Women’s History Month Roundup

For this, the last Saturday in Women’s History Month, we are going to explore some of the historical women in and from Richland County. There have been many blog posts previously describing their individual accomplishments and contributions to the community, so I am going to round them up here. Click on any picture in this post to view the blog post about the woman. While certainly not exhaustive, this roundup features some of the early female doctors, librarians, and other community leaders who have helped to shape the Richland County we know today.

Happy exploring!

Martha Mercer

Know other interesting or important women from Mansfield and Richland County you want to learn more about? Let me know in the comments!

The Old Richland County Court House

There have been five courthouses in Richland County’s history, starting from the modest blockhouse in the square, they have grown to meet the needs of residents over the decades.  During the War of 1812, two blockhouses were erected in the public square, one of round logs and the other made of hewed logs.  On July 10, 1813, commissioners examined the hewed log blockhouse and determined that it should be “prepared for the reception of court.”  The lower portion was to be used as the jail.  This served the county for three years until the two bock houses were sold at auction on December 3, 1816. The hewed log blockhouse sold for $56.40 to Alexander Curran, while its round log companion sold for $20 to Jacob Snider.  A second wooden courthouse was built and served the community for another ten years.  The commissioners would meet at the courthouse on November 6, 1826 and receive proposals for the building of a new brick courthouse the following season.  

From the Mansfield Gazzette, October 19, 1826.

The third brick courthouse shortly before its demolition in 1873. The fourth courthouse can be seen in the background.

Thomas Watt was hired as the contractor for the new building, which cost around $3,000 to construct.  The location of the new brick courthouse was just to the north of the old one, still located in the public square.  The building was a modest two-story structure with the courtroom below and offices above.  In 1851, changes were made to the courthouse, which Graham states in his History of Richland County, Ohio, added no real value, but did make the building more imposing.  “A third story was added, which was never used, and this third story was extended beyond the original building on the north and south sides, and for the support of this extension, heavy brick columns were erected.”  The commissioners approved $7,000 for the addition, but McCarron & Sheffler, who were awarded the contract, spent between $14,000 and $16,000 on the project adding in extras.  The addition, according to Graham, could not “be called a brilliant success.”  

The fourth courthouse shortly after construction.

The fourth courthouse around 1909, missing its tower.

The newly remodeled fourth courthouse.

On January 22, 1873, a new elegant and what most of us think of as the old courthouse was dedicated.  Cleveland architect H. E. Myer was hired to design the building, which now sat on the corner of, what is today, Park Avenue East and South Diamond.  The brick for the construction of the courthouse was made locally and pressed by Enoch Smith and Harry C. Hedges.  The plastering and stucco work was completed by local resident E. D. Lindsey, one of the best workmen in the country according to the Mansfield Herald.  The five-foot clock was run on a compound pulley system with 59 ½ foot weights weighing 1000 pounds each.  The pendulum weighed 237 pounds and a 100 pound hammer would strike the 3200 pound bell, which could be heard three miles away.  It would be an understatement to say the new elegant structure was an improvement on its modest, yet imposing, predecessor.  The total cost would be $226,700.

The courthouse went through changes over the years, including a new roof and tower around 1909.  It would stand for over 90 years before being demolished in 1969, when a wrecking ball smashed through the roof at 3:00 pm on February 3, two weeks after the new 2-million dollar courthouse we see today was officially turned over to the county commissioners.

What Was There: The News Building

William Shakespeare Cappeller started The News Printing Co. in Mansfield around 1885, while still living in Cumminsville, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati.  The company published The Mansfield Daily News and promoted itself as an independent newspaper, even though Cappeller had strong ties to the Republican party.  The following year in March of 1886, Cappeller purchased the Democratic Newspaper the Ohio Liberal.  Cappeller announced the new title would be The Weekly News and Ohio Liberal and be strictly a Republican newspaper.  The name was quickly changed to The Weekly News.  In addition to the weekly newspaper, Cappeller continued to publish his daily newspaper, the Mansfield Daily News.  This paper would later merge with the Mansfield Journal, creating the Mansfield News-Journal in 1933.  The Mansfield Daily and Weekly News operated out of the former Ohio Liberal headquarters on the southeast corner of Fourth and Walnuts Streets.

Mansfield Daily and Weekly News on the southeast corner of Fourth and Walnut

Another Democratic newspaper in Mansfield was far from happy with the work of Cappeller and often used their paper to print any scandal they could find on the newspaperman.  The paper often referred to him as a blackmailer, swindler, and criminal and, at one point, denounced him for working on the sabbath for publishing a Sunday edition.  They even referred to his offices on Fourth Street as “the smut factory.” [1]   Capeller seemed undeterred by this and, in 1890, started construction of a new office and print shop for his newspapers.  This was one of the most complete newspaper plants in any city of its size in Ohio at the time.  The new structure would be located on the northwest corner of Fourth and Walnut.

The News Building from the Mansfield News, February 8, 1891, p. 1.

The site for the new building, which was 60 x 130 feet, was purchased from the Cope estate for $8000.  After excavation of a few feet of earth, a foundation of sandstone was hit.  For many weeks the site on the corner of Fourth and Walnut looked like a quarry, and much of the sandstone cut was used in the foundation of the building.  This gave a solid foundation for the printing presses and machinery used in the press room.  Jacob Wolfarth finished the basement masonry, which extended 100 feet down Walnut street and which resulted in the North end of the building being level with the street.  The front of the building along Fourth Street extended 21 ½ feet.  The front of the building was finished by Hancock & Dow with buff Amherst stone and the Walnut side of the building was constructed of cherry-colored Zanesville pressed brick with white mortar.  The structure was finished off with a clock tower built by the McCoy Brothers.  At the base of the clock tower, a bay window provided a view of the clockworks and the 750-pound weight which ran the Seth Thomas clock.  The distance from the pavement to the top of the flagstaff on the clock tower was 119-feet. The total cost of construction was $10,000.[2]

In 1950 the Mansfield News-Journal moved into its new building on the corner of Fourth and Mulberry Streets.  The old building stood for another 15 years before wrecking crews removed another landmark of Mansfield’s past.[3]

The News Building shortly before being razed, 1964 (Photo by Eileen Wolford)


  1. Richland Shield and Banner (Mansfield, Ohio). 23 July 1887, p. 4.
  2. The Mansfield News. (Mansfield, Ohio). 08 February 1891, p. 1.
  3. The Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 04 April 1965, p. 1.

Maple Syrup High Jinks

The Man With the Jug.

A Practical Joke at the expense of Officer Englehart

“Look out for man with jug. Should have immediate attention. Man had beard and little finger of right hand crooked – Rowley” – was the message which flashed over the wires and was delivered to Officer Englehart to whom it was addressed. The message was sent by station agent W. A. Rowley at New Washington. Englehart was highly elated. At last an opportunity to attain a reputation had come his way. When the P. F. passenger train No. 20 from the west drew into the depot, sure enough a man with a jug, answering the description above given, alighted from the train. A true detective never nabs his game immediately at sight, but follows him to his lair and then swoops down upon him. Thus it was that the man with the jug walked into the ticket-office unmolested and was at once recognized as — W. H. DeLong. To say that Englehart was sold does not half express the situation, while “Billy” DeLong was still in ignorance as to what it was all about. Rowley, at New Washington, was to blame for it. “Billy” went up to that village yesterday to look for a domestic and, while there, bought a jug of maple syrup from a farmer. As soon as he had boarded the train for Mansfield, Rowley conceived the idea of having some fun and sent the above telegram to Englehart.

The above story appeared in the Mansfield News on January 10, 1891. This wasn’t the only practical joke involving maple syrup to be reported in the news. In back to back years in 1910-1911, someone working at the court house had their maple syrup replaced by water. The first victim in 1910 was county clerk Jim Ottinger. Jim was known to have a sweet tooth and, by the end of the season, he began to run low on syrup. Jim was able to talk a well-know farmer out of a gallon for $1.00. While Jim was in the court room, the can was emptied of its contents and filled with water. Later, when Jim dipped into the can, unable to resist his urge, he became enraged and demanded to know who was the perpetrator of the gag. A good laugh was had by all as he went through each department demanding answers. The following year, Arthur Beck was the victim of the ruse. Beck had purchased two cans from John Forbes when John came to the court house selling his syrup. Arthur proudly proclaimed no one could steal his syrup, which, of course, made many get busy doing just that. While Beck took a phone call, the cans were replaced with cans filled with water. The switch wasn’t discovered until Beck had proudly presented one of the cans to his father.

16 February 1911
16 November 1915