Who is the founder of Elida ?
Griffith John was the son of Abia and Martha (John) John and was born March 6, 1795 in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. He was of Welsh ancestry, with his family coming from Haverford, Pembrokeshire, Wales where the family name was Philipps. His family also belonged to the denominations of Society of Friends, or Quakers.
He moved to Ross County, Ohio about 1815. Not long after that he asked his father to lend him money as he said he was in great need of help. His father refused, saying that loans do not solve problems - they had to be worked out. It would seem that he took this advice to heart as Griffith John became very prosperous in his time. He taught school in Chillicothe for about 5 years. He also brought land in Ross County.
On February 20, 1817, he married Rachael Miller, who was the daughter of George and Mary (Custer) Miller. Griffith and his family moved to German Township (changed to American Township in 1918) in Allen County in 1831. Jacob Turkeyfoot, an Indian brave, was their guide. At the time, the county was dense wilderness and there were not more than four or five families living there. There were Shawnee and Wyandot Tribes living in the area. Griffith settled on 160 acres of land and established a sugar camp in a grove of maple trees where the Village of Elida now stands. The John home is located about 1 1/2 miles north of the present village of Elida along Hawg Creek (the Ottawa River). Darrell and Gloria Denlinger now live there and own and operate The Country Greenhouse. Griffith was kept busy surveying for newcomers. In time, he owned 1640 acres.
In 1852, the Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne & Chicago Railroad was laid out in such a way that it ran through Griffith's land. He was the only man between Lima and Delphos that granted the right of way to the company for the road to pass through his farm and he got the contract to build the roadbed for a mile through his land, indicating that he realized the value of such a highway to the general public. The value of his land was increased many times by the arrival of the railroad.
In the fall of 1852, Griffith laid out and platted the village of Elida and donated lots for the Evangelical Lutheran and the Methodist churches.
Griffith John named Elida in honor of his brother, Elida John, who was born August 29, 1805. Elida was a rather extraordinary person from all that has been written about him. He was a surveyor with a reputation for accuracy. He was an advocate of the temperance cause, an abolitionist, and a member of the Underground Railroad. He moved to Illinois and died there without ever having seen the town that was named after him. The village of Elida was incorporated in 1878.
Politically, Griffith John was a Whig until 1840, then a democrat (present day Republican Party) and served the county as commissioner for a term. He also farmed and raised hogs. Griffith and Rachael had 13 children and gave each surviving adult 80 acres of land.
Sarah (Curtis) Cremean b. March 14, 1818 in Ross County
Melissa (James) Baxter b. January 10, 1819 in Ross County (she and her husband are buried in Allentown)
Emily (Curtis) Baxter b. May 12, 1822 in Ross County
Viena (Abner) Carr b. November 12, 1823 in Ross County
Ethan (Mary Lucy Reynolds) b. March 4, 1825 in Ross County (served in Civil War, moved to Indiana in 1872)
Jesse (Mary Roush) b. January 6, 1927 (1st Postmaster of Elida, operated a store and elevator started by his father)
Tamsey (Stephen) Cremean b. April 23, 1929 in Ross County
Abia (Phebe Myers) b. October 14, 1831 in Ross County
Martha (Daniel) Crites b. September 25, 1833
Eliza b. January 22, 1836 d. January 2, 1837
Louisa (Henry) Roush b. January 19, 1838
Jehu (Mary Clark) b. November 22, 1838 (killed in the Civil War June 22, 1864)
Paulina (Jesse) Carr b. March 5, 1842
Griffith John died February 26, 1856, in Elida and was buried beside the Lutheran Church on Main Street. A marker has been placed at the site.
The first addition (or Lots 1 to 38) was partly laid out southwest of the original town along the railroad and Lots 39 to 55 were directly north of the original town, south of North Street. Lots 56 to 76 were laid out southeast of the railroad and Lots 77 to 99, the North addition, were laid out along the north of Main Street.
The first building was erected by Daniel Myers after Elida was laid out. The siding was of the finest walnut and well preserved. It originally stood on Main Street, but was moved to a back street. Myers occupied part of his home as a residence and had the first grocery in Elida in the other part.
In 1878, during an era of prosperity, Elida was incorporated into a village and R.R. Murray was elected the first mayor. In November 1878, Mr. Murray tendered his resignation when R. Rice was appointed president and in February, 1879, Dr. John Sherrick was chosen mayor. J.W. Kindel served as Clerk and the Council consisted of R. Rice, G. R. Leist, W.N. Sherry, Askins, Morris, and W.H. Clark. Jesse John was the first Postmaster.
When oil was discovered in the Lima fields late in the 19th century, thousands flocked to the territory to get in on the bonanza and Elida played its part in this latest development. The territory surrounding the village was the scene of the best producing wells. After 40 years, many of these wells were under paying production, although countless others had long since been closed.
Besides sitting in the middle of the oil fields, Elida was also situated in the midst of a fertile agricultural district. At the turn of the century, the Pennsylvania Railroad Company handled around 500 cars of freight, principally grain and livestock.
Despite the rise and fall of the oil fields, Elida continued to build as a community. Its businesses consisted of four general stores, one meat market, one hardware store, one restaurant, one confectionary store, two implement stores, two blacksmiths, one sawmill, one grain elevator, and one bank.
One of the big annual events in Elida was the Pioneer Picnic, which began in 1895. A newspaper article stated "The Crites Grove, northeast of Elida, better known throughout Allen County as the Pioneer Picnic Grounds, was the scene of a notable gathering Wednesday. The event was the first formal reunion of the descendants of Griffith John, and it is not surprising that that name is destined to be in the future as it has been for decades past, linked with the progress and history of Allen County. More than 200 people, most of them direct or indirect descendants of the first Griffith John, were in attendance."
The picnic later became a community affair, usually held on the third Sunday in August on Pioneer Road. People from all over the United States came back for the event. Families brought picnic basket dinners, the Methodist Church served dinners, and the Evangelical United Brethren Church held an ice cream social. There was a merry-go-round, a ferris wheel, and band concert, prominent speakers, and a presentation of historical events by local talents.
By 1939, the picnic was discontinued during the war years, never to be revived.
Today's village is still run by the same form of government as in its very beginning in 1878. Council meetings are held at Town Hall, 200 West Main Street, just as they were 125 years ago.
On June 20, 1910, the Village of Elida bought a fire engine for the sum of $1,600. On April 20, 1927, with twelve men signing the handwritten minutes, the Elida Community Fire Company was organized. In 1949, the Elida Fire Department was incorporated. In 1968, the Fire Department moved into the new American Township Fire Station at 105 West Main Street. The Elida Rescue Squad was formed in June of 1974. The Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) each have over 100 hours in training and are continually taking in-service training, both in the classroom and in local hospitals.
The fire department and rescue squad consist of paid personnel as well as many volunteers. Both provide service to all of American Township and portions of Marion, Amanda, and Sugar Creek Townships with an average of 900 EMS calls and 250 fire calls per year.
For several years after the first pioneers settled in the Elida area, school was held in a little log cabin north of Elida (now owned by Heather and Steve Greeley). In 1868, the Elida School District was created and was moved into a new brick building on Main Street (now the site of the Fire Department) at a a cost of about $5000. The high school was added in 1892 at about $10,000 with S.D. Crites as the first principal. The present Elida High School was erected in 1914 with a major addition of a Junior High in 1956. The back wing was added in 1959.
The first football field ran east to west behind the old part of the school. Thanks to the efforts of Mr. Ellsworth Wiferd, who donated 600 hours of work,
lights were added to the field in 1946. A football stadium was built behind the high school and dedicated to Roger Kraft in 1961. The Field House was built in front of the Junior High addition in 1973.
The Elida Elementary School, which sits on Pioneer Road, was erected in 1962 and a new addition was added in 1967. This building originally housed students in kindergarten through 6th grade, and presently houses students in Grades one through five.
The Gomer School was added in 1969 with the consolidation of the two districts.
A new Middle School was built in 1981.
The first Elida graduating class consisted of four students in 1893. In 2003, there were 174 graduates.
According to Ray John, the year was 1931 and Elida's first football team was shaping up. The sports minded men of Elida started a rally to raise money to buy St. Rose's used uniforms - a dozen for $35. Mr. Fred Tibbett was the most enthused and gave generously. He also raised Toy Terrier Bulldogs. Mr. Roland Swank, the first football coach, wanted a mascot. The sportsmen decided to call Elida the "Bulldogs" and we've been growling ever since!
The Elida Band was formed in 1940 under the direction of Mr. Zaug. There were 50 band members. Their uniforms were black and orange sweatshirts and white pants. The band first performed at the Pioneer Picnic and the Van Wert Peonies Festival. They later played at the afternoon football games. There were no lights and very few bleachers at the stadium. The band was discontinued during the 1944-45 year because of gas rationing and difficulty in purchasing instruments due to the war effort. The band thrived under the direction of "Mr. Gene" (Wollenhaupt) from 1956-1987. Today, under the direction of Mr. John Stetler, the band performs an outstanding show with 162 members.
ELIDA HIGH SCHOOL ACTIVITIES
The Little Buckeye League was organized in 1945. The Elida Bulldogs football team, led by Coach Paul Ponzuric, was the proud receiver of the first trophy, finishing the second season undefeated. 1946 was the second straight year that the Bulldogs had been undefeated and untied for a total of eighteen consecutive wins. The team became known as the Undefeated "Bulldog Eleven". Elida was again football league champion in 1970. This time in the Northwest Conference and led by Coach Jim Dally. Dally led the football team to a second title in 1982 in the Western Buckeye League, which is the league the Bulldogs play in today. No mention of Elida football would be complete without acknowledging the contributions of Art Schreiber who was a coach and long time volunteer, giving generously of his time and setting up a yearly college scholarship for an offensive senior football player.
Elida's baseball team, coached by Dick Prince, won the state championship in 1976.
Coach Vicki Mauk and the Lady Dawgs basketball team earned State Runner-Up titles in 1990 and 1995 and were State Champions in 1997.
Darren Scott earned an NCAA Wrestling Championship.
Wrestling, track, tennis, swimming, golf, and gymnastics have all earned league or state recognition.
Over the years, Elida has excelled in music, art, and theatre.