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Jeromesville History Update


Preface to “A Brief History of Jeromesville 1815-1965”

The village of Jeromesville is steeped in history. Many Accounts of her glorious past can be found in the various early history books of Ashland County. Other information is to be found in the records of the churches, the school, the village council, and family histories and collections.


Preface to “A Brief History of Jeromesville, Ohio 1803-2003
(Updating a Classic)

Ben Shaver became a resident of the Jeromesville area a very short time before writing his historical pamphlet for our town’s 150th birthday. Brought to the area as the first Superintendent of Hillsdale Local Schools in the early 1960’s, he was quick to recognize the importance of heritage and family to our community. He not only was an integral part of the celebration in 1965; but also helped meld two very different villages into one strong educational community. He also began the tradition of the annual “Three Score and Ten Dinner” honoring Hillsdale residents over 70 years of age.
We hope our updating of his paper, during our celebration of Ohio’s bicentennial will honor him and bring much of his research to a new generation of our citizens.
Bonnie Taylor
Karen Freelon
Rick Russell
Mark Fickes


Early Government and Growth


When the State of Ohio was chartered on March 1,1803, the Federal Land offices had not yet begun selling sections of what would one day become Ashland County; but that doesn’t mean the area was uninhabited.
About 1762, the Mohican Indians built a village upon a knoll west of the Jeromefork, about a half a mile west of the present town of Jeromesville. This Native American settlement was made up of a council house and about sixty to eighty pole lodges. It was called Mohican Johnstown, in honor of the great chief Mohican John.
Many trails traversed this area and an abundant supply of water was available for man and animals. Native Americans from Mohican Johnstown cleared the rich bottomland near the Jeromefork and raised corn there as early as 1762.
About one mile northwest of Mohican Johnstown, a French Canadian named Jean Baptiste Jerome lived with his Indian wife and daughter in a sturdy log cabin. Jerome arrived in the area about 1795 and fought with the Indians against Mad Anthony Wayne in the Battle of Fallen Timbers, near the present city of Toledo. After settling along the banks of the Jeromefork, he prospered by farming 30-40 acres of rich bottom land, selling seed corn to early settlers, trading horses and cattle, and trapping pelt animals for the European fur trade.
When the local Indians were forcibly moved from the area during the War of 1812, Jerome soon moved to Huron County, Ohio, where he married a German woman, and died shortly after. They had one daughter named Elizabeth, who married Henry Neal. According to information provided by the Ashland County Genealogical Society, there are believed to be descendants.
Soldiers under the command of General Reasin Beall cut a road through the present village of Jeromesville in 1812. At that time, the area was part of Wayne County. A blockhouse was built in the fall of 1812 for the protection of the local settlers. Captain Murray was placed in charge of this blockhouse, which stood on a slight knoll slightly northeast of where the Lincoln Highway (the Beall Road) crosses the Jeromefork. This blockhouse provided protection during the Indian uprising of 1812-1814. A good spring of water was located within the fort, making it possible for the settlers to stay inside for several days.
The village of Jeromeville (the original spelling) was established on February 14, 1815. Christian Deardorff and William Vaughn plotted the lots. Deardorff had purchased most of the southwest quarter of section 5 in Mohican Township from Jean Baptiste for the purpose of establishing the village. He named the town after the long-time settler.
A United States Post Office was established in Jeromesville on March 27, 1816. It was located in the Hargrave Tavern. This tavern has since been renovated and is the residence of Nellie Momchilov. This building served as an important relay station in the old stagecoach days. Official records in Washington, D.C. list the first postmaster as Constant Lake.
In the 1880’s mail was picked up in West Salem for delivery to the villages of Red Haw, Rowsburg, Jeromesville, Lakefork, and Funk. For most of Jeromesville’s history, local citizens served as postmaster, recently the job has been assigned by the postal service internally. Our current postmaster is Beth Parsons. Parsons has arranged for the village to have a special postal cancellation in honor of the Jeromesville celebration of the Ohio Bicentennial of July 26, 2003.
As Jeromesville continued to grow and prosper, many interesting events were recorded in fact and legend. One of the most interesting took place in the early morning hours of November 13, 1833, when “lights were seen falling, having the appearance of showers of stars.” Scientists later have verified this date as the time that the earth passed through the Leonid meteor field. This is recorded as the most brilliant meteor shower in history. There are those who believe that the large stone presently in the lawn of the Fickes Funeral Home is a meteorite from one of these early showers that took place every November during the middle of 1800’s.
Jeromesville has also been visited by two major floods in its history. One in 1913 and another on July 4, 1969. Several major fires have also changed the village. The three most notable ones took place in 1895,1901,and January 9, 1931. The last destroyed the Ewing Hardware Store on the southeast corner of the square, plus several surrounding houses. Fire protection in early times consisted of bucket brigades. After the Ewing Hardware fire, steps were taken to provide better fire protection. Chemical tanks were purchased and stored in the old townhouse ready for use, and a 5,000 gallon storage cistern was built on the site of the lost hardware store. In recent years that cistern has been replaced with a large capacity “dry hydrant’. The village’s original firehouse was erected in 1948 on East South Street near the town park, and a volunteer fire department was formed. There were 27 charter members for the department. Roger Hawks served as the first fire chief.
When Jeromesville’s force outgrew the building, a new modern fire station was built on West North Alley. It was completed in 1976. A large addition to the building was completed in 1997. Funding for the department comes primarily from taxes collected by the Jeromesville Fire District that was formed in 1975. Harold Landman has been the village’s representative to the three-man fire district board (that also includes representatives for Mohican and Perry Townships) since the district was formed. The fire station houses eight pieces of fire and emergency equipment and currently lists a total of 48 firefighters, which includes 15 emergency medical technicians.
Ashland County was created February 25, 1846 from parts of Wayne, Lorain, Huron, and Richland Counties. The Ohio General Assembly had elected Edmund Ingmand of Jeromesville; John R. Riznor; and George H Stewart associate judges for the new county. They met in Jeromesville on March 3, 1846. The first court session held in Ashland County took place in Jeromesville according to a news article published in the 1910 edition of the Ashland Press.
The first official act of the judges was to canvass the vote for county seat. Ashland was declared the winner with 2682 votes compared to Hayesville’s 1846. The building where court was held in Jeromesville was on the site of the former Jeromesville restaurant on West Main Street. The present building was constructed by Frank Smalley to house his business and the village post office in the early 1900's. The original house on that site was moved to South High Street near the current town limits. It is presently owned by Earl Heifner.
A list of early mayors was included in the original version of this book. Those interested may view it on the village website at http://jeromesville.netfirms.com. Our current mayor is Edwin Blough. Council members are Jane “Suzie” Foster (council president), William Jolliff, Tamara Shade, Dale Ables, Gail Spade, and James Bonnell.
The earliest town hall remembered was built on Spice alley by Clem Ewing in 1912, at the cost of $425. This small building is presently used for storage by Delagrange Antiques. Until the summer of 2002, recent council sessions were held in the village’s original firehouse on East South Street. Former Mayor Tom West was the first mayor to preside over council meetings at the new council chambers located at 181 South High Street (near the Jeromesville Cemetery).
While Theodore M. George was mayor in 1895, an ordinance was passed granting the Postal Telegraph Cable Company the right to establish and operate a line in Jeromesville. About six months later, permission was granted to the Farmers Telephone Company to bring telephone service to town. In 1897, the People’s Telephone Company was formed and permitted to operate. Later, the Farmers Telephone Company and the Star Line both served the community. The Northern Ohio Telephone took over the Star Line and was serving the community in 1965. Several changes in name have taken place since that time, and Jeromesville currently receives local phone service from Verizon. Touch-tone keypads have replaced the dial telephones that came to Jeromesville in 1958. Many older residents remember crank telephones, prior to that date, phones were connected by the local operator (who worked from the building that is now Earl and Linda Heifner’s residence and beauty shop at 26 South High street). Today communication in Jeromesville also includes internet access from a variety of carriers and cable television provided by Time-Warner Cable.
In 1911, while Walter H. Carl was mayor, permission was granted to Dr. M. C. McClain and sons to supply natural gas to the residents of Jeromesville. The McClain’s brought the line to Jeromesville from the Ashland County Infirmary north of Hayesville (currently Heartland Home). This operation was later taken over by the Ohio Fuel and Gas Company and now is part of Columbia Gas of Ohio. Columbia Gas continues to supply the lines serving the village.
Electricity came to Jeromesville in 1923. A small stock company was formed and brought the power lines from Shenberger’s corner, northwest to town. This company was known as the Mohican Light and Power Company. It was sold to the Ohio Pubic Service Company, which later consolidated with Ohio Edison. Ohio Edison still supplies power to Jeromesville’s citizens in 2003.
Drinking water in Jeromesville was originally supplied by several small springs and dug wells. The earliest known water system was developed by the McClain brothers who piped water from a spring northeast of town to several residences in the northern part of the village.
Later, Walter Carl brought water from a spring to “Jackson Hill Hollow” to residents of Plum Street. He later sold out to Milton Shafer. In April 1936, the present reservoir and water lines became a reality with the assistance of the PWA at a cost of about $30,000. A. E. Newcomer was mayor during this time. The reservoir contains 85,000 gallons of water. A chlorination system was installed in 1962.
Mayor D. C. Doerrer, in 1915, was instrumental in securing council’s approval to pave Main Street. The work was done by Herring and Son of Mansfield, using Wooster bricks. The project included substantial concrete curbs along both sides of the street. In 1923, while Mr. Doerrer was still mayor, High Street was paved comparably to Main Street and storm sewers were installed.
Currently council is seeking funds to provide the citizens of the village with a wastewater treatment system.


Religious Life


The church has always played a prominent part in the lives of the residents of Jeromesville. Surely much of the prosperity of the community is the result of the Christian ideals practiced by its citizens. Three churches presently exist within the village limits.
The Presbyterian Church was organized early in 1817 and was dissolved in 1892. This was a rather small congregation with never more than sixty communicants. William Mathews was the first pastor. The church building was located on land that is now part of the Jeromesville Cemetery. In 1893 the building was moved to the north side of West Main Street and was used by the Alleman family as a grocery store for two generations. Dale and Clara Bodager currently operate a gift shop and realty business from this location.
The Methodist Episcopal Church (now the United Methodist Church) was organized in 1820 when a log church was built. For six years previously, services were held in a private cabin or forest clearings. Among the original members were Luke Ingmand, Edmund Ingmand, and Robert F. Caples, Samuel Warner, John Naylor, their wives, Mrs. Ezra Warner, and her two daughters. In 1858, a new frame church was erected. The present frame church was built in 1882. This building was remodeled and changed considerably in 1915. A Sunday School wing to the north, vestibules, the choir loft, and beautiful stained glass windows were added at this time. John Lutz was chairman of the building committee. Alvin Drushel and Milo Weygandt were the builders. Rev. John D. Kaho worked right along with the laborers during the project.
The sanctuary was redecorated and a social room was added in the basement in 1950. In 1952, the pipe organ was installed. A new educational wing was added in 1959 when Richard Yaussy was pastor. Consecration services were held September 20, 1959. A new parsonage was built in 1963.
Rev. Beryl Baum is currently serving as JUMC pastor. Administrative Council chairman is Jay Wells. Ted Paullin serves as lay leader and the Education Committee is lead by Ilene Cutlip. Church trustees are Thom Leidigh, Kent McGovern, Jo Campbell, Ray McIntire, Doug Paullin, Don Rowland, Richard Briggs, Betty Louden, and Duane Garn.
The Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jeromesville was organized on May 17, 1847 at the Meng Meeting House. The Rev. C. C. Guenther, assisted by Bishop William J. Sloan, gathered a group of 17 people to form the congregation. The Meng Meeting House stood at the intersection on Ashland County Road 251 and Perry Township Road 1650. A small cemetery still exists on this spot.
In 1858, under the leadership of Rev. David Smith, a small one-room brick church was built on lots 68 and 69 in Jeromesville (the present church’s location).
Rev. Rufus Halverstadt was pastor when the current church was constructed in the mid 1920’s. The roof of the old church was removed May 18, 1925 and the cornerstone for the new building was set August 9 of that year. Much of the west wall of the old church remained standing and was encased into the new structure.
Freight service was soon to be abandoned by the L. A. & S. Railroad. So materials were hurriedly brought in for the construction. The freight included two railroad cars of lumber, two cars of 4 x 8 x 12 inch building blocks, and 110,000 bricks. The stained glass windows came form Swinton Art Glass Company of Toledo. The building was dedicated September 26, 1926. Plans for the sanctuary included space for a pipe organ. In 1983, a two manual six rank pipe organ was purchased from the Wick organ Company of Highland, Illinois.
The church owns a parsonage on Plum Street, constructed during the pastorate of Rev. F. Raymond White. It is not currently in use and has been rented out. Pastor Alan Smearsoll is serving as pastor of the Lutheran congregation in 2003. The president of the church council is Sue Bicker. Scott Moreland is vice president. The church secretary is Cassandra Brown. Membership (including associate members) stands at 279, with an average weekly attendance of 71.
The Jeromesville Christian Church was organized in 1834. The first meeting place was about a mile north of the village. In 1843, the congregation built a log church on the John Hootman farm, a short distance north of the present building. Ten years later, a new building was started, but destroyed by a storm before it was completed. The congregation went ahead with plans to build the church and held the first worship service in the new building in May of 1854. This is the oldest building still in use as a church in Jeromesville. The membership at the time of construction was 111. Henry Dixon was the pastor and elders were John Hootman and John Wilson.
In 1862, Richard Winbigler came to pastor the congregation of the Jeromesville Christian Church. Many of his descendants still live in the Jeromesville area. The church was extensively remodeled in 1914 and again in 1949. The church parsonage was completed in 1903. Charles W. Perry was the first pastor to live there.
The present pastor at the Christian Church is Vince Cable. Elders are Steve Young (chairman of the board) and Bob Freelon. The church deacons are Allen Aber, Bruce Swaisgood, Bud Kandel, Bob Gibbs, Ernie Cline, and Jim Belcher. Deaconesses are Sandy Swaisgod, Lori Allenbaugh, Deloris Cline, Karen Gibbs, Sharon Paullin, Karen Freelon and Deb Schoonover.


Business Establishments


The Oldest surviving business building in Jeromesville is the “Hargrave Tavern”, named after the builder and original owner, Richard Hargrave. This is reported to be the first tavern inn west of the Alleghenies and was an important relay station for stagecoaches. It remained as an inn for 75 years.
Another early business establishment was the old Flour mill, which was originally operated by waterpower provided by the Jeromefork. The mill was built by John Webster and his sons near the spot where the Lincoln Highway crosses the Jeromefork on the north side of West Main Street.
A brick kiln, under the management of Frank Ridgley was in operation for a number of years just west of the Hargrave Tavern. Bricks from that kiln were used to construct the tavern and the village school that is currently Fickes Furniture Store.
Charles Frary, a funeral director, started his professional establishment in 1890. He later sold out to W. S. Fickes in 1905. The Fickes Funeral Home is still operated by members of his family.
While the Beall Trail was of great importance in the early settlement of Jeromesville, it did not provide the needed transportation for its continued growth. The railroad from Custaloga to Funk was extended to Jeromesville in 1898. Later it was continued to Ashland and Lorain. This railroad provided the product transportation for the highly productive farmland surrounding the town, as well as the imports needed for the businesses. With the advent of paved highways, however, the railroad ceased to operate in 1925.
Many businesses have come and gone since the time Jean Baptiste Jerome sold seed corn to the early settlers. Before the 1900’s, Jeromesville boasted two dry goods stores, two hotels, a carriage factory, two cabinet shops, a harness shop, three blacksmith shops, several shoe shops, one wagon shop, a tailor, several groceries, two doctors, a mill, and a fine school.
Businesses currently within the village include a grocery store, three antique shops, a cabinetmaker, a general store, and insurance agency, a print shop, an auto dealership, a pizza house, a pub & grill, a muffler shop, a gas station that includes auto repair and fabric, an auto body shop, a welding shop, a contracting company, two beauty shops, a bank, an upholsterer, a funeral home, a furniture store, an electrician, an appliance repair business, a septic service, a guitar shop, two gift shops, a realty, and a massage therapist.


Education


The citizens of Jeromesville have always taken a great interest in their youth and they have gone to great lengths to provide them with proper training. For many years, the children of Jeromesville attended school in a small log building near the present Jeromesville Cemetery. Later, a two-story frame building was built a few feet east of where the present Fickes Furniture Store stands. This building was mysteriously destroyed by fire in 1889 and replaced by the brick building, which is now the Fickes Furniture Store. The bricks were made in Ridgley’s kiln. An addition was made to the building in 1910. When the enrollment of the school reached 135 in 1916, it was decided that a new building would be needed for the elementary students. The elementary school was located on the site of the present town park. Only two years after its completion, additional rooms had to be added. Those who attended this school described it as resembling two one-room schoolhouses joined together at a porch.
The building that most residents identify as “Jeromesville School” currently houses Hillsdale Middle School. It was constructed in 1927, at which time both the other school building were abandoned. A group of interested citizens, under the leadership of Lee Mills, bought the property where the elementary school was located and turned it over to the town for a recreational park. It is still used for this purpose and is enjoyed by young and old alike. It now bears the name of Lewis Memorial Park to honor Dr. A. Deane Lewis, who was the last doctor to maintain a practice in the village. He served the community from 1938-1974. A shelter house was constructed in the park by the Jeromesville Lions Club in 1963. It is in great demand for graduation parties, summertime reunions, Church festivals, and community events such as the annual Memorial Day chicken barbeques and Jeromesville Homecoming.
The building that had been Jeromesville Elementary School before 1927 was moved to Funk, where it is currently the Funk Store.
The enrollment continued to grow at Jeromesville School. The building housed the educational facilities for all twelve grades. In 1953, a fine addition was added that included the cafeteria and larger rest rooms as well as added classroom space. Consolidation to form the Hillsdale school District in the early 1960’s brought a new high school building for Jeromesville and Hayesville students in the fall of 1965. The last year all twelve grades attended Jeromesville School (1963-1964) the enrollment of 561, quite a growth rate since the peak enrollment of 135 in the original brick building. Today Hillsdale Middle School classrooms are filled with 385 students in grades 5-8. The Hillsdale School District educated a total of 1180 students in 2003.
A considerable part of the school’s growth was due to the move to centralize education. The first major step toward centralization was made in 1918, when the Ashland County Board of Education served notice to M. D. Weygant (president of Jeromesville School) and T. J. Heikel (president of the Mohican Township Rural School District) that a new school district was created including Jeromesville village and certain parts of Mohican Township. Other small districts joined this district until eventually it included all of Mohican Township and parts of Lake, Perry, and Montgomery Townships in Ashland County and a portion of Plain Township in Wayne county. This was the district that made the last merger with Hayesville Schools to form Hillsdale.
The school steadily increased in stature and reputation until it eventually became well know as one of the outstanding small schools in the State of Ohio. This was accomplished by sound school leaders, and the confidence and support of a community that believes in the value of education.
Early Jeromesville School masters and superintendents are listed in the original version of this book. Those who have left Hillsdale since the consolidation are Ben Shaver 1961-1973, Gene Yeater 1973-1979, Ralph Roshong 1979-1985, Arthur Eubanks 1985-1989, Jim Mc Kinley 1989-1991, Robert Spicer (interim) 1991, Gary Smetzer 1992-1993, and Joel Roscoe 1993-present.
Members of the current school board are Wendell Pidgeon (president), W. E. Anderson, Ted Sours, Kim Edwards, and Kenneth Schuck.


Civic Organizations


Several civic organizations are active in the area. The Jeromesville Lions Club was chartered January 5, 1944 with 35 charter members. The Lions annually co-sponsor the Jeromesville Homecoming and a Christmas concert at Hillsdale High School. The Lions fund numerous community projects through these fund raisers.
Jeromesville’s American Legion Post 749 has been active for well over 50 years. The post and its auxiliary hold the annual Easter egg hunt in town, supply flag bearers and color guard for the Memorial Day Parade and Veteran’s Day assemblies at Hillsdale Schools, elect Miss Poppy and her court, and sponsor the annual Americanism tests for high school students.
The Jeromesville Community Fire Department and its auxiliary co-sponsor the Jeromesville Homecoming and staff the Memorial Day chicken barbeque when not fighting fires.
Other community organizations include the newly formed Jeromesville Growth Association, Mohican Teepee Tenders, three active garden clubs, the Jeromesville Youth League (baseball and softball), and the Boy Scouts.

Summary


Jeromesville has continued to grow and prosper since its early meager beginnings. Her citizens are from hardy stock. They believe in the American way of life --- are confident in themselves, respectful to others, and faithful to their God.


Bibliography


The original sources for much of what is included in this booklet are:

A brief History of Jeromesville 1815-1965 by Ben Shaver

Ashland County History

Ashland county History by Hill

Ashland county History by Baughman

Ashland County, Ohio Research Aid # 6, Mohican Township

Ashland Press news clippings

Methodist Church History compiled by Margaret Shaner

Lutheran Church History compiled my Naomi Lachica

Christian Church History Material Provided by Dale Bodager

Ingmand information from Betty Hange

Huron County History sources

And the memories of Jeromesville citizens