A whole lot of local history very nearly went up in smoke.

A whole lot of local history very nearly went up in smoke.

What on the surface appeared to be maybe a half-century-old house with shabby siding, abandoned for about a decade, on a weedy lot off Borror Road was offered to Jackson Township Fire Department officials for a practice burn. Firefighters hone their skills and the property owners get rid of an eyesore; a win-win.

But history won out when, upon closer examination and a peek behind the dilapidated siding, the structure proved to be a log house, possibly more than 150 years old. The sawn logs are 8 inches thick, 18 inches high and up to 20 feet in length.

"I don't think it would have been feasible to even try to burn it down," said Jackson Township Administrator Mike Lilly. "It would have taken days to burn it."

After Capt. Merion Jacob, training officer for the department, inspected the structure and found it more suitable to historical preservation than hose practice, Southwest Franklin County Historical Society members were contacted.

They were, as always when something old is saved and not lost forever, delighted, according to Louis Eyerman of the organization.

"It's probably the oldest log house in Jackson Township remaining," Eyerman said. "These houses are around and you wouldn't know they were log houses."

Society members have been working in recent weeks to remove the siding, which Eyerman thinks was slapped on in the 1940s, covering up but also preserving the original exterior. Their goal is to eventually dismantle the house, carefully numbering the sections, to eventually reassemble it as another addition to the historic, preserved structures in Century Village at Fryer Park.

They have until the end of the year to do it, and they could use some help, both physically and financially.

"We're getting to be a bunch of old guys," Eyerman confessed.

Jackson Township Trustees have a request before them to provide equipment and manpower toward the dismantling project, but no final decision has been made, according to Lilly.
Society officials hope Grove City may help out, as well.

Research has been conducted by historical society members into the ownership of the land and later log house on the west side of Borror Road south of Zuber Road.

It sits on what was once a 3,900-acre parcel that, on Nov. 15, 1808, was given to one John Smith Sneed in payment for his services during the Revolutionary War.

The property remained in the hands of out-of-state land speculators, among them Joseph Taggart, Alexander MacLoughlin, Edward Gray, Robert Taylor, Thomas James, William McFarland, Wm. Boggs and Co., William Lamp, Joseph Waddle, Margaret Boggs and James P. Stuart, until Sept. 23, 1846, when 232 of the acres were purchased by Joab Borror. A few weeks later, on Nov. 14, 1846, he married Catherine Haughn, a member of another prominent local family.

"We feel that they were the ones who built the log house," according to the historical society research.

Joab Borror died on June 16, 1899, and the property went to his wife and later to their son, Jacob. Ora D. and Delta Black bought the parcel, by then down to 203 acres, on May 13, 1935. On Dec. 22, 1952, ownership of the property was transferred to their son, Addison H. Black and his wife, Carolin. She died on Jan. 24, 2000, while her husband passed away on Feb. 12, 2004. The present owners are David and Donald Black, sons of Addison and Carolin.

The house was occupied until sometime in the 1990s.

"It's in reasonable condition," Eyerman said.

Southwest Franklin County Historical Society members involved in the siding-removal project have been amazed at what their work has revealed.

"When we started off it didn't look anything like it does now," Dave Evans said. "We figure it came out of virgin timber."

"This is something that I always wanted to get into," said Don Brown.

"It's fantastic," said Roy Hedrick, who has been involved with Century Village for the past seven years. "To me, what's nice, you walk up there and touch one of those logs and it's 200-something years old."

"There's a lot of history there," Brown tossed in.

"It was all done by hand and ax," Hedrick mused. "The amount of physical labor involved with that is incredible."

"It's quite interesting," Jim Heller said, "because you just saw a little house with siding on it and thought it had been there maybe 50 years."

Other than getting the structure off the property by the end of the year, historical society members don't really have a timetable for reassembling the house at Century Village, according to Eyerman. That's going to depend on financial assistance for the project.

One group of people would undoubtedly be delighted if the log structure was up by 2011. These would be descendants of the Borrors. Their family reunion is scheduled to be in the Grove City area that year.

"2011 will mark the bicentennial of Borrors coming to Jackson Township," according to an e-mail from descendant Dick Shover of Minnesota.

The log structure was once home to Shover's grandparents, Seymour and Lela Borror.

"They lived there for four years, and my aunts, Merle Shover Breckenridge and Elma Shover, were born there," Dick Shover wrote in an e-mail. "My grandmother always referred to that house as the Haines House.

"I can only speak for myself relative to the Haines House. I am glad it will be preserved. Living in Minnesota, I rarely get back to Ohio, but when I do, I always, at some point, take a drive through Jackson Township. Whenever I see that house I think of my grandparents and hope the place will be preserved.

"I am now elated at what is being done."