Founding of Lebanon, Ohio

By Charlie Zimkus

The town of Lebanon was laid out in September 1802, just six and a half years after its first settler arrived.

That first settler, Ichabod Corwin, joined with land owners Silas Hurin, Ephraim Hathaway and Sammuel Manning to hire Ichabod Halsey to survey the land.

The original town plat contained only 100 lots and was bounded on the north by Silver, on the south by South, on the west by Water Street, and on the east by the alley between Cherry and East streets. The original plat excluded the southwest corner of its rectangle due to swampy land.

Three of the founders hoped to build Lebanon farther north on higher ground but Manning, who owned that land, was reluctant to offer it. He believed the town was doomed, and “would never be anything but a nest of thieves.”

Although the town was four and half blocks long and three blocks wide, only two cabins existed when Lebanon was surveyed. A two-story hewed log cabin on the east side of Broadway between Mulberry and Silver streets was built in 1800 by Corwin. The roof was covered with walnut shingles. Corwin and his family lived there for a couple of years before Ichabod sold it to Ephraim Hathaway, who promptly opened the town's first business, The Black Horse Tavern. The other cabin on the original plat was built by Hurin on Cherry Street just south of Main Street.

There were several streets and alleys on the original map, but only two were named: Broadway and Main. Broadway was so named because it was constructed to serve as a “broad way.” It was “six poles,” a pole being five and a half yards long. Its width allowed a stagecoach to make a U-turn on it without much difficulty.

The four corners at the intersection of Broadway and Main Street were set aside to serve as a town square. Each founder donated a portion: Corwin the northwest, Hathway the northeast and Hurin the south. Manning’s contribution was in the northeast section and was small in comparison.

The town survey was made in September 1802, but it was not filed until a year later on October 18, 1803. It was the seventh document received by the Warren County Recorder’s office. The county had been formed seven months earlier on March 4, with Lebanon chosen as temporary county seat. On February 11, 1805, Lebanon became official county seat and on January 9, 1810, the village was officially incorporated.