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DISCOVERING MECHANICSBURG, OH
This village in Champaign County, Ohio, has a population of just under 1,600. Mechanicsburg is known for its rich history. Every year the townsfolk celebrate many holidays, which are sponsored through the efforts of Our Towne Mechanicsburg.
Maple Grove Cemetery serves as the center of the Memorial Day activities. Then, the annual summer celebration takes place during the second Saturday of July to commemorate Independence Day. Those festivities including a parade, fireworks, food, live music, and more. Then, the Christmas in the village celebration takes place during the second Saturday of December.
Originally, Mechanicsburg was laid out in 1814. However, the village officially incorporated in 1834. By then, the town had two stores, a saw mill and a gristmill. Prior to the Civil War, the town was an excellent location and stopping point in the Underground Railroad, playing a critical role. It was ideal because it’s located on a tributary of the Ohio River that runs down to Kentucky and because the people living there were very much against slavery.
One resident of Mechanicsburg, a man known as the “Conductor,” is credited with helping more than 513 people escape the horrors of slavery to freedom in the north. That man’s name was Udney Hyde. He lived from 1808 to 1883, however not much is known about him until the 1850s, when he came to Mechanicsburg and fought against slavery with other residents in the town. The largest number of slaves he assisted at one time was said to be 11 men, 11 women and two children. At one point, Hyde had a violent encounter with federal marshals who were trying to capture a runaway he was hiding in the home. During the encounter, the marshals were driven away and when they returned, a group of townspeople had rallied to help drive them away again and this eventually culminated in a physical altercation between the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Marshalls. The marshals were said to have beaten the sheriff and his posse. Angered by this, a mob of Ohioans detained the marshals and jailed them in Springfield on charges from the altercation. Eventually, Ohio Governor Salmon P. Chase negotiated the release of the federal prisoners and the marshals, with charges being dropped on both sides.