WELCOME TO EDINBURG TOWNSHIP
The Township of Edinburg, Portage County, Ohio is located approximately 60 miles Southeast of Cleveland and 66 miles Northwest of Pittsburgh, PA. We are located between the cities of Akron and Youngstown. Our current population per the 2010 census is 2, 586 people covering 25 square miles of mostly rural residential properties. We have several state highways and 1 interstate highway that runs through our township. Edinburg has many parks and recreational areas including West Branch State Park here in the township and Berlin and Lake Milton State Park nearby.
EDINBURG OR HART AND MOTHER?
Commissioners Office Ravenna Portage County
24th March 1819
This certifies that the Honorable Board of Commissioners within and for the County of Portage has set off Town 2 in the seventh range as a separate Township by the name of Edinburg.
Mr. Stephen Mason Clerk
The document above is the official beginning of the history of the Township of Edinburg. The personal Edinburg history began in the spring of 1811 when a hardy pioneer by the name of Eber Abbott from Tolland County, CT., settled on Lot 2, Subdivision 5, northwest quarter of the Township. He made a clearing and built a cabin, and soon a relative, Lemuel Chapman, Jr., arrived and built a cabin of his own. More settlers followed and by 1819 the expressed their desire to the County Commissioners to be organized. The above document is the result of that request, and the settlers held their first election on 5 April 1819.
The name of the Township was originally “Hart and Mother”. The 1885 History explains that when the land of the Western Reserve was partitioned, General William Hart of Connecticut drew this land and it may have been named for General Hart and his mother, “an exemplary ol Lady”. Levius Eddy was the first purchaser of land in the township, but never came into possession of it as he had not complied with the contract of purchase, and there were two other Eddy pioneers who settled here so the name Eddysburg emerged. Edinburg was the final choice.
Wild animals were found in great quantity in the county, and it was a custom to have periodic hunts to rid themselves and their livestock of the dangers of these animals, and to obtain and preserve meat for the winter. The biggest Portage County hunt took place on December 24, 1819, and residents from Edinburg, Rootstown, Atwater and Palmyra took part. The “Army Hunt” took place in south Edinburg, and north Atwater. It was conducted in the usual way with officers and men forming a cordon around a large section of land within sight or hearing of each other. When the signal was given, the human line would move forward until they had enclosed a space of about a half a mile square. Then the shooting would begin. At this hunt they bagged 103 deer, 21 bears, 18 wolves and about 500 turkeys. The hunts were also a source of income as the hunters were paid for the scalps of the more dangerous animals.
Snakes were abundant and the yellow rattlesnakes were everywhere. Unsuspecting pioneers occasionally built their cabins over rattlesnake dens. And hundreds of snakes were killed. Regular hunts were organized in the spring to raid the dens and these pests were eventually exterminated.
Edinburg is an agricultural township with excellent soil, grazing lands and orchards. There are 3 water systems in the township- in the west, Barrell Run, in the center section Bixon Creek, and in the east, Silver Creek. John Campbell built a house at Campbellsport near Barrell Run. This house was unique for it sat on the corners of four townships. Therefore, the family slept and voted in Edinburg, ate in Charlestown, had their barn in Ravenna and paid their taxes there, and the milk house was in Rootstown. In May of 1812 in response to a call from Gov. Meigs for soldiers to defend the frontier, Captain John Campbell organized a company of riflemen, volunteers from the second Regiment, Ohio Militia. Soon after war was declared on June 18, 1812, this company received orders to meet at the home of Captain Campbell, and on July 1 they pitched their tents near Barrell Run. Here they were trained on the spot where the brick house stood, and were sent off to war. Near this house, on the Charlestown side, stood the Land Office that now graces the grounds of the Portage County Historical Society.
Good water was a necessity for early settlement as water is the one element man cannot live without. Waterways also provide a path through the wilderness and a good supply insured the presence of game and food.
Daniel W. Goss acquired the store in 1856, but a new store was built about 1877 on the northeast corner of the intersection of the diagonal (14) road with the east-west road (18). At one time or another all the brothers, Daniel, Ambrose, Alfred and Nathan had an interest in the store. It was this store that was involved in the murder of Nathan Goss in January 1900.
Nathan and his son William were operating this store at the time. A series of burglaries in town had prompted Nathan to install an alarm in the store. When the alarm rang in the night Nathan dressed and went to the home of a neighbor for help. Both men went to the store, but as they approached the building Nathan fired a warning shot in the air. One of the burglars shot from the doorway and fatally wounded Mr. Goss. The thieves enjoyed their loot for a short time only. They were tracked down by Sheriff John Goodenough and jailed. The prominence of the victim, and the small number of murders in the County emphasized the tragedy and affected everyone in the area. The men were identified as Frank Summers, Dan Snyder and John McGowen, all vagrants from the Cleveland Area.
In addition to the north-south road (Rocksprings), and east-west road (Route 18), there was a military road built in 1802. This road originally went from Cleveland to Pittsburg (Route 14), intersecting the other roads near the center. On an 1857 map of Edinburg there were more houses and businesses around the intersection of today’s Route 14 and Route 18, than at the center. On the south side of 18 there was the Goddard Machine Shop, and homes for Heighten, Goddard and Sanford. West of the intersection was a house for W.D. Davis and the Post Office. The Town Hall does not appear on this map. On the north side of the road Fairchild, Dawson, Bostwick and Calhoun had homes east of the intersection, and west of the intersection was a tavern and D.W. Goss and Bros. Store. North of the center on 14 was a harness shop. The Congregational Church faced Rocksprings Road in its present location.
Judge George F. Robinson presided at the trail, W.J. Beckley and L.T. Siddall were prosecutors, and Simon P. Wolcott and S.F. Hanselman made up a formidable defense team. McGowan was tried first and was found guilty of first-degree murder, with a recommendation of mercy, an offense carrying a life sentence. Snyder was convicted of second degree murder, with a life sentence, with possibility of a pardon. Summers was found guilty of first-degree murder. The verdicts were appealed, but reaffirmed by the circuit court. And Judge Robinson sentenced all three to life in prison on March 26, 1900. The three men were transported to the Ohio Penitentiary, but within five years all three were pardoned.
Nathan’s son William ran the store for about fifteen years, and then it was bought and sold a number of times. It was moved to make room for the Checkerboard Restaurant, so named for the black.
The Edinburg United Church The Methodist denomination was the first to hold services in Edinburg, and Circuit Riders began conducting these services in 1811. A church was organized in 1826. Services were held in member’s homes until a church was built during 1834-37. When the church burned it was rebuilt in 1865.The Congregational Church was founded in 1823 with eight members. Until a sanctuary was started in 1842-44, meetings were held in member’s homes and led by ministers of the Connecticut Missionary Society.The two churches formed a Federated Church in 1921, and Edinburg United was established in 1923. The Congregational Church building was chosen to house the new congregation, and the Methodist property was sold and the money used to enlarge and remodel the building. The Congregational Church was consecrated and dedicated on Sunday March 12, 1961 as a member of the United Church of Christ. Thanks to the church secretary for this information.
In 1923, Edinburg was again in the public eye but for an entirely different reason. Headlines in the Ravenna paper read “Tin Peddler’s Ghost Pays Rent as Throngs Pay Visit to Haunted House”.
During an interview, Grant Green of Atwater, son-in-law of Mrs. Sarah Gilbert owner of the ancient farmhouse property, relates that the ghost story first appeared in 1902 when Squire Willsey, owner of the property died. A young woman who had lived with the Willsey’s but had no claim or part of the estate, had to part with $600.00 when the Squire died to settle the estate. For revenge she made up the story that an old tin peddler, Robert Lewis and his white horse were murdered in the house years ago, and both victims were haunting the location. Mr. Green placed little stock in the ghost story, and other residents said the legend began as early as 75 years before that.
People from all directions came to see the house and were stripping the house for souvenirs. The walls of the murder chamber, and the kitchen had disappeared leaving very little support and the house was ready to collapse. Mr. Green decided he would charge an admission price of one dime per person to pay for the damage. The 8 October 1923 edition of the newspaper reported: “Thousands of motorists went through here over the weekend, bound for the old Squire Willsey’s place. It was estimated at Edinburg today that fully 10,000 persons poured into that village throughout Saturday and Sunday the center being jammed at times with automobiles.” Additional thousands came through, Randolph and Atwater, as the house was located on the road from Edinburg to Atwater (Route 183).
The remainder of the house was destroyed by fire. There were hints of firebugs, but no logical explanation exists and the origin of the blaze is still a mystery, and it was said that a house of mystery deserves no less.
West Branch State Park
In the Northern Portion of Edinburg Township a dam was built for the west Branch of the Mahoning River and a reservoir was developed for flood control, water supply, recreation and fish and wildlife management. West Branch State Park is located here. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed construction of the Michael J. Kerwin Dam in 1965 and the park was formally opened in 1966. There are facilities for camping, picnicking, swimming, fishing, boating and trails to explore.
Celebrating the Ohio Bicentennial 2002
In celebration of Ohio’s Bicentennial barns were selected across the state to have the Ohio bicentennial logo painted on them, Edinburg Township residents Tom and Christine Pfile’s barn located on Tallmadge Road was chosen and a dedication program was held at the barn on June 6th, 2002.
Portage County Bicentennial 1808-2008
A Memorial Recognition was held on Saturday, May 17 2008, in honor of significant individuals of Portage County who have contributed to the Success and quality of life that we enjoy today, the Portage County Bicentennial Committee issued plaques of recognition for each participating community. Edinburg Township participated in the Recognition Ceremonies at the Edinburg Cemetery, located on State Route 14; these residents were honored for their significant contribution to the Township. Bruce Slack, Major role in developing Edinburg Township Fire Dept. Eleanor C. McConnell, Edinburg Township Clerk, Business Owner, Newspaper Correspondent and Community Volunteer; Ben Dillon, Lifetime resident, Worked on Edinburg Park, Veteran, Killed in Action in Iraq
Civil War hero found in unmarked grave In Edinburg Township
Edward Farrell Born in 1833 in Saratoga Springs, Saratoga County New York, USA and Laid to rest March 23, 1902 in Edinburg Township, Portage County, Ohio USA was the recipient of a Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor. He entered the Union Navy at New York, New York and served as a Quartermaster. His medal was issued by General Order Number 11, dated April 3 1863. His citation reads “Served on board the USS Owasco during the attack upon Forts Jackson and ST. Philip, 24 April 1862. Stationed at the masthead during these operations, Farrell observed and reported the effect of the fire of our guns in such a manner as to make his intelligence, coolness and capacity conspicuous”.
The USS Owasco, a 691-ton steam gunboat, which was part of a flotilla sailing under David Farragut, The USS Owasco made a historic dash past the confederate heavy guns and smashed the confederate flotilla guarding New Orleans. The action led to the fall of New Orleans the next day. In early 2011 the Portage County Historical Society received an email from the Medal of Honor Historical society asking about the burial site of Edward Farrell, a Quartermaster in the Union Navy. Jackie Woodring took on the job of finding the missing veteran, and at the end of 2011 she had finally located the resting place of Edward Ferrell, Paperwork was filed with a historian at the National Cemetery Administration of the Veterans Administration, to receive an official granite Medal of Honor grave marker. The VA took months to approve the request for a marker, The Military will supply free markers when requested by next of kin but no direct decedents of Ferrell could be located. Edinburg Township Trustees agreed to pay the nearly $500.00 cost for the official military marker. On May 18th 2013 at noon Quartermaster Edward Ferrell was honored on Armed Forces Day, by local officials and veterans and a new granite grave marker was finally in place marking the grave of a local Civil War Hero.