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Community History

About Carey, Ohio

The Village of Carey, Ohio, was conceived when the town’s namesake, John Carey, a businessman who would  become a member of the Ohio General Assembly and the United States House of Representatives, became an advocate for the construction of a railroad to ship goods between Lake Erie and the Ohio River.

The Mad River and Lake Erie became the first railroad charter “west of the Allegheny Mountains” and eventually that rail line would pass through the center of the town of Carey and John Carey would be the company’s president.  A depot – now used as Carey’s senior citizen center – marks the former location of the tracks.

According to a biography of John Carey, written by Muriel Kinney, his granddaughter, Carey deeded 80 acres of ground that he owned and accepted railroad stock as payment. A town was laid out of that land in 1843 by R.M. Shuler and W.M. Buell and named Carey. The railroad company then sold lots on the land for much-needed cash. The village was incorporated in 1858.

John Carey had lobbied Congress for the railroad in 1831. According to the Bellevue Railroad Museum, the Mad River and Lake Erie company bought its first engine, named “Sandusky,” in 1837 and  made its initial journey, a 16-mile trip from Sandusky to Bellevue, pulling a small passenger car and a freight car. The line stretched to Republic by 1839; to Tiffin by 1842 and through Carey and on to Kenton by 1843. By June 1849 the line had reached Springfield.

Other rail lines followed, making Carey a busy railroad town. A small section of the old Mad River and Lake Erie railroad is still in operation, serving the Carey companies of Stoneco and National Lime and Stone Co., and carries cars for the Wheeling & Lake Erie and CSX railroad. The only one main railroad through Carey is now under the ownership of CSX.

The first business in the town was a hotel, erected by John Houck in 1843.  Buell erected a building for a general store and by 1845 there were several such stores. Among these early merchants were R.W. Reed, D.M. Carey, H.J. Starr and David Straw.

Waterworks in 1894. Electric in 1897
The town continued to grow and other businesses were established. The Carey Times was first published in 1873. The Peoples Bank was started in 1886. The first school had been erected in 1843 and a number of churches were soon organized. In 1894 a waterworks system was installed and in 1897 the city installed an electric plant, combining it with the waterworks. Carey’s water comes from three wells and the village owns its own electrical distribution system.

Quick facts
• Carey’s first high school commencement ceremony was held at the Town Hall in 1886, with seven students graduating.

• Carey’s public library, Dorcas Carey Public Library,  was dedicated on Oct. 19, 1906, and was expanded in 1976 and 1987. Dorcas was the wife of John Carey.

• Carey is noted for being the home of the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation, to which thousands make annual religious pilgrimages. The original Shrine Church was built in 1867 and is still in use. Construction of the basilica began in 1904 and the 30-acre Shrine Park, site of an outdoor alter and stations of the cross was opened in the 1920s.

• Carey has the mayor-council form of government with a mayor, village administrator and six council members. For more information, see the Village of Carey link ( on this website.

• The village has its own full-time police department and a volunteer fire department and EMS. A new safety building was built in 2008 and a downtown Findlay Street renovation was completed in 2008 with the Vance Street work to follow.

• Carey got its first post office in 1868 and has had 15 postmasters since that time. The town got telephone service in 1897 and could dial in 1954. Verizon now services Carey’s 396 exchange.

• National Lime and Stone Co. is Carey’s oldest industry, having been a part of the community since 1903. The Carey Times is the oldest business, having started in 1873, and Frederick’s IGA is the oldest family-owned business. It has been in the Frederick family since June 1894. There has been a hardware store at the corner of N. Vance and E. Findlay streets since 1894. Now called Houk Hardware, it was originally  Joseph Naus Hardware. A pharmacy has existed on the other side of the street since 1866. The eastern part of Harry’s Pharmacy was originally owned by David Harpster.

Carey is located in Crawford Township in the northwest part of Wyandot County, which is in the northwest portion of the state. The village had 3,901 residents at the time of the 2000 census.

To purchase a full-color book on Carey’s history, see our advertising on the home page