Bethel Township Trustee Nancy Brown and her husband, Bud, enjoying the community dinner.

The Medway Area Historical Society hosted their annual community meal Saturday evening, welcoming members and non-members alike for an evening of good food, prizes, and company. The atmosphere inside the Crystal Lake Clubhouse was reminiscent of a large family as everyone sat down for dinner and caught up with one another, though many in attendance were abuzz with the upcoming bicentennial celebration that is shaping up to be a grand summer celebration.

The folks at the Medway Historical Society have plans to host a family-friendly bicentennial celebration at the Medway School, and are prepared for rain or shine, with indoor and outdoor events and attractions scheduled, such as a cruise-in, games, vendors, entertainment, and more. Medway will turn 200 years-old on August 6, 2016, and a ceremony held at the start of the August festivities will feature some of the town’s history and notable residents.

Scott Suther, known by all to be the ultimate source of Bethel Township history, shared some of Medway’s beginnings, saying the town first centered around a large gristmill built by the Reverend Archibald Steel. Suther said Steel settled there in 1807 and built the gristmill soon after, noting that it “formed the nucleus of the town of Medway.”

Steel then platted the town on August 24, 1816, the occasion being acknowledged before Justice of the Peace Samuel Smith, Suther said. Back then, Medway consisted of 89 lots on both sides of the Valley Pike—now known as Lower Valley Pike. Suther said the town’s first Postmaster, Jacob Hershey, built the town’s first house as well.

The 1881 Beer’s History of Clark County states that “the last census of 1880 showed Medway having 211 inhabitants. Medway is surrounded by one of the finest farming districts in the world-which, however, is the character of the whole of the Mad River Valley. Medway has one dry goods store, and one grocery and provision store, a carriage-factory, wagon and blacksmith shops, a mill for the reduction of wood to pulp for the manufacture of paper.”

Beers History also goes on to say that the “Woodbury flouring-mills, adjoining Medway, are among the best in the Mad River Valley and doing a large business, having a never-failing supply of water, and is never stopped by the coldest weather.” The mills employed a large number of Medway residents, and in the mills’ prime, the need for new employees grew exponentially each month.

Roberta Schneider, who is one of the Medway Historical Society’s original members, spoke with us during dinner this weekend, saying the meal has been an annual tradition for at least ten years. Schneider said the event is a way to give thanks to the community and provide a space for everyone to come together over pulled pork, fried chicken, all the fixins’, and desserts of all kinds, which were prepared by the ladies of the society.

Although Schneider and her late husband Roger are natives of Kentucky, she said she really enjoys historic events that happened here in her adopted hometown. She named the old trolley line that once ran through town as one of her favorite topics of our local history, especially because her home in Medway still contains physical remnants of the long-defunct DS&U trolleys.

Libby Reese ran the show Saturday evening, taking money at the door from all 67 guests, as well as calling out raffle prize winners every few minutes, with many visitors going home with brightly-wrapped gift baskets containing all manner of prizes.

Longtime society member Dixie Gergal, who spent time wrapping up the baskets, was uncharacteristically not present at Saturday’s meal due to a recent illness. Upholding the society members’ bond and mutual respect for one another, Gergal’s friend Mary Spitler went through the line before she left, filling a to-go box with the evening’s meal so that Gergal wouldn’t have to miss out completely.

The New Carlisle News will proudly provide details on the Medway Bicentennial Celebration as they become available.

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