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Fulton The village of Fulton was platted on May 16th, 1826 by James W. Lathrop and William Christmas on the East side of the Tuscarawas River. Soon after its founding along the canal, the village of Fulton prefixed its name with "Canal", becoming the Canal Fulton that still exists to this day. The village enjoyed the economic boom that the Ohio and Erie Canal provided and because of that it quickly outgrew its neighbor, Milan, on the West side of the Tuscarawas River.

History of Fulton

The first 11 settlements in Stark County were all recorded between the years of 1805 and 1816, and no other settlements were recorded until 1826, when the canal was established through Ohio.

Not enough can be said or researched about the canal and its impact on Ohio, it changed the face of the state and still impacts the state to this day. For now, however, it is suffice to say the town of Fulton was established directly because of the canal. The first canal town in Stark County was technically Clinton laid out and recorded February 24, 1826, but Stark lost claim to Clinton when Summit County was carved out of Medina, Portage, and the Northwest corner of Stark in 1840. Therefore, Fulton can lay claim to being the oldest canal town in Stark County.

An important Canton attorney, James W. Lathrop, acting as attorney for John H. Brinton of Philadelphia laid out and recorded the plat of Fulton May 16, 1826. The Philadelphia firm of Brinton and Condy after establishing the town of Bethlehem west of the Tuscarawas near Navarre had speculated on the possibilities of a canal and purchased land on the site of Fulton as early as 1805. (George Washington was one of the first to propose a canal through Ohio, and speculators purchased land between the Tusc and the Cuyahoga in anticipation of the canal being laid in the eastern part of the state).

The plat of Fulton contained 87 lots compared with Milan’s 79. Canal Street remains Canal street, but the other street names Main and North have been changed. Fulton was on the canal side of the river, and connected over the canal and the river with Milan by two bridges. When the canal opened from Cleveland in 1828, a post office was opened in Fulton. This first one lasted only until 1830, when a second office was established with the word “Canal” pre-fixing the Fulton.

The new post-master, John Robinson became a leading grain merchant in Canal Fulton by 1836. Five warehouses were built on the Fulton side for grain storage. Canal Fulton quickly outgrew Milan. Fulton was incorporated in 1838, and by 1853, Canal Fulton and Milan were merged into the one community of Canal Fulton.

The major roads that diverge from Canal Fulton today reveal wagon-drawn traffic from the hinterlands converging to sell their wares at this busy port on the canal. Major roads head west to Wooster, Mansfield, and Ashland; east to Canton and Alliance and even further.

The busy streets of Canal Fulton were defined by their upper and lower sections. “Along Canal Street were two intersections for the upper and lower canal bridges that crossed over to Milan. The upper intersection, with no places where liquor was sold openly, was respectable, and known as Public Square. The lower intersection, where modern routes 93 and 21 cross, at one time had liquor place on all four corners, and was known as Brimstone Corners.” The “old American House” also known as the “Smith House” still stands at Brimstone Corners awaiting the crowds that once jostled and drank. Many hotels went up in the heyday of the canal, some making use of converted warehouses, however none exist today. The city reached its peak in 1850, just before the railroad reached Canton and Massilon.

Canal Fulton went through the typical periods of growth and decline, but thanks in part to a foresighted heritage society, much of the charm of downtown Canal Fulton escaped massive changes and urban development. This conscientious treatment of the town’s history and preservation set the precedent that carries to this day.

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