Background, page design, and transcription format 2003 - 2009 Leona L. Gustafson

This page was last modified

Return to Main Page

Pages 175-249

(Bird's Eye View of Circleville)
(Pickaway County Court House)






The name given to this township (after having first been given to the city which it contains, and which constitutes the county seat of Pickaway county,) is designed to perpetuate the memory of one of the most remarkable relics of a pre-historic age, found by the first European explorers of the Ohio valley. The name Circleville, together with a drawing and description, first published in the Archaelogia Americana, in 1820, and reproduced in several historical works since that time, is now one of the few existing memorials of that interesting relic. Being thus associated with the name of the place, it is fitting that a somewhat minute description of it should be given at the very outset of our history of Circleville.

In the centre of the territory now embraced within the corporate limits of the city, once stood an extensive earth-structure, the work of the Mound Builders. It is generally supposed to have been a military fortification, although its design can be only a matter of conjecture. It consisted of two parts; the larger and more important one being in the form of an exact circle, sixty-nine rods in diameter; the other an exact square, fifty-five rods on each side, and tangent to the circle, at the middle point of its western side. It is the circular "fort" (so-called) which occupies the central portion of the city--the centre of the circle being at the point where Court and Main streets now cross each other; and the square extending out toward the city limits, beyond Washington street, in an easterly direction from this point.

The circular inclosure was surrounded by two walls and a deep ditch between them. [Some of the oldest inhabitants insist that there was not, within their recollection, any appearance of a regular wall, or embankment inside of the ditch; but we follow the printed accounts.] It is, of course, impossible to guess how high the walls were originally; since, when first discovered, they had for unknown ages, been gradually worn down by the action of the elements and other causes. But, when first measured, they were somewhat more than twenty feet high, on an average, measuring from the bottom of the ditch, which was about twenty feet in width. On the side not adjacent to the ditch, the walls were, at this time, about six feet in hight. They were, at this time, about six feet in height. They were evidently made nearly perpendicular at first, and were constructed, for the most part, of clay, which was found near by, or thrown out of the ditch, and wa of an excellent quality. Some think it was originally made into bricks and dried in the sun. However that may be, it was largely use in making the bricks of which many of the buildings, now occupying the same ground were constructed.

In the centre of the circular work stood a mound of considerable size, with a large semi-circular pavement extending half way around it, on the eastern side; looking toward the only opening in the circular walls. This opening was at the point of contact with the square "fort," into which it formed an entrance. The single wall (which was without any ditch) inclosing the square was, at the time of its discovery, about ten feet win height. It had eight openings; one at each corner, and one at the middle point of each side--that in the western side being the one which led into the circle. Before each of these openings, at a distance of about two rods, on the inside of the square, was a mound, circular at the base, and about five feet in height, except the one before the entrance into the circle, which was considerable larger and higher. The others were about forty feet in diameter, at the base, and about twenty at the summit. The writer in the Archaelogia takes it for granted that these small mounds "were intended for the defence of the openings." But this does not seem to us by any means certain. At any rate, the one before the entrance into the circle could not have been so intended, since it is not conceivable that the occupants would have attempted to defend the square "fort" after the circular one had been captured and filled by an enemy.

We notice that in the representation of the two forts contained in the Circleville Union-Herald for August 2, 1878, and evidently copied from that in the Archaelogia


just mentioned, the small mound at the opening between the two forts, is placed within the circle. Whether or not this change of position was made because the author of the very valuable historical notice in the paper referred to perceived that was the only position in which the said mound could be of any use as a defence of the opening we do not know; but certain it is that, in the copy of the original drawing, made by Howe, in his "Historical Collections of Ohio,"this mound is inside of the square. Since we have intimated a doubt as to the correctness of the prevalent notion that these enclosures were purely for military purposes, we shall, perhaps, be pardoned for presenting, at some length, our reasons for believing that they were designed mainly for religious or festive occasions.

Mr. Isaac Smucker (who is certainly a very respectable authority in matters pertaining to American archaeology), in his treatise on the "Pre-historic Races and Pre-territorial History of Ohio," which constitutes the introduction to the "Annual Report of the Secretary of State" on the statistics of Ohio, for the year 1877, makes the following observations as to the inclosures of the Mound Builders:

"Inclosures are of several kinds; one class being known as military or defensive works; another as parallel embankments, or covered ways; and the third as sacred inclosures. Under the general title of inclosures are also walls of circumvallation, or ramparts, constructed for military or defensive works, while others were doubtless walls surrounding the residence of the reigning monarch; perchance others were erected for the performance with them of their national games and amusements, and perhaps many, also, served a purpose in the performance of their religious rites and ceremonies, and facilitated indulgence in some superstitious practices."

Farther on he says:

"Defensive inclosures are of irregular form, are always on high ground, and in naturally strong position, frequently on the summits of hills and steep cliffs, and are often strengthened by exterior ditches."

Then he proceeds, quoting the American Cyclopaedia:

"The walls generally wind around the borders of the elevations they occupy, and when the nature of the ground renders some points more accessible than others, the height of the wall and the depth of the ditch at these weak points are proportionally increased. The gateways are narrow and few in number, and well guarded by embankments of earth placed a few yards inside of the openings or gateways, and parallel with them, and projecting somewhat beyond them at each end, thus fully covering the entrances, which, in some cases, are still further protected by projecting walls on either side of them. These works are somewhat numerous, and indicate a clear appreciation of the elements, at least, of fortification, and unmistakable point out the purpose for which they were constituted."

If this description of defensive inclosures is to be relied upon, it is obvious that the works under consideration must have belonged to some other class. Instead of being of "irregular form," they are so strikingly regular as to make it a matter of wonder how a people as rude and uncultivated as the Mound Builders are generally supposed to have been, could possible have laid them out. They are not on "high ground," and there are, in the immediate neighborhood, many stronger positions than that in which they are located. In fact, no modern general would think of constructing an earthwork in such a position, unless he had no choice of situations, or unless the immediate presence or threatened approach of an enemy compelled him to fortify that very place. The gateways, instead of being "few in number," are so numerous as to amount to an absolute absurdity in fortification; and the so-called defences of these gateways, or openings, are not "embankments," "projecting somewhat beyond them at each end," but small, circular mounds, apparently of no greater diameter than the width of the openings.

But let us see now what the authority above-quoted says about inclosures which were not designed for military purposes:

"Sacred enclosures," says Mr. Smucker, "are mainly distinguished from those of a military character, by the regularity of their form, and by their more frequent occurrence. They are of all shapes and forms, and when moats or ditches exist, they are invariably found inside of the embankments. Sacred inclosures are generally in the form of geometrical figures, of surprising accuracy, such as circles, squares, hexagons, octagons, ellipses, parallelograms, and of various others. They are sometimes found within military inclosures, and evidently had some connection with the religious ideas and ceremonies of their builders. Frequently there is situated in the center of this class of works a mound or elevation, supposed to have served the purposes of an altar upon which sacrifices were offered, or which was, at least in some way, used in conducting their religious services.Within those sacred inclosures were doubtless celebrated religious festivals, and upon those centra[l] "high places," or altars, were undoubtedly performed, by priestly hands, the rites and ceremonies demanded by their sacrificial, their idolatrous religion. * * * Some archaeologists, however, maintain that many works called sacred inclosures were erected for, and used as, places of amusement, where our predecessors of pre-historic times practiced their national games, and celebrated their great national events; where they held their national festivals, and indulged in their national jubilees, as well as performed the ceremonials of their religion. And it may be that those (and there are many such) within which no central elevation or altar occurs, were erected for the purposes last named, and not exclusively, if at all, for purposes connected with their religion, and are, therefore, erroneously called sacred inclosures. Other ancient peoples, if, indeed, not all the nations of antiquity, had their national games, amusements, festivals and jubilees, and why not the Mound Builders, to? Notably in this regard, the ancient Greeks may be named, with whom, during the period known as the 'Lyric Age of Greece,' the Olympic, the Pythian, the Nemean, and the Isthmian games became national festivals. And without doubt the Mound Builders, too, had their national games, amusements, festivals and jubilees, and congregated within their enclosures to practice, celebrate and enjoy them."

Another quotation, a little further on, must suffice:

"The amount of labor bestowed upon those of their works that were erected in the interest of their religion, shows a strong tendency towards superstitious belief. They doubtless offered up animals in sacrifice, as a part of their religious ceremonies, and it may be that human sacrifices were not unknown among them. Prisoners of war are thus disposed of sometimes by people and nations who have attained to as high a grade of civilization as that reached by the Mound Builders. the sacrificial character of their religion is clearly established. The late Dr. Foster he[s]itated not to say that the Mound Builders were worshipers of the elements; that they wor[s]hiped the sun, moon and stars, and that they offered up human victims as an acceptable sacrifice to the gods they worshiped! He deduced this fact from the charred or calcined bones which cover their altars. Other high authorities also unhesitatingly assert that there is convincing proof that they were fire-worshipers."

So exactly does this account tally with the drawings and descriptions which have come down to us of the ancient works at Circleville, that we were actually surprised to find in it no allusion to those works as remarkable specimens of inclosures obviously designed for religious and festive purposes. Here was the surprising symmetry of form characteristic of such inclosures. Around the square was the one walk, with no moat or ditch on the outside, and perforated by its numerous entrances. Here was the circle, with its deep moat inside of the


principal wall--even if there was, in reality, more than one--for, as we have stated, the recollection of some of the oldest inhabitants, who often passed over the ground before the embankments were removed, is, upon this point, at variance with the printed accounts. And, above all, here, exactly in the center of the circle, stood the "high place," with its semi-circular pavement, composed of gravel and smooth stones taken from the adjacent streams--a mound utterly without significance in a military point of view, but entirely intelligible if regarded as an altar for offering up sacrifices, or for the performance of other religious or festive rites. That it was an altar, and that it had been used for offering up human sacrifices, is rendered extremely probable from the fact that, at different depths below the surface, charred skeletons were found lying upon wood ashes and charcoal, mingled with various articles, such as arrow heads, burnt bricks, plates of mica, etc. It would seem, for the positions in which these relics were found, and from the various depths at which they lay, that, after each burning, the fire, the charred remains of the victim, and whatever else was left unconsumed, were covered with earth; and that the mound had gradually been formed by this process, beginning, perhaps, from the original surface of the ground. How high it may have been when last used by the people who constructed it, we have, of course, no means of knowing. When, however, it was first seen by Europeans, it was about ten feet high, four rods or more in diameter at the base, and about two rods at the summit.

If it be asked whether the theory of the religious and festive character of these works implies that the builders had absolutely no thought of defence in their construction, we reply that this inference is by no means necessary, since the inclosures may have been for the purposes name; while, at the same time, the embankments about both the square and the circle, and the ditch about the latter, may all have been intended, in part at least, to guard those engaged in celebrating their worship or their games from the intrusion of those of their own people who were not entitled to participate in them, and also from the attacks of their enemies. It must be admitted that the thought most likely to be suggested to the mind of one viewing such works for the first time, is that they were designed as military fortifications. But if inclosures were to be made for other purposes at all, it is surely most likely that such a people as the Mound Builders were, would construct them of earth. In the celebration of their religious rites, a plenty of deep water might be necessary for the practice of those ablutions and immersions which, in all ages of the world, have occupied so prominent a place in the religions of various nations. If so, the ditch dug on the inside of the inclosure would furnish both the necessary water and the material for the needed embankment.

For the reasons set forth above, we seriously incline to the opinion that the square inclosure was designed for the celebration of games and other secular festivals; that the small mounds before the openings had some sort of connection with the games celebrated in the inclosure;and that the circle was devoted mainly, if not entirely, to the performance of religious rites.

This will be an appropriate place in which to mention a remarkable mound that stood but a short distance outside of the circle, about forty rods in a southwesterly direction from the sacrificial mound already described. We follow the description made by Mr. Atwater in his Western Antiquities, published in 1833.

This mound was more than sixty feet in height, and stood on the summit of a large hill, to which it was joined so skillfully that the whole appeared to be artificial. It must have been the common cemetery in which the dead of the neighboring people, for several generations, were buried, since it contained "an immense number of human skeletons, of all ages and sizes." The skeletons were laid horizontally, with their heads generally toward the centre and their feet toward the outside of the mound. A considerable part of this work was still standing when Mr. Atwater wrote, uninjured, except by time. In it were found, besides the skeletons, stone axes and knives "and several ornaments with holes through them, by means of which, with a cord passing through these perforations, they could be worn by their owners."

On the south side of this mound, and only a short distance from it, was a semi-circular ditch or trench, some six feet or more in depth, but nearly filled up to a level with the surrounding surface. On being opened, there were discovered in it large quantities of human bones, evidently of warriors who had fallen in some destructive battle. This conclusion seems necessary from the fact that the bones were those of persons who had attained their full size; whereas, in the mound adjoining young and old had been buried indiscriminately; ad also from the fact that the bodies had been thrown into the trench without order, and as if in great haste.

The student of archaeology will never be able to contemplate the obliteration of all these interesting relics without a feeling of regret, not unmixed with indignation. When land was so abundant and so cheap, why should not the county of Pickaway, among its first acts as a corporation, have purchased the ground covered by these relics, and set it apart for all time as the imperishable monument of a perished race? Overgrown as it was, with beautiful forest trees, it might, without erasing one mark of its original character, have been changed into a park, more unique and attractive than any public grounds not to be found in the State of Ohio. Here in the square inclosure, our young men might have met in friendly contest to practice their athletic sports, on the very spot devoted, countless ages before, to a similar purpose. And although it might not have been thought seemly to perform any of the solemn acts exclusively appropriate to our holy religion, within the circular inclosure once set apart to the performance of heathen rites; yet a grateful people might properly have met there to celebrate their national anniversaries, amid scenes and associations which could not have failed to heighten their gratitude to God for the countless blessings which, in these latter days and in this wonderful land, He has vouchsafed to them.


But since the founders of the county had not the farsighted liberality to do this, the next best thing they could have done was the very thing they did, viz., to locate their county seat on the site of these ancient works--placing their court house in the centre of the circle--making the lines of the two principal streets of the city cross each other at this point, as those of Pennsylvania and Maryland avenues do, at the capitol in Washington, dividing the four quadrants this formed by two other streets crossing each other at right angles in the same way, but extending no further than the limits of the circle--and finally laying out two circular streets around the court house, within the same limits, but leaving all the rest of the town to be laid out in regular squares, like most other western cities.

This, if the earth-works theselves were to be obliterated, was certainly a graceful and altogether appropriate way of perpetuating a visible memorial of them. But, strange to say, although this plan was adopted and carried out, and the circle built up in accordance with it, after the city had attained its twenty-seventh year and a population of over two thousand souls, the citizens were persuaded to undo the work, to obliterate the circle constructed by the first builders of the city, as the latter had obliterated the circle constructed by the Mound Builders. The history of the "squaring of the circle" (that feat hitherto regarded as impossible in geometry), with the method of ist accomplishment and the reasons for it, if any can be found, will be related further on. But we have deemed it proper to relate this much at the outset, by way of explaining why the name Circleville was given to this beautiful and historic (not to say pre-historic) city.


The first brick house erected in the city of Circleville, was that now occupied by Harsha's marble works, then a one-story building. Mr. James Greno worked on it as a mason.

The first grocery in town was kept by Joe Strouse, near where Mader's bake shop was later.

The first sermon by a Methodist minister (and probably the first by a minister of any denomination), preached after the won was located, was by the Rev. William Swayze. The precise date is not given, but it must have been soon after the location of the town, which was in the autumn of 1810.

Louisa (Leiby) Myers, born June, 1811, is believed to have been the first child born in Circleville. Her father, John Leiby, a native of Pennsylvania, who moved to this place from Chillicothe, established here the first dry goods store, soon after the town was laid out.

Jacob Try, brother of George Try, killed a deer within the circular earthwork, some two or three years before the town of Circleville was located. We are not certain that this was the first deer killed there; but the occurrence reminds us to say that dears are now seen in the same locality every day, and nobody thinks of killing them.

The first hotel in Circleville was kept by John Ludwig, no living in the southeast part of the township. It was kept in a log house, which was the first built within the circle, in the fall of 1810.

The first public step toward building the first public school-house in the town of Circleville, was a resolution passed at a meeting called for that purpose in March, 1827. The school-house was built but a short time after, near what was known as the Academy.

The first newspaper published here was th Olive Branch, the first number of which appeared on the 9th of August, 1817. Of this paper the present Union Herald is the lineal successor.

The first church edifice built in this town was a presbyterian meeting-house of brick, whose corner-stone was laid by the Rev. Mr. Burton, September 2, 1826.

The first entries of land made in what is now Circleville township, were as follows: Jacob Zieger, sr., entered sections 19 and 20, and fractional section 5, May 7, 1801. And, on the same date, section 29 was entered by Samuel Hill. The only other entry made as early as 1801, was that of section 32, made by Robert F. Slaughter, June 9th, of that year.

The first Sunday school in this town was organized as a union school in 1825, by John P. Davenport.


As already stated, Pickaway was erected into a separate county, by act of the legislature, on the twelfth of January, 1810. On the 19th of the next month the same body passed a resolution appointing David Bradford, George Jackson and John Pollock as commissioners "to fix on the most eligible spot for the seat of justice in the county of Pickaway."

"This duty was considered a very important one, and the gentlemen above mentioned were men of character and reputation in the State. They cam into the county in the spring and made a thorough examination of all the places which had been mentioned, visiting Bloomfield and some points west of the river. The old Indian fortifications (so called), with the mound and circle and square, were then intact. The embankment or walls of the forts stood up many feet above the ground, and were, as were the interior, covered with large trees and heavy undergrowth. These fortifications were selected for the county seat in preference to all other places which had been pointed out. The gentlemen, in deciding, no doubt thought they were doing that which would serve to preserve the ancient monuments from demolition and ruin, and that with a town located here, thay [sic.] would surround them with an interest which would protect and care for them. As to the wisdom of their predictions, the total obliteration of every trace of the old forts gives sad witness. The commissioners reported their decision in the court, which, on July 25th, appointed Daniel Dreisbach as director, with bonds in the sum of ten thousand dollars. His duties were to purchase the ground for the sight [sic.] of the new town, lay it out in town lots, and dispose of the same.**

"The lands upon which the fortifications stood belonged to the heirs of Jacob Zeiger, Jacob Zeiger, jr., and Samuel Watt, the circular fort being the property of the former. He at that time resided in a log cabin which stood about where the canal no is, and just opposite the site of Ruggles' slaughter house, there being one of the best springs in the country at the foot of the rise upon which his cabin stood. He at this time had partly completed a new residence a little ease of his cabin. This new residence is still standing, and is known as the Williamson house, on the corner of Scioto and North High streets. His wife, who

*For all of the documents, for nearly all of the facts, and largely for the phraseology of this article, we are indebted to the Circleville Union-Herald of August 2, 1878.

**Mr. Dreisbach held the office of director until his death, in 1850. One or two others were subsequently appointed by the court, but, there being no further need of such an officer, the office has not become obsolete.


also signed the deed, became Mrs. Shoemaker, having, after the death of Mr. Zeiger, married Judge Shoemaker, one of the justices who first held court in the county. (At the time this was written she was ninety-five years old and in possesion of all her faculties. When the editor of the Union-Herald called upon her a few days before, he found her reading a book. Unfortunately the last few years had dimmed her recollection of those early days, and she was able to give comparatively little information. She died in January, 1879,)

Dreisbach purchased, as the records show, three tracts and one or two fractions of acres. The first tract contained one hundred and three-fourths acres, fifty of which Zeiger donated, the other fifty being bought at eight dollars per acre. For the three-fourths acre the price was twenty dollars per acre, with a further consideration, in payment for the improvements, consisting of the cabin, etc., to be decided upon by referees. The second tract, purchased of Valentine Keffer, contained seventy-one acres, seventy-eight poles, and was bought for two hundred and eighty-six dollars. The third tract contained twenty-nine acres and was bought for one hundred and sixteen dollars. The whole two hundred acres cost but between eight and nine hundred dollars, many time less than single lots have since sold for.

Dreisbach proceeded at once to survey and lay out the town according to the directions and by the day appointed for the sale had all complete. We have been able to find no one who could give definite information in regard to the first sale, but we judge from what we have learned that it was a memorable event and celebrated with a grand barbecue, with whole ox roasts, etc. We have been told that a large number of persons from the west side of the river joined in the manufacture of an immense cheese for the occasion, weighing several hundred pounds, and drawn to the barbecue on a large sled. There seems to have been quite a spirited competition for the honor of building the first house in the new town. No sales were made before the second Monday of September, and of course no one had a right to occupy any of the ground before that time. Among others determined to build the first house was John Ludwig, who then lived on what is now known as the Rudy farm. He had his lumber all prepared before the sale day, and the logs hewn and fitted ready for framing, and all loaded on wagons and ready to start into town, as soon as his purchase should be announced. Laborers were ready and stone for the foundation was in waiting with David Leist, as mason, prepared to lay them. What the result of so much preparation was, or whether he got his house up first we have not learned, but it is certain that the sun had not gone down on the day of the sale when several habitations had been reared, in a temporary and hasty manner, of course. On the first sale day Dreisbach disposed of twenty-nine lots, and on the next day eleven. The houses were rapidly pushed to completion, and by winter about forty families had taken up their residence in the new town. Dreisbach's first report to the county commissioner, in which he gives an account of his stew[ard]ships read as follows:

"Daniel Dreisbach, director, made report of his proceedings, which was sanctioned by the court and ordered to be recorded verbatim, viz.: and that the plat returned of town be recorded in the recorder's office.

Proceeds of sales of lots in the town of Circleville, public and private sales from the tenth to the twelfth of September, 1810:
To 29
Sale of timber
lots sold
on streets
Total amounts
first day's sale
second    "
private sales
and alleys

$2,276 30
611 00
762 50
___44 50
$3,694 50
Valuation of Jacob Tegar's improvement, appraised by Charles Bodkin and Aquilla Justice, duly sworn and both parties chosen:
The house appraised to
Six and three-fourths acres of cleared land
Well of water and other improvements

at $6 per acre
$275 00
40 00
__15 00
$330 00
Which sum is to be paid to the said Jacob, on or before the first day of May next, 1811, or he, the said Jacob, will take the house back at the valuation, and purchase the lot on which the house is erected.



By cash received from the tenth of September to the
     twelfth of November, 1810, inclusive
By cash received as forfeit money of two lots
$897 61
__10 00
$907 61
Expenditures from the commencement until the twelfth day of November, 1810:
To cash paid for one hundred and three-fourths acres of land
Cash paid David Kinnear, surveyor
Cash paid out for cleaning alleys and streets, and other
     necessary expenses
$414 00
50 00

__159 44
_$623 44
Balance remaining in my hands $284 17
I do hereby certify the foregoing statement to be accurately and justly stated with all the proceedings from the tenth of September to the twelfth of November, 1810.

[P. S.] William H. Puthuff's bill for recording and other services is not included in the above statement of expenditures, but will be presented next court.D. D. D.

This day came Daniel Dreisbach, director, etc., and produced here into court a statement of the sales of lots in the town of Circleville.  Which statement is in the words and figures following:

Sales of lots in the town of Circleville, Pickaway county, from the
      twelfth of November, 1810, up to August 5, 1811, to 44
      lots at private sales, amounting to
To sales of timber from the twelfth of November, 1810, up to
      August 5, 1811, amounting to

$1,864 01

_____9 50
$1,873 51
Total amount of the sales of lots from the commencement up
      to August 5, 1811, 57 lots sold, first report amounting to
      44 lots sold, second report, amounting to (101 lots sold)
Sales of timber, total amount
Total amount

$3,650 00
1,864 01
____54 00
$5,568 01
By cash and county papers received from the twelfth of No-
      vember, 1810, up to the fifth of August, 1811, amounting to
      the sum of
      $  694 22
November 26, 1810, to cash paid David Kinnear, in addition
      to the former bill of surveying of the town, and three days'
      clerkship at the sales
$    8 00
To cash paid Charles Bodkin, one day's work cleaning off
  $    8 75
Balance of county orders and cash remaining      $  085 47

I do herby certivy the above to be a true and accurate statement of the sales of lots in the town of Circleville, Pickaway county, and moneys received from the twelfth of November, 1810, up to August 5, 1811.

CIRCLEVILLE, August 5, 1811.

The commissioners' first duty, after the town had been laid out and the lots had been sold, was to prepare a place for the meeting of the court, and to provide a jail. For the first purpose, Zeiger's new residence, still unfinished, the upper floor not being partitioned off, offered suitable accommodation, and a contract was entered into with him, by which the building was used as a court hours. The jail was provided for in a contract, which was made some five months before the one above mentioned, with Andrew Broner, who, for the sum of fifty-five dollars, was to erect a building twenty-two by sixteen feet, of good, sound lumber, and have it ready for occupancy in four weeks from April 14, 1810.


Although the site for the capital town of Pickaway county was chosen on account of the ancient circular inclosure found there, and the central portion of the town was laid out in circular form to coincide with that pre-historic structure, and to perpetuate the memory of it to future time, yet not many years elapsed, after the town began to be built up, before dissatisfaction with this unique arrangement showed itself in certain quarters. Various objections were made. Some thought that the original design was a piece of childish sentimentalism; others that the shape of the lots was awkward and inconvenient; and others still that the open circular space about the court house became a nuisance in being used


by people from the country as a hitching and feeding place for their teams; thus attracting to the same center the hogs and other domestic animals which were allowed "the freedom of the city," and making the Pickaway seat of justice a rather poor gem in a worse setting.

But with however much of sincerity these objections may have been urged, and however important they may have seemed to those who urged them; it is not al all probable that any change in the town plat would ever have been made, if it had not occurred to somebody that by laying out the circular portion in a square form, several acres of waste ground--in the center of the circle, in the four angles where the square portion joined upon the circle, and in some of the avenues and alleys--would become available for building lots, and yield a fair profit over and above what the county would charge for it.

It was doubtless a fair business transaction, and not to be censured (however much it may be regretted), except upon aesthetic grounds. An act of the legislature, authorizing the change of plat, had first to be obtained; and then it could not be made without the consent of all the property owners within the space affected by it. Many of the lots were purchased out and out by the parties making the change, and then resold after it was made. Of the lots unsold, some were increased in size, and others diminished by the change; and the owners of the former made, and those of the latter received, suitable compensation.

The buildings fronting the streets or avenues which were to be vacated (and which, of course, made acute angles with the main streets), were either removed, torn down, or changed in position, so as to face the new streets. One only, of any prominence, remains in its original position, as a memento of old times. This is the fine brick residence of the late Dr. Hawkes--still owned by his widow. It originally fronted on "Bastile avenue," which seems to have been the aristocratic street of the old town, and which ran at an angle of thirty-five degrees with West Main street. When the now Franklin street was laid out parallel to Main, it passed the front of the building at the same angle. This gives to one of the finest residences in Circleville a very singular, but by no means unpleasing, appearance; and it is pointed out to strangers, with much apparent satisfaction, by the present generation, as a proof that the name of their town was not always a misnomer.

Two "enabling acts" were passed by the legislature to authorize an alteration of the town plat of the town of Circleville.

The first act was passed by the legislature March 29, 1837.

Nothing, however, was done toward the squaring of the circle, during the year named. We conclude it was found difficult to obtain the consent of all the property owners, in all the entire circle, to the proposed change; for, in the next year, March 1, 1838, the legislature was induced to pass a supplementary act, authorizing the friends of the measure to proceed as soon as the consent of all the owners of any part (meaning, doubtless, any fourth part), of the circle should be obtained. This act, as did the former, provides for the reservation of ground for the erection of a court house.

Soon after this, viz.: on the twenty-third of March, 1838, on application of Andrew Huston, Edson B. Olds, and Thomas Huston, the southeast quarter of the circular portion of the town was vacated by order of the court of common pleas, and Daniel Dreisbach, director of the town, was directed to convey to the said parties all the interest of Pickaway county in said part of Circleville, for the consideration of seven hundred and fifty dollars. The next day they filed their plat in the recorder's office; and, on the thirtieth of the same month, the director conveyed to the, by deed, the interest of the county, as directed.

On the fifteenth of the following September, similar steps were taken by the same parties, for squaring the northwest quarter of the circle, receiving their deed from the county October 4th, for the same consideration as above.

The process of building the town in the new form must have gone on slowly; for after the steps taken (as described above) for squaring the southeast and northwest quarters, eleven years elapsed before anything was done toward squaring the remainder of the circle. The parties at length undertaking to were John Cradlebaugh, E. B. Olds, Francis Kinnear, and others, known as the "Circleville Squaring company." After they had made a satisfactory arrangement with the property holders in the northeast quarter, they obtained a deed from the county for its interest in the same, August 17, 1849, for seventy-five dollars, and then proceeded to lay it out in lots of rectangular form. Why the consideration wa so much less than that paid for each of the other tow quarters, is not stated; but the commissioners doubtless decided that that was all the purchasers could afford to pay.

The squaring of the southwest quarter was undertaken by W. W. Bierce alone. He secured an order from the court for that purpose, and filed his plat in the recorder's office, September 1, 1854, but did not obtain his deed until March 6, 1856. No mention is made of any consideration allowed for it, and doubtless the price was merely nominal, since it was from the quarter that ground was reserved for the new court house.

It will thus be seen that it took eighteen years to square the circle, even on paper; and how long it was after the date of the last deed, till the final change was made in the position of the buildings and in the form of the lots, we are not informed. The account of taking down the old court house, and the building of the new, will be found elsewhere.

The grading of the streets and of building lots has gradually effaced every trace of the two ancient inclosures, with a slight and solitary exception in regard to each. A short distance in the rear of the court house is a deep hollow, which is undoubtedly a remnant of the circular ditch, and at the southeast corner of Franklin and Pickaway streets (as mentioned below) is a piece of the square embankment, perhaps three or four rods in length. With


these two exceptions, every relic of those celebrated works is lost.

The line of the two inclosures, as marked by existing objects, is thus described in the Union Herald of August 2, 1878, from which we have already quoted:

"The center of the circle was the center of the square at the intersection of Court and Main streets. The circle and square were joined, or rather the gateway, as the opening between them was called, was in the street a little west of the point where the alley crosses Main street at the Central Presbyterian church. Starting at this point, the ditch, which was the circumference of the circle, ran under a part of the church, under the rear of Mr. Socvil's house, curving around to McClaren's livery stable and Bander's carriage shop, crossing the street between Bauder's and the Foresman corner and Pinckney street diagonally to T. K. Brunnerr's, through the rear of the Jones lot, on West Main street, through Jesse Ward's and the Tibbs barber shop, through the Steele-Jones block, and the Martin property, and diagonally to Jerome Wolfley's, north of the court house, crossing to Mrs. Nightengale's residence, through the Brobeck carriage shops, and diagonally across Franklin street, to the rear of Ruggles' lot, and through it to the beginning.

The circuit was the line of the ditch described above, and which was full of water to a depth ranging from three to ten feet. The banks were very steep, and only at a few places was the ditch fordable. This embankment was overgrown with immense trees, and so thickly covered with vines and bushes that it was almost impenetrable. Here and there the cattle had made trails down to the water and at these places horsemen were in the habit of crossing, the path winding down sidewise. Within the circle the growth of timber and bushes was quite dense.

We now go to the square, the limits of which we can not so clearly define, but sufficiently so to give a fair idea. The face next to the circle was on the line of the alley next to the Central church, extending south to Franklin street (lower side), and north to Watt street. The south line ran along parallel with the south side of Franklin street, extending to a point a few rods east of Washington street. The only remains of the old embankment now visible is the elevated ground near which the little cabin known as Mrs. White's house, stands, at the corner of Pickaway and Franklin streets. The north line ran along Watt street east from H. R. Heffner's residence, a distance of fifty-five rods. The eastern boundary running north and south, crossed Main street a little east of Washington street, the old elm tree, well remembered by many, which stood in the pavement, being just inside of the embankment."

The people of Circleville are indebted to Mr. G. F. Wittich (who came to this place, with his parents, from Germany, in 1836) for the only pictorial representation that was ever made of the old town. It is a bird's-eye view in water colors, painted mostly from memory, but pronounced very accurate by all the old inhabitants. Considering that Mr. Wittich never had any instruction, and but very little practice, in drawing and painting, the work is highly creditable to his taste and skill. It has bee lithographed, and doubtless, in coming times, copies of it will possess an antiquarian interest and value. [See page 174.]


As already stated, Circleville was laid out as the county seat of Pickaway county, and a nucleus of the future city was formed early in the autumn of 1810; but it was not until more than four years after this time that an act was passed by the legislature of the State, erecting the youthful village into a town corporate. Of the growth of the community, during this brief anti-municipal period, no records remain. Its population, at the end of this period, can be only a matter of conjecture; but as it appears to have had about forty families at the start, if we allow it the same, as an annual increase, for the next four years, it much have comprised, at the time of its incorporation, about six or seven hundred souls.

We have not been able to find any record of the election held in accordance with an act passed by the legislature, December 24, 1814, authorizing an election to be held, nor can any of the old residents give us the names of any of the officers then elected. But in order to contrast the machinery of the old town organization with that of the city to which the corporation was afterwards changed, we append the names of the officers elected under the old regime several years later.

The town officers elected in 1830 were as follows: Mayor (then properly called president), W. B. Thrall; recorder, E. B. Olds; trustees, William McArthur, George Crook, Joseph Olds, Jacob H. Lutz, and Erastus Webb.

The organization formed in 1815 continued for thirty-eight years; that is to say, until 1853, in which year, on the twenty-first of March, the town council passed the following resolution:

Resolved, That the town of Circleville, by its council, does hereby determine and elect to to be classed as and to become a city of the second class, under the provisions of the act of the general assembly of this State, passed May 3, 1852, entitled "An act to provide for the organization of cities and incorporate villages, and the act amendatory thereto, passed March, 1853.

The city records, containing the account of the election which was held in accordance with this resolution, have (as it seems to us, with most strange and culpable carelessness) been lost or destroyed. But we have been so fortunate as to find a file of the Circleville Herald, from which we learn that, on the fourth of April, 1853, the following officers were elected under the new city organization: Mayor, Z. R. Martin, treasurer, W. Baker; solicitor, H. N. Hedges; marshal, S. Barncord; councilmen, William Van Heyde, William Doane, W. W. Bierce, and Allen Myers.

To show how much more complex the municipal government has become since that time, we conclude our notice of the city corporation with the following official directory of the city of Circleville for 1879:

Mayor, I. P. Todd; marshal, Jacob Brown; solicitor, J. Wheeler Lowe; civil engineer, C. C. Neibling; street commissioner, Thomas Heiry. Members of the council: First ward, James Brobeck, Michael Hoover; second ward, C. A. Helwagen, Charles E. Grace; third ward, Edward Smith, E. P. Strong; fourth ward, Thomas Hamilton, Fred Warner; fifth ward, George May, George Krinn; president of council, Ed Smith; vice-president, C. A. Helwagen; clerk, R. P. Dreisbach; treasurer, county treasurer. Standing Committees; Streets, alleys and nuisances, James Brobeck, C. A. Helwagen, E. P. Strong, Thomas Hamilton, Fred Warner; public grounds and buildings, C. A. Helwagen, Thomas Hamilton, George Krinn, Charles E. Groce; market house and markets, George May, C. E. Groce, Fred. Warner, M. Hoover; fire department, Charles E. Groce, James Brobeck, George Krinn, Thomas Hamilton; claims, C. A. Helwagen, Thomas Hamilton, George Krinn, M. Hoover; gas posts and lights, George May, Fred Warner, George Krinn, E. P. Strong. Fire Department Chief engineer, W. H. Nicholas; first assistant, T. N.


Caskey; second assistant, Charles McLain; first engineer, steamer Circleville, Louis F. Dresher; second engineer, steamer Buckeye, Andrew Rudel; fireman, William M. Todd. Board of Health: Mayor I. P. Todd, president ex-officio, Dr. E. D. Bowers, George H. Fickhardt, William E. Bolin, George Davenport, John Boyer, William Doane. City Library Board: Citizens, W. M. Anderson, W. B. Marfield, W. M. Drum; members of council, Charles E. Groce, Charles A. Helwage, Michael Hoover.

Council meets the first and third Wednesdays of each month.



As early as the beginning of the present century Presbyterian services were held within the bounds of what was then Mount Pleasant, now Kingston, congregation, by ministers of the old Washington Presbytery, the territory of which embraced a part of Kentucky and southern Ohio. One of these ministers, Rev. James Robinson, a student of the well-known Dr. McMillan, organized, in 1808, the Pickaway church of Ross county, tow which he ministered in connection with Mount Pleasant. He preached also occasionally to the Presbyterians of Circleville, holding services in the court house.

In 1822 Columbus Presbytery was constituted from the territory covered formerly by the Washington Presbytery, and at its first meeting the congregations of Mount Pleasant and Circleville were reported as united and able to sustain a pastor. Rev. William Burton was appointed to the charge of the same, and installed as pastor September 13, 1822. At this time the Circleville church had twenty members and two elders, Jacob Hughes and Benjamin Cox.

In 1828 the congregation was incorporated by act of assembly as the First Presbyterian Church of Circleville. Lots one hundred and nine and one hundred and ten were deeded by Andrew Huston to Dr. Finley and Dr. Luckey, trustees, for the purposes of a Presbyterian church, in consideration of one hundred dollars. A plain, one-story brick edifice was erected on the site thus provided--the same no occupied by the congregation. The building had sittings for some two hundred and fifty worshippers.

In the winter of 1830-31 both the Mount Pleasant and the Circleville congregations were visited by a thorough and extensive revival, which added fifty-six members to the Circleville church. Thus strengthened, the members extended a call to Mr. Burton for his whole time, and he was installed as pastor of the First church of Circleville, April 8, 1831. The elders of the church at this time, from which it dates its separate existence, were Matthew McCrea and James B. Finley. The number of communicants was one hundred and ten.

The pastorate of Mr. Burton continued until the spring of 1835, when he resigned his charge to accept one at Piketon. He was a native of Massachusetts, a graduate of Dartmouth college, studied theology with his uncle, Dr. Asa Burton, of Thetford, Vermont, and was a man of fine logical and rhetorical powers.

From May 2, 1836, until March 21, 1842, the pastorate was held by Rev. Franklin Putnam. During this period the division of the Presbyterian church into Old School and New School took place, and the First church of Circleville voted. August 13, 1838, to adhere to the exscinded synods. The vote was forty-eight for to nine against such action; and, after a brief interval, the minority peaceably withdrew and organized the Central Presbyterian church, in connection with the Old School assembly. In 1842 Mr. Putnam, after a prosperous pastorate, resigned his charge because of ill health, and the church resolved that "we feel it our duty and privilege to follow him and his family with kind remembrances and prayers."

March 11, 1844, the congregation extended a call to Dr. James Rowland, who ministered with great acceptance and success, and with the favor of the entire community, until his death, in 1854. During his pastorate the present commodious and convenient church edifice was erected, at a cost of about fourteen thousand dollars. The committee on subscriptions were, N. S. Gregg, S. Marfield, Dr. C. Olds, Dr. Rowland, W. W. Bierce, Chauncey U. Olds. During the erection of the building the congregation worshipped in the seminary. The first services held in the audience room were those connected with the interment of the Pastor, Dr. Rowland. His remains repose under the belfry, and a suitable mural tablet in the vestibule expresses the affection of his bereaved parishioners.

Rev. P. M. Bartlett, now president of Tennessee university, was the pastor from January 29, 1855, until April, 1857.

December 20, 1857, Rev. Henry Calhoun, formerly of Coshocton, Ohio, began his labors as pastor. That winter was one of deep religions interest, and thirty persons, mostly heads of families, were added to the church at the spring communion. After a prosperous pastorate, Mr. Calhoun resigned December 20, 1865.

June 2, 1867, Rev. H. R. Hoisington entered upon his duties as pastor. His services were highly acceptable to the church and the community. In 1870 the Old School and New School branches of the church were formally re-united in the city of Pittsburgh. This step brought the First and Central churches of Circleville into the same ecclesiastical relations, and the subject of a union of the two was agitated. April 28, 1872, Mr. Hoisington resigned and removed to Cleveland, Ohio, that the way might be clear for such a union. But the Central church having declined to accept the resignation of its pastor, the union was not consummated.

June 10, 1873, Rev. S. H. McMullin, formerly professor of church history in the theological seminary at Danville, Kentucky, was installed pastor of the church, and is the present incumbent.

The officers of the church at present are: trustees, J. A. Hawkes, Thomas Miller, W. M. Drum; session, Otis Ballard, H. A. Jackson; treasurer, William M. Drum; superintendent of Sunday-school, William M. Drum.

The number of communicants is one hundred and sixty-four; and of children in Sabbath-school, one hundred.


The church is free from all indebtedness, provides for an annual expense list of two thousand eight hundred dollars, and contributes an average of three hundred dollars to missionary agencies.


Among the earliest churches of this place and vicinity is the one called Methodist Episcopal. We only refer to what is historical, in saying that Methodist itinerants were among the first in bearing the gospel to those finding homes in the West.

Very early, in this century, a place of worship was established about a mile and a half east of this, near the old Lancaster road, at the house of a Mr. Burget. Before preaching was established here, a few members, moving into this place, were in the habit of going there to worship. This town was laid out in 1810, by Mr. Daniel Dreisbach. The first sermon preached by a Methodist minister in the newly-opened town, was by the Rev. William Swayze. Passing over the country, he made this a place of rest. Proposals having been made for stated preaching the question of place arose. After consultation, the public house of Mr. Andrew Ensworth, standing on the east side of the circle, in the locality now occupied by the corner of Court and Main streets (some say where William Albaugh's house now stands, others, upon the ground occupied by Philip Warner), was offered and accepted.

About 1812 to 1815, a local preacher, by the name of Emmet, living west of this, in company with another, whose name is forgotten, was accustomed to visit this place and hold occasional services. In process of time, during that period, a class was organized under the supervision of these local ministers, consisting of eight persons, namely Louisa Hare, Elizabeth Burget, Margaret Botkin, Margaret Davis, John Eli, Sarah Burget, and two colored women--Lydia Smith and her mother, Venice. Only one of the original class survives, she who is familiarly known among the membership as mother Hare.

Through the instrumentality of Lydia Smith, commonly known as Aunt Lydia, a Methodist church was raised here among the people of her own color. She died in 1875, having witnessed, according to the testimony of both white and colored people, a good confession for Christ upwards of eighty years, dying peacefully, at the extreme age of ninety-five or ninety-six.

The surviving member, Mother Hare, is the daughter of one who was a pioneer Methodist in Ohio--Nimrod Bright. She is now in extreme feebleness, being in her eighty-eighth year. She, too, for more than sixty years, has enjoyed among her acquaintance the reputation of being a firm, consistent, and devoted christian.

In the year 1815 or 1816, the class was regularly taken under the care of the traveling ministry of the church. Soon after William McArthur, subsequently known as Judge McArthur, was appointed leader. The society formerly meeting at the house of Mr. Burget, east of the town, was transferred to this place. The names of John Burget, John Wright, Mr. Hasselton, and others, are remembered as being early added to the original number; also, William Moore, father of S. A. Moore, well known to our citizens, who lived where his son now lives, was among the early additions, and proved a devoted friend of the church and the general interests of religion.

The first places of meeting were school-houses and private dwellings. Mother Hare says the first place of preaching was in a log school-house, with slab seats; then in a better school-house, more nearly in the center of town. When the court house was built, worship was transferred to that building, which was used in common by nearly all the religious denominations; then form the court house to the academy, continuing there until a church edifice was put up, which was about the year 1830. Two lots, numbered one hundred and seventy-one and one hundred and seventy-two, near the academy, were purchased of Charles Shoemaker, for two hundred dollars. The church was built of brick, doubtless made of clay from the old circular earth wall, near which it was erected; but neither the cost of the building, nor the length of time taken in the work, is remembered.

This church remained as the stated place of worship until it was destroyed by fire, in 1851. The fire is supposed to have occurred through a defective flue. This disaster was under the ministry of the Rev. J. A. Brunner. The first Presbyterian church was kindly offered and accepted for preaching services, and the basement of the Episcopal church for the Sunday-school. The pastor and members immediately went to work to secure another building. The people of all denominations generously responded to the appeal for a new church. Because of the town extending southward, it was thought best to change the location. The old site was abandoned, and the present one, on the corner of Main and Pickaway streets, was secured.

The building committee of the present edifice consisted of Jacob Welter, Joel Franklin, and William C. Taylor, the latter recently deceased. The cost of the present building according to Mr. Welter's recollection was twelve thousand dollars, or upwards. The bell was the gift of a former merchant of this city, Mr. Frederick Cogswell, now deceased. He also endowed a pew for the pastor's family. This house was dedicated to the worship of God by the Rev. Dr. Trimble, now of Columbus. It was several years from the time the church was first occupied until the audience room was fitted up for worship. From time to time sundry improvements have been added; recently, in new windows and renovations, at a cost of two thousand dollars. An indebtedness of two hundred and fifty dollars remains, which the ladies are devising way and means to remove. The roll of membership now numbers over three hundred.

This church, after being regularly established as a preaching place, so far as can now be ascertained, was included in what was known as Pickaway circuit--a part of the old "Scioto district." While in a circuit, it was served by the following ministers:

* Taken mainly from a paper read by the Rev. J. Mitchell, during the centenial excerses at the church, Sunday evening, April 9, 1876.


In 1816 (most likely, while he was on Fairfield circuit, by Michael Ellis; 1817 (Pickaway Circuit), Michael Ellis and Samuel Brown; 1818, James Quinn; 1819, Michael Ellis and John Solomon; 1820, David Davidson and Michael Ellis; 1821, Cornelius Springer and Peter Warner; 1822; B. Weslake and Andrew Kanier; 1823, Jacob Hooper and Whitfield Hughes; 1824, Wm. Stevens and J. T. Donahoe; 1825; Z. Connnel and M. Ellis; 1826, Richard Brandriff and S. P. Shaw; 1827, Jacob Delay and William Reynolds; 1828, Benjamin Cooper and J. Young; 1829, John Ferree and Jacob Hooper; 1830, Solomon Minear and James C. Taylor; 1831, David Lewis and H. Baird; 1832, David Lewis and Jacob Dixon; 1833 Z. Connel and W. T. Snow; 1834, J. Delay and Abraham Baker; 1835, (now Circleville circuit), S. Hamilton and R. B. Chase; 1836, S. Hamilton and E. T. Webster; 1837, Isaac C. Hunter and Harvey Camp; 1838, Isaac C. Hunter and P. Nation; 1839, J. A. Reeder and P. Nation; 1840, A. M. Lorraine and T. A. G. Philips; 1841, A. M. Lorraine and C. C. Lybrand--making thirty-nine different pastors in twenty-six years. in 1842 (half station), J. C. Bontecue; in 1843 (full station), J. C. Bonecure--J. M. Trimble, presiding eleder; 1844, Joseph J. Hill; 1845, A. B. Wombaugh; 1846-7, David Warnock; 1848, E. D. Roe; 1849, John Dillon; 1850, Jacob Dimmett, who remained only six months, the year being filled out by Rev. John Dreisbach; 1851-2, J. A. Brunner; 1853-4, J. M. Jameson; 1855, G. W. Brush; 1856-7, C. E. Felton; 1858-9, A. Brooks; 1860-1, A. Byers, who went into the army--his place being supplied by Rev. E. P. Hall; 1862-3, I Crook; 1864-5, S. M. Merrill; 1866-7, T. R. Taylor, 1868, W. T. Harvey; 1869-70, H. K. Foster; 1871, C. D. Battelle; 1872-3, T. H. Philips--his son Howard supplying his place for the last year; 1874-6, J. Mitchel; 1877-9, C. M. Bethauser, who is, at the present time, visiting his relations in Germany. It will be seen, therefore, that sixty-four different ministers have been employed, since the first organization of the society.

Two annual conferences have been held here, one in 1834, presided over by Bishop Soule; the other, in 1861, presided over by Bishop Janes.


This page was last modified


NOTICE: This electronic page may NOT be reproduced in any format for profit or presentation by any organizations or persons. Persons or organizations desiring to use this material, must obtain the written consent of the .