Located about 5 miles south of Kenton in Taylor Creek Township between
Township Road 190 and County Road 200 is the beautiful nature preserve
known as Lawrence Woods. The land was purchased in 1996 from Augustine
Family Ltd. Partnership with money given from the Ohio Department of
Natural Resources. So, what makes these 500 acres of woods so special? In
1991 a botanist from the Department of Natural Resources discovered the
woods while doing a survey. They found that the woods contained many old
growth trees, something that has become increasingly rare over the years.
Most woods containing these types of trees are less than 100 acres, making
Lawrence Woods unique. These woods also were found to contain more rare
species than any other in the county. Eight species of rare plants, twos
species of rare salamander, and two species of rare trees all call
Lawrence Woods home. The woods also contain tree species such as hickory,
oak, maple, sycamore, and ash as well as animal species of deer, squirrel,
chipmunks, raccoons, etc. Items such as the Rhino Tree are a popular
attraction in the woods. Since being created in 1996, the preserve had
been expanded to 1,035 acres.
So, who was the man the woods were named after? Judge William Lawrence was
the great-grandfather of Eleanor Augustine, one of the owners of the
property. Judge Lawrence was born in Mount Pleasant, OH on June 26, 1819.
After graduating law school in 1840 from law school at the University of
Cincinnati, he was admitted to the bar. In 1841, Lawrence moved to
Bellefontaine and set up his law practice. He would serve as the editor of
the Logan Gazette from 1845-1847, a paper that would later become The
Bellefontaine Examiner. He was elected as Logan County Prosecutor in 1845
and would later go on to serve as a member of the Ohio House of
Representatives in 1846 and 1847. In 1849, he was first elected to the
Ohio Senate, a position he held until 1851 when he became the reporter for
the Ohio Supreme Court.
During his career, Judge Lawrence would argue many major land cases most
of which dealt with reclaiming the land from railroad companies. He worked
for the interest of farmers and wool growers. In 1851, he would author
Ohio’s Free Banking Law. During that time, President Rutherford B. Hays
named him the First Comptroller of the United States Treasury making him
second only to the Secretary of the Treasury. These accomplishments and
so many more, including helping Clara Barton found the American Red Cross,
were part of an impressive career. Judge Lawrence dies on May 8, 1899 in
Kenton and is buried in Bellefontaine.
So, when the weather gets warm, please be sure to take a walk through
Lawrence Woods and enjoy one of Hardin County’s naturals treasures.
Hardin County Historical Museums, Inc.
223 N Main Street Kenton, OH 43326