Some people are born to make a mark on the world they live in. They reach down deep within to draw on courage, endurance and stamina. With those qualities they leave their imprint on the world around them. Michael Leatherman is one of those people. He lived a life of adventure and some adversity while contributing greatly to his surroundings.
Michael’s story starts on January 16, 1799 in Washington County, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Michael Sr. and Catherine Palmer Leatherman and one of their eleven children. Early on Michael’s teacher and parents realized how intelligent he was. He easily mastered every subject he studied in school. Even though education was not stressed in a young man’s life, Michael’s teacher provided him with plenty of material to continue learning. Michael devoured whatever books he could find and was especially fond of great works of literature. His self education was so extensive Michael eventually took over as the area teacher and his knowledge was known by all well beyond the county.
Yet Michael loved farming and longed to get back to that heritage. His parents owned farmland but of course with so many children there wasn’t enough land to distribute to them all. Michael saved his hard earned salary to purchase his own land yet it wasn’t land near his parents that he had hopes of owning. He had his eye on western Ohio. The part of Ohio that was still an untouched area, heavily timbered and with few inhabitants.
On December 25, 1820 Michael married Hannah Ohler in Washington County, Pennsylvania. He and Hannah had quite a number of children themselves, raising a family of ten. Even while welcoming many new additions Michael pocketed enough money to secure his land in Allen County, Ohio and the provisions he’d need for his family.
He moved Hannah and the brood to Jackson township in Allen County and began the work of hewing out a life on their farm. In fact the area the Leatherman clan moved to was so densely populated with trees Michael had to cut a road to his own property on their arrival.
Once settled in Ohio, Michael was well respected in the area for his superior education and hard work. Many of his peers felt he was just the man needed in their fledgling government. So Michael accepted the call and was voted in as a township trustee. His next position was serving as Justice of the Peace. Then for 12 years he served as joint surveyor for both Allen and Auglaize counties. All through this time Leatherman continued farming, adding to his holdings and was managing a bustling 400 acre farm.
Perhaps the highlight of Michael’s political career came next when he was elected the state representative from Allen County and served a term in Ohio’s government. Yet he wasn’t done. Leatherman spent six more years as a probate judge in Allen County.