THE SETTLEMENT OF CONVOY
Convoy was established as a small hamlet near the edge of the "Black Swamp" of Northwest Ohio in the 1860ís. The earliest land entries of the township were in the late 1830ís. The following is recorded in the 1872 Van Wert County History:
Since 1840, improvement has gone apace, slowly, but steadily, until the appearance of the township with its schools, churches, dwellings, industries, and other improvements attest the enterprise, even courage of the men who have wrought such wonderful changes. True, much remains to be done, but the past gives assurances for the future, and the lapse of a few more years will show other changes as creditable as those already wrought. Farms will yet rise from beneath swamps, and prove as productive as any in the state.
The Convoy area was part of the last "frontier" of Ohio. The "Black Swamp" proved to be a challenge to tame, but became attractive for settlement because the land was less expensive than even "out west" in Illinois.
This land, difficult to tame, required a people who wanted to invest considerable sweat, effort, and hardship to clear the timber and drain the land, but the sheer effort and determination of the people paid off. The swamp was gradually transformed into farmland, with proper drainage, and good farming practices became not just good, but great farmland. It is one of the most productive areas in the state.
The impetus for growth for the community centered on the building of the railroad through the county. The completion of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, and Chicago Railroad in 1855 opened up transportation to the township. Settlement moved from an area along and old Indian Trail to a place near the railroad, and Convoy was formed, being incorporated in 1874. There was now a market to the Midwest, plentiful lumber resources and a way to move the manufactured product. In 1872 there was a stave mill producing 20,000 staves daily. Adjacent to it on the south was a hoopmill making important parts for wooden barrels.
Convoy gradually changed from merely a lumbering center and a railroad town to a farming community, becoming the center for the milling of grain and supporting stores and shops.
Not everything was easy for Convoy. Two fires hit the business district in the first decade of the 20th century. Each time the destruction of the buildings was approximately fifty percent. The residents did not give up during that disastrous decadeÖ. Each time rebuilding with confidence.
Many small communities faced drastic changes in the period following World War 1. Several neighboring communities declined or disappeared, but Convoy adapted to the changing world. Farming shifted from horses to tractors, and more acres could be placed in production with fewer people. The forty acre farm became a thing of the past.
The increased use of the automobile sparked several changes. With the consolidation of schools, pupils were bussed into Convoy and the one room school became only a memory.
The automobile allowed people to get factory jobs in neighboring communities and still reside in the Convoy area. People began "car pooling" to Van Wert and Fort Wayne long before that term became popular.
Convoy consolidated its business community and prepared for the future needs and demands of a changing society. A sewage system was installed in the 1930ís and a water system was installed in 1943. Since a new waste water treatment plant was put in and the water system was updated and brought up to EPA standards.
During the past, the commitment to community pride has been impressive. The civic community and business association have worked closely together to not only keep Convoy a great place to live, but to plan for the future as well. A major demonstration of that effort was the Centennial celebrated in 1975, that spawned Edgewood Park and later led to the Convoy Community Days.
That spirit of community pride and involvement has made Convoy a unique small community that has grown from 991 in 1970 to 1145 in 1980, to 1200 in 1990.
The community has maintained a steady growth due to the long time residents, as well as the newcomers. They are happy to be living in a progressive community and are not eager to move away, take pride in the fact that Convoy is known as "The Little Town That Does BIG Things," and encourage economic and civic development, recreational areas, and a new health care facility. Convoy is a unique, self-sufficient community where people are happy to live, work, and relax.
Life in the small town of Convoy is filled with a special quality of life. The atmosphere is relaxed but not totally void of everyday pressures. A heritage of hard work has made the people of the area willing to join forces to make many community projects successful; being small has never been a detriment to our success.
Houses in Convoy are a variety of sizes, most of which are of average size. The lawns, landscaping, and towering trees reflect the maintenance of people who wre reared to care for and protect their property.
A bustling commercial development is in the center of town, making a Convoy a self-sufficient community with advantages of living in a large city. While Convoy prides itself in being a small community with traditional family values, built around civic involvement and a religious life, it is not isolated but rather functions as a window to other urban areas. Acces to education opportunities, arts, and shopping are not far considering the driving time across a city. One of the larges shopping malls in the tri-state area is within 40 minutes.
The area surrounding Convoy is largely composed of small to medium sized family operated farms. Van Wert County is one of the leading agricultural producers in Ohio. Van Wert County is the only county in the state that sponsors a Farm Focus Show. It is a two day event with twenty acre display area including farm machinery, a chemical and fertilizer display, and a one hundred acre crop display featuring over one hundred varieties of corn and beans. Since this event is known nationally, it draws a crowd of fifty thousand attendants.
In 1982, construction began on a 50 bed nursing home in Convoy This facility was opened in March 1983. There are over 50 merchants, retailers, and service oriented businesses in Convoy and the Community.
An easy way to become an active citizen in Convoy is to join one of the many civic or service organizations, become involved with a church or with the Edgewood Park program. The Convoy merchants work and grow together through the Convoy Business Association. This ia an active organization with the aim in mind to promote Convoy and its many services.