Richland Co., Ohio


Historical Information

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Millsborough, New Castle and Ontario

(part of Springfield Twp.)


source:  Mansfield News, 20 June 1903


Submitted by Jean and Faye


History of Richland County

By A J. Baughman




On account of their proximity, sketches of Millsborough, New Castle and Ontario ay be given in the same chapter.

Millsborough was platted in October, 1831, and was the first town in Springfield township.  It was laid out on part of the northeast and northwest quarters of section 28.  The plat contained thirty inlots, two streets, six alleys and a public square.  The main street was called “Portland,” on account of it being the road north to Portland - now called Sandusky - on Lake Erie.  The  location of the town is picturesque, being situate among the rolling hills and narrow valleys of the east branch of the Clearfork of the Mohican.  The stream furnished ample water-power for mills and other purposes, and John Garretson erected a grist mill where the road crosses the stream, and on account of the enterprise, the town was founded.  James Woods, the father of Harvey Woods, built a grist mill a mile down the stream, now known as the Otto mills.  The Garretson mill is no more.  These mills, with a saw0mill or two, gave the town the name of Millsborough.

It is interesting to learn how towns got their names.  Mansfield was named for Col. Jared Mansfield, who platted the town June, 1808.  Gamble’s Mills was changed to Shelby, to have a name indicating a town instead of a grist mill, and the latter name being in honor of Gen. Isaac Shelby, an officer of the war of the revolution, and also of the war of 1812, and who commanded Kentucky troops at the battle of the Thames Oct. 5, 1813.  In addition to his other public services, General Shelby was governor of Kentucky and in the civil, as well as in the military service of his country, he discharged faithfully, honestly and well the duties of the several positions given him, and the name has seemed to be talismanic, for but few towns can point with more pride to their past history or to brighter prospects for the future than Shelby.

Bellville was named for its founder, Robert Bell.

Newville was founded by John Frederick Herring, and was named for his former home town - Newville, Pennsylvania.

Lexington was named in commemoration of Lexington, Mass., where the first blood was shed in the war of the revolution, April 19, 1775.

New Castle, as has been claimed, was named for Henry Cassell, who owned land upon which the town was platted.  But of orthographical and other reasons this claim has been doubted, and there are assigned to prove that the name was given in honor of New Castle-upon-Tyne, a city and seaport in England.  Great things were expected of the town, in a commercial way, it being a station on the crossroads of travel and traffic, from the east to the west and from the south to Lake Erie on the north


Ontario took its name from Ontario county, New York, the native place of Hiram Cook, who owned the land upon which our Springfield township Ontario, stands.


In addition to his mills, Garretson erected other buildings, and opened a public house at Millsborough, and after conducting it for some time, sold the same to John Martin, who “kept a tavern” there for a number of years.  Landlord Martin was the father of Captain Martin, who headed a company of Richland county militiamen for the Ohio-Michigan boundary line war, in 1835.

At Millsborough was established the first post office in the township.  The town grew and had a prosperous trade, with two stores of general merchandise, with shops of the several lines of trade usual to villages at that time.  During the “thirties” the town bid fair to hold its own in the march of time, but fate is an uncertain quantity, playing as fickle with towns as with individuals, and Millsborough is now a village of the past.  But few houses remain, while ruins of others can be seen with the timbers rotting where they fell.  The causes which led to these results are at least twofold - two rival towns were founded in close propinquity to Millsborough, and a few years later the Ohio & Pennsylvania was built and the town of Crestline was started at its crossing of the Cleveland and Columbus road, four miles northwest of Millsborough, and Crestline being a railroad junction town, with shops and division yards, it had the advantage from the start over its neighboring villages and as Crestline increased in population and importance and went up high in the scale of progress, Millsborough went the other way, downward to the lowest notes.


New Castle was laid out and its plat recorded in December, 1834, and was the rival of Millsborough from its start.  Being situated on the Mansfield and Bucyrus stage line, at the juncture of a cross-road, it had certain advantages over Millsborough, but lacked the water-power facilities of the latter.

But soon another Richard was in the field, and Ontario was created with a mile of New Castle on the west, with a situation more elevated and commanding and was upon cross stage lines.  New Castle had taverns, stores and shops and all villages were or less “wet” in those days.  But neither “wet” nor “dry” conditions will save a town when fate points at it its gaunt finger and says “go.”  And New Castle, with graceful genuflections, acquiesced in the survival of the fittest.

The following facts anent the killing of Peter Lintholm at New Castle, were obtained of M. E. Douglas, whose boyhood years were passed in Springfield township:  Peter Lintholm had passed the prime of life when the tragedy occurred that cost him his life.  He was called “Old Peter Lintholm,” and was rather feeble-minded, and was easily irritated, and upon this occasion was being teased by one Samuel Cristman, whereupon Lintholm struck Cristman, and the latter stabbed Linthom with his knife, with which he had been whittling.  The knife-blade passed between two of Lintholm’s ribs and penetrated the heart, Lintholm dying almost instantly  At the preliminary hearing before ‘Squire William Douglas, Cristman as bound over to the court of common pleas, where he entered the plea of self-defense , upon which he was acquitted.


Ontario was platted December, 1834, and soon thereafter took the lead of its two sister villages  Upon the opening of the Atlantic & Great Western railroad, Ontario was given a station, which is still maintained.  The Ontario academy was successfully conducted for a number of years, attended by students from different parts of the country, and which added much to the town’s growth and prosperity.

Dr. Abraham Jenner was a prominent citizen of Ontario for many years and represented Richland county in the Ohio legislature in 1858-1860.  Dr. Jenner was the father of Judge John W. Jenner and the Hon. S. Eberle Jenner, of Mansfield.

Dr. J. W. Craig was a successful physician at Ontario for a long time.  He was the father of Dr. J. Harvey Craig, of Mansfield.

As Ontario grew, religious congregations abandoned their houses of worship in the country and erected new buildings in the town.  Among the number were Bigelow chapel and Taylor’s meeting house.  The Methodist put up a church building in 1835  In 1850 the United Presbyterians erected a house for worship, as also did the Presbyterians in 1851.


The ‘Squire Douglas, of Springfield township, of whom mention has been made, was the father of Capt. Thomas E. Douglas and Capt. Michael E. Douglas, of Mansfield, both of whom served their country in the war of the rebellion, each attaining the rank of captain.

“We can all remember, comrades, the
War of sixty-one,
When the spark touched the powder
Off in that confederate gun:
How it lashed like a streak of light
Nigh across from east to west,
And left a spark that burned like fire
In every patriot’s breast.”

Capt. C. Au also served his country in the civil war, and is one of the prominent business men of Ontario.


Along the east bank of the Millsborough branch of the Clearfork of the Mohican, a half-mile below the town, is Newton Y. Gilkinson’s forestry park, containing about five acres, with 477 different kinds and varieties of trees, native to the soil of Ohio.  This is the only forestry park of the kind in the state, and deserves the attention of the public.  Mr. Gilkinson has been years in planting and cultivating the trees of this park - not from pecuniary motives, but as a work of love.

Mr. Gilkinson was a soldier in the Mexican war and has now reached the age where the shadows lengthen.  When he answers the final roll-call, he will leave monuments behind him of trees, such as no other park in Ohio contains.

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