AND THEY LIVED IN AMELIA: AMELIA BODIN
By Pam Troxell
In the Amelia United Methodist Cemetery, there is a headstone that might be one of the most important headstones for Amelia. It is the headstone of Armilla Bodin. Who is Armella Bodin you might ask, well perhaps you may know her by her nickname, Amelia.
Armilla or Armlious Jernegan, was born in Edgartown, Massachusetts on September 11, 1805. She was the daughter of David Jernegan, Sr. and Armlious Jernegan. The Jernegan family moved to the Amelia area as a part of the Massachusetts group that moved down during the War of 1812. Her father, David had made his living originally from the sea and now came to farm. We know almost nothing about Amelia's childhood. However, one can speculate it might have been interesting growing up with two ambitious brothers. David, Jr., had a store and started a grist mill with friend John O. Butler, and Henry, who would start a town called Utopia. She met a young man by the name of Charles Wesley Bodin. They were married by Ichabod Temple, a Methodist minister on August 29, 1824. They had at least three children, David (who would later spell the name Boden), Amanda, and Joseph.
Amelia and Charles farmed on a piece property that she inherited from her father David on the Pierce Township (then Ohio Township) side of Amelia, while they performed another duty and perhaps lived on the Batavia Township side of the village. They were the toll takers for the Ohio Turnpike. Stagecoach drivers would drive up to the gate and holler "Amelia!", and Armilla would come out and collect the toll from them.
If Charles' inventory from his estate papers were accurate, the Bodins had a comfortable life. They had some furniture, that including a bed, wash stand, bureau, oil cloth, buggy, wagon, oil cloth, dueling weapons, and a horse (who by the time of Charles death had gone blind).
When their town, then known in Clermont County as Milton (which was a corrupted version of its original name Milltown) was ready to have its own post office in 1836, it was found that there was already a Milton, Ohio. The townspeople didn't know what to name the town. Perhaps it was a stranger asking if the name of the town was Amelia, a stagecoach driver who suggested it, or just the townspeople themselves (they may have been asked so much if the name of the town was Amelia, no one will ever know. In honor of the toll taker, and perhaps the Jernegan family in general, they decided to name the town Amelia.
Amelia watched her children grow up, and perhaps even go to the Civil War, but she would never see the end of that war. For reasons that may have gone with her to the grave, 72-year-old Amelia Bodin, died in the town she grew-up in, bore her name, and where she lived her life-Amelia.
Amelia Village is Clermont County’s only incorporated village that was never formally laid out. The village lies in Batavia and Pierce Townships . The Batavia Township survey was made for Robert Gibbons of Yorktown , Va. , on April 15, 1788 . The Pierce Township survey was made for Robert Baylor of Logan Co., Ky. , on the same day. John O’Bannon was the deputy surveyor. Nicholas Kellar and Archelus Price were the chain carriers and John Ormsley, the marker man, in Batavia, and William and Isaac Kees, the chain carriers, and John Brady, the marker man, in Pierce.
Amelia was incorporated on December 20, 1900.
The first homes in the village were log cabins believed to have been built in the north and west parking lots of the present Amelia United Methodist Church (19 E. Main St,). Here, David Jernegan and John O. Butler built a sawmill in 1862 or 1827. From this, other mills were built in the village that soon caused the area to be called Milltown, a named soon slurred into Milton. The first settler may have been an Irishman, Daniel Kirgan (or Kergan) who settled on the western edge of Amelia in 1809.
When a post office was established on February 25, 1836 , it was not given the name Milton because a post office of that name already existed in Ohio . The name chosen was Amelia, after Amelia Bowdoin, the well known and popular operator of the tollgate on the Ohio Turnpike. Her home still stands at 94 W. Main St. , across the street from where it stood when it served as the tollhouse.
John S. Johnston, who carried some of his goods around in a large trunk, operated the first store. The main street was the Ohio Turnpike (present Main Street/S.R. 125). It was built in 1831 by E. G. Penn; his home stood along the turnpike (present Apple Hill Apartments, 29 E. Main St .). U.S. Congressman Charles Cyrus Kearns married Lena Penn, E.G.’s daughter. U.S. Speaker of the House, Nicholas Longworth, and his wife Alice Roosevelt, (daughter of Theodore Roosevelt) visited the Kearns.
The Amelia section of S.R. 125 was widened to four lanes and concreted in 1951. The rails of the Cincinnati , Georgetown , & Portsmouth Railroad reached Amelia in 1878. It was in service until April 20, 1935 . It crossed Main Street just east of 81 W. Main St ,. Where its station had been. The Interurban Railway and Terminal Co. began operation on June 16, 1903 . Nicknamed “The Black Line” because of the dark green cars used by the IR&T, it stopped service on May 5, 1918 . Its rail ran along the middle of the Ohio Pike. It had a turnaround spot at 13 W. Main St.
The first telephone in town was in the Beeler house ( 22 E. Main St .). Amelia has or had many well known homes. Mid-Maples or Thomas-Fuller House ( 119 W. Main St. ) is believed to have been a speakeasy during the days of prohibition (1920s-1930s). Kearns served in the U.S. House (1915-31), his home stood at 66W. Main St . Nellie Mattox, one of Clermont County ’s last Justices of the Peace, held court in her home in the second house east of the NE corner of Main Street and Hopkins Ave.
The oldest building is believed to be the Morse House that stood on the SE corner of Main and Oak streets (present site 44 Oak St .). It was built in the 1850’s by Increase Sumner Morse who died here in 1875.
The most historic building in town is the Knights of Phythias building ( 41 W. Main St. ) that was built in the 1850’s. It has served as the village hall, Amelia High School ’s graduation hall and gymnasium, motion picture theatre, war munitions factory, and hosted Farmers Institutes among its many activities.
Amelia had what was believed to be the United States ’ largest gold fish farm. The Glen Mary Fish Farm operated on 35 acres beginning in 1913. Frank Hitchcock owned and operated the farm that was at the end of the street named in his honor. The Pommert family owned and operated one of the largest gladiola farms in the nation. It stood on the south side of Main Street .