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Fairfield County, Ohio
History & Genealogy



Pioneer Period and Pioneer People of Fairfield Co., Ohio.
by C. M. L. Wiseman
Publ. F. J. Heer Printing Co., Columbus, O.  1901

Transcribed by Sharon Wick

pg. 67

     THE progress of Lancaster from a few cabins in 1800 and 1801 to a good town and in one hundred years to a fine city of 9,000 people was very gradual.  The only communication with the outside world for thirty-four years was over the rough and unimproved road to the east - with deep streams to ford, often impassable, and rivers to ferry.  The only outlet for produce was in wagons over this road to Baltimore, Md., and by flatboats down the Hockhocking and Ohio rivers to New Orleans.  On this latter route several Lancaster citizens lost their lives.  Before steam navigation these adventurous men, after disposing of their produce, returned on foot or on horseback trough a wilderness infested by robbers.  With such facilities it is a wonder that the town grew at all.  The inhabitants were bold, enterprising men from Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York and New England, and they were equal to the dangers and hardships of the wilderness.  Their clothing, their furniture, their food was produced at home, and their courage, their sacrifices and economy laid the foundation of a great and intelligent community.
     Joseph Espy, long a casher of a Columbus bank, found Lancaster in 1805 growing very rapidly.  There were then ninety dwelling houses, some of them very commodious.  Property was high and the people confidently expected Lancaster to become the state capitol.
     In the year 1815 Dr. John Cotton of Marietta found Lancaster a flourishing town of eight hundred to one thousand inhabitants, surrounded by a beautiful and well cultivated country.
     Kilbourne in his Gazette for the year 1818, says of Lancaster.  "It contains between one and two hundred houses and a population of 600 to 700, twelve merchants, court house and jail, a Methodist church, one bank, one English and German newspaper, and numerous mechanics.
     In his edition of 1829 he found ten large stores and seven taverns, first class for their time, two hundred and fifty homes and fifteen hundred inhabitants.  A large number of the dwellings were built of brick.  A new market house, with town hall and Masonic lodge above, four churches and good schools.  An academy then in high repute.
     In 1820 Lancaster and Hocking township cast 338 votes, of which Brown, the Jefferson candidate, received 328, Jeremiah Morrow 8, and General W. H. Harrison 2.  This vote was for governor.
     The monotony of life in the town was broken in 825 when the citizens united in giving a complimentary dinner to Henry Clay. The last survivor of this banquet was the late Noah S. Gregg of Circleville, Ohio.
     The Duke of Saxe Weimar, Germany, visited Lancaster in 1825 and found it a flourishing town with a large woolen mill owned by Ring and Rice.  He met Judge Sherman, one of the most respectable inhabitants of the place.  He was invited to tea and met with very agreeable society.
     As early as 1834 there was a public library in Lancaster.  Messrs. Ewing, Wm. J. Reese, Dr. Robert McNeill, John T. Brasee, Hocking H. Hunter, Dr. M. Z. Kreider, George Reber, P. Van Trump, Henry Stanbery, William Medill and Samuel F. Maccracken were the directors.  In 1833 the people of Lancaster petitioned the Legislature for a charter for a railroad down the Hocking valley to Parkersburg, Va.  This road was to connect with the Lateral Canal at Lancaster.  This was thirty years prior to the charter of the present H. V. railroad.
     The Lateral Canal was completed in 1834 connecting Lancaster with the Ohio Canal at Carroll, giving Lancaster unbroken water communication with New York.  From this date Lancaster grew and prospered.  She emerged from the pioneer period a good solid town, her lawyers and great merchants gave her fame and position and her prosperity was then onward and upward.  In a few years the Hocking Canal was completed to Athens; the Zanesville and Maysville turnpike was completed in 1840 or 1842.  Later on came the Cincinnati, Wilmington and Zanesville railroad and the Hocking Valley railroad.
     Fine school houses were built and fine churches pointed their spires heavenward in various parts of the town.
     A few factories sprang up and some of them prospered.  Finally, natural gas was discovered, the greatest boon in the history of Lancaster.  This brought other factories and many new and enterprising people, and Lancaster reached the century mark with nine thousand inhabitants.  A handsome little city, with brick-p0aved streets, fine water works, and a paid and well equipped fire department.




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