Richland Chronicles

In 1831, Ohio had been a state for a quarter-century, and Richland a large square-shaped county for nearly 20 (pieces of it would be lopped off to Ashland, Crawford and Morrow Counties).

While Mansfield had just gained “village” status with about 300 residents, nearly 24,000 people lived in the county, meaning most of it was occupied by farm families, spending their first generation here clearing land and preparing it for the second generation to thrive with it.

Waterways — Clear Fork, Black Fork, Toby’s Run and many creeks — were still important means of travel and the state’s new canal system, while it did not travel through Richland County, offered grounds for dreams of growth and prosperity.

A state road was cut through Mansfield from Newark on its way to Sandusky (we now know it as state route 13) and stage coach service was almost daily, as was mail service. It still took two days to ride to Columbus, but only one to get to Lake Erie, on good days. Railroads were still 15 years away from this area.

Inns dotted all the roads (many of which were hardly paths) and counted on travelers to be hindered by weather, ground conditions and need for security at night to keep business thriving. By 1831, establishments such as the Oakland Inn would be out in the country and on the not-to-beaten path. Survival was a daily existence, but hospitality still kept everyone busy.

Mansfield had a new courthouse (its third) on the square, and merchants lined the square, and the streets (East and West Diamond) north down the hill. Homes were built mostly to the south and east.

Lexington, Bellville, Galion, Olivesburg and Uniontown (soon to be named Ashland) were budding communities. But Shelby, Lucas and Butler were not yet. Many crossroads, such as Spring Mill, Ganges, Rome and Newville, were appearing to meet the needs of farmers in the surrounding couple of miles.

The land of Richland County was living up to its name to the farmer’s joy. The flatness of the northwest part of the county gave way to the deep valleys of the southeast area at the edge of the footfills of the Appalachians.

The Oakland Inn in the Richland Chronicles is located at the corner of what is now Crall Road and Olivesburg Road (now Oakland Lutheran Church). The Big Hill, between Epworth and Pavonia, is home of DaySpring, although our county home is still nine years away, but is a popular landmark.

Starting next Thursday readers will learn more about Richland County’s history through the Richland Chroncles, a book I published that views the region through the eyes of children’s adventures in the Ohio frontier starting in 1831.

We hope you enjoy the story and share it with your friends and especially youngsters in your family.

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