46 Interesting Historical Facts About Waverly and Pike County, Ohio

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Did you know that Bristol Village is National Church Residences’ original housing community?Founded in 1961 and opened in 1962, Bristol Village’s retirement homes were the first of its kind and have only continued to develop and grow. As National Church Residences continues to expand, though, we never forget about the rich history of our thriving first location.

Bristol Village is located in Pike County, Ohio within the small, friendly city of Waverly. Both Pike County and Waverly bring a lot to the table, each offering a fascinating history.

To give you some insights about our location, we’ve compiled a list of 40 fun and historical facts about the city and county that we’re proud to call home, so be sure to read on!

Fun and Historical Facts

Waverly’s motto, “working for a brighter future,” is a fitting phrase as the region’s past shows a passion for settlement and growth.

First Inhabitants

  • History documents settlers in the Waverly area as early as 13,000 BC
  • The native cultures of the Adena and Hopewell were among the first inhabitants
  • Each of these native tribes are well-known for their mounds, which are still present in southern Ohio
  • Fort Ancient, as well as the Shawnee Native American Tribe, began to occupy the area sometime after 1,000 AD
  • Tecumseh, a well-known member of the Shawnee tribe, was born close to Waverly in 1768

Founding and Establishment

  • The first documentation of Europeans settling in the Waverly area is in 1796
  • By 1840, Waverly had 340 inhabitants
  • Waverly was originally called Uniontown, but the name was changed after engineer Francis Cleveland suggested Waverly. It is believed that this suggestion was based on his enjoyment of Sir Walter Scott's Waverly Novels.

James Emmitt and Other Economical Influences

  • Although the county seat for Pike County is currently in Waverly, that was not always the case. In 1859, entrepreneur James Emmitt led a group of supporters to petition to move the county seat to Waverly over Piketon.
  • To do so, those wanting to move the county seat to Waverly promised to provide a new courthouse as a gift to the people of Pike County
  • That courthouse still stands today and is on Second Street
  • Emmitt also helped in changing the Ohio and Erie Canal route so that it would go between Pike and Waverly, providing growth for the city
  • Because of his wealth, various business endeavors, and overall influence, the Emmitt House was built in 1861
    • The Emmitt House has been known in the past as being haunted by a few spirits including Mr. James Emmitt, as the smell of cigar would lingerin the hallways
    • Another ghost that has been reported by visitors was a maid in uniform
    • There were also claims of two children spirits who were seen playing from time to time throughout the hallways
  • The house tragically burnt down in January 2014

Growth for the City of Waverly

  • In 1953, the Federal Government chose Pike County as the location for the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, designed to enrich uranium
  • The plant covered over 4,000 acres and provided jobs for over 2,000 workers. As a result, the population in Waverly grew.
  • The city currently has three industrial facilities within the corporate limits providing just over 3,000 manufacturing jobs

Other Fun Facts

  • Most residents are employed in the town's sixty retail businesses or forty health care and social service agencies
  • Because of the early presence of the Shawnee Tribe, Shawnee State University was established as a public university in 1986. It is located in Portsmouth, Ohio, just south of Waverly.
  • Another tribe connected to the area, the Adena, is known for the Adena Mound, just north of Waverly in Chillicothe. The mound is registered as a historic structure.

Fun and Historical Facts About Pike County, Ohio

Pike County, like the city of Waverly, has a rich history worth learning more about.

Establishment and Settlement

  • Pike County was organized on February 1, 1815 from portions of Scioto, Ross, and Adams Counties
  • It was named in honor of Zebulon Pike, the explorer and soldier who had at that time recently been killed in the War of 1812
  • The county was first occupied by the “Mound Builder” culture, with tribes such as the Shawnee and Adena
  • To this day, several mounds are present within the county, with the most prominent ones being located in Mound Cemetery near Piketon
  • Hezekiah Merritt is credited with planting the first crop of corn in the area, as early as December 1795
  • Other early settlers include Arthur, John and Abraham Chenoweth, as well as John Noland

Popular County Influencers

  • Robert Lucas was elected as Governor of Ohio in 1832, after relocating to the Pike County area in 1814
  • During this time, the Ohio-Erie Canal was constructed. The canal’s route went through Pike County on the west side of the Scioto River. As a result, there was significant growth for the county.
  • James Emmitt was the county’s first millionaire, as he became one of Pike County and Waverly’s leading businessmen. These businesses included a fleet of canal boats and a large distillery.
  • Once the county seat was relocated to Waverly, that city became the county’s largest community
  • Other towns within Pike County include Beaver, Piketon, Jasper and Elm Grove 

More Growth for Pike County

  • During WWI and WWII, the population for the county remained stable as residents commonly found jobs on farms or saw mills
  • When Pike County was chosen as the location for the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, the population of the county soared temporarily. This time is referred to as the “boom.” 

Other Fun Facts

  • There are 444 total square miles in Pike County. 440 of those miles are land, while the remaining are water.
  • The county is intersected by the Scioto River, which runs north to south
  • The Pike Heritage Museum houses a lot of Pike County’s historical items such as important county documents
  • There are three Villages – Beaver, Piketon, and Waverly in Pike County
  • There are fourteen Townships in Pike County – Beaver, Benton, Camp Creek, Jackson, Marion, Mifflin, Newton, Pebble, Pee Pee, Perry, Scioto, Seal, Sunfish, Union
  • Pike County has an airport and is three miles northeast of Waverly

There’s so Much History to Explore!

If you’re interested in retiring in Ohio, choose Bristol Village. Our location is rich in history and there are just so many fun things to do in Waverly and beyond when friends and family come to visit.

For more information about our location or services, contact us today because we’d be happy to help!