Springfield, Ohio

History and Genealogy



PUblic Buildings


From The History of Clark County, Ohio
Chicago: W.H. Beers & Co., 1881 - Page 460


By Oscar T. Martin

In the early history of Springfield, as in its later years, there was a manifest tardiness in the erection of public buildings. Although the place was designated as the seat of justice in 1818, yet, for four years following, the court held its regular sessions at the tavern of John Hunt, on Main street. The delay in the erection of the court house and the jail was no doubt owing in part to the generous rivalry which existed between "Old Virginia" and Sleepy Hollow," the west and east ends of the town, each of which made strong efforts for the selection of their respective localities. Although the Commissioners of the county met on the 2d day of March, 1819, and commenced the consideration of the erection of a court house on the public square, yet it was not until the summer of 1828 that the building was completed. A brick jail was also built in the public square, and fully completed December 6, 1824. A temporary jail was erected on the east side of Fisher street, about half way between Main and Columbia streets, which was simply a log house, and not very secure. A detailed narration of the building of the court house and jail appears in the history of the county.

After "grim-visaged war had smoothed his wrinkled front," the military spirit was kept alive by the organization of companies under efficient commanders, who had obtained their knowledge of the art of war in the struggle of 1812. These companies met at stated periods and drilled in the manual of arms until they became remarkably proficient. In 1825, the first, and perhaps the best-drilled and neatest equipped company, as compared with others which followed, was organized under Capt. B. W. Peck, Capt. Charles Anthony, First Lieutenant. This company was followed by others, which were the "Clark County Guards," Capt. Shipman; "Osceola Plaids," "Springfield Cadets," and one or two cavalry companies, commanded by Capts. John Cook and Putnam.

Lighting the Streets

The question of lighting the streets soon became a topic of interest, and a correspondent in the columns of the Western Pioneer, of date September 25, 1825, suggests a method which indicates the position of hte community in this matter, and which method was deemed a great improvement over the existing condition of the streets. The correspondent suggests large glass lamps with double reflectors, at a cost of about $25 each, and to be placed on posts at suitable points; a contingent fund of 12½ cents to be raised from each house to pay for the oil and wick; the lamps to be lighted and taken care of free of charge by the persons before whose doors the posts should be placed.


Springfield A Town

The Legislature, on the 23d day of January, 1826, passed an act which incorporated Springfield as a town. It became evident that, in the future, the place was destined to occupy a position of prominence. There were elements of prosperity in its material advantages, in its favorable site, and in the busy, bustling character of its citizens, which indicated steady growth. Although there was a scarcity of currency, trade was not impeded because of a lack of metal or paper medium. Wheat was received in exchange for many articles, was deposited in the mill, converted into flour, and sent by the merchant to Cincinnati, where it was taken, re-exchanged for merchandise, which was brought back in the returning wagons. The lack of railroad facilities made the merchant and traveler rely upon horses, which were very cheap, and became a frequent subject of barter. Every other man was a horse-trader. Dr. John Ludlow, in his historical reminiscneces, states he remembers of going to Cincinnati with a teamster when he was a boy fourteen years old, that the teamster "swapped" horses three times on the way, and the last horse died the same day he obtained it; but soon he had another from a farmer in exchange for his silver watch. The horses used in the large, broad-tread wagons were generally stout animals. They were sometimes gaily caparisoned, and, with broad harness, jingling bells and six or eight to a wagon, were an attractive sight.


The Paper-Mill

In August, 1827, an important branch of industry was established, which furnished employment to a number of people. Dr. Ambrose Blount, James Lowry and Jacob Kills, as partners, built a large paper-mill at the foot of Center street, on Mill Run, not far from North street. The mill did not commenceoperations until the following June, 1828. The mill was very successful in the manufacture and sale of large quantities of paper, mostly printing paper of excellent quality. The same firm also, the same year, opened a store near the northwest corner of Main and Market streets, where rags were received in exchange for goods, and where the employes [sic] were paid for their work. Four years later, Jacob Kills & Sons succeeded the original proprietors. They added extensive improvements in its machinery, increased its facilities and extended its trade. They afterward added to the mill a first-class bindery. They worked up a faiar custom by sending forth one of the sons, with a fine, two-horse peddler's wagon, which enabled him to exchange paper and stationery for rags, books ot be bound, and blank books to be manufactured to order. The business was successfully prosecuted for twenty years, rendering a good profit on the capital invested.