The Henry County Historical Society was formed in 1970 to perpetuate the history of Henry County, Ohio, to learn about and preserve the artifacts of the county, and to generate interest in the past of the county. Our primary focus at this time is the completion of the restoration work on the beautiful Dr. John Bloomfield Victorian home, built circa 1879. This house is located at the corner of West Clinton and Webster streets in downtown Napoleon, across from the Napoleon Public Library. The house has been completely restored and is decorated with authentic period furnishings. Work is in progress on the carriage house and gardens. The home is open for special events, educational programs and private tours. We welcome new and old members alike to lend a hand and help us in our many programs and activities.
The first name chosen by the settlers for this village was Oakland. It was said that the name was chosen because the town was in the heart of the heavily timbered region of mainly oak trees. There was another Oakland in Fairfield County, Ohio, so another name had to be chosen. It was remembered by old timers of the area that a similar sounding name of Okolona was chosen.
Ferd Benien, Archbold, remembers that Okolona was a depot for furnishing fuel for the railroad in early days when the locomotives burned wood. The oak trees furnished ties for the railroad and oak timbers that were used in building ships.
The road from Ridgeville Corners to Okolona was macadamized in 1920. Directions to a stranger who wanted to go from the Corners to Okolona went something like this, “turn left when you have to, and right when you can;” but many still became lost and ended up in Napoleon. This same road also was called the Florida Road.
In 1918 there were the following business places in Okolona: The Farmers Elevator with William Navin as manager; William Helberg, building and supplies; George Karsner Hardware; William Heitman and Son General Store; Brubaker and Aschemeir Grocery and Meats; H. C. Arpts had a machine, electric and auto repair shop. Edward Heitman was the postmaster.
1890 Description of Okolona
Okolona is a small town on the Wabash Railroad and is a prosperous little town. It is nicely located. The town is surrounded by rich black soil, very level with perfect drainage. The corn crop is fair, but of good quality, hence hogs are first class and command the highest price. There are several saloons, two grocery-general stores, a furniture store, a blacksmith shop and a grain elevator. J. H. Benien is the proprietor of a large general store which is an old landmark, having been established years ago. He enjoys a good custom and is well liked. Heitman and Schliesser are engaged in the same business, carrying a good stock and trade. Charles Kolbe and August Buntz are in the saloon business, being just enough opposition to make matters interesting.
The town is holding its own and has the facilities to grow.
Source: Henry County Paper — Napoleon North West News, December 11, 1890.
The above article is from Henry County, Ohio, Volume Two, A Collection of Historical Sketches and Family Histories Compiled by Members and Friends of The Henry County Historical Society. Dallas, TX, Taylor Publishing Co., pp. 303-304.
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