Nestled in the hills of the junction of Ross, Hocking and Pickaway counties lies the village of Laurelville, Ohio. The Laurelville of old is quite different from the quiet village of today. Laurelville was laid out in 1871 and a relative newcomer to Adelphi up the road which was established in 1804. Before 1871 was ended, three houses had been erected in the new settlement and plans for others had been made.Each year following 1871, more dwellings were added along with business places to keep pace with the growth in population.
With Laurel Creek as a water source, Laurelville has had milling as a business from its beginning. Sawmills and grain mills were show on the original plat of the village. Today both industries still flourish.
It was home to old time hotels such as the Mowery Hotel and in its earlier days the Poling Hotel.
Other business of the village were the Hoy Blacksmith Shop, a chair factory, a canning factory, L. A. McClelland's Store, W. P. DeHaven's Ford Agency, Allen's Restaurant, Dumm's General Store, Mettler's Store and White's Hardware. Some of the old buildings are still around although the names have changed.
Some of the earlier Doctor's were Dr. Cain and Dr. Kelly who served the community. Other known Doctors who served the area over the years were Doctors Melcher, Simkins, Hemminger, Barton, Palmer, Watson and Floyd.
In 1888 the population was about 300 and the school census was 111 students.
According to the "A History of Hocking County" printed in 1883, "Laurelville is pleasantly situated in the Salt Creek Valley, Section 29, at the point where Laurel Creek, from which it took its name, empties into Salt Creek, in the extreme south-western corner of the township". The two streams merge in Pickaway County just a stone's throw from the Hocking County line.
The village was laid out December 1871 by John and W. S. Albin, Solomon Riegel and Rufus Dodson.
The first house was built by Mr. Riegel as was the first hotel: The Laurelville House.
As the town grew, two tracts of land wer given for expansion by Allen Strous--- the first in 1876, the second in 1882. Another section of land was given by George D. Mowery.
The first post office was established January 1, 1879, through the efforts of John Bates who was appointed the first postmaster for three months.
The first churches were the Cumberland Presbyterian and the Baptist.
In 1902, the Columbus and southern Railroad began to operate between Wyandott Junction, a connection with the Pennsylvania Railroad line, in Fairfield County, and the coal mines in Hocking, Vinton and Athens counties. The line actually operated in South Bloomingville and the junction and ran through Laurelville daily. This railroad line, although plagued with poor equipment and financial problems, was a boon to business in this pioneer community. The success of the railroad was dependent upon coal, and that success never was realized, as the rugged terrain in the area of Ash Cave, along the right of way proved to be too much of a barrier to overcome. The train never ran further east that South Bloomingville.
By the year 1920, Laurelville has settled down to be a busy little town, proud of its four general stores, whose owners were Lew McClelland, G. N. Dumm, T. E. Mettler and Simon White; a well-stocked drug store with the owner-pharmacist, G. W. Triplett; two hardwares, White's and Armstrong's; two barbers, Gerald Rose and Durl Haynes; a dentist; a doctor; a furniture store; two restaurants; and two automobile dealers - W. P. DeHaven sold Fords and his brother Bill DeHaven sold Chevrolets.
Not to be forgotten is Bushee's Bakery with tantalizing smells causing many a high school student to sneak out during study period for fersh cookies or cinnamon rolls to share with classmates on the sly. In it place now was a nursing home, Wintersong Village of Laurelville.
Laurelville has been fortunate to have a bank from the year 1901 founded by George D. Mowery, Milton Armstrong, George Reichelderfer, William Armstrong and D. K. Wilson, called the Salt Creek Valley Bank and now the Salt Creek Banking Center owned by Vinton County National Bank.
Probably the first school, Toadrun Academy, was located near where the current VFW Post stands on State Route 56. Soon a larger school was erected in town on Pike Street for all eight grades and three years of high school. This lasted through 1972 when grades seven through twelve were transfered to Logan Elm School in Pickaway County.
It was a red letter day in Laurelville when in April 12, 1942, the Laurel Valley Skating Rink owned and operated by Lew and Francis McClelland opened. During the years it was in operation, Dan Cupid was busy since quite a few romances started there that ended in weddings. The rink was destroyed by fire.
The town has had several bad fires in its time: Hosler's bake shop around 1919; the Wm. Stump home where the Onyx station stood and is now Young's; the only livery stable in 1961, which had been converted into a garage where the post office now stands; Bowers Apple house on January 3, 1968; and the Community Hall in October of 1968.
Early fires in the village were doused by a bucket brigade, then by a horse-drawn wagon with a tank of water. The Laurelville Volunteer Fire Department was formed on July 1, 1913. There officers and members were ad follows: L. A. McClelland, Chief; Charles White, Engineer;Frank Dawson 1st Assistant Engineer; Harry Wharf, 2nd Assistant Engineer; Liberty Jinks, Nozzle Man;Levi Scoot, Nozzle Man. It first motorized apparatus was a 1921 Reo purchased from Howe Fire Apparatus Co.. Better fire engines followed until now Laurelville has one of the best group of volunteer fireman that can found anywhere. It has expanded with substations in area townships of Eagle township, Benton township and Perry township, to cover the distance of the surrounding areas population. Butch Valentine has been the Fire Chief and Assistant Jay Garrett now for many years with 42 other volunteers.
Many changes have taken place in Laurelville during the years under the name of progress. The four general stores are things of the past. McClelland's store on Main and Water Streets has been replaced by a huge filling station that adjoins Young's Foodtown, the one modern grocery.
Mettler's grocery and the Mowery Hotel are but memory, and in their place on Main Street is a parking lot owned by the local bank.
The building that housed Dumm's store for many years has changed hands and is now Laurelville Auto Parts Inc.
The rooms that were once Simon White's store are now occupied by a beauty shop, a pizza shop and a bakery.
The one remaining business of bygone days is White's hardware, owned and operated by Mike Eveland.
Today's churches are Laurelville Trinty Methodist, Laurel Hills United Methodist, Laurelville Church of God and Laurel Valley Baptist.
The restaurants are The Village Cafe, Giovanni's Pizza, Old Town Dinner, L. & J's, and the Ridge Inn.
The town is still fortunate to have a busy post office where once the old meat packing plant was.
The oldest businesses still in operation are the two mills. The Carrol's Farm Service located on the main square was built bt and operated by Nelson Armstrong and ran later by his son Wayne. Before purchased by the Carrol family, it was owned by the Farm Bureau.
Laurelville Grain and Mill has had several owners, the first one being recorded as Elijah Delong. He was followed by Claude Hart, Tom Stevens, Elsworth Kempton, the Maxson Family-- Clarence, Raymond and Eric.
Two Sawmill and Logging businesses still operate today, Dale W. Riddles Forest Products on Thompson Ridge and T & D Thompson Sawmill.
Laurelville has had over 34 mayors. The first was Will Williamson in 1889.
One of the oldest trees in the village are Linden Trees that were planted by the Hoy family.
Laurelville has often been plagued by flooding. The streams that were considered an asset when the village was founded also were responsible for damages from time to time when excessive rains caused them to overflow their banks. Some years, naturally, were worse than others. The years of 1907, 1909, and again in 1913 were extremely bad years for floods in this area. The citizens realizing that the flooding problem would not cease but would probably become even more serious with the passing years and increased development, set out to construct a levee and to raise the houses and places of business to lessen the damage and infrequence of the floods. The streams were dredged, their courses were altered somewhat but the problem although relieved, was not totally eliminated. On May 24, 1968, at approximately 2:00 a.m. Laurelville suffered its greatest flood. The levee broke and a wall of water 8 to 10 feet high descended upon the village. In a short period of a few minutes, half of the homes and nearly all the businesses were flooded. The impact of the flood was a tremendous blow to all the citizens whose homes and businesses were affected. Mobile homes were washed away or were broken up and destroyed. Cars were flooded and many washed down stream and permanent homes were washed off of their foundations. Bridges collapsed and fell into the stream or were damaged beyond repair and hundreds of tons of mud and debris were dumped into the streets, lawns, homes and businesses of this quite village. Within a few hours after the flood struck, the people were gathered to discuss the disaster that struck in the middle of the night. They organized and went to work to restore Laurelville to what it had been before the flood. The state agencies such as Civil Defense, The National Guard and the Red Cross came in with equipment and personnel, along with church groups and other civic organizations. With the work of hundreds of friends and relatives, Laurelville was restored.
Some of this information was taken from a piece written on March 30, 2002 by one of the village correspondent for the Circleville Herald and local historians, Celeste Hoy. Other facts of Laurelville's history was taken from a History written by retired Superintendent of Laurelville Schools, Claude B. Chilcote.