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Remember Aurora High's run to the Division III football state championship in 2008?
One of the five playoff foes the Greenmen defeated was Big Walnut -- in the state semifinals at Ashland Community Stadium. The school had won the Division III state title the year before.
Big Walnut High School is located in Sunbury, a village of about 4,600 people, which is 11 miles east of Delaware and 4 miles east of I-71.
On my Labor Day weekend trip to Delaware County, I visited the village on a rainy Sunday, and drove around the Big Walnut grounds, which includes a nice football stadium and lighted baseball field.
But that wasn't the reason for checking out Sunbury; it was to see the Myers Inn Museum, Gen. William S. Rosecrans statue, Old Village Hall, town square and Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial.
MYERS INN MUSEUM
The original part of the two-story frame structure on the southwest corner of the square was built in 1816 by Lawrence Myers, who with his brother William founded Sunbury.
In 1820, Lawrence added a two-story stage coach inn to accommodate travelers on the road between Mount Vernon and Columbus (now Route 3).
A tavern room and front hall were added in 1824, other additions followed after the Civil War and the building eventually was transformed into a boarding house and apartments after 1900.
In 1978, the house was given to the local library and eventually to the Big Walnut Area Historical Society, which has done a lot of refurbishing in the last 20 years.
The building has a replica of its original fireplace and displays of local history, including Gen. William S. Rosecrans, many antique items, photos of the now gone Nestle Co. plant and items relating to Baseball Hall of Famer Billy Southworth and professional female baseball player Marilyn "Corky" Olinger.
Rosecrans, a Civil War general, and Olinger were born near Sunbury, while Southworth lived his later life there.
There also are some paintings of area Indians such as Chief Leatherlips and Bill Moose. Leatherlips was a Delaware chief killed by his own people and Moose was said to be the last full-blooded Wyandot. He died in 1937 in Columbus, two months shy of 100 years old.
Because there were only three or four rooms used for overnight accommodations, travelers in the inn's early years found themselves sharing a bed with strangers for 25 cents a night. They could buy a meal and a bath in a tub, each for 25 cents.
THE TOWN'S SQUARE
When Sunbury was platted in 1816, an New England-style town square or "green" was set aside for public use.
The first two stories of the Town Hall were built in the center of the square for $5,000 for use as a school in 1868. The Masons added the third story for $1,500 and occupied it for 91 years until a new lodge was constructed.
The Town Hall, which still houses a community room and village offices, has served as a jail, fire station, library, worship venue, farmers institute and bank.
On one corner of the square across from the Myers Inn Museum is a small gazebo. On another corner is the Gen. Rosecrans statue, which was erected in 2013.
Rosecrans was the victor at several Western Theater battles in the Civil War, but suffered a disastrous defeat at Chickamauga in 1863. He was not well-liked by Gen. U.S. Grant.
"Old Rosy," as he became known, was the father of eight children. After the war, he was one of 11 incorporators of the Southern Pacific Railroad, but lost his valuable stock to unscrupulous financiers. He served as U.S. minister to Mexico for a short time.
He lived his last years on a ranch at Redondo Beach, Calif., where he died in 1898. In 1908, his remains were interred in Arlington National Cemetery. Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego is named after him.
The large statue on Sunbury's square shows Rosecrans sitting on a horse. The statue sets on top of a large boulder.
MORE ABOUT SUNBURY
On the west side of town beside the public library is the impressive Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial, which is dedicated to all Ohio men and women who have died in the War on Terror.
It was established in 2005 to honor those killed while serving in military operations since Sept. 11, 2001. It works with Gold Star Families to educate Ohioans about the stories and sacrifices of fallen heroes.
The grounds bear hundreds of small white crosses, an eternal flame, chapel, Courtyard of Honor where the public can buy bricks to honor a living or deceased veteran, U.S. flag on a 50-foot pole and seasonal plants and flowers.
On the Saturday closest to Sept. 11 each year, the memorial hosts a 24-hour vigil for Gold Star Families presided over by an honor guard.
Despite vehicles traveling on busy Route 37 past the memorial, it is a serene gathering place to honor the many Ohio lives sacrificed in the War on Terror.
Sunbury once was the home of a large Nestle plant, which prior to 1919 was the Sunbury Cooperative Creamery. After Nestle took over, the plant primarily made baby formula.
In the late 1930s, the plant was the first to produce instant Nescafe coffee, and in 1946 it first produced Nestea. Eventually, Taster's Choice coffee was the plant's primary product.
A cup of coffee on top of the plant with steam coming up from behind became an iconic sign and a Sunbury trademark.
A $27 million expansion of the plant took place in 1981, but in 1991 it closed after Nestles and Hills Co. merged into the Nestles / Hills Brothers Coffee Co. and decaffeinated coffee was less popular.
At the time it closed, Nestles was responsible for 32 percent of the village's income tax revenue, 40 percent of water fees, and owned 250 acres. Plant demolition wrapped up in 2012.
Today, Sunbury boasts a huge Showa Corp. plant. A Japanese firm, Showa makes auto components, many of which are shipped to nearby Marysville for use in Honda vehicles.
MOUNT GILEAD STOP
After leaving Sunbury on my way back up to Northeast Ohio, I ventured through Mount Gilead, the government seat of Morrow County, where the county fair was under way.
I didn't stop by the fairgrounds, but walked around the quaint town of about 3,600 residents. The only other time I've ever been through the town was on a 2009 road trip to Marion (via Route 95).
Although it is only open for special occasions -- and wasn't open when I was there -- the Morrow County Historical Society has a museum in the oldest frame house in Mount Gilead (1829).
The society also maintains an old church and one-room schoolhouse north of town, plus a log house which was moved and reconstructed on the fairgrounds in 1984.
The town boasts a World War I Victory Shaft in the main intersection. It was erected to honor Morrow County residents who purchased more WW I bonds than any other county in Ohio.
Also, the town boasts the county courthouse built in 1854 -- with additions in 1896, 1930 and 1939, plus major renovations in 2010 -- and the beautiful former jail (1850), which is now occupied by the county prosecutor's offices. Hanging gallows reportedly are still visible inside the building.
Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4189