Mount Vernon city logo

MOUNT VERNON -- If you drive south out of Mount Vernon on Newark Road (Ohio 13), you'll find yourself just emerging from town as you pass Glen Road, where the Jeld-Wen window plant is located.

In the early days of the county, this point was actually a couple of miles south of Mount Vernon, and you'd never know now that it was its own community.

It was known as Haines, which doesn't seem to make a lot of sense when you find that the founder of the community was named William Leonard.

Leonard came to the area around 1803, when it was not yet organized as a county. He had come from the town of Ten Mile in Washington County, Pennsylvania. Leonard has the distinction of leaving behind the very first will ever filed in the county, after it was organized in 1808.

Acquaintances of Leonard's, Abner and Ebenezer Brown, came next, in 1804. The Browns built the first grist mill in the county here, entirely out of wood, without the use of nails.

Since no iron was available on the frontier to band the two-foot wide mill stones together, the Browns used strips of the tough bark of slippery elm trees as banding. Tough, as trees go, but no doubt something that frequently broke and needed replacing.

The log structure was crude and tiny, but was also a mechanical marvel of the early frontier, powered by the waters of the Delano Run.

Other settlers of the new community included Baxters and Merritts. Peter Baxter was a member of the very first jury ever formed in Knox County, one that was called to determine the guilt of William Hedrick, accused of stealing. The jury found him guilty and sentenced him to be whipped.

Matthew Merritt was also on that first jury, and also bears the distinction of having been elected one of the very first county commissioners for Knox, in 1808.

Almost all these settlers had originally been from the town of Ten Mile in Washington County, Pennsylvania, so the new hamlet was popularly known as the Ten Mile Settlement. But its official name was Haines, after its most prominent citizen.

The young and vital Henry Haines also came from Ten Mile, and was known as an educated, wealthy man. He was also known to be mechanically gifted, having created a turning lathe that was used to make useful household items.

With such a background, it's no surprise he was quickly called upon to help create the newly established county's government.

In 1808, Haines was appointed county treasurer by the commissioners (the post was not an elected position until later).

By all accounts, Haines was skilled and diligent as county treasurer. But as the years crept by, more and more locals noticed a certain fanaticism creeping into Haines' religious views. Though he remained wealthy, the man's mood seemed to darken with the years as he became more and more strident in his views.

By 1815, it was impacting his performance as treasurer, and he was replaced.

Haines made himself a tin megaphone and took to riding around the countryside, bellowing through his megaphone to alert Knox Countians that the end was nigh, that the world was coming to an end, and that they must prepare for judgment.

As his condition worsened, he took to the roads all hours of the day and night, in all weather, sounding his raving warnings.

When he became completely unhinged, Haines' neighbors wrestled him under control and took him to the house of Dr. R. D. Moore. The doctor, with the help of the neighbors, got Haines into a straightjacket, and he proceeded to treat the disturbed man for the next several weeks.

The excited patient finally calmed until the doctor decided it was safe to release him. Haines thanked Dr. Moore for the treatment, then calmly informed him that if he ever lost his mind again, he would come kill the doctor.

Perhaps the doctor was not entirely confident about the success of his cure, for he soon left Knox County and returned to Pennsylvania.

It wasn't long before Haines went missing. The next person to see him was, in fact, Dr. Moore, in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, where he found a dazed Henry Haines wandering on the street.

Chagrined, Haines explained that he had indeed come to Pennsylvania to kill the doctor, but had regained his reason. Before the patient's status could change, Dr. Moore arranged for travelers headed west to return the confused man to Knox County, where he again returned to his large house and made use of his tin horn.

In the summer of 1820, it was noticed that Haines' horn had gone silent for a few days and nights.

When the man was not found anywhere around his property, search parties were formed. Searchers found him in the woods south of the settlement named after him, where he had used a noose to hang himself from a branch of a small tree.

He was only 38 years old, leaving behind a wife, Mary, and a little boy named Daniel. Henry's estate was not entirely settled until 1836, when Daniel became 21 years old, and legally entitled to the property.

By this time, the village of Haines was long gone, having been too close to Mount Vernon to be necessary.

In time, the mill and houses fell down and were replaced by other structures, until you'd never guess today that the intersection of Glen Road and Newark Road once had its own name — and its own resident madman.

Support Our Journalism

Our reporting empowers people to individually and collectively achieve progress in our region. Help make free, local, independent journalism sustainable by becoming a member.