20 Amazing Tuscarawas County Stories

Tuscarawas County has some small towns, but we have a lot of large stories! Don’t worry – we’re not going to quiz you on this information – but you never know when it might come in handy!

  1. “Tuscarawas,” for which the county, river and village are named, is believed to be a Delaware word meaning “old town” or “open mouth.” The first inhabitants of the county were Native Americans, and our written history begins when they became quick friends with the Moravian Missionary David Zeisberger. Living at Schoenbrunn and Gnadenhutten, both the Native Americans and the Moravians would get caught up in the Revolutionary War; in 1781 and 1790 residents were massacred by the Pennsylvania Militiamen.
  2. Tuscora Park in New Philadelphia is home to an authentic, hand-carved 1928 Spillman Carousel. It is one of the few all-wooden carousels of this type remaining in the world. You can also see an enclosed gondola-style Ferris wheel, play miniature golf or watch the world go ’round (and ’round) on Tuscora Park’s famous chair swing. The Park was subject to close in the early 1980’s due to increased insurance premiums, but was saved by the New Philadelphia Rotary. They formed a non-profit organization known as RTY to manage and cover the costs of the park.
  3. Dennison, Ohio was named “Dreamsville” by over 1.5 million World War II servicemen during the 1940’s, who were served at the Depot’s canteen on their way to the East Coast. Today, the Depot remains as the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum as a Historic National Landmark; one of only 70 Landmarks in Ohio and one of the few Depots of its era still in existence.
  4. Gnadenhutten (meaning Huts or Tents of Grace) was the site of one of the most brutal massacres in Ohio. Today you can visit the Gnadenhutten Museum and grounds in remembrance.
  5. The first Christian settlement in Ohio was Schoenbrunn Village, founded by Moravian missionaries in what is now known as New Philadelphia, Ohio. Reconstructed cabins exist on the site of the village today and tours are available from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
  6. Zoar Village, founded in 1817, was a communal society founded by Joseph Bimeler and a group of German religious separatists. It survived as a communal society for 80 years and you can still see many of the original buildings and gardens today. Saved from flooding by a hand built levy, the village remains largely untouched.
  7. Fort Laurens State Memorial, located near Bolivar, Ohio, is the site of the only Revolutionary War fort built in what is now known as Ohio. While the fort no longer exists, you can visit the museum and see an outline of where the fort once stood. The museum includes artifacts found from archaeological digs in the 1970’s as well as the remains of 21 soldiers found buried in a mass grave.
  8. The Ohio Swiss Festival, one of the largest and oldest festivals in the State of Ohio, is held in Sugarcreek every September. Festivities include polka, playing Alphorns, stonestossen, and Swiss Cheese.
  9. Paul Green’s “Trumpet in the Land,” which tells the story of the Moravian missionaries and their Christian Delaware converts is Ohio’s first and longest running outdoor historical drama. Come and see the story of America’s fight for Independence at the Schoenbrunn Amphitheatre and witness the tragedy, the love and redemption found along the Ohio Frontier.
  10. Uhrichsville, Ohio, was once known as the “clay capital of the world.” Emerging in the late 1800’s, large and rich veins of clay and coal were discovered in Uhrichsville and this lead to the production of much of the State’s clay and brick material. Today the Uhrichsville Clay Museum honors the town’s clay history with “whimsies” and other crafts.
  11. What city in Tuscarawas County is home to both baseball legend “Cy” Young and legendary Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes? That would be Newcomerstown, Ohio! Memorabilia can be viewed at the Temperance Tavern Museum and is maintained by the Newcomerstown Historical Society. You can also see “an Ohio Town Goes to War” at the Olde Main Street Museum and Social Center – a scale reconstruction of the old Newcomerstown downtown area – and witness firsthand how a community rallied during WW2. Newcomerstown was also home to renown Broadway theatre designer Norman Bel Geddes.
  12. Ernest “Mooney” Warther, whose amazing train carvings can be seen at the Warther Museum in Dover, was declared the “World’s Master Carver” by fellow international carvers during his lifetime. Learn how Mooney “seen it in the wood” and view his wondrous ebony and ivory carvings. His home, complete with original furnishings, is also available for tour; there you’ll see Frieda Warther’s collection of over 74,000 buttons.
  13. The business district of New Philadelphia was laid out as an exact replica of Philadelphia, PA and the New Philadelphia Post Office is a replica of Independence Hall. Many famous people called New Philadelphia their home, including Cie Grant and Dave Leggett.
  14. The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD), head-quartered in New Philadelphia, operates ten lakes for both flood control and recreation. These lakes include Atwood, Tappan, Clendening, Senneca, Leesville and more. The district covers over 8,000 square miles and the watershed represents about 20% of the State of Ohio.
  15. The Alpine Hills Museum in Sugarcreek is a three-story museum that preserves the legacy of the Amish, German and Swiss settlers of the area. You can see everything from a 1895 firehouse to a replica of an 1890’s cheese house. Hear stories of an old newsprinter and cheesemaker with interactive displays.
  16. The first Protestant sermon delivered to the West of the Alleghenies was spoken in Newcomerstown – then named Gekelamukpechunk. The village was home to Chief Netawatwes (later Chief Newcomer), whom the village was later named after.
  17. Jeremiah E. Reeves was a wealthy industrialist in the Dover area. His family’s Victorian Home may be toured at the courtesy of the Dover Historical Society. The home features over 90% original furnishings and you can get an up close look at Victorian “hair art,” which was used to remember lost loved ones. Local radio station, WJER, takes its initials from Reeves.
  18. The Tuscarawas River Flood of 1913 marked the end of the Canal Era in Ohio and did massive damage to numerous cities and villages in the area – pictures and artifacts from that era can be found at Union Hall in Port Washington, Ohio.
  19. Sharon Moravian Church in Tuscarawas, Ohio is home to a Christmas Putz. A “Putz” is a 14′ by 8′ display of the town of Bethlehem on the night of the birth of Christ. The display includes figures hand carved by artists in Oberammergan, Germany.
  20. You can drive the first state road in Ohio along the Old Port Washington Road, which runs from Port Washington through to Holmes County. Before it was a state road, it was a long used Native American hunting trail.