Every town, no matter how big or small, has a history that speaks of how it came to be. If the locals are lucky they have continuously had individuals that took interest in that history and preserved it for future generations. Fortunately, that is the case when it comes to the history of Grove City, Ohio, you will find that their history is much like most towns in the state and around the Midwest.
When the 1800’s began there was essentially nothing in the area that is now known as Grove City. The wildlife and ecology were left virtually untouched, even after the state joined the Union in 1803. Soon, however, a number of events would take place that would lead to the formation of this beautiful town.
It began with the growth of two other townships in the area which are known as Franklin and Jackson Township. Then, the year that Ohio had become a state, the very first settler came to the area and decided that he found it worthy to call home. His name was Hugh Grant and he was a business owner that used both the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to transport goods that he sold. Interestingly, he often would then return to his then home in Pennsylvania on foot. It is believed that this is how he happened on the area that is now known as Grove City.
Grant then returned with his wife to start a new life in this relatively uninhabited area. It is not clear how far he had gotten in his home construction, but it is known that he met an early death shortly after arriving in the area. It is believed that it was a freak accident that had killed him.
Grant’s wife Catherine still possessed the land in the area, which was then given to her son, Hugh Grant Jr. Her son then sold a portion of the land, around 15 acres to William F. Breck, who is now considered the town’s founder. This is due to the fact that he was one of the first people to envision the area as being ideal for a village. The reasoning given was that there was a turnpike that went through the area and then on to the capital, Columbus. This meant that people with money would potentially spend it while on their journey.
Breck then included others in his plans. He thought that the area should have everything you would expect of a respectable town including businesses, a church, and a school. It was recorded in 1853 that 50 people resided in the not yet official town of Grove City. He took advantage of his foresight and went to work building a general store, hotel and other businesses, essentially creating the town as he imagined it, and of course earning a profit as well. Sadly, he met the same fate as Grant and was killed before he could see his dream fully realized.
The next big event that continued the growth of the area was the start of a commuter line that allowed residents to travel to and from Columbus each day. Not only did this allow people in the area to get to the big city close by with ease, but it was attractive to those that worked in the city but wished to live elsewhere. The line began in 1891.
Grant also realized potential here and started what was known as the interurban electric train. This line more frequently allowing flexibility in travel plans. It also attracted those in Columbus to come for entertainment, especially after the Capital City Racing Association opened the first horse racetrack in Ohio in Grove City. By 1930 over 1500 people called this once tiny town home.
Finally, with the end of World War II the area again saw significant growth. Essentially, this is true with much of the country as the housing industry saw a significant boom and the economy was better than it ever had been in the United States. The final improvement to the area was the creation of the major interstates, I-71, that now run through the area, bringing tourism and commerce like never seen before. Only time will tell as to how large Grove City will be in the years to come.