The place they chose was a commercial gravel pit off Old Troy Pike. Unfortunately, this resulted in the drowning death of Gary Whetsel. His death led to a community call to action. In the June 28, 1963 edition of the Urbana Daily Citizen, an opinion piece read, “We do think that a community the size of Urbana should have a public place for young fellows like Gary to swim where they can receive adequate protection and even a little swimming training. Our community needs a public pool where every citizen of the community who wishes to swim can do so for a modest fee.” On Tuesday, July 2, 1963 at the regular meeting of the city council, Stokes stated, “Last week, the drowning of one of Urbana’s sons has moved all of us greatly. Had democracy been working here that precious life might not have been lost – that lad could have been swimming with a Life Guard present at a public licensed recreation site.” Even though there were recommendations made at this same council meeting for a public swimming area that would have been in place the following summer the new public swimming pool wasn’t open for several more years.
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 In Our Opinion. "A Place to Swim." Urbana Daily Citizen, 1963: s.
Daily Citizen . "Funeral Services Scheduled Friday For Boy Who Drowned In Gravel Pit." Urbana Daily Citizen, 1963: 1.
 In Our Opinion. "A Place to Swim." Urbana Daily Citizen, 1963: s.
 Urbana Daily Citizen. "Advisory Panel Adopts Civil Right Agenda; Negroes Ask Council For Equal ." Urbana Daily Citizen, 1963: 1.
Another structure was built before being replaced by the school built in 1855. The first floor of the building was for elementary, and the second floor was the high school. I’m sure students today can’t imagine not having the luxury of electricity and indoor plumbing, something that was not a part of the original building. The first commencement was held on June 3rd, 1880, with two students! As the village grew, expansions on the school followed will into the 1970’s.
In 2003 it was decided that Mechanicsburg needed a more modern building which was completed in 2007. As a homage to the original building, a bell tower was constructed on the new building which houses the original bell. Today, Mechanicsburg schools continue to thrive with a community support behind them along with electricity and indoor plumbing.
So, what is a pony wagon? Simply speaking, they were carriages built for smaller sized horses to pull. These were usually used by children, but adults rode them as well. Before cars, horses and carriages were the primary source of transportation. The type of carriage families owned depended on income. And for some wealthier homes, pony wagons were a great option for the children of the house to use for riding around. The Walborn and Riker Company was known worldwide as the maker of these luxury carriages. When you tour the Pony Wagon Musuem in St. Paris, you will see these carriages, along with other great artifacts, on display. Every year, St. Paris celebrates their rich history with the Pony Wagon Day’s parade. We are proud of the rich history of entrepreneurship this small town has.
From schools to trails, the name Simon Kenton holds a prevalent place in our community and area. As one of our areas first settlers, Simon Kenton is part of our storied past, who has quite a history himself. Born April 3rd, 1755 in Virginia, Simon Kenton left at the age of 16 under some unsavory conditions.
Thinking he had killed a rival, Simon Kenton fled into the wilderness, taking the last name Butler until many years later when he learned the gentleman, in fact, was not dead. Simon Kenton learned to survive in the wilderness, becoming friends with other frontiersmen including Daniel Boone. He is actually credited for saving Danile Boone’s life at one point.
Simon Kenton was captured by American Indians on more than one occasion and was tortured as a result. He survived being tortured by the Shawnee Indians which earned respect and ultimately adoption by the tribe. While he was a prisoner, Simon Kenton first laid eyes on our area. He vowed to return to the area if he survived, which he did.
He served as a scout during the American Revolutionary War and fought in many conflicts. In April 1799, Simon Kenton and William Ward led a group back to the area he fell in love with, settling in an area between Springfield and Urbana. In 1810, Simon Kenton moved to Urbana and became a Brigadier General for the State Militia. Simon Kenton died in 1836 and was eventually buried in Oakdale Cemetary in Urbana. I’m sure those of us who grew up in the area would agree with Simon Kenton, that there is nowhere better to live than here.
The family made the treacherous journey from Virginia to Ohio. Twenty years later, Gray Gary platted the site north of North Lewisburg.
The village was officially incorporated in 1844. The first settlement houses were basic log cabins. The first frame house was built years later and still stands.
Today, North Lewisburg is a thriving community that over a thousand people call home. We are glad that North Lewisburg is part of Champaign County.
It’s harvest time around the area. For those of us who have grown up in this community, seeing combines on the road this time of year is a normal occurrence. Another common occurrence in many households is participating in 4-H. What some may not know, is the 4-H program was started by a man born here in Champaign County.
Born in 1868, A.B. Graham was raised in a small rural farm until it was destroyed by fire. The family moved right over the county line to Lena, Ohio where Graham graduated before receiving his teaching certificate. Graham began his teaching career in 1868 back in Champaign County, with a particular enthusiasm for teaching young people about agriculture. On January 1902 Graham held the first meeting of the boys and girls club in Springfield. These meetings were the precursor to what is now the 4-H program. In 1905, Graham became the first superintendent of agriculture extension at the Ohio State University. His work with the agriculture extension in Ohio and beyond were instrumental in helping to make the 4-H club nationally recognized. Today the 4-H club has over 6 million members. Thanks to A.B Graham, students have an opportunity to learn about not only agriculture but also a variety of other valuable skills. We are thankful for the lasting legacy A.B Graham has left on our entire community.
Do you remember as a kid, dressing up in a costume, ringing neighborhood doorbells and saying “Trick or Treat”? Thought to begin in the 1920, trick or treating gained in popularity by the 1950’s. With the help of television and comics, dressing up and roaming the neighborhood became a yearly tradition for Halloween. Each region of the country has different spin on this tradition. In recent years, trunk or treat has become a popular alternative for many families. Even the term “trick or treat” has been changed for many to Beggars' Night. In Champaign County, the dates and times may vary, so make sure to check with your local community to find out when your beggars’ night is.
Do you believe in ghost stories? Just about every town has a story of a places thought to be haunted. Champaign County is no different. There are a few legends that have become more popular over the years. Almost every town has a “cry baby bridge”. A bridge where a baby was tragically killed, usually in a car accident, and you can hear the cries of the baby at night. In Cable, there is a such a bridge where you can hear the cries of the baby and her mother if you cross the bridge at midnight. In the Evergreen Cemetery, located in St. Paris, there is a tombstone that mysteriously glows at night. The Champaign Economic Partnership(CEP) has even been told that a ghost haunts the hallways of 40 Monument Square, though it's yet to be seen.
Probably one of the most notable ghost stories is the one of our late President, Abraham Lincoln. It is said every April, the Lincoln funeral train takes a ghostly ride and can be seen on the train tracks in Urbana where the original train stopped. So, this Halloween keep your eye out for those ghosts roaming around, calling Champaign County home.
Warren Grimes moved to Urbana in 1930 to continue his work in aircraft lighting. Warren invented the red, green and white navigation lights that are found on aircrafts. During the World War ll, every plane had lighting produced by Grimes Manufacturing. Although Grimes is now Honeywell, the Grimes name lives on in our community. Warren Grimes cared about his company and his community. He served as a mayor and contributed financially to many things we enjoy today in Champaign County. The legacy of Warren G. Grimes, his entrepreneurial spirit, determination, and love for his community will always be a part of Champaign County.