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Article taken from Portsmouth Daily Times
Saturday June 25, 1965


Isaac Bonser was the first white man to visit Scioto County with plans for a settlement.  A woodsman and hunter, he was quick to appreciate the great beauty of the Ohio River Valley.

In 1795, Bonser was selected by a group of would-be emigrants of Northumberland County, PA to visit the Northwest Territory and select a site for a settlement.  He set out alone on foot with nothing but his rifle, blanket and other equipment that he could carry.

Bonser crossed the Ohio River and wandered along the north back of the river until he reached the Little Scioto where he marked out a piece of ground with his tomahawk.

At that time there was no settlement on the north side of the river between Gallipolis and Manchester and he thought he would be entitled to that marked out land by priority of discovery and locality.

Bonser had been born in 1767 and brought up on the frontier in Pennsylvania.  He was accustomed to the back woods life and had assisted in the protection of property against the Indians in the Revolutionary War.  He was considered an expert hunter and woodsman.

On his return from his trip to the Little Scioto, Bonser met a surveying party from the French Grant that was in a bad predicament.  Out of food and with their supply of powder damp, they were in danger of starving on their canoe trip to Marietta.

Bonser promised to supply game for them if they would carry his supplies in their canoe.

When Bonser got back to his home county, the families of Urish Barber, John Beaty, William Ward and Ephriam Adams joined him in heading to the spot he had marked for settlement.

They found two Manchester families ahead of them, however.  These were the families of Samuel Marshall and John Lindsey.

Isaac Bonser located above the mouth of the creek and built the third cabin in Scioto County.  He cleared a field and fenced it and the next spring planted about ten acres of corn and other vegetables.

He built a water-mill one mile from the mouth of the Little Scioto in 1798 at the mouth of Bonser's Run.

As soon as the land office was opened in Chillicothe in 1801, Bonser secured the land on which his mill was built and kept a mill there until his death.

Bonser built a house and planted an orchard.  He was the leading citizen of his area and took a great part in local activities.  He was active in organizing the militia in which he was elected a major.

Always fond of tinkering with mills, he worked hard no matter what the weather until his death in 1849.  He had some strange ideas including one that wheat should always sell at 50 cents per bushel and corn at 25 cents.  While he was fond of hunting, he would never kill for sport.  He often was called upon to secure meat not only for his family but for others.

Maj. Bonser and his wife, the former Abigail Burt, had 10 children.

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