Mrs Earles Remembers



Submitted by Martha J. Kounse and Sharon M. Kouns


June 6, 1976 Ironton Tribune

        As I remember it was told me by my parents, grandparents, the late Dr. C.G. GRAY, many older people, and also on old tombstones and in Family Bible records, how Lawrence county was settled before and after it was part of the State of Ohio. In 1803, the first white men who came before the French and Indians were surveyors. George WASHINGTON was one of the surveyors. They surveyed as far as the Scioto Valley. They discovered timber, coal, and iron ore, and of course plenty good farm land.

After the Revolutionary War, the immigrants came into Lawrence county. They came over the old Forbs Road to Fort Pitt or Pittsburgh. There they sold their wagons and built flat boats or traveled by Indian trails down the Ohio River.

Dividing the county into three sections, Symmes Creek Valley, Pine Creek Valley and the Pig Iron Section, we will start at Symmes Valley. The oldest record on the tombstone we have was Charles EARLES born in Va. 1740, later Bennet EARLES. In 1788, a group of settlers stopped at what is now Chesapeake, Dr. John RAMEY reported this as did his father, Dr. Miles RAMEY. To avoid Yellow Fever, the RAMEYS were among the first settlers in Rock Camp. Many settlers —- Lawrence county, the first trashing machine was horse driven and owned by Miles RAMEY, in 1895 at what was known as round top farm near Rock Camp. Among older people at Waterloo, was Thomas COOPER. His son, Joseph COOPER, was a school teacher and was sent to the pig iron part of the county in Elizabeth township, called Fox Hollow, his daughter, Cora married William PHILLIPS, who became an undertaker in Waterloo, but later moved to Ironton and established what is now Phillips Funeral Home. This was in the early 1890’s.

The MILLER boys all became farmers and settled in or around Waterloo, George MILLER lived on top of Miller Hill and there is where the family graveyard is. Most of the first MILLERS are buried there. Walter MILLER married Ann RICHENDOLLAR, she was a half sister to George and Lewis RICHENDOLLAR. Her father’s name was Bonepart, who ran off from the French Revolution. He hid in a coil of rope on a sail boat and came to America. He crossed the mountains and eventually settled on or near Waterloo. He was a descendant of Joseph BONEPART who was King of Spain, so goes the family story. His great, great granddaughter went to Europe in 1975 and found that he had been traced to the mountains and lost to the empire.

While farming was prospering in the Creek Valleys, a great iron ore industry had begun in Lawrence county. Ironton had become an iron manufacturing town and the county seat. Many pig iron furnaces had began to produce pig iron including Hanging Rock, Pine Grove, and many others some only three to five miles apart. Pine Grove Furnace became short of laborers so [they] sent to Europe for some immigrants to work the mines and farms; these were mostly Irish and Germans. The Irish and German clashed over sheep and the church (St. Mary’s Catholic Church) had to stop the feud, so the church records show. Many homes were needed for the workers, so they hired a man by the name of FOX to do the building. He built the first house for his own family. It was built into two sections, the kitchen was one large room built out of virgin pine logs, all hand hewed with a large fire place to cook on with a crane to pull in and out to hang the iron pots to cook the food. They also used what is called a Dutch oven to bake and cook in the hot coals of the fire. The living quarters was also built of large virgin timber, some as much as 18 inches thick. The first house was built where the Chippewa Indians camped in winter months. it was the year of 1844.

Children gathered arrowheads, tomahawks, and many other Indian artifacts, in the garden of this place in the year 1898. They filled powder kegs full of arrowhead and imported broken china.


June 13, 1976 Ironton Tribune

The iron mine companies needed many worked to mine the ore, build corduroy roads, drive oxen teams, build fences, etc. Ore was mined by benching. They placed the ore in piles and pushed the clay over the hills. These were called ore-dumps. The oxen drivers would pick up the ore form each individual bench, and haul it around the hills over the corduroy roads. I can hear rhe driver coming down the steep road calling Gee Joe! Haw Bob! Over Tom! and cracking his big whip made of four threads of leather. Oxen wore yokes and pulled by their necks and no lines were needed, as were later used in driving horses and mules had to be shod and could not walk on the ox roads.

The iron ore was so heavy they had to used flat bed wagons to get the ore out of the hills, and travel three to five miles to the furnace. Often one wagon would have four or six oxen to pull the load.

There were watering troughs along the roads, but sometimes the drivers would stop at out house and get water for themselves and the oxen. Our home was in the forks of two big hollows.

One day a driver wanted to hire my mother’s corn planter. My mother replied, “Can’t sell her. She is six years old today.” Mother dug the hills and I put four grains of corn in each hill, it was a good season and we had a fine crop of corn. Much farming was done on the furnace property. All the level land was fenced with split rails. This was called trail fencing. it took many men to do the farming, and take care of the animals.

The roads were taken care of by the companies. After the northwest railroad was built the river traffic was much better. They began to use passenger boaters and people could travel much more comfortable.

Ox teams carried the ore to the furnaces but mule teams carried the Pig Iron to the river landings, and mills and foundries in Ironton. They were called Mule Skinners. Ironton was supposed to have supplied more canons, nails and other iron supplies to the Civil War than any other part of the country.

The furnace companies also raised cattle and sheep for food and clothing. I remember my father taking me to a sheep shearing near the old furnace in the year 1898. I watched the shearing for a short ime, and I started screaming and crying. I said “Papa, make that man quit skinning that poor sheep.”

Often the companies would butcher cattle and sheep for food. This was sold in the stores and the workers could get their share of fresh meat, which had to be sold soon after butchering as there was no refrigeration in those days All the workers had a well-built pioneer house to live in. The first houses had clap-board roofs. Later they used regular shingles made of wood and later sheet iron roofing. The houses were log, box and some brick. All houses had good chimneys, fire places for wood and later rung grates for coal. Each home had dug wells, walled with stone, and a wood-fenced garden for fruits and vegetables. They had hogs, chickens and cattle. All cattle could range free on the company land. My brother got twenty-five cents a month for bringing the cattle home in the evenings. Everyone’s cattle ranged as a herd together. A fence law came into effect about the year 1908.

Most companies built a house near the stores for the physicians, bank boss, store keepers and farm boss. The oxen drivers had houses with large barns for their oxen. Every driver cared for his own team.

The first doctor that I remember was Coriolanus GALLAGHER, of Pine Grove. I remember home coming to our house and sang, “Get your Hop Grease Mrs. HUSH. I have a pneumonia case down the road.”

My mother was taught many home remedies by my grandmother. The hop practice was made by frying hops in one cup of lard until brown, then add 2 teaspoons of turpentine, and 1 cake of camphor gum, placing this mixture between an oblong piece of flannel, heating it in the old coal oven until good and warm. While one is being used, keep another warming in the oven. The hop vines are still hanging over our 100 year old house. They produce heavy in August. Grandmother had many uses for hops. She sold them to the brewery, made yeast, and she also had many Indian remedies.


June 20, 1976 Ironton Tribune

Each township had a one-room school house. it was also used for church, and any legal community purpose. In our section, the Methodist Church had a parsonage at Lawrence Furnace. Each pastor had a circuit of four churches. Each church paid the preacher a salary. The circuit furnished the pastor a horse and buggy to take care of his parish. He did no public labor. The Lawrence Furnace took care of Lawrence Center (Superior Cement Company), Fox Hollow and Pine Grove.

Grandmother always had a big dinner after church on Sunday. She was Pennsylvania. Dutch and a good cook. Her nephew, Roy GREEN, carried the first mail on the Pedro route. Before this, the mail was taken care of by the store manager of each company, brought out of Ironton on the merchandise wagons.

Besides mining, it took many men to work in the timber, making shingles, tending charcoal pits, running lumber mills. I remember John HACKER the first driver of “Grub Wagon.” He was the father of Herman, the father of Iron City Hardware Company. Joe COOPER was sent from Waterloo to teach school in Elizabeth Township. Being a good Methodist, he read a chapter from the Bible and had prayer each morning at the opening of school. About 1890 another religious group came to this community. They were Mormons. The Mormons claimed it was not lawful to teach religion in the schools. The battle was on. The feud kept up until there was an election. The Mormon won the election and Mr. COOPER went back to Waterloo.

         Many people remember the big white brick house at Hanging Rock situated on the river bank, with 8 acres of land, and beautiful pine trees. Built above the 1884 flood water, it was the home Thomas H. MEANS founder of Hanging Rock Iron Company and other furnaces around 1890. The building was sold to Dr. C.G. GRAY and was the first hospital in Lawrence County.

Dr. GRAY was a student in Germany and England, and a great surgeon of his day. his parents came from KY during the Civil War. Dr. GRAY and Dr. RAMEY were in Anderson Prison at the same time. Both became physicians after the war. Dr. GRAY was also a good lecturer. I was told when he was attending a meeting and rose to speak, he always began by saying, “When I was on the Isle of Weight dining with Sir Walter Scott” (England’s great surgeon) the other doctors would lean back in their chairs and prepare for an interesting lecture.

Doctor GRAY always wore a high silk hat, Prince Albert clothes, including stiff shirt, diamond studs, and carried a gold handle cane. He maintained two span of horses and a colored man to drive from one patient to another, over the very poor roads of Lawrence County.

When I was an office nurse, after the hospital became a sanitarium, the old doctor, then 77 years old, taught me many things. When he was traveling in the county from one place to another, was the only time he got any sleep. He had to employ drivers that he could trust. The name of this hospital was Gray Gables. At this time the Sanitarium had many patients from the KY mountains as his brother, Ike GRAY, lived in Pikeville, Pike County, KY. Dr. C.G. GRAY retired the year 1910. The patients came by train to Coal Grove, then by the street car to the sanitarium. Dr. GRAY had two sons. Dr. Dan GRAY of Ironton, and Dr. B. GRAY of Pikeville, KY. Dr. Don GRAY did surgery at the Charles S. GRAY, Deaconess Hospital, in Ironton, Ohio.

These GRAYS were not related to the Col. Charles S. GRAY that donated the building on Spruce Street between 4th and 5th Street, to be used as a city hospital. The city donated $1800. to the hospital each year. The Deaconess Hospital took care of the N & W patients and the Keller-Marting took care of the C & O patients patients.


June 27, 1976, Ironton Tribune

We will now leave the two sections of Lawrence county and go up the river to a Pioneer settlement near what is now Parkersburg. At this period the country was called the North West Territory. These settlers needed protection from the Indians so they hired a German man by the name of HUSH (pronounced HUCHE) as an Indian Scout to protect them.

         This James HUSH married a Shawnee princess whose name was Oneta. Folks who saw her tin-type picture say she was a beautiful girl. They moved down the river on a flat boat and eventually settled at or near what is now Haverhill. I only remember two sons, Peter and William.

         Peter moved down the river near what is now Portsmouth. William married a Pennsylvania Dutch girl by the name of Elizabeth GREEN. They and many other people went up Big Pine Creek and settled at Ohio Furnace and were the parents of 13 children. Later they moved to Powersville and had a Boot Shop. Most farmers tanned their own leather but some had to be done by the tanners. My father was born at Powersville, it was a Lutheran settlement. They built the first Lutheran church.

         William HUSH with his large family moved up Little Pine Creek to a place that is still called Hush Hollow. Later he moved into the first log house built in Pine Grove Furnace land. The house was rebuilt in 1887 by Harvey HOSEY and son; by the time some of the children were married and moved to Iowa some were widowed.

One widow Mrs. Jane SQUIRE and three daughters lived at Lawrence Furnace. They made shirts, pants and underwear for men and had to have the weeks supply at Pine Grove store by quitting time on Saturday. Men worked ten hours a day and sometimes they would work until midnight.

         In the year 1888, they were going to have a picnic at Kelley’s Bridge on the 4th of July on the Arthur Meyer property. My grandmother, Betsy HUSH, wanted the young folks to stay home and work in the garden, but they went to the picnic. She wished it would rain and “spoil” all their finery. In those days they wore their best clothes to dances and picnics. The ladies wore dresses with trains bustles half-hand gloves, carried a fancy fan and a parasol to protect their hats. All the young people including my father, Peter HUSH, who played the fiddle (violin) for the dance. He also played the fiddle for St. Mary’s dances at Pine Grove for years. It rained and rained and spoiled all the finery and Betsy’s garden. Water was from hill to hill. Betsy got her wish.

         Twenty years or more had passed but I would like to recall another flood. I was on night duty at the Charles S. GRAY Deaconess Hospital at two a.m., sitting at the desk in the hall.

All at once I heard chickens cackling, cow bells ringing, children screaming and ambulances coming. Looking out the window, I saw the strangest parade I had ever seen and I have witnessed many parades in Detroit in WWI and WWII. The next morning the river was up to the porch steps on the 4th Street side of the building. This was the spring of 1913.

         The DTI railroad was built in 1903. This was a great improvement for the Pine Creek Valley, but not so for the beautiful wheat and corn fields. Bridges were built in quite long spans across the small creeks and when the water got high, it came under the bridges in large streams and washed out trenches.

         The railroad company kept a large channel along the route to turn the water back when possible into the main channel and saved much of the land from being washed away. F Farmers had less farming land but were glad to have the passenger trains. There were two passenger trains. One from Ironton to Springfield in the morning and met the “Dinky” as we called it at Goldcamp Station going from Jackson to Ironton. We could take the train from our Station, which was a flag stop at the large covered bridge over Little Pine Creek. The fare was twenty cents. We could shop in Ironton, see friends, etc. all day and get home at 4:00 in the afternoon. Those were great times until the Pig Iron companies quit making Pig Iron.

         Nannie Kelley WRIGHT rebuilt Lawrence [should be Centre Furnace-smk] Furnace. Got ore from the Great Lakes region and made a different kind of iron. When we children were much younger, it was a great sight to see Mrs. Nannie WRIGHT come by with her guests and servants, riding side-saddle and their horses prancing along. The ladies big veils flying in the wind. They wore long dusters. Sometimes the colored servants would have a time when the dogs along the road would run after them and bark at the different kind of travel. They would go through Pine Grove to her summer home near Lawrence Furnace.

         Today, we have automobiles, better roads, but in the Pine Creek Valley most of the lands is swamp land. Esp. since the Collin’s Coal Company road was built forty feet wide and many feet high out of large stone and much gravel. It took a large road for the large steam shovel to mine the coal and the pretty fields today bloom with golden rods and iron weeds.

         What was once a T-rail fence with corn, wheat, and big barns to thrash and store the wheat, is now swamp land with trees, copper-head and all kinds of snakes. We have just gone back to the Indians and we that were born here are very sorry.

        Jerome BONAPARTE, the youngest brother of the great Napoleon, died recently, aged 76. His first wife, a Miss PATTERSON, of Baltimore, to whom he was married in 1803, and whom he soon put away to please Napoleon, is still living in Baltimore. She never married again.—Ironton Register July 19, 1860 [no known connection-smk]