Harrison Township has the distinction of being the oldest organized community in Southwestern Licking County. It was formed in 1816, and encompassed most of the southwestern portion of the county. In 1827, the western portion of the township was split off, which became what was known as Lima Township. Later, in 1833, the southern portion was split, thereby creating Etna Township.
The first inhabitants of the township were Mound Builders. Later, much of the lands within the township, were pledged and conveyed as consideration for service during the Revolutionary War. The first land grant, in what would later become Harrison Township, was given, beginning in 1801. The first permanent white settlers appeared in our area around 1805. In 1820, the first official census was taken. This showed only 357 residents at that time. By 1840, the number had risen to 870.
It was not until the 1850’s, when the railroad arrived, that the area began to rapidly develop. This led to the easy transportation of people and goods. The 1850 census showed 1,447 residents. The most recent census, from 2010, shows 7,561 residents. It was not until the 1850’s, when the railroad arrived, that the area began to rapidly develop.
Originally called Kirkersville Station, the village of Outville developed in the 1850’s. This village was originally a stop on the Central Ohio Railroad, primarily forthe delivery of mail to the village of Kirkersville. A railroad station agent, James Outcalt, realized the confusion behind having two towns similarly named Kirkersville, and ultimately changed the name to Outville. Outville was an important stop for freight trains, and even later provided a passenger stop for the railroads. The last passenger trains to stop at the Outville station, occurred in 1940.
Speaking of the Outville train station: After the run of the Central Ohio Railroad, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad took over operations. In 1899, the B&O built a Queen Anne/Eastlake architectural style passenger depot. After 1940, the depot was closed, later sold, and then moved north of Outville, in 1963. In 1993, the Harrison Township Trustees arranged to have the depot returned to Outville, at the township’s complex, and placed near the main line track currently in place. Shortly after its return, the trustees contracted for an extensive restoration of the depot to its former glory. In 1995, the depot was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This depot is one of only six remaining on the line, between Columbus and Pittsburgh. It is accessible through the week, during normal business hours.
Another interesting fact about Harrison Township is that the first lighted ball field in Licking County, and one of the first in Ohio, was in the township. On May 27, 1935, the first night baseball game took place just east of the intersection of Blacks and Outville Roads. A triple header was played, with the first pitch occurring at 8:15 p.m. All of this occurred just a scant three nights after the Cincinnati Reds played the first night game in major league history.
Civic events abound in our township as well. In July, the local tractor club hosts a large truck/tractor pull and power show. This has been organized through the generosity of local club members and their selfless contribution of time and efforts. This show is one of the largest in the state, with pullers and displays brought in from around the Midwest. Further, the organizers have provided the pulling participants with handsome prize purses, all of which has come from donations and a very modest entry fee. This show is in addition to a fall truck and tractor show, which takes place at the township facility.
Finally, we turn our attention to the Outville Christmas Parade. This has occured on the second Saturday of every December, since 1996. The Christmas Parade typically is the largest in the county, with representatives from local bands, civic groups, truck and tractor clubs, to folks just out to rekindle old relationships. Following the parade, the HOGS (Historical Outville Group Society) and the Harrison Township Trustees, open up the complex to the community. Homemade soup beans are cooked (in cast iron kettles), cornbread, and other treats are provided. There has never been a cost to the community, as only donations are solicited. All of this is followed by a visit from Santa Claus and a live auction of donated items and desserts.
As you can see, civic pride is still prevalent in Harrison Township. Family friendly activities occur throughout the year, at little to no cost to our residents. This is in addition to all of the services and events, which are provided for the appreciative citizens of our community. Thus, with a generous helping and understanding of our past, the vision to provide a stable future, and a beneficial and community mindedness, Harrison Township is providing an attractive place for many to call home.