Springfield is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Clark County. The municipality is located in southwestern Ohio and is situated on the Mad River, Buck Creek and Beaver Creek, approximately west of Columbus and northeast of Dayton. Springfield is home to Wittenberg University, a liberal arts college.
As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 60,608. The Springfield Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 138,333 residents. and the Dayton-Springfield-Greenville, OH Combined Statistical Area had 1,072,891 residents. The Little Miami Scenic Trail, a paved rail-trail which is almost 80 miles long, goes from the Buck Creek Scenic Trailhead in Springfield south to Newtown, Ohio (near downtown Cincinnati), and is popular with hikers and cyclists.
In 1983, Newsweek featured Springfield in its 50th anniversary issue, entitled, "The American Dream." It chronicled the impact of the past 50 years on five local families. In 2004, Springfield was chosen as an "All-America City". In 2011, Springfield was named the "unhappiest city in America" by the The Gallup Organization after a three-year survey.
Springfield was founded by James Demint, a former teamster from Kentucky, in 1801. When Clark County was created from parts of Champaign, Madison and Greene counties, Springfield, named for Springfield, Massachusetts - which, at the time, was important for hosting the U.S. Federal Springfield Armory; enduring the Attack on Springfield during King Phillip's War in 1675,; and Shays' Rebellion in 1787. Springfield beat out the village of New Boston as the county seat in 1818. by two votes in the state legislature.
Springfield traces its early growth to the National Road, which ended in Springfield for approximately 10 years as politicians wrangled over the path it would continue. Dayton and Eaton wanted the road to veer south after Springfield, but President Andrew Jackson made the final decision to have the road continue straight west to Richmond, Indiana.
During the mid-and-late 19th century, Springfield was dominated by industrialists including Oliver S. Kelly, Asa S. Bushnell, James Leffel, P. P. Mast and Benjamin H. Warder. Asa S. Bushnell built the Springfield, Ohio Bushnell Building where the patent attorney to the Wright Brothers, Harry Aubrey Toulmin, Sr., wrote the 1904 patent to cover the invention of the airplane. To promote the products of his agricultural equipment company, P. P. Mast started the Farm and Fireside magazine. Mast’s publishing company - Mast, Crowell, and Kirkpatrick - grew to become Crowell-Collier Publishing Company best known for Collier's Weekly. In 1894, The Kelly Springfield Tire Company was founded.
At the turn of the 20th century Springfield became known as the "Home City." Several lodges including the Masonic Lodge, Knights of Pythias and Odd Fellows built homes for orphans and aged members of their order. Springfield also became known as "The Champion City"..a reference to the Champion brand of farm equipment manufactured by the Warder, Bushnell & Glessner Company, which was later absorbed into International Harvester in 1902. International remains in Springfield as Navistar International, a producer of medium to large trucks.
In 1902 A.B. Graham, then the superintendent of schools for Springfield Township in Clark County, established a "Boys' and Girls' Agricultural Club." Approximately 85 children from 10 to 15 years of age attended the first meeting on January 15, 1902 in Springfield, Ohio, in the basement of the Clark County Courthouse. This was the start of what would be called the "4-H Club" within a few years, quickly growing to a nationwide organization. (4-H stands for "Head, Heart, Hands, and Health"). The first "projects" included food preservation, gardening and elementary agriculture. Today, the Courthouse still bears a large 4H symbol under the flag pole at the front of the building to commemorate its part in founding the organization. The Clark County Fair is the second largest fair in the state (only the Ohio State Fair is larger) in large part to 4H still remaining very popular in the area.
On March 7, 1904, over a thousand Springfield residents formed a lynch mob, stormed the jail and removed prisoner Richard Dixon, a black man accused of murdering police officer Charles B. Collis. Richard Dixon was shot to death and then hung from a pole on the corner of Fountain and Main Street, where the mob continued to shoot his lifeless body. The mob then proceeded to burn much of the black area of town. In February 1906, another mob formed and again burned the black section of town known as "the levee". Sixty years later, Springfield was the first city in the US to have a black mayor, Robert Henry.
From 1916 to 1926, 10 automobile companies operated in Springfield. Among them: The Bramwell, Brenning, Foos, Frayer-Miller, Kelly Steam, Russell-Springfield and Westcott. The Westcott, known as the car built to last, was a six-cylinder four-door sedan manufactured by Burton J. Westcott of the Westcott Motor Car Company. Burton and Orpha Westcott however, are better known for having contracted the world-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design their home in 1908 at 1340 East High Street. The Westcott House, a sprawling two-story stucco and concrete house has all the features of Wright's prairie style including horizontal lines, low-pitched roof, and broad eaves. It is the only Frank Lloyd Wright prairie style house in the state of Ohio. The property was purchased in 2000 by the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy (Chicago, IL), and as part of a prearranged plan, the house was then sold to a newly formed local Westcott House Foundation. The Westcott House Foundation managed the extensive 5 year, $5.3 million restoration, the house was fully restored to its original glory in October 2005, when it officially opened to the public for guided tours.
International Harvester (now Navistar), manufacturer of farm machinery and later trucks, became the leading local industry after Springfield native William Whitely invented the self-raking reaper and mower, in 1856. It held that position, along with Crowell-Collier Publishing, throughout most of the next century.