Pickerington and Violet Township
A Historical Perspective, by Cleo Richter
In the early days, before the coming of the white man, Native Americans lived in what is now Violet Township. They were chiefly of the Wyandot tribe, but there were other tribes such as the Shawnee and Mingo.
With the signing of the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, the Indians relinquished their possession and moved to Sandusky.
Fairfield County was formally organized in 1800 and was part of the Northwest Territory.
In the extreme northwest corner of the county is Violet Township, incorporated in 1808. Because of the profusion of purple violets found blooming in the area, the name “Violet” was selected as being most descriptive and appropriate for the new township.
In 1811, James Looker of Rockingham County, Virginia, bought at a public land sale, land in Violet Township, including that on which Pickerington now stands. He never lived on his newly-acquired acres, but his children did, building log houses along the banks of Sycamore Creek. One of Mr. Looker’s daughters, Ann, was the wife of Abraham Pickering. The Pickerings built a log home in what is now Sycamore Creek Park, which is no longer standing.
Mr. Pickering decided to establish a town, so he bought some extra land from his father-in-law. Surveyors were hired and the town was laid out. Mr. Pickering reserved three lots: one for a cemetery, one for educational purposes and one for a Methodist Church. Other lots were sold, log houses were erected and a trading post was established, but for quite some time the little town had no name.
In 1815, a piece of news came from the East. Mr. Pickering rushed down to the trading post and threw open the door. The settlers were seated around the fire as it was early March. He called out to them, “Boys! Our town has a name!”
“A name?” they asked, “What is it?”
Pickering answered, “News has just come from the East. A great battle has been fought and General Andrew Jackson has defeated the British at New Orleans. So we are going to name our town ‘Jacksonville’ after the fighting son-of-a-gun, Old Hickory!” A great cheer went up and the new name was duly recorded at the Fairfield County Court House on September 15, 1815.
Twelve years later, the citizens wishing to honor Mr. Pickering, petitioned the state legislature to change the name to Pickerington. This was done in 1827 and the new name was recorded in June of that year.
The early settlers found in every direction woods, which abounded in wild animal life. There were panthers, wildcats, bears, pigeons and owls, as well as turtles and fish in the streams. Wild turkeys were so plentiful that they came to the cabin doors, and venison could be enjoyed every day.
By 1865 there were 37 buildings in Pickerington, some of which are still standing.
In 1881 Pickerington was incorporated as a village. The “village fathers” found themselves beset with many problems, and the first ordinance passed provided for the levying of taxes. Other ordinances provided for peace and quiet in the village, set down rules for sanitation and forbade resisting an officer, mistreating animals, using profane or vulgar language on the streets or disrupting a public meeting. Those found guilty of disobeying the law were sent to the Columbus Workhouse or kept in the village jail and fed on bread and water. Mr. Douglas Phillips was the village’s first Constable and served for 34 years.
Before the installation of natural gas, the streets were lighted by kerosene lamps placed on poles around town. The lamplighters were paid $100 per year for their services.
The town pump stood beneath the large maple tree in front of the store of John Henry Shoemaker. Beneath the pump was a moss-covered trough where many would stop to water their horses. The maple tree is still standing.
Postal service came to Pickerington March 3, 1831. The early mail was brought by horseback. The first postmaster, James O. Kane, served until 1837.
One of the most dreaded cries to be heard in the village was that of “Fire!” Villagers would pour forth from their homes with all available buckets and a “bucket brigade” would be hastily formed. On October 28, 1927, the large building at the corner of Columbus Street and Center Street, which was once a stagecoach inn, burned to the ground. For a time it seemed that the entire business district would be wiped out by the flames, and indeed, would have been had not the City of Columbus responded to the call for help by sending out engine Number 15 and laying 1,000 feet of hose to Sycamore Creek. This fire led the citizenry to consider a fire department and to provide proper equipment. On February 27, 1934, the new department was formally established with Mayor T. O. Ebright as the first chief.
Labor Day 1916 was a memorable occasion, for on that day the new library was dedicated making Pickerington the smallest town in the United Stated having a Carnegie Library.
Several natives of Pickerington have achieved fame. Among them are the following: Senator Arthur R. Robinson of Indiana who was prominently mentioned as a “dark horse” candidate on the Republican ticket for President of the United States in 1932; Earl Lonza Moor who, playing for Cleveland, pitched the first no-hit game in the American League on May 9, 1901; and John Newman Hizey, educated in Germany, who became a noted concert violinist. James J. Jeffries, heavyweight champion of the world from 1899 to 1905, spent his childhood in Violet Township near the town of Lockville.
The citizens of Pickerington have always taken great pride in their churches, schools, homes, and institutions and it is the sincere desire and hope of all to maintain these high standards that our town will remain, as it has been and as it is now, “the greatest of them all.”
by: Cleo Richter
The first settlers in the attractive, growing community that is now Pickerington, arrived in the area in 1808. In 1815, Abraham Pickering laid out the original plat of old Pickerington. One hundred fifty years later relatively few people lived in the area, and Pickerington slumbered as an agricultural and dairy community, seemingly distant from both the county seat, Lancaster, and the state capital, Columbus.
The growth and prosperity since 1965 have forever changed Pickerington from an old country village to a major city in northwest Fairfield County. Equidistant between Lancaster and Columbus, today’s Pickerington is both a Columbus suburban community and a transition zone leading to agricultural and open spaces to the east and southeast.
The City’s population as estimated by the Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) for 2006 was 13,573. The unincorporated Violet Township estimated population (excluding Pickerington and Columbus) was approximately 19,264.
As a result of reaching an official population of over 5,000 persons, Pickerington was certified as a city by the Ohio Secretary of State in 1991. Pickerington is the second largest city in Fairfield County and is second in size only to Lancaster.
An official Pickerington seal, designed by local resident Nancy Brackbill, was adopted in 1989 and gradually replaced other symbols as the official Pickerington identification. The seal appears on the cover of the Annual Report and Annual Budget, identifies city vehicles, and is used on all City correspondence and publications. In 1996 the City was designated by the Ohio Legislature as the “Violet Capital of Ohio.”
The Municipal Charter, which was enacted in 1980, set up a Mayor-Council-Manager form of government. The Charter was amended by the voters in 1990, 2000, 2005 and again in 2010.
The Mayor is elected by popular vote, performs ceremonial functions, recommends appointment of and acts as supervisor of the City Manager, is presiding officer of Council, is an ex-officio member of all Council Committees, appoints the Clerk of Court, and may veto Council-passed legislation.
The popularly elected seven member City Council is the legislative body and possesses exclusive appropriations powers. Council appoints the Law Director, Finance Director, City Engineer, and concurs on the Mayor’s appointment of the City Manager. Council also makes citizen appointments to several boards and commissions. There are four standing Council Committees which Council appoints: Finance, City Administration, Public Safety and Community Affairs, and City Planning, Projects and Services.
The City Manager is the chief administrator of the City, is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the municipality and municipal employees and appoints all employees not appointed by Council.
Growth management issues continue to dominate the public agenda. Elected officials, as well as citizens of the area, hold strong and varying views regarding housing density, growth of industrial and commercial areas, transportation, residential growth, provisions of utility services, comprehensive planning, annexation by Pickerington and other cities, and ultimate appropriate area growth.