Richland Co., Ohio


Historical Information

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source:  Mansfield News, 05 September 1903


Submitted by Jean and Faye


History of Richland County

By A. J. Baughman



Ganges was platted on section 31, Bloominggrove township, in 1815, by William Trucks and Daniel Ayres.  It was first called Trucksville, but the name has since been changed to Ganges.  The town was laid out with a public square in the center.

Ganges is situated on the Blackfork of the Mohican and has a unique history.

At an early day a road had been opened from the south through Mansfield to the lake, thus opening a market for grain and other produce.  Messrs. Trucks and Ayres followed this new road and located on the Blackfork, entering land on what is now the southwestern corner of Bloominggrove township.  Where this road crossed the Blackfork they thought would be a good place for a town.  Mr. Trucks erected a cabin here upon land he had entered, and this became the first house in the new town.  He also built a mill upon the low land along the Blackfork at the northern part of the town.  The Ayres also built cabins on their land and were men of influence in that part of the township.  Daniel Ayres was a justice of the peace for many years.  His brother, James, erected a hotel on the town site and did a thriving business.  The little town started forward with bright prospects, the road upon which it was located becoming a state road and was soon a great and important highway, over which hundreds of wagons, loaded with grain from the older counties south passed every week in grain seasons.

The first post office in the township was located here, and the first orchard planted in the township was by Messrs. Trucks and Ayres, they having purchased the young trees from the famous Johnny Appleseed.  The village grew rapidly, and at one time it aspired to be a county-seat, with fair prospects of success, which were never realized.  So great was the hotel business that a second building was erected for that purpose  C. R. Hooker, late of Mansfield, now deceased, was one of the early proprietors of this hotel or tavern, as they were then called.  In addition to these hotels, four stages were in operation at one time, with other business in proportion.  Trucksville appeared to be on the high road to prosperity.  The first of these stores was started by Frances Graham, who daily had opportunities of sending to the lake for his goods, and forwarding his produce to that market.  Mr. Graham later became one of the leading merchants of Ashland.  He was the father of Mrs. J. H. Black, of South Main street, Mansfield.

Ganges was an important town on the stage line between Mansfield and the lake.  It was a relay station, and while the horses were being changed passengers had an opportunity of regaling themselves with food and drink.  The great traffic between the interior of Ohio and the lake passed through Ganges, and it has been said that at certain seasons of the year a hundred or more teams would stay there over night at one time.  Problems confront every age.  At that time they were those of market and transportation.  Concerning these a prefatory statement is necessary to explain the situation then existing, the anticipation of the future, and why Ganges never came up to what was expected of her.


The policy of internal improvements was advocated by Washington, especially a road to connect the Potomac with the Ohio, which was afterwards accomplished by what is called the “National Road.”  Everybody was in favor of internal improvements, the only question of disagreement being whether such work should be done by the general or by the sate government.  Closely associated with the question of turnpikes, was that of canals.

As early as 1816 Jeremiah Morrow was placed at the head of a committee in the United States senate in whom was referred so much of the president’s message as related to roads and canals, and on the sixth of February of that year, he presented a report recommending a general system of internal improvements.  When Mr. Morrow’s term in the senate expired in 1819, he declined a re-election and returned to private life.  But public sentiment was against his retirement, and he was appointed a canal commissioner in 1820 and again in 1822.  As, however, he was elected governor in this latter year, he declined to act as commissioner.  During the next four years he

occupied the gubernatorial chair, he was independently encouraging the connection of roads and promoting the great enterprise of connecting the Ohio river with Lake Erie by means of a canal - an enterprise that had a ______ influence over the future organization ____ation of Cleveland _____ _____ the grade of the state in the Union

The two ___ ____ _____ _____ ____ construction of the Ohio and Erie canal, and were secured by a compromise of the “school party” and the canal party as certain factions in the Ohio legislature were then called, and neither of which could secure an enactment without the other.  The school party wanted a free school system and the canal party wanted canals constructed as waterways for commerce.  The two parties worked together and won both schools and canals.

On the fourth of July, 1825, ground was broken for the Ohio and Erie canal, DeWitt Clinton assisted Governor Morrow at the ceremony.  It required several years’ work for the construction of the canal, the first boat - a passenger packet - reached Massillon in 1827.  The great value of this canal to the farmers along the valleys through which it passed cannot be stated, not only along this route, but miles away its benefits were felt by opening markets for grain nearer than those upon the lake Massillon and other towns along the canal became grain markets. Especially was this the case at Canal Fulton, ten miles above Massillon, which became one of the great grain markets of north-central Ohio.  This caused considerable trade to be changed from the lake by way of Ganges to the canal at Massillon and Canal Fulton, principally to the latter place where large warehouses were built, two of which are yet standing as monuments to the market age of the past.  The third story of one of these warehouses is now used as an opera house, and its size, furnishings and equipments would do credit to a town of much larger size.

Canal Fulton was the former home of John W. Wagner, the Mansfield hardware merchant, who began his business life as a mule-driver on the towpath as was also the late General Garfield at the same time.  Mr. Wagner by industry and perseverance has attained a commanding position in the mercantile world, as well as an enviable place as a man and citizen.  And James A. Garfield became president of the United States.

Upon the opening of the canal traffic, hundreds of Richland county farmers hauled their grain to Canal Fulton instead of to the lake, the distance being somewhat shorter, and gave them the advantage of rival markets.  This change affected Ganges and its trade.  But yet, Ganges had hope of better days - of a branch of the canal being constructed to that place.

The legislature had passed a law declaring the Blackfork a navigable stream up as far as Ganges.  The branch known as the Walhounding canal, started at Rosco and passing through Loudonville and Perrysville was to end at Ganges, but was only constructed a distance of twenty-five miles, ending at Rochester.  Rosco was formerly called Calderburg, for its founder.  The name was subsequently changed to Roscoe, in honor of William Roscoe, the English author.  The town is situated on the Walhounding or Mohican river , a short distance above its junction with the Tuscarawas.

Gen. William McLaughlin was a member of the Ohio State senate from his district from 1836 to 1841, inclusive, and was a friend to the Walhounding-Blackfork canal scheme, and an able advocate of the measure.  The plan to construct this Roscoe-Ganges canal would have been successfully carried through, but there came rumors that railroads would be built in the near future and that they would revolutionize the passenger and fright carrying trade of the country, all of which were fulfilled, and therefore, the northern terminus of the Walhounding canal remains at Rochester instead of being extended up the Blackfork to Ganges.

Had the canal been built and old conditions continued, Ganges would have been the metropolis of the central part of Ohio between the “divide” and Lake Erie.  Large warehouses would have been erected and the water-power of the Blackfork been utilized to operate mills and factories, and in the schemes for new counties prevalent at that time, Richland would have probably been divided from east to west instead of from north to south, and Ganges would have probably been the county-seat of the new county to the north, but things went the other way and even an effort was recently made to deprive the little village of its post office.

Instead of caravans and stages passing through the town as of old, now carriages, automobiles and other modern vehicles are hurried along upon days of picnics at Holtz’s Grove, for people neither knowing or caring about the history of Ganges, which was named after the famous river of the Hindus.

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