Purchase & Planning
Worthington was settled in 1803 by several New England families from the Farmington River Valley of Connecticut and Massachusetts, under the leadership of pioneer businessman James Kilbourne. In 1802, Kilbourne organized a group of men to form the Scioto Company and headed west from Granby, Connecticut, to explore and find land to create a new community. With help from his friend, Thomas Worthington, Kilbourne purchased 16,000 acres of land on behalf of the Scioto Company for $1.25 an acre. When Kilbourne returned to New England, he planned the layout for the village. He platted a New England-type village of 164 lots around a central public square, which was designated for religious and educational purposes, as well as a spot for community gatherings.
In September 1803, the same year Ohio became a state, eleven families left their Connecticut homes and traveled by wagon train to their new home in Ohio. It took six weeks for the families to travel the 600 miles to their new homes, arriving in October of 1803. They named their new village Worthington in honor of Thomas Worthington, one of Ohio’s first senators and a future governor, for his assistance in locating the tract of land that would become Worthington.
The pioneer village prospered, forming an Episcopal congregation and a Masonic Lodge in 1804, as well as acquiring a post office in 1805, an academy in 1808 and a newspaper and manufacturing company in 1811. The 1830 census recorded 910 persons in Sharon Township - approximately one-third in the village and two-thirds on surrounding farms. In 1835, the Ohio legislature incorporated Worthington as a village, with an elected village council and mayor. The village retained a stable population with little growth and served as the market center for surrounding farms for the remainder of the 19th century.
When the electric street railway connected Columbus and Worthington in 1893, the village became a suburb, with cars running every half hour and making it possible to live in Worthington and work or shop in the capitol city. The village acquired a telephone exchange in 1899, a public water system in 1913, permission for private homes to tap the interurban electric lines in 1917 and free mail delivery in 1929. By World War II, Worthington had a population of 1569. In 1954, residents of the Colonial Hills subdivision circulated petitions to annex to Worthington. The subdivision had more residents than the village, but together, they had more than the 5,000 residents required to be incorporated as a city with a city council / city manager charter.
The post-war years were boom years for Worthington, when the 1950 population of 2,128 ballooned to 15,326 by 1970. It was a period of annexations, new subdivisions and new schools almost annually. Interstate 270 was completed in 1975, defining Worthington’s northern boundary. At this time, growth again stabilized, although the present Worthington School District still includes significant areas outside the city boundaries.
For More Information
For more information about Worthington's history, please visit the Worthington Historical Society website.