History of the Neighborhood
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.

Purchase German Columbus online
germanColumbusAuthor(s): Jeffrey T. Darbee, Nancy A. Recchie
# of Pages: 128
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing
Publication Date: 05/11/2005

Book Description:
German Columbus celebrates the lives and work of the German immigrants who made their homes and their livelihoods in a tight-knit, cohesive neighborhood in the Old South End of Columbus, Ohio. Natives of Germany arrived in the capital city as early as its founding in 1812, but it was only after 1830, when new transportation routes from the east facilitated travel, that a major wave of German immigration began. By the 1850s, the area just south of downtown Columbus had a distinct flavor, with school lessons and church services conducted entirely in German and with several newspapers printed in the German language to serve the community. Merchants, business owners, and brewers, the hard-working Germans were the largest immigrant group in the city, totaling a third of the population through the end of the 19th century. Later, a shift in public opinion against immigrants and anti-German sentiment arising from World War I resulted in a rapid assimilation of Germans into the general population. Today, some of the Old South End survives in historic areas such as the Brewery District and German Village.

Author Bio: Jeffrey T. Darbee and Nancy A. Recchie make their home in German Village and work throughout Ohio as historic preservation consultants. With over 30 years of experience in the field, they tapped numerous public and private sources for historic images and vintage photographsto bring to life the story of German Columbus.

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