Scott Suther of the Medway Area Historical Society presented an extensive history of Medway to area residents at the New Carlisle Public Library on Thursday, June 9.
According to Suther, the early history of Medway are is steeped in mystery; however, based on archeological data collected by William C. Mills around 1904, the area was inhabited by Mound Builders sometime between 750 A.D. – 1100 A.D. by what was probably the Hopewell Culture . Two Indian Mounds were discovered just west of what is now Tecumseh road.
The evidence indicates that there were two Shawnee villages located in Bethel Township, one in Medway and one near George Rogers Clark Park, during the 1700s. The Shawnee were instrumental in the American Revolutionary War Logan’s Raid along Mad River, which destroyed 13 Shawnee villages occupied by mostly women and children. The raid was instrumental in forcing the Shawnee westward to Kansas and Missouri.
The settling of the Medway by the Europeans began in earnest during the 1740s. The Wood’s River Land Company purchased a large tract of land within present-day southwest Ohio and sold land to settlers entering the region. The Drapier and Ingles families were among the first to purchase land and build homes somewhere between the present locations of Medway and Park Layne. The settlement came to be called Drapier’s Meadow by 1748.
Seven years later, during the French and Indian War, the British gained control over the area and established fur trading posts located in present day Medway.
In 1807, Reverend Archibald Steele and several other families purchased land in what is now Medway. Steele built a gristmill in addition to visiting communities throughout southwestern Ohio Territory to establish new Presbyterian churches.
Steele platted Medway 1816, and named it Medway because it was the midway point between Springfield and Dayton. He appointed Samuel Smith as Justice of the Peace.
In 1837, Jacob Hershey purchased 15 lots for $4256 and acquired another 48 lots for 82¢. He built the first home and ran a post office in the town. An official post office was not established until 1850 and has been in operation since.
Other businesses soon followed and by 1850 there was a wagon maker, several merchants, a blacksmith, an innkeeper, a physician and a woolen manufacturer. The area continued to grow; however, the woolen factory, which manufactured clothes, satinettes, blankets and stocking burned in 1871. The factory, owned by Felix Wise, which employed 30 people, was never reopened.
In 1874, David Burns built a large two-story factory that manufactured hand rakes, wooden forks and other agriculture implements. David Reed began manufacturing furniture and coffins and John Lohnes opened a blacksmith shop and plow factory. Most of the businesses supported the surrounding agricultural community.
The area also saw the construction of two sawmills to support construction in the growing town. Gristmills were also constructed to grind grain into flour. The Dayton Pulp Company opened a woolen mill in 1880 to manufacture wood pulp for paper.
Several patents resulted from the area’s need for agricultural tools and machine. Steven Stockstill, working with other area engineers and inventors, was responsible for several patents. In 1859, Stockstill patented a grain drill, which is a drill for sowing small grains or seeds. Stockstill, in conjunction with W.H.H. Scarff, patented a Clover Seed Harvester in 1868. Stockstill, working with H.D. Kutz, patented some plow designs in 1873. He also worked with H.H. Dille to design and patent a meat cutter in 1868.
Although Stockstill was responsible for most of the patents, David Feighley patented a nursery tree digger and a shovel for potato digging.
Businesses were established to support commercial and consumer needs in the area. Elias Kline established the first grocery store in 1870 and ran the establishment for 18 years. Several different owners ran the establishment until 1944, at which time William E Rees opened the store as Woody’s Market, which existed until 1956.
Between 1900 and 1937, a The Dayton Springfield and Urbana Train Company ran rail lines through Medway. The line that began in Dayton extended the Third Street tracks to Springfield Street and then on through Medway to Springfield by Lower Valley Pike. The company was prosperous; however, as cars became more common, the rails became less profitable and the route was abandoned.
During the early 1900s, Medway residents supported many retail businesses; however, in the second half of the century as more and more big-box stores were established in larger communities and people traveled further to shop for a plethora of consumer goods, most of the small businesses that had been established were unable to compete and closed their doors.
Today, Medway remains a quiet tree-line community that provides a safe place to raise a family. For more detailed information on the Medway’s proud and fascinating history, contact the Medway Area Historical Society on Facebook.