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Home / Lucas County / 40-48 John Pray - Founder of Waterville, Ohio / The Miami and Erie Canal [7]

Title, side A
John Pray - Founder of Waterville, Ohio
Title, side B
The Miami and Erie Canal
Text, side A
Born in Rhode Island, John Pray (1783-1872) moved to the Maumee River Valley from New York shortly after serving in the War of 1812 and completing a prospecting tour in Ohio. He built a dam across the river to Granger Island and in 1821 constructed a water-powered gristmill, the first on the lower Maumee. In 1831, he laid out the Village of Waterville with the first 50 lots. The Columbian House, a stagecoach inn constructed by Pray in 1828 and expanded in 1837, was for years the commercial and social center of Waterville and accommodated travelers from cities such as Detroit and Cincinnati. From this building, he operated the village's post office. When Wood County was organized in 1820, Pray became a commissioner until Lucas County was formed from part of Wood in 1835. For nine years he served as Justice of the Peace in Waterville. He and his wife Lucy raised eleven children to adulthood. Circa 1854 he constructed his home, which today overlooks Pray Park.
Text, side B
The Miami and Erie Canal, connecting Toledo to Cincinnati, joined the Wabash and Erie Canal to Indiana. The Waterville section of the canal was completed in 1843. Boats, pulled by mules or horses walking on the canal banks, hauled farm products, commercial goods, and people. In 1851 there were approximately 400 boats operating on the canal. Hotels, stores, and mills sprung up along its banks. The Joseph Hall store stood on this site. Canal operations ceased in 1909 as railroads and automobiles became faster and cheaper means of travel. During the 1930s and 1940s the canal bed was filled in to become the Anthony Wayne Trail, U. S. Route 24.
NE corner of N 4th Street and Farnsworth Road
Waterville, OH 43566
Pray Park, Between 4th St, Farnsworth Rd, & US 24
Latitude: 41.4995230, Longitude: -83.7210380.
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