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Willow Bend


Location

Located just south of Alum Creek Reservoir, the Willow Bend property is located near the western border of Genoa Township (Delaware County, Ohio), south of Big Walnut Road across from Walnut Creek Elementary School and west of Worthington Road.  The property features a stone path that meanders through 14 acres of preservation land, generally following the periphery of the Willow Bend development. The public walking path can be accessed from Lynbrook Lane, Piermont Court, or off of Salem Drive just before Ridgewood Avenue. Grand Oak lies in Sub-area V of the Genoa Township Comprehensive Land Use Plan 2008.


  

Willow Bend subdivision boundaries superimposed over a 1988 aerial photo (left)
and a summer 2007 Virtual Earth aerial photo (right).


History

The following lineage of landowners of the property that became Willow Bend is only a set of snapshots obtained from notes on township maps. Other persons owned various parcels throughout the years, falling between the occasions of updating the maps.

In 1830, Jeptha Jarrard, an heir of a Ludlow family, owned about 490 acres of land that would someday include all but the eastern edges of Willow Bend. The eastern pieces, which later would border Worthington Road, were a small part of about 1,600 acres owned by Stephen B. Minor that extended clear to Tussic Road. In 1849, Jacob H. Thompson owned most of the property, with an M. Pace and Stanberry & Munn owning the eastern pieces. By 1866, Thompson still owned the bulk of the property, while the eastern pieces were owned by S. Rogers to the north, heirs of P. Cockrell in the middle and P. Freeman to the south. Mr. Freeman also owned another parcel of land south of Willow Bend and extending to the eastern side of Worthington Road. His fixture on the northeast corner of an intersection would lead to that east-west road becoming known as present-day Freeman Road.

In 1875 and 1890, the ownership remained the same. By 1908, Thompson yet owned the western half of the property. Further east, George Moore owned 10 acres on Big Walnut Road, W.D. Wood owned 34 acres to his south, and A. Rammelsberg owned 17 acres below Wood. The eastern edge was owned by H.M. Rogers to the north and A. Rammelsberg to the south. Eight years later, Carl H. Young had purchased the Thompson and Wood farms, Samuel Moore now lived on the ten-acre plot on Big Walnut, and the eastern pieces were still tended by Rogers and Rammelsberg.

A 1921 map indicates that the Columbus Mutual Insurance Company then owned the former Young farm. Between 1916 and 1941, that parcel of land passed through the hands of a handful of landowners, at least one of them twice, as the Great Depression meddled with the fortunes of area farmers. Moore, Rogers and Rammelsberg still owned their respective properties.

Major religious revivals reached into almost every corner of the U.S. in the 1800s. The Methodists and several other denominations adopted them in the form of camp meetings, and introduced them into Ohio and much of the eastern United States. Tent revivals were held across from the Township Building in the late 1880s. In 1920s, the Greater Ohio District of the Wesleyan Church, with deep roots in the abolitionist and holiness revival movements of the nineteenth century, bought 10 acres of land along the south side of Big Walnut Road west of Worthington Road and eventually added a little more than 10 additional acres. Over the years, many church families used “Victory Camp” and its assortment of assortment of more than 60 small white cottages and other camp structures as a summer retreat center during the later weeks in July. Nightly alter calls and the melodies of camp songs were heard wafting on the air at nearby farms. The cottages were removed in 2003 to make room for the Wesleyan Church’s Dayspring Chapel and the Manors at Willow Bend subdivision. Some of the cottages were preserved and moved to various locations around the area.

 

Victory Camp boundaries superimposed over a 1988 aerial photo.
(Note Willow Bend pond at left.)

 

Several Victory Camp cottages were purchased and moved in 2003 to the William Freeman property
on Jaycox Road
in Genoa Township. The Freeman Barn also had been moved, transported in 1971
from its original site to the east in Orange Township, to make way for the Alum Creek Reservoir.

 

By 1941, Horace W. and Alice D. Troop, who also owned land north of Big Walnut Road, had obtained deeds to the Columbus Mutual sections, H.C. Hughs lived on the 10 acres on Big Walnut and Ida R. Ferbach owned the former Rammelsberg property on the south end, as well as the eastern pieces. In 1955, the Troops remained on the west section, and the Ferbachs farmed to the south and east. Edna Grace Love and others now owned the northern end of the eastern pieces.

In 1980, the majority of the land was still owned by the same Troops and Ferbachs, except that Laura Lois Buld now owned the northern part of the eastern pieces along Worthington Road, surrounding the Osage Ridge subdivision, and Donald and Lillian Conklin owned 23 acres to Buld’s south. By 1992, Robert Echele had purchased the Troops 89 acres along the western side of the property and began transforming his property into a vision he of exotic landscaping. He built a waterfall adjacent to the spring-fed pond, integrated old, wooden barn-siding into his home and, when the Del-Co water pipes were installed on the property along the road, had dirt brought in from the construction of the I-71 and Polaris Parkway interchange to bury the infrastructure under large mounds covered in wildflowers.


Habitat

The Willow Bend trail follows the contours of the housing area, starting at a pine grove in the rear of the development, following for a short distance a small creek and its picturesque ravine. The trail rises to pass along the eastern boundaries of the subdivision, dropping once again to meet another small stream at its northern terminus. The trek around Willow Bend showcases varied woodlands, steams, white-tailed deer and many small plants and animals.


Alum Creek Reservoir and its watershed directly impact the habitat of nearby communities,
such as Willow Bend. A stream that carves its way through the Willow Bend subdivision
empties into Alum Creek just downstream from the spillway. [USACE photo]

 

The small creek flows west out of the subdivision and into Orange Township, where it meets Alum Creek about a mile to the west. The creek, dammed just to the north to fill Alum Creek Reservoir, flows to the south, joining Blacklick Creek and Big Walnut Creek at Three Creeks Metro Park in Franklin County. Ohio shale cliffs are notable in many areas of the watershed, exposed as the flowing waters cut through underlying bedrock. The deep coves with standing timber provide excellent habitat for fish, including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, muskellunge, saugeye, black and white crappie, white bass and channel catfish.