EDITOR’S NOTE: The following 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 of the first roads laid out in Hancock County was a highway starting a little distance south of Chamberlin Hill in Findlay and following the west bank of Eagle Creek into Madison Township. This was Hull’s Trace, the route followed by General Hull and his forces as they marched northward toward Findlay.
Portions of this road are still a part of the county highway system, although some parts have now been abandoned. This is true of the extreme north end of the route. The route follows a varying line as the creek meanders. Present roads which had their origin as part of this very early highway include County roads 75, 72 and 70 and Township Road 66 in Madison Township.
The road crossed the creek in section 14 in Madison Township and in section 23 turned sharply westward and continued to the Bellefontaine-Perrysburg Road. The highway was 14 miles in length and was established in June 1831.
The Benton Ridge Road was the next established by the commissioners. It started at the west end of West Main Cross Street and follows the same route as the present road to Benton Ridge. It continues on to the Putnam County line, following a ridge route. The road’s route was deviated just west of Findlay to some extent to avoid a low, wet piece of ground. In view of the road following the ridge, it was always regarded as one of the best highways in the early days before the area, which was part of the Great Black Swamp, was drained. The road was established in 1832.
In February 1832, William L. Henderson laid out a road beginning at the house of Aquilla Gilbert in section 24 in Amanda Township and extended to the Findlay-Carey Road. All of the highway was in a part of Amanda Township which was later absorbed in Wyandot County.
A county road was laid out in March 1832 on the ridge from Fostoria to Van Buren, across Washington, Cass and Allen townships. The petitioners were John and Micajah Gorsuch, David Heaston, Thomas Kelly, Michael Thomas, John Norris, James G. Wiseman, Elijah and John McRill, John Heistand, John Burman, John Trout and Abraham Schoonover. Later the road was extended westward into Putnam County. It follows the route of the present State Highway 113.
Another early county road was established in Union Township in the spring on 1833. It started at what is now U.S. 25 in Union Township, just below Mount Cory, and extends north through the village to section 15, and then follows Ottawa and Tiderishi creeks until it intersects with the Benton Ridge Road. This same road exists today, part as State Route 69 and part as County Road 54. The petitioners were Wenman Wade, William Fox, Jacob Burket, Henry Smaltz, Philip, John and Simon Cramer, William M. Colclo, Alexander Hardin, Solomon Foglesong, Jacob Fox Jr., Isaac Comer, John and Thomas Mullen and Solomon and Stephen Lee. The surveyor was William L. Henderson, while John Byal and Asher Wickham were viewers, Philip Cramer and Peter Folk, chainmen, and Simon Cramer, marker.
From this time on, roads were established rapidly in all parts of the new county. Whenever a few cabins made their appearance in any portion of the county, the records show, a petition was soon in circulation for a good road. For a number of years, after the establishment of the county in 1828, most of the business of the board of county commissioners consisted of grants for public highways, petitions and authorizing and supervising their construction. But even the best roads in those days were often impassable and outside of Findlay very little stone piking was done in the pioneer times. A road, in that era, meant mostly the clearing of the land for a path through the woods along which people could make their way in times when there was not much mud.
When stone pikes came into existence later on, they served as the highways until late in the 1910s, when the first highways as we know them today developed. In the period from close to 1920 to early in the 1930s, most of the hard-surfaced roads on the state system went down. A program of hard surfaces for county and township roads went forward about the same time, with the result that today, Hancock County is one of the very few counties in all Ohio that has every road on which a home exists covered with a hard surface.