Hansel Park – Then, Now, Tomorrow

Hand-Dug Well Near Zane’s Trace

July 18, 2021 – By Kimber Caito, Media Coordinator, Fairfield County Park District

There are three properties for which master plans have been prepared.  This story is about another park that will be developed in the next few years, Hansel Park.

THEN (before 2017)  The property now known as Hansel Park is 32 acres in the east-central part of Fairfield County.  The site was acquired by donation from Evelan Hansel.

The Bookmobile
This place came with oral history stories that, while interesting, may have proved to be untrue.  One story says Evelan was the librarian who began the bookmobile program in Fairfield County.  Traveling the dirt and gravel roads, she made reading materials available to residents who did not have easy access to books or newspapers.

According to an article that appeared in Lancaster Eagle-Gazette on Sunday, April 1, 2001, “The Lancaster Public Library’s first bookmobile arrives in the city in this 1949 photo.  Its first driver was Russell Whartenby and first bookmobile librarian was Viola Paisley.”  That article also said, “Logan librarian Evelyn Hansel, with 13 years library experience, was named head librarian in March 1957.  Hansel resigned as head librarian at the Logan-Hocking-Vinton County Library after a disagreement with that library board’s decision to dissolve their bookmobile agreement with Vinton County.”  Assuming that information is accurate, she did not begin the program nor was she the first to drive Fairfield County’s bookmobile.  She was, apparently, passionate about the benefits a bookmobile provided to those outside the city.

Hand-dug Well Near Zane’s Trace

Log-framed House & Hand-dug Well
Everyone loves a log cabin!  Is that because we immediately start to think of what life must have been like so many years ago?  The early 1800s structure is a small log-framed house that was moved to this property.  The original location and when or why it was moved are unknown.  One oral history proposes it was the first doctor’s office in Pleasant Township.  The heavy white oak front door is said to have been removed and used as a surgical table when the need arose.  Is that true?  We do not really know.  It is a great story that calls to mind a family arriving by buckboard or horseback with an injured father or daughter, perhaps in the middle of the night.  Holding their lanterns above their heads, they carry the injured one inside to be laid upon the hard wood door, perhaps to receive needed but painful surgery!  While many of us long for slower-paced and simpler lives, modern medicine does provide much better surgical options than what some had to endure in that age.

Close to the cabin is an 84’-deep hand-dug, stone-lined well.  It is surrounded by a matching brick patio and half wall.  It has been said that Ebenezer Zane himself dug the well.  Careful research revealed that the house and well were not actually on Zane’s Trace, however, but were on what is called The New Road.  The route of Zane’s Trace was south of The New Road; it ran through what is now Mambourg Park.  Nevertheless, that well must have been a welcome sight to travelers after many hours on hot, dusty roads.

NOW (2017-2021) & TOMORROW   In November 2020, a master plan for the development of Hansel Park was created.  It recommends using the log-framed house as a Zane’s Trace history museum.  It also proposes walking trails and a story walk, a picnic shelter, a nature-based play area, a park office, and public restrooms.  Those with dogs will be excited to know this location will feature a dog park with separate areas for large and small dogs!  Dogs are welcome at all our parks* but this one will be an actual dog park.

*Pets are not allowed in nature preserves such as Wahkeena Nature Preserve.

This is the tenth and final article in the Then, Now, Tomorrow series.  Thanks to all who sent comments or called to say they enjoyed the stories and have followed the entire run!  It won’t be the last of our news, though – something is always happening at the parks!

July 24 – Lancaster Festival Fair Day
Visit us at Lancaster Festival Fair Day to learn about our newest adventure program and Ohio’s plants and animals.

August 5-7 – Baltimore Festival
Visit us at Baltimore Festival.  Wave at us in the parade and visit our booth to learn about the parks and get fun activities.

Get Out to Explore & Discover your Fairfield County Parks.  fairfieldcountyparks.org

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