until 1809. It originally covered 36 square miles, a square six miles long on each side. Today the township covers about 29 square miles, having lost about 20% of its land through annexation by Cincinnati over the years. The communities of Bridgetown, Covedale, Dent, Mack, Monfort Heights, and White Oak lie entirely or partially within its borders.
For thousands of years before European settlement Green Township’s heavily wooded hills were a hunting ground for Indian tribes who prized the plentiful game found here. Some older township residents have found “arrowheads” in local fields and creek beds, indicating there was hunting activity here. The most recent tribe in the township was the Shawnee tribe who occupied much of southern and western Ohio until the late 1790s.
The first European settlers arrived in the early 1800s as hunters and trappers who lived in a few widely scattered log cabins. They were few in number, likely less than a few hundred. Settlement was slow in most of western Hamilton County because access to the West Side was made difficult by the swampy Millcreek Valley and the steep hillsides leading to the area. All travel was either by horse or by walking.
The pioneer Green Township settlers were part of the initial wave of settlement in Hamilton County. John Cleves Symmes, who contracted to purchase the land, was from New Jersey. He promoted land sales back in New Jersey and surrounding states. Until the mid 1820s, 7 of 10 people who settled in Green Township came from eastern Atlantic states, mostly New Jersey.
A Rural Township
By the 1820s farming quickly replaced hunting and trapping as the primary way of life. For the remainder of the nineteenth century, many newcomers to the township were farmers of German heritage. The township remained rural into the early 1900s. In fact in 1920 there were still over 500 farms here. Throughout the nineteenth century the population was scattered on hundreds of small farms and in the small crossroads communities we know today as Bridgetown, Dent, Mack, Monfort Heights, White Oak and Covedale. Several inns or taverns were built along the main roads, such as Harrison Pike or Cleves Pike (Bridgetown Road), to serve farmers from as far west as Indiana who drove their livestock to market at stockyards in the Millcreek Valley and Cincinnati. After feeding their families, many township farmers would sell some of their farm products at farmers markets in Cincinnati. A trip to downtown Cincinnati from Green Township on a wagon loaded with products grown on the farm would take about three hours one way. The long time to make the trip meant commuting to Cincinnati for a job each day nearly impossible for people living in Green Township.
The township’s population was slow to grow in the 1800s. At the beginning of the twentieth century in 1900, Green Township only had 4,711 citizens living here. For comparison, at the last census in the year 2000 Green Township’s population was 55,660 people. Another way to picture this – for about every 70 houses you see today in Green Township, you would have only seen 1 house back in the 1800s. That house would have been a farmhouse.
The Township Grows and Changes
With the coming of electric streetcars to Westwood and later Cheviot (still in Green Township until the 1960s) in the early 1900s, it became possible to travel to Cincinnati from Green Township in a reasonable time. The construction of the Western Hills Viaduct in 1932 opened the door for more convenient travel to the area by automobile. In 1920 only 8,000 people lived in Green Township, but big changes were underway.
During the 1930s through the 1960s hilltop suburbs, including Green Township grew at a rapid pace. Improved roads and the growing affordability of automobiles made it possible for people to work in the city and live in their own comfortable new homes in Green Township. Many new subdivisions were built, together with a supporting network of churches, schools, and shopping areas. This mirrored post World War II population patterns throughout America. By 1970 the population had exploded to nearly 50,000.
This growth pattern continued through the remainder of the twentieth century, but at a somewhat slower pace as less open land was available for development. Today few farms remain. In 2010 the census population count was 58,370. The old Green Township covered with farms has faded and been replaced by today’s residential / suburban Green Township.
Those pioneer Green Township settlers who were here when Green Township was established in 1809 would never have dreamed of the Green Township we know today.
Green Township Community Names
Green Township is home to the communities of Bridgetown, Covedale, Dent, Mack, Monfort Heights, and White Oak. Each lies, in whole or in part, in Green Township. None of these communities is a municipal entity, that is a village or city. As such they have no legally defined boundaries. People who live in or nearby the community over the years form an informal consensus about what the boundaries are, although not everyone always agrees. Each community is a neighborhood with its own identity, but all are part of Green Township.
In earlier years the Village of Westwood was in Green Township until annexed by Cincinnati in 1896 and the City of Cheviot remained in Green Township until the 1960s.
Bridgetown is the community at the geographic center of Green Township.
NAME – Many think the name “Bridgetown” comes from the old C&O Railroad trestle that crossed the heart of Bridgetown at the Glenway Ave., Race Rd, and Bridgetown Rd. intersection. Not so. The trestle wasn’t built until the early 1900s and the Bridgetown name appears on maps as early as 1847. The name most likely came from a pioneer family that settled in the area around 1820, the Fifthian family. They came here from Bridgeton, New Jersey. In the book Pioneer Annals of Greene Township, the community is often called “Bridgeton” giving support to this idea.
Dent is along Harrison Avenue a few miles northwest of Bridgetown. Its main intersection is at Harrison, Johnson, and Wesselman roads.
NAME – In early years the area was called Challensville after a local minister. Charles Reemelin gave the community the name it has today, Dent. He thought it appropriately described the topography, a large depression or valley in the area. He did not like the idea of naming places for people anyway. The name of the post office was changed from Challensville to Dent in 1846.
Mack is along Bridgetown Rd. (formerly Cleves Pike or Cincinnati–Louisville Pike) just west of Bridgetown. The heart of Mack is the Five Points Intersection of Bridgetown, Ebenezer, and Taylor roads.
NAME – The area was known as Dry Ridge until at least 1880s. The Mack name came from the post office established in the area in 1892. As the story goes, “Mack” was the name of Avery Markland’s hound dog. Avery was the operator of the Markland general store where the post office was located.
Covedale – When many Cincinnati westsiders hear the name Covedale they think of the Cincinnati neighborhood along Glenway Ave. near the Covedale Theater and Covedale Branch Library. Until about 1930 this was still Green Township before annexation by Cincinnati. Today the residential part of Covedale “spills over” into Green Township, roughly west of Covedale Ave. along Sidney and north of Cleves Warsaw Pike.
NAME – In the years before today’s subdivisions, this area boasted many dairy farms, nurseries, and even vineyards. These pleasantly rolling fields (“coves and dales”) gave the area its name. (This information is from the Price Hill Historical Society’s December 2005 newsletter.)
Monfort Heights is along North Bend Rd. with its heart at the intersection of West Fork and North Bend roads.
NAME – The area had the name Wisenburg (Weisenburgh) in the 1800s reflecting the German farmers who settled much of the area. In 1900 Frank Lumler became the postmaster of a new post office on Burnt School House Road (Cheviot Rd. today). He named the branch “Monfort” for Civil War Capt. E.R. Monfort, postmaster of Cincinnati at the time. The branch closed in 1905 and the name was dropped and almost forgotten until the consolidation of three area district schools in the late 1920s. The new school district needed a name and the Monfort name was revived. “Heights” was added to reflect the high altitude of the area.
White Oak is along old Burnt School House Rd., now Cheviot Road, centering along the stretch from Jessup Rd. to Blue Rock Rd. in Colerain Township. Yes, the community lies in both Green Township and Colerain Township.
NAME – The area is shown on early maps as St. Jacobs, named after St. James Church (Jacob being the German version of James). In the later 1800s the area was called Creedville after the Creedville postal station at Blue Rock and Banning roads. By the 1920s the name White Oak was being used for the area. That name goes back the early settlement years when huge white oak trees grew in the area. These white oaks made great barrels for the German coopers (barrel makers).