OhioGhostTowns.org Contains Tate Township History

Elk Lick home od Sen. Thomas Morris

If you are a history buff or at all interested in the history of our area, you might like to explore this website full of articles written and organized by the Ohio Ghost Town Exploration Co. members. Website is https://ohioghosttowns.org/

The website is full of researched history about old towns in Ohio that include the names of their founders, where they are buried, and the current state of the town.  You will also find links to historical maps, stories/legends of Ohio treasure, and important safety information for history adventurers.

The following articles (about areas located in Tate Township) are copied from the Clermont County page of the website written by Ohio Ghost Town Exploration Co. Link to the page is HERE.


Swings (Swings Station) (Swings Corner) – Tate Township
Location: 38.967524, -84.116260   
on Swings Corner Point Isabel Rd at the intersection of Crane Schoolhouse Rd
Remnants: Swing Family Cemetery on the north side of SR 125 west of Bethel (above painted retaining wall), old houses and farm buildings in the area
Description: The town was founded by the massive Swing family in the township. It had a church, school, and a train station on the Cincinnati, Georgetown, & Portsmouth Railroad. Most of the family was buried in Swing Cemetery and some in the Old Settlers Burying Ground on SR 133 in Bethel.

Walkers Mills – Tate township
Location: 38.946756, -84.055720 
on Patterson Rd between Airport Rd and Sodom Rd
Remnants: none known
Description: It was founded by William T. Walker and had a train station on the Cincinnati, Georgetown, & Portsmouth Railroad.


Bethel, Ohio – (1798 – present farming and merchant town)

Classification: small town

Location : Tate Township, Clermont County – On SR 125 at the intersection of SR 133

Obediah Denham (1747-1817) and Mary (Ball) Denham (1753-1818) ventured from New Jersey to Ohio to start a new life on American frontier. Their settlement was originally called Denhamstown and was platted as Plainfield in 1798, named after Obediah’s hometown. It was replatted as Bethel in 1802. The Grant Memorial Building on State Route 125 started out as a school in 1930 and currently houses the Bethel Historical Society & Museum. It features exhibits with local, state, and national history and honors veterans and famous citizens who lived in the town. The building was restored earlier this decade and reopened in 2014.

Americans have enjoyed a love affair with movies for over a hundred years now. The first movie theater in Ohio opened in Bethel in 1908 and was operated by Aaron Little. The Midway Theater hit the scene in the late 1930s and was a big hit in its day. The single screen venue could seat up to 400 watchers at a time. It’s located in the business block across State Route 125 from the museum and closed and reopened a few times in recent years. Silver screen legend Robert Redford did some filming at the Midway Theater in April of 2017 for the 2018 film The Old Man & the Gun.

Wichard Oil is a family owned gas and service station that opened in 1932 and was also used as a filming location. The building next to it is the Bethel Feed & Supply Pet & Garden Center. The three-story mill was constructed in 1858 and is an iconic building in town, despite not getting any direct attention in the movie. It’s one of the oldest feed mills still in operation in the state. They are a common sight in Ohio’s small towns, with many of them surviving the test of time, but most are used for other purposes these days. 

Obediah and Mary Denham donated land for the Early Settlers Burying Ground (Denham-Burke Cemetery) on the north side of town on State Route 133 and were buried there with relatives and county pioneers. It’s nicely maintained and has several signs and markers dedicated to local citizens who helped shape Bethel’s history. A large stone marker mentions the Unknown Hunter who is believed to be the first burial there. It also has a condensed version of the town’s beginning. As with most cemeteries in Ohio that are over 200 years old, the Early Settlers Burying Ground has many military veteran burials from the Revolutionary War to modern conflicts.


Elk Lick, OH – (1802 – 1972 farming town destroyed during the Harsha (East Fork) Lake Project)

Classification: ghost town

Location: Tate Township, Clermont County – On Elklick Rd in East Fork State Park

Elk Lick was founded in 1802 by Reverend John Collins (1769 – 1845) and Sarah (Blackman) Collins (1776 – 1863). It was named after the abundance of natural salt licks in the area. John built a log cabin church in 1805 called Collin’s Chapel. A wood frame structure was built on the same spot in 1818 and was named Bethel Methodist Church. It was rebuilt in 1867 and still stands today. The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. John and Sarah’s son Richard (1796 – 1855) was a War of 1812 veteran and a wealthy lawyer. He had a 37-room mansion constructed at Elk Lick in the early 1850s. It was considered to be the most prominent house in the county for several decades. Dr. Thomas Pinkham (1802 – 1884) also had a mansion built nearby.

Along with John Collins, Dr. Pinkham attempted to get the county seat moved to Elk Lick as it was quickly becoming an affluent community. However, that never happened and Elk Lick was never incorporated. John and Sarah Collins were buried in the Old Bethel Methodist Cemetery close to the church. Elk Lick had its own school, but it burned down in an arson fire in 1931. Some of the residents attended the Bantam one-room schoolhouse which still stands on Williamsburg – Bantam Rd. Much of the town’s land was later impounded by William H. Harsha (East Fork) Lake which was created by a dam on the East Fork of the Little Miami River. Construction of the flood control project began in 1970 and was completed in 1978.

Richard’s mansion was demolished by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1972 and was located where the lake’s recreational beach currently is. The McGrath family was the last to reside there. Several old dilapidated structures around the area were also razed prior to the lake’s completion. Elk Lick home od Sen. Thomas MorrisOne house was saved from demolition by the Miami Purchase Association for Historic Preservation. It was the home of Ohio politician and U.S. Senator Thomas Morris (1776 – 1844). The back 2-room portion of the house was built in 1818 and the larger front was added in 1840. It presently sits on the grounds of the Heritage Village Museum in Sharon Woods Park off of US 42 (Lebanon Rd) in Sharonville, Hamilton County. 




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