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Home » Alfred Edgerton – A Founding Father of Hicksville, Ohio

Alfred Edgerton – A Founding Father of Hicksville, Ohio

When Emphraim Burwell was sent to the Hicksville area in 1836, he had orders to set up a town to be named for the Hicks family of New York whose business had purchased well over 100,000 acres in this area. The idea was to sell off timber and then the land before taxes were due on the holdings. Burwell spent a lot of money but sold no land. He had to be replaced. The Hicks Land Company chose one of their young bookkeepers to go to Ohio and take over the business.

On April 17, 1837, Alfred P. Edgerton came from New York to take over the Hicks and American Land Companies. When he arrived he found four cabins, an underbrushed road, and some Potawatamies roasting a porcupine on the high ridge of land that ran southwest through the area.

At the crossing on the high ridge, stood a double cabin in which Edgerton stayed, setting up shop in a bureau at one end. He began selling land to the few settlers that were already nearby.
His first sale was 100 acres @ $5.00 an acre to Buenos and Sara Ann Ayres, parents of the first child born in Hicksville.
The next year, Edgerton brought the first mail route off the main line into Hicksville and acted as its first postmaster.

 

BL1890a.jpg (11364 bytes)By 1840, Edgerton’s land and timber sales had outgrown his bureau. He directed the building of a one story square office in the Greek Revival style. Its temple front featured four square columns with capitals. Windows and doors were surrounded with hand carved trim. The high ceiling and hardwood walls are impressive.

The Land office was a center of commerce. Edgerton was a general trader and community leader. He redesigned Hicksville in 1841, consolidating blocks and rearranging streets. He built the first mills and had them rebuilt following fires. A.P. established the first toll road in the Maumee basin, The Antwerp Pike, now Route 49 south.

In the late 1800′s, a wing was added to the side of the building. After A.P. Edgerton’s death in 1897, a variety of businesses occupied the building. The Hicksville Building and Loan was there the longest, from 1899 to 1959. When they expanded, the building was moved one lot north. Thirty years later, the Building and Loan would move The Land Office back to High Street and give it to the library. By then, the Land Office had been moved four times. It currently stores Historical Society collections.

The Land Office is important as the place from which A.P. Edgerton sold over 140,000 acres of land to settlers, an amount topped only by the US government. Development of these lands from swampy forests to highly productive farmland changed the face of northwest Ohio forever.

A.P. Edgerton was a shrewd businessman, but he was also a community minded and generous person. Below is a chronological summary of his accomplishments.

A.P. EDGERTON – A SUMMARY
YEAR EVENT
1813

BORN IN PLATTSBURG, NY. LATER EDUCATED IN PLATTSBURG AND ALBANY.

1833

NEWSPAPER EDITOR IN PLATTSBURG.

1833

MOVED TO NYC FOR THE MERCANTILE TRADE. BOOKKEEPER IN COUNTING HOUSE OF HICKS & CO., A SHIPPING FIRM.

1837

SENT TO OHIO AS A LAND AGENT FOR HICKS AND AMERICAN LAND COMPANIES WHO OWNED 18,000 OF THE 23,040 ACRES IN HICKSVILLE TOWNSHIP AND WELL OVER 100,000 ACRES IN ADJACENT AREAS. THEY HAD SOLD 0 ACRES.

1838

POSTMASTER, HAVING BROUGHT THE FIRST POST OFFICE OFF THE MAIN LINE INTO HICKSVILLE.

1838-39

BUILT MILLS USED TO PROCESS TIMBER FROM AREA FORESTS. REBUILT THEM IN 1840 AND 1841 AFTER FIRES. TIMBER TRADE MORE PROFITABLE THAN LAND SALES AT THIS POINT.

1840

BUILT THE LAND OFFICE FROM WHICH MORE THAN 140,000 ACRES SOLD TO SETTLERS. GENEROUS & WISE EXTENSION OF CREDIT AS NEEDED.

1841

VACATED MOST LOTS AND REDESIGNED HICKSVILLE’S STREETS AND LOTS.

1845

ESTABLISHED FIRST TOLL ROAD IN MAUMEE BASIN. THE ANTWERP PIKE, ORIGINALLY A CORDUROY ROAD, NOW ROUTE 49 SOUTH.

1845

ELECTED TO OHIO STATE SENATE. LED OPPOSITION TO WHIG PARTY.

1848-64

DELEGATE TO 4 NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CONVENTIONS. CHAIRMAN IN 1856; ORGANIZING CHAIRMAN IN 1864.

1850-53

SERVED IN U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. CHAIRED COMMITTEE INVESTIGATING CLAIMS AGAINST THE US TREASURY.

1850-80

DONATED LAND AND/OR MONEY FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF HICKSVILLE CHURCHES.

1853-56

OHIO BOARD OF FUND COMMISSIONS ELECT EDGERTON AS ITS FIRST INDEPENDENT FINANCIAL AGENT FOR THE STATE OF OHIO IN NYC.

1854

EDGERTON, OHIO, NAMED FOR A.P. EDGERTON IN HONOR OF HIS WORKS.

1857

MOVED TO FORT WAYNE, INDIANA, BUT RETAINED OHIO CITIZENSHIP UNTIL 1862.

1858

INVESTIGATED FRAUD IN THE OHIO STATE TREASURY.

1859-68

LESSEE OF WABASH AND ERIE CANAL FROM STATE LINE TO TERRA HAUTE, IN. PRESIDENT AND GENERAL MANAGER IN 1866.

1864

DONATED ANTWERP PIKE TO COUNTY COMMISSIONERS.

1868

NARROWLY DEFEATED IN BID FOR INDIANA LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR.

1872

DECLINED NOMINATION FOR GOVERNOR OF INDIANA.

1872

PRESIDENT OF NEWLY FORMED FORT WAYNE BOARD OF TRADE.

1872-74?

NEGOTIATED WITH B & O RAILROAD TO DIVERT ITS LINE THROUGH HICKSVILLE. DONATED LAND FOR RIGHT OF WAY THROUGH DEFIANCE COUNTY.

1873

USED PERSONAL FORTUNE TO COVER BUSINESS DEBTS OF BROTHER ON STRENGTH OF VERBAL AGREEMENT.

1878

EDGERTON AND FAMILY DONATED LAND IN HICKSVILLE FOR THE DEFIANCE COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS.

1885-89

APPOINTED BY PRESIDENT GROVER CLEVELAND AS PRESIDENT OF THE US CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION. HIS SUCCESSOR WAS THEODORE ROOSEVELT.

??

HEADED SCHOOL BOARD OF FORT WAYNE, IN. TRUSTEE OF PURDUE UNIVERSITY AND THE AGRICULTURE, MECHANICAL COLLEGE OF INDIANA.

1897

DIED IN HICKSVILLE, OHIO, WHERE HE MAINTAINED A SUMMER HOME.


Thanks to the Hicksville Historical Society for the above information.