It’s the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I will be going “home” this week, back to where I’m from. Back to where my mom, sisters, and brother live. Back to Upper Sandusky.
So far today, a good friend and my chiropractor have asked me what I’m doing for Thanksgiving and I’ve replied “going to my mom’s” ( thinking “here we go again.”) “Where does she live?” “Upper Sandusky”, I replied, adding “It’s not Sandusky, which is up by the lake.” Each then mentioned Cedar Point or something about a day spent at Lake Erie. I just smiled.
Sometimes when this happens, I attempt to share an Ohio geography lesson. I say something like, “Upper Sandusky is in Wyandot County. It’s near Findlay. It’s between Columbus and Toledo.” If their eyes glaze over, I stop. But if they seem interested, I explain that my hometown is named UPPER Sandusky because it is located on the upper part, or headwaters, of the Sandusky river which flows north to Sandusky and into Lake Erie . On the rare occasion that the person is still following me, I reveal that there is also a town of LITTLE Sandusky, but have never explained that the Little Sandusky River is a small tributary of the Sandusky River. Confused yet?
Technically, I’m not from Upper Sandusky, but from “out in the country” of Wyandot County. I grew up with the mailing address Rural Route 1, Upper Sandusky, Ohio. Our mailman didn’t need a house number to find us. Our mailbox was located beside the spirea bush at the end of our driveway. We lived among a few people in a little neighborhood called Lawrenceville. Don’t look it up, or you’ll be in the wrong part of the state again.
My two younger sisters, little brother, and I moved with Mom into the county seat when I was 16. Upper Sandusky’s seven square miles are home to about 6,500 people. Anyone from outside the area that knows where “Upper” is may have been through at Christmastime to see the light display at Harrison Smith Park. Or, they may be a fan of “The Shawshank Redemption” which was partly filmed in my hometown. A fellow who lives down the street from me knows Upper Sandusky because of Thiel’s Wheels motorcycle shop.
Wyandot County is rich, not only in farmland, but in early Ohio history, and its county seat displays markers of events dating back to the late 18th century. Here are five of the sites that every fourth grader in the school system likely still visits.
- the seat of government for the Wyandotte Indian Nation, the last organized band of Indians to leave Ohio. They moved to a reservation in Kansas in 1842.
- Battle Island Monument where Colonel William Crawford fought a losing battle with the combined Indian and British forces in 1782.
- The Wyandotte Mission Church, found in the Old Mission Cemetery among Indian graves. The first Christian Mission for the Indians was established in 1816 by John Stewart, the father of Methodist Episcopal Missions.
- monument honoring Chiefe Tarhe, the first Indian Chief to sign the Treaty of Greenville establishing the Indian territorial boundaries.
- The Old Indian Mill which was built by the government in 1820 for the Wyandotte Indians
Old Mission Church. Dear family members were buried in this cemetery.
Upper Sandusky is a pretty cool place to come from! And its a great place to go home to, not so much because of the geography or history of the city, but because that’s where Mom lives.