A Part of Genealogy Express

Welcome to
Union County, Ohio
History & Genealogy

Curry, W. L. : Columbus, Ohio: Press of the E. T. Miller Co.

pp. 48 - 51

     The village of New California was platted in 1853 and the first general store was opened by S. B. Woodburn and Dr. Albert Chapman.  Soon after the platt was made, Samuel Ressler of Marysville, Ohio, erected a two-story frame building on the southwest corner of the square for a tavern, and did quite a thriving business for a number of years.  He also had a small grocery in the same building.  This soon became the great center for the stock business in the southern part of the county.  Stock scales were erected and hundreds of hogs would be driven in by the farmers in one day.  They were then driven to Pleasant Valley or Worthington to be shipped by rail to New York.  Some droves would number three or four hundred and many boys in the neighborhood were employed at 50 cents a day to drive them, often through mde and rain.  As there were no bridges spanning the small streams, and the water at times being solidly frozen, it would be the work of hours to force the great droves of hogs across the ice, and the boys well earned the half-dollar a day.
     The Ressler Tavern was quite a favorite hostelry in its day, as there was a great deal of travel on the State Road, running from Pleasant Valley to Delaware, and also on the road leading from Marysville to Columbus.  Many were the yarns spun in the old barroom as travelers, drovers, and others gathered around the old open-front wood fire Franklin stove, smoking their pipes and stogies" furnished by the genial landlord.  The first mails, once a week, were carried on horseback from Dublin in those ante-bellum days.  Still, the arrival of the mail, carried in large saddle-bags, was quite an important event, as it brought the weekly papers, and all were eager to hear the latest news - but a week old.
     Among the merchants who "kept store" and kept the post-office in the village the following named are recalled:  S. B. Woodburn, Perry Buck, John Liggett, John robinson, H. Benton, George Stokes, William Thompson, Robert Thompson, Otway, John W. and W. L. Curry, Fred Fleck, Robert Hager, Albert Allen, H. M. Dort, Jesse Curry,  and Grant E. Herriott.
     Mr. Grant E. Herriott
, the present merchant, has been in business in the village several years.  He is an energetic, progressive young man, has a good trade, is doing a flourishing business in general merchandise.  He takes a deep interest in the schools, is treasurer of the School Board, is active in all the business affairs of the township, and is up-to-date.
     The first physician who practiced in the village was Dr. Culber, adn in succession Drs. Milo Lawrence, Thomas J. Haynes, James Cutler, B. F. McGlade, J. S. Howland, Dr. Merriam, Dr. Vigor, the present physician, has a large and lucrative practice.
     Some of the characters of the village were quite interesting, and had some traits that would have made David Harum green with envy.  The village blacksmith was John Walley which recalls the poem:

"Under a spreading chestnut tree,
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands'
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands."

     In his shop the schoolboys congregated at the noon hour to watch the sparks fly from the red-hot iron, as the swarthy smith hammered the horseshoes into shape and nailed them to the hoofs of many wild and vicious horses.
     John was a great story teller, and it was claimed that he had great imagination and at times "used the truth with parsimonious frugality."  He claimed to have invented a magnifying glass, through which he could look into the earth tree miles.  With this glass he located several gold and silver mines in the neighborhood, but they were never developed for lack of funds.  He never would allow anyone to see the glass as he claimed he did let one man look through it and it magnified so strong that it killed him.
     He was also a great skater and one of his stories was that one time when he lived in Dublin, Ohio, he skated to Columbus and back, twenty-four miles, before breakfast, and cut ten acres of wheat with a cradle the same day.  He did not let seasons spoil a good story.  The tales of the Arabian Knights vanished into nothingness beside the wonderful stories of the blacksmith, and it is but little wonder that the schoolboys stood with eyes distended and mouths agape as they listened to his wonderful tales.
     The Gowan boys also erected quite a pretentious blacksmith and wagon-shop and for many hears did a thriving business.  Others recalled in the same line were Wilson Martin and John Hickman.  Both of the latter were queer and interesting characters, and many amusing stories could be related of their peculiarities.
     Martin was quite a nimrod and usually kept his rifle handy in the shop for any emergency, if game was reported in the vicinity.  One day he was busily engaged shoeing a horse for a farmer when a boy came into his shop and reported a flock of wild turkeys in the woods near by.  Martin dropped the horse's foot, seized his rifle, bullet pouch and powder horn and made for the designated quarry on the double quick, leaving the horse half shod.  In about two hours he returned, groaning under the load of three sleek, fat, brown turkeys on his back.  All the villagers assembled to see the game and congratulated Martin on his wonderful prowess as a hunter.  He, like many other great hunters, was no doubt drawing on his imagination a little by relating how he had driven these wild turkeys, that were swifter on foot than the fastest deerhound in the country, to cover and how he had brought them down from the highest oak trees with good and unerring rifle, "Black Bess."  It was a trilling story and the villagers were much enthused.  But soon a damper was to come, as a neighboring farmer appeared on the scene after a man who had been killing his flock of tame turkeys.  Martin was very much crestallen when he learned the truth, and the farmer, a very liberal man, presented Martin with the turkeys and bade him "sin no more."  But the blacksmith never heard the last of it from the village boys, who teased him about not knowing the difference between a tame and a wild turkey.






This Webpage has been created by Sharon Wick exclusively for Genealogy Express  2008
Submitters retain all copyrights