Notes From My Knapsack 3-9-17
A rivalry for the ages
I've read with interest the efforts of members of the Newark and Granville Police Departments to get proper honors due to Carl Etherington, a duly deputized marshal of Granville, who served his brief term on behalf of the Anti-Saloon League in Newark, and therein lays a story.
The tragedy, and the honors, came as he was killed by a mob in the line of duty, lynched on the night of July 8, 1910, which was the same day he was deputized that morning on the courthouse steps.
Those details have been narrated elsewhere in this paper and our sister publication, the Newark Advocate. I was privileged to be part of a quiet memorial on July 8, 2010, when a few of us met by the Old Jail, walked the path the young man was dragged along, past the Brunswick Building, under the stony gaze of Adam Kiesel and east along South Park Place to the site of his hanging just off of Courthouse Square. We set a wreath on the site, and 24 hours later I took it to Kentucky and placed it on his grave in the Willisburg Cemetery, in view of his childhood home just up the road.
In the years since, I've had reason to reflect on the animosities between our village and the county seat, and how they might have begun, and why it endures. I now live in Granville, but serve a church in Newark: a church that first brought me to Ohio in 1989 as an associate pastor. In those years, my wife, while working on her doctorate at Ohio State, was also the handbell director for First Presbyterian in Granville…and I began to learn that there was some tension in the jokes between our two communities.
In truth, I couldn't have then done what has worked out to be the case today, living in Granville and serving in Newark. It would have been at best hard, and at worst failed entirely. And even now, comments get made. Jokes, you know. With an edge.
But from 1808, there was a clash. Granville's area hosted the first meeting of the Common Pleas Court as Licking County was first established, under a tree just west of Cherry Valley and Newark Granville Road. We hoped to keep the courts here, but Newark took that round.
In 1815, Sereno Wright moved here from Randolph, Vermont, where he was a printer, and published the largest newspaper in that state, "The Wanderer." That masthead continued in Granville, and by 1822, Bushnell's history recounts something of the competition between the Advocate, founded by Benjamin Briggs in 1820, and Wright's "Wanderer." Apparently "about seventy copies of the paper were taken at Granville. The paper displeased its Granville subscribers on some political ground and they gathered all the copies of the paper at hand, formed a mock funeral procession and marched to the beating of a muffled drum, from the hotel to the old parade ground, or further east, and after a speech by Jerry Jewett, the papers were buried. Mr. Briggs had advertised to receive payment for his paper in produce. The subscribers then gathered the most inconvenient kinds of produce they could find, went to Newark, paid their bills and stopped the paper, and the circulation in Granville was reduced from seventy to two."
And then there was 1910. The leaders of Granville were "drys" who had won election on a Prohibition platform; technically Newark should have been dry, too, but the popular sentiment, at least downtown, was very, very "wet." The Anti-Saloon League out of Westerville agitated for "right thinking citizens" to take action, and the mayor of Granville at the time chose to lead the push to close Newark's bars by force. So it was that deputies were recruited, sworn in, and sent to work.
The aftermath of the debacle was essentially state control of Newark, imposed by the governor (a Denison alum) to reform both the mayor's office and police department, plus the county sheriff was drawn in as well. Hard feelings went deep, and arguably still echo, even if not quite audibly to the casual listener, between Granville and our neighbors to the east.
Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; tell him about the stories that whisper within your earshot at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.