by Tami Wenger, Gloryland Ministries
Approximately 2000 people attended the #WLSStrong Appreciation Luncheon on Saturday, March 11th in Urbana, at the Champaign County Fairgrounds. The event was an opportunity for the West Liberty community to show their gratitude and say thank you to the West Liberty Salem staff and first responders for their bravery on January 20th of this year after the shooting at the high school.
That Friday was a day filled with waiting. Of not knowing. Wanting to find out what exactly was happening. Were the kids and staff safe? The two ambulances that went to the hospital to take care of the wounded. The families waited to pick up their child or children at the Lions Ball Park. While the West Liberty Community waited and prayed, the West Liberty Salem Staff and first responders went into action working tirelessly to keep our children safe in the midst of such a terrible situation.
But from this came good things. Father Tim West with the West Liberty Fire Department and Sheriff Department said, “The best part of living in a small community, everybody chipped in to do what needed to be done.” Each school bus that carried our precious cargo to the ball park were escorted by two police/sheriff cars. Parents anxiously waiting, finally got to hug their child or children and realized their prayers were answered. The support West Liberty community received wasn't just locally it was world wide. People we didn't know were praying. Facebook was flooded with a sea of orange and black and signs were popping up all over West Liberty. Several businesses were giving away free food and drinks. Our hearts were forever changed. If anything West Liberty is a much stronger community. Tiger Strong!
The Appreciation Luncheon was a chance to say thanks to West Liberty Salem staff and first responders for taking such good care of all our children. In one building pizza, sandwiches, green beans, slaw, and many delicious desserts were served while enjoying music in the background and talking with friends. The second building held a plethora of activities. The Kids Zone was well received with games, crafts, face painting and a photo booth. There was a chance to get a massage, buy a t-shirt, gaze at tables full of donated items for the Silent auction, buy a raffle ticket or a chance in the 50/50 drawing. All monies raised goes to the #WLSStrong fund raising committee.
Seth Merriman, the committee chair, was pleased with the outcome of the day, “Today was a good day. The community came together to show love and support for our school staff and the first responders. It's been a true blessing to be a part of a small town or small community and see it turn into a family that is all in to show love, support and compassion to the people who kept our kids safe and will continue to do so in the future. The staff of our school are amazing! They all love our kids and want what is best for them and it shows every time I see them interact with our kids. Today was a blessing to have the opportunity to let them see we love them as well. I think every day we should let these people know that we care for the staff members and all our 1st responders. They are very loved from the heart and I hope they all know that. Thank you to everyone who came out today and to all who helped make this possible. It truly showed the compassion that our 'family' has to give.”
Pictures by Tami Wenger (Granny to 3 WLS Students)
One- Seth Merriman, WLSStrong committee chairperson and father of two WLS Students.
Two- Talking with friends and enjoying the food.
Three- The basket ball game was popular.
Four- Craft table fun.
Five- Face Painting for all.
Six- Silent Auction
Seven- Ring toss game.
by Tami Wenger, Gloryland Ministries
In order for a new town to grow, businesses must prosper. John Enoch settled in the valley in 1815, opening a gristmill and people traveled miles to get their grinding done.
Here are more "firsts" in West Liberty business history. Enoch's sawmill was powered by the Mad River and Mac-O-Chee Creek. A distillery was opened by Thomas Baird on Muddy Run. Hiram White had the first store, tavern and post office on the corner of Baird and Detroit Streets. Dr. John Ordway was the first doctor and lived on Ordway Hill. The first landlord was John Newland, who owned a hotel called "The Buckeye House."
West Liberty grew as more people arrived in town and businesses were opened. In 1828, the following businesses were available. Dr. John Ordway and H. M. White were still in town. John Vaughn was a farmer and Baptist Preacher with William Vaughn being a tailor and Baptist Preacher. John Williams was the local blacksmith and Methodist Preacher and Benjamin Ginn also a tailor. Robert Crockett and Tillman Longfellow were apprentice with John Vaughn a tanner. The wheel right/ painter was William Moore and William Kenton a tanner.. The carpenter was Thomas Hubbard and Abner Tharp was a wagon maker. The miller was Simon Robinson and Mrs. Polly McCullough and family were mentioned but not the business she had. Businesses at this time were mostly cabins.
By 1880, West Liberty had many thriving businesses in the downtown area. In May of that year, a fire wiped out much of the business section on Detroit and West Baird Streets. The town could have died if the business owners had decided to cut their losses and move somewhere else, but they decided to rebuild and save the town. By this time several owners had a large building called a block, with not only their business but rented space to others for theirs. Mention was made of the businesses that were lost, but not those that were saved. Those lost included grocery stores, drug stores, stables, boot and shoe stores, notion stores, the post office, millinery, barbershop, billiard saloon, Odd Fellows Hall, dentistry rooms and a bank.
The West Liberty Sesquicentennial Booklet has pictures of the following businesses in town in 1967: Esch's Meats, Liberty Oil & Gas Service, Humble Construction, West Liberty Lumber, Liberty Variety Store, Weymouth Sohio Service, Tastee Freez, The People's Savings and Loan Co., Liberty Machine Products, Inc., Chuck's TV, Craig's Coal Yard Elevator Grain Storage, Robert Brothers, Charles Sharp Realty, George R. (BUD) King Plumbing and Heating, Nationwide Insurance with Herman B. Lockwood, Yoder Electric, Black's Garage, Ross McIlvain Barber Shop and Max's Barber Shop. Also, Ohio Caverns, Piatt Castles, Thoman Bros. Supermarket, Holdren Brothers Inc., T .W. Swisher Realtor, Wilbert's Auction, Atha, Atha and Atha, C & F Apache Camping, Wilkins Funeral Home, Marie's Homemade Candies, Dajolee's Fine Foods, Nuehauser Division of IMCO Poultry, Inc., Farmers Supply, Figley's Drugs, Lenny's Graystone Restaurant, and the Hillside Greenhouse. S&S Tackle Co., Lester E. Wells Plumbing and Heating, King's Market, Nelson Insurance Agency, Saltz Men's & Boys Wear, Thompson's Shell Service, Joe S, Plank Firestone, Hostetter Monuments, Yoder Furniture, Geoff's Laundromat, Liberty Hardware Co., National Soft Water Service, and The Farmer Banking Co.
In 2017, a new business opened, one moved to a new building, one is set to open in the Spring, and another business is closing for good. Three of the oldest businesses remaining in their original location include the Ohio Caverns, the Piatt Castles and the Hillside Greenhouse. Visit our Local Business Directory to check out all the businesses West Liberty has to offer!
Sources: West Liberty Sesquicentennial Booklet, West Liberty Library, and History and Biography by Unigraphic
Picture One- Ohio Caverns Entrance used by permission of Bob MeClure
Picture Two- Mac-O-Chee Castle in 1910 permission of Tami Wenger
Picture Three- Mac-A-Cheek Castle used by permission of Arnita Yoder
Picture Four- Hillside Greenhouse by permission Tami Wenger
West Liberty History Stories
West Liberty, Ohio was established in 1817. Read a sampling of our village's 200+ years of history or SUBMIT YOUR OWN STORY for all to enjoy!