Tracing the Roots: A Journey Through the History of New Philadelphia, Ohio

Nestled in the scenic Tuscarawas County of Ohio, New Philadelphia is a town steeped in history and brimming with stories of resilience, progress, and community spirit. Its rich heritage dates back to the early 19th century, and the town has played a significant role in the development of the region. In this exploration of the history of New Philadelphia, we’ll embark on a journey through time, uncovering the fascinating tales and key milestones that have shaped this vibrant town.


1. The Founding Fathers

New Philadelphia was founded in 1804 by John Knisely and John Danner, two enterprising pioneers who saw the potential for growth in the area. They named the town after Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as a nod to the city’s spirit of independence and progress.

2. Ohio and the Underground Railroad

Ohio played a crucial role in the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses that assisted escaped slaves in reaching freedom. New Philadelphia was part of this network, with several prominent abolitionists providing shelter and support to those seeking refuge.

3. The Growth of Industry

Throughout the 19th century, New Philadelphia thrived as a center of industry and commerce. The Ohio and Erie Canal, completed in the 1830s, facilitated trade and transportation, leading to the town’s economic growth. Industries such as pottery, milling, and manufacturing flourished.


4. The Civil War and Beyond

New Philadelphia residents answered the call to serve during the Civil War, with many enlisting in the Union Army. The town’s commitment to preserving the Union and abolishing slavery remained strong throughout this tumultuous period in American history.

5. Education and Progress

In 1873, New Philadelphia became home to the Union Hospital, a significant milestone in the town’s commitment to healthcare and education. The establishment of Kent State University at Tuscarawas in the 20th century further solidified New Philadelphia’s role as an educational center.

6. Tuscora Park and Recreation

Tuscora Park, established in the early 1900s, has been a beloved recreational hub for generations of New Philadelphia residents. The park offers an array of amusements, from rides and swimming pools to picnicking areas and entertainment venues.

7. Historic Preservation

In recognition of its historical significance, New Philadelphia has made efforts to preserve its historic downtown district. Many of the town’s historic buildings have been restored, ensuring that the town’s architectural heritage endures.

8. Community and Cultural Events

New Philadelphia’s commitment to community is reflected in its annual events and festivals, such as the Tuscarawas County Fair, First Town Days Festival, and the Downtown Christmas Parade. These events foster a sense of unity and celebration among residents.

9. Modern Development

In recent years, New Philadelphia has continued to evolve, welcoming new businesses, industries, and residents. Its strategic location along major transportation routes has made it a hub for economic development.

10. Conclusion: Honoring the Past, Embracing the Future

In conclusion, the history of New Philadelphia, Ohio, is a testament to the enduring spirit of its residents. From its founding as a frontier town to its role in the Underground Railroad and its evolution into a thriving modern community, New Philadelphia’s history is woven into the fabric of Ohio’s heritage. As the town looks to the future, it does so with a deep appreciation for its past, ensuring that the stories of resilience, progress, and community spirit continue to shape its identity.