Geauga is a county of contrasts. Within its borders, as one travels from west to east, suburbia slowly recedes into countryside. Commercial plazas are replaced by cow barns. The hustle and bustle of villages and cities fades into dirt roads and rural living.
The town of Hambden, Ohio remains firmly on the eastern, rural side of Geauga County. While in recent years the town has added several new residents, it still maintains the small-town farm community character it has always been known for.
The first purchase of the area that was to become Hambden was made in 1798 by a gentleman named Oliver Phelps from Suffield, Connecticut. He in turn sold 12,000 acres to Dr. Solomon Bond. Dr. Bond was also from Connecticut and proceeded to build a shanty on his property in the southwest corner of the township in 1801. Though there is no evidence that Dr. Bond stayed the whole season or cleared any land, he is widely considered to be the first settler, and the town originally took his name in tribute.
Bondstown grew steadily in those early years, having around seventy residents by 1808. Because a town of the same name caused a dilemma with the post office, Bondstown became Hambden at a town meeting in 1819. In 1822, it became an official township.
One item of Hambden history interest has to do with a namesake. Those of you who have driven Route 608 through the southern part of the town have likely seen signs for the Hambden Orchards Wildlife area. If you are like me, you have given very little thought as to how it got its moniker. Around 1915, a man named C. A. Bingham bought some 500 acres of land at the corner of State Route 608 and Sisson Rd. The plot possessed favorable characteristics for fruit farming and was set in apple trees.
When Bingham died, the acreage was divided in two. In 1939, 220 acres was owned by the Cleveland Trust Company and known as Chardon Orchards. The site contained a whopping 4500 apple trees and produced 45,000 bushels of apples. Assuming once again that you are like me, you may not have a clue what a ‘bushel’ is, so this number may not have any relevance. I did a little research and discovered that each bushel equals a volume of eight gallons. So doing the math on the Chardon Orchards’ 1939 volume, that makes for 360,000 gallons of apples, folks!
The other 260 acres, known as Hambden Orchards, had 10,000 trees, and in the same year, produced 100,000 bushels—eight hundred thousand gallons—of delicious apples!
The property is now owned by the State of Ohio and is used as public hunting and fishing grounds.
Hambden contains within its borders parks for both active and passive recreation. For a casual stroll, hike, or picnic, one can visit the Geauga Park District’s 187-acre Whitlam Woods. For those looking for more high-energy fun, Pioneer Waterland & Dry Fun Park offers everything from waterslides to go cart racing.
For more information on Hambden, please make sure to visit the township website.