1973 Tornado Strikes Grove City Area

A tornado struck southwestern Franklin County creating anxiety, fear,  excitement, and fascination in residents who witnessed the storm threat in 1973.

Jackson Township Fire Captain Richard Hughes was quoted in the Grove City Record as saying that in his 30 years in the area this was a first time occurrence. Because of the rarity of such natural calamities, Hughes told the newspaper that disaster training was not part of the department’s emergency training. Lt. Richard Halfhill, who was in charge of the Broadway station became the tornado scout for the department.

The tornado touched down in the area of Brown Road and Dyer Road and did extensive damage to several homes including at least one on Big Run Road South. Emergency equipment dispatched to the area found trees blocking roads, twisted apple trees and the hood of a car wrapped around a tree. Several 2×4 pieces of lumber had been driven into the ground and one even pierced a concrete wall.  Witnesses also saw pieces of straw from nearby fields had pierced several utility poles.

Grove City Police were the first to arrive at a home seriously damaged on Big Run Road South.  Franklin County deputies and Grove City Police helped secure the area keeping spectators from the damaged site. As emergency personnel began to arrive, an as yet unidentified person was using a power saw to clear much of the debris from the street.

James F. Hale, 2016

Atlas Provides Window Into Past – Prairie Township

Prairie Township was organized in 1819 largely from what was then Brown Township.  Before the township was organized, the Clover family from Virginia and Ross County, Ohio settled an area that became known as Clover Settlement.  The couple had 12 children, 10 boys and two girls.  Other early settlers included Samuel Higgins, Shadrick Postle and William Mannon. 

The largest village in the township at the time was Alton. Rome was about one third the size and both were located west of Columbus on the National Road (Rt. 40). Just north of Alton village was Alton Station located on the Little Miami Rail Road.

Galloway Station was a settlement sliced in half by the Cincinnati, Springfield and Columbus Rail Road.  Community residents had easy access to Harrisburg on the Harrisburg and Galloway Free Turnpike.       

Like the other townships, farming was the major occupation but there were other professions including a vineyard, cheese factory, manufacturer of drain tiles, sawmill and numerous stock dealers.

Atlas Provides Window Into Past – Pleasant Township

Pleasant Township was organized in 1807 and the earliest settlement was Georgesville.  The early township settlers, according to the atlas, included Thomas Roberts, John Bigger, James Garliner, Samuel Dyer, Samuel Kerr and John Turner.

Harrisburg was the largest village in the township followed by New Georgesville and Georgesville.  Darbydale was not yet considered a settlement.  There was also a settlement around the Chenoweth Mills, a large grain and flour business operated by Thomas Chenoweth. 

Harrisburg and Grove City were connected by the Harrisburg Columbus Pike (Rt. 62) which was a toll road at the time.  A toll gate was located at what is today the crossroads of Rt. 665 and Rt. 62.

Most businesses in Pleasant Township were linked to farming but other occupations included a trader, blacksmith, carpenters, broom maker and lumber dealer.  There were also several grocery stores.

Atlas Provides Window Into Past – Franklin Township

Franklin Township, the oldest in the county, was organized in 1803 and some of the early settlers included Samuel White, John Huffman and William Harrison Sr.

While the township in general was mostly farmland, the two biggest employers were the Central Ohio Lunatic Asylum and the Idiotic Asylum, both located off the National Road (Rt. 40). The complex was a point of pride in the area and boasted not only offices but a library, museum, hospital, parlors, sewing and storerooms and classrooms for instruction.

John Brobeck was the proprietor of a large stone quarry off the Scioto River in the northwest quadrant of the township.   James Mitchell was also in the stone business and also advertised he was a lime burner.

Three separate railroad tracks ran through the township including the Cincinnati, Springfield and Columbus Railroad, the Little Miami Railroad and another section that was unnamed.

Franklinton, which was also being called Columbus, was the only village in the township.

Atlas Provides Window Into Past – Jackson Township

Jackson Township was organized in 1815 by taking territory that was once part of Franklin and Pleasant Townships.  According to a historical sketch in the old atlas, the early settlers included William Brown, Nicholas Haun, Jonas Orders, William Badger, Woolry Conrod, William Sinnett, the Brackenridges, the Borers, the Straders and the Goldsmiths.

According to a Jackson Township business directory, most businesses were listed as farmers.  Two of the farmers also said they were stock dealers, one was a stock broker, and two other farmers stated they were also house joiners.  There were two actual businesses that advertised in the directory.  They were:

E. Ed Miller and J. L. Hall, drain tile manufacturers who advertised they always had a good assortment available at reasonable prices.  That business was located just south of Concord Chapel.

 J. W. Woolum was a wagon and plow maker and his business was located in southwest Jackson Township.

There were a few other businesses that could be located including a grocery store and barber shop on property owned by Jacob Borror at Borror’s Corner at what is now Rt. 665 and Rt. 104.  Another grocery store was just a few miles north of Borror’s Corner on what is now Rt. 104 operated by John Haughn.

Goods that required shipment to distant markets was accomplished by canals.  Jackson Township’s closest canal port was at Shadeville which had a feeder canal from Columbus that linked with the major canal system at Lockbourn (Lockbourne).

Atlas Provides Window Into Past

An 1870 Atlas of Columbus and Franklin County provided a window into the past of Grove City and Jackson Township.

At that time, there were only three buildings west of Broadway in the Grove City’s downtown.  According to the map, Broadway was then called Columbus Street.  Two of the structures west of Broadway were the private residences of William Nichols and John Malatt.  The other building was a general store operated by Malatt located where the Grove City municipal building now stands between Park and Grove City Road facing Broadway.

To provide a comparison of land mass, Grove City was half the size of Rome (New Rome) and about a fourth the size of Alton.  It was also smaller than Shadeville, Groveport and Canal Winchester.

The mayor of Grove City at the time was Joseph Pence, the recorder Dr. Joseph Bullen and the village treasurer was A. G. Grant.  Council then had six members including W. R. Mench, S. C. White, S. A. Russel, G. W. Orders, R. D. Grant and Al McGiven.  Gabriel Postle was the town marshal.

The town had three merchants operating general stores, a hotel, seven mechanics, a teacher, farmer and a seamstress.

Grove City and Jackson Township had been isolated from the rest of Franklin County since the township was formed in 1815 because it lacked good roads to markets and neighboring communities.  The Harrisburg Turnpike, the Franklin Turnpike and the Cottage Mill Turnpike changed that perception. 

At the time, Grove City had a total population of only 143 people and 20 of those were counted as white foreigners.  The census said there were no colored residents. Jackson Township’s census recorded 1,923 residents with 175 of those counted as white foreigners and 23 colored residents.

The only other settlement in Jackson Township at the time was Borror’s Corners The Pleasant Corners Post Office was just south of Grove City but it was in Pleasant Township.

The map also pinpoints the German Lutheran Church (now St. John’s) on Columbus Street.  That building still stands and is now home for Tristano Pizza.  The map also shows a second Lutheran Church on Park Street just one block east of the old Park Street School.

The atlas also provided information about Jackson, Pleasant, Prairie and Franklin Townships.  It also stated Ohio was the third most populated of the 37 states, following the larger New York and Pennsylvania.

More entries on the Townships coming up!

Old Hardware: Garage, Dance Hall

Southwest Pioneer, January 2012

The former Grove City Hardware building, now better known as Cultivate, an organization that promotes entrepreneurs, was built in 1915.

            Built by Henry J. Meyer for Carl Johnson, it was first used as a garage.  An elevator at the front of the building would lift vehicles to the second floor for mechanical repairs.  It’s believed the first floor was a local dance hall.

Meyer later sold the building to Leslie G. Mulzer who opened a Ford and Lincoln automotive agency on the first floor and continued to operate a garage upstairs.  Mulzer’s dealership was once considered to be the largest Ford agency in Franklin County, according to the writings of Earl R. Nicholson, local historian and member of the Southwest Franklin County Historical Society.

            Ray Henry and Carl Goldhart took over the dealership after Mulzer’s interest changed and he became interested in aviation.   Harley Motor Sales also operated a Ford dealership in the building before moving to a new building on the east side of Broadway beside Grove City Lanes.

            The building was remodeled in 1923 by Charles Eesley making the upper floor an auditorium.  He also created four modern storerooms at street level that included the Galle and Good Bakery, Hensel’s Restaurant and the J. J. Davis Store.  It was purchased by the Luebben family for a hardware store in the late 1940s.

Grove City Banks Organize In 1903

  1903 was a big year for banking in the Village of Grove City. 

On April 21, 1903, the Grove City Savings Bank Co. was capitalized with $25,000.  The prime movers included A. G. Grant, Emil Kiesewetter and E. C. Wagner. 

The bank originally occupied a small building on Broadway before construction a large bank at the southeast corner of Broadway and Park Street opened May 19, 1923.  The sign for the bank is on display at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum.

            The second bank was The Farmers and Merchants Bank opening in the spring of 1903 but it was not fully capitalized with $25,000 until June 11, 1903.   At that time, the name was changed to The First National Bank.  The prime movers for the second bank included Joseph M. Briggs and Daniel Weygandt.  That bank was located at the southeast corner of Broadway and Columbus Street.

Bloodworms Invade Grove City Water

Last August 2014, the Colcord, Oklahoma made national news in a not so positive way.  Town officials advised residents not to drink water from the tap.  Why?  Bloodworms had invaded the water system and were flowing through the water lines into homes and businesses.

            Something like that can only happen out west, right?

            Well, it seems that Grove City once experienced a problem with blood worms. 

            The information comes from an undated clipping from a Columbus newspaper saved by Marilyn Gibboney.  It took village officials about a week to rid Grove City’s water of the pest that would make its unwelcome presence known when residents filled a glass with water.

            Restaurants in the downtown used a mesh cloth to catch the worms that would freely flow from the faucet preventing them from being served to customers.

            Denny Brake, assistant water superintendent at the time, discovered the village booster pump was the problem.  Once the pump was removed and cleaned the blood worm problem was resolved. 

            Bloodworms are a half inch in length and thrive in low-oxygen or polluted water. The health risks associated with ingesting blood worms were unknown, though they weren’t believed to cause adverse effects.

            The worm’s pale skin allows their red body fluid to show through, hence, the name “bloodworm.”

Dies At Virginia Civil War Prison

William Breckenridge of Jackson Township was 16 years old when he answered President Abraham Lincoln’s call for 75,000 Union troops to quell the secession in the Southern states.

            Young Breckenridge didn’t survive long.  He was captured and became a prisoner of war.  He died June 10 the same year at one of 23 prisoner of war prison sites in the Richmond, Virginia area.   The actual prison is unknown.  His death was caused by an outbreak of measles.

            His mother had died and his father, John Breckenridge, planned to re-marry.  This angered the youth who then ventured from home and joined Company A, 60th Regiment Ohio Volunteers Infantry on Feb. 27, 1864.

            William was mustered into the United States military on March 14 after training at Camp Chase, in Columbus.  He had told the enlisting officer, 1st Lt. Rufus King, Jr., that he was 18 years old.

            Knowing his true age, William’s father came after him twice and brought him home but after the third time the youth left home to return to his unit, John allowed him to remain in the military.

This information shared by Elaine (Moeckel) Sherer, daughter of Martha (Breckenridge) Moeckel, who was a great niece of William Breckenridge.  Martha’s siblings were Carrie Schock, Nell Bowman, Francis Mack, Florence Steppert.  He was also a great uncle to Judge Don Breckenridge.