The little village of Walnut Creek sits proudly on a hill, overlooking a scenic valley that once boasted tall buffalo grass and straight walnut trees. John Schrock laid out the town in 1827 and named it New Carlisle.
In 1840, when the town applied for a post office, its name was refused because a town of that name already existed. The village then changed its name to Walnut Creek. However, the original name has not completely disappeared. Some old timers still allude to the town as Carlisle, as do local businesses such as Carlisle Village Inn and Carlisle Printing.
The town’s east and west street is named Pump Street, so called because a pump and watering trough once stood on the town square and watered all who were thirsty. The east and west street is named Walnut Creek Street.
Trees were once scare in Walnut Creek, except for the walnut groves that grew near the valley’s meandering creek. Those walnut trees were the desired wood for building cabins. A mature tree hewed well and did not need sawing. Walnut was also resistant to rot.
Jonas Stutzman, a somewhat eccentric Amish man, was the first white person to come to the clearing in the valley and the first permanent settler in eastern Holmes County. He began building his house in the fall of 1809. During construction he walked between the Walnut Creek valley and Sugarcreek, six miles away, where he stayed with his aunt.
On May 6, 1810, four Amish families from Pennsylvania came to the fertile valley and saw it as a great place to raise their families. In the next three years, the valley swelled to over two dozen Amish families. They built a school house on the Jonas Stutzman farm in the summer of 1815, a first for the area.
One Amish man who moved to the area in those days was Solomon Hochstetler who had been accused of murdering his brother’s child. Though he maintained his innocence and not enough evidence existed to convict him, Solomon’s home community in Pennsylvania still rejected him. In despair he moved to Walnut Creek. Many years later, when Solomon was an old man, someone else confessed to committing the murder. The man who did it was seeking revenge, because he thought the child’s father was trying to discourage a girl he loved from seeing him.
In 1814, a settler could secure a quarter section of land in Walnut Creek with an $84 payment. After three annual payments, the buyer received a patent deed. Land prices have gone up considerably since then! Now dotted with farm buildings, the Walnut Creek valley is still a beautiful, productive place to live, as is the quaint village on top of the hill that goes by the same name.