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The Hicks Land Office

The Land Office is one of the most important buildings in Defiance County. It is one of the few buildings left in Hicksville from the settlement days. The Land office symbolizes Hicksville’s emergence from the swamp.

When Empraim Burwell was send to this area in 1836, he had orders to set up a town to be named for the Hicks Land Company, a business which had purchased well over 100,000 acres in this area. The idea was to sell off the timber and then the land before taxes were due on the holdings. Burwell spent plenty of money but sold no land. He had to be replaced.

In 1837, the Hicks Land Company of New York chose one of their young bookkeepers to go to Ohio and take over business. He arrived in April to find four cabins, an underbrushed road, and some Patawatamies roasting 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 A. P. Edgerton stayed, setting up shop in a bureau at one end. He began selling land to the few settlers that were already nearby.

The next year, Edgerton brought the first mail route off the main line into Hicksville and acted as it’s first postmaster.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 Revial style. It’s temple front featured four square colums with capitals.Windows and doors were surrounded with wide hand carved trim. The high inside ceiling and hardwood walls were 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 after they were destroyed by fires. A.P. established the first toll road in the Maumee Basin. The Antwerp Pike, now Route 49 south.

In the later 1800′s a wing was added to the side of the building. After A.P. Edgerton’s death in 1897, a variety of businesses occuppied the building. The Hickville Building, Loan, and Savings was there the longest, from 1899 through 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 government. Development of these lands from swampy forests to highly productive farmland changed the face of northwest Ohio forever. The Land Office was where it all began.

Thanks to the Hicksville Historical Society for the above information.

 
 
 
 
 
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