On March 30, Franklin County will be 215 years old.
It was on that date in 1803 -- one month after Ohio became a state -- that the county was carved out of a part of what had been Ross County.
In its initial form, Franklin County was considerably bigger than it is today. The limits of the new county were set out in a statute that would take effect April 30, 1803:
"Beginning on the western boundary of the twentieth range of townships east of the Scioto River, at the corner of section numbers twenty-four and twenty-five in the ninth township of the Twenty-First Range, surveyed by John Matthews, thence west until it intersects the eastern boundary line of Green County, thence north with said line until it intersects the State line, thence eastwardly with the said line to the northwest corner of Fairfield County, thence with the western boundary line of Fairfield to the point of beginning."
In 1858, William T. Martin, in his "History of Franklin County," explained what all of that meant: that the county was "bounded on the east by nearly our present line, south by a line near the middle of what is now Pickaway County, on the west by Greene County, and on the north by Lake Erie."
Martin also explained how Franklin County came to be more or less the size it is today:
"The creation of the county of Delaware in 1808, reduced our northern boundary to its present line; the creation of the county of Pickaway in 1810, reduced our southern boundary to its present limits; the creation of Madison in 1810, and of Union in 1820, reduced our western limits to the boundaries represented by Wheeler's County Map published in 1842; but subsequently, by an act of the Legislature passed the Fourth of March, 1845, our western boundary was changed by making Darby Creek the line from the northwest corner of Brown to the northern line of Pleasant Township, as represented by Foote's map of 1856; and by an act passed the twenty-seventh of January, 1857, entitled 'an act to annex a part of Licking County to the County of Franklin,' there were nine half-sections taken from the southwest corner of Licking, and attached to Franklin. This occasions the jog in the eastern line of Truro Township, as represented on the maps.
"Then at the session of 1850-1851, a range of sections, being a strip one mile in width, including the town of Winchester, was taken from Fairfield County and attached to the east side of Madison Township, in Franklin County as represented on Foote's map. The county is now (1858) in nearly a square form, and is twenty-two and a half miles in extent north and south, and probably average a trifle over that from east to west."
Despite some other "trifles" from time to time over the last century and a half, the size and shape of the county generally has stayed in the form Martin left it in 1858.
A later history recorded what happened next:
"Under the Constitution of 1802, the Common Pleas or County Judges were chosen by the General Assembly, and were called Associate Judges. By the Act of April 16, 1803, it was made the duty of these Judges, to establish townships and fix their boundaries, to appoint certain county officers, and to discharge various duties now performed by the County Commissioners. The first Common Pleas Judges appointed for Franklin County were John Dill, David Jamison and Joseph Foos, of whom the first named was the President or Chief Judge. This Court appointed Lucas Sullivant (founder of Franklinton) as its clerk, and on May 10, 1803, proceeded to divide the county into four townships, two east and two west of the Scioto. The eastern townships were named Harrison and Liberty, the western Franklin and Darby."
At the same meeting, the court set June 21, 1803, as the day to elect justices of the peace for the various townships, and on that same day, Ohio elected Jeremiah Morrow to be its first representative to Congress. A total of 130 adult white men voted in that first election.
Franklinton was founded in 1797. The court met in "hired rooms" until 1807, when a courthouse was erected by Sullivant near what is now the northeast corner of West Broad Street and state Route 315.
It was built of brick manufactured "from the clay of one of the ancient mounds of the neighborhood. A brick jail, Arthur O'Harra, contractor, was built about the same time, situated a few rods northeast of the courthouse.
"These buildings continued to be used until the county seat was removed to Columbus in 1824. After that, the courthouse was used for some time as a schoolhouse. It remained standing until 1873, when it was torn away ... "
With its passing, another tangible link to the earliest history of Franklin County was gone forever.
Local historian and author Ed Lentz writes the As It Were column for ThisWeek Community News.