EDITOR’S NOTE–This is another article on Findlay-area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.
By R.L. HEMINGER
One often wonders about some of the jogs in streets in Findlay that are to be found over the city in various places. Just why and how did they occur?
There are reasons, of course, but they are difficult to find sometimes because they are lost in history. We learned the background of one the other day. It is very interesting. It concerns Bigelow Avenue, a thoroughfare in the northern part of Findlay on Bigelow Hill.
Philip Bigelow came to Hancock County in 1841 from his native Vermont. He had decided he wanted to settle in this locality, purchasing land for that purpose. He had to go to Chillicothe in southern Ohio to make the purchase, because the federal land agent was there.
He acquired 400 acres of land. Half was on one side of what is not North Main Street in Findlay and half was on the other side. But the land was all still in rural Hancock County, for Findlay had not been extended that far north as yet.
He established his home on what is now Bigelow Hill, just north of West Bigelow Avenue.
In due course, the community of Findlay extended its borders north steadily and it was decided that a street was needed leading east from Main Street in the north area. The officials discussed the matter with Mr. Bigelow who owned much of the land in the general area. He said he would donate the needed land for the purposes of the desired street. The authorities said they would name the thoroughfare for him, in recognition of his donation.
Later on, the town authorities decided the street should be extended across Main Street to the west. They approached Mr. Bigelow and he again said he would be glad to donate the required land for that purpose, with one reservation. There was a large and beautiful tree on the west side where the proposed new street would go, opposite East Bigelow Avenue. Mr. Bigelow said he did not want to remove the tree because of its attractiveness. So the officials decided to accept his offer of land, with a jog taking West Bigelow Avenue’s start, just a little to the north of where East Bigelow Avenue meets Main Street.
When the Findlay Board of Education decided to locate a new elementary school in the Bigelow area, the members talked with Mr. Bigelow regarding acquiring land for school building purposes. He donated the necessary land and the board of education decided to name the new school in his honor, in recognition of his gift. The school remained in existence for many years until it was discontinued, together with a few others, when a new school construction program developed.
Mr. Bigelow also donated land to the railroad for right-of-way purposes when the Toledo-Columbus line when through in the 1890s.
Present At Surrender
A Union Township farmer, G.F. Wonder, was present at the history-making surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee to Gen. U.S. Grant at Appomattox, Va., April 9, 1865, ending the Civil War. Mr. Wonder was in the Signal Corps of the northern forces and was with Gen. Grant’s Union army staff at the time. He participated in 19 engagements.
Mr. Wonder was born in 1844 in Wyandot County, being the second of 10 children. He enlisted in the Union army while a Wyandot County resident and did not come to Hancock County until 1870. In 1869 he married Sarah Falk and they came to the Mount Cory area of Hancock County the next year to reside. They had five children: three daughters and two sons.
He was active in educational matters and served as a school director for a number of years.