It is said that the winter of 1867-1868 was a uniformly cold one, though a late season snowstorm wreaked havoc on the eastern part of the country.
It was during that winter that a man arrived in Mansfield and checked in at the Wiler House hotel. The establishment was frequented by travelers arriving via coach in the city. It had been established about 1820 at the corner of North Main Street and Dickson Avenue, not far from the current Richland Carrousel Park.
When registering, the man put down the name “Ralph Waldo Emerson” in the guest registry. From that time on, it has been claimed that that man was THE famous lecturer, essayist, and poet, perhaps best known for development of the philosophy of transcendentalism. More about his rich life and career can be found here.
A newspaper account of his time in Mansfield does not survive, but it is entirely possible that he was speaking here. In his lifetime, he gave over 1,500 public lectures across the country. His first visit to the Buckeye State was to Cincinnati in 1850.
It is also known that Emerson was in Ohio that year. He would have been 64 and was in somewhat declining health, although he would not pass away until 1882.
The visit of the great man was in an account given by local historic Virgil Stanfield in the 1970s in the pages of the Mansfield News Journal.
Emerson’s apparent stop in Mansfield would have been completely unnoticed by history except for that signature which a Mansfield book dealer ran across in the 1950s.
The Wiler House was a favorite and certainly “up to snuff.” After all, millionaire John D. Rockefeller was spent the night within its walls.
Sources: Mansfield Herald, The Sherman Room Blog, Wikipedia