Photo's courtesy of Karen Keller Photography
About Union Township
A Brief History of Union Township
The largest township in Licking County, Union Township is comprised of 21,035 acres and is located in the south central section of the County. Union Township is home to the Village of Hebron, with a population of 2,138, located at the crossroads of Old State Rout 79, or Hebron Road, and US 40, National Road. Also within Union Township is the Village of Buckeye Lake, which lies on the north side of the Lake in the southeast corner of the township. The current population of Buckeye Lake is 3,215. The cities of Newark and Heath are adjacent to the township in the northeast quarter. The City of Columbus lies approximately 25 miles to the west of Union Township, and is easily accessed via Interstate 70. To the west, the Village of Kirkersville, located in Harrison Township, is also adjacent to Union Township. The Village of Granville lies several miles to the north along State Route 37.
Prior to white man setting foot on the lands now known as Union Township, the land, with its abundance of wildlife, rich soils, and uniform water supply, played host to considerable Indian activity. Artifacts of this activity are still available to those who wish to walk the freshly tilled farmlands. Signal mounds are still present on some of the high points of the township.
White man’s settlement into the area is believed to have been as early as 1800. The rich, well watered soils along with an abundance of timber and wildlife allowed for the area to present itself as an excellent host to settlement.
The township water also played host to early manufacturing. The first recorded manufacturing site was a mill on the banks of Auter Creek in 1803. Manufacturing continued to prosper throughout the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. A big boost to the manufacturing base of the township came in the late 1960’s with the creation of the Newark Industrial Park. The park continues to grow, and to date has been responsible for employing over 3500 people.
Three primary areas of settlement within the township were Union Station, Luray, and Hebron. Each had their own school at one time. The first schoolhouse was built in 1816 and was believed to have been located in the northeastern portion of the township. The Luray School followed, and was located a the top of the hill on National Road, midway between Luray and Hebron. In 1849, the first Hebron School was built on North Street in the Village of Hebron. The longest running church, if not the oldest in the township, is the Licking Baptist Church, established in 1807. Their first building was built in 1811. Several other churches were established throughout the township during the mid to late 1800’s.
Agriculture has always been the backbone of Union Township. With the construction of the Ohio Canal in 1828, the Central Ohio Railroad in 1834, and the Cumberland National Road in 1853, the township, as well as its principal town Hebron, became the shipping capital for grain and pork for all of the Licking River Valley. Agriculture is still the principal product of Union Township and is a vital component of the economy as well as the lifestyle of Licking County and Union Township. Most of the farmed areas are in the western half of the county. The farmed areas in the hilly, eastern part are used mainly as pasture or hayland, but some area are used as cropland. The principal crops in the township are corn (yellow dent, popcorn, some food grade corn), soybeans and wheat. Concerning livestock, the township currently has less than 10 dairy farms, some beef and hog confinement facilities, and no major poultry facilities.
The ownership form of government was brought with the original settlers to the New England states around 1620. Union Township, as with all townships in the state of Ohio, is overseen by a 3 member elected board of trustees. Township trustees are elected every 4 years and may be charged with providing artificial lighting for any public road, the care and management of Township cemeteries, providing proper waste disposal, zoning, police protection, and the construction, care and maintenance of township roads. The board of trustees also supervises and directs the activities of the township fire department, zoning inspector, zoning commission, and board of zoning appeals. Finally, the Trustees preserve order at all township meetings and elections are are available to the public for assistance in any and all township related problems that may arise.
Roads within Union Township:
Lees Road/Union Station Road, Deeds Rd., Hayes Rd., Whitehead Rd., Blacks Rd., Mill Dam Rd., Seminary Rd., Beaver Run Rd., Granview Rd., Refugee Rd., Swamp Rd., Palmer Rd., Canal Rd., Hayes Rd., Deeds Rd., Canyon Rd., Hallie Lane Rd., Dew-Mar Dr., Duck Run Rd., Gale Rd., James Rd., Margaret Dr.
Points of Interest within Union Township:
The Ohio & Erie Canal ran through Hebron and Union Township and several sections of the old canal are still preserved in this area.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife’s Hebron State Fish Hatchery is located in the southern part of Union Township. This facility provides numerous types of fish which are used in state wide restocking programs. The ponds, trails, and woodlots at the area provide excellent bird watching opportunities. Over 250 species of birds have been recorded at the hatchery.