Chapter 1, 1809–26
The foundations of the town, Ghent, were laid in 1809 by 13 families from the valley of the Rappahannock river, near Fredericksburg, Virginia, who settled on the right bank of the Ohio river, opposite the Swiss settlement of Vevay. The country was at that time a wilderness. There was an abundance of wild turkeys, ducks and deer. A few bears and wolves.
In the year 1826, on the banks of the Ohio river, where the town of Ghent stands was a small village, which was called Ghent by some of the settlers in honor of the old city of Ghent, Belgium. The oldest person in Ghent now and the only one who remembers anything of the little village at that time is Mrs. Jane Keene and she was then “just high enough for the top of her head to be seen over the tops of the dog fennel.” The location of the town was then a little more than a wide waste of commons, covered thickly with dog-fennel. It was literally “Dog-Fennel Town.”
The main street was next to the river, with the Acra house on the right hand side. Where the Graham house how stands, in which Mrs. Williams lives, was a small log house in which lived Mr. and Mrs. Everson, the father and mother of Mrs. Mary Sarils, and in this house Mrs. Everson taught the first Sunday School ever taught in Ghent. Next to the Everson house stood the two Obersher houses, in one of which the Cox boys were born. In the lower one old Mr. Obersher kept a grocery; next to this grocery stood a small brick house, long since torn away. The Acra house was standing at that early day, and across the street where the tobacco barns now stands was another small house where Mrs. Jane Keene was born. On the left side of the street opposite the Acra house stood a grocery kept by Mr. Wm. McCoy, Mrs. Nancy O’Neal’s grandfather. All this side of the street has long ago fallen into the river. On the next street a log house stood where the Boulton house stands; a small house stood on the site of the old Hotel, in which Mrs. Sandefur lives; a frame house stood where Mr. Stevenson’s home is now. The old American House stood on the opposite corner; it was built by Mr. Lewis Sanders. A log house stood where the Petit house now stands, one on the site of Mrs. Lyon’s home, and old Aunt Fanny Gabe lived in a log house that stood on the corner of Mrs. Lyon’s garden, directly opposite B. W. Griffith’s home. There was only one house on the other side of the street, a small brick house stood on what is now Dedley Griffin’s garden. Here lived Nancy Stuman Craig, woman doctor for the town. It was this Mrs. Craig who planted her garden one year and stuck her butter beans with willow poles, every one of which budded at the top, framing a small willow arbor. A log house stood where Dr. P. V. Eads’ [that’s a guess on the spelling of the last name – the original is illegible] office now stands, and here Mrs. Nancy O’Neal and several other little girls about 6 years old, one Sunday at Methodist Quarterly Meeting took the sacrament. Under this house was a cellar partly filled with sand, where the children kept 3 teacups to play with in the sand. A small brick house stood where the Saberton house, more familiarly known as the old Saril’s house now stands. Old Aunt Sukey Davis lived in a story and a half log home on the corner where Dr. Howard’s home stands. The old John O’Neal house, the old Walton Craig home that stood back near the creek, long ago torn down, and the old Wm. O’Neal house were standing then. This is the plan of Ghent, in 1826. It was simply a village of log houses.
from the Ghent Times, February 22, 1901.