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City historian visits Batavia, Ohio

Photos and story by City Historian Larry D. Barnes.

This is the second in a series of articles about the other communities, located east of the Rocky Mountains, that are named “Batavia.” This one is about Batavia, Ohio, an incorporated village of around 1,500 people located east of nearby Cincinnati in Clermont County, Ohio. The village is governed by a mayor and six-member village council.

George Ely is regarded as the founder of Batavia, Ohio. The community was laid out in 1814 by David Bryan and George Ely on land owned by Ely. Bryan was County Clerk at the time. Ely was a founding Mason and also served in several other prominent roles including those of County Sheriff and newspaper editor.

Eight years earlier and prior to laying out the community, George Ely erected a cabin on the bank of the East Fork of the Little Miami River, a stream that flows on the western boundary of present-day Batavia. He also built a water mill there, the first of its kind in the county. Later, he added a tavern and store.

George Ely is credited with naming Batavia, Ohio, but the historical record provides no direct indication of how he came up with the name. However, an educated guess can be made. Ely and his wife emigrated from New Jersey to Ohio in 1804. Their New Jersey home was close to Philadelphia and both of them were from wealthy families in that area. It is quite possible, therefore, that they knew Paolo Busti, head of the Holland Land Company’s American headquarters in Philadelphia. It is also quite possible that they knew James Stevens, head clerk of the Holland Land Company office in Batavia, N.Y., given that he was from the same area of New Jersey as the Elys. Furthermore, it is conceivable that they knew Joseph Ellicott and many others who, by 1804, had come from the greater Philadelphia area to reside in Batavia, N.Y. Given these likely associations, the name “Batavia,” was probably well known to George Ely. Perhaps he simply found the name attractive and chose it for that reason alone.

Mardell Lamb
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Joined: Apr 22 2009

How interesting. And what a lovely village it is! Great story.

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