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March  2006
Mount Gilead, Ohio

    On Interstate 71 between Columbus and Mansfield, you’ll see signs for Mount Gilead, the Morrow County seat. This community was originally settled by German-speaking immigrants who probably came here because the land was free. Later, they were joined by settlers from New England, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The "Mount" in Mount. Gilead does not derive from any mountains nearby. Rather, credit the Virginia settlers who named the town after Mt. Gilead, Virginia.

    For many years, Mount Gilead was a wilderness community, a stopping point along the road where travelers would eat, drink, rest, and then continue their journey.  The area’s first tavern was a small structure made of logs. Posted on the daily menu were simple items that could be procured on the frontier, such as, something called “wild meat,” apparently a generic term to cover whatever the hunters had recently  brought in. Also on the menu you’d find that Ohio standby, “corn pone.” What’s core pone? It’s corn meal, mixed with milk and yeast, formed into a loaf and baked. If milk and yeast were in short supply at the inn, you’d likely get mush, that is, corn meal mixed with water and a little salt, then boiled. Mmmmm-mmm. If you hit a really good day at the Mt. Gilead tavern, there would be coffee, sweetened with local maple syrup.  

    The village of Mount Gilead grew slowly, due at least in part to the regrettable tendency of its local businesses to catch fire and burn to the ground. Every commercial and industrial enterprise that folks established seemed to go up in smoke. We don’t know if a cause was ever determined for this irritating habit—or indeed if Mt. Gilead had more problems of this sort than other comparable communities. But for whatever reason. Mt. Gilead remains a small town, with about 3,000 official residents.

     Today, Mount Gilead’s identifying feature is something called the “Victory Shaft.” It dates back to World War I and is a monument presented to the people of Morrow County for selling more War Bonds per capita than any other county in Ohio.

      For more about Mt. Gilead and its surrounding communities, see the CD
for I-71 North: Columbus to Cleveland or I-71 South: Cleveland to Columbus.

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