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Part 4: Beginning through Civil War

Columbus, Ohio, was a rapidly growing city in the early 1800s with numerous construction projects in the downtown area. As buildings sprang up, the city’s trees were felled and green space was rapidly disappearing. Much of the timber in the central downtown area was destroyed with the State House construction in 1812 and 1813. Eventually realizing this was a mistake, several large trees were successfully transplanted in 1834 to recover some of the green space in the central city.

Aware that the city is growing to the north, Dr. Lincoln Goodale, who owns much of the land on the near north end of the city, donates approximately 40 aces of forested land to Columbus specifically for use as a pleasure resort by the people of Columbus. With his donation, Lincoln Goodale is also trying to preserve green space in the downtown area.1 As a result, the park attracts many people to the city who feel that it makes Columbus a desirable place to live.2

November 1851
Dr. Goodale donates an especially beautiful tract of primitive forest and rolling hills to the city for Columbus’ first park. William Neil and others will donate land to construct wide streets to surround the park and provide access.

May 13, 1852
A local newspaper reports that a stroll through Goodale Park reveals that the trees that are putting on their summer foliage and the songs of the birds make the park seem very much like a country retreat. Underbrush has been removed and there are plans to remove the stumps and fallen trees and erect a fence around the park so the people of Columbus can use the park this summer. According to a local newspaper: “Those noble, venerable trees of the primitive forest will be a treasure to our city that will be prized more highly every year, and should be carefully guarded and protected from injury. No Western city has so capacious a Park. Let us show that we duly appreciate the gift.”

May 10, 1853
Goodale Park is described as a “perfectly enchanting” place with green grass and fresh leaves so beautiful that a stroll through the park is a very economical luxury worth enjoying. The newspaper, however, protests the barbarous practice of several boys and men who are shooting songbirds in the park and asks if something can be done to prevent this evil.

June 30, 1853
The Ohio State Temperance Convention is held in Goodale Park where there is an airy breeze and a comfortable arrangement of speaker stands and seats.

April 1861
President Abraham Lincoln calls for 75,000 volunteers to end the South’s rebellion at the beginning of the Civil War. Ohio Governor William Dennison encourages Ohio communities to revive their local militias and send them to the state capital of Columbus for his use. Goodale Park is converted into Camp Jackson when Governor Dennison orders the creation of the camp to train volunteers.

Although the state militia system deteriorated after the War of 1812, many communities had maintained their units that existed mostly to march in parades and provide extracurricular activities for young men. The militias were organized into larger regiments. Usually the volunteers were at Camp Jackson for only a short time – after some training they were sent into the South to fight the Confederates.

The Lancaster Guards is the first militia unit to arrive at Camp Jackson. They serve as part of a regiment sent to protect Washington, D.C. The 16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry is another regiment of Central Ohio volunteers called the “Carrington Guards” in honor of Adjutant-General Carrington. They are dispatched to West Virginia to fight the Confederacy. Before going to war, however, the central Ohio volunteers get their first taste of military life at Goodale Park/Camp Jackson.

April 22, 1861
At Camp Jackson, sentinels guard the gates of the high picket fence to keep back the crowds milling around outside from morning until night which only occasionally can see inside the camp by looking through the fence palings. Inside the fence, white tents are pitched under the still leafless trees and the grass is crushed with deep ruts from foot traffic and wagon wheels. There is a makeshift barracks and straw strewn across the grounds that was brought in for bedding and has fallen off the wagons.

Few visitors are allowed into the encampment. Of those that are allowed, some are reporters and most are ladies. The volunteers range in age from gray-haired men to young boys. The men spend their time walking around the camp or lounging in their tents. While visiting, a reporter describes a company of volunteers that arrived by the Piqua road and marched toward the park. “A detachment of troops left the camp to meet them, and with drums beating and banners flying, they re-entered the camp together, amid cheers of the populace.”

While there, the new troops are well fed. In a hastily constructed building near the main entrance there are long tables set with “substantial edibles” and huge, roaring cooking ranges preparing more food. The officers quarters are in the building that was previously occupied by the park keeper and all of the camp business is conducted there, although the headquarters are at the State House.

One corps of soldiers, the Governor’s Guards, parades through Columbus on a Saturday morning, first marching to the State House. They are formally accepted in the rotunda where they are addressed by Hon. S. S. Cox with patriotic remarks. They then proceed to Camp Jackson where they are quartered. Patriotic fervor must be running high because a Capt. Marrow is so successful in recruiting volunteers from Columbus that the ranks of his company are overflowing, requiring opening lists for a new company which is also almost full. Any young man interested in enlisting in this company, “B” of the 3rd Regiment, is told to call at Camp Jackson at an early hour.

May 10, 1861
The newly minted troops quartered at Goodale Park/Camp Jackson are still eating very well. A reporter describes suppertime in the camp as a military assault with no loss of life. One thousand troops advanced on the run the tables set with a thousand plates. There was boiled ham, beef, bread, butter, rice, beans, potatoes and coffee. “A detachment of our colored brethren were busily engaged in slicing hams and beef. Fleet-footed boys rushed wildly to and fro executing the orders of superiors.” There was a wall of bread loaves in one corner. In the distance great cooking ranges roared while attendants of the heated barrels of rice and coffee served the cups and plates brought to them. The Ohio State Journal states that if there is anything that will appeal to our sense of patriotism, it is this abundance of provisions provided by our country.

May 29, 1861
An editorial in the Ohio State Journal states that a resolution was introduced at last Monday’s Columbus City Council meeting requesting an estimate be made of the damage done to Goodale Park by its occupation as an Army encampment. At first it was reported that Councilman Wilson had authored the resolution. Later it was discovered that Councilman Douty had asked Mr. Wilson to introduce the resolution. The editorial suggests the resolution has a suspicious aspect and appears to be an attack on some council members who “happened to have something to do with the contract for feeding the soldiers,” adding that Mr. Douty’s action of asking Mr. Wilson to announce the resolution implies personal malice and an effort to hide his malice from public view.

The editorial goes on to say that the government should have the right, in times of emergency such as war, to enter the premises of any person or business and use it for public service and that drawing Goodale Park into service as an encampment was the best the government could do under the circumstances. The editorial adds that the government will no doubt pay for any damage done so there is no need for Council to spend its time with matters over which they have no control.

Dr. Goodale, who is still living, is a member of City Council and a member of the park oversight committee tasked with ensuring the terms of the Goodale Park land deed are met. Violation of the terms of the deed, which among other things requires that the land always be used as a park for the people of Columbus, will cause ownership of the land to revert to Lincoln Goodale or his heirs.

June 1861
Camp Jackson military operations are removed to Camp Chase located four miles west of Columbus, and Goodale Park is returned to its original purpose. During the peak of Camp Jackson’s operations, 8000 troops are stationed there. Two future presidents are among the officers stationed there: Rutherford B. Hayes and Capt. William McKinley, Jr.


1. Columbus: America’s Crossroads, Betty Garrett with Edward R. Lentz, p. 60.

2. Ibid, p. 62.

Special thanks to the Columbus Metropolitan Library, Division of Biography, History and Travel.

This feature first appeared in the Short North Gazette, March 2007 Issue and is also available on the Short North Gazette web site at

© 2007 All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the author.