Laid out in 1816, Roscoe was originally named Caldersburgh after its founder James Calder. After going bankrupt, the Coshocton merchant moved across the Muskingum River to some land he had somehow managed to retain. Setting up a store and naming the place after himself, Calder reasoned that the rural farmers would much rather do business in Caldersburgh than pay the twenty-five cents for the ferry over to Coshocton. In 1830, two prominent citizens petitioned the state legislature to rename the village Roscoe in honor of William Roscoe, the famous English author and abolitionist of the time.
The transformation of Roscoe from a small, sleepy community into a thriving port along the Ohio and Erie Canal came with the arrival of the canal and the landing of the first canal boat, the Monticello, on August 21, 1830. The Ohio and Erie Canal, which provided cheap transportation for people and goods, granted great economic development for communities along the waterway. With its status as the fourth largest wheat port on the canal, Roscoe’s prosperity ignited a chain of businesses in the area, including a blacksmith, a cooperage, a hotel, a mill, and several stores. State Route 16, which runs parallel to Roscoe today, is the location of the original Ohio and Erie Canal bed.
Until the great flood of 1913, the canals continued to operate, but the coming of the railroads marked the passing of the canal heyday. Along with the demise of the canal industry came the decline of Roscoe's prosperity, and the once thriving canal port and its beautiful Greek Revival buildings rapidly deteriorated.
In 1960, the idea of historical restoration in Roscoe came to prominence at the presentation of the Canal Days mural the distinguished American artist Dean Cornwell painted for Coshocton's 1961 Sesquicentennial Celebration. Cornwell chose a robust 1850s canal scene from Roscoe Village as the subject of his mural. This beautiful 24-foot-by-8-foot mural hangs today in Bank One of Coshocton while a smaller reproduction graces the lobby of the Roscoe Village Visitor Center.
Fascinated and inspired by the painting, retired Coshocton industrialist Edward E. Montgomery, and his wife, Frances, purchased the 1840 Toll House in August of 1968, thus beginning the restoration of Historic Roscoe Village. Roscoe Village would be, as Mr. Montgomery stated, "a living museum so that people of the 20th century and beyond could enjoy a "step back in time" to the 19th century where aged brick buildings, costumed interpreters and quaint shops bring the Canal era back to life." Today, Roscoe Village is the result of more than 45 years of the combined efforts of the Montgomery Foundation and the Roscoe Village Foundation.