Recently I saw a published reference to the East Townsend Township Volunteer Fire Department, which well serves a large territory, including my home. What caught my eye was the use of "East Townsend Township," since there is no such a place, as the old saying goes.
The confusion arises from the fact that Townsend Township was established by the Fire Sufferers Committee in 1808, and has retained its name since that time. The name comes from Kneeland, William, and Jacob Townsend, who were brothers. Kneeland decided to speculate in western lands from his home in Connecticut, and so he bought several claims in the Firelands and spent the rest of his life trying to sell these lands and make a profit, along with his brothers.
Kneeland Townsend may have lived in "his" township for a short time as he is known to have had a store, perhaps in the same building where his brother William opened a store about 1822. This was in a squared log building (as opposed to round logs) which stood at the center of the township about where the present store stands. William's main business interests were in Sandusky, where he, his wife and several of their children died of cholera in 1849.
Kneeland made a permanent settlement at North Milan where he conducted a store almost to the time of his death in 1844. His estate was quite complicated, as he had sold several farms in Townsend and elsewhere via land contracts and because of mental incompetency in his last years had not given the new owners a land deed. One lasting gift to Townsend Township from his family was the "town square" where the Town Hall and fire station are located.
My suspicion is that the word East was attached to Townsend in modern times because the community has corporation signs designating it as East Townsend and we know that Jim Busek was honorary mayor for several years, succeeding Wendell Cole, who lived opposite the Town Hall on Hartland Center Road.
When a post office was first established in Townsend Township in 1833 it was called East Townsend because there is a Townsend Township in Sandusky County and it already had a post office know as Townsend, Ohio. This East Townsend post office continued until 1905 when it was closed and combined with the Collins post office. About this time rural delivery started, rather than having patrons go to the office for the mail.
This first post office was operated by Daniel Phillips for about three years, but he failed to report to the government and pay over the profits. His bondsmen were notified that he was about $17 in arrears. They paid the assessment and Phillips was removed from his appointment.
The Phillips home and post office were located on what was then a road from Milan to New London. This road followed the present Ohio 601 south from Milan and U.S. 20 east to connect with the Townsend Angling Road, but the original course of the road has been changed so that the site of the Phillips farmstead is now in a field some distance off the main highway.
I will close by saying that I hope you partake of the Townsend Township Volunteer Fire Department's Fish Fry every September. It's well worth the cost and the effort. Mark you calendar for 2008.