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
August 9, 2016
by Tami Wenger, Gloryland Ministries
The fate of the Bailey house, former home of the West Liberty Police Department, hangs in the balance. It has received another two weeks grace period before the Town Council makes it's decision. At the most recent Town Council meeting, it was decided to gather more information before making the decision of tearing down the historical landmark, letting the Historical Restoration Committee raise the funds to restore it back to it's time period or selling it to someone who will restore it.
Decision #1- Tear it down. To do this the town council would have to have asbestos removed and torn down at a cost to the city, with the possibility of saving the bricks for another project. If this happens, there is talk of making a city parking lot with five parking spots, which is needed.
Decision #2- Letting the Historical Restoration Committee restore it. Lot #17 that this house sits on has a long historical past. Known as the Bailey House, home of George F. Bailey, a prominent business man. Bailey had a 3-story brick block on West Baird Street which held the Logan County Bank, I. S. Miller's Meat Store, David Gill's Dentistry rooms and Odd Fellows Hall. His name can be found at the top of the building where Sheryl's Beauty shop and All Star Awards & Trophy's is located today. According to family history the brick house was built in the early 1850's. However, the deeds list that can be found at the Logan County Court House says Bailey bought the property on August 29, 1865. The history of Lot #17 goes back to John Enoch selling the lot to Simon Robertson on October 9, 1828, however, the Bailey family owned it the longest from 1865 to 1990.
The Village of West Liberty purchased the property on January 22, 2012 to house the Police Department. The police department is currently in the Community Building while the city looks for a more adequate space and central location if possible. If the Historical Restoration Committee gets to restore the property it could be the future home of a West Liberty Museum. If this decision is made, then the committee would have a year to showcase the home, and start raising funds needed for restoration. The City Council has discussed paying the amount needed to secure the property so the committee can move forward.
Decision #3- Selling it to someone interested in restoring it. City attorney Chris Moell is looking into the legalities of selling the property. The house is located across the alley from the West Liberty Fire Department, so they need to be mindful as to who it is sold to if this decision is made. City clerk Cindee Boyd is looking into how much insurance would cost if the Bailey house is secured for the next meeting on Monday, August 22, 7:30 pm at Town Hall.
The Historical Restoration Committee and City Council members would also like to hear from village residents about what they think should happen. Should a piece of West Liberty history be torn down for 5 parking spots, saved, restored to it's former beauty and possibly turned into a museum or sold to someone else who will restore it. Call the West Liberty Restoration Committee member at 937-592-5158 or 937-441-7573 or The West Liberty Town Council at 937-465-2716 before the next meeting.
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!