Ohio Biographies

Benjamin Franklin Renick

The agricultural element forms the backbone to every community, for upon its character and work depends the real development of the resources of that section of the country; and if enterprise, industry and integrity are lacking, the whole body corporate will be lacking in vitality, strength and success.

Among the prominent farmers of Darby Township, Pickaway County, we find Mr. Renick, a portrait of whom appears on the opposite page. This county is his native home, as he was born in Jackson Township, December 5, 1808. He was reared on the home farm, vvhich at that early day was located in a wilderness, and encountered the many difficulties of frontier life. Indians were numerous, as were also wild animals, and the hardships which the family passed through have made a lasting impression upon his mind. He remembers distinctly the time two Indians came to their home and begged buttermilk, and on another occasion when two of them were found stealing corn, and he and a brother reminding them of their crime, one of them drew a large knife and pursued them.

Benjamin F. Renick was educated, as were many of the pioneer lads, in the little old log schoolhouse, with its open fire-place in one end and slab seats and desks. It was conducted on the subscription plan, and the teacher boarded around among the pupils. Young Renick had to walk two miles through the woods in attending this temple of learning, which luxury was afforded him during the winter months only, as his services were needed upon the farm in the summer. He was often sent to mill on horseback, and performed many similar duties. The family were not provided with many of the luxuries such as are common to the farmers of the present day, their main food consisting of mush and milk and corn bread, but little wheat being ground at that time. When a lad, our subject took a load of wheat, with a four-horse team, to Gallipolis, seventy-five miles distant, and traded one bushel of that cereal for an equal amount of salt. The remainder of his load he disposed of at fifty cents per bushel. Money being very scarce, his mother would provide him with a luncheon which would last one week—the time required for the trip.

When seventeen years of age, Mr. Renick engaged to drive one hundred head of cattle to Alexandria, near Washington, D. C, being forty days making the journey. He later made many trips  to the Eastern markets on the same errand, and often went to Illinois and drove cattle to this State. When reaching his majority, our subject's father told himself and brother John that he would give them all they could raise on two hundred acres of land which he owned near Darbyville. It is unnecessary to state that they willingly accepted the offer, and continued so employed for the succeeding ten years, in which undertaking they were more than ordinarily successful, during that time handling considerable stock. Mr. Renick fed and drove to New York the first corn-fed fat cattle ever driven from Illinois.

In the fall of 1837, Mr. Renick purchased his present property, which consisted of twelve hundred acres of land, almost all of which was in timber and brush, with occasional skirts of prairie. He made his home for several years in a hewed log house, and when that was destroyed by fire, erected his present beautiful frame residence, which is furnished in a most tasty and comfortable manner. He had dealt very largely in stock, but meeting with reverses in fortune, was compelled to sell some of his property. His specialties in stockraising were cattle, hogs, and sheep, having as many as one thousand head of the latter animals at one time.

In the fall of 1840, Miss Sarah Williams became the wife of our subject, and to them were granted a family of four children, namely: Milton, Vincent, Mary, and Cynthia. They all grew to mature years, and are now deceased. Mrs. Renick died when about thirty-five years of age, and in 1855 our subject was married to Mary Taylor, who was born in Madison County, this State. Of that union were born the following children, all of whom are living, and named respectively: Sarah (Mrs. Dr. Kirkendall), Seymour, Amanda (Mrs. Carpenter), Job R., Jennie, at home, B. Franklin and Warner.

Mr, Renick is the possessor of two hundred acres of land, which his industry has placed under excellent cultivation, drained and fenced. The estate is managed by bis son Job, altbougb he gives his personal supervision to its improvement. He watched with great interest the gradual evolution of this section from its primitive wildness into cultivated fields and prosperous farms, and has done his full share in bringing about the transformation, having lived in Pickaway County for eighty-four years. He is widely and favorably known throughout its limits, and his friends are as numerous as his acquaintances.

Religiously, our subject is a member of the Presbyterian Church. His views in political affairs lead him to cast his vote with the Republican party. He keeps thoroughly informed upon current events of interest, and is well-read and intelligent. Notwithstanding the fact that this county has about one thousand Democratic majority, he was elected County Commissioner one term, and has served many years as Township Trustee and Treasurer. He took a very active part in the political campaign of 1840, at which time hundreds of horsemen attended the meetings. He has contributed liberally of his means for the development of his community, and is looked upon as one of the progressive and popular residents of the county.