History of Lancaster

Lancaster is a city located in Fairfield County, Ohio. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 35,335. It is located near the Hocking River, approximately 33 miles southeast of Columbus, Ohio.

Colonel Ebenezer Zane of Wheeling founded Lancaster, Ohio on November 10, 1800. Zane was a famous merchant, trail blazer, pioneer and soldier. Following the defeat of the Indians at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794, and the Treaty of Greenville in 1796, settlement within the interior of Ohio became fairly safe from the Indians, and for the first time, legal. Zane knew that the interior of Ohio would rapidly fill up with settlers and that if he personally owned land in the interior he might possibly cash in handsomely. Accordingly, in 1795, he petitioned Congress to grant him a contract to open a road through Ohio from Wheeling to Limestone, Kentucky, a distance of 266 miles. Zane’s Trace, the first important road in Ohio, was blazed by 1797. In payment, he requested 3 square mile tracts of land to be located at the crossings of the Muskingum, the Hockhocking, and the Scioto Rivers.

At the crossing of the Hockhocking, near the famous Standing Stone, now Mt. Pleasant, Zane located the second of his square mile tracts. Chief Tarhe of the Wyandots, and father-in-law of Ebenezer’s brother, Issac, was camped here in 1797 and remained for some time after the coming of the first settlers.

Early in 1798, the first settlers came over the trace from both directions. By the fall of 1800, Zane determined that enough settlers had arrived in the Hocking Valley to warrant a sale of his real estate. He sent his sons, Noah and John, as his attorneys to lay out a town and sell lots. Chestnut Street, Main Street, Wheeling Street and Mulberry Street were laid out from Pearl Street on the east to Front Street on the west. The town was named New Lancaster at the request of Emanuel Carpenter, who came from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, as did many of the predominately German early settlers.

Fairfield County, the 8th county to be formed in the northwest territory, was created by the Governor and the Council of the Northwest Territory, and was proclaimed by Governor Arthur St. Clair on December 9, 1800. Both the County Seat and the Seat of Justice are older by 3 years than the State of Ohio. The land area of the new county included the present counties, Delaware, Knox and Licking, with large portions of Franklin, Perry, Pickaway and Hocking included.

Creating a Name
By act of legislature, the name of the town was shortened to Lancaster in 1805. The town was incorporated in 1831. The first newspaper, Der Ohio Alder, now the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, was founded about 1807. The Lancaster Lateral Canal opened to commerce in 1834. With canal transportation, markets were opened to the east, and with these new markets came wealth and opulence, which is still evidenced, by many fine old homes all over the county. The Lancaster Lateral Canal was acquired by the State of Ohio in 1836, and by 1841, the Hocking Canal had been extended south to Athens. In 1840, the first canal boat, carrying loads of coal, arrived from the Hocking Valley. It was a great curiosity to most citizens for they had never seen stone coal. At 4:30 PM on April 11, 1854, the first 2 trains puffed into town over the C.W. & Z. Railroad, now the Indiana & Ohio, with bands playing, cannons roaring, and 8,000 people shouting from the foot of Broad Street.

Famous Residents
Lancaster has been most fortunate in the great men of national stature that lived here. General William T. Sherman, famous Civil War General, was born in Lancaster, as was his equally famous brother, John Sherman, U.S. Senator, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of State, and father of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. Also, Lancaster was home to Thomas Ewing, U.S. Senator, Secretary of the Treasury, and organizer and first Secretary of the Interior, Henry Stanberry, Attorney General of the United States and defender of President Andrew Johnson at his impeachment trial, and 3 Ohio Governors. For many decades the early Lancaster legal bar was noted as the most brilliant in the state, and by some as the most brilliant in the nation.

Lancaster is the center of a rich agricultural region principally of swine, dairy, and beef cattle farms. The principal industry is glass which includes a large producer of table glassware.

Parks & Fairgrounds
Located at the foot of Mt. Pleasant is the Fairfield County Fairgrounds. The fairground consists of 65 acres, was founded in 1850, and is the oldest fair of continuous operation in Ohio. After gas was discovered in 1889, the Fairfield County Fair was famous for “Racing by Gas Light”, and the “Lake of Fire”.

Among the many municipal parks is Rising Park, surrounding Mt. Pleasant, a striking and picturesque rock formation rising abruptly almost 300 feet above the surrounding plain. The view from the top has been described as “sublime”. Much Indian lore is attached to Mt. Pleasant and the surrounding country. Standing Stone was a well-known and famous landmark to the Indians, traders, explorers and early settlers.

A few of the important landmarks of Lancaster and Fairfield County are Mt. Pleasant, Wagnalls Memorial, the locks at Lockville, Stonewall Cemetery, Rock Mill, Elmwood Cemetery, the Sherman Memorial, the William Reese home (commonly referred to as the “Reese-Peters house” and currently the “Decorative Arts Center of Ohio”), the S. F. Maccracken home (The Georgian), the Thomas Ewing home, the Mumaugh Memorial, St. John’s Episcopal Church, and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. Lancaster is well known for its numerous, well-preserved, early homes located for the most part on the Main Street and Wheeling Street hills.

Compiled by The Lancaster Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.1 mi². 18.1 mi² of it is land and 0.0 mi² of it is water. The total area is 0.06% water. View a complete geographical document (PDF) from the United States Census Bureau data for the city.

As of the census of 2000, there are 35,335 people, 14,852 households, and 9,564 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,955.9/mi². There are 15,891 housing units at an average density of 879.6 persons/mi². The racial makeup of the city is 97.38% White, 0.61% African American, 0.30% Native American, 0.47% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.18% from other races, and 1.03% from 2 or more races. 0.82% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 14,852 households out of which 30.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.9% are married couples living together, 12.9% have a woman whose husband does not live with her, and 35.6% are non-families. 30.3% of all households are made up of individuals and 13.5% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.35 and the average family size is 2.91.

In the city the population is spread out with 24.6% under the age of 18, 9.3% from 18 to 24, 29.0% from 25 to 44, 21.2% from 45 to 64, and 16.0% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 36 years. For every 100 females there are 89.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 85.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $33,321, and the median income for a family is $39,773. Males have a median income of $30,462 versus $23,023 for females. The per capita income for the city is $17,648. 10.6% of the population and 8.7% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 14.8% are under the age of 18 and 8.1% are 65 or older.