Wednesday, June 16, 1999

Jacksonburg revels in its size

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        JACKSONBURG — For residents of this tiny Butler County village, less is truly more.

        By maintaining the smallest population and land area of any village in the state, Jacksonburg continues to hold the distinction of Ohio's tiniest municipality.

        Its 52 residents know their hometown is notable for what it lacks, but they are adamant in their boosterism.

        “I'm really proud of it. We're No. 1 in Ohio,” says Bonnie Marcum, owner of the village's only store — a small carryout that bears her family's name.

        A Jacksonburg resident for the last 33 years, the 69-year-old Mrs. Marcum said she enjoys the small-town feel of Ohio's smallest town.

        “It's nice. The village has not changed too much over the years,” she said.

        Jacksonburg is in Wayne Township in northern Butler County. About one-half mile in width and length, it has no stop light — a village political squabble years ago killed that leap into technologically advanced traffic control.

        In 1997, four village council seats were open, but none of the 52 residents had aspirations for political office. Four write-in candidates landed the seats by default.

        The village, which sits on Wayne Township's highest point, began as a settlement in 1816 and a main stopover on a road from Cincinnati and Darke County.

        But later, the industrial revolution flourished elsewhere in Southwest Ohio and the village's future as a population-impaired municipality was assured.

        One of Jacksonburg's oldest residents is former Mayor Lee Schooley. Having grown up there, the 83-year-old has observed his community firsthand and helped govern it in the 1950s and 1960s.

        “Jacksonburg is just a little bit bigger than what it used to be,” said Mr. Schooley. “We have a lot more traffic going through.”

        “I've always liked it here. It's friendly,” he said.

        His son, Bob Schooley, also grew up in the village, but 30 years ago moved away. He is now returning and rediscovering many of the simple joys of living in a village where most everyone knows one another.

        “When it comes right down to it, everyone here helps everybody. It's a great area to grow up in,” said the younger Mr. Schooley, who recently moved here from Florida.

        There are down sides, he added.

        “There are no convenience stores. You always have to drive out of the village if you want something. You really have to depend on your automobile,” he said.

        But it's that rural quality that attracted Barbara Turner to move to the village eight years ago.

        A former resident of Hamilton, she wanted to live far from urban communities.

        “You are on a more personal level here. It's different from being in the city. It's great, but I don't want us to get too overpopulated,” said Ms. Turner.


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