History of Christiansburg (Village), Champaign County, OH

From: History of Champaign County, Ohio
Judge Evan P. Middleton, Supervising Editor
B. F. Bowen & Company Inc. (Publisher)
Indianapolis, Indiana 1917


Among the early settlers in Jackson township was Joshua Howell, who emigrated from near Christiansburg, Virginia. He entered quite a large tract of land in the southwestern part of the county and came to this new country with the idea of making it his permanent home. Without any selfish motive in mind, and for the general welfare of the pioneers, he thought that the settlers in this part of the county should have a trading point.

Thus he was impelled to lay out a village site upon his farm and after considering several prospective sites chose the one now occupied by the town. The site was platted for him on October 18, 1817, and consisted of forty two lots, including all the ground between what is now East and Dayton streets and Pike and Westville streets. But the hopes of the proprietor were slow to be realized because three years after the time the village was platted there were only six little log houses scattered here and there. In fact, the growth was so slow that the pessimist would have declared that as soon as the cabins rotted down the village of Christiansburg would be no more.

For nearly twelve years the size of the village remained almost stationary. But in 1829 there came a young man to the village to start a Store. Because of his business ability the little hamlet seemed to take on renewed life. This man was no other than William McCrea, the father of Mrs. Belle McCrea Shofstall, who now lives in the old family homestead in the eastern part of town. McCrea's father, who was one of the early settlers in this community, was a large landowner. William McCrea, the boy, attended school for a few years north of what is now Christiansburg. After completing his schooling he went to Cincinnati, where he met a dentist whose name was Williard and a physician, named Menchie. When they heard of the opportunities in this vicinity, they persuaded him to return, taking with him a few dry goods to sell. After he reached the village, he found that his stock of goods was entirely inadequate, for the townsmen immediately bought out his whole supply. This so encouraged him that he erected a small building and opened a store. This building, which was the first frame structure in the village, stood where E. W. Hollis' residence stands today. It was built in 1829. His stock was composed of groceries, dried meats and fruits, nails, glassware, hardware, medicine, millinery, and pewter ware. A story is told how one of the society women of the village, wishing to entertain her friends at a sumptuous dinner, bought some tea, but without the requisite knowledge as to its use. The article did not prove satisfactory and upon her return to the store she was not slow in telling McCrea the truth of the matter and what she thought of tea. She had put the tea in a pot with meat with the expectation that the meat would be highly flavored.


When the future prospects of the village began to grow brighter, people were naturally attracted to it and in two or three years from the time McCrea had opened his store the population of the little hamlet had almost doubled. These circumstances made way for more business enterprises. Among the first was a tavern which was built just across the street south of McCrea's store and operated by Abiel Smith, who was a native of Main. Other industries that were started during the early thirties were a tannery which was run by a man named William Kelley, and a wagon shop that stood on the southwest corner of Main and Pike street and operated by John Rogers. Charles Rogers also had a wagon shop. From about 1835 to 1840 a tavern was owned by David Kyle who made his place of business one of the most attractive spots in this section of the country. The village was supplied with a blacksmith shop as early as 1818 when Jesse Julian opened a small. one. The next smith was a man named Gridley who came in in 1820, but whose prices were usually as much as the article repaired was worth.

The first physicians in the little settlement were Indian "medicine men," but their treatment and cures were quite unsatisfactory to the white settlers. As early as 1818 two brothers who represented themselves to be traveling physicians stopped over, but their stay was of short duration. Probably the first real physician was a Doctor Van Mewter, who came in the early twenties. He made way for Doctor Marshall, who came in 1832, and Doctor McFarland, who came about 1838. Another early physician was Doctor Muller, a Scotchman and the grandfather of George Edmonson. Doctor Musson came soon after Doctor Muller.

A man who was responsible for making Christiansburg quite a noted point during the pioneer days was Noah French who came here from Pennsylvania. He was a cabinet maker by trade and made all the coffins that were used within a radius of fifty miles from Christiansburg.


As the village grew in population and commercial importance the inhabitants were desirous of becoming independent of the township. This led to the final incorporation of the village in 1835, and with the election of the following officers: ____ Bouinger, mayor; Silas Overton, John Corbley, Henry Crist, Noah Howell and Silas Kelley, councilmen. But the support of a municipality proved too strenuous and within less than a year's time the charter was relinquished. No further attempts were made toward incorporation until March 2, 1914. At that time a petition, signed by ninety citizens living within the limits of the village, was filed with the county commissioners asking incorporation. Remonstrances with the usual complaint were filed soon afterward. The county commissioners, however, refused to recognize the incorporation and the local authorities were forced to mandamus the county to legalize their acts. The case was in the court of common pleas from June until December, 1915, when the court recognized the legality of the acts of the local authorities and recognized the incorporation. Grant Strouse was the first mayor and served until the first Monday in January of 1916. He was succeeded by A. J. Bright, the present incumbent. The other town officials include the following: E. E. Furrow, marshal; C. O. Hill, clerk; Bert Richeson, treasurer; Ralph Foster, J. S. Black, Ezra Jenkins, M. Shell, B. W. Hyde and L. W. Williams, councilmen.


Almost from the beginning the little village was amply supplied with school facilities. The first school house within the limits of the hamlet was known as the White school, so named because the building was painted white. This structure was of the usual pioneer type and stood on Monroe street. As the number of pupils increased the little structure became inadequate and in time was replaced by what is known as the Red school house, which stood at the east edge of town. Carrie Lind is remembered as one of the teachers in the school. The next building was a three room structure which stood on the site of the present school building. Among the first teachers employed in this school were M. T. Deaton (principal), Estella Thomas and Ida Carpenter. The building is now owned by Job Gray and is used as a residence. The present school building was erected in 1886. T. W. Draper is the present superintendent of schools and under his supervision the school system has risen to a high standard of efficiency. Under the present school system it is customary for teachers to teach in the school as long as their work is satisfactory, but not so during the pioneer days. In no instance did a teacher remain more than one year, and often several teachers were required to complete the school term. Some of the earliest teachers were Alexander Jordan, Maggie Wilson, a man named McCalaster, who was quite a hard drinker; Billie Stapleton, a lame man; Milton Stratton, a man of the name of Kelley and Sherman Smith.

Of the old pioneer buildings only four remain standing. Three of these are log houses used as residences and the other, built in 1839, is the store building occupied by C. S. Leffell. The building has undergone several changes since its erection, but still bears the earmarks of pioneer architecture. Both the Masonic and Odd Fellows secret societies were organized in this building.


What is generally conceded to be the first orchard in Champaign county was planted by Joshua Howell on what is now the McCrea homestead. This orchard which was set out in 1809, just back of the barn that is now standing on the land owned by Mrs. Belle McCrea Shofstall, was not started from young trees but from seeds. When it was in its prime, it attracted attention far and wide, since it was one of the very few ochards of the state of Ohio. The orchard finally disappeared in 1871.

What is now the beautiful home of Mrs. Belle McCrea Shofstall was. formerly a favorite camping ground of the Indians. It was there that they pitched their wigwams, held their war councils and made terms of peace with the white settlers. Although the Indians did not remain many years after the advent of the whites into this section, their rude houses remained for almost a decade after their departure.

The first religious organization in the vicinity of Addison, later known as Christiansburg, was a Presbyterian congregation organized at a point two and one half miles west of the village. When the organization was established and the church was built cannot be ascertained, but from the best information obtainable the society was discontinued about 1846.

It was at this time that the first religious body was formed in the village. It seems that the members of the church already mentioned joined with the Presbyterians of Christiansburg in forming the first church. The church building, now occupied by the Christian congregation, was erected at a cost of one thousand eight hundred dollars. The society was quite active and services were held every Sunday and the edifice was always crowded to its capacity. Moreover, the society owned a fine library. Among the pastors was a Reverend Smith, and a Reverend Martin. To the latter is given the credit of delivering one of the most patriotic addresses ever heard in the village. The Civil War had just begun and there were a few Rebel sympathizers in the vicinity whose attitude gave rise to the outspoken utterances of the pastor. The church had an active existence until about 1872, after which it gradually became dormant because most of the leading members had passed away. The church property was purchased by Jacob Furrow and George McCullough, leading members of the Christian society, which has occupied the church ever since.


That the village grew very slowly is evidenced by the business interests that were there in 1858, given as follows: E. J. Heffner, inn; Manoah Howell, store; L. A. Marshall, merchant tailor; W. Kelley, harness shop. Fourteen years later, or in 1872, the business interests had become more extensive and included the following: L. A. Marshall, dry goods; Isaac P. Pond, merchant tailor; Manoah Howell, merchant; E. F. Warner, harness maker; A. E. Pond, carriage manufacturer; John Rogers, wagon maker; D. C. Howell, carpenter; O. W. Hoard, attorney; George Simmons, cattle and stock dealer; Thomas and. Ross, tiling. The business and professional interests at the present time include the following: I. Baker, city garage; J. B. Black, concrete tile and supply company; J. W. Dobbins, lumber; Elmer Downing, barber; M. R. Drake, insurance and automobiles; Farmers and Merchants Bank; J. W. Harmon, meat market; C. A. Hill & Son, shoe store; Dr. W. H. Hill, veterinary; Hollis & Gabriel, pumps and well drilling; John Huddleson, restaurant; Dr. W. F. Hyde, physician; Dr. W. B. Hyde, physician; J. W. Julian, barber; Tiffin Julian, repair shop; Thomas Knull, pool room; A. C. Leffel, general store; C. S. Leffel, general store; M. E. Maxon, grocery; James H. Miller, drugs; J. C. Richeson & Son, furniture; Rust & McDonald, blacksmiths; J. M. Saylor, garage; Dr. J. M. Saylor, veterinary; M. Shell, grocery; G. W. Shepard & Son, elevator; E. Smith, music store; R. O. Whitaker, Christiansburg Herald; Howard Wilgus, hardware; L. W. Williams, grocery.


Numerous townsite additions have been made since the original plat of Christiansburg was filed. The proprietors and dates of each addition include the following: Ross & McCrea, November 25, 1831; J. Howell, December 22, 1831; J. Merrill, June 22, 1839; William B. McCrea, March 26, 1840; James Smith, May 1, 1846; Onick & McCullough, November 16, 1852; Daniel Howell, March 31, 1853; Stephens & Shepard, July 22, 1899; Hollis, Howard & Schell, December 1, 1908.

The town has made greater progress since 1903 than during all of the years of its previous existence. It was in this year that the Springfield, Troy & Piqua traction line was built, hence the village was opened to all the avenues of trade and commerce. The largest and best elevator in the county was built by Adam Bright, at a cost of eleven thousand dollars. It was this business enterprise that made Christiansburg one of the chief grain markets in this section.


When the postoffice was established at Christiansburg about 1830, James Smith was appointed postmaster. Among his successors are the following: William McCrea, D. N. Jones, William Kelley, Noah French, James Smith, I. P. Pond, L. D. Marshall, John F. Overton, William Marshall, William Hill, A. C. Leffell (who sered twenty three years) and M. T. Deaton, the present incumbent, who assumed the duties of the office on July 7, 1914. This postoffice is of the fourth class and the receipts for the last report, exclusive of money orders, amounted to one hundred and fifty five dollars and forty eight cents. The office has three incoming and three out going mails, daily, whereas eighty years ago the village was fortunate to receive one mail a week. At this early date postage on a letter cost from twelve and one half cents to fifty cents, according to the distance it was sent.

From the time the postoffice was established, it has been known as Christiansburg. The town, however, was commonly known as Addison until the village was incorporated in June, 1915, when it assumed the name of the postoffice.


The village of Darnell, if it may be called such, is located one and one half miles northwest of Thackeray on the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton railroad. It was laid out in 1893 by a man named Darnell, who thought that this vicinity could easily support a village, as there was no commercial center in close proximity. However, there was another man not far distant who had a similar idea and this was no other than Mr. Thackery, who was a very prominent man in this locality. He decided that he would like to be the founder and proprietor of a village and lost no time in laying out the site of what is now the village of Thackery.

Immediately the question of supremacy entered into the affairs of the two villages. Because, however, of Thackery's influence in the community and with the railroad officials, Darnell was destined to be merely a village on paper. All that remains to give the passerby the hint that a village was really intended for this place is a switch track and a store, the latter at present owned by Mrs. Valentine. Although the aspirations of this place to become a town are doomed to failure, it has become an important local grain market, for a number of farmers of the vicinity sell their grain at this point.

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