History & Heritage
Before the White Man kept records, the ancient Mound Builders were here, where the Tuscarawas and Walhonding Rivers meet to form the Muskingum River. Later, the Mound Builders were supplanted by the Delaware tribe.
Traces of both civilizations remain today, in the distinctively Indian names that still identify local places, as well as the nearby historic burial mounds and the Indian artifacts which survive in local collections and museums.
The Indians had chosen this spot wisely. The hills furnished an ideal vantage point for protection, while the valley offered abundant water and natural resources, a temperate climate, plenty of game and other natural resources.
There were sporadic explorations by white settlers in the early 1700's, but it was the famous expedition of Colonel Henry Bouquet in 1764 that firmly established the site of what is now Coshocton.
Bouquet, memorialized by a monument north of Coshocton, established a treaty with the Delaware's, brought peace to the area and freed some white captives of the Indians. "The Light In The Forest," a Walt Disney film based on the Conrad Richter book, tells the story.
With the peace treaty came more white settlers. In 1776, permission for the first white man's Christian mission, founded by Moravian missionaries, was granted in the area. A village was established by a handful of settlers in 1802, and was named Tuscarawa. The first store, Calder's Country Store, opened for business; other merchants soon arrived and the village grew into a town.
On January 31, 1810 the county was established, and the town became the county seat in 1811, when the town was officially named Coshocton by an act of the Ohio Legislature. At that time the name was changed from "Gosh-ach-gunk," the Delaware word for "black bear town," to the town's new name - Coshocton. It was incorporated in 1833 and today is the only town with that name in the world.
Coshocton began as a small, rural agricultural town. The opening of the Ohio-Erie Canal, in 1830, would change that forever. With improved transportation, industry began to grow in Coshocton and its other resources developed. By 1834, coal was being mined, and the town was rapidly becoming an important trading and shipping port along the canal. A paper mill opened in 1863, followed by the Coshocton Iron and Steel Works in 1871. The arrival of the railroad the "Iron Horse" - did even more for the industrial development of the area.
In 1886, an idea by a local printer gave rise to the specialty advertising industry, which, from its "birth" in Coshocton, eventually developed into various manufacturing companies all over the country. Today, four specialty advertising companies still thrive in Coshocton.
The Indians are remembered in Coshocton County by the names of nearby villages such as Mohawk, Wakatomika and Walhonding. Nellie was named for the postmaster's sweetheart. Many area villages reflect their founders' interests such as West Bedford, Tiverton Center and New Moscow. Others commemorate landmarks such as Spring Mountain, Tunnel Hill, Newcastle, Canal Lewisville, Plainfield and Wills Creek.
Communication links became established in 1825 when The Coshocton Spy, Coshocton's first newspaper began operation as a one-man business. Its final successor, The Coshocton Tribune, has been publishing since 1909. In 1894 Coshocton put its first telephone exchange into operation with the first service being started by George Keck.
The invention of the radio came 1920, with the nation's first station, KDKA of Pittsburgh first broadcasting on Nov. 2. Some 27 years later in September of 1947 Coshocton's first radio station, WTNS began broadcasting as Coshocton Broadcasting. The business was actually incorporated in 1945 and was owned by F. Bruce Wallace and brothers Bob and Bill. Construction of the South Sixth Street studio began in July, 1947 with the first broadcast in September of the same year.
Today, as throughout its history, industry and business continue to grow in Coshocton, with 35 industries, farming and tourism employing most of its population.
Since its first settlement where the rivers meet, Coshocton has been a town that has never been content to stand still. Its fascinating history is held in trust by the local historical and genealogical societies, various museums, and in the preservation of old landmarks such as the "Old Stone Fort," which is said to be the oldest building in Ohio.
Interesting Legends and Folklore
- It is believed that Johnny Appleseed owned orchards in Coshocton County
- Legend has it that Louis Phillipe, future King of France, was once booted out of a local tavern in Roscoe Village.
- The Walhonding River takes its name from the Indian word for "white woman" and is named for Mary Harris, one of the first white people to live among the Indians.
- Legend has it that a white girl captive of a Delaware warrior broke away from him and leaped from a huge stone to her death in the Walhonding River, rather than submit to life as an Indian Squaw. This storied episode took place in the 1750's and the stone she leaped from has since been called "White Woman's Rock."
~courtesy of Coshocton Tribune Graphics Department