The History of Evergreen’s Hartwell Cincinnati Ohio Neighborhood

The Hartwell neighborhood in Cincinnati is welcoming, has a strong community feel and has a rich Ohio and Cincinnati history. Today, around 4,500 people live in Hartwell, Ohio. It’s the northernmost neighborhood in Cincinnati, near the intersections of the Ronald Reagan Cross County Highway and the I-75.

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If you’re curious about what life has been like in Hartwell over the centuries, here’s a little about the history of this close-knit community that’s long been a pleasure to live in.

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The History of Hartwell Ohio

Hartwell’s Original Inhabitants

The first people to live in the Hartwell area were the Shawnee and Miami Native American tribes. They resided along the banks of Mill Creek, which they called the Maketewah.

According to the 1882 book, “The Past and Present of the Mill Creek Valley,” author Henry Teetor wrote that when early Hartwell settler Captain Jacob White came to the area, he found human bones scattered over the grounds, along with weapons including battle axes and arrows. An estimated 4,000 warriors were believed to have been engaged in territorial warfare over the area before other settlers claimed it.

Early Settlements

White and his family traveled from Redstone, Pennsylvania, to settle in the present-day Hartwell area in 1790. They built a blockhouse in the area that’s known as the third crossing of Mill Creek. The settlement was near a trail General Anthony Wayne traveled on his way from Fort Washington to Greenville, Ohio, where the Battle of Fallen Timbers was fought in 1795.

Other early settlers were David Finn and Andrew Goebel, who also built cabins in the area. A couple years later, several other settlers built cabins along the creek and on the tract of land south of White’s settlement.

In 1793, when the settlement’s male population included seven men and one boy, there was a skirmish between the settlers and Native Americans. Goebel, a widow, two of her children and one Native American were killed during the battle.

Growing the Area

White built a saw and grist mill on Mill Creek in 1795, which was successfully used through 1827. The mill closed when the Miami Canal was built in the area to support the growing population and get goods safely delivered from Cincinnati. The Miami Canal was linked to the Erie Canal in 1849.

In 1822, a family named Greenham built a brick home on around 200 acres of land they owned in the Hartwell area. The home still stands today on Parkway Avenue. 

Other notable homes popped up in the area, including Judge Jonathan Cilley’s land (Cilley Creek remains today), the 100-acre Sturgis farm and the James Zerbe family home that was later built on the old Sturgis farm in the 1840s.

White was appointed to the post of Overseer of Highways in Springfield Township, the first to hold that position, and lived in the area until 1838. White lost his properties when a loan he had endorsed for his neighbor defaulted. After that, White and his family moved to Kentucky, where he lived until he died at age 93.

In 1846, the first major county fair took place on Hartwell area farmland owned by Ezekiel Hutchinson. Today, the Hamilton County Fair continues to be an annual event, and is now hosted by nearby neighborhood Carthage.

Economic Growth

In 1851, the Hartwell area saw the expansion of the tracks of the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton (CH&D) Railroad. The railroad quickly grew the transportation of goods and people in the area.

Also during this year, a new hospital called the City Infirmary was built on a knoll in Hartwell. Today, the old hospital facility is a nonprofit organization called the Daniel Drake Center, which is associated with UC Health.

In the 1850s, John Wesley Hartwell, the vice-president of the CH&D Railroad, and Daniel DeCamp, who was the president of the Hamilton County House Building Association, ramped up promotion of living in the area. Hartwell offered a free year’s commuter ticket to anyone who bought land in the area and built their home in the village. That resulted in many families moving to the Hartwell area, so they could live in a rural area while having the ability to commute into Cincinnati.

By this time, the village was known as Hartwell. Hartwell also became the name of the original Greenham farm that Hartwell platted in 1869.

Large farms north of Hartwell were turned into subdivisions to accommodate more residents. Another subdivision, on the land of the old Sturgis farm, was platted in 1871 and became known as Maplewood.

In 1877, DeCamp also purchased a home in Hartwell. He started developing other residences and structures throughout Hartwell. A circular section of the area was set aside for places of worship and became known as the center-point of the area.

Charles M. Steele became the first mayor of Hartwell. You can still see his original house on the southwest corner of present-day Hillsdale and Burns in Hartwell.

Residential Expansion

In the 1870s, the first school was built in Hartwell, via a lot donation from the Hamilton County House Building Association. In 1885, the Hartwell Village School District formed, with enrollment climbing past 110 students and with 5 members on the teaching staff. By 1888, enrollment reached 300 students.

Also by 1888, 60 freight and passenger trains passed over the Hartwell area daily. In 1898, electric trolley tracks extended into Hartwell. 

A new bridge was built over the Mill Creek, resulting in Route 78 that connected Hartwell to Lockland. The trolley tracks lasted until 1951. Today, Route 78 still operates via the Metro bus service.

Hartwell Through to Present Day

In 1912, Hartwell was annexed into the city of Cincinnati. In 1959, Interstate 75 was laid down east of Hartwell. The Ronald Reagan Cross County Highway opened in the 1990s.

Today, the Hartwell Improvement Association seeks to preserve the history of Hartwell and educate residents about its growth. You can view a Hartwell History Google Map on the association’s website, which includes old photos of notable landmarks and the exact coordinates of historical places to visit in the area.

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Hartwell’s Rich History Invites New Residents

Hartwell continues to add to its history through the diverse community members who call it home today. Hartwell is home to the Evergreen Retirement Community, offering Independent Living and Assisted Living in Hartwell Cincinnati Ohio.

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