X is for Xenia
Two more days left of the April A-Z challenge and so far I have had a letter for each day. Today is somewhere I have never been but would like to visit. X is for Xenia, OH. Have you ever heard of it? I hadn't until 1974 when an F5 tornado hit the town and destroyed most of it. What impressed me was their resiliancy. That was when I placed Xenia on my Adventure Bucket List.
Let me tell you a bit about this history rich town. Xenia was founded in 1803, the year Ohio was admitted into the Union. In that year, pioneer John Paul bought 2,000 acres of land from Thomas and Elizabeth Richardson who lived in Virginia for "1050 pounds current moneys of Virginia." Paul influenced county commissioners to locate the town seat on this land at the forks of the Shawnee Creeks. Joseph C. Vance was named to survey the site and lay out the town. The following year, he bought the town site of 257 acres (1.04 km2) from John Paul for $250. The name of the new village was chosen in typically democratic fashion. Vance called a town meeting to discuss possible names. The committee had considered several suggestions without reaching any decision. Then the Rev. Robert Armstrong proposed the name "Xenia," meaning "hospitality" in Greek, because of the fine hospitality extended to him in this friendly community. When a tie developed, Laticia Davis, wife of Owen Davis, was invited to cast the deciding ballot. She voted for "Xenia." Way to go Laticia Davis!
William Beattie was Xenia's first businessman. In 1804, he opened a tavern which became a center of community affairs. In 1804, John Marshall built Xenia's first home. The first log school house was constructed in 1805, and, that same year, Rev. James Towler (wonder if he is any relation to the Rock Mills Towlers?) became the town's first postmaster. The growing community soon attracted many pioneer industries - flour mills, sawmills, woolen mills, pork packing plants, oil mills, and tow mills. Xenia was incorporated by an act of the legislature in 1817 and became a city in 1834.
On April 3, 1974 an F5 tornado that cut a path directly through the middle of Xenia during the Tonadic Super Outbreak, the second largest series of tornadoes in recorded history. The disaster killed 34 people, injured an additional 1,150, destroyed almost half of the city’s buildings, and left 10,000 people homeless. Five schools, including Xenia High School, Central Junior High School, McKinley Elementary, Simon Kenton Elementary, and Saint Brigid Catholic School were destroyed. The tornado also destroyed nine churches and 180 businesses. The city's plight was featured in the national news, including a 1974 news television documentary, Tornado! Legendary comedian Bob Hope organized a benefit for Xenia and, in appreciation, the new Xenia High School Auditorium was named the "Bob Hope Auditorium." But it does not stop there. It seems that Xenia has a long history of severe storm activity. According to local legend, the area was referred to by the Shawnee Indians as "the place of the devil wind" or "the land of the crazy winds" You can find reference to this legend on a historical marker out on a Route 68. Records of great storms go back to the early 19th century. Local records show 20 tornadoes have occured since 1884. Xenia was hit by a much smaller tornado in April, 1989 and again by another F4 tornado on September 20, 2000. The 1989 tornado caused over two-million dollars in damage, but no one was killed. The twister of 2000 left one person killed, and 100 people injured. This third tornado followed a path roughly parallel to the 1974 tornado.
This is definitely somewhere I must travel to and see. I want to see the blooms, the parts of Old Town that still remain, read the marker on Hwy 68. Yep! Xenia, Oh is a must on my Adventure Bucket List......just not during a time of tornadic weather.