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History

Many theories have been presented on the geological makeup and formation of our area. The North American continent at one time consisted of a tropical climate which after a period of time advanced to an arctic atmosphere. Gradually the temperature crept southward until the area from the North Pole to the latitude of Cincinnati, Ohio, was a field of ice, thousands of feet deep. As it came in our direction it brought with it the best soil from the areas it traveled.

This transformation lasted thousands of years. The earth being formed for the coming of man. As the ice thawed the imbedded boulders, gravel and sand were freed. As this process continued, the glaciers moved forward to supply the place for the melted ice. Should the opposing forces be in equilibrium, the edge of the glacier would remain stationary and in the course of time a terminal moraine was formed. This created a gigantic ridge which when later filled with water became the black swamp. Hicksville is on the western boundary of this region.

The glaciers did not leave the Maumee Valley for centuries. When these glaciers eventually did move, they left behind what had formed into a substance called bedrock. Then through a span of time clay flowed in and covered the bedrock. The lake eventually settled away to areas we call the Great Lakes. As this occurred marshes were formed. The decaying matter of the marshes along the overflow of the lake prepared a soil that would provide the elements to raise the tremendous forests of our area.

The Maumee River and other tributaries drained the marshes, and took the surplus water to other regions. An area that had water still standing was the Black Swamp. This encompassed a large area in Paulding County and our neighboring regions. The trees and aquatic shrubs decayed into the clay. This developed into a solid, fertile sub-soil. The animals were busy fertilizing the land and bringing the clay to the top of the sub-soil to be aerated. Land crabs, earthworms, herds of buffalo, elk and deer roamed this area. This fulfilled natures obligation of developing our soil for the coming of man.

The area drainage was hindered by falling trees. The thick foliage of the forest and the growth of herbaceous plants prevented evaporation. These plants were a powerful agent in the moisturizing effect of the decomposed elements of nature. This process is a development of millions of years, and it leaves our village at a sea level of 750 feet.

Shortly before the coming of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock the French were in the Michigan area. They were a group of semi vagabond French fur traders, explorers and missionaries. The French became well acquainted with the Indians. A treaty arrangement was signed between M. Perrot and the Indians of the Great Lakes. The French were given the right to occupy the region in the name of France.

By 1680, the famous LaSalle was sent to explore the territory we are so familiar with. He found our area primarily around the Maumee River to be well known to the Catholic Missionaries and the French fur traders. This region was a point of exchange for the adjacent fur bearing regions.

By the eighteenth century the east was primarily agrarian and British controlled. What was the west, our region, was dominated by the French and the Indian tribes. The British were not in this area because of the pro-French attitude. The Catholic missionaries who were French were the reason for this. This would change when the Indians realized the British would pay a higher fee for their furs than the French fur buyers. The British began infiltrating the Ohio. In the 1750′s the British tried unsuccessfully different times to trade with the Indians at Grand Glaize (Defiance).

In the winter of 1749-50 among others camping in the Hicksville-Defiance region were the Miamis, Prankaahaws, Ottawas, Delawares and Shawnee. From 1707 to 1759 there were several different Indian tribes in our region. Ottowa villages were abundant from 1707 to 1748, Kickapoos and Muscounteres resided in the region in 1712. The Miamis ventured to the Maumee River region in great lots. The Huron spent some time in Defiance County, primarily in the 1750′s, but lived mostly in the areas of Michigan and the Lake Erie region. Weas, Wyandotts and Caughnawage Mohawks also hunted in our area.

Through numerous conflicts as to who was to control the area north and west of the Ohio River, the French and Indian War developed in 1753. During this the Maumee and Wabash Rivers served as important military routes for the French. These rivers provided the connections to Lake Erie and to the Ohio River and eventually to the Mississippi. The French and their allies the Indians were in command of the situation until William Pitt assumed control of the English government in 1758. By 1763, the British were in the position to demand peace of the French. The areas of Northwest Ohio became under control of the British with the enactment of the Treaty of Paris in 1763.

Hicksville, OHIO, USA, is on the western boundary of Black Swamp area in the Maumee Valley 750 feet above sea level. Indians of the early area – Miamis, Prankaahaws, Ottowas, Delaware’s, Shawnee, Kickapoos, Muscounteres – some Hurons, Senecas, Pottawatomies Others who hunted here – Weas, Wyandotts, Caughnawage Mohawks

Ohio was admitted to the union in 1803. Feb 20, 1820 the state of Ohio was opened for sale of land to individuals. Land was $1.25 an acre – with the minimum that could be bought at one time set at 80 acres. In sophisticated New York City lived Henry W. Hicks of the Samuel Hicks and Sons shipping merchants and Isaac Smith – owner of a large steamboat system. The Hicks Land Company under Henry W. Hicks and The American Land Company under Isaac Smith along with other land speculators based in Columbus, Ohio, purchased large acreage of land in NW Ohio. The Hicks Land Company purchased 14,000 acres and the American Land Company purchased 4,000. They felt that a village was needed between Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Defiance, Ohio – and they felt that $1.25 and acre was a good price.

John Bryan, Auditor of the state of Ohio, was the agent put in charge of securing profitable areas for the Hicks & American Land Companies. He was ordered to secure the finest of the areas of the purchases and establish the name of Hicks upon it. He chose Ephiram Burwell to fulfill the job of preparation of the area. He was told to “be cautious in the selection of the site to be named for the Hicks – it must be the most profitable area preferable in the midst of the most valuable timber.” Burwell was the first settler of what is now Hicksville, Ohio, in his log cabin that was located at what is now the corner of High and Main Streets.

In 1839, Hicksville was designated a township in Williams County, Ohio. In 1845, the state legislature divided Williams County and Defiance County was born. Hicksville was now a township in Defiance County. Burwell wasn’t selling land, so on April 17, 1837, Alfred P. Edgerton came from New York to take over the Hicks & American Land Companies. His first land sale was of 100 acres @ $5.00/acre to Buenos and Sara Ann Ayres, parents of the first child born in Hicksville. The original Hicks Land Office still stands in Hicksville as a museum. The first church building was the Presbyterian Church located at the corner of Bryan and High Street. It stood in existence until destroyed by fire in 1961. In 1852, the Hicks Land Company sold the remaining land to AP Edgerton. Edgerton had sold over 140,000 acres – he bought what remained – 40,000 acres.

By 1860, 910 people resided in the Hicksville area. Hicksville’s first mayor was Thomas Kinmount. In 1874 a brick school house was completed at a final cost of nearly $15,000. In 1873, AP Edgerton was worth between $800,000 and $1,000,000. August 13, 1874 at 1:35 p.m. the first train passed through on Hicksville’s newly constructed B & O Railway. President Hayes passed through Hicksville in 1876. May 15, 1875 the village filed for incorporation. 1878 the village hosted the first annual Defiance County Fair. In 1883, Mr. Edgerton donated over $7,000 to build St. Paul’s Episcopal church which still stands – and has been declared an historic building.

The Defiance County Fair was first held in Hicksville on land donated by A.P. Edgerton in 1892.

Amelia Swilley, who married Lloyd Bingham, was a top rated actress who organized her own show company – the first American woman to succeed as a theatrical manager and producer as well as actress. Amelia promoted both the Hicksville Hart Boy’s Band and Hart Girl’s Band. Both were started by O.V. Hart.
The fantastic and beautiful Huber Opera House was built across from the Swilley House and was used to accomodate many notable theatrical performers including Amelia Swilley.
Amelia was inducted into Women’s Hall of Fame in 1995.

Another famous woman of the area, Daeida Hartwell who married H.H. Wilcox and in 1883, and moved west, bought 120 acres of fruit groves and was the leading force in building, naming, and establishing Hollywood, California.

At the turn of the century 2,420 people lived in Hicksville 3314 in the township.

By 1909, Hicksville was considered the “Best town in the northwest part of the state”. A “newsletter” written by Edith Smith tells what it was like living in Hicksville at that time.

The News Tribune started as “The Independent” in 1872 – changed to “The News” in 1875 – was taken over by “The Tribune” in 1934 and consolidated into the “News-Tribune” in 1910.

With the coming of automobiles & motorcycles, a speed limit was set at 10 mph – fine of $25.90 for exceeding the limit. $5.00 for spitting on the sidewalk. Residents Robert & Ralph Battershell’s picture appeared on the Clabber Girl baking soda label for several years.

Hicksville resident DeMar Keener was the last soldier to die in the Korean War. His Picture was in Life Magazine Aug 10, 1953.

For More History of Hicksville, OH -click here.