A Brief History of Jeromesville 1815-1965
The village of Jeromesville is steeped in history. Many Accounts of her glorious past can be found in the various early history books of Ashland County. Other information is to be found in the records of the churches, the school, the village council, and family histories and collections.
A Brief History of Jeromesville, Ohio 1803-2003
Ben Shaver became a resident of the Jeromesville area a very short
time before writing his historical pamphlet for our town’s 150th
birthday. Brought to the area as the first Superintendent of Hillsdale
Local Schools in the early 1960’s, he was quick to recognize the
importance of heritage and family to our community. He not only was
an integral part of the celebration in 1965; but also helped meld two
very different villages into one strong educational community. He also
began the tradition of the annual “Three Score and Ten Dinner”
honoring Hillsdale residents over 70 years of age.
We hope our updating of his paper, during our celebration of Ohio’s
bicentennial will honor him and bring much of his research to a new
generation of our citizens.
Early Government and Growth
When the State of Ohio was chartered on March 1,1803, the Federal Land
offices had not yet begun selling sections of what would one day become
Ashland County; but that doesn’t mean the area was uninhabited.
About 1762, the Mohican Indians built a village upon a knoll west of
the Jeromefork, about a half a mile west of the present town of Jeromesville.
This Native American settlement was made up of a council house and about
sixty to eighty pole lodges. It was called Mohican Johnstown, in honor
of the great chief Mohican John.
Many trails traversed this area and an abundant supply of water was
available for man and animals. Native Americans from Mohican Johnstown
cleared the rich bottomland near the Jeromefork and raised corn there
as early as 1762.
About one mile northwest of Mohican Johnstown, a French Canadian named
Jean Baptiste Jerome lived with his Indian wife and daughter in a sturdy
log cabin. Jerome arrived in the area about 1795 and fought with the
Indians against Mad Anthony Wayne in the Battle of Fallen Timbers, near
the present city of Toledo. After settling along the banks of the Jeromefork,
he prospered by farming 30-40 acres of rich bottom land, selling seed
corn to early settlers, trading horses and cattle, and trapping pelt
animals for the European fur trade.
When the local Indians were forcibly moved from the area during the
War of 1812, Jerome soon moved to Huron County, Ohio, where he married
a German woman, and died shortly after. They had one daughter named
Elizabeth, who married Henry Neal. According to information provided
by the Ashland County Genealogical Society, there are believed to be
Soldiers under the command of General Reasin Beall cut a road through
the present village of Jeromesville in 1812. At that time, the area
was part of Wayne County. A blockhouse was built in the fall of 1812
for the protection of the local settlers. Captain Murray was placed
in charge of this blockhouse, which stood on a slight knoll slightly
northeast of where the Lincoln Highway (the Beall Road) crosses the
Jeromefork. This blockhouse provided protection during the Indian uprising
of 1812-1814. A good spring of water was located within the fort, making
it possible for the settlers to stay inside for several days.
The village of Jeromeville (the original spelling) was established on
February 14, 1815. Christian Deardorff and William Vaughn plotted the
lots. Deardorff had purchased most of the southwest quarter of section
5 in Mohican Township from Jean Baptiste for the purpose of establishing
the village. He named the town after the long-time settler.
A United States Post Office was established in Jeromesville on March
27, 1816. It was located in the Hargrave Tavern. This tavern has since
been renovated and is the residence of Nellie Momchilov. This building
served as an important relay station in the old stagecoach days. Official
records in Washington, D.C. list the first postmaster as Constant Lake.
In the 1880’s mail was picked up in West Salem for delivery to
the villages of Red Haw, Rowsburg, Jeromesville, Lakefork, and Funk.
For most of Jeromesville’s history, local citizens served as postmaster,
recently the job has been assigned by the postal service internally.
Our current postmaster is Beth Parsons. Parsons has arranged for the
village to have a special postal cancellation in honor of the Jeromesville
celebration of the Ohio Bicentennial of July 26, 2003.
As Jeromesville continued to grow and prosper, many interesting events
were recorded in fact and legend. One of the most interesting took place
in the early morning hours of November 13, 1833, when “lights
were seen falling, having the appearance of showers of stars.”
Scientists later have verified this date as the time that the earth
passed through the Leonid meteor field. This is recorded as the most
brilliant meteor shower in history. There are those who believe that
the large stone presently in the lawn of the Fickes Funeral Home is
a meteorite from one of these early showers that took place every November
during the middle of 1800’s.
Jeromesville has also been visited by two major floods in its history.
One in 1913 and another on July 4, 1969. Several major fires have also
changed the village. The three most notable ones took place in 1895,1901,and
January 9, 1931. The last destroyed the Ewing Hardware Store on the
southeast corner of the square, plus several surrounding houses. Fire
protection in early times consisted of bucket brigades. After the Ewing
Hardware fire, steps were taken to provide better fire protection. Chemical
tanks were purchased and stored in the old townhouse ready for use,
and a 5,000 gallon storage cistern was built on the site of the lost
hardware store. In recent years that cistern has been replaced with
a large capacity “dry hydrant’. The village’s original
firehouse was erected in 1948 on East South Street near the town park,
and a volunteer fire department was formed. There were 27 charter members
for the department. Roger Hawks served as the first fire chief.
When Jeromesville’s force outgrew the building, a new modern fire
station was built on West North Alley. It was completed in 1976. A large
addition to the building was completed in 1997. Funding for the department
comes primarily from taxes collected by the Jeromesville Fire District
that was formed in 1975. Harold Landman has been the village’s
representative to the three-man fire district board (that also includes
representatives for Mohican and Perry Townships) since the district
was formed. The fire station houses eight pieces of fire and emergency
equipment and currently lists a total of 48 firefighters, which includes
15 emergency medical technicians.
Ashland County was created February 25, 1846 from parts of Wayne, Lorain,
Huron, and Richland Counties. The Ohio General Assembly had elected
Edmund Ingmand of Jeromesville; John R. Riznor; and George H Stewart
associate judges for the new county. They met in Jeromesville on March
3, 1846. The first court session held in Ashland County took place in
Jeromesville according to a news article published in the 1910 edition
of the Ashland Press.
The first official act of the judges was to canvass the vote for county
seat. Ashland was declared the winner with 2682 votes compared to Hayesville’s
1846. The building where court was held in Jeromesville was on the site
of the former Jeromesville restaurant on West Main Street. The present
building was constructed by Frank Smalley to house his business and
the village post office in the early 1900's. The original house on that
site was moved to South High Street near the current town limits. It
is presently owned by Earl Heifner.
A list of early mayors was included in the original version of this
book. Those interested may view it on the village website at http://jeromesville.netfirms.com.
Our current mayor is Edwin Blough. Council members are Jane “Suzie”
Foster (council president), William Jolliff, Tamara Shade, Dale Ables,
Gail Spade, and James Bonnell.
The earliest town hall remembered was built on Spice alley by Clem Ewing
in 1912, at the cost of $425. This small building is presently used
for storage by Delagrange Antiques. Until the summer of 2002, recent
council sessions were held in the village’s original firehouse
on East South Street. Former Mayor Tom West was the first mayor to preside
over council meetings at the new council chambers located at 181 South
High Street (near the Jeromesville Cemetery).
While Theodore M. George was mayor in 1895, an ordinance was passed
granting the Postal Telegraph Cable Company the right to establish and
operate a line in Jeromesville. About six months later, permission was
granted to the Farmers Telephone Company to bring telephone service
to town. In 1897, the People’s Telephone Company was formed and
permitted to operate. Later, the Farmers Telephone Company and the Star
Line both served the community. The Northern Ohio Telephone took over
the Star Line and was serving the community in 1965. Several changes
in name have taken place since that time, and Jeromesville currently
receives local phone service from Verizon. Touch-tone keypads have replaced
the dial telephones that came to Jeromesville in 1958. Many older residents
remember crank telephones, prior to that date, phones were connected
by the local operator (who worked from the building that is now Earl
and Linda Heifner’s residence and beauty shop at 26 South High
street). Today communication in Jeromesville also includes internet
access from a variety of carriers and cable television provided by Time-Warner
In 1911, while Walter H. Carl was mayor, permission was granted to Dr.
M. C. McClain and sons to supply natural gas to the residents of Jeromesville.
The McClain’s brought the line to Jeromesville from the Ashland
County Infirmary north of Hayesville (currently Heartland Home). This
operation was later taken over by the Ohio Fuel and Gas Company and
now is part of Columbia Gas of Ohio. Columbia Gas continues to supply
the lines serving the village.
Electricity came to Jeromesville in 1923. A small stock company was
formed and brought the power lines from Shenberger’s corner, northwest
to town. This company was known as the Mohican Light and Power Company.
It was sold to the Ohio Pubic Service Company, which later consolidated
with Ohio Edison. Ohio Edison still supplies power to Jeromesville’s
citizens in 2003.
Drinking water in Jeromesville was originally supplied by several small
springs and dug wells. The earliest known water system was developed
by the McClain brothers who piped water from a spring northeast of town
to several residences in the northern part of the village.
Later, Walter Carl brought water from a spring to “Jackson Hill
Hollow” to residents of Plum Street. He later sold out to Milton
Shafer. In April 1936, the present reservoir and water lines became
a reality with the assistance of the PWA at a cost of about $30,000.
A. E. Newcomer was mayor during this time. The reservoir contains 85,000
gallons of water. A chlorination system was installed in 1962.
Mayor D. C. Doerrer, in 1915, was instrumental in securing council’s
approval to pave Main Street. The work was done by Herring and Son of
Mansfield, using Wooster bricks. The project included substantial concrete
curbs along both sides of the street. In 1923, while Mr. Doerrer was
still mayor, High Street was paved comparably to Main Street and storm
sewers were installed.
Currently council is seeking funds to provide the citizens of the village
with a wastewater treatment system.
The church has always played a prominent part in the lives of the residents
of Jeromesville. Surely much of the prosperity of the community is the
result of the Christian ideals practiced by its citizens. Three churches
presently exist within the village limits.
The Presbyterian Church was organized early in 1817 and was dissolved
in 1892. This was a rather small congregation with never more than sixty
communicants. William Mathews was the first pastor. The church building
was located on land that is now part of the Jeromesville Cemetery. In
1893 the building was moved to the north side of West Main Street and
was used by the Alleman family as a grocery store for two generations.
Dale and Clara Bodager currently operate a gift shop and realty business
from this location.
The Methodist Episcopal Church (now the United Methodist Church) was
organized in 1820 when a log church was built. For six years previously,
services were held in a private cabin or forest clearings. Among the
original members were Luke Ingmand, Edmund Ingmand, and Robert F. Caples,
Samuel Warner, John Naylor, their wives, Mrs. Ezra Warner, and her two
daughters. In 1858, a new frame church was erected. The present frame
church was built in 1882. This building was remodeled and changed considerably
in 1915. A Sunday School wing to the north, vestibules, the choir loft,
and beautiful stained glass windows were added at this time. John Lutz
was chairman of the building committee. Alvin Drushel and Milo Weygandt
were the builders. Rev. John D. Kaho worked right along with the laborers
during the project.
The sanctuary was redecorated and a social room was added in the basement
in 1950. In 1952, the pipe organ was installed. A new educational wing
was added in 1959 when Richard Yaussy was pastor. Consecration services
were held September 20, 1959. A new parsonage was built in 1963.
Rev. Beryl Baum is currently serving as JUMC pastor. Administrative
Council chairman is Jay Wells. Ted Paullin serves as lay leader and
the Education Committee is lead by Ilene Cutlip. Church trustees are
Thom Leidigh, Kent McGovern, Jo Campbell, Ray McIntire, Doug Paullin,
Don Rowland, Richard Briggs, Betty Louden, and Duane Garn.
The Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jeromesville was organized
on May 17, 1847 at the Meng Meeting House. The Rev. C. C. Guenther,
assisted by Bishop William J. Sloan, gathered a group of 17 people to
form the congregation. The Meng Meeting House stood at the intersection
on Ashland County Road 251 and Perry Township Road 1650. A small cemetery
still exists on this spot.
In 1858, under the leadership of Rev. David Smith, a small one-room
brick church was built on lots 68 and 69 in Jeromesville (the present
Rev. Rufus Halverstadt was pastor when the current church was constructed
in the mid 1920’s. The roof of the old church was removed May
18, 1925 and the cornerstone for the new building was set August 9 of
that year. Much of the west wall of the old church remained standing
and was encased into the new structure.
Freight service was soon to be abandoned by the L. A. & S. Railroad.
So materials were hurriedly brought in for the construction. The freight
included two railroad cars of lumber, two cars of 4 x 8 x 12 inch building
blocks, and 110,000 bricks. The stained glass windows came form Swinton
Art Glass Company of Toledo. The building was dedicated September 26,
1926. Plans for the sanctuary included space for a pipe organ. In 1983,
a two manual six rank pipe organ was purchased from the Wick organ Company
of Highland, Illinois.
The church owns a parsonage on Plum Street, constructed during the pastorate
of Rev. F. Raymond White. It is not currently in use and has been rented
out. Pastor Alan Smearsoll is serving as pastor of the Lutheran congregation
in 2003. The president of the church council is Sue Bicker. Scott Moreland
is vice president. The church secretary is Cassandra Brown. Membership
(including associate members) stands at 279, with an average weekly
attendance of 71.
The Jeromesville Christian Church was organized in 1834. The first meeting
place was about a mile north of the village. In 1843, the congregation
built a log church on the John Hootman farm, a short distance north
of the present building. Ten years later, a new building was started,
but destroyed by a storm before it was completed. The congregation went
ahead with plans to build the church and held the first worship service
in the new building in May of 1854. This is the oldest building still
in use as a church in Jeromesville. The membership at the time of construction
was 111. Henry Dixon was the pastor and elders were John Hootman and
In 1862, Richard Winbigler came to pastor the congregation of the Jeromesville
Christian Church. Many of his descendants still live in the Jeromesville
area. The church was extensively remodeled in 1914 and again in 1949.
The church parsonage was completed in 1903. Charles W. Perry was the
first pastor to live there.
The present pastor at the Christian Church is Vince Cable. Elders are
Steve Young (chairman of the board) and Bob Freelon. The church deacons
are Allen Aber, Bruce Swaisgood, Bud Kandel, Bob Gibbs, Ernie Cline,
and Jim Belcher. Deaconesses are Sandy Swaisgod, Lori Allenbaugh, Deloris
Cline, Karen Gibbs, Sharon Paullin, Karen Freelon and Deb Schoonover.
The Oldest surviving business building in Jeromesville is the “Hargrave
Tavern”, named after the builder and original owner, Richard Hargrave.
This is reported to be the first tavern inn west of the Alleghenies
and was an important relay station for stagecoaches. It remained as
an inn for 75 years.
Another early business establishment was the old Flour mill, which was
originally operated by waterpower provided by the Jeromefork. The mill
was built by John Webster and his sons near the spot where the Lincoln
Highway crosses the Jeromefork on the north side of West Main Street.
A brick kiln, under the management of Frank Ridgley was in operation
for a number of years just west of the Hargrave Tavern. Bricks from
that kiln were used to construct the tavern and the village school that
is currently Fickes Furniture Store.
Charles Frary, a funeral director, started his professional establishment
in 1890. He later sold out to W. S. Fickes in 1905. The Fickes Funeral
Home is still operated by members of his family.
While the Beall Trail was of great importance in the early settlement
of Jeromesville, it did not provide the needed transportation for its
continued growth. The railroad from Custaloga to Funk was extended to
Jeromesville in 1898. Later it was continued to Ashland and Lorain.
This railroad provided the product transportation for the highly productive
farmland surrounding the town, as well as the imports needed for the
businesses. With the advent of paved highways, however, the railroad
ceased to operate in 1925.
Many businesses have come and gone since the time Jean Baptiste Jerome
sold seed corn to the early settlers. Before the 1900’s, Jeromesville
boasted two dry goods stores, two hotels, a carriage factory, two cabinet
shops, a harness shop, three blacksmith shops, several shoe shops, one
wagon shop, a tailor, several groceries, two doctors, a mill, and a
Businesses currently within the village include a grocery store, three
antique shops, a cabinetmaker, a general store, and insurance agency,
a print shop, an auto dealership, a pizza house, a pub & grill,
a muffler shop, a gas station that includes auto repair and fabric,
an auto body shop, a welding shop, a contracting company, two beauty
shops, a bank, an upholsterer, a funeral home, a furniture store, an
electrician, an appliance repair business, a septic service, a guitar
shop, two gift shops, a realty, and a massage therapist.
The citizens of Jeromesville have always taken a great interest in their
youth and they have gone to great lengths to provide them with proper
training. For many years, the children of Jeromesville attended school
in a small log building near the present Jeromesville Cemetery. Later,
a two-story frame building was built a few feet east of where the present
Fickes Furniture Store stands. This building was mysteriously destroyed
by fire in 1889 and replaced by the brick building, which is now the
Fickes Furniture Store. The bricks were made in Ridgley’s kiln.
An addition was made to the building in 1910. When the enrollment of
the school reached 135 in 1916, it was decided that a new building would
be needed for the elementary students. The elementary school was located
on the site of the present town park. Only two years after its completion,
additional rooms had to be added. Those who attended this school described
it as resembling two one-room schoolhouses joined together at a porch.
The building that most residents identify as “Jeromesville School”
currently houses Hillsdale Middle School. It was constructed in 1927,
at which time both the other school building were abandoned. A group
of interested citizens, under the leadership of Lee Mills, bought the
property where the elementary school was located and turned it over
to the town for a recreational park. It is still used for this purpose
and is enjoyed by young and old alike. It now bears the name of Lewis
Memorial Park to honor Dr. A. Deane Lewis, who was the last doctor to
maintain a practice in the village. He served the community from 1938-1974.
A shelter house was constructed in the park by the Jeromesville Lions
Club in 1963. It is in great demand for graduation parties, summertime
reunions, Church festivals, and community events such as the annual
Memorial Day chicken barbeques and Jeromesville Homecoming.
The building that had been Jeromesville Elementary School before 1927
was moved to Funk, where it is currently the Funk Store.
The enrollment continued to grow at Jeromesville School. The building
housed the educational facilities for all twelve grades. In 1953, a
fine addition was added that included the cafeteria and larger rest
rooms as well as added classroom space. Consolidation to form the Hillsdale
school District in the early 1960’s brought a new high school
building for Jeromesville and Hayesville students in the fall of 1965.
The last year all twelve grades attended Jeromesville School (1963-1964)
the enrollment of 561, quite a growth rate since the peak enrollment
of 135 in the original brick building. Today Hillsdale Middle School
classrooms are filled with 385 students in grades 5-8. The Hillsdale
School District educated a total of 1180 students in 2003.
A considerable part of the school’s growth was due to the move
to centralize education. The first major step toward centralization
was made in 1918, when the Ashland County Board of Education served
notice to M. D. Weygant (president of Jeromesville School) and T. J.
Heikel (president of the Mohican Township Rural School District) that
a new school district was created including Jeromesville village and
certain parts of Mohican Township. Other small districts joined this
district until eventually it included all of Mohican Township and parts
of Lake, Perry, and Montgomery Townships in Ashland County and a portion
of Plain Township in Wayne county. This was the district that made the
last merger with Hayesville Schools to form Hillsdale.
The school steadily increased in stature and reputation until it eventually
became well know as one of the outstanding small schools in the State
of Ohio. This was accomplished by sound school leaders, and the confidence
and support of a community that believes in the value of education.
Early Jeromesville School masters and superintendents are listed in
the original version of this book. Those who have left Hillsdale since
the consolidation are Ben Shaver 1961-1973, Gene Yeater 1973-1979, Ralph
Roshong 1979-1985, Arthur Eubanks 1985-1989, Jim Mc Kinley 1989-1991,
Robert Spicer (interim) 1991, Gary Smetzer 1992-1993, and Joel Roscoe
Members of the current school board are Wendell Pidgeon (president),
W. E. Anderson, Ted Sours, Kim Edwards, and Kenneth Schuck.
Several civic organizations are active in the area. The Jeromesville
Lions Club was chartered January 5, 1944 with 35 charter members. The
Lions annually co-sponsor the Jeromesville Homecoming and a Christmas
concert at Hillsdale High School. The Lions fund numerous community
projects through these fund raisers.
Jeromesville’s American Legion Post 749 has been active for well
over 50 years. The post and its auxiliary hold the annual Easter egg
hunt in town, supply flag bearers and color guard for the Memorial Day
Parade and Veteran’s Day assemblies at Hillsdale Schools, elect
Miss Poppy and her court, and sponsor the annual Americanism tests for
high school students.
The Jeromesville Community Fire Department and its auxiliary co-sponsor
the Jeromesville Homecoming and staff the Memorial Day chicken barbeque
when not fighting fires.
Other community organizations include the newly formed Jeromesville
Growth Association, Mohican Teepee Tenders, three active garden clubs,
the Jeromesville Youth League (baseball and softball), and the Boy Scouts.
Jeromesville has continued to grow and prosper since its early meager
beginnings. Her citizens are from hardy stock. They believe in the American
way of life --- are confident in themselves, respectful to others, and
faithful to their God.
The original sources for much of what is included in this booklet are:
A brief History of Jeromesville 1815-1965 by Ben Shaver
Ashland County History
Ashland county History by Hill
Ashland county History by Baughman
Ashland County, Ohio Research Aid # 6, Mohican Township
Ashland Press news clippings
Methodist Church History compiled by Margaret Shaner
Lutheran Church History compiled my Naomi Lachica
Christian Church History Material Provided by Dale Bodager
Ingmand information from Betty Hange
Huron County History sources
And the memories of Jeromesville citizens