Texas, Ohio, was once the principal village of Washington Township, and is one of the oldest in Henry County. It was given the name of Texas, because it was in that year of 1845 that the great state of Texas was admitted to the Union. This is also the year that Durbin bought the land.
It is beautifully situated on the north side of the Miami and Erie Canal and on the north bank of the Maumee River. A ravine runs around the north and west sides, so that the town plots lie high and dry.
The outlet lock of the twenty-four mile level of the canal was at this place and the slack water in the Maumee River caused by the dam at Providence near Grand Rapids, Ohio. It gives the river a greater depth and width from Texas on the east. A public ferry was used to connect the banks and the expense was paid by the county. In 1909, this ferry was sold by the commissioners to Theodore Wagner for $75.00 and Mr. Wagner ran it as a toll ferry. The ferry at this period averaged thirty rigs a day and wore out three flat boats. It ferried anything that ever travelled the highways, including threshing machines and live-stock. On Sundays and holidays there were 50 to 75 rigs ferried across each day.
The village of Texas was first recorded on April 2, 1849, by James Durbin, the proprietor.
Through the eastern part of the town there once ran what was called a hydraulic canal. It led from the canal and was built for the purpose of supplying motive power for the mills in the lower part of the town. These mills were the first erected in the county. There was a time when Texas was thought to be a very prosperous town because of the canal.
At one time there was a barrel factory, a handle factory, and a brick factory in Texas; and in fact, the first brick to be made in the county came from this village. The first brick court house in Napoleon, which was destroyed by fire in 1879, was constructed of bricks manufactured here. The bricks were transported to Napoleon by boat on the canal.
The village in its early days was the most important trading point in Henry County. It was also a formidable rival of Napoleon for the county seat.
The Miami and Erie Canal through Henry County was started in May of 1837.
The first boats were mule powered, then steam power came later in the 1890’s. The summer of 1837-1838 was the worst for the men working on the canal. The area was notorious for malaria or “Maumee Fever” which took the lives of many canal workers.
The first completed trip from Cincinnati to Toledo was not made until June 27, 1845. By the year of 1847 the canal was doing great business in Texas and it opened up this area for trade. There was a wide place in the canal just east of Texas which was called “Wide Water” and there the canal boats turned around.
With the completion of the railroad in July, 1855, John Osborn platted a parcel of land consisting of 56 lots (in the original plat) which was recorded under the name of Colton.
Colton was a thriving hamlet of approximately two hundred people in those beginning years; the town boasted of a good hotel, an express office, a post office, a railroad station, and many houses. In a few years Colton was to have four grocery and general stores, a blacksmith’s shop, two hotels, a saloon, a tinware manufacturing plant, a butcher shop, a pickle processing plant, a potato processing plant, two churches, a school, a G.A.R. hall, and a town hall.
About 1918 a fire destroyed three of the store buildings and many residents feared that the town would be demolished by the raging fire. One of the two churches burned in the 1940’s, and the Wabash closed its station. Many of the businesses disappeared as the years went by.
The Colton Methodist Church is still in operation, and it has served the community’s spiritual needs for nearly a century. Today, this is the only church in Washington Township. The small white framed church is an outstanding architectural example of the style of religious structures built in the mid-1800’s and early 1900’s.
Albert M. Barlow, the postmaster of Colton from 1931 until he retired in 1973, states that a number of the nearly two hundred Colton residents has lived here since the 1930’s or before. He also mentions that no one seems to know why the village was named Colton, citing that before the railroad was completed the town was named Washington Station.
Colton celebrated its Centennial in July, 1955, with entertainment, antique and picture display, ox roast, etc.
Reprinted from Henry County, Ohio. A Collection of Historical Sketches and Family Histories Compiled by Members and Friends of The Henry County Historical Society, Volume I. Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas, TX, 1976.