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Goll Woods hosts Ohio Historical Marker Dedication on Nov. 17

Posted on 11/5/2018 by State Nature Preserves

ARCHBOLD, OH – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) invites the public to Goll Woods State Nature Preserve to attend an Ohio Historical Marker Dedication on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 1pm. The historical marker commemorates Goll Woods and early 19th century land surveyor, James Riley.

The ceremony will feature remarks by Andy Verhoff from the Ohio History Connection and Joe Fenicle from the Professional Land Surveyors of Ohio. Following the ceremony, a guided hike on the Bur Oak Trail will highlight the large trees of the preserve.

The historical marker is sponsored by the Northwest and Toledo chapters of the Professional Land Surveyors of Ohio.

In 1836, Peter Goll and family emigrated to America from France. The next year, Peter purchased the original 80 acres which later comprised Goll Woods State Nature Preserve. The farm prospered, eventually growing to more than 600 acres. Peter Goll and his descendants carefully guarded the “Big Woods” from timbering. Today the preserve is renowned for its large, old trees, some are more than 325 years old.

In the early 19th century, two deputy U.S. General Land Office surveyors traversed Goll Woods — Benjamin Hough in 1815 and Captain James Riley in 1821. Hough (1772-1819) established the Michigan Meridian in 1815 and was county and state office holder in Ohio.

Riley’s life was more tumultuous. He had previously captained the merchant ship Commerce, which wrecked off the Saharan coast in 1815. Riley and his crew were enslaved for four months until ransomed by British diplomat, William Willshire. In 1817, Riley published a famous account of his time in North Africa. By 1850, his book had 20 editions and President Abraham Lincoln credited Riley with influencing him.

After four years surveying northwest Ohio under Surveyor General Edward Tiffin, Riley returned to New York in 1826 and to the sea. While in Ohio, Riley founded the village Willshire, named for his rescuer.

To learn more about Goll Woods State Nature Preserve, please visit

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at