Chesapeake, Ironton’s Neighbor

Chesapeake, Ironton’s Neighbor
December 19, 1949
Submitted by Lorna Marks

(Sunday morning’s Huntington Herald Advertiser featured a comprehensive history of Chesapeake, O., from settlement to present day. Along with this interesting article, written by Mrs. D. D. HUTCHISON, were pictures of Symmes Creek bridge, the old City of Huntington Ferry, Nazarene church, Schneider funeral home, Gillen Motor Sales and one of the community’s first mayors, Tom SMITH. In concluding the story, Mrs. Hutchison thanks Mrs. Margaret KOUNS and Mrs. W. T. MOORE for information and material which went into the article.)

The settlement of the Chesapeake community dates back a number of years into the early history of Lawrence county. Early records disclose that George W. KOUNS, an immigrant from Pennsylvania, was one of the original settlers in that area and it was a consolidation of many of those scattered settlements that marked the founding of Chesapeake. This first small village was named Kounston and while this name was later dropped the memory of the pioneer still lives in Kouns Chapel.

The names of William GILLEN, Isaac FRAMPTON and Martin FRAMPTON are recorded as three of the earliest settlers in that neighborhood. Other families that moved to the community in the early years were the BROWNS, CROWS, JOHNSONS, KIMBALLS, JONES, SUITERS, DILLONS, BRAMMERS, BANKS, EGERTONS and EARLES.

The Frampton, Suiters, Browns, Dillon and Banks homes stand today as landmarks in the community and remind residents of the faith and perseverance of the old families.

The First Methodist church, built on Mitchell Hill, was destroyed by fire in the early years and it is on this site that the old Mitchell home now stands. The church known as Kouns Chapel was erected in the year 1893 on land owned by the late Andrew KOUNS and this building survived both the 1913 flood and the devastating inundation of 1937.

Education was never neglected and in 1816 the first school built to accommodate 20 pupils, was erected about a mile from the mouth of Symmes Creek. The crude log structure had a clapboard roof, dirt floor and no windows. A Mrs. WHITEHEAD was the first teacher in the village.

Consolidation of the Chesapeake special school district with a number of other districts to the Chesapeake Union schools occurred many years later in 1924. The high school building, a modern structure located near the eastern end of the village, served as one of the county’s first-grade high schools. This, while the grade schools of Chesapeake and East Chesapeake continued in their former locations.

The high school building erected in 1924 housed 12 classrooms, two offices, a library, clinic and combination gymnasium-auditorium. This year, 1949, a ten room addition was built on to house grade pupils, first to sixth class. The expansion was necessitated by the closing of two smaller schools in Chesapeake, and while the crowded situation was eased somewhat plans are now underway for the construction of another new high school on the site of the present athletic field.

The J. H. FRAMPTON store, the blacksmith and wagon shop of W. F. BOOTHE and the Symmes Creek flour mill of P. C. BRAMMER became important local industries in the early days of Rockwood, as the settlement east of the mouth of Symmes Creek, was known for many years. The “Rockwood Crescent” an early newspaper made its’ appearance on the scene and was published for a time.

In 1870 W. G. FRAMPTON began operation of a ferry boat between Maple Grove and the Clayton CRAWFORD home, with the permission of the Lawrence county court. It was in 1875 that the business location was moved to the mouth of Symmes Creek and between that time and 1897 the business changed hands several times. Captain B. T. FLESHER was its last and it was he who operated the “City of Huntington” until 1928. Heirs carried on the business from that time until 1936 when the boat was sunk by ice.

Flood waters washed away the old wooden bridge over Symmes Creek and in 1875 a one lane metal span was built across the water. Under direction of the State Highway Department a new steel truss was begun in 1932 and this bridge, standing today, was dedicated a year later and opened to traffic.

Large tracts of land up Symmes Creek were early purchased by the Central Land Company of West Virginia and it was to this that the name of Chesapeake was given. It was at first suggested that this settlement, laid off between Rockwood and Kounston, be named Lawrence City, since no village bore the county name. These three villages grew and it was near the end of the 19thcentury that businessmen suggested that a town be laid off below the mouth of Symmes Creek. This was incorporated and Tom SMITH, the first mayor, suggested that it be called Chesapeake. As frequently happens the old villages were absorbed and all were incorporated in the name of Chesapeake in 1907.

Sworn in with the first mayor was the first council, consisting of six men, Powhatan HENSON, F. C. FRAMPTON, J. P. WICKLINE, Hugh MITCHELL, W. F. BOOTHE and P. C. Brammer. They served in their offices for three months until the first election in 1908. H. K. MITCHELL was the first clerk and Kimball GUILEN was the first treasurer.

Chesapeake at the present time has six Protestant churches and one Catholic church under construction. The latter was begun when on March 12, 1949, the Parish of St. Ann was canonically established by His Excellency, John King Mussio, bishop of the Diocese of Steubenville. The completion of this two story church and annex will fulfill the dream of many Catholic families in the community who heretofore have been forced to travel to Huntington or Ironton to attend mass and other services.

In 1871 the first post office was established and was located near Symmes Creek bridge where the home of the late J. J. PAUL stands. The office was later moved to King and Gribb’s General Merchandise Store, one of the first general stores in that community. The late John WILLIS was postmaster.

The town’s first physician, Dr. Thomas RAMSEY, stayed only a few years and he was followed by J. C. MORRISON, who settled here in 1896. Dr. Morrison died in 1924 after 28 years active labor among the people. His wife and family surviving, still reside in the family home. Another doctor, E. M. MARTINDILL, moved there in 1914 from Crown City and practiced 15 years before ill health forced his retirement. Dr. W. K. MACKEY practiced in these same offices for 23 years until three years ago when he moved to Huntington. At this time Drs. L. S. DILLON and Edgar WILSON are the only physicians practicing. Dr. Ed WARNER, the only dentist, has been established at Chesapeake for some years.

Chesapeake’s first and only drug store was owned by Edgar WILKS, Fred WINTERS and Dr. D. W. HYLE of Huntington. The business is a present operated by C. W. BLOSS.

The Chesapeake Civic Club in the spring of 1938 established the Community Club House. At that time the group was headed by Mrs. Hugh RARDIN. The log structure was erected on ground leased from the Huntington Elks Lodge and most of the important social events are held here. Officers of the club responsible for the building of the house were: Mrs. Hugh RARDIN, Iven GOODALL, Mrs. Jennie RUSSELL, Mrs. Fred WINTERS, P. F. COMSTOCK, Dr. E. M. MARTINDILL, Jake RARDIN and C. Fred EDWARDS.

A telephone exchange was established in the year 1915 by Richard CASSIDY. It was located in the Cassidy home on Third Avenue, near the drug store.

Streets were improved as the community grew. In 1917, the stretch between Chesapeake and Proctorville was paved and Second avenue was paved in 1925 with land owners assessed for the cost. The state highway was improved in 1936 from the Baptist church in the east to the Kouns Chapel in the west end of the village, city water was first piped from Huntington in 1928 and a sewage disposal system was established in 1935.

The late Mrs. E. E. MYERS, known as the “Mother of the Woman’s Clubs” organized the first such club in 1913 and this was federated 1917. The American Home Club and the Junior Woman’s Club were later organized and today civic clubs are active with many members belonging to the Lions, Junior Order of Mechanics, American Legion, V.F.W., and two active Parent Teachers associations.

Gas was supplied residents by Bob FAULKNER of Proctorville, first agent of the United Fuel Gas Company in 1914. It was not until 1931 however that electricity was available for the homes of the community. At that time A. C. SINGER established the Chesapeake Electric Company which rapidly expanded until 1936, when it was sold to the Ohio Power and Electric Company, its present operators.

The Chesapeake Ford Agency, Gillen Motor Sales dates back to 1920. Hugh GILLEN, the present owner and his father and brother, the late Hunter and Garland GILLEN, are well established, having sold Ford cars from the same corner on Third avenue for thirty years. Russell A. (Red) EARLES, owner and operator of the Earles Motor Sales, who for many years had the Dodge and Plymouth agency, began business in 1938.

The late J. E. SCHNEIDER, a merchant from Getaway, O., began in 1897 to sell coffins along with his general merchandise. Becoming interested in the undertaking profession he abandoned general merchandising and obtained a license as mortician. Joined by his son, Jake SCHNEIDER, in 1929, he established the first funeral home in Lawrence county, at Chesapeake. Another son joined the business in 1939. J. R. SCHNEIDER died in 1940 and in 1942 a gas explosion destroyed the building housing the business. The business was moved to the home of Mr. And Mrs. Jake Schneider and it is here that the business is carried on today. The original home was enlarged and today offers facilities comparable to any in the tri-state.

Sponsored by the Chesapeake Woman’s Club, with Mrs. Frank SMITH as president, the Chesapeake Library was opened in 1933 located in the Lower school building. People interested in a new and finer library met this year with Miss Marion JAMES, Lawrence county librarian and discussed plans for the construction of a new building. The structure is to be erected in the old Elementary school lot by William SCHNEIDER, with the rental to be paid by the various civic organizations.

Chesapeake has grown through the years from a scattered settlement into a modern town. Residents may buy in self-service markets, fountains and lunch rooms. Several electrical appliance stores have been established as have a hardware store, laundry and ice delivery service. A barber shop, shoe repair shop, antique store, radio repair shop, beauty shop, cleaning and pressing shops and welding shop serve the people.

There is no shortage of gasoline stations and four are situated on the four corners of the approach to the Chesapeake-Huntington bridge.

Buses, operated by the Ohio Valley Bus Lines, run through Chesapeake to South Point, O. and Proctorville and residents may travel to Huntington within a matter of minutes. Hundreds of new homes have been erected in the thriving community in the past few years and present a marked contrast to the early settlement which consisted of twelve homes. The present population is approximately 4,000 but with the facilities available and the opportunities offered residents of the community are confident that their town can look forward to expansion and prosperity.