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Ross

Ross is in Sections 33 and 34 of Ross Township. It also has been known as Venus and Venice. It was laid out in 1817 by Dr. Benjamin Clark as Venus, named for the mythical Roman goddess of love and beauty. Clark selected "Venus because of its pleasant situation and beautiful surroundings," said the Centennial History of Butler County. A post office was created Jan. 15, 1819, as Dick's Mills, and changed July 31, 1834, to Ross. Ross was commonly known as Venice during the first half of the 20th century. (See Dick's Mill.) The community was named for Sen. James Ross (1762-1847) of Pennsylvania, who supported Ohio statehood and free navigation of the inland rivers, especially the Ohio and Mississippi, during his term in the Senate (1794-1803).

As a young man, Ross -- born in York County, Pa., July 12, 1762 -- was a Latin instructor at McMillan's Academy (now Washington and Jefferson), a college in Washington, Pa. In 1782, he began the study of law at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton). In 1784, he was admitted to the bar and opened a practice in Washington, Pa.

As a lawyer, he specialized in land cases. Later, as a senator, he chaired the committee responsible for land legislation -- an issue important to the disposal of federal land and development of western territories, including Ohio. Ross was a delegate to the Pennsylvania state constitutional convention in 1789 and 1790. Four years later, President George Washington appointed him to a three-man commission to negotiate a settlement to the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania. Also in 1794, Ross, a Federalist, was elected to fill a U. S. Senate vacancy. Later, he won election to a full six-year term and served from April 24, 1794, until March 3, 1803, two days after Ohio began operating as the 17th state. He had supported the Ohio enabling act that won congressional approval April 30, 1802.

He also had invested in Ohio when it was a territory. In 1797, Ross and Bezaleel Wells had founded Steubenville, Ohio, and offered lots for sale in the community on the Ohio River. Ross moved to Pittsburgh in 1795 while in the U. S. Senate and eventually served 17 years as a Pittsburgh councilman. After leaving Congress, Ross resumed his law practice and was an unsuccessful candidate for governor of Pennsylvania in 1799, 1801 and 1808. He died in Pittsburgh Nov. 27, 1847, at the age of 85. With land taken from Hamilton County, the new Ohio General Assembly formed Butler County in March 1803 -- the same month James Ross left the U. S. Senate.


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