HISTORY OF WALHONDING, OHIO
Walhonding Almost Became a County Seat in 1847
By Todd Fast
The Coshocton Tribune January 19, 1950
Almost impossible, yet true, a single-dissenting vote on a measure in the Ohio state legislature in 1847 kept Walhonding from out-stripping its neighbors in growth and population and becoming one of the leading trading centers in east central Ohio.
The bill, which would have opened the door to a glowing future for the Coshocton County canal town, was a proposal to take sections from Coshocton, Knox, Holmes, Muskingum and Licking counties to form a new county with Walhonding as the county seat.
But the proposal was defeated by one vote and with that single adverse ballot; the future of the little community was darkened.
Pictured to the right is Main Street Walhonding before Mohawk Dam.
It’s true today that the town still flourishes along the weed filled ditch thru which the waters of the Walhonding Canal flowed for a half a century. It enjoyed a period of prosperity during its life that many settlements in the county could never claim, but it lost its one opportunity for genuine expansion before it had hardly started to rise.
The advent of the Ohio canal with its branch waterway, the Walhonding canal, was the reason for Walhonding’s existence as a village. In 1841 the canal had not yet even completed, but its builders and the people who lived near it envisioned the tremendous amount of trade it would bring and three of those profit-seeking gentlemen founded the community.
The town was platted by William K. Johnson, G. W. Sullivan and T. S. Humrickhouse, the canal completed in 1842 and a mill erected near the waterway by Albert and Jon Collins and James Gamble. Three of four boatloads of grain left walhonding each Sunday and brought coal back the following weeks.
McVey Mill later Gamble Mill seeing its last days
The big mill, at one time a focal point for shipping for local farmers, burned to the ground about 25 years ago (1925), but when it was operating on the water from the canal its four run of buhrs produced 75 to 80 barrels of flour a day. In 1913 steam was installed in the enterprise and was used for several years before flames leveled the structure.
The greatest prosperity of the mill was achieved under the tutelage of Joseph S. McVey Sr., Who secured it from its builders in 1844 and passed it down to his son, who kept it until it was sold in the 20th century.
A unique feature of Walhonding is the fact that all the buildings in the town were moved in 1935 by the Muskingum Conservancy organization to avoid the backwater when the Mohawk dam was built.
All of the frame dwellings were removed to a bluff overlooking its former site. One, single public structure, a little frame bandstand was left in its previous position and still stands. One of the most popular bands in the county composed of 25 to 30 musicians provided entertainment for country and city folk alike along the banks of the canal for many years.
Another of the famous landmarks surrounding the growth of the little canal village was a sanitarium-a huge rambling wooden building- built by Dr. George Sands for use as a medical treatment center, later turned into a rest home and still later into a place for families to come and stay for an outing in the country.
The enormous old building that once housed those various undertakings serves the community today as an apartment house.
For many decade’s the little frame schoolhouse was the only educational institution in Walhonding. When, the present new and modern brick school was constructed in 1935 the Disciple church bought the old school building and started holding services there.
A Methodist Episcopal society existed in the town during the 1870’s, but that did not last and the Walhonding Church of Christ or Disciple church is the only remaining religious organization. It was founded in 1893 and moved to its present site in the old school building in 1937.
Rev. Henry W. Welty is the present pastor of the church, which has a membership of approximately 50.
Various industries have been in operation in Walhonding during its, 108 year existence. Among these were a barrel factory, a foundry and an ax-handle factory plus the usual blacksmith shops and tanneries.
Today the McCarren Sand and Gravel Co. is the sole big industry operating near the town started by W. P. McCarren this plant furnished the bulk of the gravel used in the construction of the Mohawk dam and continues to ship the material to various points in the state.
Walhonding’s population has not fluctuated much since the canal was in operation has been around the century mark since the water way was completed. Today it houses a little over 100 people the majority of who work in Mr. Vernon or Coshocton.
Most of the older family names in the village have vanished. Some, like the Rodehavers are still living close to the town, but many have long since gone from the community. Early promment names included McVey, Nichols and Buxton.
The Spurgeon store, now owned by Clifton Spurgeon, son of William Spurgeon who founded the business, still survives. At the present time S. C. Kirk also maintains a store in the town.
Other than these remaining enterprises, Walhonding can boast no great industry since it has revolved around the canal.
Info compiled by Dave Snyder, Historian March 31, 2006. For more pictures of the area, please visit the gallery
Walhonding Valley Historical Society