Lithopolis was founded in 1814 by Frederick Baugher. Originally called Centerville, the name was changed to Lithopolis because of the existence of a Lithopolois freestone quarry in the ravine behind the Wagnalls Memorial.
Located midway between Columbus and Lancaster and during the early 1800's, merchants, and hotel and saloon owners thrived on the business provided by the stagecoach passengers making the day trip between these two towns.
In addition highly skilled craftsmen of German descent lived and worked in Lithopolis. The Jungkurth family was one of those. They were stonecutters and polishers whose extraordinary Pennsylvania German designs of hearts, oak leaves, coffins decorated many of the tombstones around the county. Their boldly signed stones have stood the test of time.
The most notable citizens of Lithopolis were Hester Anna Willis and Adam Wagnalls. Both born and reared in Lithopolis (Adam only until the age of 5), they are the reason for the present Wagnalls Memorial. Adam was the co-founder of the Funk & Wagnalls Publishing Company, publisher of the Funk & Wagnalls Dictionary, and Encyclopedia, and the Literary Digest. Anna and Adam did not know each other as children, but met many years later after Anna graduated from Xenia Female College. They married and had one child; their daughter, Mabel. Mabel was not born in Lithopolis (she was born in Kansas City), but with her parents, maintained ties to the village through visits with her grandmother and friends. It was her mother's dream "to do something for the little village which had never had anything done for it" and to provide opportunities not available to her as a child. After her mother's death in 1914, Mabel and her husband, Richard Jones, fulfilled her mother's dream - Wagnalls Memorial.
The Memorial stuns first-time visitors to Lithopolis. It takes awhile to accept this improbable location for a beautiful Tudor-Gothic structure. The original building in the complex was dedicated on May 30, 1925. It was built to accommodate a library and community center, a place where residents of Lithopolis and Bloom Township could gather for social and educational events, as well as to gain knowledge in the cultural arts.
Excerpts of Jo Riegel's Lithopolis... City of Stone