Brief History Of Sardinia
As told by: Gladys Kincaid Kilmer in 1978
In the early years of the 19th Century, a small settlement of pioneers existed in the vicinity of what is now the Village of Sardinia. In 1828, a post office was established, called “Lilly Post Office”, named for the first Post Master, Doctor Robert D. Lilly, Who was also the first merchant within the bounds of the community. In a few years, it was sold to William B. Lilly and Josiah Moore who on March 30th, 1833 laid out a town with 16 lots on what they named North Main Street. The honor and privilege of naming the village was given to Doctor Isaac M. Beck, one of the first physicians in the community, having established his office and began the practice of medicine in the year 1829. The doctor chose the name of the tune of his favorite hymn in the Methodist Hymnal. This Hymn is still included in the 1844 edition of the Hymnal.
Time and space forbid the naming of all of the business establishments which, during almost 150 years, have been a part of the history of Sardinia, and the life of the citizens. An early industry of the time was, “The Tanneries“. In the year 1817, Matthew Kincaid bought a farm about one mile north of the settlement, now owned by John H. and Mary K. Bachman, and for twenty years operated a “Tannery”. In 1836, Franz Feike operated one for a few years.
There were several early manufacturing establishments. The Cross brothers made wagons and plows. W.G Campbell & Brothers manufactured buggies and carriages in the building on South Main Street which the town folk knew as “The Old Exchange”, which they built in 1875.
The first tavern, which was called a “Temperance Tavern”, was owned and operated by Reverand John B. Mahan. He was an ardent abolitionist and, together with others, many years prior to the Civil War, sheltered, fed, and provided transportation for the escaped slaves who crossed the Ohio River on their way to Canada and freedom. In 1837 he built the brick building on the corner of North Main and Winchester Streets, which contained the secret room where the slaves were kept. This was the second station on the famous “Underground Railroad”.
Mr. Mahan came to an early death in 1844 through exposure in a damp prison in Kentucky for a crime he did not commit and of which he was later cleared. His name appears on the Historical markers at the east and west entrances to Sardinia. He is buried in the Sardinia Cemetery and the epitaph on his head stone reads “In memory of Reverend John Mahan, a victim of the slave power”.
Blacksmith shops and Livery Barns were popular and much used places of business in the old days. The first blacksmith in the village was Willis Gilliland in 1837.
The first dray was driven by African American citizen named Ephriham Johnson, and consisted of a sled and a yoke of oxen by which he would haul his freight from the Depot on South Main Street to the various places of business around town. There have been at least two Hotels. The brick known as “Woodward House” located on the South side of Winchester Street just east of the First National Bank and has long been torn down. “The Commercial Hotel” on the corner of South Main and Broad Streets was built in 1898 by Cornelius Holmes. It replaced one which had been operated by Nathan Dunn.
On July 15th, 1863, the town was very much excited as the Confederate Army sent a company of soldiers through this section arriving here on the above date. They stole, destroyed and burned. The next day the Union Army came under General Hobson. The ladies who remained in the Village cooked and fed both Armies.
In 1877, the narrow gage “Cincinnati and Eastern” Railroad reached Sardinia. It was later replaced by the Norfolk and Western. In about 1902, the “Ohio River and Columbus” Railroad was completed between Ripley and Sardinia and operated until about 1917.
Four banks have been in operation in Sardinia: Feike and Marshall Bank in 1889, Bank of Sardinia in 1890, First National Bank in 1905, and Farmers National Bank in 1921.
The history of Sardinia would not be complete without mentioning the “Colored Camp Meetings” held in P.R Kincaid’s Grove on South Main Street where both Black and White mingled and joining in their singing and shouting.
We must not forget about the “Sardinia Fair” which began in 1900 and continued for about 10 years. It was started by G.A Kennedy, and it furnished good entertainment for everyone. It was quite an event, and people from the surrounding towns flocked to Sardinia.
Electricity came to town about 1911. The early school history is rather vague, however, we do have records that state that the first School in Sardinia was probably on the farm of Amos Pettijohn, which was located near the site of the present cemetery. The teacher was Jack Pettijohn, a handicapped man who could not walk, and was probably a son of Amos. The first school house consisted of a shed, open at one end and between two corn cribs. This wa about the year 1812. In 1815, a school house was built on land owned by Houston Bare. John Moore, father of Josiah Moore, one of the founders of Sardinia, taught here for 19 years. It was generally understood that when corn husking was over, he was to start the school and continue until maple sap started to run and sugar making was the order of the day. The school was the discontinued until the following fall after corn husking time. From then, it is mostly handed down from word of mouth.
During the latter part or after the close of the Civil War in the 1860’s, there was a school for white children on Maple Avenue across from the Sears Oil Station. There was no railroad then. There was also a school for African American children across the street, near the corner where Graham Street meets Maple Avenue.
Since then there have been a number of school buildings. Two or three on the lot where the present fine building is located, with it’s improved teaching facilities. It is quite different from the the hardships the pioneer children had in order to get an education. The first class to graduate from Sardinia High School was in 1894.
I will just mention the names and dates of the first four churches organized in the community: Methodist in 1808, Presbyterian in 1811, Baptist in 1840, and Wesleyan Methodist in 1844. The two latter churches only continued for a few years.
The F and A.M lodge was instituted in 1854, and the I.O.O.F lodge was instituted in 1879. The O.E.S chapter was instituted in 1917. The Rebecca lodge was instituted in 1950.
The first American Legion was instituted about 1920 and was called the Harry Hoffman Post. The American Legion was reorganized on March 7th, 1949, and was called the George Lambert post. The first commander was Edgar Schatzman.
The following poem seems a fitting close for this brief history of the town.
By Lucille Kincaid Bennington in 1923
Sardinia is the finest town that anyone can know,
And any citizen therein will proudly tell you so.
It was founded in 1833, March the 30th was the date,
And it has ever been the pride of our grand old Buckeye State.
The town was laid out with toil and care by men named Lilly and Moore,
Who had chosen a very pretty spot on peaceful White Oak’s shore.
Perched serenely on a hill where the sun is always shinning,
Altho’ sometimes behind a cloud we see the silver lining.
We are “First in War, first in peace”, as that old saying goes,
In fact, we are first in everything, that’s right as our record shows.
In the Nation’s problems we always do our share,
We helped to keep the states united, told Spain to have a care.
We also sent our splendid youth across the briny deep,
To help the French and British, send the Germans to defeat.
We are patriotic as can be to state and nation, too.
But first of all to the old home town, we must be faithful, loyal, and true.