Then and Now: The village of Kennard


According to Wikipedia, “Kennard is an unincorporated community in eastern Salem Township, Champaign County, Ohio, in the USA. It lies at the intersection of Gray and Kennard Roads, less than two miles southwest of State Route 245. The headwaters of Kings Creek, a tributary of the Mad River, flow past Kennard.” It is located approximately eight miles north by northeast of the the city of Urbana. Kennard was laid out and platted in 1863 when it was learned that the railroad was going to be extended to that point, according to Middleton’s 1917 History of Champaign County. So it had both flowing water access and rail transportation. Kennard had a post office from 1865 to 1905, the first post office in Salem Township. Old photos do exist of an elementary school, an unidentified church postcard, and a photo from about twenty years ago of the remains of the town square water pump and horse watering trough.

Being familiar with the name Kennard Kingscreek Road, one sunny day in the fall of 2016, as a historian with the intent purpose of locating Kennard, Ohio, and “Then” structures, a country drive seemed necessary. Not being able to locate Kennard’s “Then” structures, it is assumed they no longer exist and not knowing exactly where they had been, a well maintained church was spotted with the name Kennard Church of the Nazarene.

The now photo representing Kennard is that friendly looking Kennard Church of the Nazarene. This church is judged to be currently thriving by its neat, well kept, appearance. It looks similar to the church in the then photo but not actually confirmed by anyone at this point in time December 2016. No one was visible in the village that day to ask.

This is the story of Kennard recorded in Middleton’s 1917 History of Champaign County. The village of Kennard was laid out as Kent by C.W. L. Taylor, acting county surveyor and the plat recorded on December 31, 1863. The original proprietor of the town site was Samuel H. Robinson, who owned a considerable tract of land, including parts of surveys 4925 and 11066. There were seventy-five lots platted for the town on both surveys. The town was laid out because of the coming of the railroad through that part of the township as already mentioned. The lots were laid out on either side of the Great Atlantic & Pacific railroad, later called the Erie railroad. Middleton records the original proprietor seemed to have met with reverses of some kind; at least, before the plat was recorded, on the last day of the year, 1863, the whole town site had passed into the hands of Jonas Hedges. A record dated December 30, 1863, states that Hedges was “the surviving assignee of Samuel H. Robinson.” (There always have been and still are land wheeler and dealers.)

Kennard grew slowly and for various reasons never did attract the attention that some of the other small towns of our county did. It did have its own doctor and elevator and railroad agent. Doctor Cowgill was the first physician; the Thomas brothers started the first elevator; and John Pearce became the first railroad agent. John Sarten was probably the first shoe cobbler and a man by the name of Downey was undoubtedly the first of a number of blacksmiths in the little village. The town was for awhile a trading center and a valuable asset to the farming community surrounding it. There were even two general stores in the village operated by E. E. McDonald and Mr. Brockney. But that was then. Now it is doubtful many readers have ever heard of Kennard, let alone been there, as not many business are there anymore. Perhaps 2017 will reveal more about Kennard as this charming country church, in the near extinct village of Kennard, in Champaign County, Ohio, represents hope of life for the area in one way or another.

Kennard Church of the Nazarene is located in the village of Kennard. Church of the Nazarene is located in the village of Kennard. Submitted photos

This is an old photo of the former Kennard school. is an old photo of the former Kennard school. Submitted photos

This is an old photo of a former Kennard church building. is an old photo of a former Kennard church building. Submitted photos

A water pump is one of Kennard’s “doors” to the past. water pump is one of Kennard’s “doors” to the past. Submitted photos

By Sheryl Virts

Champaign County Historical Society

Submitted by the Champaign County Historical Society.

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