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Liberty Township History

In 1803 the Legislature of the State of Ohio divided the Hamilton County, establishing Butler County. The Legislature of the State of Ohio appointed County Commissioners on April 15, 1803, who in turn appointed associate judges. The associate judges in Butler County established five Townships: Liberty, Fairfield, Lemon, St. Clair, and Ross. In 1804 the Legislature passed a law empowering County Commissioners to alter the boundaries of Townships and to set up new Townships. On June 2, 1823 Union Township (now known as West Chester Township) was formed from part of Liberty Township.

The last decade of the eighteenth century saw the first settlers in Liberty Township. Into the beginning of the nineteenth century, these pioneers, mostly from Maryland and New Jersey, bought large tracts of land for agricultural pursuits. Even by 1840, the land was still owned in quarter and half sections by a relatively small number of people. The early activities in the Township were farming and some commercial and industrial enterprises in the fledging villages. The earliest villages were platted in the second and third decades of the nineteenth century along the turnpike roads. The busy and self-sufficient character of these town’s early histories, particularly of Princeton and Huntsville, with such enterprises as shoemaking, brick making, pork-packing, distilleries, and stores, suggest communities in relative isolation from larger centers where they could get such services. These villages served the surrounding agricultural countryside throughout the nineteenth century.

Several churches were in the Township by the mid-nineteenth century. The first church was a Methodist-Episcopal, founded in the Huntsville area in the center of the Township. This M. E. Church was also the first in the county of this denomination. Another M. E. Church was established in Princeton in the 1830’s and a third, called the Auburn M. E. Church was built in the northwest corner of the Township. A group called the New Lights built a brick church in Huntsville in the 1830’s. In the 1850’s a Universalist Church was built in Princeton, but by the Civil War it had languished. An Old School Baptist Church was erected in the mid-nineteenth century on Princeton-Glendale Road, north of Princeton, and appears to have lasted into the early twentieth century.

There were rudimentary schools in the Township before the mid-nineteenth century, but it was a very small number. A law establishing public schools in 1853 caused the formation of district schools in the Township. One school dates from nearly this time,the District No. 5 School or Kyles School on Kyles Station road, which dates from 1858. The other schools, dating from 1871 (two of them), 1887 and one from the 1880’s, were replacements of earlier district schools in the same location. Two other schools in the Township, one located on Princeton Glendale Road, north of Kyles Station Road, and one on Yankee Pike in Huntsville, are the only schools that are not in existence today.

The towns were thriving at mid-century, still possessing their early character as agricultural centers and as stops on the turnpike roads. Bethany was becoming the largest village, presumably because the Great Miami Turnpike (now Cincinnati-Dayton Road) on which it was located, was the busiest of the roads throughout the Township. A number of industries including wagon makers, shoemakers, blacksmiths, mason and carpenters, were located in Bethany throughout the nineteenth century as were a variety of stores. By mid-century the Methodist-Episcopal Church in Huntsville, the first in the Township, was moved to Bethany.

Many farmhouses were constructed during the mid-nineteenth century, a fertile period of growth in Liberty Township’s history. These farmhouses, many still in existence today, replaced earlier log cabins or brick and frame houses.

After the Civil War, the biggest event in the Township was the construction of a railroad line through this area. The Cincinnati and Dayton Short, also called the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis Railroad, was built through the center of the Township in 1872. Two stations, known as Hughes Station and Kyles Station, were established in the Township. Small settlements grew up around both stations, which like the earlier villages served the surrounding agricultural community. Bethany was still growing in the late nineteenth century, probably achieving its peak growth in the 1870’s and 1880’s. The other early villages were losing their self-sufficient character by this time while Bethany appears to have become the “town” for the community. A new church building replaced the earlier 1830’s structure for the Methodist-Episcopal Church in Princeton in 1859, indicating some vitality here, but the Universalist Church and the Auburn M.E. Church organizations were basically gone by the Civil War. A new brick structure for the Methodist-Episcopal Church was built in Bethany in 1875 (Fig. 3). That same year the Cumberland Episcopal built a church in Bethany, at the south end of the village.

A small number of farmhouses, for the most part of frame construction, were built in the Township during the 1880’s and 1890’s, but the largest concentration of farmhouses still existing are those dating from before 1870.

A new set of railroad tracks was put through the Township in 1911 that of the New York Central Railroad, and the older tracks removed. Since the new tracks were generally in the same location as the earlier line, the two railroad communities of Kyles Station and Hughes Station remained unchanged, although a grain mill and elevator were constructed at both stations. The Township Hall, which was built in the 1890’s at Hughes Station, presumably because of its central location and proximity to the railroad, remained here to serve as the community’s voting hall.

A small industrial community known as Rockdale, assumed to have been established by either a paper company or an asbestos manufacturing company, appeared in the early twentieth century in the northwest corner of the Township between the Great Miami River and Route 4. Very little is known about the community, except that the industry moved houses here, presumably for its workers. Although the community is shown on the 1810 U.S.G.S. map, the majority of the buildings in this vicinity date from the 1920’s – 1940’s.

Another small settlement, known as Maustown, grew up along Princeton-Glendale Road in the 1920’s – 1950’s, named for members of the Maus family who owned the first lots here. Princeton Glendale Road today is heavily traveled, and it is assumed that it had a similar character in the early twentieth century when the small houses with large setbacks were built. A number of workers in Hamilton’s many industries were the residents here, perhaps looking for a more pastoral, suburban location for their homes and yet within easy access to the City of Hamilton.

The district schoolhouses were disbanded in the 1920’s, the result of the Rural School code of 1914, which eliminated the sub-district units of organization. The result was the creation of the Liberty School District in Liberty Township. The small schoolhouses were superseded by a large consolidated school on Princeton Pike in 1928, which is now Liberty Early Childhood School. In 1957, the Liberty and Union School Districts were combined into the Liberty-Union School District which was renamed the Lakota Local School District in 1970.

A number of bungalows were built in the 1910’s – 1920’s, most of them small farm complexes built out of the larger tracts of nineteenth century farm complexes.

The future of Liberty Township’s subsequent development was first seen in 1948, with the establishment of the Horse Shoe Bend subdivision along Route 4 in the northwest corner of the Township. The small frame and concrete block houses on the road are assumed to have been built for laborers, who worked in Hamilton’s industries.

Interstate 75 was built through the eastern portion of the Township in the 1960’s, sewer was extended north along Gregory Creek in the late 1970’s, and the Butler County Veterans Highway opened in 1999. This highway and utility connectivity brought a wave of new suburban housing development to Liberty Township beginning in the 1980’s and continuing to this day. Presently, the southern and western portions of the Township are the most developed, while the central and northeastern areas of the Township are more rural in character, but are also experiencing recent development pressure.Lakota Local Schools’ growth in the 1990’s and early 2000’s mirrors the rapid suburban growth during this time, and has also had a significant impact on the landscape of the community. Between 1992 and 1994, three new schools opened in Liberty Township (Heritage – 1992, Cherokee and Independence – 1994), along with additions to six other schools in the district. Lakota East High School opened in 1997. Then in 2003, Van Gorden Elementary, Lakota Plains Junior School, and the Central Office Building were opened. Finally, in 2008, Wyandot Early Childhood School and Lakota East Freshman Campus were opened (source: Wikipedia). Also during this time, Mother Teresa Catholic Elementary School opened its doors in 2002.
Commercial and other non-residential development has been an important component of Liberty Township’s recent growth, bringing services, institutions, and employment to compliment the rapidly growing population. Commercial growth over the past decade has been largely focused in two areas: in the southeast corner of the Township, around the Cincinnati-Dayton Road interchange with SR 129 (CBD), and also in the northwest corner of the Township along State Route 4.

In 2009, The Liberty Way Interchange with I-75 and SR 129 was opened, along with the extension of Cox Road, improving access to more than 400 acres of land planned for commercial development in Liberty Township. This area, in which a $325 million dollar mixed use retail development is currently proposed, along with the SR 747 corridor and possible future Millikin Road interchange at I-75 are seen as the future growth centers for commercial development.

While still a decidedly bedroom community, the recent commercial growth offers the start of Liberty Township becoming more of a complete community where people not only enjoy living, but also where people come to work and shop, where businesses thrive, and where residents come together as a community.

SOURCE: Liberty Township 2013 Comprehensive Plan