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The Alexander W. Livingston homestead and offices of the Reynoldsburg Visitors & Community Activities Bureau.
THE HISTORY OF REYNOLDSBURG, OHIO
Reynoldsburg was named for James C. Reynolds who was born in 1806. He arrived in the area around 1831 where he initially boarded with John French. He then built a cabin and opened a sutler's store for the road gang building the Cumberland Road. While selling work clothes, whisky, molasses, calico and general provisions, Reynolds provided a central gathering place and was the first merchant in the area. It is possible the town was named "Reynolds Burgh" because the mail was delivered to his store. Reynolds, a Whig, served as a Brigadier General in the Ohio Militia and a Representative in the Ohio General Assembly. He died of complications from malaria in 1854.
The Cumberland Road, better known as the National Road, was one of the main reasons that Reynoldsburg grew into the thriving city it has become. Before the National Road was built there was a trail which had its beginnings as an animal and Indian trail. The arriving settlers laid down logs and posts on the trail and built the road that was known as, "Old Corduroy." We know this road as Main Street or Route 40. The National Road contracts called for the road to be 30 feet wide with 18 feet of cleared space on each side with a roadbed 20 feet wide covered with 12-18 inches of stone. The Underground Railroad ran through Reynoldsburg between 1840 and the spring of 1865. The date this type of activity began in the town is unknown, but people associated with the National Road were often involved.
Within six years of the National Road starting through Reynoldsburg, four taverns were built, two churches established, two additions to the village were platted and registered, a school started and a post office begun. Reynoldsburg was incorporated in March of 1839.
Another reason for growth in the area was the establishment of the Reynoldsburg Union Academy in 1868. This was the first public high school in Franklin County. Students came from other counties and states and paid tuition for the privilege of studying under Dr. Darlington J. Snyder. While school was in session the students needed food, clothing, shelter and entertainment, which Reynoldsburg residents provided causing commerce growth in the township.
The first known pioneer family, James & Martha Crawford, arrived in the area around 1802. Their children settled in Reynoldsburg, including a daughter, Margaret, who married James Graham. Thomas Palmer arrived in 1803 and later built a grist mill with William Dean. John & Jane French settled in the area in the fall of 1816 and owned much of the land in what we now call "Old Reynoldsburg." John French had his land surveyed and platted out a town that was registered in Nov. 1831. Tradition says that he named the town "French Town" after his family, but it was listed as "Reynoldsburgh" in Aug. 1832 and there are no known official records listing the name as "French Town".
Reynoldsburg is a community located at the geographical center of Ohio and is a suburb of Columbus, the state capitol. The city is within 500 miles of over 50 percent of the United States population. Port Columbus Airport is 15 minutes from the center of Reynoldsburg. Interstate Highway I-70 runs through Reynoldsburg connecting it with Indianapolis, Indiana and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Reynoldsburg is most noted as the "Birthplace of the Tomato." On his farm in Reynoldsburg, shown above, internationally recognized horticulturist Alexander W. Livingston (1821-1898) was the first to develop the tomato for commercial use. He introduced the Paragon tomato in 1870 which became the first commercially grown tomato.
The Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival is a community event that started in 1965. The festival was originally called the Tomato Fair in recognition of Alexander W. Livingston. The 2009 Festival will be held in Huber Park on August 14-15.
Compiled by Suzy Millar Miller referencing the book, "History of Reynoldsburg and Truro Township, Ohio" by Cornelia M. Parkinson, copyrighted October 1981.