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February 9, 1984


PIX #1 - David Risdon landed in Oakley in 1820 to start his government sur- veying mission. See figure (1) on map of Oakley, which later was called Ft. Ball, now the Second Ward of Tiffin, shown on upper left of map. Presumably Risdon surveyed much of the area which was later called Tiffin.

PIX #2 - Photo shows plaque at corner of Countyline and Summit Streets, an area of the village of Risdon which was set aside as a public square, never to be used for any other purpose...and so it remains today. David Risdon surveyed the village, named after him, which later joined with Rome to form Fostoria.

Does the name "Risdon" mean anything to you? Who was David Risdon? Some read- ers may possibly recall that the northwest portion of this town was originally the village of Risdon, which later joined with its neighbor, Rome, a village about a mile southeast, to form Fostoria.

In previous Potluck articles the name of David Risdon has been referred to as the one who surveyed the land for the village named after him, John Gorsuch purchased the land from the U.S. government.

It has been my desire for several years to present an article about David Risdon, his forbearers, from whence they came, and today's survivors of the Risdon clan.

Some of the David Risdon history is in the old Seneca County histories, but only briefly. I knew that of the survivors of the Risdon family, two of them were busily engaged in putting together data for a book about the family. So I waited for the completion of that book to ensure this article would contain as authentic data as possible.

The genealogy of the Risdon family, as told in the book, is available for re- ference at Kaubisch Memorial Public Library.

So here's the first in a series of articles, starting with David Risdon, inas- much he was a resident of Seneca County and active in the area.


David Risdon was born at Rupert, Vt., July 6, 1788, son of Josiah Risdon and his wife Martha Cochran Risdon. His parents moved to Balston Springs, Sarato- ga County, N.Y., in 1789 when he was about 1 year old.

He served in the War of 1812 from Saratoga County, N.Y.

David had worked as a surveyor with his brother, Orange, and father prior to the War of 1812. After the close of the war in 18l4, he worked as a surveyor in western New York for a few years, then went to Seneca County, Ohio, to survey land for the U.S. government.

On the first day of April, 1820, David Risdon arrived in Oakley, Seneca County, on his survey mission. He made his headquarters there and lived in a boarding house.

Also in 1820 the first post office was established in Oakley. David Risdon was the postmaster. Only one mail route existed through the county at the time. It ran from Columbus to lower Sandusky along the army road.

While he was postmaster Mr. Risdon used to go fishing. On these occasions he would carry the mail matter with him in his hat. People anxious to get their mail and not able to wait for his return would follow him up along the river. Mr. Risdon would then take the post office from his head and look for papers and letters.


Oakley was the first village surveyed in the county and was later known as Fort Ball. It is now the Second Ward of the city of Tiffin. In partnership with James T. Worthington, David Risdon surveyed the town of Eden in 1820, and together they also surveyed Hopewell Township in sections and quarters prior to its being open for settlement in 1822.

In April 1822, and again May 16, 1839, David Risdon surveyed Green Springs.

On the 12th day of April, 1824, the first county court was held at Tiffin. During the short session of 30 minutes, David Risdon was appointed county surveyor.

At its first election, June 7, 1824, Seneca Township elected David Risdon a trustee and on the same day the board of commissioners of Seneca County appointed him county tax collector.

Also in 1824 David Risdon surveyed the town of Fort Ball which included the whole of Oakley.

He located his home there and married Elizabeth Stoner, a widow, on Nov. 7, 1829, in Tiffin. Of this union five children were born: Martha Helen, Henry Baltzell, James Thomas Worthington, Amandus Delos and Elizabeth Amanda. He surveyed much of the land in this region and was prominently identified with early history.


In the fall of 1832 John Gorsuch plotted the village of Risdon, surveyed for him by David Risdon. It was located on the northwest corner of Section 6, Township 2 north, Range 13 east.

Rome, a little village, was plotted on the east half of the southwest quarter of the same section by David Risdon for Roswell Crocker. This was done in August 1832.

Simultaneous with the rise of Rome, the neighboring town of Risdon sprang up. Years later the arm of the big swamp separating the two villages was filled and the two became one. Since the people in Rome would not accept the name of Risdon and the people of Risdon wouldn't stand for Rome, they compromised by naming the town Fostoria after Charles W. Foster. In 1854 the towns were officially joined.

IN 1835 David Risdon surveyed the village of Attica for William and Samuel Miller.

Green Springs, so named because of the color of water in that area, was sur- veyed by David Reeves and David Risdon in May 1939. It was located on section 5 of Adams Township.

Everything wasn't just fine and dandy in those early days. Searching the re- cords one finds that in 1837 John Brooks built a frame house and brought a stock of molds for his counterfeiting establishment. And the business of horse stealing thrived. Many a horse thief was sent to the penitentiary. (Continued next week)

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