The village of Ostrander is a fairly small community, with a population of approximately 643, according to the 2010 census. But just because we’re a small community doesn’t mean we don’t know how to have a good time. A few days ago, I rolled out of bed and drove into the village to watch the annual Independence Day parade.
The parade itself has been an annual custom of the village for who knows how long. In the papers from the 1975 Ostrander centennial celebration it’s still referred to as the “annual parade” which would lead one to believe that it had occurred many several years before that in order to be referred to as “annual.” Given, Independence Day was not a federal holiday until 1938. It’s possible that it was not established until after that, but at the same time, there seems to be no record of its origins.
It does seem, though, that the parade has not changed much within the past forty years. The most noteable difference is that at one point in time, a Queen was crowned yearly. And perhaps the lack of a “Best Beard” competition is also missed.
So as I watched the 2014 parade, a tradition long-held by the village of Ostrander, I remembered that Independence Day is a day of beginnings. Of course, it marks the day that the Declaration of Independence was signed, but as this small community came together to celebrate our entire country, I wondered how and when our community was founded.
As it turns out, Ostrander first became an Ohio community when a railroad was built from Springfield to Delaware and Mansfield in the 1850’s. It was named for the civil engineer responsible for the tracks’ design, Shelemiah Ostrander, and wasn’t incorporated until 1875, almost 100 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
I also found several fun/weird things about Ostrander. Did you know that there was a small pox epidemic in 1862, and the Presbyterian church didn’t hold service for two months because of it? And that the same church had originally been located in Fairview Cemetery, until it relocated to the village and changed its name? Or that on February 25, 1913 there was a train wreck where 22 cars went off the rails? Or that in 1925 there was a huge fire that wiped out the entire business district and dramatically changed the landscape of the village?
It’s incredible how this small village could have an interesting history that seems to get overlooked simply because of its size. But humanity, be it the colonists of the original 13 colonies, or the early settlers of Delaware county and the village of Ostrander, is interesting, three dimensional, and impacts us to this day. How odd it is that we who live here today are continuing the common thread, the story, that began all those years ago when a railroad was built from Springfield to Delaware and Mansfield. As I watched the parade in the street, I was reminded how these streets have a story, these people each have individual stories, and how together our lives intertwined create a chapter of the story of Delaware county, and sentence, or a only a word, of that of the world.
The tracks that once created the community have since been removed. Having said this, the community is just as alive as ever. It’s beautiful to see people come together and line the streets to celebrate beginnings. The beginning of our story as a country, as a county, and as a village. And the beginning of our freedom to pick up our own pen, and add to the story as we may.