Ohio Ghost Towns at Big Walnut Area Historical Society meeting


When we drive around Delaware County, it’s easy to think that what we see and experience — roads, towns, villages, townships – are just grownup versions of everything laid out by pioneers when they first settled the area.

Yet Delaware County, like any area that grew from wilderness, has its fair share of false starts – a.k.a. ghost towns.

Rick Helwig, Director of the Center for Ghost Town Research in Ohio, will give a presentation on the results of the center’s current research into Ohio’s ghost towns during the Tuesday, March 14, meeting of the Big Walnut Area Historical Society.

The 7:30 p.m. meeting will be held at the Myers Inn Museum; admission is free, and the meeting is open to the public.

During his presentation, Helwig will provide an overview of what the Center for Ghost Town Research in Ohio does, and describe what ghost towns are and how they are created. In addition to interesting ghost towns statewide, Helwig will also talk about Delaware County ghost towns.

To inject some spice to his presentation, Helwig will add a few ghost stories, with a special emphasis on ghost towns located in the Big Walnut area.

Helwig, raised in Defiance and a 1985 Defiance College graduate with a degree in Secondary Math Education, moved to his maternal family farm in Eastern Delaware County in 1987. Around that same time, the Helwigs opened a multifaceted business in Sunbury, and Rick joined his father in a quest to catalog all of the ghost towns in Ohio.

Rick’s father, Richard, created the Center for Ghost Town Research in Ohio in 1976 as the result of a genealogy class that the elder Helwig was teaching at the Northwest Technical College in Archbold, Ohio.

In 1987, The Center for Ghost Town Research in Ohio moved to Sunbury. To date, the Center has identified over 6,000 ghost towns throughout the state, and has published 18 books on the ghost towns of Ohio, including an edition featuring Delaware County ghost towns.

Helwig, a licensed auctioneer for 35 years, is the current Director of the Center for Ghost Town Research in Ohio. He works full-time for the Delaware County Board of Elections as a Manager. He is the blacksmith in the Myers Inn Forge, Commander of the Civil War School Day, and is an active Civil War reenactor.


By Lenny C. Lepola

[email protected]

Delaware County Ghost Towns

Some eastern Delaware County wilderness outposts survived and grew into larger communities like Sunbury and Galena that continue to thrive. Others, like Berkshire Corners, Olive Green, and Condit, are still with us today, but as shells of their former selves.

• Berkshire Corners was done in by technology — the railroad went through Sunbury and Galena. It was the first village laid out in the earlier years of county settlement, and Sunbury and Galena residents traveled to Berkshire Corners to pick up mail. It was thought that Berkshire would become the county seat, maybe even the state capitol.

Through the years Berkshire Corners was home to a tavern, hotel, and an institute of higher learning. While part of the original Berkshire Corners fabric remains at the Route 36/37 and Galena Road intersection, including Berkshire Cemetery, the post office closed in 1902 and the town dwindled to a few surviving houses.

• Olive Green was laid out in 1835, the first village in Porter Township. Olive Green had eight streets and several alleys, a doctor and an attorney, a post office, a blacksmith, two churches, a school, a creamery, a broom maker, and even a car mechanic in the later years.

Today there’s a small community at Olive Green, and the former town is the home of the Porter-Kingston Fire District station house.

• Condit – a.k.a. South Condit, North Condit, Condit Station – north of Sunbury on Routes 3/36 and the Condit Road intersection, not only had stores and a post office, Condit had its own newspaper.

• The community of Alum Creek was home to a post office until 1899, a mill, general store, a church, a dance hall, and a restaurant/gas station.

• Rome, located where Rome Corners is today, was incorporated in 1838 and the incorporation was annulled soon after. It boasted a chair factory, sawmill, Grange Hall, school, fire insurance company and a church. Rome was founded by Almon Price, a Roman history aficionado who named the town he formed from his farmland after the historic capital of Italy. Local residents called Price, who ran a local chair factory, the Pope of Rome.

George Buckingham Carpenter founded the Rome Fair that ran each year between 1877 and 1914 at Rome Corners. According to a 1954 Delaware Gazette article, in 1897 the Rome Fair gate admission was ten cents, 4,500 people attended the Rome Fair in 1899, and 8,000 people entered the fair in 1904. It was a simple fair with no rides, games, races, betting, or alcoholic beverages.

— From the September 2011 edition of The Sunbury News.

Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.

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