Yes, there really is a place in Wayne County called Deviltown. It’s shown on the maps as being about 5 miles north of Wooster and it’s in Wayne Township. If you follow Mechanicsburg Road (Co. Hwy. 22) out of Wooster to its intersection with Clear Creek Valley Road, you have located Deviltown. At one time it boasted a tannery, blacksmith shop, a grocery store, saloon and a post office, but now there are only about a dozen houses left to mark where those things were. The Wayne County Recorder’s Office has no record as to when the village was platted or by whom, s0 it is doubtful that we’ll ever know exactly when it began.
We know that Bernard Feazel sold land there in 1830, and that J. Miller owned land there in 1827. Names of those who owned land in that area in the 1820s and 1830s are Buchholz, Miller, Flickinger, Bucher, Mowery, Stout, Grube and others. Fridolin Buchholz was one of the first to settle here. He was born on 7 Oct 1818, the son of Johannes George Buchholz and Marie Weber, and he came to Wayne County from Germany and located in the Deviltown area in 1840.
The village was first called Tannersville because Mr. Buchholz operated a tannery there, on the west side of the road near the bridge. At one time it employed as many as forty people. When the farmers killed their cattle, they took the hides to the tannery to be dyed. It was later moved to Wooster, to sit on North Buckeye Street up from where the old Weitzel Dry Cleaner’s was located, which is now the location of Murr Printing.
There are various reasons for the name “Deviltown” and you can take your choice! One is that a man named Miller, who was rather limited in his vocabulary, was said to have used the word “Devil” so often that they named the town after this. According to another man, due to the terrible smell at the tannery from the refuse, the men needed liquid refreshments to bear the stench. Sometimes they over did it and got a little rowdy and boisterous. People called them “real Devils” and the name stuck. Mrs. Joe Ritter said maybe the name was after a real character there who always wore an old coat with a long tail resembling a modem tuxedo. His coattail would fly around in the wind, giving him the appearance of the devil. Some of the residents didn’t like the name and passed around a petition to have the name changed to Clear Creek Valley Road and the name was duly changed. That’s what the sign says today, but locals can all tell you how to get to Deviltown.
The Joe Ritter home was built around 1840 and was a pioneer home of the area. Across the road from it, is the place where John Kammerline had operated his saloon and grocery store. Up the road, on the second lot north of the bridge, was the blacksmith shop used by Daniel Dull, Billy Martin, Austin Martin and Jewell Mowery.
NOTE: You may see a copy of the book, Picturesque Wayne, which features many images of early buildings, houses and structures of Wayne County at the Wayne County Public Library.
Author: Bonnie Knox