Reflections: Village bios interesting


By Evelyn Long - Contributing Columnist

I collect information about Cardington and Morrow County. Some are short pieces so am using this last edition of 2018 to share one.

There was a publication titled “The Ohio Guide,” published in 1940 by the Oxford University Press, New York and sponsored by The Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, in which the writers’ program of the Works Project Administration in Ohio, complied briefs about Ohio villages.

Following are quotes from the writings on Johnsville, Mount Gilead and Cardington:

  • An early settler, John Ely, gave his name to Johnsville, population 216, and described as “a typical Midwest Village.”

In 1885 when Valentine Wagner, a Johnsville resident, who had murdered a man, became the first person to be hanged in the Ohio State Penitentiary, local people forbade his burial in the village cemetery.

His grave was dug just outside of it and to discourage molestation, 12 torpedoes were embedded in the tomb. It is said that the whole body was later removed by the person who buried it.

  • Cardington, population 1,192, whose residents are largely retired farmers, was founded in 1822 and named for an old carding mill here which did a thriving business with sheep raisers. The town showed no special vitality until after the Civil War when the lumber industry began to flourish.

In recent years, Cardington has resumed its early peaceful ways and finds its greatest excitement in civic celebrations. The Glendale Cemetery on U.S. 42 at the eastern limit of the town, has a number of curious markers; one says “John a Griffith was killed by the cars August 22, 1853 a 11 yrs 11 mon”

Another says, “My husband promised my body would be cremated, but other influences prevailed.” South of Cardington U.S. 42 penetrates a rich and gently rolling area of large stock farms.

  • Mount Gilead, 1,871 population, seat of Morrow County was settled in 1817 by Lewis and Ralph Hardenbrook. Their farm was in the center of what was probably the largest tulip-tree forest in the state. The settlement was called Whetstone until 1924 when it was renamed Youngstown.

In 1832 the name was changed again, this time by the Ohio legislature, to honor Mount Gilead,Virginia. Unusually handsome residences and public buildings distinguish thetown. Its important products are pumps, pottery and foundry articles.

The Hydraulic Press Mfg. Plant (visited by appointment) is owned by a company organized in 1883 to meet the need for cider presses capable of a large output. Employing 150 people, the plant now produces all kids of pressure pumps, and maintains branch offices in many parts of the world.

The Victory Shaft, public square, was awarded by the U S Treasury Department to Morrow County for its purchase during the World War of more war savings stamps per capita than any other county in the United States.

Interesting perspective on all three villages.

80 years ago, December, 1938: A Christmas party was held in the Cardington Park on Christmas Eve. Toys and candy were presented to 310 children by Santa Claus (aka John Kientz) New road signs were placed on State Route 529 between Marion County and State Route 61.

50 years ago, December, 1968: Santa Claus greeted and handed out treats to 400 children in the Cardington Park on December 21. Later, he visited nine children at the Parson’s Children home in Mount Gilead and two children who were patients at the Morrow County Hospital.

Thanks to all of you who read this column. I appreciate the support and your comments. I wish each of you a healthy and happy 2019.

By Evelyn Long

Contributing Columnist

Reach us at

Reach us at