Sunday, September 21, 2003

Ohio Moments

New Philadelphia founded amid Indians

On Sept. 21, 1752, John Knisely - who would become the founder of New Philadelphia, Ohio - was born in Lancaster County, Penn.

He and his wife, Mary Miller, had 10 children and operated a farm and hostelry in Bedford County, Penn. But Knisely desired to build a new City of Brotherly Love in the wilderness of the West.

So, he and his son Samuel crossed the Ohio River above present-day Steubenville and followed an Indian trail to the Moravian mission at Schoenbrunn in the fall of 1803.

The Indians welcomed them. The Kniselys hunted deer and traded venison for Indian corn and meal. Then the elder Knisely left Samuel with the Indians to return to Pennsylvania to sell his farm. With the proceeds he bought 3,554 acres between present-day New Philadelphia and Dover in Tuscarawas County.

After Knisely moved to Ohio in 1804, he hired surveyor John Wells to lay out New Philadelphia in a checkerboard fashion similar to Philadelphia. To his dismay, the county seat of Tuscarawas was called "Knisely's Town" during his lifetime. He died in 1834, age 82.

Rebecca Goodman

E-mail or call (513) 768-8361.

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