Jefferson, Ohio (Madison County)
West Jefferson, formerly known as Jefferson, is a community in Madison County, Ohio.
Prior to the arrival of white settlers, the Wyandot natives principally inhabited the area that now includes West Jefferson. Whites drove most of the Wyandots and other Native American groups from the region during the War of 1812, and white settlers soon arrived in the region. In 1830, the Reverend Isaac Jones filed a plat for the town of Jefferson in the Madison County Recorder's Office. Residents soon changed the community's name to West Jefferson to distinguish it from other Ohio towns named Jefferson.
At this time, construction of the National Road across Ohio was occurring, and the road passed through West Jefferson. As a result of the road's presence, the village grew quickly. By 1834, four years after Jones founded the town, approximately seven hundred people resided in the village. Many of the community's first residents came from New Hampton, Ohio, located several miles to the north of Jefferson. By 1840, New Hampton had become a virtual ghost town, as its residents sought economic opportunity in West Jefferson on the bustling National Road. According to accounts, some New Hampton residents actually moved the very house in which they resided from New Hampton to West Jefferson.
Located on the National Road, West Jefferson residents established a plethora of manufacturing and hospitality businesses. Gristmills, slaughterhouses, and other agriculturally-related businesses quickly opened. Hotels and restaurants became commonplace. A hat manufacturer, a carriage maker, and several other businesses also operated in the community. These businesses continued to thrive until the railroad became commonplace in the mid-1800s in the United States of America. Manufacturing firms in the East could easily out sell local manufacturers in West Jefferson because of the cheaper cost to ship products by rail. Travelers through West Jefferson became less common, as more people preferred the speedier trains to slower horse or stagecoach travel on the National Road. Hoping to improve their economic situation, by the late nineteenth century, many West Jefferson residents began to move elsewhere, especially to Ohio's industrial cities. In 1880, West Jefferson claimed a population of 720 people, approximately the same number of residents that the village boasted in 1834.
During the second half of the twentieth century, West Jefferson experienced a growth in population. This increase principally occurred following World War II. With the greater availability of automobiles, an increasing number of West Jefferson residents commuted to nearby Columbus, Ohio to find employment. With the opening of a Honda of America manufacturing facility in nearby Marysville, Ohio in 1979, numerous West Jefferson residents found employment there. New businesses also opened in the village and continue to employ local workers today. Among the largest employers currently in West Jefferson are a Krazy Glue factory and a Target distribution center. In 2000, 4,331 people lived in West Jefferson.
- Howe, Henry. Historical Collections of Ohio in Two Volumes. Vol. II. Cincinnati, OH: C.J. Krehbiel & Co., Printers and Binders, 1902.
- "History of the Village of West Jefferson." Http://www.villageofwestjefferson.com/villagehistory.html.