The Historic Blockhouse

A. A. Graham states in his History of Richland County that blockhouses “sprang up, like mushrooms, almost in a single night” as pioneers felt the need to protect themselves from local Indians when war was declared with Great Britain in the spring of 1812. Two blockhouses were constructed on the square here in Mansfield. One blockhouse was created by a company of men under the direction of Capt. Williams of Coshocton and another by Capt. Shaffer of Fairfield County.  Shaffer’s stood nearly in the center of the west side of the square and was made of round logs.  Williams’s blockhouse, near the center of the north side of the square, was made of hewed logs.  These were manned with troops until the American victory at the Battle of the Thames, also known as the Battle of Moraviantown.

After the war, William’s blockhouse was used as the Courthouse and jail for about three years.  On July 9, 1816 Jacob Snider and Lewis Lyberger were the lowest bidders for the construction of the new courthouse at $1,900 and on December 3, 1816 the two blockhouses were sold at auction.  Capt. Williams’s was sold to Alexander Curran for $56.40 and Capt. Shaffer’s to Jacob Snider for $20.  Rev. James Rowland describes the old court house when he came to Mansfield in 1820, saying that the “lower story was constructed of hewed logs that had been originally used in another part of town for a block-house.”  While there is no mention to it anywhere else, Shaffer’s blockhouse may have been used in the construction of the first floor of the original courthouse.

Curran had Capt. William’s blockhouse dismantled and moved to his property at 168 East Second St.  It is believed he used the bottom half of the blockhouse as a pig pen and the top as a chicken coup.  In later years, Curran tried to protect the historic structure by covering it with sheeting.  Later, General James Hedges bought the property from Curran, including the blockhouse, and further tried to preserve the structure.  Hedges later sold the lot to John Carson, who continued preservation efforts.


In 1906, there was once again interest in the blockhouse when the city began preparation for its 100th anniversary in 1908.  The structure was purchased by the Mansfield Centennial Commission from its current owner, Peter Doerman, for $125.  It would be moved next to the court house and the corner stone would be laid September 17, 1907.  Rotted and termite eaten timbers were replaced with logs taken from the cabin of pioneer Capt. James Cunningham.  On June 11, 1908, the city of Mansfield celebrated its centennial.  During the celebration, Gen. Brinkerhoff spoke of the history of the city and his hope for its future generations.


Following the celebration, the blockhouse was moved to and rebuilt in South Park where it was used for storage until 1929 when it became the home of the Boy Scout of America Troop Number 6.  In 1938, a fire damaged the first floor of the blockhouse.  Investigators determined it was most likely caused by a cigarette or match being dropped through a broken window.  $300 was received through insurance to repair the damage.  In 1979, the structure was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Today the blockhouse remains one of the most recognizable landmarks in Mansfield.


The Blockhouse in 1979


Postcards: Mansfield, Ohio City Parks

Mansfield, Ohio is commonly referred to as a “City of Churches,” but at the turn of the century Mansfield also has its fair share of parks.


In A. J. Baughman’s History of Richland County, Ohio, from 1808 to 1908, he states that Mansfield is a “city of about twenty-four thousand people and covering about three thousand acres of ground, about one hundred and ten of which are in parks owned and maintained by the city, one of which is at the edge of the city and contains eighty-six acres, and one in the center of the city of about one and one-half acres.” There are “Also two private parks (free admission) with the usual amusements.”  These “usual amusements” included attractions like a dancing pavilion and roller coaster.

If you would like to see more of the photos the Sherman Room and the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library have available, please check out our page on The Cleveland Memory Project, where there are over 1030 images digitized.   These included more images of Mansfield City Parks, as well as images of other local landmarks and individuals.

Click on card to view a larger image.