| 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
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:
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
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.