There is a street on the west side of the Olentangy River a few miles north of downtown Columbus near Ohio State University called Kinnear Road.

There is a street on the west side of the Olentangy River a few miles north of downtown Columbus near Ohio State University called Kinnear Road.

Many of the roads, streets and byways of central Ohio are named for people. Some are named for people who achieved some fame and importance. Streets named for coach Woody Hayes, Olympian Jesse Owens and flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker come to mind. Others are named for the families that once owned the farms and homes through which the roads now run. On the near north side of Columbus, Goodale Avenue, Hubbard Avenue, King Avenue and Lane Avenue are streets that remind us of the people who once lived nearby.

Kinnear Road is one of those thoroughfares that actually is a bit of both. The Kinnear family has been in central Ohio for quite some time and over the years has owned a significant amount of property in what is now the University District in and around Ohio State University.

The story of the Kinnear family is one worth retelling.

The Kinnears came to America from Ireland. Families named Kyner, Kenneir and Kinnear had been living in the northern counties of Ireland in the years after the Norman conquest of England in 1066. By the late 1700s the continuing conflict between the Protestant north and the Roman Catholic south had become so frequent and so difficult that many families decided to emigrate to a new life in a new world.

The Kinnears were among them.

William Kinnear and his wife, Jane, left Ireland with their children in 1791 and eventually settled in Berks County, Pa., in the years after the American Revolution. Like many young people in the new country, William's son, Andrew, looked over the mountains of western Pennsylvania to the next new country.

In 1806, Andrew left Pennsylvania with his wife, Mary, and their children and came into the Ohio Country and settled in Pickaway County in central Ohio.

Central Ohio in 1806 was a wonderful place to be. The vast old growth forests contained huge trees more than 20 feet in diameter and 100 feet high. The canopy formed by the old trees blocked the sun and kept the forest floor relatively clear of undergrowth. Travelers often remarked that traveling through these forests was like walking through a great green cathedral. Crisscrossed with trails followed by buffalo as well as people, much of central Ohio was this sort of verdant place.

And just to the south of what is now downtown Columbus was the prairie. The Great Pickaway Plains to the south and the Darby Plains to the west were seas of grass - very tall grass - 6 feet to 10 feet tall.

Andrew and Mary Kinnear spent the rest of their lives happily building a new home for themselves in Pickaway County, and several of their children chose to live nearby as well. Some did not.

Samuel Kinnear had been born in Berks County, Pa., in 1800, before Andrew and Mary Kinnear decided to move west. Bright, energetic and affable, Samuel Kinnear served as a clerk in a local store, learned surveying and worked for the clerk of courts. Through most of his youth and young adulthood, he was always looking for new opportunities.

Like many young men of his era, Samuel married with the hope of beginning a family of his own. In 1826, he married Hannah McCutcheon. The couple had two children, both girls, in two years, then Hannah died. She was 20 years old.

Samuel married Ellen Hill two years later and began a new family. By then they had also decided that it was time to begin in a new place. The Kinnears moved north to the new state capital of Columbus.

It seemed like a good time to do so. The Ohio Canal and the National Road had both arrived in the frontier state capital in 1833. Overnight its population jumped from 1,700 to 5,000 people. There were jobs and opportunities to be had in every part of the city.

And there was Asiatic cholera as well.

The Kinnears wisely decided to make their new start at some distance from the capital city. They traveled about four miles up High Street - then the Columbus and Sandusky Turnpike - and found a farm they liked with High Street frontage in a little village called North Columbus.

Just to the south of the Glen Echo Ravine, North Columbus was a stage relay center for the Neil and Moore Stagecoach Co. and a group of inns, taverns and other stores clustered nearby and operated by local families.

The Kinnears joined them and in short order were operating a hotel on their property. Samuel Kinnear by one later account "became a prominent and influential resident of the community, with a wide acquaintance. He served as Justice of the Peace for thirty-eight years.

"He was the first and only postmaster of North Columbus and held that office for a third of a century. His office, a small brick building on High Street near Tomkins Street was in the yard of what was his homestead. By the time Samuel Kinnear died in 1867, he was held in high regard not only in North Columbus but throughout central Ohio."

His son, Josiah, would also be well-remembered. Born in 1834, he later completed his studies at Capital University and what would later be Otterbein College in Westerville. Trained in surveying, he would spend the next 30 years as county surveyor for Franklin County and later as a city engineer for Columbus. One of his earliest jobs in 1854 was surveying the town plat for the village of North Columbus where he lived. In later years he would serve as sheriff of Franklin County.

He married Josephine Shattuck in 1857. They had four children and continued to live on the family farm in North Columbus until 1872. They moved to a new home on East Long Street, where Josiah Kinnear died in 1904. He had lived long enough to see his own children continue in the family tradition of public service and private prosperity.

Every street in Columbus has a story. Some, like the Kinnear story, are happy ones indeed.

Ed Lentz writes a history column for ThisWeek.