William Means – Revolutionary War Veteran
Col. John Means, a revolutionary war soldier of prominence in the region of South Carolina, moved to Ohio in 1819 and settled in Adams county. He moved his family to Ohio to get away from the influence of slavery, a fact that their children seemed to appreciate all their lives.
HISTORY OF ADAMS COUNTY – COLONEL JOHN MEANS – The people of Ohio are more indebted to this high-minded southern gentleman than they are aware. He was the first to develop the iron interests of southern Ohio. He was of old Scotch-Irish Presbyterian stock. The family name has been written MacMeans and it is the same as Mayne or Maynes. William Means, his father, was born in Ireland and was married to Nancy Simonton. He emigrated to the United States and settled in Juniata County, Pennsylvania, about 1760. From there he removed to the Union District in South Carolina, where he resided during the Revolution. He embraced the side of the Colonies, and being confined to his house by disease, was subjected to great annoyance by the Tories. A part of the time his family was supported by a slave, Bob, a native of Africa, and at one time, they were compelled to live on wheat boiled in water, not being able to procure other provisions. With all their privations, they had eight children, James, Hugh, Margaret, Mary, William, Rachael, John and Jane. The eldest, James, was born in Ireland. Mary married William Davitte and moved with her husband to Adams County in 1802, and to Edgar County in Illinois in 1812.
Our subject, John, the seventh child, was born March 14, 1770, in South Carolina. He grew to manhood at the place of his birth, and married Anne Williamson, the daughter of Thomas and Anne Williamson, of Spartanburg District, on the tenth of April, 1798. Prior to his marriage he united with the Presbyterian Church. He lived in Union District, South Carolina, with his mother until after her death in 1799. Soon after his mother’s death, he moved to Spartanburg District, and engaged in farming, merchandise and tanning. At the time he removed to Spartanburg District, the only company of militia near his home had for their captain, one burton, whose father had been a Tory in the Revolutionary War. John Means’ dislike of the Tories was so strong that, though the law required him to belong to the militia, he would not join Burton’s company, but got up one of his own, rather than to serve under the son of one of those who had persecuted his father during the war. During the War of 1812, he was commissioned a colonel of the militia in South Carolina, but was never called into active service. He was a member of the South Carolina legislature in 1815 and 1816. He and his wife both believed that slaves had souls, and that they should be taught to read the Bible. This was not lawful in South Carolina. Col. Means determined to remove to Ohio, where his brother William had preceded him in 1802, and his brother-in-law, the Rev. William Williamson, in 1805. He emigrated to Ohio in 1819 and took with him twenty-four slaves to give them their freedom. On reaching Manchester, he purchased a farm one mile west of Bentonville, now owned by A. V. Hutson. He erected a suitable dwelling and buildings in 1824, and built quarters for his freedmen. In October, 1821, he was elected commissioner of Adams County and served one term. In 1824, he was elected a member of the legislature from Adams County and served at the ensuing session and that of 1825. During his first session in legislature, the canal project occupied very much attention, and at his first session, William Henry Harrison was elected United States senator, in place of Ethan Allen Brown, whose term had expired. He was re-elected to the twenty-fourth legislative in the fall of 1825, which remained in session from the fifth of December, 1825, until the fifth of February, 1826.
During this session, there were land assessors chosen, who made their returns to the state auditor, and during this session, the first State Board of Equalization was created, with fourteen members, one for each congressional district.
Col. Means was in sentiment, anti-slavery, and an Abolitionist. He always declared slavery to be a moral and political evil, though he was not the same kind of an Abolitionist as the Rev. Dyer Burgess, who afterwards married his daughter. He and Mr. Burgess often had heated discussions on the subject of slavery, owing to their differences. He watched over and ccared for his former slaves as long as he lived, and when nearing the end of his life, he often expressed himself gratified with his action in freeing his slaves, and bringing his family into a free state. He mined the first iron in Adams County. He built the Brush Creek Forge Furnace and made iron there. He was one of the partners who built Union furnace, the first furnace built in Ohio in the Hanging Rock Region. He was an elder in the Presbyterian Church at Manchester. He died on the fifteenth of March, 1837, and is interred in the Manchester cemetery, adjoining the Presbyterian Church. His wife survived him until November 30, 1840. He was a sincere Christian, an honorable, upright and successful business man. His wife was a remarkable woman. she was of the same views as her husband on slavery, and noted for her piety and good works.
It is mainly through their children this eminent couple are known to this generation. They had six children, Elizabeth Williamson, born in 1799, married Dr. Wm. M. Voris in 1827, and by him was the mother of three daughters, one of whom was the wife of the Hon. William P. Cutler, of Marietta, Ohio. Dr. Voris died of the cholera in Cincinnati, June 8, 1835. In 1842, she married the Rev. Dyer Burgess, and became his widow in 1872, but lived until February 28, 1889, to the great age of ninety. A son, Thomas Williamson Means was known to all the business men of southern Ohio. He was born in South Carolina November 23, 1803, and came with his father to Ohio, in 1819. He married Sarah Ellison, December 4, 1828. He has a separate sketch in this book. Another son of Col. Means, the late Hugh Means, of Ashland, Kentucky, also has a separate sketch in this book.