Historical Sketch of Columbiana County

Columbiana County is located on the eastern edge of Ohio and is bounded on the east by the State of Pennsylvania, on the south by the Ohio River and Jefferson and Carroll Counties, on the west by Carroll and Stark Counties, and on the north by Mahoning County. The county is irregular in shape, has a total area of 534 square miles, and is composed of 18 townships. About 20 miles of the county border upon the Ohio River, which drains most of the region through the various branches of Yellow Creek and Beaver River. A watershed passes through the western part of the county, with the result that the northwestern sections are drained into the Mahoning River, while the southwestern corner is drained by the Tuscarawas-Muskingum system. 

The surface of the county is varied. The glacial boundary runs through Columbiana centrally from east to west and touches the City of Lisbon. The surface of the northern part of the county was therefore molded to some extent by glacial action, while the southern part belongs to the unglaciated plateau, the topography being decidedly hilly and rugged. The level land of this latter section is found along the main ridges and large streams, and it is here that the highest and lowest elevations of the county are found; the highest, 1,447 feet in Madison township, and the lowest, 652 feet along the Ohio River in Yellow Creek township. In the northern glaciated sections the soil is very fertile and well suited to agriculture, but in the southern townships, where limestone soil prevails, it is less productive. However, this southern section is well adapted for pasturelands, fruit growing, and timber growth. 

The prevailing rocks nearest the surface are of the Pennsylvania formations consisting of shales, limestone, and sandstone, with intermingled layers of coal and commercially important clays. The average annual production of coal between 1920 and 1930 was 432,000 tons and of clay, 242,000 tons. Columbiana is not one of the important coal producing counties, but coal has been mined and used locally for more than a century, Salineville being the center of this industry. One of the pioneer gas wells in the county was driven near East Liverpool in 1859, and this community was among the first to pipe natural gas for fuel and lighting purposes. From 1860 to 1921 about 1700 test wells were drilled, more than half of which were producers. In 1921 more than 500 wells were yielding oil or gas in commercial quantities although the total production was not comparable with that of more important gas and oil regions. 

The earliest inhabitants of the region included in Columbiana County were the prehistoric tribes known as the Mound Builders. However, owing to the rugged topographical nature of the county and the lack of important streams and valleys, there are few earthworks in this region. The most unusual existing records of these aborigines are the two petroglyphs, which were cut into the rocks bordering the Ohio River near the present town of Wellsville. These consist of crude figures of men, animals, serpents, and similar objects. Two mounds, on village site, three burials, and one cemetery also show that these tribes once inhabited the region. 

The principal historic Indian tribes in Columbiana were the Wyandots, Mingoes, and Delawares, The Wyandots had an encampment where the City of Salem now stands. Several important Indian trails ran through the county. The most traveled was the “Great Trail”, which came from the forks of the Ohio, entered Ohio through Middleton township, traversed Columbiana County to its southwestern corner, and ran west to Sandusky. 

No explorations of the region are positively known to have been undertaken before 1750, when Christopher Gist of the Ohio Company traveled through. A portion of the land proposed to be secured by the Ohio Company was in Columbiana County. From this time on more frequent visits to the territory are dependably recorded. In 1755 James Smith of Pennsylvania was captured by the Indians and as an adopted member of the tribe mad various trips through the region. In 1764 Colonel Henry Bouquet and his army, marching against Indians in the Tuscarawas-Muskingum Valley, passed through, using for his camp a site now known as Camp Bouquet in what is now Middleton Township. In October 1770 George Washington, while engaged in land examinations, camped about one mile above the present City of East Liverpool and to lighten his canoe concealed provisions at this point. In 1782 a party of frontiersmen pursued marauding Indians into Columbiana County; in a desperate struggle, Adam Poe killed the Indian leader Big Foot, in a hand-to-hand encounter, which is one of the most thrilling events in the frontier period of Ohio. 

Settlement of the county by large numbers of people awaited the extinction of Indian title, cession of state claims, and survey and sale of the lands. At Ft. Stanwix, in the fall of 1784, negotiations were conducted with the Iroquois, who surrendered their claims to the region north of the Ohio. In 1785 at Ft. McIntosh, the Wyandots, Delawares, Chippewas, and Ottawas ceded their claims to the greater part of Ohio. Four states, New York, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Connecticut had claims on the Northwest, but by 1786 these had been settled by cession to Congress. In some cases, however, certain reservations were made. All of the land included in present-day Columbiana County was under the jurisdiction of Congress and was surveyed in accordance with the Land Ordinance of 1785. While there was no reserved land in this region, Congress made one direct grant consisting of lands near the present City of Salem to a Samuel Smith. The actual work of surveying the Seven Ranges (the first rows of townships adjacent to Pennsylvania and Virginia) began in the fall of 1785, and by 1787, with some surveys completed, land sales were begun. The southern part of Columbiana County was included in the Seven Ranges and hence was among the first parts of Ohio to be surveyed. 

Settlers soon appeared in the region embraced in present-day Columbiana County. Many squatters built cabins at an early date, but the first permanent settlement was made in 1792 or 1793, by John Quinn, a hunter, who chose a site near the present Village of Calcutta in St. Clair Township. Another pioneer named Carpenter cleared a tract of land near the present Village of West Point in 1797, and is sometimes considered the first settler. It was a son of this Carpenter who, in the same year, killed an intoxicated Indian, Chief Whiteyes, in self-defense. Danger of an Indian uprising over this incident was averted only by the action of three wealthy landowners who paid $300 to the widow of the chief. This proved to be the last Indian danger that menaced these settlements.

By 1804, settlement had been undertaken in each of the regions soon to be classified as townships in Columbiana County. Cabins were built in St. Clair Township in 1792 or 1793; in Liverpool in 1795; in Yellow Creek in 1797 or 1798; in Fairfield, Elkrun, Middleton, and Butler in 1800; in Madison, Unity, Wayne, and Center in 1802; in Washington and Salem in 1803; in Franklin, Know, and West in 1804, and in Hanover and Perry in 1806. A great number of these early settlers were Friends from Pennsylvania, but there were also many Scotch-Irish, particularly in Madison Township. In 1880, however, about one-third of the population of Columbiana was of German origin. 

The rapid increase in population prompted the legislature on March 25, 1803, to pass the act organizing Columbiana County, a name chosen to honor both Columbus and Queen Anne. Several changes were made during later years in the boundaries of the county. In 1808, Wayne and Stark were attached temporarily until the organization of Star, and in 1809 Columbiana was diminished by the organization of Stark to which Wayne was attached. In 1833, Columbiana lost territory to Carroll and Jefferson Counties, and in 1846 to Mahoning County. New Lisbon (Lisbon) was made the county seat over the opposition of East Liverpool, the latter was defeated in the contest by a narrow majority, and thereby lost the support of wealthy Philadelphia landowners whose patronage was essential in the village. The first seat of government was the barn of Mathias Lower in Fairfield Township but in a short time the construction at Lisbon of a courthouse to cost $150 was authorized. 

Meanwhile, a number of villages had been platted and settled. Wellsville was founded in 1797 by William Wells, a Pennsylvanian, and former justice of the Northwest Territory. It was strategically located on the Ohio River and soon became an important shipping center. East Liverpool was founded in 1798 by Thomas Fawcett, an Irish-Quaker. It was at the outset a Quaker settlement but was gradually augmented by Dutch, German, Welsh, Scotch, and English pioneers. It was originally called St. Clair, then Fawcettstown, and finally, after 1821, became known as East Liverpool. Salem’s pioneer settlers and landowners were Samuel Davis and Elisha Schooley, the latter being a Virginian, who came to this region in 1801. In 1806, the village was platted by John Straughan and Zadok Street, taking its name from Salem, New Jersey. Many of the early settlers were Quakers, and Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland contributed to the population. 

Lisbon was settled and platted in 1803 by the Reverend Lewis Kinney, a Baptist minister, who called it New Lisbon. In 1895, the prefix “New” was dropped from the name. Columbiana was settled in 1802 and platted in 1805 by Joshua Dixon, but remained unimportant until the railroad era. East Palestine was platted in 1828 by Thomas McCalla and William Grate, and was called Mechanicsburg. In 1833 the name was changed to Palestine; later “East” was prefixed because there was another town in Ohio named Palestine. 

Many other villages were also settled and platted:  Middleton in 1801; Calcutta (originally Faulkstown) in 1802; East Fairfield in 1803; Damascus in 1808; Valley in 1809; Unity and New Garden in 1810; New Alexander in 1812; Hanoverton in 1813; Clarkson in 1816; Chambersburg in 1828; North Georgetown in 1830; Lynchburg, East Rochester, and Highlandtown in 1834; Guilford, Elkrun, Williamsport, and Dungannon in 1835; Salineville in 1839; Reading in 1840; Franklin Square in 1844; Washingtonville in 1848; New Waterford and Homeworth in 1851; Kensington, Glasgow, and Bayard in 1852; Moultrie, Summitville and Millport in 1852; Leetonia in 1867; Winona in 1868; and Rogers in 1883. 

In 1810, the population of Columbiana County was 10,878; in 1820, 22,033; in 1840, 40,378; in 1860, 32,836; in 1880, 48,602; and in 1900, 68,590. In 1837, this county was the second most populous in Ohio. By 1830, the population had increased to 86,484 persons of whom 91.6 per cent were native-born whites. There were a number of fairly large communities in 1940, of which the most populous were East Liverpool with 23,555 inhabitants, Salem with 12,301, Wellsville with 7,672, East Palestine with 5,123, Lisbon with 3,379, Columbiana with 2,687, Leetonia with 2,259, and Salineville with 2,018. Incorporated villages of Hanoverton, Rogers, Washingtonville, and New Waterford were considerably smaller. 

Agriculture was the principal industry during the early period of Columbiana County. In 1830, this county was second in Ohio in the production of wheat, raised more horses than any county west of the mountains and second only to Washington County, Pennsylvania, in sheep production. In 1849, Columbiana was the greatest wool producing section in Ohio, and was passed by only three or four counties in the nation; during the decade of the fifties, it retained its lead in this field. By 1850, the county was one of the leaders in agricultural development, producing in that year many pounds of flax, 50,000 pounds of maple sugar, 323,000 pounds of wool, 50,000 bushels of corn, 606,261 bushels of wheat, and meat products worth $121,000 as well as many other commodities. In 1841, an agricultural society was organized at Salem, and in 1842, the first fair was held. In 1846, the Columbiana County Agricultural Society was organized at New Lisbon. Christian Bowman, a farmer in Elkrun Township, became interested in fruit culture and in 1862, set out large orchards of apple trees. This industry rapidly gained impetus in the county. 

In 1930, there were 3,308 farms in Columbiana County, valued at $23,293,120 or about 19 percent of the grand tax duplicate of the state and producing crops worth $4,745,840 in 1929. About 76 per cent of the land of the county was in farms in 1930, and of this area, 50.5 per cent was tilled crops, 12.7 per cent was in woodlands, and 35.8 per cent was in pastures. In 1935, there were 11 products of the county’s farms, which passed the state averages in the amount of production, and of these the most increases were cattle, milk, grains, hay, eggs, horses, and vegetables. While 37 per cent of those farms were mortgaged in 1930, only 14.4 per cent of them were in the hands of tenants, a figure which had advanced to only 14.6 per cent by 1935, and still remained far below the state average. The total rural population of the county in 1930 was 35,957, but only 13.2 per cent of those gainfully employed were engaged in agriculture. 

The farmers of Columbiana County were fortunate in that they possessed excellent transportation facilities from the earliest years of settlement. This region was of easy access from Pennsylvania since the Ohio River for 20 miles served as the southern boundary of Columbiana, and the Little Beaver and Yellow Creeks were navigable by canoe or flatboat. County roads were built as early as 1803, and 1805, a state road was constructed from the mouth of the Little Beaver through Lisbon to Trumbull County. By 1810 there were several state roads loading from the river through the county to the north and northwest, and even before the development of steamboat traffic in 111, the landing places at Wellsville and East Liverpool accommodated a considerable amount of traffic. The shortest route from Lake Erie to the Ohio River was from Cleveland to Wellsville and the latter village was made a terminal for the daily stagecoach from Cleveland and Fairport. Two packets went from Wellsville to Pittsburgh, and a stage line operated from Ashtabula to Wheeling by way of Wellsville. 

With the increasing popularity of canals in Ohio in the 1830’s, the citizens of Columbiana planned to construct a canal, which would connect the upper Ohio with the main branch of the Ohio Canal, opened in 1832. This project, known as the Sandy and Beaver Canal, was built with capital raised largely in the counties immediately affected. The president of the company that undertook the construction work was Benjamin Hanna, grandfather of Marcus A. Hanna. This canal was 73 miles long, extending from Bolivar up the valley of the Little Sandy, and at Lisbon came into the valley of the Little Beaver, which it followed to its mouth on the Ohio. Construction work was begun near Lisbon in 1834, but it was nearly 12 years before a boat reached Lisbon from the Ohio. The middle section of the canal was never put into practical operation and the project proved to be a financial failure. An interesting engineering feature of the canal was that at one point it ran through a tunnel. 

The first railroad in the county was that which now forms the main line of the Pennsylvania system and which was in construction from Mansfield in 1849. This road was opened across Columbiana County from Pittsburgh west from Cleveland to Wellsville. By 1856, branches and extensions had been made, including the construction of a line from Bayard to Now Philadelphia, from Wellsville up the Ohio River to a connection with the main line of the Pennsylvania, and from Wellsville down the river to Bridgeport and Bellaire. In 1865, the Niles and New Lisbon Railroad was opened. In 1941, there were 3 railroad systems in the county:  The Pennsylvania, the Erie, and the Pittsburgh, New Lisbon and Western. There is also one electric line in operation. In all, over 1100 miles of highway had been constructed, 64 including 12 state routes and one United States route. 

Manufacturing in early Columbiana County was almost entirely for local consumption until about 1840, but there was a surprisingly large variety of industries. Thomas Fawcett built the first grist and flour mill near East Liverpool in 1798, and by 1833, there were 73 gristmills and more than 10 sawmills in the county. The first paper mill in Ohio, and the second west of the Allegheny Mountains, was erected in 1805 or 1806, on Little Beaver Creek by John Bever and John Coulter. In 1815, Robert Skillinger established a shipyard at Wellsville, and in 1809 an inquisitive Kentuckian, George J. by name, is believed to have bored the first salt well in the county, founding an industry that was of considerable importance for almost three decades. 

In 1807, Gideon Hughes, a Welsh-Quaker, built the first iron furnace in the county and one of the first in Ohio; it was situated one mile northwest of Lisbon on Beaver Creek. At first it produced only pig iron, but by 1817, was turning out wrought iron. In 1838, a foundry was established at East Liverpool, and in 1840, one in St. Clair Township. Salem, Columbiana, Wellsville and Leetonia followed closely. The grandfather of William McKinley opened a blast furnace at Lisbon. In 1836, a foundry was opened at Wellsville, which made steamboat machinery, but it later became known as the Stevenson Company and produced brick-making machinery. There were many other pioneer industries:  A powdermill at Lisbon in 1808; a tannery there in 1804 and a tinshop in 1810; cotton mills at Wellsville and Salem in 1814; a carding machine and woolen factory at Salem in 1825-27; and a number of breweries by 1830. 

Real industrial development, however, awaited the railroads. A stove plant was started at Salem in 1847, and the Buckeye Engine Works was established about 1852. In 1854, a factory was opened at Salem which later, as the Deming Company, became world famous for its pumps; and in 1872, a company was organized which later, as the Mullins Company, became a large manufacturer of bodies and parts for automobiles, motor boats and canoes. Other early industries in that city were a wire nail company in 1885, a china pottery in 1898, and a tool company in 1900. In 1874, the American Tin Plate Company, later a part of the United States Steel Corporation, was established at Wellsville. 

The most distinctive industries of the county, however, are the kilns and potteries. Although some pottery was manufactured prior to 1839, it was in that year that James Bennett, an English potter, came to East Liverpool and found in the native clays, a material which he regarded as suitable for the manufacture of “yellow ware”. With financial aid from local citizens, particularly from Anthony Kearns, he built a small plant in 1840. Two of his brothers came from England to assist him, and as a result of the efforts of the Bennett’s, Benjamin Harker, and others, East Liverpool had a well-justified reputation as a pottery center in a few years. In 1862, Congress aided the industry by placing a duty on pottery. The “yellow ware” was replaced by the newer “white ware” and “electrical porcelain”, and the industry steadily expanded the list of articles produced. Englishmen from Staffordshire were the pioneer potters, but Homer Laughlin, founder of the great chinaware industry that bears his name, was a native-born American. In 1926, there were 17 different pottery concerns, 10 electrical porcelain plants, and 5 factories manufacturing potters’ supplies in East Liverpool, besides many similar plants in other sections of the county. 

At present the list of goods manufactured in the county is a long one, including earthenware, potters’ supplies and machinery, electrical porcelain, bricks, sewer pipes, enameled ware and porcelain specialties, fireproofing material, gasoline tanks, engines, pumps, wire nails, automobile supplies and bodies, motor boats, farm implements, minors’ tools, electric washers and refrigerators, foundry products, boilers, barrels, leather goods, vanadium steel, rubber products, furniture, and machine shop products. In 1930, there were 161 establishments in Columbiana County, employing 8,760 workers, and producing goods valued at $40,798,996, of which pottery products constituted about $10,500,000 and foundry and machine shop manufacturers over $5,500.00. Of the total populations of 86,484, slightly over 31,800 were gainfully employed, 2,277 were unemployed, and 1,479 had jobs but were laid off without pay. Relief costs per capita in the county in 1934 were $9, in comparison with the state average of $9.22. 

To handle the increasing financial operations in the county, banks were established at an early date. Among the pioneers in this field were the Columbiana County Banks of New Lisbon, established in 1814, the Farmers’ National Bank of Salem in 1846, the McDonald Bank of Wellsville in 1848, the H. Greiner and Son Bank of Salem in 1853, the First National Bank of Salem in 1862, the Leetonia Banking Company in 1869, the Huff and Company Bank of East Liverpool in 1870, the East Liverpool Banking Company in 1873, and the Salineville Bank in 1873. The Farmers’ Bank at Salem was the victim of an attempt in 1854 to enforce the so-called “crow-bar” banking law, and the tax collectors opened the vaults by force in an effort to find revenues. 

Churches were also established throughout the county at a very early date. Numerically the Friends were the leading denomination and their earliest organizations ere in Fairfield and Middleton Townships in 1802, in Salem village in 1804, in Damascus in 1805, in Hanover Township in 1806, and in Elkrun, West, and Franklin Townships in 1810. Joshua Lynch and Catlett Jones were among their early leaders. There was a split in the ranks of the Quakers during the 1820’s, which resulted in many practical difficulties for the members of those groups. Pioneer Methodist organizations sprang up and meetings took place at Wellsville in 1799, at Lisbon in 1803, in Elkrun Township in 1814, in Middleton Township in 1815, and at East Liverpool in 1824. Robert Dobbins, John Callahan, James Caldwell, and Joshua Monroe were among the first Methodist ministers. Some of the earliest Presbyterian churches were those built in St. Clair Township and Wellsville in 1800, in Madison Township in 1802, and at Lisbon in 1806. Thomas Hughes, George Scott, and Cement Vallandigham (father of the famous Civil War Peace Democrat) were pioneer ministers of this faith. There was a Lutheran church in Unity Township in 1802, and one in Hanover Township in 1810 under Reverend John Stough. The Baptists started their first church in Middleton Township in 1804 under Reverend Henry Frazier; the Catholics held services in Dungannon as early as 1814; and Episcopal Church was opened at Salem in 1817; and the Disciple church was established in Hanover Township in 1820. 

In 1926, there were 40,059 church members in Columbiana County of whom 7,731 were Methodists, 6,539 were Roman Catholics, 6,410 were Presbyterians, and 2,032 were United Presbyterians. Smaller numbers belonged to several other denominations. 

The earliest schools in the county were of the tuition or subscription type, and such schools were opened in St. Clair and Yellow Creek Townships in 1800, at Lisbon in 1803, at Salem in 1804, in Knox Township in 1806, and in the other communities shortly thereafter. Joseph McKinnon, John Quinn, Richard Boyco, David Wilson, Hannah Fisher, Judith Townsend, James Barr, Nathan Pine, and Terra Jones were among the pioneer teachers of Columbiana County. In 1826, a library society was organized in Fairfield Township. 

Many academies were organized and chartered to supplement the educational facilities of the county, among them being the New Lisbon Academy, first chartered in 1808, the Salem Academy in 1809, the Friends Academy (Salem) in 1822, the Neville Institute in 1837, the Sandy Springs Academy in 1839, the Lisbon Academy in 1843, the Salem Academy in 1844, and the East Liverpool Seminary in 1846. In the 1840’s and 1850’s, at Wellsville, several church academies were opened, and others were established at Damascus in 1857, at Cold Run 1857-60, and in Middleton Township in 1883. Under the Akron Law of 1849, the public schools of the county were reorganized and graded:  New Lisbon in 1848, Hanover Township and Salem in 1849, Wellsville in 1850, and other townships soon thereafter. A high school was established at Salem in 1853.