In 1796, the Congress of a very young United States of America appropriated the Refugee Lands for the benefit of individuals from Canada and Nova Scotia who supported the cause of the American Colonies during the Revolutionary War. The country was rich in land, but the treasury was depleted, so land was what Congress offered to those whom they felt a debt was due.
A tract of land four and a half miles wide, which stretched from the Scioto River eastward for forty-eight miles was chosen to fulfill the pledge. It was located in the unsurveyed and uninhabited wilderness of Central Ohio. The land transactions were to commence from an office in Chillicothe the first Monday in May 1801.
On March 30, 1802 Revolutionary war veteran John McGowan claimed 328 acres and 51 perches of land at the land office. Born in 1749 in Scotland, McGowan had immigrated to Nova Scotia and married an Irish woman named Sarah before serving in the militia. His claim in hand, John built a cabin at what is now the corner of Mound and High Streets.
There are generations of fascinating stories that follow, many tied to the houses of German Village built on lots sold by the McGowan family to early German settlers.
German Village, Columbus’ premiere downtown neighborhood is one of the preeminent historic districts in the United States. German Village is 233 acres of “living” history where the old meets the new and the result is a vibrant and charming community.