Brief Historic Sketch

Ironton newspaper clipping – Feb 13, 1964
Submitted by Lorna Marks

(Brief Historic Sketch, Lawrence County)

OUR COUNTY – Sandra Anderkin, student at Mansfield, O., writes Clarence Clements, manager Wilson Athletic Goods Mfg. Co. seeking information . . . She says each student has been assigned to write history of one of Ohio’s 88 counties and she is assigned Lawrence and needs help . . . Mr. Clements doesn’t know how he got in the picture, but would appreciate suggestions, so here goes.

Lawrence, the most southern, was named in honor of Capt. James LAWRENCE, a naval officer of the War of 1812 . . . Burlington, across the Ohio River from West Virginia, was the first county seat in 1817 . . . Fastest growing was Hanging Rock, on the river in the rich iron ore section . . . First pig iron furnace at the Rock was in 1826 . . . At time of Civil War, eleven charcoal iron furnaces were in operation . . . Most famous was Hecla, built in 1833, which furnished iron for the celebrated cannon, called “Swamp Angel,” which bombarded Charleston, S.C., and is mentioned in war history.

Ironton, founded in 1849, became county seat Oct. 23, 1852 . . . After Civil War eight more iron furnaces were built – Big Etna in Ironton, from 1875 to 1917, was largest in the world . . . Lawrence, the most hilly in the state, was widely known for apple orchards previous to invention of cold storage . . . In 1914 the first apple show in state was held in Ironton . . . At that time there were 156 apple orchards with 212,916 trees according to state report . . . The Rome Beauty and Jonathan both were named in this county and the State of Ohio placed a monument at the Lawrence County Fair Ground honoring the birthplace of Rome Beauties.

More coal is dug in the county than any other in state . . . Some of largest stripmine machines in state are within a half-mile of Ohio River . . . Two cement plants in the county are nation’s most modern, one with a limestone mine shaft 570 feet deep . . . Among county distinctions are first to elect a woman judge – Miss Helen CLARKS (1923) . . . Only county where a woman was superintendent of a pig iron blast furnace – Mrs. Nannie H. KELLY (1906) . . . First steam locomotive in county in 1846 . . . First to build highway bridge across Ohio River between Cincinnati and Wheeling, W. Va. (1922) . . . First newspaper printed in 1845 at Burlington.

Following the rolling mills, foundry, nail mills and machine shops for steamboat building, came the lumber industry, supplied by logs floating down the Big Sandy River from Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia . . . Just before locks and dams were placed in river (1910) the county had 9 enormous saw mills, Yellow Poplar at Coal Grove, the largest in the nation . . . Industrial changes as they occurred started in the ’80s with paving brick, fire brick and building materials . . . At the start of the present century, coke, malleable iron, stoves, gas heaters, ranges, shoes, graphite motor brushes . . . Since WWII the chemical industry and motor parts predominate . . . How’s that, Sandra, for a start for a story about Lawrence County?