Newark, Ohio, is a town that has a long history, especially by U.S. standards. While the town itself starts its modern history in 1802 as a new settlement in a fledgling nation, indigenous people have lived in the valley Newark is currently located in since at least 500 AD and perhaps even as far back as 100 AD. The most common remaining instance of these times are the Newark Earthworks sacred burial mounds, many of which are in protected parks now.
Fast Forwarding To Settler Times
In settler times Newark was officially recognized as a settlement in 1802, with Samuel Elliott and Samuel Parr credited the first individuals to build cabins. Even just a couple years later many more individuals and families would follow and just a mere two years later, the town consisted of about 20 cabins in the rapidly growing small village.
The area was rich in a variety of resources that continued to grow because of access to iron, oil, glass, and silica. Steady work and industry meant growth continued and early companies that sprung out of Newark included basket building, construction, and soon instead of having one main supply store the town thrived in a business-friendly setting. This was due Newark small businesses that would not only provide everything needed but kept wealth within the community.
A Growing Community and Local Newark Government
Newark built the Licking County courthouse in 1808 which became the center of government. While the first one was a basic log cabin that also served as the local church, as the community grew so did its buildings. By 1830 the town boasted nearly 1,000 people and within a decade that population would triple once again!
In fact, by the late 1840s, the town of Newark had three separate newspapers, ten grocery stores, a bookstore, an iron foundry, a wool factory, hardware stores, dozens of small specialized businesses and more. A town of this size needed a better courthouse, and in 1876 the famous “Empire-style” courthouse was built in Newark. This building was designed by the renowned architect Louis Sullivan, and the town continued to thrive and grow. Construction of the Ohio and Erie Canals only helped the entire area to thrive.
The 20th Century in Newark
By the turn of the century at 1900, Newark’s population of a full 15,000 people and still growing. There was a strong manufacturing base that took care of everything from baskets to tractors, to glass and everything in between. Add in a solid railroad presence and there was a very healthy mix. In fact, Heisey Glass Company was considered famous internationally for their dinnerware while the largest beer bottle manufacturer in the world was also located in Newark (American Bottle Company).
While many communities that did well at the turn of the century would suffer later, this was not the case with Newark. Newark’s population a century later would be up over 45,000 people and the city changed with the times. While many old companies are still there, Newark became both a commuter community for Columbus while Ohio State University has their largest satellite campus in Newark, encouraging education. Add in local tourism to see various sites including the historic indigenous burial mounds and it’s easy to see why Newark continues to thrive.