Don Cicconetti wrote that before Wooster’s "Little Italy" got its name, the area was known as "Jeffries Hill." That's because prominent Wooster citizen Lemuel Jeffries lived on Pittsburgh Avenue in the town’s east end ... the area where immigrants from Italy eventually settled.
"Lemuel Jeffries is one of my favorite local historical characters," wrote Jeff Musselman in a previous column.
Back in the late 1800s, Musselman said Jeffries served as editor of the Wayne County Democrat and was a key figure in the Wayne County Democratic Party. For five successive terms he served as Wooster's mayor.
"He led a fascinating life and had an amazing wartime record," Musselman explained. "He joined the 4th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, the very first regiment formed in Wooster, and fought at the Battle of Gettysburg. The Wayne County Historical Society has a number of his artifacts, including his rifle with his name carved into the stock.
"After being wounded, he happened to be in Washington in April 1865 when President Lincoln was assassinated. He stood guard over the President’s body during the public viewing and always considered that to be one of the great honors of his life."
Another one of Wooster's more interesting and colorful characters was William B. Allison. A tall, awkward youth, he was the butt of practical jokes and was always at the "foot of his class." The overgrown boy refused to squeal on his tormentors. Instead, he took the constant teasing.
But, as years went by, Allison changed. He acquired a charming personality and his confidence grew. By the time he was 30, he was a political figure, a forceful writer and public speaker who studied law at Western Reserve.
Serving as secretary at the 1860 Republican convention, it was Wooster's Allison who placed the name of Abraham Lincoln in nomination for the presidency. Later Allison moved to Iowa and was elected to the U.S. Senate, serving in Washington for 24 years.
Another Woosterian who climbed the ladder of political recognition was John Sloane. A financial wizard, he served as receiver of public money in Canton. While serving in the State legislature for two years, he was speaker of the house. Sloane moved to Wooster in 1816 and — elected from here, later — went on to Congress until 1829 when he came back to Wooster to become Judge of the Common Pleas Court.
Sloane was appointed Ohio's Secretary of State. Then, in 1850, President Millard Fillmore chose him to serve as Treasurer of the United States. This is undoubtedly the highest office ever held by a Wooster resident.
John Sloane's home still stands on North Market Street.
Thought you should know.
Columnist Ann Gasbarre can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-345-6419.