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The Beginning of the Border Battle
An Ohio-Michigan war was raging in Sylvania, long before football came to town

For all you Buckeye and Wolverine fans, here's a juicy tidbit that you may not have heard before (but you're going to love!) from the Spirited Side of Sylvania.  And notice the very important date to get on the calendar too.

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In the early 1800s, Sylvania, Ohio was founded by Judge William Wilson and General David White.  The two men became bitter rivals in life, and maybe also in death.


Wilson owned a bar in Sylvania and enthusiastically served Sylvanians with alcohol; White was an activist in the Temperance Movement and fought hard to ban alcohol.  In the Ohio-Michigan War, White advocated for Sylvania to become part of Michigan; Wilson was relentless in striving to keep Sylvania on Ohio's side.  Wilson ultimately won, in everything, even victorious in getting the railroad to be built on his side of town.

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The enmity between the two men grew until, like an earthquake at the crack of doom, Sylvania was split down the middle. The town's Main Street was named Division Street, separating the two rivals, and White slunk gloomily to his corner of town, now known as Whiteford, Michigan.  


Today, Division Street has been renamed Main Street, and the war of Wilson and White has faded into the past.


One can only wonder, though, if their war for superiority rages on, their eternal wrath reaching out to the living for new soldiers to join in the fight...Because in a strange twist of fate, their split still is still echoed--and celebrated--in November every year.


Flags are raised with raucous roars of "Ohio!" and "Michigan!" by football devotees across Sylvania-- on game day, in the ultimate Border Battle, when Ohio State plays against Michigan.  And while the flag-waving fans may be unwitting soldiers in the saga of Wilson vs. White, these fans pursue victory with such fervor and zeal as to make even Sylvania's co-founders proud.


The football rivalry simply named "The Game," that began in 1897, fifty years after Wilson and White died, continues this year on Saturday, November 27, 2021.  Get your flag ready early, it's going to be a good one.

Read more about the Spirited Side of Sylvania, and all of Ohio, in the new book Haunted Sylvania, now available here and also at Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, and wherever great books can be found.

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Judge William Wilson's gravesite at Sylvania's Association Cemetery on Halloween night. General David White's grave is nearby.