In the 1800’s, early pioneers recognized the beauty of our valley as soon as they crested the hill south of our area. They saw the potential for a perfect spot to establish their new homes. The lush wooded valley surrounded by hills on three sides and a sizeable waterway were just what they needed. Four or five families had made the hazardous journey from Bourbon County, Paris, Kentucky to escape the practice of slavery in the south.
In 1806, the first settlements in Jefferson Township in Preble County Ohio were built. The name was chosen by admirers of the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. In 1807, Jefferson Township was officially established. Elder David Purviance, an early pioneer preacher, opened the first church and later became an Ohio State Representative. He was a force in securing land for Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and was a Trustee there many years. Purviance is buried in the Old North Cemetery on Melody Lane. In 2020, the area has five churches.
Of the twelve Townships in Preble County, Jefferson is located in its northwest corner, being an area six by six square miles covering 22,005 acres. The terrain reveals the boldest landscape in the county, studded with hills and valleys. The east fork of the Whitewater River skirts the west border of the township as it flows into the east edge of the State of Indiana. Many descendants of these early pioneers chose to settle in this region and several local residents can still trace their roots to Jefferson Township, Preble County, Ohio.
By 1808, Jefferson Township was populated with good, industrious and religious people. This inspired James Fleming and Andrew Ireland to conceive a plan to establish a center. With adjoining lands, each plotted a portion of his land for this venture. As both founders were from the vicinity of Paris, Kentucky, they decide the place should be named “New Paris”. The original plat of 20 lots was acknowledged August 18, 1817 before Issac Stephens, Justice of the Peace. This included the land between Cherry Street and the first alley north of Main,east to High Street and west to Whitewater Avenue.
A free lot was offered to anyone who would build the first house. John H. Cottom accepted by building a square log house on the south west corner of Main & Washington Streets, where he opened a hotel. A man named Pryor erected a house on the northwest corner and opened the first general store. Robert Sprowls built a large frame house on the southeast corner. In 1820, Robert McGill’s house and blacksmith shop was established on the northeast corner of the intersection.
Thus the hamlet had begun and new settlers continued to arrive. In 1832, by a special act of the Legislature, New Paris became an incorporated village. By then several villagers had provided lots to extend the village area. Many years later these new additions were added: Ingle-Mann, Cadet Heights, Nelson Addition, Belleview Heights, Spahr Addition, Eastdale, Timmons Trailer Court, Cardinal Hill, the Sauer Addition and the Trailer Court by Natural Springs Resort.
Village government consists of a Mayor, six council members, and the Board of Public Affairs. Jefferson Twp. is governed by three Trustees.
The first school was opened in 1818 with several following. The last one now owned by the village, JeffersonTwp School, is in the process of being demolished during 2020 to make way for a village park.
The first newspaper was published in 1844, followed by the New Paris Mirror, local correspondents for the Pal-Item with current events, the Graphic Mirror, New Paris News, Village Press and the present New Paris Communicator.
The Dayton & Western Railroads built a line through the village in 1851. A second line was added connecting Indianapolis to Columbus, Ohio. These were abandoned by 1978. A spur line from New Westville to New Paris was laid for an interurban to accommodate passengers for the famous Cedar Springs 100-room Hotel about 1900 for the curative waters and the National Roque Tournaments. The hotel was dissolved in the mid 1930’s. In 1864, Benjamin Russell Hanby, former local minister of the United Brethren Church, wrote the new world famous Christmas song, “Up On the Housetop”, in New Paris, Ohio for our children.
A large area of limestone was discovered in 1889 and quarrying was active until the 1920’s. It was the largest industry in New Paris employing 50 men daily, mostly local. In 2020 it is Natural Springs Resort.
A volunteer fire department bought the first horse-drawn hook and ladder in 1896. Today the department encompasses the Northwest Fire & Ambulance District for Jefferson Twp. and half of Jackson Twp. Twenty-four fire personnel are on call in 2020.
In 1901, electricity replaced kerosene lamps. Natural gas was piped in from West Virginia in 1919. A water system was installed in 1927. In March 1936, thirty-six street lights were turned on. The government WPA installed a sewer system in 1939. A local library was begun in 1902, by a woman’s literary group known as The Tuesday Club, and still exists.
An early post office was established, now located at 306 South Washington Street built in 1979, serving both the village and Jefferson Twp. The population of the village on July 1, 2018 was 1,577 and Jefferson Township on the same date was 3,204. In 2020, recreation by the Jefferson Booster Club provides the youth with an upgraded ball park for the Spring softball and baseball games. Natural Springs Resort is open in the Summer for swimming, sun bathing, scuba diving, boating, fishing, picnicking, and accommodations for over two hundred camping spots. The Area Chamber of Commerce has an annual Fireworks Display near Independence Day. Today’s Harvest provides a Fall venture with their annual Corn Mazed the village presents the annual AppleFest in September. Valleys Edge Snow Tubing is a great Winter pastime. The Jamboree has a mix of live musical entertainment every Friday night of the year. A three story Antique Mall plus two other antique stores hold many treasurers for visitors.
There are many reasons for you to visit our village of New Paris, Ohio.