Live & Work
Live & Work
History of Delaware

On May 9, 1808, a “plan of the town of Delaware” was filed, or “platted,” marking the real beginning of the present city of Delaware.  A plat is a legal document of a map or tract or parcel of land made by a surveyor. The plat provides legal descriptions.


Long before Delaware was platted, the region was originally occupied by the Delaware Indians who shared the territory between Columbus and Lake Erie with the Mingos and other tribes. Prehistoric Hopewell mound builders inhabited this area even earlier.

In 1804, Moses Byxbe arrived from Berkshire County, Massachusetts.  He had acquired a large number of land grants which were part of the United States Military lands, given in payment to Revolutionary War soldiers.  In May 1808, Byxbe laid out a town on the east bank of the Olentangy River but a few days later changed his mind about the most suitable location and platted the town on the west bank.

Following the War of 1812, settlers arrived at a faster pace, including the parents of Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th President of the United States. Hayes was born in Delaware and met his future wife, Lucy, at Ohio Wesleyan University. The university was founded in 1842 by Methodists seeking to establish a liberal arts college. The original Mansion House building, known as Elliott Hall, is still in active use on campus.

Prior to the Civil War, Delaware had Northern sympathies and abolitionists brought the Underground Railway through the area. The local Africa Road owes it name to this era. Camp Delaware, a Civil War-era Union camp was one of the few from which African-American soldiers deployed to fight for the Union. During and following the War, railroads played an important role in expanding Delaware. By 1900, Delaware had its own electric street railway, and an electric interurban rail connected the community with Columbus and Marion, located about 20 miles to the north.

In the modern era, residential and industrial development has flourished. The proximity to Columbus, as well as historic periods of growth and prosperity, greatly influenced the economy of Delaware. Its history, however, is carefully preserved in its many 19th century buildings and homes, its comfortable scale and architecture and the pace of life as a home town.