The following information was provided by the kind folks of the Licking County Historical Society (740) 349-4898. My thanks to them.
This is a very brief look at the early history of Licking County. Our county is rich in Native American history as well as ties to the Revolutionary War.
- Christopher Gist was the first white man to explore Licking County in 1751. He was an agent for a land company.
- Elias Hughes and his nephew, John Ratliff, brought their families to Licking County in 1798. They settled in an area they called Bowling Green, near the present site of Marne. They came from near the south fork of the Potomac in Virginia. Hughes brought his wife and 12 children. They had 4 more children born in Licking County. Ratliff brought his wife and 4 children to the county. They spent the winter of 1797-98 in Marietta, Ohio. In the spring, they walked along the Muskingum River to Zanesville and then followed the Licking River. Later, Jonathan Hughes (a son) was asked how fast they traveled. He said they traveled as fast as ducks could walk.
- In 1802, Isaac Stadden was elected justice of the peace for Licking Township, which was then a part of Fairfield County. Elias Hughes was elected captain of the militia.
- John Stadden was elected first Sheriff in 1808, the year Licking County was created.
- The Native Americans of the area called the river that flows through the county, the Pataskala (meaning clear water). White settlers called it the Licking County, because of the numerous salt licks in the area.
- The construction of the Ohio Canal began in Licking County on July 04, 1825. Buckeye Lake was created to feed the canal system.
- The first railroad into Newark was the Sandusky, Mansfield and Newark in 1852.
- The National Road (now State Route 40) was built across the southern part of the county between 1825-1835.
- The majority of the county was part of the Military Lands. This was land awarded to men who fought in the Revolutionary War but were never paid all of their salary. The Congress and States did not have the money at the time to pay them. Instead of paying them in money, in 1794 a law was passed that paid the soldiers in land in Ohio. This paid the outstanding debt and helped settle the wilderness of Ohio.
- Also in 1794, a tract of land 4 1/2 miles wide and 48 miles long, from the Scioto River, east, was deeded to the Canadians who had sided with the colonists. They left Canada, leaving behind most of their possessions and having their homeland confiscated. This 4 1/2 by 48 mile tract had a road along one side. This is how Refugee Road, which runs across the southern part of Licking County, got it's name.
- Finally, a bit of dark history. On July 08, 1910, a public lynching was held on the square in downtown Newark, after the victim was broken out of the county jail by a mob. This was the second and final lynching in Licking County.