Waterville in Lucas County, Ohio — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
John Pray - Founder of Waterville,Ohio / The Miami and Erie Canal
Born in Rhode Island, John Pray (1783-1872) moved to the Maumee River Valley from New York shortly after serving in the War of 1812 and completing a prospecting tour in Ohio. He built a dam across the river to Granger Island and in 1821 constructed a water-powered gristmill, the first on the lower Maumee. In 1831, he laid out the Village of Waterville with the first 50 lots. The Columbian House, a stagecoach inn constructed by Pray in 1828 and expanded in 1837, was for years the commercial and social center of Waterville and accommodated travelers from cities such as Detroit and Cincinnati. From this building, he operated the village's post office. When Wood County was organized in 1820, Pray became a commissioner until Lucas County was formed from part of Wood in 1835. For nine years he served as Justice of the Peace in Waterville. He and his wife Lucy raised eleven children to adulthood. Circa 1854 he constructed his home, which today overlooks Pray Park.
West Side of Marker:
The Miami and Erie Canal, connecting Toledo to Cincinnati, joined the Wabash and Erie Canal to Indiana. The Waterville section of the canal was completed in 1843. Boats, pulled by mules or horses walking on the canal banks, hauled farm products, commercial goods, and people. In 1851 there were approximately 400 boats operating on the canal. Hotels, stores, and mills sprung up along its banks. The Joseph Hall store stood on this site. Canal operations ceased in 1909 as railroads and automobiles became faster and cheaper means of travel. During the 1930s and 1940s the canal bed was filled in to become the Anthony Wayne Trail, U. S. Route 24.
Erected 2002 by The Ohio Bicentennial Commission, The Longaberger Company, Waterville Historical Society, and The Ohio Historical Society. (Marker Number 40-48.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Settlements & Settlers • Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Ohio Historical Society / The Ohio History Connection, the The Miami & Erie Canal, and the Wabash & Erie Canal series lists.
Location. 41° 29.981′ N, 83° 43.264′ W. Marker is Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 23 North 4th Street, Waterville OH 43566, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Wakeman Hall / Waterville Historical Society (within shouting distance of this marker); The Columbian House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Fort Miamis Reserve/Miltonville (approx. 0.8 miles away); Ohio Electric Railroad Bridge / Roche De Bout, Roche De Boeuf (approx. 0.9 miles away); Bowling Green Fault (approx. one mile away); Fort Deposit / Roche de Bout (approx. 1.1 miles away); John A. Wilson (approx. 2˝ miles away); Browning Masonic Community (approx. 2˝ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Waterville.
Credits. This page was last revised on December 2, 2019. It was originally submitted on May 17, 2010, by Dale K. Benington of Toledo, Ohio. This page has been viewed 1,993 times since then and 33 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on May 17, 2010, by Dale K. Benington of Toledo, Ohio.