(Posted May 8, 2014)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
South Charleston is about to hit a milestone birthday. Next year, the town turns 200 years old. A committee has formed to figure out just how to celebrate.
“We want to have events all year long,” said Rick Burton, committee facilitator.
The group, which started meeting in March, is in the brainstorming stage. Ideas include holding activities at the library and conducting a tour of historic homes and buildings. Josh Murray, a local history buff, is creating a then-and-now DVD featuring old photos of South Charleston juxtaposed against present-day pictures.
“We’d like to incorporate the celebration with the Gingerbread Festival in the fall, the community Christmas concert in December, and things like that,” Burton said. “We want to work with the churches and get the opera house involved.”
For additional inspiration, the group is consulting with other communities that are celebrating similar milestones, including Mechanicsburg which turns 200 this year.
“We’re open to ideas,” Burton said.
The committee meets the third Tuesday of the month at town hall, 35 S. Chillicothe St., following the village commission meeting. The commission meets at 5 p.m. The bicentennial committee typically meets at about 5:45. Meetings are open to the public.
Heritage Commission changes
As South Charleston prepares for its bicentennial, the group that preserves and promotes the town’s history is going through some changes.
In December, longtime Heritage Commission president George Berkhofer passed away. His wife, Karen, died in March.
“George was a wealth of information about everything to do with South Charleston,” said Burton, the organization’s new president. “The transition has been hard. We will never be able to fill George’s shoes or Karen’s shoes, but we will still be together as the Heritage Commission.”
The group is already making plans for this year’s Gingerbread Festival, which will take place as usual on the last Sunday of September. They also plan to revive the commission newsletter.
In addition to Burton, officers include Murray as vice president, Sue Mattinson as secretary, and Roberta Wright as treasurer.
The Heritage Commission meets at 7 p.m. the second Thursday of each month at the train depot on Mound Street, next to the historic log cabin. Meetings are open to the public. New members are always welcome.
For more information, contact Rick Burton at (937) 462-7417.
South Charleston’s early years
Today, South Charleston is a town of about 2,000 people located in Madison Township in Clark County.
In 1799, George Bufferbarger was the first white man to settle in the community. He bought 1,600 acres in land warrants from Revolutionary War soldiers. The rate per acre was 50 cents. He brought his family from Virginia and settled in a log cabin a couple of miles west of where the town now stands. Joseph Briggs co-settled the area, taking up 1,000 acres two miles southwest of what is now Jamestown Road.
In 1810, Isaac Davisson settled a short distance east of South Charleston on what is now Columbus-Cincinnati Road near where the first Methodist church was preserved. In 1812, Mungo Murray also settled in the area. At about the same time, following the withdrawal of Tecumseh and with prospects of peace with the Indians, pioneers began traveling in the area.
In 1815, Conrad Critz bought a tract of land and platted it out as the town of Charlestown, named for Charles Paist Senior, an influential citizen at the time. The post office later changed the name to South Charleston to distinguish it from another Charlestown, Ohio. The village was laid out in four blocks of 32 lots and grouped around a public square which is now the intersection of routes 41 and 42.
—Historical information provided by Josh Murray