Lucas Sullivant, a surveyor from Virginia, purchased 4,000 acres of land from the U.S. Government in the area between the South and East forks of Owl Creek. He offered 50 acres to John Kerr on the condition he settle there and erect a mill on the site Sullivant discovered. Kerr agreed. In the fall of 1807, he constructed a dam, raised a little log building, and started grinding or “cracking” corn.
Kerr was one of a group of Friends (Quakers) from Maryland who settled in this area beginning in 1806. The land that he came to was mostly unbroken wilderness, crossed by two Indian trials. The only settlements in the area were the “Jersey settlement,” located to the west of Owl Creek (Lucerne), which was formed by the very first settlers in the township who were from New Jersey; and small settlements at Clinton and Mount Vernon to the south.
In November 1807 Kerr laid out a town on the bluff by the west bank of the east fork of Owl Creek. William Y. Farquhar, another of the group of Friends, surveyed and platted the town, and gave it the name Fredericktown in honor of his home in Frederick, Maryland. He erected the first cabin in the Village. Kerr also built his cabin in the town and others followed. Kerr had the foresight to purchase an additional 450 acres from Sullivant and the village grew as land-hungry settlers arrived from the east. Knox County, which was established in 1808, was located in the Western Reserve so many settlers had served in the Revolutionary War and received warrants to settle this area.
The village grew steadily through three decades. In 1850 the railroad came to town and the town incorporated. A volunteer fire company was organized. Our school system flourished from its beginning as early as 1812.
The Fredericktown Historical Society Museum has preserved much of the community’s heritage, including the building in which it is housed. The building was built in 1828 and served for many years as the United Methodist Church, and later the community’s public library. The museum houses a significant collection of historic items that tell the history of the town and its people.