When one hears the name Youngstown they may immediately think of the city in Northeast Ohio. However, the village of Mount Gilead, known as Whetstone when it was established, was once ”unofficially” referred to as Youngstown in reference to its founder, Jacob Young.
White settlers moved into the area we now know as Mount Gilead in 1817.
On Sept. 30, 1824, twenty-four years before Morrow County was created, Young laid out 80 lots on a hilly spot, in an area that was once forest and hunting area for the Shawnee tribe, in the southeast portion of what was then Marion County.
The platting of the village included two public squares. One square is known as the “south square” and is lesser known than the “north square” which now contains the Victory Shaft monument in the middle.
Being part of Marion County at the time, and the fact that there was already a settlement called Whetstone in Marion County, there was confusion as more pioneers arrived. To solve the problem, a measure was proposed to change the name of the town. Residents were asked to vote between the names Warsaw and Mount Gilead. Mount Gilead was chosen by a significant margin and the village was incorporated by state legislature several years later in 1839.
The name “Mount Gilead” was suggested by Daniel James who moved here from a village in Loudon County, Virginia by the same name. James may have suggested the name, but Sarah Nickols deserves credit for passing the petition to get the name changed. She and her husband Nathan Nickols sold their farm in Mount Gilead, Virginia and bought 960 acres in this area around 1825.
Sadly he died in March, 1827 from a ruptured blood vessel loading fertilizer before they had moved here. Sarah’s family tried to get her to abandon her plans to move to this area with her 12 children ranging in age from 25 to 11 months. But she believed her husband was following divine guidance so she proceeded to this area. She planted an apple orchard with seeds from Johnny Appleseed. She is buried in the old Presbyterian cemetery close to the Cross House museum located at 85 East Marion Street just east of Mount Gilead’s south square.
In 1847 residents petitioned to form a new county. Morrow County was formed from portions of Marion, Knox, Richland and Delaware counties. Local residents then demanded that a new county seat be formed.
The villages of Mount Gilead, Chesterville, Cardington and Marengo all presented a plan to the legislature to become the county seat. Marengo’s plan received little support and was quickly dropped. Soon it became clear that Mount Gilead and Chesterville were the top two choices. The vote would be very close according to a pre-vote poll.
During this time, a senator from Morrow in Warren County promised that if the people of Mount Gilead would change the name of the proposed county to Morrow, in honor of Governor Jeremiah Morrow, that he would vote in their favor.
The vote was close between Chesterville and Mount Gilead but ultimately Mount Gilead was chosen as the county seat for the newly formed Morrow County.