The present site of Lawrence Township was at first an important crossing of the north-south and east-west trails as explorers, traders, and settlers came to the Ohio Country. The Indian capital of Tuscarawai was situated near the present town of Bolivar in the 1750’s.

Christopher Gist, an agent for the Ohio Company of Virginia stopped at this town in 1750, and found a white trader named George Croghan living there. There was much evidence that the French had visited the area and had attempted to stir up the Indians against the English during the French and Indian War. Rev. Christian Frederick Post, the first Moravian missionary among the Indians of Ohio, visited the town of Tuscarawas in 1758 as the agent from the Governor of Pennsylvania to the Delawares and the other Indian tribes, and tried to have them desert the French. This resulted in the French abandoning Fort Duquesne, which was taken over by the British and renamed Fort Pitt. This is at the present site of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Delaware Indian BravePost returned to the town in 1761 as a missionary, and lived among the Indians where he was joined by John Heckwelder, who later became David Zeisberger’s assistant in the founding of Schoenbrunn, the first Ohio town in 1772.

During the next several decades, there was much discontent in this area due to the uprisings of the Indians, especially during the time of the Pontiac Wars (1762-1764) and during the War of Independence between the Colonials and the British. During this war, Ft. Laurens, the only Revolutionary War Fort in what is now Ohio was built in 1778. This fort was abandoned the next year due to many scrapes with Indians. The “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” is located here for the American Revolutionary War, and there is a museum with a slide-show and artifacts discovered on the fort grounds during excavation. Fort Laurens is located just south of Bolivar on Ft. Laurens road.

After the war, there was still unsettlement in the area due to the raids between the Indians and the colonials. The Greenville Treaty opened this area for white settlement in the 1790’s. With the newly formed United States of America, land was given to those who supported the War of Independence in what was now known as the Ohio County.

The first white settlement in Lawrence Township was Lawrenceville. This town was established on the other side of the river from the present town of Bolivar, now known as Wilkshire Hills by Abrahams Mosser in 1805, three years before the county was established as Tuscarawas.

Lawrenceville had 176 lots, with land set aside for a courthouse and jail, a market house and English and German Presbyterian, German Lutheran, Protestant Episcopal and Moravian churches.

“The location was a beautiful one, and at that time there was a brisk trade on the river in canoes and small boats,” the 1884 History of Tuscarawas County said. “The settlers speculated in a small way, by buying town lots, but the village never prospered. It contained at most four or five houses.” The town eventually was abandoned.

4 Zoar buildings from the 1800's - The Gardenhouse, behind it is the first log cabin, to the right is the Bakery, and the cupola belongs to the Zoar Church

4 Zoar buildings from the 1800’s – The Gardenhouse, behind it is the first log cabin, to the right is the Bakery, and the cupola belongs to the Zoar Church

The present town of Zoar was platted by Joseph Bimeler, Agent and Spiritual Leader of the Separatist Society of Zoar in 1817. The present town of Bolivar was platted in 1825 on the route of the Ohio Erie Canal and was named after Simon Bolivar, the George Washington of South America.


The Zoar Hotel

The Zoar Hotel

The canal played an important part in the history and development of Lawrence Township and the towns of Bolivar and Zoar. With America always on the move, not only in expansion, but also in the Industrial Revolution, the canal was replaced with the railroad. There are many miles of canal ‘towpath’ trail that are easily walked running through Lawrence Township. There are parking areas at the intersection of Towpath Road and Dover-Zoar Road just south of Zoar and along Towpath Road approximately one mile from Ft. Laurens Road south of Bolivar.

The last railroad in Tuscarawas County was built through Bolivar, Zoar, and Lawrence Township in the early 1880’s. This railroad was the Wheeling and Lake Erie, which later became a part of the Nickel Plate System. This railroad still runs through Lawrence Township today and is known as the Wheeling and Lake Erie Line.

With the advent of the Interstate System of roads in the United States, the area of Lawrence Township was bisected with Interstate 77 during the 1960’s. This road, like the canal and railroad before it, has caused Lawrence Township to become the largest housing project in Tuscarawas County. With new housing construction on the rise, the Lawrence Township Trustees in their forward thinking, established the Lawrence Township Industrial Park that houses many diversified industries.

Fort Laurens - the only Revolutionary War fort in Ohio

Fort Laurens – the only Revolutionary War fort in Ohio

Lawrence Township is rich in history and has been fortunate to have wise leadership that has kept pace with the changes that have resulted over the past 250 years.

The census for the township in 2010 was 5,738 people, with Bolivar at 914, and Zoar at 169. Lawrence Township has experienced tremendous growth over the past two decades, especially the residential area known as Wilkshire Hills and Hunters Green. Our location makes it a convenient spot to get to jobs in larger cities quickly and easily.

Lawrence Township is located in the middle of the upper portion of Tuscarawas County. Inside the boundaries are located the Incorporated Villages of Bolivar and Zoar. The largest portion of Lawrence Township is the residential area of Wilkshire Hills. The Lawrence Township Industrial Park is located just south of Bolivar. The Lawrence Township Commercial Park is located just east of Interstate 77 along State Route 212. There are approximately 100 acres available for commercial businesses.

We are easily accessible by Interstate 77, which runs through the middle of the township from north to south with Exit 93 at Bolivar. State Route 212 runs through the township from west to east and proceeds through the Village of Bolivar, the community of Wilkshire Hills, and the Village of Zoar. The Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad has a major line running through the middle of the township from east to west. This railroad runs through the industrial park. The Tuscarawas River runs from north to south through the township.

We are 10 miles from Canton, 35 miles from Akron, and 60 miles from Cleveland, all to the north, and 12 miles from Dover/New Philadelphia, 30 miles from Newcomerstown, and 45 miles from Cambridge, all to the south. We are 90 miles from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, and 120 miles from Columbus, Ohio.