||HISTORY OF LOWER SCIOTO VALLEY
Kay L. Mason
Agricultural Resources of Scioto County-Her Railroads and Population. Introductory-Agriculture-Township and County Finances-Melange-Progress- Township and Changes-Court House and Turnpike-Fine-Grained Sand Rock-An Act for Altering the Boundary Line Between Scioto and Gallia Counties-An Act of Altering the Boundary Line Between Scioto and Gallia Counties-An Act to Erect the County of Lawrence-Act to Attach Part of Lawrence County to Scioto County-The Loss of the County Records-The Townships-Water Supply- Mineral Resources-Iron Ore Deposits-Bituminous Coal-Boundaries of the Coal Fields From 1814-Valuation-Population of Scioto County, Area 640 Square Miles- Population Since 1840- Scioto and Hocking Valley Railroad-Portsmouth Branch of the M. & O. R.R-Scioto Valley Railroad-Cincinnati & Eastern Railroad- Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad. [Text Version]
Her Railroads and Population
The resources of Scioto County are varied and their full development brings wealth, contentment, health and happiness. The soil in the valley is of exceeding richness, its alluvial qualities reaching several feet below the surface, while in other places the eroding of the hills forming gulches finds the soil of the valley enriched by these washings. Streams of running water and timber of almost every variety, yet somewhat limited in supply; many square miles of coal field, and beds of iron ore, unlimited in its productive capacity; lands undulating here and there, and again hilly, making vast ranges for stock; quarries of freestone fit for the walls of a palace; all these things make the resources of Scioto County a fruitful theme, which, to but give it a partial justice, would fill many pages of history. It is the home of the succulent grasses; cereals and vegetables are everywhere productive, and with them as a ground work of solid ingredients, it gives it a prominence as a stock-raising and dairy country. The latter would certainly flourish here, the equal of any county in the State or country.
There are few States in the Union that have so great a variety of soil, so salubrious a climate, are so rich in agricultural and mineral resources, as well adapted to stock, or as healthy a climate for man as Ohio.
In all that constitutes wealth, refinement and culture, in the luxuries of life and in her schools and churches, she has no superior. It is her great educational facilities and her numerous railroads and waterways, which give her a pre-eminent stand over both Eastern and Western neighbors. She equals the East in all the luxuries of life, of social ties and advancements, and living at less then two-thirds the cost. She surpasses the West and the borders of civilization in everything that constitutes a comfortable home, the necessaries and luxuries of life, and all this without going into the confines of savage life and enduring the hardships and privations of pioneer life. One and all of these advantages may be found in Scioto County, and it is these inducements of wealth, happiness and prosperity which give the people faith in the future.
Who stands in so enviable a position as the owners of soil and the producers of bread? They feed the teeming millions of our population; they supply their most pressing wants. Agriculture is the basis of all our material relations. More than one-half of the population of our country is engaged in tilling the soil, and over three-fifths of the permanent wealth of the country is in their hands. The prosperity of the country is based upon the prosperity of the owners and tillers of the soil. Truly, then, is agriculture the mother of all arts, the foundation and basis of every other calling.
Agriculture, like every other art, must be educated. We educate for the law, we educate for medicine, we educate for war-for war upon the land and war upon the sea. We educate for all arts and sciences save, but in a limited degree, that art or science which is the noblest of them all, and upon which all other arts and sciences depend.
The cultivation of the soil was the first and is the most enobling of all callings. When the first happy pair were created they were placed in a garden, the most delightful spot upon earth; their physical employment was its cultivation, their mental exercise to admire and adorn the wisdom and goodness of God, that appeared in every shrub and plant that flourished throughout the garden. In this department of labor the whole realm of truth is spread out before us, and invites our inquiry and investigation. The composition of soils, the laws that govern vegetable life, are wide and pleasant fields for the exercise of the mind, and while contemplating and studying Nature's laws, the mind takes a pleasing transit from Nature's works up to Nature's God
The principal crops grown in the county are wheat, corn and hay. In stock hogs rank first; then cattle, sheep, horses and mules, in the order named. As a sheep county, Scioto ought to rank high, but does not, in numbers; in fact, sheep industry has not grown much in favor of the farmers of the county.
Early agricultural statistics are not so valuable, as the crops at first raised were but little beyond the wants of the people. Small towns consumed but little, and transportation was confined to wagons on land and flat-boats on the Scioto and Ohio, but the price for grain in early days did not warrant extensive crops.
In 1842 Scioto County had 2,989 horses, valued at $119,560; 5,067 cattle, valued at $40,536. This was not a large stock. It was in this decade that the iron and coal interests reached its greatest aggregate of output, the year 1846 being the greatest. The assessor's returns of 1853 showed a healthy return to the agriculturist, and that of 1854 gives the number of stock in the county. The crop, by townships, is here given:
It had taken twelve years to increase horses fifty per cent and cattle about 100 per cent. From this time on, the increase in stock and cereals was steady up to 1870; the report is given below. The increase about kept pace with the population, and as more land was put under cultivation, and the farming population increased, of course the yield, in the aggregate became greater. The mining and iron interest did not, however, flag, but a large part of the working force of the county were engaged in the mining of coal and iron ore and at work in the furnaces.
There was a halt in both during the civil war, and it took a few years to recover from the disastrous effect of that desperate struggle, and the returns of 1870 show about the first evidence of a return to that condition and activity in which the war found it. The following is the agricultural and stock product of Scioto County:
There are but few vineyards in Scioto County, and the cultivation of the grape has not become general. The soil and the hillsides are well adapted to the raising of some varieties of the grape, the Concord being the leading grape grown, and considered the hardiest, and less liable to mildew. The Alvira is little grown and but little known, but for wine it is considered superior to the Norton's Virginia or the Martha. There is no mistaking the quality of the wine it produces, both in body and flavor. It is not as prolific in its yield, or can be said to be as hardy, but the Concord does not make a rich wine. It is lighter in body, and lacks the delicate flavor which gives to the Norton's Virginia, Alvira and Martha their chief attributes, and calls forth high praise. The Catawba is a grape that was cultivated many years, but it is light in yield and light in body in the quality of its wine.
The Concord for light wine is the superior of any grown, when yield and quality is considered. This is meant in the nature of a common wine. The Herbemont is also cultivated to some extent, and has yielded a very heavy crop, about eight hundred gallons to the acre. Among the varieties promising well, but which are as yet not extensively cultivated, are the Cunningham, Clinton, Hartford Prolific, Taylor, Cynthiana, Martha, North Carolina Seedling, Roger's Hybrid, No. 1, and last, though not least, the Alvira. The average value of Catawba wine is $1.50; Norton's Virginia wine, $4; Concord wine, $2.50; Herbemont wine, $3. These are the comparative prices in accordance with their quality, and are nearly correct. In a comparison of the wine made from the Alvira and Norton's Virginia the preference was given by good judges to the former. Still there is but little difference, and the latter gives a greater yield per acre.
There is no doubt but the grape finds here its natural home, and will produce unrivaled yields, and while at this time the Concord is the favorite, from its hardy nature and sure returns, other varieties will doubtless find favor as vineyards increase, and a taste for superior vintage becomes more widespread and desirable.
Scioto County is a natural county for fruit of all kinds and of berries. Apples, peaches, pears and plums grow luxuriantly. The plum is not cultivated but the climate is suited for it. Apples are plentiful, and there are many extensive orchards in the county. Peaches are not so certain a crop yet they do well, and when the seasons are favorable they yield a bountiful harvest. Pears thrive well. Berries grow anywhere, and are in large quantities, both wild and cultivated. The only limit to the production is that of planting; the soil and climate are here.
Going back to the early or pioneer days of Scioto County, the first tax found of record was in 1814, the total taxation that year being $176.55 5. When that amount of less than $200 is looked at, the tax duplicate of 1883 placed before the reader, he will see progress written in mammoth letters all over it. Progress in wealth, progress in expenses and progress in increased taxation. It is all progress.
Many years later, or in the year 1823, taxation had increased to the sum of $1,399.77 9. This was the total taxation of the eleven townships in the county, and the tax each paid that year is given below. Comparing this tax by townships of later years will be found interesting.
From 1823 to 1830 the increase was also pretty fast. The nine years had increased about
800 per cent, and the seven nearly 400 per cent, but the amount looked larger. The
amount being for 1835, $5,218.92. The next taxation of interest was in 1842. The tax
collected that year was $20,217.44. In 1837 the expenses of the county exceeded the
county tax by $532.02, or the county proper ran in debt that much. The ratio here in
twelve years did not exceed that of the seven years before, or hardly as much. It was in
the year 1842 that the records showed a gross assessed valuation of personal and real
property of $1,121,245, and this was the sum on which the above tax was collected. Jan.
1, 1843, the returns of the assessors of Scioto County showed 155,263 acres of taxable
land, valued, including buildings and improvements, at $521,289-a fraction over $3.35
per acre for improvements and all.
The town lots were valued at $332, 011, over half as much as all the r____ the land in
the county, thus lightening the tax of the farmer at the expense of the people of the towns.
There was another pretty heavy advance in taxation the next twelve years.
The amount and how it was disposed of is here annexed:
The town lots were valued at $332, 011, over half as much as all the r____ the land in the county, thus lightening the tax of the farmer at the expense of the people of the towns. There was another pretty heavy advance in taxation the next twelve years.
The amount and how it was disposed of is here annexed:
The tax collected for the fiscal year 1854 amounted to $60,179.52, as against
the above tax of the year before of $71,203.17. This was a considerable falling off.
The valuation of 1845 was $1,226,853; of 1848, $1,719,448, and of 1854, $6,876,320, a gain of over $5,000,000 in nine years, but in 1861 the taxable valuation of personal property was alone $2,228,643, but it did not reach the valuation of 1857.
Valuation of 1870: Real, $4,899,272; personal, $4,937,562; total, $9,836,834. Valuation of 1875: Real, $6,750,009; personal, $5,273,174; total, $12,023,183. Valuation of 1880: Real, $6,575,348; personal, $4,057,416; total, $10,632,764.
Scioto County has 369,794 acres of land on the tax duplicate and this was valued in 1882 at $4,132,310; in towns, villages and cities town lots valuations, $2,503,570; value of personal or chattel property, $4,172,867; grand duplicate of 1882, $10,808,747.
This is quite a reduction from the assessed valuation of 1875, but exceeds that of 1870 by nearly $1,000,000. There is no less property than in the former years, in reality there is considerably more, but the assessed valuation is made lower. Financially speaking Scioto County is in a good situation. Her total debt, Jan. 1, 1884, is but $183,000, which has ten years yet to run, that is the last payment comes due in 1893. One hundred and fifty thousand dollars of this debt draws eight per cent interest, and $33,000, six per cent. Taxation grows lighter every year. The school districts of the county carry a small debt, and also Portsmouth City. Outside them, of the debt of the county proper, there was owning, Jan. 1, 1883, the following debt:
Township debts, $1,778.50; cities and villages, $265,800.00; school districts, $25,971.00; total, $303,549.50; add county debt January, 1884, $183,000, and we have a total of $486,549.50
The above is the financial condition of the county at the dates named. The city has felt the incubus of its debt, but it should not weigh a moment against it. There are hundreds of cities in the State with a less taxable pay roll that has much larger debt.
Scioto County having been organized in 1803, the first census was in 1810. The population is given for the county the first three decades, and then by townships that the growth of each can be compared and their progress ascertained. It will show also what part of the county has gained the most rapidly:
Population of the county in 1810, 3,399; in 1820, 5,750; in 1830, 8,740.
Was organized in the year 1849. The route or line upon which it was to be built was from Portsmouth, on the Ohio River, to Newark, Licking Co., Ohio, passing through the counties of Scioto, Jackson, Vinton, Hocking, Perry and Licking, and just touching the northern corner of Lawrence County. Work was commenced in 1850, and Aug. 15, 1853, it had reached Jackson C. H. in Jackson County. There was not any certainty of its being carried further north than Jackson unless the people could be aroused in Vinton County and to the north of her, and the friends of the road went to work in these counties.
Sept. 2, 1852, the largest railroad meeting ever held in the Hocking Valley came off at Logan. A grand barbecue was given, and the air fairly shook with railroad eloquence. It was a memorable day in the history of Hocking County. The line of route was from Portmouth, on the Ohio River, running to Jackson, in Jackson County, through McArthurstown, in Vinton County, Logan in Hocking, to Somerset in Perry County, thence to Newark, Licking Co., Ohio, as its terminus. It was computed that 5,000 people were in attendance that day, coming from Jackson on the south to Newark on the north. Perry County turned out the banner delegation, being over a half mile long, accompanied by a band of music. The people of Logan and surrounding country were awakened at sunrise by a Federal salute. Up to that time it was the largest railroad meeting ever held in that State, and few since have exceeded it. It was decided that Perry County should raise $150,000, Hocking County $80,000, and Vinton County $50,000.
This action of the people strengthened the enterprise, and reached Jackson the following year, or 1853. On its arrival there work ceased for some twelve months so far as laying any rails was concerned, but the grading was completed to Somerset, in Perry County, with the exception of a tunnel at Maxwell and a heavy cut at Union Furnace. After a twelve months' rest work was again commenced, and the rails were laid to the hamlet of Hamden, and there formed a junction with the Marietta & Cincinnati Railroad. Then there was another cessation of work, and an attempt to negotiate the sale of their bond being a failure, and therefore meeting with financial embarrassment, there was a collapse; the road bed and right of way having been mortgaged, the same was foreclosed and the whole forfeited to the land owners. The most of the stock was held by persons living along the line of the contemplated road. This ended that project and a calm settled over the valley.
The portion of the road completed south and southwest from Hamden Junction to Portsmouth went into the hands of a receiver in the year 1858, who operated it under the order of the court until the road was sold, May 23, 1863. The purchase of the road entire, with all its equipments, was made by T. J. Snead, Isaac Hartshorn, and Earl P. Mason, of Providence, R. I., as Trustees in behalf of the second bond-holders, for $411,100, the purchasers agreeing with the holders of the first mortgage bonds to assume their payment. That year a reorganization of the company was effected under the name of the Portsmouth & Newark Railroad Company. The new company at once took steps to dispose of the property, the reorganization of the company probably being to accomplish its sale. The Marietta & Cincinnati Railway Company became its purchaser, and it was operated by that company under the name of the Portsmouth Branch of the M. & C. R. R. This continued until Jan. 1, 1883, when the entire road, of which it was a branch, was reorganized under the name of the Cincinnati, Washington & Baltimore Railroad, and is the property of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company. The officers of the road are: Orlando Smith, President; Manager, J. H. Stewart; Master of Transportation, Jno. E. Rose. Their depot buildings were burned in 1866. Since then they have used temporary structures. Wm. C. Draper has been the General Agent of the company at Portsmouth since 1858.
The road takes a northeasterly course from Portsmouth until it reaches the center of Jackson County, and then a general course north to its junction at Hamden, on the edge of Vinton County. Two passenger trains are run each way daily and one freight train each way, the latter, however, often being supplemented by one extra train, and sometimes two.
The distance to Hamden is fifty-six miles, and between Portsmouth and that point it passes through the great mineral belt, wherein are some twenty-five furnaces and a score or more of heavy coal operators.
This road was one of the earliest roads promulgated in the county. In fact, Nature had made a valley rich in agricultural elements and level in its topographical features for a great commercial highway, and the most remarkable part of the building of this road was the fact that while Nature had made it so conspicuously a route for the iron horse, that nearly thirty years elapsed from its first attempt before the road became an actual fact.
In the summer and fall of 1848 the subject of building a railroad down the valley of the Scioto River took shape, and Feb. 20, 1849, a charter was obtained for the Scioto & Hocking Valley Railroad. Work at once commenced to raise subscriptions for the road, and Scioto and Pike counties stepped proudly to the front and cut their own throats. Pike County refused by 280 majority to have anything to do with it, and Scioto defeated it by seven votes. The route for the road, according to the charter, was from Newark, in Licking County, to Portsmouth, on the Ohio River, via Lancaster, Chillicothe and Piketon. August, 1849, was to have been the time of commencing work. Portsmouth, however, was anxious for the road, and willing to do her part, but was not strong enough to carry the county. She stepped to the front with a city subscription by the council of $100,000, and $28,000 was subscribed by her capitalists and business men. The route was changed, and while Portsmouth preferred the Scioto Valley route, she wanted a railroad and kept her faith. The route was changed by the Legislature the next winter to a route via Webster, Jackson, Hamden, McArthur, etc., Mar. 11, 1853. After being completed to Jackson, the road was mortgaged for $1,000,000, seven per cent interest, and with this money the road was completed to Hamden Junction, connecting with the Marietta & Cincinnati Railroad. The road from Portsmouth to Jackson cost only $19,500 per mile. The iron was purchased to be laid down on the landing at Portsmouth for $70 per ton. The intention was to take it to McArthur, Logan, and to its terminal point, Newark, but it failed. In the meantime the real Scioto Valley road lay slumbering as if death would become a certainty. But a revival took place near the close of the late war, and a contract was actually let for the road between Columbus and Chillicothe for grading, Aug. 7, 1865, and then another collapse. In April, 1869, this important work again received attention, and a meeting was held with the Board of Directors of the Cleveland & Columbus Railroad to have them take hold of it as a feeder to their road, and W. A. Hutchins was assured that the matter would be looked into. That ended that project, and the next move was to build the road. A Michigan railroad company was organized to build a railroad north and south right through the State of Ohio. This road was called the Lake Shore, Columbus & Portsmouth Railroad. They in reality brought life and final success to the Scioto Valley Railroad. They secured a charter, which was filed July 22, 1870, shares, $50 each, and capital stock, $2,500,00. The route south of Columbus was to run through the counties of Franklin, Pickaway, Ross, Pike and Scioto. In the meantime, or on July 20, 1870, a large railroad meeting was held at Portsmouth to look after the building of the Cincinnati, Chesapeake & Chicago, via Ironton, Portsmouth, etc., and a railroad fever began to assume a violence that looked as if it might culminate into something of a tangible nature. The Michigan company pushed things, and a vote for a subscription to this road was sprung in the four lower counties- Scioto, Pike, Ross and Pickaway. Scioto was now awake, and the folly of twenty years before was not re-enacted. She came to work with a vote of 3,472 for the subscription, and only 603 against it. Ross and Pike also voted in favor, but Pickaway gave it a defeat. The vote in Scioto was taken July 13, 1872. Portsmouth itself was on a boom. The year 1872 showed building improvements to the amount of $264,649, boat-building, $28,100. In 1873 he work of securing the right of way was going on, and it 1874 Portsmouth raised a private subscription of $130,000; $12,200 of this was raised in Clay Township, and about $1,000 in other townships by private subscription. The Gaylor Rolling Mill gave a subscription of $5,000.
Here was something tangible to go on, and the original incorporators of the Scioto Valley Railroad Company began to think it was time for them to wake up. If a foreign company could do so much why couldn't they? After $116,000 was subscribed in Portsmouth and vicinity, and all along the line the people had fallen into the scheme, then the Scioto Valley Company requested to have these subscriptions turned over to them, as the north end of the Michigan scheme could not get through. So the company was reorganized, and May 13, 1875, T. Ewing was elected President, and the following subscriptions asked for: Franklin, $150,000; Pickaway, $75,000; Ross, $100,000; Pike, $50,000, and Scioto, $125,000-a total of $500,000. George D. Chapman came forward and proclaimed his willingness to build the road if that half million dollars was raised and pledged to him. That was promised, and the beginning of the end became a fact. In August, 1875, the grading was let between Chillicothe and Columbus. In July, 1875, there was still $58,000 of the half million dollars subscription lacking, but Scioto put her shoulder to the wheel, determined to carry it through. The engineers were in the field below Chillicothe, and work must continue. June, 1876, the road was located to Waverly, and there crossing the river came down on the east side. From that time on, although money was hard to raise, the road continued to progress, and by October, 1877, the track was laid. Oct. 13, 1877, a construction train, the first that passed up the road, ran as far as Piketon and returned, having a delegation from Portsmouth about. On Sunday, at 3 P. M., the last spike was driven in the Scioto Valley Railroad, nine miles south of Chillicothe, and the capital of the State and the beautiful city on the bank of the La Belle Riviere were united by an iron band, and the long and anxiously looked for road was at last an accomplished fact. Had it been built twenty years sooner Portsmouth no doubt at this day would have had fifty per cent more population. Other roads were built, and the highway of travel taken from the river, and she became only a by-way. The first regular train started in January, 1878, and an excursion train to Columbus left Portsmouth, Dec. 28, 1877, and returned. Columbus gave them a hearty welcome, and the two cities "smiled" in unison. The road is an accomplished fact, yet Portsmouth has not felt the inspiration necessary to give her a great boom, but other roads are coming, and her fortune is one that has "progress" written all over it.
This road was incorporated Jan. 11, 1876, under the name of the Cincinnati, Batavia & Williamsburg Railroad Company-the road to run from the former city to the town of Williamsburg, in Clermont County-with a capital stock of $200,000. May 10, 1876, the capital stock was increased to $500,000, and the terminus was changed from Williamsburg to Portsmouth, May 16, 1876. Then May 24, 1876, the name was changed from that first given to the Cincinnati & Eastern Railroad Company. A branch was also chartered to New Richmond, Ohio, by an amendment to its charter Dec. 12, 1876. Feb. 21, 1877, the road was completed to Williamsburg. It reached Winchester, Adams County, in the August following, and extended its eastern terminus from Batavia toward Cincinnati, five miles. Under a temporary lease without rental, it operated the Columbus & Maysville Road.
An effort was made to get this road by the way of Portsmouth, and a company was formed and incorporated March 4, 1879, called the Chesapeake & Cincinnati Railroad. Then there was the Chesapeake & Chicago Railroad, which was to run southeast through Highland County to Piketon and then down the valley to Portsmouth, while another route was to cut the angel and go from Piketon to Ironton direct. Then there was the Ironton, Portsmouth & Cincinnati Road, incorporated in 1870, which, had it succeeded, would have put an end to the Cincinnati & Eastern. Other projects have been started, and Portsmouth and Scioto County have had many railroads on paper, of which three full-grown roads will soon be the result.