Franklin County, Ohio
Genealogy and History

   

Brief History of Reynoldsburg

By David Graham,
written May 9, 1885
(1801-1886)

(Transcribed by Barb Ziegenmeyer)

The following is an account of the village of Reynoldsburg and of the immediate neighborhood adjoining it; going back as far as the year 1805. About which time there were here and there a log cabin to be found along the streams of water, where the pioneers lived and began to clear off the forest, (which was very heavy) made up of the following kinds of trees: Beech, Sugar or hard maple, Oak of various kinds, Elm, Hickory, Soft maple, Sycamore, Ash, Sasafras, Willow, Cherry, Black and White Walnut or butter-nut, Swamp-beach, Spicebush, Crab-apple, Wild plum. Some of the last of the above trees are more properly called shrubs.
The settlement of the country progressed very slowly for several years on account of the presence of the Indians and the hardships to be endured. The want of a ready market and scarcity of grist mills and the great distance to be overcome in going to a mill, to the Post Office or to a store. When the first settlers came they hereabouts had to go to Chillicothe for their mail, their salt, their flour, etc. They had to get their hardware and glass from Pittsburgh, Penna.

The village of Reynoldsburg was laid out into lots by John French in, about the year 1830. The surveyor who was employed was Abiather Vinton Taylor of Truro township. It is situated on the Pike or National Road where it crosses Blacklick Creek, being about ten miles east of Columbus, the Capital of the State of Ohio. Soon after it's location there was a public offering its lots for sale. Several were purchased, James Taylor, William Mclntire, and George J. Graham were among those who were successful bidders. The latter soon afterwards built a large frame house, in which he lived for over fifty years, until it was burned. Soon after the first sale a Mr. Sells of Columbus bought two corner lots and built on the two tavern stands that are known as the Upper and Lower Taverns. The latter was soon purchased by Mr. Samuel Gaver and a good hotel opened for the accommodation of all travellers, and they were not scarce, and for the residence of the town and vicinity, it was kept by him a goodly number of years.

The first dry-goods and grocery store in the village was kept by the Honorable James C. Reynolds in a hewed log cabin on

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the lot where the United Presbyterian Meeting House now stands; owned then by Mr. Mathew Crawford, Esq. In this building he sold goods and groceries for several years, but after the road was finished he changed his location in town, and was appointed the first Post Master of the town. He was also elected to fill the office of Justice of the Peace. About the year 1840 he was elected by the county of Franklin a member of the Legislature of Ohio. His father had been a member of the Legislature several years previously, consequently his son was allowed to occupy the seat or desk which his father had graced years before in the old brick State-house. While he was in the Assembly he used his influence in getting the village incorporated, and in as much as he had been the means of advancing the interest of the town, the citizens of the town and vicinity held a public meeting and resolved that the town should be known by the name of Reynoldsburg in honor of J. C. Reynolds. He previously to 1840 built a large frame grist mill on the south-west corner lot, but its expense broke him up. He sold and moved to the town of Carroll on the Ohio Canal and built a water grist mill which he was only allowed to run for a few years when he was cut down by the malaria fever, which prevailed in that locality more or less every year.

The McEwen family have owned and occupied the Lower Tavern for about twenty years and have kept a saloon, besides some others which sold liquors contrary to the wishes of the majority of the inhabitants of the town and vicinity.

The pioneers of the village and the surrounding country have nearly all left this vale of tears. To record a few of their names may not be out of place here, Viz. Henry Johnson, John Coons, George Graham, James Graham, William (Little Billy) Graham, Joseph Mclntire, Mathew Crawford, Esq., Robert, James and John McCrady, William and Thomas Ashton, Philip Rhoads, Archibald Cooper, J. B. West Esq., Robert Taft Esq., Nathaniel Mason Esq., Jeff, Learn, Moses Hunter, John and Alexander Frazier, William G., and John Graham, David Pugh, Moses Strang, John Livingston, Robert Forester, a minister of the United Presbyterian church, who was the Pastor of the Reynoldsburg U. P. Congregation for more than twenty years; Rev. John W. Thompson, Presbyterian, Thomas Longshore, Daniel and George Parkison.

The names of those who served as Justice of the Peace in the village were; Mathew Crawford, Jeremiah Nay, Robert Taft, John B. West, John Miller, George D. Graham, J. C. Reynolds. John Lynch, Charles Hutson, John Wright, and Nathaniel Mason Sr.

The first church organization was the Seceder (now the United Presbyterian congregation) church, which took place in 1819 by the election of two Elders and the acceptation of William Graham (for the other) of the congregation of Cambridge of the State of New York. The names of the other two were Mathew

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Taylor and William Crawford. The election and ordination was conducted by the Rev, Robert Armstrong of Massies Creek, Greene County, Ohio, of Miami Presbyteria. The first Meeting1 House for public worship was built by said congregation about one half mile southeast of town on the Lancaster road where the Hebron road crosses it, on the southeast corner of the farm then owned by Mathew Crawford, but owned now by the widow and heirs of Josiah Medbury, deceased. There was regular preaching in this church for about forty years, until the new church was built in the village in the years 1860-1. The number of its members, on an average, have been about 100 or perhaps 110. The names of the pastors who have had charge of the said U, P. Congregation during its existence, are as follows: Rev. John Donalson, Stated Supply for two years, Rev. Samuel McLean two years, Rev. David Lyndsay seven years, Rev. Robert Forester twenty-one years, Rev, Jt W. McNary eight years, Rev. J. C. McArthur three years and Rev. R. H. Park six years. The congregation has been blessed with the regular dispensation of divine ordinances nearly fifty years, which leaves seventeen years it has not enjoyed them.

But let us take up the account of the town again. The Meeting House was first built in the town for public worship was the Baptist brick church and which still stands, after an existence of over forty years. The little congregation has lately been divided on account of some practical questions.

The second church in the town was the Methodist Episcopal. It was a frame building located on the northwest corner of what is now the school house lot. It is taken down now and they have built a brick building situated on the south side of the national road. It has a steeple and bell.

The third was the Presbyterian church which was consumed by fire about 1860. Another one was built on the same lot immediately and is still used. This building also has a steeple and a bell.

The fourth church was built by the Universalists. The fifth church built was the United Presbyterian, which was built about 1860, costing about two thousand dollars, It has a steeple and a bell.

The sixth church built was the brick Methodist Episcopal church with a steeple and a bell.

The seventh and last church built was the Campbellite church of brick construction, having a steeple but no bell yet.

The village has one of the largest school houses in the county and one of the best schools, which is kept up by Superintendant D. J. Snider. Mr. Snyder is a teacher of rare qualifications for the profession and is the only Superintendent the school has had. The school is divided into four departments, viz. Primary, Intermediate, Grammar and High School. The School District embraces territory besides the corporation of the village, which makes it necessary to have another small school house

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for the accommodation of those who are located too far from the village, but they are governed by the same Directors and Superintendent. The Board consists of six members chosen out of the householders of the town and country. Two go out every year and two are elected at the Spring election to fill their places.

The town is bounded on the west by Blacklick, on the south by a line running east and west parallel with the new grave yard, on the east by a line taking in the grave yard on the hill, and on the north by a line running parallel with D. L. Graham's hedge fence and R. Spitler's north line until it reaches Blacklick creek, the place of beginning. Embracing about a half section of land.

The officers of the town are : a Mayor, a Marshall, a Treasurer, a Clerk and five Councilmen, who are chosen by the people of the village at the spring election on the same day that township officers are elected.

The Physicians who have practiced Medicine from time to time are Jacob Shaffer, Robertson, Lunn, Cowden, McCullough, Mathews, Goldrick, Carrol, Nourse, Fisher, France, Donnon, Brock, Alberry, Taylor, Dysart, Griffith.

The names of the most prominent merchants who have sold goods and groceries in said town, are as follows : Mr. Bronson, J. C. Reynolds, L. P. Rhoads, Wm. Goodwin, Abe Moore & Goodwin, Dickey & Ed. Moore, V. Hutson, Nat Mason Jr., Rhoads & Mason, John Rees, David Graham & Son, Thompson & Reid, Elias Weaver, Mason & Gayman, R. R. Johnson, Charles West.

The Post Masters have been J. C. Reynolds, Harvey Miller, D. Graham, Deputy John Miller, V. Hutson, John Lynch, Nathaniel Mason, Jr., William Rhoads, the present incumbent (1885).

The Wagon & Buggy Manufacturers, J. W. Thompson, Thomas Norris, Thomas Longshore, Abram Johnson, John Bryant, Mr. Abbot, Fred Norris, Harrison Long.
The names of the Blacksmiths, Joseph Reynolds, John Mitchell, Mr. Willis, George Shanks, Samuel Gillette, Saul Rush, Hays Brothers, William Hunt, James Banister, William & Josiah Rush, Mr. Hook, Mr. Feasel, and Mr. Rhodabaugh & Son.

The names of the Carpenters are, George J. Graham, Nathan Orcutt, Amariah Graham, Hack Long, Mr. Hathaway, Daniel Parkison, Samuel Parkison & Sons, James Hanna and Buel Gillett.

At the time the whites began to settle around where the village now stands the Indians had a sugar camp, and one of them took a little too much whiskey (of which they were all very fond) and loosing his balance fell into one of the kettles of boiling sugar water which caused his death. His comrades buried him near the said camp, and fenced in the grave with poles, which had not decayed and could be seen in the year 1817 when the writer with hrs father moved into the neighborhood* The first settler on the sight of the town was a Mr. Donahue; in the year 1816 he sold to Mr. John French.

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Near the village there are several relics of the Mound Builders to be found. One is a mound near the southeast corner of the Corporation, situated on quite an eminence before the plow had disturbed it. It was about ten feet high and at the base about forty feet in circumference, but it has been nearly-leveled down even with the surface on which it was erected. Another of these relics is situated near the northwest corner of the Corporation, on the farm owned by Ed. Parkison, lying across the road opposite his house and barn. It is a fort having a bank thrown up in a square, about twenty-eight or thirty rods on each side. The bank or wall was worn down by time so low that it was scarcely visible when the country was first settled. It can, however be traced out yet. Another fort, circular shaped, is to be found about a half mile south of said village, on the west side of the Lancaster road, the fence runs over the edge of it. It's circumference is about sixty or seventy feet. The wall was about three feet high when in a state of nature, but the husbandmen's implements have leveled it nearly even with the surrounding surface of the earth. This fort is on the land now owned by Mr. Joseph Ashton, and said fort is about forty rods south of the house which Mr. Nathan Orcutt occupies. About two and a half miles north-east of Reynoldsburg, near the south-east corner of Jefferson township, there is a fort similar in shape and size of the one just described, which has not been disturbed by the owner of the land (Dr. Lunn). The difference exists in the height of the wall and the depth of the ditch which was probably ten or twelve feet deep and the wall ten or fifteen feet high. The water stands in the ditch the most of the year. On the wall or embankment there was quite a large oak tree, showing that the wall is as ancient as the present timber around it and that they belong to some age of the world, when that was can only be decided by conjecture. One thing about the mounds we know from the fact that in many of them human skeletons are found, showing that they were used for burying the dead. It is held by some that the mounds were used as a tower where an enemies approach could be discovered, and that the forts were built for protection from animals and any other foe.

The village has a small hall where the Council holds their meetings, and attached to it is a Callaboose, in which to keep criminals, but to the credit of the citizens it is seldom needed, and it is likely, if the prohibition law was in force that it would not be brought into use often, perhaps not at all. A goodly number of the citizens are in favor of enacting some such prohibition law, as soon as possible.

There are very few villages more moral than the Burg, and where a larger proportion of the inhabitants are church going people, it is very seldom one will hear profane language in common conversation, and it is a very rare occurrence where quarreling and fighting takes place. The violation of the Holy Sabbath,

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perhaps, is the sin which ranks next to the leading crime of drunkenness.

There has lately been organized a Company, which has purchased a lot on the south line of the Corporation, to be set apart for a graveyard. It has been run out into streets and family tots, and in it has been erected a nice vault for the accommodation of the village and the surrounding country.

In said town there is a large tile factory, where hundreds of dollars worth are sold every year. Also in connection with it a steam saw mill both run by the same steam engine which saws a very considerable amount of lumber. They sometimes fill a bill for a small number of brick to build houses and chimneys.

The town is blessed with plenty of water, both well and creek water, and the creeks are fed by durable springs which keeps them running the year round. In case of a fire there is an abundance of the element so essential to quench the flames.

One half mile north-east of the Corporation of said town is one of the largest freestone quarries in the state of Ohio. Some of the tiers are of the best quality and almost as durable as marble. It is owned and worked by Mr. William Forester, who keeps a double set of saws in operation night and day, furnishing step stones, caps and sills and range work for buildings in the city of Columbus and adjacent villages and in the country near the quarry. This work is done mostly during the summer season, but some is done during the fall and spring seasons if the weather permits.

Butchering is carried on quite extensively in the town and vicinity; there are five or six slaughter houses in operation, employing twenty-five or thirty hands, killing twenty-five or thirty head of cattle every week, besides a good many hogs and sheep.

The village has been more unfortunate than many others in respect to the number of fires it has had during its existence. The number of houses destroyed are not less than ten, and one of them was a meeting house worth about $2000.00. Another one, a large two story dwelling house worth twelve or fifteen hundred dollars. The others were smaller ones; one of them was owned by R. Spitler, but occupied by Mr. Jackson. It took fire in the night, and he and family were hard pressed to make their escape; his goods were mostly saved. Another fire consumed the building in which the Post Office was kept by V. Hutson. A stock of groceries in it, and two other houses, and the roof of the brick store on the north side of the National Road or Main Street; the goods were partly saved and partly insured. Again the large frame dwelling belonging to George Graham caught fire in the roof. It was in the day time but during a very high wind, which made it impossible for the citizens to stop it's progress until it was burned totally to ashes. Most of the furniture was saved. There was no insurance. Another fire consumed three buildings on the corner of the lot on which Nat. Mason's large brick store now stands. The grocery store owned by Mr, Craner was com-

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pletely destroyed, but was insured, the other two buildings were totally destroyed.

The subject of temperance received the early attention of the citizens of the village and the surrounding territory. They strongly opposed the habit of using intoxicants as a common beverage, which they manifested by totally abstaining from frequenting the taverns and saloons for the purpose of treating and being treated, and refused to use it at rollings and raisings, or in harvesting or haying time. Also by joining the Washington Society and spending their money to let public lecturers to teach the people on the subject of tetotalism. The Women's Temperance Crusade was kept up for several months, but the earnest prayers sent up to the Throne of Grace by those Godly women prostrated on their knees on the hard pavement had no more effect on the hardened hearts of the retailers of liquid poison than their knees had on the cold brick pavement. The leading ladies who took an active part in the above movement should be remembered by recording their names in this historical sketch. Viz. Mrs. Rev. Ewen, the Widow Powers, Miss Hattie Turner, Mrs. William Howard, Mrs. William Baucher, and some others.

The Town Council have been doing all the law empowers them to do in order to prohibit the sale of liquor in the village. They have a lawyer hired to attend to the prosecution of the violators of the law. He has several cases pending in the court, taken there by appeal from the Mayor's docket, waiting their turn, or perhaps the pleasure of the court.

There have been several pretty serious accidents which took place in the village of Reynoldsburg during its existence that might be interesting to the citizens in time to come, and perhaps it might not be out of place to insert them here.

One of these accidents occurred in the blacksmith shop lately occupied as such by Mr. William Hunt, but now it is torn down and the lot is owned by Mr. William Johnson. One of the neighbors brought his rifle to the shop to have a bullet taken out of the barrel which had been put in before putting in any powder, he having failed to get it out in any way he could devise. The smith put the end of the barrel, where the bullet was, into the fire, intending to melt the bullet out. In the meantime the owner and others were standing near the forge watching the operation. As soon as the barrel got hot enought to set powder on fire, it went off, (it was supposed there was enough powder sticking to the inside of the barrel to cause the explosion,) and the bullet went through the thigh of its owner, causing him to fall which frightened the smith and bystanders seriously. A doctor was in town "was called and the wound dressed. Finding no bones or large veins were touched by the ball the doctor pronounced it not necessarily fatal. The "wounded man was about eighty years old, hence his relatives and friends were somewhat afraid that it might be fatal. However their fears were groundless for he survived for several years after the accident took place.

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Another very serious accident took place while the workmen were engaged in raising the first Presbyterian Meeting House in the village. They had the body of the frame up and had the timber for the roof mostly up on the joists, about ready to raise the bents to support the rafters, (when the boss was warned by an old man who had had some experience in the business) that his prop was too light, and drove some boys from under the timbers. In the meantime the prop under the center beam broke and let the whole pile of timber, men and tools down on the sleepers with a crash, filling the bystanders with consternation and grief and rendering them more than ordinarily strong, they soon extricated their neighbors from their perilous situation. Which being done it was found out that four of them were dangerously if not fatally injured. Their names were, Joseph McCray, Mr. Sincebaugh, Mark Evans, BIythe Dixon and two or three others, Mr, McCray was hurt in the head, so that he did not know that he had been at the raising. Mr. Sincebaugh was jarred all over his body. Mr. Evans was hurt in his back and legs and Mr, Dixon was bruised on his head and face, leaving scars visible to this day, May 9th, 1885.

[This was originally pub. in "Ohio Source Records" The Ohio Genealogical Quarterly, which was in print between 1937-1944]




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