By Linda Dillman
Obetz resident Bonnie Wiley wants to preserve the history and heritage of her beloved hometown and ensure the village’s story can be handed down from generation to generation.
“The history of Obetz contributes to its personality,” said Wiley, who is also a member of Obetz Village Council. “Preserving the history through its historic resources gives it character. Historic preservation provides the link to roots and its people. In the end, historic preservation adds to the quality of life, cultural, economic, environmental and educational benefits.”
To Wiley, all of the aforementioned aspects connect to one another and to the living memory of the village through its people, their memories and artifacts as simple as a grade card from the long-gone Obetz Junction School.
“Historic preservation in Obetz helps keep communities beautiful and vibrant,” said Wiley. “It is an ingredient in stabilizing older communities and gives residents and businesses a stake in their community. It also encourages a sense of belonging and community pride.”
Wiley, along with other like-minded village residents such as local historian Joyce Blake, are spearheading an effort to collect artifacts and oral and written histories.
Obetz had its beginnings in the early 19th century when families of Pennsylvania German immigrants and other nationalities settled in the area and set up homesteads and farms.
In 1838, Charles Obetz and his family put down roots in the area and later lent their name to the town then known as Obetz Junction, which was also inspired by the intersection of the Norfolk and Western and Hocking Valley railroads.
As the area grew, a village was laid out on the old Obetz farm in 1909 and an electric interurban railway traction line ran through the area. When the Scioto Valley Traction was discontinued, Junction was dropped from the name and the village was incorporated as Obetz in 1928.
The former Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, now owned by the village, was built in 1873 and is the only 19th century church still standing in Obetz.
Wiley said people are invited to share their memories on the “I Remember Obetz” page on Facebook and drop off any artifacts or other information to Blake at 4229 Lancaster Ave., or by calling Blake at 614-406-3649.
Artifact donations can be as simple as a yearbook, photographs, newspaper clippings, letters, oral or written histories, old store receipts from local businesses, church flyers, pottery, tools, etc.
“Genealogist Amy Johnson Crow said, ‘All history is local’ and that is what we are looking for,” said Wiley, who said there are plans to one day house historical donations in a dedicated space in town and publish a book of Obetz history.