J.B. Lightcap Journal, Page 2:

A list of towns Lightcap traveled through on his way "west."

A list of towns Lightcap traveled through on his way “west.”

“I forgot to state the names of towns & villages which we passed while traveling to the west. Nashville Holmes Co Ohio.
Next was Loudonville, Mansfield, Richland, Small village Ganges. Went on and came to “Planktown (1), Plymouth, Newhaven, Greenfield (2), Monrowville (3), Bellview, Clide (4), Freemont (5), Mysville (6), Woodville, Perysville (7), Maumee City (8), Bridge across Maumee River is 650 feet long, Swanton, Delta, Berlin (9), West Unity (10). This was the last town that we went through. We reached our destination about 3 oclock in the afternoon.

Well, I must now return to my traveling home (11).

March 8-12 Left Striker at 7 oclock in the morning. This was my first ride on the RailRoad. Fare from Striker to Wauseon (12) was one dol and ten cts.

This is not correct it was from (error?) $1.60Page 2, top half
Striker to Toledo $1.60
Fare from Toledo to Mansfield $2.70.
From Mansfield to Clinton .90″

(1) Around the time Lightcap traveled through Planktown, between 1947 and 1957, the town was experiencing some strange happenings–murders and disappearances–which were eventually attributed to tailor and Eagle House innkeeper J.M. Ward who was tried, convicted and hanged in Toledo on June 12, 1857, just two years after Lightcap traveled through the area. Before the hanging, Ward confessed to three gruesome murders for monetary gain.

(2) According to the Greenfield Historical Society’s website, “Greenfield was an important stop in the Ohio River to Canada route on the Underground Railroad. Newspaper accounts report slave catchers attempting to collect runaway slaves. Only in the generation after the Civil War did people begin to speak about what they had seen, or heard or done to aid runaway slaves.”

Detail of Lightcap Journal, Page 2(3) Monroeville.

(4) Clyde, home of Sherwood Anderson and setting of the book Winesburg, Ohio.

(5) Fremont.

(6) Not sure what town this would be.

(7) Perrysville

(8) Lightcap would have been in Maumee about the time the city lost it’s place as the Lucas County seat.

(9) Williams County

(10) Founded in1842 by John Rings and William Smith  just shortly before Lightcap traveled through the city in 1855.

(11) Referring to where he left off before he started listing the cities and towns they traveled through along the way.

(12) Here’s something I find fascinating: Some say the tracks to Wauseon were built in 1854 (though the depot was built in 1853). Others say it didn’t stretch all the way to Wauseon but stopped at Lamb’s crossing,  about a mile short of Wauseon, until “early spring 1855.”  Lightcap rode on it on March 7, 1855.  So, if you believe  A Standard History of Fulton County, Ohio by Frank H. Reighard, the first passenger train coming into Wauseon was in “early spring of 1855,” which would have made Lightcap one of the very first passengers to ride the train into Wauseon’s new station, which has since been replaced, then moved, and is now home to the Fulton County Historical Society.

Here’s a piece by Beryl Frank from the Bull Sheet Monthly talking about the Wauseon railroad and depot, along with a photo of the depot in 1860:

The history of Wauseon, Ohio, began before the Civil War, about 1853. That was when surveyors L.L. Barber, S.H. Sargeant and two other partners (names unknown) bought 160 acres of farmland in Fulton County, Ohio. They then laid out a map of the land which began and became the town of Wauseon.

In 1850 the Airline Railroad planned to lay train tracks from Toledo through Fulton County. At the same time Barber and Sargeant were selling lots to settlers, and the town of Wauseon was growing.

The first railroad depot was built in 1853, before the rails even reached the town. The structure was made of wood and sandstone. Another year passed before the tracks were laid to Wauseon. The growth of the railroad and the town then ran along together.

Credit: Don and Joan Merrill

Credit: Don and Joan Merrill

In 1854 tracks reached Wauseon. One year later, a train a day was stopping there – one day it was westbound, and the next day it was headed east. From 1854 to 1891 the depot at Wauseon had enough traffic that a second line was built. Then trains could travel to the East Coast and back.

When the steam-driven locomotive was a big event, people from the town were on hand to watch its arrival and departure. The train traveled between 15 and 20 miles per hour, which was very fast in the early days of the railroad. This seemed a real speed demon to the early settlers of Wauseon.

Like so many other towns in the United States, the name Wauseon came from the Indian tribes who settled the area. Some say it was an Ottowa Chief’s name. Others say it was for the tribe of Potawatomies. Whatever, the town became Wauseon in the early 1850’s, and it is still named that today.

In 1896 the wooden station was replaced with a sandstone and brick depot. The replacement building was on Depot Street between Fulton and Brunell streets. It was in use from 1896 through World War I and II when trains moved U.S. troops all around the country.

As of 2006 the present depot is no longer used for train travel. It is home for the Fulton County Historical Society and railroad artifacts, photos and maps as well as assorted other memorabilia. There is also an operating model railroad courtesy of the Historical Society with assistance of the Swanton Model Railroaders Club.

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