The Beginnings of BellvilleIn 1808, two men James McCluer and Jonathan Oldfield blazed a trail from Fredericktown to Bellville. That route is now Ankneytown Road. They built a cabin, the first one in the township. They began to make necessary improvements to the land, with the help of a tornado that leveled some of the land. James then went to Canton Land office to register the land in their names. So began the development of Bellville. In 1812 a blockhouse was built near the Bellville Depot. In 1815, Robert Bell purchased a quarter section from McCluer and laid out the original plat of Bellville. Fourty-eight lots were proposed between E. Main Street, North to Ogle Street and South to the first alley North of Durbin. Enoch Ogle bought lot #1 and established a tavern. The first post office was established in 1824 with Isaac Hoy the postmaster.Old B&O RailroadThe location of this old railroad is found at Side Street W. of SR13 (The North edge of town.) Its current use is civic. It is now a bike path, and rest stop area. It did belong to B&O railroad. The date it was built is unknown.Bellville's First ChurchBellville was incorporated on March 25, 1841. James C. Lee was the first mayor. As the village grew, homes were used as churches and schools. The Methodist Episcopal Church was the first organized church in 1814. Robert Bell and William Oldfield, a Revolutionary Soldier, helped to organize the church. Samuel Oldfield was one of the circuit preachers that held services. The church building was constructed on Bell Street in 1835.The Start of Our SchoolsSamuel McCluer started the first school in 1816-1817, in his own cabin. Timothy Evarts taught the first term of three months. The school was supported by a subscription rate of $ 1.50 per pupil for the term, which could be paid in any kind of provisions-clothing or work. Young men rode 5 or 6 miles to attend. Young women stayed home to do housework. By 1880, schools were developed to be 2 miles apart, so no student should have to walk more than one mile twice a day. In 1857, a school was put into operation in the present Clear Fork Administrative Building and Elementary buildings are located.Businesses Moved InAs Bellville grew, other utilities and businesses were set up. An electric plant was located near the bike trail. ( near present Alta's Greenhouse) A flour mill began business on route 97, Riverside Drive. It was owned and operated by D.L. Baker and Roller Mills. Two hotels, Hotel Lefevre was developed, on northwest corner of Main and Ogle, and Hotel Norris, on the southeast corner of Main and Ogle. Two livery stables were located nearby, filling the need for the travelers. The town hall was built in 1877-78 at a construction cost of $6,000. The brick structure was built to have a place for town meetings and to create a jail. Our bandstand was completed in 1879, with the support of O.B. Rummel, I.K. Moody was chosen manager. The band members met and pursued the project. Mr. Abraham Lash was the architect. It was rededicated on July 4th, 1975. A drug store business started between the present Wishmaker house and the one next to the north. A tin and carriage shop set up on Bell Street near Stoodt's Grocery of today. Keiths sanatorium was developed to provide care for tuberculosis patients. (located in front of the current Stoodt's Grocery.) Two wagon and blacksmith shops, two hardware stores, two tin shops, one stove store, one printing shop, one bakery, four groceries, two saloons, one wallpaper store, two harness shops, two barber shops, and two dentists came to Bellville to start business. A fire department was formed. Their equipment included with one cart, 650 feet of two and one half inch hose, fifty men, and one Waterford engine. In 1880, Bellville had one bank the Exchange Bank, organized in 1872, with Frederick Fitting, H. Alexander, John and David Zents as stockholders. It began with a capital stock of $12,000. The safe weighed 8,800 pounds and cost $1400. The first fair held in Bellville , was a county fair in 1850. The next year the county fair was moved to Mansfield. an agricultural society was formed in Bellville and in 1860, developed their own Bellville Agricultural Fair. ( now known to locals, as the Bellville Worlds Fair.) Newspapers have long been a part of the village. In 1842, the Rainbow and Repository started as a weekly at the cost of one dollar a year. J.C. Potts and Thomas Faus were its proprietors. Later, the Garber Brothers published the Richland Star, a monthly paper. In 1872, Garber and Aaron Leedy began a weekly newspaper, possibly the forerunner to the Bellville Star. Information condensed and compiled by Ruth Ann Dearth, from many sources, including: "Bellville Sequicentennial Celebration 1839-1989" A tour pamphlet. By Darlene Smith Lee.
Information ResourcesA Short History of Ohio Lands: A Short History 1987-Thomas E. Ferguson, (Auditor of the State of Ohio) Bellville & Jefferson Township History, Compiled and written by Maude Schaefer for the Bellville Bicentennial Commission. September 1975 The Bellville Star Press. "The Oldenfield's Family Thread Woven into Fiber of Bellville History" By Martha Palm, written for the Bellville Star, September 16,1992. "Memories of Long Ago", by Anna Andrews 1917 booklet. Rededication of The Bandstand, Bellville Ohio, July 4, 1975 A limited edition book written by Commission Chairman James Beal, Vice Chairman, Don Palm, and members, Mrs. Walter, Mrs. Maude Schaefer and Mrs. Gloria Yarger. Visit the Bellville-Jefferson Township Historical Society
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