Adams County was named for President John Adams and was the 3rd county created in the new Northwest Territory. Today Adams' County rich heritage can be seen in the quaint towns that dot the hilly countryside.
It is also home to one of the most recognized earthwork in the world: Serpent Mound.
Serpent Mound is one of the most notable historic sites in North America and that effigy mound is located in Adams County. When the early pioneers began building homesteads in Adams County, there were 100s of burial mounds and earthworks scattered throughout the area. Over time, most of these mounds were lost to farming, and natural erosion. The Great Serpent Mound became almost immediately known world-wide when descriptions of its existence were sent back east. In the early 1800s European archaeologists visited the site to see for themselves this historic vestige of a people that existed in North America long before any Europeans ever set foot on its soil. Thanks to the foresightedness and generosity of numerous people, the Great Serpent Mound has been preserved along with several burial mounds in the area.
What most people are not aware of is that the Serpent Mound is located on the edge of great crater. It is possible this crater was created millions of years ago by a meteor strike. The meteor which made the crater, impacted southern Ohio some 300 million years ago and left a very large crater. That crater is about 5 miles in diameter and covers much of Adams County, but also Highland and Pike Counties. The Serpent Mound is located on plateau inside the southwest quadrant of crater. It seems that scientific instruments used at the site have detected anomalies that are not normally present.
Whether the crater was created by a meteor, an astroid, a comet, or just an underground eruption can't be positively identified. The collected evidence to date suggests that it was a meteor-type collision.
West Union was first established in 1804, and is the county sea. Originally the county seat was located in the more populous town of Manchester, but due to some political differences, the county seat was moved to West Union, which was more centrally located.
Because of its central location, West Union grew slowly. With no easy way of getting to and from the town, despite its central location, few people ventured to West Union unless they had dealings with the county court. Even after the arrival of the railroads to Ohio, West Union remained isolated. West Union would become the only county seat not to be connected to a railroad line.
Map it: West Union, OH 45693
Massie's Station was the first permanent white settlement within the Virginia Military District, built along the Ohio River in 1790. It was built near three islands in the Ohio River (2 of which are still visible, the other has been submerged with the higher water levels). Native Americans used these islands to attack settlers traveling down the Ohio River. Numerous whites lost their lives to native attacks. The community was named after Nathaniel Massie, a land surveyor and land speculator who helped survey the Virginia Military District. Massie offered nineteen men property if they would settle in the town. He used the settlement as a base for his survey work in the district. In 1791, Massie's Station became known as Manchester, Ohio. Massie named the community after Manchester, England. It was the fourth permanent settlement established in the Northwest Territory. By 1791, residents had completely encircled the community with a stockade to provide protection from Native Americans. This was the last town in what would become Ohio to be enclosed by fortifications. Manchester served as the county seat for Adams County from 1797 to 1803, when residents moved local government to West Union.
The town also prospered during this time period as a stop for steamboats as they traveled along the Ohio River between Portsmouth and Cincinnati. Most industries in the community were affiliated with agriculture. During the nineteenth century, a tobacco warehouse, pork-processing company, a buggy manufacturer, a mill, and a nursery operated in Manchester for varying lengths of time. By the 1840s, Manchester had become the largest town in Adams County.
Map it: Manchester, OH 45144
Peebles is a rural village surrounded by some of the most beautiful farmland in the Ohio River Valley. The foothills of the Appalachian Mountains add grace and beauty as travelers are required to slow down and enjoy the scenery when they trek the back roads in this area.
In it's early years Peebles was a booming place. It was platted in 1881 and named in honor of John G. Peebles, the man who persuaded the Cincinnati and Eastern Railway to cross Zane's Trace (State Route 41) here. Local citizens saw opportunities to create businesses and Peebles came into it's own. By 1906 the village was so progressive that Chautauqua Days were held and drew many visitors for public lectures, concerts and other cultural events.
The 1970's brought more exciting changes. With the completion of the four lane Appalachian Highway that crosses Zane's Trace on the south end of town, Cincinnati and its amenities are only an hour away. Another great change was the purchase of farmland by Amish families. These fine folks appreciate the local rural heritage. Their farms, businesses, and families remind us to enjoy the slower pace, much like our ancestors enjoyed in this area.
Map it: Peebles, OH 45660
As you might expect being located along the Ohio River, that Adams County would be one of the first counties to be formed. In fact when Adams County was formed in 1797, it was only the third county in existence in the Ohio Territory. The other two counties were named for the first American president, George Washington, and the other was named after another founding father, Alexander Hamilton. Although Hamilton never made it to the presidency, he was deeply involved in the Revolutionary War as an aide to Washington, plus he became the 1st Secretary of the Treasury.
Harshaville Covered Bridge
Built about 6 years before the Civil War, this covered bridge is still in use. It spans Cherry Fork Creek Fork and is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The covered bridge is named for the community of Harshasville which was named for the Harsha family that operated a grist mill powered by Cherry Fork Creek. During the Civil War Confederate General, John Morgan led some 2,500 soldiers on a raid meant to instill fear across southern Indiana and Ohio. During this raid, Morgan's men crossed the Harshaville Covered Bridge.
MAP IT: 6450 Graces Run Rd
Kirker Covered Bridge
The Kirker Covered Bridge crosses over Eagle Creek. It was built in 1890 and has a span of 63 feet. Although it is no longer in use, the bridge is open to pedestrian traffic. The bridge is named for Ohio's second governor Thomas Kirker who was born in Ireland, but later immigrated to the United States, and then later moved to Ohio and Adams county around 1793.
Nathaniel Massie played an important role in developing much of the land, not only in Adams County, but much of what was known as the Virginia Military District (included southern Ohio, bordered by the Ohio River on the south, the Little Miami River on the west, and the Scioto River on the east and north. In 1797 Nathaniel Massie built a home here located on the high bluff overlooking the Ohio River, just east of Manchester. His home was one of the first frame houses built in Ohio. Although Massie spent little time in his new home as he was more often than not working in the field, he did spend some time there until 1802 when he sold Buckeye Station to his brother-in-law, Charles Byrd. Today a small stone monument stands at the base of the bluff along scenic SR 52 about 4 miles east of Manchester.
MAP IT: Buckeye Station Marker
Great Serpent Mound
Serpent Mound is the largest effigy earthwork still in existence in the world. Today, it is entirely left to speculation as to the significance of the effigy earthwork. It was not as many mounds found in Ohio, a burial mound. Whether or not the construction was designed to be a serpent is not known. We do know that there were other effigy earthworks built in the state, but the Great Serpent Mound is the best known.