In 1851 Ohio had a constitutional convention which changed many of the ways things once worked in the state. One of those changes included removing the power of creating a new county from the General Assembly and putting it in the hands of special elections by the people. With this threat hanging over the heads of residents of a future Noble County, it was important to get this done now. And so it was not a coincidence with the delegates adjourned on March 11, 1851 with the new constitution in their hands, that the General Assembly on that very day authorized the creation of Noble County.
The residents and politicians of Guernsey, Morgan, Monroe and Washington counties were not happy about losing square miles from their respective counties to make a new county. Fortunately, for those residents of the new county, the General Assembly still had that power and when it became clear the constitution would take that power out of their hands, they acted.
The origin of the name "Noble" has been attached to several theories. One theory is that there was an Ohio Representative named Warren P. Noble, of Seneca County who was chairman of the committee on new counties when the petition for a new county was submitted to the legislature. The theory goes that the petitioners may have purposely selected the name "Noble" in the hope of influencing Warren P. Noble to look kindly upon their petition and grant the petition.
The other theory, and in my opinion the most likely is that the name was in honor of the Noble family that already resided within the land being considered. There was also a township named Noble after this family tree.
Salt-making was one of the earliest industries in the area. At that time salt was a necessity for life on the frontier. It was used as a preservative to keep meat for long periods of time. Salt licks were discovered by observing deer that frequented certain areas. The early settlers discovered that if they dug a well they could greatly increase the water flow which would be collected, boiled away, leaving salt crystals behind.
So profitable were these salt wells, that a number of wells were drilled in certain areas. In 1814 while drilling a salt well, a black substance gushed up. Most of those present recognized it as oil. At the time oil had no practical use other than as a medicinal remedy that was bottled and sold as an elixir. During this exploration it was found that gas bubbling up could be ignited causing a flame to violently erupt upward to a height of 6 feet or more and then remain lit for a long period of time. This became the first oil well in Ohio.
In 1919 the American government committed to build a German designed rigid airship in America. The USS Shenandoah was originally designated FA-1, for 'Fleet Airship Number One' but this was changed to ZR-1. On September 4, 1923 she made her first flight and was christened the USS Shenandoah, an Algonquian name for Daughter of the Stars. The great airship was captained by an Ohioan: Zachary Lansdowne. He and the ship became household names capturing the imagination of the American people.
In the early test flights the USS Shenandoah was put through many stressful maneuvers which some would later claim weakened its structure. For 18 months America took pride as the ship cruised about the country. On September 2, 1925 the Shenandoah left its base in Lakehurst, NJ and turned westward. Its destination was Columbus Ohio and beyond.
During the early morning hours of September 3, the ship cruising at 3600' passed Wheeling; 45 minutes later lightning was seen in the distance. Lieutenant Commander Lansdowne was awakened and returned to the command car. The weather forecast had only shown a low pressure disturbance in northern Minnesota, but that should not have effected the airship. By 3:00 am the winds had picked up and began to slow progress.
It was a violent summer storm common across Ohio. As the crew tried frantically to steer the massive airship around the oncoming storm, it lost 2 of their 6 Packard engines that overheated and failed. It was no longer possible for the ship fight against Mother Nature. By 5:00 a.m. the ship had been pushed upward to 6200'. Inside the rigid craft, support cables began snapping. In a matter of moments the airship split and was torn into two parts. Lieutenant Commander Lansdowne told his men they could leave the control car and two of the men climbed out and into the air frame section still in tack.
The airship broke into 3 parts. The control car broke away from the frame and fell, killing all aboard not far from Ava. The stern came down in a small valley a little closer to Ava. The third site is the bow which touched earth just west of Sharon. Of the 43 Navy men on board the USS Shenandoah, 14 were killed in the crash.
The last verified veteran of the American Revolutionary War. John Gray was born in Virginia on January 6th 1754 on a small farm next to George Washington's Mount Vernon. He was the oldest child in the family and when it was time to work outside the family farm he found work at Mt. Vernon.
He joined the the army in 1780 at the age of 16. Four years earlier his father was killed in the Battle of White Plains. John Gray was at the Battle of Yorktown and was present for the surrender of Lord Cornwallis.
After the war he moved into the Northwest Territory and lived for the most part on land that would eventually become Noble County. John Gray, the last verified veteran of the Revolutionary War died here March 29 1868 at the age of 104.
Today a monument has been erected along SR 821 just south of Belle Valley. It is in a small roadside park the kind you would have seen along any highway in Ohio during the 1950's. The actual grave site is not far away located on Brookfield Twp Road near Hiramsburg.
The Seneca Fork of Wills Creek was dammed by the Army Corps of Engineers to create a water reservoir and help manage flooding in the Wills Creek Valley. Today the lake is a beautiful attraction for recreation and sport fishing (horsepower limited to 399HP) that covers 3,550 acres. There is no residential development around the shoreline
Noble Township was actually created in 1819 as a township in Morgan County. It was named after John Noble, Sr. who arrived here in 1812 from Pennsylvania with a herd of 25 young hogs setup his farm. Over that first winter John lost 23 of his prized hogs to the local bear population. John Noble, Sr. became known as not only an excellent farmer, but also thrifty and orderly. His son John Jr. carried on the farm and is most likely the source for the county being named Noble.