west jefferson book cover

Group member Ashley Murray published a book on her hometown, West Jefferson in Madison County. It’s currently #1 on our Top 10 Small Towns list, contains a ghost town, and hosts the annual Ox Roast with 5,000 pounds of round roast cooked in a 140 feet long pit!

Ordering Links

Arcadia Publishing – https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781634990981
Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1634990986/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0
Barnes & Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/history-of-west-jefferson-ohio-ashley-murray/1129367201?ean=9781634990981#/
Walmart – https://www.walmart.com/ip/History-of-West-Jefferson-Ohio/962932708
Target – https://www.target.com/p/history-of-west-jefferson-ohio-by-ashley-murray-paperback/-/A-77979407

Carters – Canaan Township
Location: 40.065024, -80.222021 
on Carters Mill Rd (Co Hwy 39) between Amity Pike and Hayden Run Rd
Remnants: none known
Description: John P. Carter moved to the township with family members in 1866. He owned and operated the grist mill and saw mill built by Isaac Fuller.

Darby Crest – Jefferson Township
Location: 39.947167, -83.236227 
on Riverside Dr along Darby Creek and Darby Dr south off US 40
Remnants: none known
Description: The old town is long gone but the current neighborhood of Darby Crest Estates hangs onto the name.

Deer Creek Village – Somerford Township
Location: 39.968402, -83.474909   
on Arbuckle Rd near Deer Creek
Remnants: none known
Description: Deer Creek Village was a native Shawnee town founded in 1794 by Tecumseh, mostly used for riding out winters.

Deersville – Stokes Township 
Location: unknown
Description: It was listed in The Ohio Gazetteer, Or, Topographical Dictionary and The Ohio Gazetteer and Traveler’s Guide from 1833 – 1841.

Guilford
Location: unknown
Description: none found

Johnstons – Range and  Oak Run Township
Post Office: 1828 – 1844
Location: 39.789593, -83.415279 
on Yankeetown – Chenoweth Rd at the intersection of Johnston Rd
Remnants: Johnston – McClimans Cemetery on the west side of Yankeetown – Chenoweth Rd about 2 1/2 miles south of Johnston Rd, Old Johnston Cemetery on the southeast side of Johnston Rd near Bradford Branch
Description: The town was founded by William Johnston (1781 – 1866) and Margaret (McClimans) Johnston (1784 – 1862 who moved to Ohio from Pennsylvania around 1805, residing in Ross County for a while and settled in Madison County in 1813. They had 8 children and a large farm. William and Margaret were buried with relatives in Johnston – McClimans Cemetery.

Markley – Somerford Township
Location: 39.932560, -83.515199   
on US 40 at the intersection of Markley Rd
Remnants: Diamond Rock Stock Farm barn on the west side of Markley Rd, old houses and farm buildings in the area
Description: This small farming town had a school. Jonathan Markley (1780 – 1849) and Rachel Markley (1794 – 1820) moved to Ohio from Maryland and had 3 children. Jonathan married Mary Jane (Cryder) Markley (1800 – 1849) after Rachel passed away and had another child. They were buried with relatives in Somerford Township Cemetery on SR 56 (W Urbana – Loudon Rd). Daniel Lucy (1864 – 1923) was the proprietor of the Diamond Rock Stock Farm. He raised hogs for market and built the German style bank barn in 1904 which still stands today. Daniel was buried in Deer Creek Township Cemetery on US 40 in Lafayette.

Myers – Union Township
Location: 39.890221, -83.529241   
on Davis Rd at the railroad crossing between Old Springfield Rd and US 42
Remnants: none known
Description: It was on the Big Four Railroad.

New Hampshire
Location: unknown, was north of West Jefferson
Description: none found

The cemetery and part of the main street are the only known remnants left. Ohio Historical Marker #2 – 49 at the front of New Hampton Cemetery on Frey Ave tells the story of New Hampton and Ludlow’s Rd, the first state road in Ohio which the town had was built on. Samuel Sexton and Samuel Jones moved back to New Jersey when New Hampton was abandoned, unhappy that the town they founded no longer existed.

Nioga – Pleasant Township
Post Office: 1887 – 1900
Location: 39.782838, -83.318805 
on London – Circleville Rd at the intersection of Robinson Rd
Remnants: none known
Description: Pleasant Township School No. 5 was in the corner lot on the south side of Robinson Rd at the GPS coordinates. The Robinsons were the largest family in the area during the late 1800s to early 1900s.

Roberts – Jefferson Township
Location: 39.942561, -83.306305 
on US 40 at the intersection of SR 29 (Urbana – West Jefferson Rd)
Remnants: Pleasant Hill Cemetery on US 40
Description: The original proprietors were Thomas Roberts (1775 – 1864) and Susan (Boisel) Roberts (1779 – 1864) who moved to Ohio from Virginia in the early 1800s, had several children, and accumulated much of the land on the west side of West Jefferson. A portion of it was donated for tracks for the Columbus & Xenia Railroad. The land was split up between the Roberts children and they continued the family’s success in the area. Sebastian Roberts (1814 – 1869) platted Pleasant Hill Cemetery in 1864. Thomas was the first interment and most of the family is buried there.

Wahoo – Deer Creek Township
Post Office: 1852 – 1867
Location: 40.001451, -83.435227 
on SR 29 (Urbana – West Jefferson Rd) between SR 38 (Marysville – London Rd) and the northwestern township border
Remnants: none known
Description: Wahoo was a small farming town with a school, post office, and church. Land was donated in 1858 for the non – denominational church by Mary A. (Dun) Thurman (1812 – 1891). The Duns were the biggest family in the area and did most of the church construction. Mary was buried with relatives in Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus.

Willows
Location: unknown
Description: none found

Wilson – City of London (formerly in Deer Creek Township)
Location: 39.905616, -83.428530 
on US 42 (Lafayette Rd) between Braxton Blvd and Kenny Blvd
Remnants: none known
Description: The town was founded by a branch of the Wilson family in the County. James Wilson (1808 – 1886) and Elanor (Smith) Wilson (1818 – 1904) had several children and a large farm. They were buried with relatives in Deer Creek Township Cemetery on US 40 in Lafayette.

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West Jefferson – New Hampton Cemetery Marker

New Hampton, OH (Hamden) – (1822 – 1840 farming town abandoned when the National Road (US 40) was built)

Classification: ghost town

Location: Jefferson Township, Madison County – On Frey Ave near Hampton Cemetery

It was platted in 1822 along Ludlow’s Rd, the first state road in Ohio, by Samuel Sexton and Samuel Jones who were business men from New Jersey. Back then, Ludlow’s Rd was a vibrant trading route and a promising place to start a town. New Hampton had 2 general stores, 3 taverns, a Baptist church, and a post office from 1830 – 1833. Reverend Issac Jones (1802 – 1842) and Eliza (Mills) Jones (1804 – 1877), a son and daughter in law of Samuel Jones, platted Jefferson (now West Jefferson) in 1831 a few miles north of New Hampton in anticipation of the National Road (US 40) being built through the area.

Residents of small towns just to the north and south, all across the state, flocked to the National Road, moving their families, houses, and businesses to its promise of a better life. New Hampton was no exception to that. The cemetery and part of the Main Street of Ludlow’s Rd are the only known remnants left. Ohio Historical Marker #2 – 49 at the front of New Hampton Cemetery on Frey Ave tells the story of New Hampton and Ludlow’s Rd. Samuel Sexton and Samuel Jones moved back to New Jersey with their families when New Hampton was abandoned, unhappy that the town they founded no longer existed.

Thanks to group member Ashley Murray, manager of Around West Jefferson Ohio, for providing the listing pic!

044D

West Jefferson, OH (Jefferson) – (1830 – present farming, mill, and railroad town that acquired most of New Hampton’s residents)

Classification: small town

Location: Jefferson Township, Madison County – on US 40 west of Columbus

West Jefferson rose out of the dust of a failed town and was once the most important business point in Madison County. Residents needed a commercial center in Jefferson Township closer to home than the 15 – 20 mile journey to Columbus, called Franklinton at the time. Samuel Jones and Samuel Sexton moved to the area from New Jersey and platted New Hampton on July 5, 1822 along Little Darby Creek and Ludlow’s Road, the first state road in Ohio.

The town was laid out with 93 lots on 8 streets on the south side of Hampton Cemetery on Frey Ave in West Jefferson. It had 2 general stores, a post office, three taverns, a hotel, and a brick Baptist church at the cemetery. The lot for the cemetery was donated by Samuel Jones in 1823. His wife Elizabeth was the first burial there later that same year. Samuel Sexton’s wife Sarah and daughter Elizabeth followed in 1827.

New Hampton unfortunately wasn’t growing fast enough in the late 1820s. New of the National Road, current day US 40, being constructed to the north spelled the end for the town. It was the first federally funded highway in the county, and when completed, connected Cumberland, Maryland to Vandalia, Illinois. Samuel Jones and Samuel Sexton moved back to New Jersey, leaving behind many departed family members and the dreams of creating a successful village. At least part of that same dream lived on through the efforts of a son and daughter-in-law of Samuel and Elizabeth Jones.

Reverend Isaac Jones (1802 – 1842) and Eliza (Mills) Jones (1804 – 1877) inherited some of Isaac’s parents land along the National Road on November 17, 1830. They founded Jefferson and platted the town in September of 1831 with 64 lots. Its post office opened in 1833 but was called West Jefferson to avoid confusion with other towns in Ohio named Jefferson. By 1834 the town already had 700 citizens. Business boomed along the National Road and in West Jefferson in the 1840s and 1850s. Lumber mills and merchant shops fueled the local economy on top of farming and livestock raising.

On the northwest side of town, War of 1812 veteran John Blair (1788 – 1870) from Virginia and Jency (Jennie Thompson) Blair settled in the township in 1843. They were married in 1814 while John was running a hat business in London, OH and had 7 children. Their oldest child, George W. Blair (1817 – 1886) married Rachel (Goodson) Blair (1820 – 1883). They had 10 children and lived on George’s parents old 300-acre farm. George and Rachel welcomed a Methodist congregation into their home for services for 9 years until donating land for a church and cemetery. Blair Chapel was constructed in 1853 with $700 in funds raised for the structure. The church has since been lost to time.

On top of owning and operating the first steam-powered thresher and reaping machine in the county, George managed construction of 3 miles of Blair Pike in 1868 – 1870. The road still bears the family name along with a branch of the Taylor family that later settled in the area. John, Jency, George and Rachel were buried with relatives in Blair Cemetery on Taylor Blair Rd. The road also had 2 steam-powered saw mills and a water-powered saw mill on Little Darby Creek in the mid to late 1800s.

Back in town, West Jefferson was flourishing with a grist mill and pork packing industry. It had 5 hotels at its peak with passenger and goods stagecoaches lining the streets. Sebastian Roberts (1814 – 1869) and Tacy (Holt) Roberts (1821 – 1889) donated land for Pleasant Hill Cemetery on US 40 in 1864. Sebastian’s parents, Thomas and Susan, formerly owned most of the land on the west side of town and were the first burial there in 1864. A two-story high school was built in 1868 at a cost of $17,000 including the grounds and furniture. Everything was going great until the Little Miami River arrived in town.

Railroads were usually a blessing for town in the mid to late 1800s, but it initially hurt businesses on the National Road and in West Jefferson. Goods shipped in on trains were cheaper than those made locally, but a wool mill and carriage factory kept the town going. In 1883 the town population was around 800 and there was only one hotel remaining. Residents adapted to the changing times though and business picked up again with the addition of the Murray Lumber Company in 1890.

A town hall and an opera house that could entertain 600 residents were constructed in 1898 and a new high school was built in 1911 at the intersection of Frey Ave and Fellows Ave. The Pennsylvania Railroad bought out the Little Miami and raised the tracks through town in 1913 – 1914 to prevent traffic accidents. Its last passenger station is on N Walnut St south of the railroad underpass. The town population was 1,070 in 1915 with street lights and businesses illuminated by natural gas piped in from Columbus. A junior high school was later attached to the high school and both were demolished in 2007. Isaac and Eliza Jones were buried in Hampton Cemetery.

West Jefferson’s current population is around 4,300. Since 1951, the town conducts an annual West Jefferson Ox Roast during Labor Day Weekend. 5,000 pounds of meat are lovingly prepared by volunteers and cooked in a 140 foot long, 4 feet wide by 4 feet deep pit. Streets are closed for a parade and they also run talent contests and other events. A market place is set up for craft and commercial vendors, and more food stands. 

Ox Roast Info – http://www.westjeffoxroast.org/index.html 

Thanks to group member Ashley Murray, manager of Around West Jefferson Ohio, for providing the listing lead, pic, and some of the info on West Jefferson!

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1888 Madison County Map

Madison County, Ohio Ghost Towns Research Resources

1862 – Madison County map

1875 – Madison County atlas

1883 – The History of Madison County, Ohio – Vol. 1

1883 – The History of Madison County, Ohio – Vol. 2

1892 – Portrait and Biographical Record of Fayette, Pickaway, and Madison Counties, Ohio

1915 – History Of Madison County, Ohio