The beautiful village of Peru was initially known as Vrenenburgh, which was one of the New England towns burnt by the British during the revolutionary war. Ohio was an undeveloped area offering freedom and salvation to those seeking it. Many towns; Norwalk, New London Greenwich, and New Haven, just to name a few, were named after towns that were destroyed during the revolution and later became a part of the Firelands. The Firelands was a tract of land spanning about 500,000 acres, designated for the “fire sufferers” who had lost their homes and lands at the hands of the British during the war.
In 1818 Daniel Mack came searching for a new start and landed in an area that would become Macksville, what we know today as Peru. He bought land in the area and attached his name to it by building a saw mill and later a gristmill. Other settlers soon joined him, because a stage line was established between Columbus, Delaware, Mansfield, Norwalk, and Sandusky. One of the new settlers was Dr. Moses Sanders. Dr. Sanders hired ship builders to erect our building, Pioneer Spring Marketplace, but was known then as the Macksville Tavern in 1832.
With the influx of new villagers and travelers coming through the area, many new taverns needed to be constructed. It is believed that James Vantine built the north end of our building in the mid 1820's and Dr. Sanders enlarged it in 1832. The Macksville Tavern was one of the largest building of it's kind along the stage line. It boasted a ballroom on the second floor that was seventy seven feet by forty four feet,built of the finest oak, white-woods, and walnut and had two fireplaces.
Not only did the tavern serve as a crucially needed stop over for teamsters hauling grain to the Milan Canal, it was the place to gather for social events. There was a stage where a banjo player, fiddle player, and caller would provide music for the revelers of the day. Wall flower benches that the ladies patiently sat upon until asked to dance are still present today. Many times boys from rival towns would fight and it was common that they would be taken to the town spring and dunked into the large wooden tub of water that serviced the horses and good folks of the town. The same water source is still flowing happily today.
After the Milan Canal opened in 1838 there were thousands of commercial teams of horses hauling grain to Milan which was then the second largest grain port in the world. Travelers would stop by the thousands to refresh themselves at the spring. A teamster could water his horses , have them fed, stabled, have dinner and breakfast with lodging for the night for 50 cents. It also served as a post office, doctors office and general store in the early days. This was the heyday of Macksville.
Macksville later became Peru for reasons not entirely understood. At one time Macksville/Peru boasted three general stores, two sawmills, a grand grist mill, distilleries, an ashery, five churches, an academy named the Lima Academy, a wagon works, and several other businesses. It was a tough pioneer town that rivaled even Norwalk with regards to its commerce and prosperity.
When the rail road decided to make Norwalk and Bellevue their main routes in the late 1850's, the village of Peru began to wither. No longer was it necessary for people to make their journey by way of wagon and horse. Pioneer Spring Marketplace has been an integral part of this community for 189 years. We are proud to have this tradition continue and invite everyone to be a part of the next 189 years.
We would like to acknowledge the families of all the owners and caretakers of this historic property, too many to mention, for preserving this special property.