City of Springfield, Ohio Welcome to the City of Springfield
  History






 
Famous Entertainers
Hail from Springfield:
Garvin Bushell, Jazz
Justin Chambers, Actor
Richard Englefield,
Symphony Composer
Lillian Gish, Actor
Quentin Jackson, Jazz
John Legend
(John Stephens), Soul; R&B
Johnny Lytle, Jazz
Cecil Scott, Jazz
Sir Charles Thompson, Jazz
Tommy Tucker
(Robert Higginbotham), R&B
Earle Warren, Jazz
Jonathon Winters, Actor


History

Notable things have been happening in the Springfield/Clark County area ever since the first settlers began discovering this region of the country more than two centuries ago.

Prehistoric mound builders were probably the first residents of Clark County. Traces of their structures can still be found in Enon.

George Rogers Clark, for whom the county is named, led a band of Kentuckians, including Daniel Boone and Simon Kenton, into this territory and defeated the Shawnee Indians at the Battle of Piqua on August 8, 1780. One of the tribe was a boy of twelve named Tecumseh who later became a famous Shawnee leader dedicated to fighting white settlers. Born in Clark County, emissary to all the Indians of the Northwestern and Southwestern territories, Tecumseh opposed westward migration in the early 19th century. He led unremitting warfare against white settlement in his land.

A member of the Clark Expedition, John Paul, returned to the area and built a home in 1790. He is believed to be the first white settler to locate in what became Clark County.

The Treaty of Greenville in 1795 between the Indians and General Anthony Wayne, in which the Indians agreed to stop hostile acts toward settlers, generally opened this area for settlement. Indian hostility in Ohio ended with General William Henry Harrison's victory at Tippecanoe in 1811. It began the opening of the Northwest Territory.

One of the County's early settlers was James Demint, who erected a cabin at the confluence of Mad River and Lagonda (Buck) Creek in 1799. It was on his land that a plat on the city was made in 1801 by surveyor, James Dougherty. The same year, Griffith Foos built the first tavern which became a famous stagecoach stop. In 1804, the first post office was recorded for Springfield. Simon Kenton built a gristmill and distillery where the old International Harvester plant now stands.

The 412 square miles that became Clark County were mapped out of parts of Champaign, Greene and Madison Counties in 1817. The first meeting of Clark County Commission was held on April 25, 1818. The 1820 census showed a total population of 9,535. By 1827, the tiny frontier hamlet had become a town and was granted a city charter by the State of Ohio in 1850. "Springfield" was named by Simon Kenton's wife for its many springs and abundant waters.

Several factors contributed to the rapid growth of Springfield and Clark County. The Old National Road was completed through Springfield in 1839, and the railroads of the 1840's provided profitable business to the area. Agriculture, then industry, flourished. By the beginning of the Civil War, the two had joined to help Springfield become one of the world's leading manufacturing of agricultural equipment.

International Harvester Company (now Navistar International ) is noteworthy in this regard. The manufacturer of farm machinery became the leading local industry after a native, William Whitely, invented the combined self-raking reaper and mower in 1856.

1st Mayor

Springfield was incorporated as a city March 21, 1850. J. M. Hunt was the first mayor of Springfield. He presided at the first meeting of the city council held May 18, 1850. Mr. Hunt served as mayor through 1853.

City Building

Springfield's impressive City Building was dedicated on February 13, 1890, and served the citizens until the current City Hall was opened on June 2, 1979.

Fire Engine

In 1909, Springfield received its first motorized fire engine. The Webb engine was the second of its type to be used in the United States. It replaced a steam fire engine, a hose wagon, and five horses.


The following are some interesting historical facts about the Springfield area:

  • The first jail in town was guarded by a black bear.
  • Famed outlaw John Dillinger robbed a bank in New Carlisle.
  • For many years, the corner of Main Street and Fountain Avenue was known as "Trapper's Corner." It got the name from an 1830 presidential rally for William Henry Harrison. For the rally, a model log cabin was built atop a wagon and everyone dressed as frontiersmen in support of Harrision.
  • For almost a decade Springfield was known as the "Town at the End of the Pike" because the massive National Road project stalled here due to a lack of federal funding.
  • Famous western performer Anne Oakley gave her first professional performance in Springfield at the Crystal Palace. Many years later, the Marx Brothers also started their careers here.
  • Agriculture has always had a big influence on the area, in 1902 A.B. Graham started the 4H movement in Clark County.
  • At the turn of the 20th century, 54 passenger trains arrived daily in Springfield. And during the early 1900's, 10 different automobiles were produced here: the Bramwell, Brenning, Foos, Frayer-Miller, Kelly Steam, Russell-Springfield and Westcott.
  • Burton J. Westcott, who built the car of the same name, remains a well-known local name today because of the house he had built in 1905 at 1340 East High Street. It was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and is currently undergoing renovation.
  • Springfield has had three nicknames:
    • Champion City (the highly successful Champion reaper was produced here in the 1800's)
    • Home City (the Masons, Odd Fellows, and Knights of Pythias located retirement homes here around the turn of the 20th century)
    • City of Roses (by 1919, Springfield's 33 greenhouses produced more roses than any other city in the world).
  • Two beers have been produced here: Red Head Beer and Blue Head Beer.
  • Springfield was home to former featherweight boxing champion of the world (1959 - 1963), Davey Moore.
  • Springfield produced two Ohio governors:
    • Asa Bushnell - the 40th (1896 - 1900)
    • James Rhodes - the 61st (1963 - 1971) and the 63rd (1975 - 1983)
  • In 1983, "Newsweek" magazine chose Springfield and Clark County as the focus of its 50th anniversary issue, which chronicled the impact of the past 50 years on five local families.