(The following was written by Lillian Swysgood McKinley and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)

The fertile Valley of Big Darby Creek proved an attractive place for natives of Maryland who had previously settled in Pike County, Ohio. In 1799 Thomas and Elijah Chenoweth each purchased 200 acres of land, a part of which later became the village of Harrisburg. Other early settlers were The Fosters and Kerns.

These rugged pioneers were followers of Wesley and hoped to keep their religion in their habitation. Religious meetings were first held in the log house of Thomas Chenoweth. About 1810, Rev. John Collins and James Quinn held a series of meetings attended by the early settlers eager to keep alive the spark of their religious fervor. These meetings, which formed the foundation of the present Church organization, continued in the homes for several years. Doubtless many meetings were held in this old church with hardly room for all. Could we only have a picture of the band of worshipers – their church the one thing that took away the monotony of their weeks labor, dressed in their homespun garments and wearing hand-made boots.

In 1836 a village was laid out and named Harrisburg. The class had now grown quite large, too large for the small homes, a meeting house was needed. After due consideration and much figuring a church of brick was built. Its dimensions were forty by fifty feet.

Only a few years after the erection of this church, Harrisburg became a thriving village. A record mail delivery was made between Columbus and Cincinnati nine and one-half hours, a record never broken until the coming of the steam engine. The Columbus and Harrisburg Pike had been completed. The stagecoach was making regular trips, changing horses at White Hall, later known as the United States Hotel, Harrisburg’s thriving hostelry. The little settlement was incorporated in 1851 with Dr. J. Helmick its first mayor.

Most social events were the activities of the church. Most people were born, lived, work and died in the same locality, among people they knew and saw everyday. Their employment or business was in the community.

(The conclusion of this story in the next blog entry).