Fairfield County was erected and organized December 9, 1800. At that time it was part of the Northwest Territory and remained part of it until March of 1803 when Ohio became a state. In January 1801, Fairfield County was divided into 3 townships: Hocking, Richland, and Clearcreek. Prior to 1805, Walnut Township was part of Richland Township and in 1805 became part of Pleasant Township when that township was erected. In 1807 or 1808, Walnut Township was erected from the northern part of Pleasant Township. Its name came from Walnut Creek.
Walnut Township is officially known as Township 16 of Range 18 and the northern part of the township contains two rows of sections of Township 17 of Range 18, a part of the Refugee Tract. This tract was set apart by Congress in 1798 to certain persons who left the provinces of Canada and Nova Scotia to aid the cause of freedom in the Revolutionary War.
The first road in Walnut Township was built in 1803 and was called the Lancaster and Newark (New Ark) Pike. This later became the Lancaster-New Salem Road although some still call it the Pleasantville Road. It now is known as Ohio Route 188 or Lancaster-Thornville Road.
William Murphy from Virginia was probably the first settler in Walnut Township in 1800.
Daniel Mauger and Ettie Mauger laid out Roby in 1806. It was located in the southern part of the northwest quarter of section 22 in the Refugee Tract, but apparently was never settled.
New Salem, located halfway between Lancaster and Newark, was laid out December 12, 1832 by Abraham Hashbarger /Harshbarger and David Swazey/Swayze. It may have been named after the town of Salem, Massachusetts.
The Village of Thurston, originally called Hitedale (1849) was laid out as Bush City in 1881 by George Bush, and a year later became Hadley Junction (as called by railroad officials). In 1913 the village officially became Thurston, named for a well-liked Methodist minister.
Buckeye Lake was called the “Great Swamp” by Christopher Gist in 1751 and was also known as “Buffalo Swamp”. With the construction of The Ohio and Erie canal (begun in 1825 and completed in 1833), this swamp was converted into the Licking Reservoir, which served as a feeder for the canal. In 1894 the name was changed to Buckeye Lake.
With the canal under construction, Mathias Miller laid out the town of Millersport, a port on the canal, on February 12, 1827. This was near the southwest short of the Licking Reservoir.
The Village of Monticello was settled about 1803by a small group of Virginia Pioneers. When Millersport was laid out, Monticello was already thriving about a mile south along the bank of “Deep Cut”. It had grown as a community for those working on the construction of the canal and had a Post Office from 1827 to 1833. Now nothing remains of Monticello only the “Deep Cut”.
Today, part of the Village of Pleasantville lies in Walnut Township. Columbus street is the boundary between Pleasant and Walnut Township.
HISTORY OF WALNUT TOWNSHIP in 1875
Excerpt from Atlas Map of Fairfield County, Ohio 1875
Turn to the township map, and your attention will be taken by a sheet of water known as the Old and New Reservoir. Here was early located the village of Millersport, at the south end of the reservoir. The completion of the Ohio Canal was an event of great importance, and the farmer will tell you of the labors on the deep cut and the celebration attending the arrival of the first boat, as a thing of yesterday, so interested were they in its success.
Millersport became a place of considerable business in storing and shipping produce. It has of late become a favorite resort for fishing parties. New Salem, another village, has two fine churches and a number of fine residences.
Walnut became a township in 1807. Rev. Lebold, a Baptist, who came and settled here about 1815, is the earliest spoken of.
In 1806, there were but eight or ten families with cabin-homes scattered throughout the township; among these were Asa and William Murphy; the latter saw 90 years, Crawford, Hendricks, the Watsons, David Lyle, and Lebald, who preached the first sermon in the house of William Haver.
At that time there were no roads. A road was blazed through from Columbus to Zanesville, and as soon as there were enough settlers, trees were cut and the race made passable.
The first hewed log house was built, about 1807, by William Haver. Its first floor was made of puncheons adzed smooth.
Crawford owned the first hand-mill. It consisted of two stones, one fixed, the upper movable by an attached arm.
The first what crop was nearly destroyed by squirrels, and it was the children’s task to drive them off. The wheat was boiled, and made a palatable and nutritious dish.
The first church was built under the auspices of Rev. Lebold, above named.
James Holmes is credited with the first brick house, in 1812.
The township record is simple; the children succeed to the father’s lands, cultivate the old fields, and vary the monotony by trips to market.