Pickaway County History
Our region offers unique and interesting attractions and is home of the world famous Circleville Pumpkin Show held annually the third week of October. Here you will find outstanding lodging facilities, a variety of dining choices and an array of independently-owned retail establishments offering personal service and one-of-a-kind, high quality merchandise. There are wonderful recreational facilities in our county that feature walking trails, hunting, fishing and boating opportunities. We also have a number of fine golf courses from which to choose. Plan to visit our interesting museums and historic sites. Pickaway County has a rich agricultural heritage, and throughout the county you will find farm markets selling fresh produce. Pickaway County hosts a variety of festivals and special events every year, and we now have three beautiful outdoor murals to enjoy – one in downtown Ashville and two in downtown Circleville.
The recorded history of Pickaway County began in 1774 when Lord Dunmore led an army into the Ohio Valley in the war with the Indians.
Circleville was unique among early American towns, built to conform to a circular prehistoric earthworks. When Pickaway County was formed in 1810 there were no existing settlements that seemed suitable for a county seat. Therefore, a new town was laid out within the ancient’s “circle” on the high bank east of the Scioto River. It’s streets radiated from an octagonal courthouse in the center of the circle.
Two communities existed near Circleville prior to its being laid out as the county seat. Jefferson and Livingston ceased to exist several years after Circleville was designated the seat of government in 1811. When the Ohio Canal reached Circleville, the shape of the town within the circle proved to be a hindrance, and in 1838 a group of enterprising businessmen began to “square the circle”. Over the next 20 years the job was accomplished and all traces of the ancient earthworks disappeared.
The completion of the Ohio Canal gave a great impetus to the prosperity of Circleville. The construction of the canal gave employment to large numbers of men and, upon completion, allowed ready import and export of produce. When another route was proposed for the canal, residents of Circleville had to raise part of the construction costs to bring the waterway through town. An aqueduct was constructed to lift the canal boats across the river to the west.
The canal business continued to increase until 1856 when the first railroad was constructed through Circleville. By 1878 traffic on the canal had almost ceased with the openings of another railroad. An old lock and part of the canal still remain west of town.
Circleville was, for many years, the home of Caleb Atwater, the “Father of Ohio’s Public School System”, an amateur historian and archeologist of note. It was also the boyhood home of Benjamin Hanby, composer of “My Darling Nellie Gray” and “Up on the Housetops”. Noted entertainer Ted Lewis was born in Circleville and spent his youth here. The city park is named in his honor and a museum has been opened to display his memorabilia.
Circleville has always been a diverse community balanced by manufacturing, commerce and agriculture. Past manufacturing concerns, such as canning, brooming, carriage works, and tanneries have given way to commercial resins, lamps, paper industrial films, and picture tubes. Yet the town still retains its charming character as a “nice place to live and work”.
History of Pickaway County:
(From Pickaway County at a Glance)
The prehistoric Mound Builders occupied Pickaway County several thousand years before the arrival of the Indians and, later, European settlers. They left mounds throughout the area, some of which were burial mounds. Circleville itself was initially built to conform to circular prehistoric earthworks. A remarkable specimen of the ancient mounds remains near Tarlton in the form of a Greek cross.
The recorded history of Pickaway County began in 1774 when Lord Dunmore led an army into the Ohio Valley in the war with the Indians. Lord Dunmore’s troops were camped east of Circleville at Camp Charlotte. After many battles and the loss of lives, a meeting was arranged to draw up a truce to end the wars. The meeting took place on the Pickaway Plains under a huge elm tree whose branches spread 120 feet in diameter. It was during this meeting that the famous speech of Chief Logan was delivered and the tree became known as the Logan Elm. Logan’s speech has been translated into virtually every language and is widely known as one of the most eloquent speeches ever delivered.
Pickaway County is located in the Virginia Military Grant of 1784, west of the Scioto River, and The Congress Lands of 1785 east of the river. The first permanent settlers arrived in late 1796 or early 1797 and erected cabins along an old Indian trail that ran between Lancaster and Chillicothe. One of the first permanent settlements was Newellstown, now known as Tarlton, which was established in 1801 along the Indian trail, or Zane’s Trace. Pickaway County was created by an act of the Ohio Legislature in 1810 from three surrounding counties and Circleville was designated the County Seat in 1811.
PICKAWAY COUNTY TOWNS & VILLAGES
Located nine miles north of Circleville, this quaint village is located on land once occupied by the Mound Builders and later by Shawnee Indians. In the 1830s, Richard Stage started a distillery. The first railroad was completed in 1875. The Village of Ashville was incorporated in 1882 and currently has a population of approximately 3,174.
Circleville was unique among early American towns, built to conform to circular prehistoric earthworks. When Pickaway County was formed in 1810, the new town was laid out within the ancient Circle on the high bank east of the Scioto River. Its streets radiated from an octagonal courthouse in the center of the Circle. In 1838, a group of businessmen began to “square the Circle,” and over the next 20 years all traces of the ancient earthworks disappeared.
This village was settled in 1841 as Genoa. In 1843, the nearby town of Rome united with Genoa and in 1872 became known as Commercial Point.
At one time, the Shawnee Indians had several villages and a large burial ground in the vicinity. Darby Creek, which flows along the village, is now designated as a National and State Scenic River.
Located on the Pickaway-Fayette County line, the town was settled in 1818 as Flemingsburg. The name was changed to New Holland
and incorporated in 1835.
The village is located in the northwestern part of Pickaway County. Green’s Heritage Museum highlights many of the historic aspects of the region.
Originally a stagecoach stop on the Columbus-Chillicothe line, the town was laid out in 1804 with the hope that it might become the county seat; however the founders’ dreams were never realized.
Probably the fi rst settlement in Pickaway County, Tarlton was settled in 1801 as Newellstown. It is thought that the community was later
named for British Cavalry Commander Sir Banastre Tarleton.
Located nine miles west of Circleville on US-22, the village was settled in 1818. It was noted for many years as a health spa because of the mineral spring, which was thought to have medicinal value.