History of Village Of Antwerp
The Village of Antwerp was laid out in 1841 by General Horatio N. Curtis and surveyed by W. Wilshire Riley. The name Antwerp was selected because it was not listed in any post office directory in the country published at that time. During the mid-1800s, completion of the Wabash & Erie Canal helped spur settlement here. The business portion of the town initially was located along the Wabash & Erie Canal, and served by hotels, warehouses, wharves, and other businesses.
Just east of Antwerp, Ohio, the Six Mile Reservoir served to maintain the water level in the Wabash & Erie Canal. The reservoir, about 2,000 acres in size, had been built in 1840 by damming and diking the Six Mile Creek, and that is where it goes its name.
The Wabash & Erie Canal was completed in 1843 and the Miami & Erie Canal in 1845, but they only operated for about ten years before the railroads took over as the preferred means of transportation. The last boat on the Wabash & Erie Canal that docked in Indiana was in the town of Huntington in 1874, but other sections in that state had shut down even earlier. The section through Fort Wayne, Indiana, had been sold in 1870, and filled in so the Pennsylvania Railroad could lay tracks.
Once its water source had been cut off in Indiana, the Six Mile Reservoir became a mosquito-breeding ground for the spread of “ague,” a term for what was later recognized as malaria. An effort was made to have the State of Ohio legally abandon and drain the reservoir, but the bill failed to pass.
Local residents attempted to cut the dike and drain the reservoir one night in March 1887, but wet work in cold weather being what it was, they did an incomplete job. A month later, on the night of April 25, 1887, the secret band of around 200 men calling themselves the “Dynamiters” cut a gouge in the reservoir and dynamited the lock there as well as the ones at Tate’s Landing and near Junction. Governor Joseph B. Foraker issued a proclamation requiring the rioters to disperse and dispatched General Axline with several companies of militia. The infantry, armed with muskets and bayonets and the battery with Gatling Gun, came and prepared to protect the state’s property and preserve the peace. When the militia arrived, however, nobody was there.
Investigators were unable to discover who had damaged the reservoir, and in the next session of the state legislature, the reservoir and canal were legally abandoned by the state. The band of men who had attacked the reservoir wall had carried a flag bearing the slogan, “No Compromise!” The seal of Paulding County, Ohio, bears this motto today.
The town grew northward toward the prospect of rail that could send and deliver goods much faster than the canal, and businesses dwindled on the south side of town. Hardware stores, attorney and real estate offices, banks, and more served the people who worked at the Antwerp Stave Mill, Antwerp Furnace Company, and other business enterprises. Along the railroad the population ballooned, and Antwerp was the largest village in the county until the 1890 census revealed that the village of Paulding exceeded it for the first time.
By 1900, many of the massive trees has been cleared, making way for the county to become the agricultural community that it is today. Otto Ehrhart, the noted naturalist and photographer, captured Antwerp along with many parts of Paulding County in his photography work, as well as a booklet, “A Century of Progress: 1841-1941,” which was published to commemorate Antwerp’s Centennial.