Sunday, April 1, 2012

Lots At Stake

When the first wave of buyers came to Columbus on June 18, 1812, there must have been a plethora of stakes – history holds that the lots had “freshly-driven stakes.” If all six hundred and sixty lots were staked at their corners, that would be quite a few stakes. Joel Wright, the man in charge, probably got a sawmill to produce two-inch-by-two-inch strips cut in chunks three or four feet long. Such raw lumber would have stood out in the June green of the forest.

With a history open on a desk, you can sit and look at the original plat with lots numbered 1 to 660. Joel Wright probably inked those numbers into the little rectangles. Lot No. 1 was at West Naghten Street at West Street; the high number was on East Naghten at Fourth Street. But Naghten then was called North Public Lane.

Corner lots at Broad and High were numbered 273, 276, 331. Those were considered top-priced lots, being at the main intersection, Broad Street’s great width of one hundred and twenty feet giving it dominance.

Prices of two hundred dollars to one thousand dollars were set by Lyne Starling, the six-foot-six entrepreneur and his partners. The lot sale was not an auction; it was an over-the-counter sale with fixed prices. The site was wild woodland on the high east bank of the Scioto River. The ridge of the high land became High Street. All six hundred and sixty lots were between Naghten and Livingston, and were bunched between the river and Fourth Street.

An Indian mound, with trees on it, existed at Mound and High. East of Fourth Street were wetlands, bogs and ponds that were later drained.

The name of the new place, Columbus, was furnished by Joseph Foos, state senator, militia officer, and tavern-keeper in the vicinity of West Broad Street. The lot sale had been advertised, so the tavern of Foos, and other lodging-houses of Franklinton, were filled the night before the sale.

They crossed the river early to that part of the forest where Capitol Square is today. Canoes were used. A strong-armed Franklinton girl named Sally Cutler ran a canoe ferry. Others swam their horses across the river.

Lot buyers were asked to put down one-fifth of the asking price. Among first-day buyers were Jarvis Pike, Christian Heyl, John Shields and Jacob Hare.

When Columbus was incorporated, Pike became the first mayor. Heyl ran a tavern on the High-Cherry corner. Shields, from Dublin, Ireland, was surveyor, bricklayer, poet, preacher, and justice of the peace. Hare willed his estate to the city; an orphanage was named after him.

Christine Hayes

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