Stratton House Inn :: Ohio Revisited: Belmont County, Part 20 -- Martin's Ferry.
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by Henry Howe.

Martin's Ferry is on the west bank of the Ohio River opposite Wheeling, West Virginia. The site of the city is a broad river bottom over two miles in length and extending westward to the foothills a distance of a mile and a half at the widest point. The adjacent hills rise gradually and provide many beautiful building sites overlooking the river, giving a view not excelled at any point on the Ohio. The city is underlaid with extensive coal deposits. A bountiful supply of building stone and limestone is found within the corporation limits, and natural gas has been struck in ample quantities for the town's needs.

The first settlement was made and called Norristown in 1785, but, upon complaint of the Indians that the whites were encroaching on their hunting-grounds, the settlers were forced to return to the other side of the river by Col. Harmer, who was acting under the orders of the United States government.

In 1788 the ground upon which the town is built was granted by patent to Absalom Martin, and in 1795 he laid out a town and called it Jefferson. However, when he failed in his efforts to have it made the county seat, Mr. Martin re-purchased the town lots that had been sold in anticipation of it becoming the county seat, and vacated the town, believing at the time that another town could not be supported so close to Wheeling.

Martin's Ferry in 1887

In 1835 Ebenezer Martin laid out and platted the town of Martinsville, but afterwards changed the name to Martin's Ferry, there being another town in Ohio named Martinsville. As no point on the Ohio River presented better facilities for manufacturing, it grew and prospered and in 1865 was incorporated as a town.

Martin's Ferry is on the line of the P.C.&St.L.R.R. Newspapers: Ohio Valley News, Independent, James II. Drennen, editor and publisher; Church Herald, religious, Rev. Earl D. Holtz, editor and publisher. Churches: 1 Presbyterian, 1 United Presbyterian, 1 Baptist, 1 Lutheran, 1 Catholic, 2 Methodist Episcopal, 1 African Methodist, 1 Episcopal. Banks: Commercial, J.A. Gray, president, Geo. H. Smith, cashier; Exchange, John Armstrong, president, W. Ratcliff, cashier.

Manufacturers and Employees. -- Novelty Glass Mould Works, 9 workers; Elson Glass Works, tableware, etc., 330; F. McCord & Bro., brick, 25; Laughlin Nail Co., 375; Martin's Ferry Stove Works, 27; Spruce, Baggs & Co., stoves, 26; Dithridge Flint Glass Works, tumblers, etc., 194; L. Spence, steam engines, etc., 25; Martin's Ferry Keg and Barrel Co, 65; Buckeye Glass Works, 200; Branch of Benwood Mills, pig iron, 55; J. Kerr & Sons and B. Exley & Co., doors, sash, etc.; Wm. Mann, machinery, 24. -- State Report, 1887.

Population in 1880, 3,819.

School census in 1886, 1,813; Chas. R. Shreve; superintendent.

The cultivation of grapes is an important and growing industry of Martin's Ferry, the warm valley and sunny eastern slopes west of the town being especially adapted to their perfection; not less than 350 acres are devoted to their cultivation. The grapes are made into wine by the Ohio Wine Co., which has recently erected a large building for this purpose.

The dwellings at Martin's Ferry are mostly on a second plateau about 600 feet back from the Ohio River and 100 feet above it. The river hills on both sides rise to an altitude of about 600 feet, making the site of the town one of grandeur. On the West Virginia side the hills are very steep, leaving between them and the river bank little more than sufficient space for a road and the tracks of the P.C.&St.L. Railroad.

The upper plateau at Bellaire is a gravel and sand bed. The gravel is about eighty feet deep in places, cemented so strongly that the excavation for buildings is very expensive, being impervious to the pick, and often, from the porous nature of the soil, blasting fails; the cost of excavating for the cellar of a building often exceeds the price of the lot.

The west part of the upper plateau is depressed, and it is believed once to have been the bed of the Ohio River. The country is very fertile and rich in coal, iron, and limestone.


This entry is adapted from Henry Howe's HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS OF OHIO (2 vols., 1907). The book has been reedited, updated, and restructured for inclusion in the Pierian Press Fulltext eBooks database, and is included on the Stratton House Inn Web site by special permission. This entry is licensed for use ONLY on this Web site. This entry may not be copied or downloaded, but may be used for educational purposes and personal pleasure under fair-use provisions via this Web site. Please note that the Stratton House Inn iteration of this entry does NOT include the subject headings assigned the entry for use in the Fulltext eBooks database.

DATABASE: Fulltext eBooks: Copyright (c) 1998 The Pierian Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved
ENTRY NUMBER: EBK31135121

 

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