Worthington Spotlight

Wetmore carved out life, land in this area

On Dec. 18, 1820, a family of four plus a hired girl set out to find a new life and opportunity in the new settlement of Worthington, Ohio, in what was still the frontier.

The head of the family was Charles H. Wetmore, a university-trained physician and soon-to-be landowner and farmer. With him were his wife, Eliza, his two children and Rachel, the hired girl.

The first order of business was to find shelter for the family, since it was close to Christmas and winter.

Dr. Charles H. Wetmore. (Submitted photo from Worthington Historical Society archives)

The family did what many other people had done when they came to a new place and needed to get their bearings and find shelter – they would rent rooms in a boarding house or hotel. In this case, the family rented a room in the Demas Adams Hotel on the southwest quadrant of the Village Green, which still stands today as a private residence.

The rent was $12 a week and included stabling for two horses, a room, firewood and candles. Beds also were included, which meant feather beds, but not necessarily bed frames.

Dr. Wetmore kept a diary of the family’s first year as new residents in Worthington, so we have a record of what it was like to move to a new place, build a house for the family, establish a practice as a physician, and begin cultivating land to plant crops.

On Jan. 4, 1821, Dr. Wetmore recorded his first house call to the Parks family in a “case of obstetric.” Thereafter, he was a busy doctor with many patients in town and throughout Central Ohio where he was widely admired.

If Dr. Wetmore’s name seems familiar to those in Worthington and Clintonville, it would be because Wetmore Road, in Beechwold, is named for him.

Dr. Wetmore and his wife had come to the area to claim land that had been granted to Eliza’s father, Major John Rathbone, for his military service. This name, too, may sound familiar.

The western end of Morse Road today is named Rathbone, and the acreage claimed by Eliza and Charles was in the Beechwold neighborhood of today, on the border between Sharon Township and Clinton Township. In fact, Morse Road was called Township Road originally.

In Wetmore’s diary he recorded his family’s moving from one accommodation to another while he worked to keep his practice going, clear his land and build his house on the Rathbone land.

The details of building the house are particularly interesting. He started immediately in January 1821 by purchasing 8,000 bricks at $3.25 per thousand brick and 8,000 shingles for $16.50. In March, Wetmore paid Mr. Ingham $5.50 to dig his cellar, 20½ feet by 14 feet.

Often trading wood and farm goods and borrowing money to pay workers, the house was completed in August, less than one year after arriving in Ohio. There was even “sweat equity” involved when Dr. Wetmore worked as a “tender” with masons to lay the brick under the privy and the cellar.

Dr. Wetmore’s diary and other journals can be found at the Ohio History Connection in the Wetmore papers.

Jeri Arent is a member of the Worthington Historical Society.

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