By Barbara Shrodes.
THOUGHTS FROM THE DESK OF TOM THOMAS ...PRESIDENT
I want to share some good news and some bad news with you. Our education program was a great success during the 2001-2002 school year. Every fourth grader and eighth grader in the Martins Ferry schools received a visit from Ebenezer Martin who talked about the history of the city. That was followed by a tour of the Sedgwick House Museum. Girl Scouts from Tiltonsville and students from Westbrook Elementary in Bridgeport also shared in this educational opportunity. Later, in June, I will be visiting the Hutton Library in Barnesville to share the story of the Zanes and Martins with them.
If you have driven past the museum you will notice the landscaping that was done around the sign in front. That was accomplished by good work by Kevin Campbell. Also, the flower boxes have been filled through the efforts of Joyce and Dorothy Roy. Things are looking good!
Our FURNACE FUND is doing well. We received a grant from the Belmont county Tourism Council and have received over $1100 in donations from private citizens. You still have time to help, for the project will be undertaken in the fall of this year.
We were devastated when we learned that the AARP had taken Betty Douglas, our receptionist, from us for other duties. Having Betty with us allowed for the museum to be open Wednesday through Sunday each week. Now without her, the museums operating hours are very much in question. We are going to try to stay open using volunteers and also asking people to call and set-up an appointment for touring the museum. If you can help in any way or have any great ideas, please let us know.
EBENEZER HEWS A TRACE
Ebenezer Zane, standing at the door of his little shop at Wheeling, watched them arrive on the shores of the Ohio. In calico and homespun the women followed their men, who trudged forward with powder horns swinging against buckskin britches and fringed coats dangling below their knees. Sheathed knives nestled close to hips, and they cradled long rifles as tenderly as if caressing a feverish infant. Patient oxen splattered through the mud in front of Zaneís store, dragging ponderous wagons. It looked as if an entire nation were on the move.
Zane was more than the founder of Wheeling and a soldier. His ambitious nature made him discontented with the toilsome lot of many pioneers, who drudged on the land until they finally succeeded in cultivating enough acres to bring a meager prosperity. The man who would speculate in Western lands-if he were smart-could not fail to fill his moneybags. His second idea came slowly as he watched the Ohio flow past his door.
The river, Zane knew, came down from Fort Pitt to pass Wheeling and then to curve gently southwestward until it flowed between the shores of Ohio and Kentucky. He had supplied too many travelers who were going by boat into the land made famous by Daniel Boone not to appreciate fully the importance of the Ohio as a mighty transportation route. As Ebenezer Zane pondered the hazards of river travel, he remembered an old Indian trace that twisted through the latticed forest to emerge opposite Limestone, a growing community that fed provisions and settlers into the interior of Kentucky. The path could hardly be called a road. It was more a cut through the forest. Zane had already blazed a primitive trail from Fort Pitt to Wheeling. The gratitude of emigrants convinced him that a pathway from Wheeling to Limestone not only would be equally acceptable, but also would open a fertile area for settlement. In addition, it would provide for an overland mail route.
Before doing anything, Zane went over the trail. His measurements showed that, if it were opened, it would provide a route between Philadelphia and Frankfort, Kentucky, considerably shorter than the one then in use - saving possibly as much as 100 miles on a trip of roughly 600.
Neither rivers nor lack of civilization deterred Zane. He petitioned Congress in March 1796 for Federal assistance. What he wanted was little, and yet it was a great deal. Zane asked the Federal Government to permit him to locate military bounty warrants ďupon as much land at each of the crossings of the above Rivers as may in their Judgment be sufficient to support the desired establishments which He will engage to have made in due time, & will also defray all expences which may be incurred in surveying and laying off such lotts of land.Ē He asked no other compensation. There was no doubt, however, that Zane was turning his speculatorís eyes toward acquiring tracts of land that would rise in price as population increased.
Generous in its land policy, Congress responded kindly to Zaneís entreaties. He received three tracts of land, each not exceeding one square mile, on the banks of the three rivers his road crossed, In exchange, Zane was to survey the tracts at his own expense and also to open the road and provide ferry service across the streams. Judges of the Northwest Territory were to determine toll rates.
Congressional approval spurred the energetic Zane to activity. He gathered together a party of five woodsmen and speculators - among them his brother-in-law John McIntire - and set out to locate his land and widen the trace. Pack horses, long used to forest travel and intelligent enough to lift their feet over fallen timbers, carried a crude tent and packets of home-smoked bacon, flour, salt and coffee. The little expedition depended largely on the hunting skill of its cook to provide fresh meat. At night, out of reach of campfire flames that might blind their eyes, two of the party always stood watch. Although the Indian menace in the Ohio country was over, it still was prudent to be prepared.
The route Zane denuded followed Wheeling Creek for about seven miles and then, climbing ridges and dipping through sinks and valleys, reached St. Clairsville, where it followed a ridge to Washington. From there it curved southwestward, passing through beautiful country to reach Zanesville on the Muskingum. Farther to the south, the trace passed through Lancaster and then ran to Chillicothe. (It would be more accurate to say that the route ran through the sites of these communities since some of them were not established until Zaneís trail brought in settlers.) Moving through the future counties of Pike and Adams the path finally paralleled Brush Creek until it reached the confluence of two streams forming Big Three Mile Creek, which it followed to the Ohio River opposite Limestone. For decades, of course this road was a main thoroughfare between Wheeling and Limestone. What Zane hoped would someday become a wagon road actually achieved road status very shortly. By 1803, when Ohio became a state, the trace was a road. Thousands of emigrants - Germans, Irish, English - saw Ohio for the first time as they traveled the route laid out by Zane. Once across the river at Wheeling, they passed through Canton (Bridgeport), another village founded by Zane, and saw his apple orchards, where he cultivated Zaneís greenings, for many years one of the most popular apples in eastern Ohio. Passing through nine counties the highway became an arterial vein through which pulsed enthusiastic people who settled in the hills of Chillicothe or the rich lands of Perry County. Zane, gratified with his success and prosperous as the result of his acumen, lived long enough to see Ohio enter the Union.
THE DESTRUCTIVE POWER OF NATURE....THE CYCLONE OF 1887
by Tom Thomas
The Walnut Grove was a large area of beautiful walnut trees that stretched from Center Street to Hanover Street, as far west as Fifth Street. The grove was used as a picnic area by many Martins Ferry families and was also the location of some early camp meetings conducted by the Methodists. When Absalom Martin died, he was buried in a section of Walnut Grove that was set aside as a burial ground for city residents. The Cemetery is still in existence, located at the north end of Fourth Street near the East Ohio Regional Hospital.
On April 15, 1887 a cyclone struck the northern end of the city. Many homes and businesses were damaged, as were several churches in that area. There were several injuries among the citizens, but there were no deaths from the storm. As you can see in the picture above, the Walnut Grove was heavily damaged by the cyclone. At that time, it ceased to be the city cemetery. City officials opened Riverview Cemetery for use at that time, and it has been in constant use ever since.
What Was Happening In Martins Ferry A Hundred Years Ago
(From the Wheeling Register, June, 1902)
By Annie C. Tanks
JUNE 3, 1902 Constable Moore closed the grocery of O. C. Gibson on a writ of attachment issued by Julius Hornung for Silver Hill Creamery Co. The amount claimed is $278. Messrs. Scott Milligan and Battele Smith are invoicing the goods.
JUNE 4 William Morris leaves to-morrow for New York, where he will take the steamer Lusitania for England. While in London he will probably attend the coronation (of Edward VII).
JUNE 11 A prominent Martinís Ferry citizen, while passing down Hanover street yesterday, kicked a few jars of Mrs. Thomas Stantonís off the pavement, for the reason, he claimed, that they were obstructing the sidewalk. He at first refused to pay for them, but after further deliberation decided it was best to reimburse her.
William Robbins will entertain the graduating class this evening. Decorations have been prepared and everything has been done to make the event a successful one.
JUNE 18 The Board of Education will meet Thursday night to elect a superintendent and teachers. About 25 applications have been received for superintendent.
Charles Moore will be taken to Zanesville workhouse by Marshal Westwood on a charge of vagrancy.
JUNE 19 The Liberty Belles will give a yacht party this evening. They will go up as far as the second island, where they will enjoy a tempting repast.
JUNE 20 A. D. D. Hodge, of Salem, Ohio, was in the city yesterday making arrangements for the Salem band, which is to be here during the tournament. They will be lodged at the lower hose house and the Independent sporting company will occupy the new Miller hotel.
JUNE 21 Miss Margaret Smith (later Mrs. Brainerd) returned home yesterday from Chambersburg, where she has completed her course at Wilsonís College.
JUNE 24 Charles Frazier and Arthur Higgins of Bridgeport, sons of Wes Frazier and James Higgins, respectively, who started last Wednesday in a buggy to drive overland to Columbus, wrote home that they arrived in the capital city last Friday, and would start for home on the return trip on Monday. The boys reported a fine trip.
The Martinís Ferry ball team will cross bats with the New Athens club on the grounds of the latter to-morrow. The line-up of the home team will be as follows: Coates, lf; Crossley, 1b; Taylor, 2b; Swartz, 3b; Bibbo, s.s.; May, c.f.; Martin, r. f.; Morgan and Craig, p.; Duke, c.
JUNE 26 Fred F. Dixon has sold his interest in the well-known drug firm of Selby & Dixon to Elmer Reed, who has been clerking in the store for some time. The firmís name will be changed to Selby & Reed, and they command the confidence of the public.
These young ladies enjoyed a summer day during the late 1800ís.
The photograph is from the Camp Rest Photo Album.