Delving Further into Amelia’s Vivid History

Having lived in Amelia for ten years, I knew little about the Village or its history. Exploring houses and history books, I have found a richness, a vibrancy of background and charm that resides in little Amelia. Since the official historical society for Amelia has been dissolved for years now, I would like to document some of the quirks that made me fall in love.

Amelia, originally called “Milton,” got its name from the beloved collector at the tollhouse (approximately the 1840s). Often absent from the toll booth, she would be called by passing stagecoaches, hollering her name—“Armella!” Since there was little standard for the spelling of names in county records, this name morphed into Amelia. Before the village was incorporated in 1900, it lived through the Civil War as a supporter of the Union army. One of President Grover Cleveland’s cousins, Aaron, had his horse and mail carriage taken by the infamous Confederate cavalry of Morgan’s Raiders who were passing through Amelia. The next character to leave his mark on Amelia was Increase Morse. Morse had an interesting family tree: his father had fought in the Revolutionary War and his brothers in the War of 1812, and he was related to both Samuel Morse, the inventor of the telegraph, and to the poet laureate John Greenleaf Whittier. Moved from its original position, the Morse house is still standing and remains perhaps the most haunted house in Amelia. Later, Amelia was host to a variety of remarkable individuals, Congressman Charles Kearns and Andrew Clooney, the father of Rosemary Clooney and the grandfather of George Clooney.

By the 1950s, the basis of today’s roads and buildings were forming. In 1948, State Route 125 was a simple two-lane road, widened to a four-lane road in 1958. Until 1971, it functioned without a single stoplight from the Main Street in Bethel to Salem Road in Anderson Township. Mt. Carmel-Tobasco Road boasts a more interesting history. Allegedly, it got its name from an 1865 incident with General Ulysses S. Grant. As Grant passed through Amelia, he was stopped by men who had served under him with a call for a speech. Grant begrudgingly agreed, removing his coat with the comment, “it’s as hot as Tobasco sauce out here,” thus bequeathing the name “Tobasco” to the area.

As well as mirroring the twentieth century’s development of roads, Amelia has shown the evolution of Kroger. Amelia’s first Kroger was housed in what is now Marcella’s Doughnuts. Now, residents are familiar with the enormous Marketplace—a great jump from the miniscule building off of Main Street. Also, the current Kroger happens to be halfway between Amelia and Pierce Township; the food entrance is located in Amelia while the Little Clinic is in Pierce.

kroger 125 main street
Paving of 125 (early Kroger on left)

Learning these bits among many others, I have grown to love the little Village of Amelia. I hope that, as you also delve into the history and meet the people and discover the places of Amelia, you will experience that vividness the town has to offer.