As one passes through the older parts of downtown Columbus, it is easy to see that the capital city has a street pattern that is relatively easy to understand.

As one passes through the older parts of downtown Columbus, it is easy to see that the capital city has a street pattern that is relatively easy to understand.

Beginning at Statehouse Square and heading east, the main north-south thoroughfares are consecutively numbered "streets" as in Third Street, Fourth Street and so on. There are some exceptions such as Grant Avenue and Washington Avenue, but generally the numbered streets march on.

The streets laid out from east to west are a little more complicated. They tend to be named for things that are gone, such as the Native American mound that gave Mound Street its name, or things that are still there but hidden, such as the springs that are under Spring Street. Others took their names from other cities, including Broad Street and High Street.

And then some streets took their names from people who lived here in the early history of the city. This is especially true in the Franklinton neighborhood.

Franklinton is interesting because it was a town for quite some time before Columbus even came into being.

Columbus is a created city. There was no town on the High Banks until the Ohio General Assembly brought Columbus into being as a new capital city in 1812. Fifteen years earlier, a frontier surveyor named Lucas Sullivant had come to the forks of the Scioto and Olentangy rivers and liked what he had seen.

Sullivant was one of several surveyors employed to lay out tracts of land in the Virginia Military District that had been set aside for Virginia veterans of the American Revolution. As was the custom of the time, Sullivant took most of his pay in land. And the land he came to like best was this place in central Ohio.

Deciding to settle here, Sullivant laid out a town on the west bank of the Scioto in the fall of 1797. An admirer of Benjamin Franklin, he called his town Franklinton and hoped that people would soon come and join him there.

They did not come.

The main reason was because the new town was only a few dozen miles from the Greenville Treaty Line, which left the northern third of what is now the state of Ohio in the possession of Native Americans. To live this close to the edge of the frontier would require some inducement.

Sullivant provided that enticement with Gift Street. If a new settler came to his new town, Sullivant would give him a free lot on Gift Street. If a person actually believed enough in the new place to buy a lot, the street that led to their lot would bear their name.

Many of the streets in old Franklinton bear those names. The street immediately west of Gift Street is Skidmore Street. It takes its name from the Skidmore family, who came to Franklinton in 1798.

The families who settled frontier Franklinton are to some extent shadowy figures. We do not know a great deal about many of them. These people lived before the age of photography, and most of them were people of modest means. They often could not afford to have portraits made of themselves. In fact for many of these people, the street named for them is the only thing we know about them.

We do know a bit more about George Skidmore.

Skidmore was born about 1774. Like many young men who came of age in the years after the American Revolution, he came west to the newly opened Ohio Country to seek his fortune. He arrived in Franklinton in 1798 with his bride, the former Isabella McGahey of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.

One reason we know something about Skidmore is that he was quite active in the local militia. He was appointed an ensign in the First Regiment of the Ross County Militia by Gov. Arthur St. Clair in 1802.

Moving up through the ranks, he had reached the rank of captain in the local militia by the beginning of the War of 1812. He served through most of that war and then returned to his home in central Ohio.

We do not know a great deal about his life in central Ohio except that he advertised in a local paper in 1811 that his smithing apprentice named John Hamilton had run away. Apparently Skidmore was something of a blacksmith.

Skidmore and his wife had a number of children. Some would eventually move west as he had once done. Others would stay and farm the land of Franklin Township in central Ohio.

Skidmore died in 1855. He was about 80 years old. The average life expectancy of an adult male in this period was about 40 years. Skidmore had lived twice that long.

Local historian and author Ed Lentz writes the As it were column for ThisWeek.