History of Liberty Center
The History of Liberty Center - Courtesy of the Liberty Press
In the late 1850's, the land which is now Liberty Center was just a brushy thicket, but clusters of neighborhoods on all sides were forming. The only bridge was on the north-south road near the school, and even the best "road" was no more than a narrow trail.
The canal village of Texas was the trading center and mail brought through on the canal boats came to the neighborhood centers from there.
The central point for all the residents of the east portion of Liberty Township and the west portion of Washington Township was George Washington Buchanan's "post office" in his residence. It was later moved to Nathan Wright's and still later to Dr. Frank Pray's office.
Growth & Development
In 1860, when Dr. Pray came to the village-to-be, the Pennock grocery store was established by the Pennock family. Dr. Pray established his first practice here, and stayed until he left for service with the Ohio volunteers.
In 1863, Alpheus Buchanan decided that it was time to register 12 lots with the Henry County Recorder, and those 12 were the beginning of Liberty Center. The name was sensible: The "Center" was for the center between Liberty and Washington townships, in a county named for Patrick Henry, and nearby townships named Freedom and Harrison.
The Civil war kept the new village from growing right away, as many young men joined the Ohio Volunteer Infantry and the others were busy with farming and clearing land.
The Wabash Depot
Luckily, the "last frontier" in Ohio attracted Calvin C. Young as a pioneer, for his determination put the village on a course for progress. He had come from Courtland County, New York, to Henry County in 1849. He purchased and cleared with his own hands the farm land which would be his as long as he lived. He was only twenty-four, but he must have had ambition for himself and for the village beginning to form just up the road. He built the Wabash Depot at his own expense, and allowed the Railroad to use it rent-free. So that the station could have a telegraph service, he learned telegraphy himself, and held the agent and operator's post for twenty years.
Incorporation papers were filed in 1874, with B.W. Pennock as the first mayor. Liberty Center was the second village to incorporate in the county. Incorporation made it possible for the village to benefit from tax distribution, getting money for improvements.
The Liberty Press
In 1881, a newly-assigned Methodist minister, the Reverend J.L. Rushbridge, brought printing equipment with him to his new assignment, and became the founder of the Liberty Press. The Press was not the first paper, since a few issues of the Liberty Center News had been published in 1879, but it was the first to last.
As the community grew, the old log Wright school house was no longer large enough. In 1864, a large frame school was constructed by Olrin Buchanan. In 1877, the frame building was moved into town and placed at the northwest corner of the school grounds as we know them today. Liberty Center's first brick building was the next school, constructed in 1886.
Businesses & Churches
In 1877, with the population between 500 and 600, the village could boast of (According to the Aldrich and the Howe histories), "a good hotel, livery stable, hardware, drug store, three drygoods stores, several saloons and restaurants, several find brick blocks, a roller process grist-mill, a saw mill, and four churches --Methodist Episcopal, United Brethren, Seventh Day Adventist and the oldest, St. John's.