By Barbara Shrodes.
FROM THE COMPUTER OF OUR PRESIDENT,
As we work our way into 2003, there are some exciting things happening at the Sedgwick Museum. Most importantly, the new furnace and air conditioner is now in place and working well. We will now be able to take better care of the numerous items in the museum in our climate controlled atmosphere. Thanks to the people at ‘Fireplaces “N” Fixins’, the Belmont County Tourism Council, and all of the friends of the museum who donated to this project.
Since last fall, we have been unable to keep the museum open and operating on regular days and times. Thanks to a donation from the Martins Ferry Rotary Club and several private individuals, that situation will change. We have hired Betty Douglas to work as our receptionist and tour guide. Through her efforts, the museum will be open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays beginning in April.
Also, the MFAHS has become involved in a celebration of the Ohio State Bicentennial that will begin in Martins Ferry. There will be a wagon train that will cross Ohio following the old National Road. The train will camp in Martins Ferry on June 19 and June 20. On the morning of June 21, a ceremony will be held at Walnut Grove Cemetery to honor the Zane Family and their work on opening Ohio to settlement. There will be numerous activities in Martins Ferry on those days.
More than anything else, we need your continued support. Please keep-up your membership. Volunteer to help us if you have the time. Tell others about our group and invite them to join us. Thank You!
THE USES OF THE FERRY A CENTURY AGO
Compiled by A. Alma Martin
Dating from the earliest settlement of the State of Ohio, Martins Ferry has been considered the most convenient point for crossing the Ohio River. As early as 1806, the grandfather of Mr. O. R. Woods, who is so well known in the Ohio Valley, conducted a ferry from Canton (now Bridgeport) to the island. His name was Elijah Woods. Any transportation that was intended for Wheeling was then required to use two ferry boats. Not so if the ferry was used at Martinsville, later Martins Ferry.
From 1805 for a period of 40 years, it is recorded that droves of cattle and hogs were driven from the interior of Ohio, as far west as the Scioto and Miami rivers, to Baltimore and Philadelphia by the way of Martins Ferry. The Ohio River was the big obstacle to this mode of reaching a market, yet the firm determination of the men who had only a short time before freed the colonist from England were not to be deterred for finding a way to get droves of cattle across the beautiful Ohio. These men lived at Martinsville.
Getting the live stock across the river was a big business and it was the ferry at Martinsville that got it to avoid the two ferries that would have been necessary at Canton.
When the droves arrived, it meant that many extra workmen were needed. Often it meant more than one boat. The boats used were flat-bottomed scows without decks and aided with a fence of posts and slats, having bars at the bow and stern. A space was left at each end for propelling the boats with either poles or oars, as was most convenient. The current of the river at this point is always strong, more then than now, and a novel method was used to get the animals over. The plan as was used was to take the boat to a landing far up-stream and then by means of driving, coaxing, halooing and often “swearing,” the cattle were put on board and boats pushed into the stream. The labor did not stop then, as it took four men at each large pair of oars pulling with all of their strength to get the boats to the Virginia shore. This would be considered a snail’s pace now, as often to cross the river with one herd of cattle it would consume a whole day.
When Virginia would be reached the cattle would be herded and held until all of the herds could be landed when they took up the slow march eastward.
Hogs were taken across in much the same manner, but the native sense of independence in the pig made them much more troublesome to handle. As this driving all came in the midst of fall rain and early snows, deep mud was encountered along all of the roads and at the ferry. This makes it hard to conceive of the dreadful hardship of the early drover and ferryman.
The hogs were driven about ten miles a day and it took 40 days to drive from Chillicothe to Baltimore. Cattle now on trucks travel that distance in two days. What will a few years more develop?
The Martins Ferry Area Historical Society will hold the Annual Meeting and Election of Officers Thursday, April 24, 2003 at 7:00 p.m. at the Sedgwick House Museum. Members are encouraged to attend.
President: Tom Thomas
Vice President: Barbara Shrodes
Secretary: Rosie Thomas
Treasurer: Joyce Roy
On June 19-21, Martins Ferry will be the site of the Ohio Bicentennial Wagon Train Kickoff. This is one of six signature events the state is holding this year to celebrate its bicentennial.
(From the Wheeling Intelligencer, April 1903)
Annie C. Tanks
APRIL 1, 1903 A spark from a Cleveland, Lorain and Wheeling engine came near causing a conflagration on Lombard street as grass and weeds on the property of Mrs. Ella Carmichael were set on fire and considerable difficulty was experienced in putting out the blaze before it reached the residence and the stable.
APRIL 3 A serious accident occurred on Broadway about 7:30 o’clock last evening which resulted in the loss of a valuable young horse owned by Frank Stringer of Portland station. The horse was being ridden by John Connolly, who with two other equestrians had started out to exercise the animals. As the three were riding up Broadway the horse ridden by Connolly shied and jumped directly in front of an approaching street car. The horse was knocked down and the car ran into it, breaking one of its legs and otherwise badly injuring it. The animal was later shot. It was valued at $300. When the horse made a lunge to one side Connolly was thrown to the pavement and he was considerably bruised, but not seriously. The accident was unavoidable and no blame is attached to anyone.
APRIL 7 The Hooligan fishing club is making arrangements to go into camp as soon as the weather is favorable. The club will camp in Riddle’s Run, near Brilliant, and the site is already cleaned up.
APRIL 9 Girls employed in the assorting room at Laughlin tin plant returned to work yesterday, after having been out since Tuesday morning, because of a disagreement regarding the weighing of sheets. They returned to work under practically the old conditions.
APRIL 15 A notice posted at the Aetna-Standard mill yesterday afternoon granting laborers and warehousemen an increase in wages of 5¢ a day. Warehousemen will get under the new scale $1.55 a day and laborers $1.50. The advance went into effect April 1st. - - Henry Koehnline has been given a contract for placing in position large trusses for the roof of the new building of Stanton Heater company.
APRIL 22 The Board of education met last night and after transacting unfinished business, the board adjourned sine die. The recently elected members were then sworn in and the new board organized by electing E. E. McCombs president and S. F. Dean clerk. Bills were paid, after which adjournment was taken until next Saturday, when bids for the new high school will be opened.
APRIL 23 A modern and much larger furnace will replace the local plant of the Wheeling Iron and Steel Company. The place has been decided on by the company and orders have been given to raze the plant preparatory to the erection on the new one...
APRIL 27 The roof will be put on the Riverside Bridge Company’s place this week.
We are now accepting dues for 2003. Annual dues are due on April 1st. The Martins Ferry Area Historical Society is a non-profit organization. Many of our projects, including this newsletter, are supported by membership dues. If you haven’t yet paid your dues this year, please consider doing so.