FRIENDSBOROUGH — It may be listed officially as an Ohio Ghost Town, but to Carol Stevens this village’s legacy remains alive despite the two centuries that have passed since its founding.
Stevens, her brothers Brent and Bryan Philbrook and sister Pam Miranda established Friendsborough Farm 6 years ago.
“We took the name for the history,” she said.
That took place in December 2013. The land had been in a set-aside; it belongs to the four children and proudly bears the name of the former town.
“My oldest brother said he wanted to use the name Friendsborough, and we all thought that was a great idea,” Carol said.
Friendsborough Farm covers 94.6 acres with corn and soybeans grown on the property, along with a patch of timber.
A large wooden barn remains, which once was used as a dairy operation. They started making ice cream there, then sold the recipe to the Maxwells, who began operating as Riverside Dairy.
Stevens still has the ice cream maker that was used.
Her cousin, Mike Philbrook, is the family historian, carrying a stack of books and records showing the history of the area.
“This history has lots of little pieces,” he said while looking through the pages of several books written about the history of the Moshers and the area.
Friendsborough, also called Friendsboro or Moshers Mill in some annals, is listed as being in both Cardington and Gilead Townships (formerly part of Marion County).
The location is on U.S. 42 at the intersection of Mosher Road (Township Road 144) along the Whetstone Creek. It is referred to in one book as “The Village That Never Was.”
It was in Section 14 of Gilead Township (then Morven) where it crosses Boundary Road. It certainly could have been the Morrow County seat, given its location between Cardington and Mount Gilead, according to “The History of Morrow County, Ohio.”
“It probably would have united the power and population of both the rival villages,” it was written.
The family has copies of the 1822 plat map showing Friendsborough. There were several streets named Hope, Freedom, Peace and Water.
The Greenville Treaty Line ran through Cardington. There are accounts of trading between settlers and Native Americans in this part of the county, Philbrook said.
Remnants of several cemeteries linger in the area, including about a dozen broken headstones in a lightly wooded area off of U.S. 42. Asa Mosher, Bethiah Gifford Mosher and Robert Mosher are buried with relatives in Union Cemetery, which sits south of the highway.
Asa Mosher built the first grist mill next to Whetstone Creek in 1819 where uncle Gideon Mosher’s barn sat. For a time, township elections were held near the mill.
Friendsborough was the first village or town to be laid out in the township. It was platted by Col. James Kilbourn, who founded Worthington in Franklin County and a few smaller towns around Ohio.
But this town didn’t grow because Mosher kept most of the land in the hands of his family. A prime example is he wouldn’t sell one of the lots to John Roy from New Jersey, who wanted to build a general store.
Although it would have split up the Moshers’ land, the refusal was likely a great loss to the town. Roy set up shop at the future site of Mount Gilead and became quite successful there, historical accounts say.
Others followed suit or settled in Cardington, leaving the area in between largely undeveloped.
The Philbrooks and the Moshers are related and are still neighbors, Stevens said.
No. 6 Schoolhouse
The No. 6 Schoolhouse stood from Dec. 12, 1841 until it closed in 1936, records indicate. It was 20-feet by 24-feet, erected on four huge boulders, and cost $186.20 to build. The lot where it sat was an additional $4.06.
Charles D. Mosher was so upset by the school’s closing that he penned a poem titled “Farewell Number Six!” He had gone there for two years and in his writing he bemoaned the “Centralization” of schools.
A tax levy was needed to build the school and it passed by a margin of 11 votes to 9.
The Philbrooks’ mother, Nancy, lives next to the former schoolhouse, which is now a residence. Carol’s grandfather attended class in No. 6. Popular teachers included Iris Hull from 1934-36.
Folks were proud of the iron bell sitting in the belfry. It announced “important messages … take up early in the morning, two recesses and the dinner hour.”
In those days, entrances to the school were gender specific, with boys using the west door and the girls the east door.
Today the village that never was lives on — at least in name — thanks to a farm family’s desire to see it preserved.
This is the 14th story in a series on rural communities in Morrow County.