Groveport to celebrate its 175th anniversary

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By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

Main Street in downtown Groveport as it looked around 1900. (Photo courtesy of the Groveport Heritage Museum.)

The town of Groveport is looking pretty good for its age.

Groveport will celebrate the 175th anniversary of its founding with special events on June 11 from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

“There will be a self-guided tour starting at 10 a.m. featuring six different stops,” said Groveport Community Affairs Director Jessica Wyke. “At each stop participants will collect a postcard with historical information about that tour site. Collect all six postcards and get a free 175th anniversary t-shirt.”

The self-guided tour sites are: Ohio and Erie Canal Lock 22, located in Groveport Park 7370 Groveport Road; Historic School complex, located at 715 and 751 Main Street; the Log House, located in Heritage Park, 551 Wirt Road; Groveport Cemetery, located along Wirt Road by Heritage Park; Sharp’s Landing, located across from the Groveport Cemetery at 536 Wirt Road; and Groveport Town Hall, 648 Main St. Visitors can begin the self-guided tour at any of these sites.

Wyke said two of the stops will have a special treat.

“The Groveport Police Department will be grilling hotdogs at the Log House and Groveport Town Hall will be having an ice cream social,” said Wyke. “This is a completely free event, including the hotdogs and the ice cream social.”

Groveport Town Hall will also host a reception starting at 1 p.m. in the second floor ballroom where Mayor Lance Westcamp will recognize past and present city administrators and city council members.

“Members of the Groveport Madison Area Community Choir will kick off the reception with a skit highlighting the early history of Groveport,” said Wyke.

Wyke said recognizing Groveport’s 175th anniversary is important because it is an opportunity for the community to learn more about “Groveport’s rich history and proud heritage.”

“It’s a chance to celebrate our city, where we’ve been, where we are now, and where we’re heading,” said Wyke.

The founding of Groveport
Pioneers first started settling the area that would become Groveport around 1812. By 1831 with the arrival of the Ohio and Erie Canal, two small settlements – Wert’s Grove and Rarey’s Port – began to form side by side (separated only by College Street) along the canal’s banks.

A rivalry soon developed between the two towns’ founders Jacob Wert and William Rarey, both of whom were successful businessmen and landowners.

Wert, who was postmaster, would change the address from Rarey’s Port to Wert’s Grove on mail coming to town. Rarey encouraged residents and businesses to list Rarey’s Port as their address. Wert’s Grove had the Post Office and the main stagecoach stop. Rarey’s Port was listed as the landing point on canal boat passenger packet and canal boat shipping timetables.

Official street plats for Wert’s Grove and Rarey’s Port were filed with Franklin County in the 1840s.

Citizens soon tired of the Wert and Rarey friction and the confusion caused by having two towns side by side. Residents decided to merge the two towns into one entity in 1847 and

Dr. Abel Clark suggested the name “Groveport,” combining the two suffixes of the formerly competing villages.

Rarey continued as a community leader and businessman. He lived until 1877 and is buried in the Groveport Cemetery. Wert moved west to Obetz and passed away in 1850 and is buried in the Obetz Cemetery.

Want to learn more Groveport history?
•Two documentary films on the history of Groveport, produced by the Groveport Heritage Society and Midnet Media, are available for viewing online on YouTube. The films are: “Groveport: A Town and Its People” and “The Story of John S. Rarey and Cruiser.”

•The Groveport Heritage Museum contains photographs, artifacts, and documents about Groveport’s history. The museum is located in Groveport Town Hall, 648 Main St., and is open during Groveport Town Hall’s operating hours. Call 614-836-3333.

•Books on Groveport history that can be found at the Columbus Metropolitan Library include: “The Changing Village,” by Richard Palsgrove; “Groveport and Madison Township Ohio,” by Richard Palsgrove; “History of Madison Township: Including Canal Winchester and Groveport,” by George Bareis; and “Life Along the Ohio Canal: Licking Reservoir to Lockbourne and the Columbus Feeder,” by David Meyer.

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