Mudsock: An Early Ames Village

(established in Washington  [later to become Athens] County by the Ohio Company)

by Richard Dean, Athens, Ohio

Version 10: Updated March 11, 2013

deanr@ohio.edu

Mudsock to Amesville - A  Jolly Good Place - a poem by Eleanor Gifford available as pdf file.
Click here to download a copy
See announcement on the  "Other Communities named Mudsock" page announcing Mudsock as a most desireable place to live in 2010.

What was Mudsock?

Mudsock was an early pioneer village in Ames township, Athens County, Ohio, that preceded Amesville, the current seat of the township. Amesville was established in 1839. Mudsock is one of the oldest, later abandoned, villages settled by the Ohio Company in the Northwest Territory. It originated from the lower settlement of Ames township, one of the two earliest Ames 'communities'.  It was probably later reffered to as "Ames Town" or "Amestown" in early accounts.

This particular village named Mudsock is only one of many known to have existed throughout Ohio and surrounding states. The original name was probably 'mud sock'. The second word -sock - derived from an Old Norse word, "sokkva', meaning 'to cause to sink'. The 'handed-down' explanation of the term provided the writer by recent residents of several 'Mudsock/Mudsoc' villages and which appears in several newspaper accounts cites characteristic village streets that were so muddy at times as to be nearly impassable. Randy McNutt wrote an article for Ohio Magazine in 1964 titled Mudsock, We Hardly Knew You - Ohio's Essential Podunk.  You can download a copy here. (click here)

In recent years Dennis E. Powell of the Athen News became a weekly contributer via his column he titled The View from Mudsock Heights, after discovering my Mudsock Village description while researching Amesville prior to purchasing property and moving there.


Summary of Contents of this Page:  This article presents an extended account of the Village of Mudsock from its origins with the arrival of Ohio Company settlers in Ames township around 1798-1800 to its demise before 1850.  It presents a chronology of those events and persons knows to have been associated with the village.  Potential influences leading to the village's demise are shared.  Finally, information is provided on other villages named Mudsock, other important history of Ames, and background information about the author.


Where was Mudsock?

Map of Area showing location of Early Ames Settlements

Mudsock was located approximately .5 mile west of Amesville along the banks of Federal Creek. It was located along the earliest mail route that ran from Zanesville to Cincinnati through Marietta, Ames Town, Athens, and Chillicothe. The community began on the farm of Captain Silas Dean, who first appeared in the records of Washington County when he purchased land in 1796 and later in a 1800 census of Middletown, an early name for Athens.

The village would have been on either side of current State Route 550 just west of the Amesville Cemetery, whose current name on U.S. Geological Survey Map of Amesville remains Mudsock Cemetery. In the picture above a building in current Amesville is visible as the white speck in the distance beyond the left bend in the road.  The cemetery is on the high ground in the trees beyond the telephone pole on the left.

 

About Mudsock?

 

Origin:

It is really unclear as to when the name Mudsock [or Mud Sock] was used in reference this early village. It seems to have evolved in an area called the 'lower settlement'. As early as 1789, members of the Ohio Company petitioned the young U.S. Congress to name a township in the new territory in honor of Fisher Ames, a prominent legislature and orator who served for both of George Washington's terms and was extremely influential in gaining approval for the sale of Ohio lands to the Ohio Company. It is said that Ames is the only township in Ohio officially named by an act of Congress. Early historical accounts refer to an Ames Town that existed in the township in the early 1800s prior to Amesville. Descriptions of  the earliest buildings and activities attributed to Ames Town and Mudsock have much in common. There is no official document that would indicate that Mudsock was ever the official name of this area. Pioneer trail to Marietta, OH, first settlementThe earliest residents of Ames township were the families of Lt. George Ewing, Capt. Benjamin Brown, and Ephriam Cutler. The first two were revolutionary war officers awarded 'donation tracts' near the Muskingum River; the latter was the son of Manasseh Cutler,  an organizer, and important leader and shareholder/speculator of the Ohio Company and Associates. These three arrived in Ohio's first settlement at Marietta or its second outpost at Waterford twenty miles upstream on the Muskingum River between 1793-1797.  When the native American threat was quelled in Ohio by the Greenville Treaty in 1795, these pioneer families came through the wilderness to Ames and built log homes approximately 3 miles north of current Amesville on either side of current State Route 329. These earliest families were soon joined by others in the same area, later called the upper settlement. Others arriving  later in Ames township settled in what was to b called the lower settlement west of current Amesville along the mail route running between Athens and Marietta - current Route 550. This was the area where Mudsock would evolve. Early accounts tell of a log school here, the second in the township, built in 1804 on Silas Dean's farm near the entrance of the current Mudsock Cemetery. The first brick building in Ames township was built in this area by a John Brown. A stage coach station and public house was operated here by Brown.  It is said that the Mudsock/ Amesville Cemetery was originally the Brown's family cemetery - that John's first wife, Polly, was the first to be buried there in 1810.

Amesville:

The current village of Amesville was named by William Graham in 1838 to honor Fisher Ames (Athens Bicentennial Commission). The village laid out in blocks in 1839 by local resident Hiram Cable approximately half a mile east of Mudsock along the east bank of the Hyde's Branch of Federal Creek; this is near where it merges with the main Dodge branch downstream from Mudsock. There are reports that there was strong sentiment to name the town 'Cutler', to honor Ephriam Cutler, but that he discouraged it. Early activity and commerce here are described by Harriet C. Brown in Grandmother Brown's One Hundred Years, the biography of Maria Foster Brown. After marriage to Daniel Brown, Maria and her new husband moved from Athens to early Amesville and ran the general store from 1845-1856 before moving on further west to Illinois. More recently, several authors tell in Unto These Hills: The Bicentennial Heritage History of early settlers, their daily activities, and kinds of businesses and institutions present.

Recorded Information: Mudsock

The Open Day Journal from Mudsock Store There is only anecdotal information describing the rise and decline of Mudsock. Evidence of its nature, residents, and daily activity comes from the writings of Richard Dean, Clifford Glazier, Harry Henry, Nelle and Wyatt McDaniel, Alyce Sayre, Birchie Thompson, and Nellie Woolley in Unto these Hills: Writings of the 1976 Bicentennial Committee. Information is also available from various speeches of Clyde Gibson and Mary Grosvenor, now on file at the Athens County Genealogical Library.  Other valuable sources were The 1833 Ohio Gazette, an 1833 travelogue of Ohio; records of the establishment of the first Presbyterian Church at Mudsock; Nathan Dean Jr's 1837 will and estate records, and four volumes of 1837 daily transactions journals of Loring B. Glazier, Mudsock store owner and first "Ames Town" postmaster. There is significant amount of confusion between Mudsock and early Amesville, e.g., most accounts say that the first postoffice was established in Amesville in 1821. This is quite unlikely. Amesville didn't exist until 1837. Loring B. Glazier was certainly the first postmaster and it is unlikely that he would operate a store and postoffice in different locations.

 

Pre-Mudsock 1798

Other Ames History

Mudsock - the Community

References

Mudsock - the Demise

About the Author

Other Communities Named Mudsock

Ephraim Cutler - Ohio Pioneer from Ames

Return to Top

Terms:  Coonskin, Ames, Amesville, Athens County, Silas Dean, Nathan Dean, Richard Dean, Northwest Territory, Ohio Company, Marietta, Ephriam Cutler, Rufus Putnam, Mudsock, Thomas Ewing, Benjamin Brown, Revolutionary War, Western Library Association, Presbyterian Church, early postoffice, tourism, Silas Bingham