I have done a lot of work on Nathan. Here is a little extract from a narritive discussing his arrival in Aberdeen. James Edwards was the first landowner. but Nathan laid out the town and chnaged the name from Ellis Ferry to Abredeen, the birthplace of James Edwards.
The following year Nathan, at least, moved on to the Ohio country. He had sold all his Fish Creek property on March 3, 1795 in preparation. The romantic notion of the entire Ellis clan floating down the river is not likely. Most of the brothers and Nathan's parents stayed in Washington County and his brother Jeremiah moved to Ohio County, Virginia. The brothers could, however, have accompanied Nathan on an exploratory trip since they all did eventually make there way to the Northwest Territory. Nathan and Mary with their family did make there way down the Ohio in the spring of 1795 to Maysville. They then prepared their acquisition on the northern shore.
It is likely that Nathan moved north of the river as early as 1796. This can be surmised from the November 15, 1796 notice in the Territorial Papers of the United States for the Northwest Territory, that a license for keeping a ferry over the Ohio was granted to Nathan Ellis for the term of one year from the landing nearly opposite the house where he resided in Hamilton County to the mouth of Lime Stone Creek upon the Shores of Kentucky. Before Ohio statehood, Hamilton County encompassed what is now Brown County, so the ferry mentioned is no doubt the same as the one licensed again years later.
The Territorial Papers also state that on July 12, 1796, Nathan Ellis, Esq. was appointed and commissioned a Justice of the Peace for the County of Adams.
On October 10, 1797, Nathan purchased 227 and 3/4 acres part tract from James Edwards for 206 pounds Kentucky money with the intent of laying out a town, which first became known as Ellis Ferry. In November they began selling parcels, the first a 50 acre and 20 pole part of a tract to Abraham Evans for 50 pounds, 6 schillings.
Aberdeen, Ohio at the end of Zane’s Trace
In 1797 and 1798 Nathan assisted Ebenezer Zane and John McIntyre with the final stretches of Zanes Trace. Zanes trace was a government contracted road cut from Wheeling to the Ohio River to provide access to Limestone and the Kentucky interior. It is likely that Nathan knew the Zanes. They had resided in Redstone until a year or so before Nathan arrived and Jonathan had served as a guide on the Brodhead campaign up the Allegheny with Nathan and Jesse. Nathan donated money and possibly labor to help complete the last twenty miles of the road. Its quite likely that this outlay was made so that he could direct the course of the road right to his future ferry and hotel, thus assuring him a significant income. For compensation for his effort, Nathan, for some years, was given the right to the erect a tollgate between Bush Creek and the Ohio River for the use of the lower stretch of the Trace.
On December 3, 1799, Governor Arthur St. Clair granted Nathan another ferry license to keep a ferry on the Ohio river landing nearby opposite the mouth of Limestone Creek. He was enjoined to provide boats and skillful men to "transfer all persons, cattle wagons and movables for reasonable and customary compensation..." This fledgling settlement was at this time known as Ellis Ferry.
The ferry was to prove to be a point of contention in this emerging village. A serious "feud" developed between Nathan and James Edwards about the ferry. Edwards felt that Nathan was making excessive profits on his ferry because of the direct connection with Zane's Road. Nathan had made quite a good road going right to the landing. Edwards and others owned the land immediately downstream of Ellis and also wanted to establish a ferry. Thereproblem was although they could establish a ferry across the river, they had no way to access Zane's Road without creating a road themselves, which had to pass through the property owned by Nathan. They tried several times to get the state legislature to approve public funding of a road to connect Zane's Road with their ferry across Nathan's land. Nathan also pleaded his case to the legislature stating that such a road would be redundant, obviously trying to maintain the monopoly as long as possible. In the end a compromise was reached. It can be inferred from the state record that Nathan tried several times to tie down the exclusive rights to the ferry for himself and his heirs, but was in most cases rebuffed by the legislature.
On January 27, 1800, Nathan was appointed by the Governor as the Sheriff of the County of Adams. In this role he carried out court ordered land sales and in 1801 was further qualified as County Tax Collector.
At the end of July in 1801 Nathan bought lots 28 (1/3 acre) and 33 (four acres) in Killinstown.In 1802 several more lots are sold in town .
Over the next few years Nathan is mentioned several times in the local newspaper, the Scioto Gazette and Chillicothe Advisor including his impassioned plea to vote for statehood in 1802.
By 1806, however, he is looking to rent the ferry.A hotel had been built in town by Evan Campbell. Ellis sold half of the ferry to Campbell and became joint partner in the hotel. Campbell is reported to be a native of Redstone, Pennsylvania, who had first emigrated to Brooks Bar, three miles above Limestone and then located in Ohio. Since it has been reported that Evan and Nathan were good friends, they may have known each other in Pennsylvania. After the hotel was established at the mouth of Fishing Gut Creek, it became a very popular stopover point and no doubt did a very good business. At that time the direct route from Washington, D.C. to the state capital, Chillicothe, was via the National Road to western Pennsylvania, then by boat to Aberdeen, then by Zane's Trace to Chillicothe. This made the hotel a natural stopping point, both to and from Chillicothe. A letter written years later by A. N. Ellis, great grandson of Nathan, referenced a number of memorable visitors to the hotel. These visitors included, Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, James Polk, Louis Phillipe and others.
Around this time Nathan had become the first Justice of the Peace as well as planting the first orchard.In the book, "A Tour of the Western County" published in 1808 by Forescue Cummings, is the following quote:"On Saturday, I returned to Ellis Ferry, opposite Maysville, on the banks of the Ohio.I found 'Squire' Ellis seated on a bench under the shade of two locust trees, with a bottle, pen, ink and some paper, holding a Justice Court which he does every Saturday.Seven or eight men were sitting on the bench with him, awaiting his award in their several cases.After he had finished, which was soon after I had taken a seat under the same shade, one of them invited the 'Squire' to drink with him, which he consented to do.Some whiskey was procured from Landlord Powers in which all parties made libation to peace and justice.There was something in the scene so primitive and so simple that I could not help enjoying it with much satisfaction.I took up my quarters for the night with Landlord Powers, who is an Irishman from the Ballinly in the County of Monaghan.He paid 'Squire' Ellis eight hundred dollars per annum for his tavern, fine farm and ferry."
Only July 5, 1816, Nathan laid out the town and renamed it Aberdeen in honor of James Edwards, the original landowner.Edwards was from Aberdeen, Scotland. Helen Hinchliff, a Family Historian and descendant of James Edwards, has researched the story of James, who was kidnapped from Aberdeen as a boy and brought to Virginia as an indentured laborer. Eventually he and his mother were reunited and both came to Ohio at an early date.
Nathan continued as Justice of the Peace of Aberdeen until his death in 1819.He is buried on the hill overlooking Aberdeen.