While Fairfield has been the county seat and dominate business center, there have been many other villages and towns that played, or continue to play, a part in the local history. Here is a brief entry on the earliest history of several villages and towns; more recent events and entries will be added periodically.
Barnhill (Barnhill township): According to the 1884 county history, there was no ”town” in Barnhill township, other than railroad depots and their surrounding few stores and residences. Yet the 1881 Atlas shows a plat for the village including Odell, Main, and Meeks streets going east/west and Franklin, Douglas, and Washington streets going north/south. Near the depot (also a store) were the Farmers Mill, a blacksmith, a restaurant, and additional storehouse. The Baptist and Christian churches were also indicated. The 1881 map shows a total of 29 structures in Barnhill village. G.F. Pykiet and Hiram Tucker ran dry goods stores; John W. Meeks and J.T. Purvis were the school teachers; A. Wales, the cooper; and James M. Cox the saw mill owner.
Blue Point (Indian Prairie Township): Laid out in 1855, this village had a general store for a while and, perhaps, a blacksmith shop. A school house and a dwelling or two were left after the store moved its stock to Cisne. The 1884 county history says “the town is a thing of the past….”
Cisne (Bedford Township): A “railroad town,” Cisne was created after the Ohio & Mississippi railroad came through. Laid out in 1870, it was named for Levi Cisne. F.A. Kutz built the first house and was the first merchant. The railroad depot was the second building. Shortly there followed a blacksmith shop, saw mill, grist mill, post office, school, and Christian church. Methodists moved services from a nearby rural church into the village in the early 1880s. By 1884 Cisne had 3 general stores, 3 groceries, a drug store, hotel, 2 grain buyers, furniture store, blacksmith, wagon shop, and shoemaker (1884 History of Wayne & Clay Counties).
Enterprise (Elm River Township): The post office in Enterprise opened in 1852, but the village was already operating at that time. Early businessmen include L.D. Barth, T.J. Mayes, Louis Frehse, and G.W. Rucker. About 1873 (another source says 1869) the German Albright Evangelical Church was built to serve the many German emigrants (1884 History). The Baptist Church was built in 1890.
Golden Gate (Leech Township): C.A. Knodell’s history of Golden Gate begins in the early 1900s when it had already grown to a population of about 500. The town was “one of the best small business places along the Southern Railway” from the 1920s through the 1940s. There was a hardware store, drug store, furniture store, car sales, undertaker, and lumber yard. He further noted the Carey Stave Mill was operating near the village and a hickory factory within it. The George Leach Brick and Tile Factory was in business as well. There were 3 saloons in town in 1907.
Jeffersonville (Lamard Township): Jasper Branch’s land was surveyed for this village in 1853; he named the town. J.S. Rinard opened a general store and bought furs for resale. Initially, the village had three buildings. Shortly there was a post office, D.C. Porter’s blacksmith shop, and a school held in a residence. The village’s first church was a Christian church house; the Methodists built in 1879. The town incorporated on April 1, 1869. By the 1880s, there were 2 general stores, 2 groceries, a drug store, wagon shop, 2 blacksmiths, 4 millers, a millinery store, furniture store, shoemaker, 4 carpenters, a livery stable, boarding houses, and a “short-lived” saloon (1884 History of Wayne and Clay Counties). The Jeffersonville school was a frame, two-story building, later replaced about 1915 by the current “old section” of the Geff Grade School. For several years, Geff had a high school as well, offering two or three years of secondary education and fielding a basketball team.
Johnsonville (Indian Prairie Township): Platted in 1855, Johnsonville began with a single log building, a T.P. Alvis’ store, followed by Wiley Galbraith’s store room. The post office began in 1857. The only church in the village was the Methodist which began in 1855. By 1884 the village had 3 general stores, a blacksmith, cabinet makers, harness shop, carpenter, 2 physicians, stove and tin ware dealer, shoemaker, barber, millinery, and a hotel (1884 History of Wane & Clay Counties).
Keen Station or Keenes (Four Mile Township): three miles west of Wayne City, this little burg in 1884 had 2 general stores, a grocery, a school, grist mill, 2 saw mills, and a Missionary Baptist church (1884 History…).
Mount Erie (Mt. Erie Township): In 1818 Alexander Ramsey and some fellow settlers arrived via Miller Creek to a hill “covered with nice large white oak trees and a nice large spring of pure water.” They camped in what became known as Ramsey’s Grove, later Mt. Erie. The town was platted in 1853 and the first building erected by William Copley as a house and store. Ramsey operated a horse mill from 1825 to 1840; then James Bradshaw opened a mill. A steam mill followed in 1866; it eventually became the Gem Mills. Postal service began in 1856. Some early stores were Crews’ general store, Holly and Mayo’s store, Israel’s harness, Carson and Bradshaw’s hardware as well as blacksmith shops, millinery, and physicians. The Methodist church organized in 1839, the Presbyterians in 1856, followed by United Brethren, the Christian congregation (1912). The Nazarene Church (1944) and the Pentecostal (1945) followed. The first school began in 1866, replaced by a four-room building in 1904, and a brick building in 1954 (1956 Historical Booklet). For several years, Mt. Erie also had a two-year high school.
New Massillon (Massillon Township): The “old” Massillon village was supplanted in 1843 by “New Massillon” with additions platted in 1849 and 1850. This area was the site of a water mill already. The village “grew rapidly and became a competing point in population and business with Fairfield.” By 1854 the population reached 60 families. Harris & Vandaveer, Dr. W.H. Camp, and Ed Wiley each ran a general store. In addition, there was a tan yard, cooper shop, blacksmith, saw mill, and, until 1855, a toll bridge across the river. Pork and produce was shipped on flatboats from New Massillon to New Orleans, Louisiana (1884 History of Wayne and Clay Counties).
Orchardville or Aid (old Brush Creek Township, later Garden Hill and Orchardville): This village began about 1870, although there had been settlers in the area for more than two decades. The first store building was owned by Frank Dunlap. Later the Harris Store opened. There was a log church, Jacob’s Chapel (named after settler Jacob Feathers) with the Needmore Church to the west. Originally called Aid, the village post office was renamed Orchardville. A row of business structures extended a block long, and the village had a two-room school, church, barber shop, undertaking parlor, restaurant, and real estate agency as well as a town hall, two original stores and 2 doctor’s offices (Vera Henson—1956 Historical Booklet).
Rinard (Bedford Township): Fairfield banker and merchant Ed Bonham’s land was surveyed in 1870 for this railroad village. The spot was specifically developed for a side track in order to ship large amounts of oats by train. The town was named after Bonham’s business partner, Adam Rinard. D.F. and B.J. Chaney built the first structure, followed by a depot. A brick Presbyterian Church was erected in 1873; later it was sold to the Methodists. In 1884 Rinard’s population was around 80 and the business census included 2 general stores, 2 blacksmiths, a shoe maker, millinery, grain dealer, and physician (1884 History of Wayne & Clay Counties).
Sims--also Simms or Arrington (Arrington Township): Surveyed on land owned by John Simms, this village began about 1882 along the railroad. The burg had 2 general stores in the 1880s (1884 History).Wayne City (Four Mile Township): This village, situated on the old Air Line Railroad, was incorporated in 1882. The first merchant and postmaster was J.B. Scudamore. Other early merchants included John Chandler, Augustus Smith, Reid Brothers, John Tyler, Charles Jacobson, L. Knowles, and three doctors: Garrison, Bristow, and Branson (1884 History). Earlier records indicate that as early as 1837 the nearby Maulding Mill was operating. The post office opened in 1871. The arrival of the Air Line (later called the Southern Railroad) invigorated the small settlement. The area offered red top, poultry, milling, and other small industries. In the early 1920s, Sexton Manufacturing opened a branch which was subsequently operated by other companies into the 1950s. More recently soybeans have dominated and the town is called the “Bean Capital of Little Egypt”. Early businesses include the First National Bank (1902), DeWitt Lumber Company (1900), and Ira Holman Jewelry (1909) (1956 Historical Booklet).