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Photos/History of Portsmouth, Ohio

Rensions Crispie Crème Donuts- Charles John (Jack) Rension was born in 1903 in Kansas. He was a coal miner in his early years, but he began his bakery business before coming to Portsmouth. As the sign indicates, the recipe was created in 1929. He is listed in the 1941 city directory. In 1940, his bakery was in Wheeling, W VA. The first location in Portsmouth was at 1546 Gallia St. The location pictured, 1202 Gallia, was built in 1959. (notice our beautiful library in the background) ;)

Scioto County was noted for great deposits of iron ore, coal and fire-clay. In 1827, Daniel Young built the first furnace in Scioto County and called it Franklin Furnace. It was located in the original French Grant in Green Township. It had a capacity of producing 7 tons of iron per day. The furnace closed in 1860. The ten Scioto County furnaces produced over 1,000,000 tons of iron for the foundries and rolling mills in the area. The furnaces began the early history of steel in Scioto County.

In 1861, Thomas Reece experimented with the choicest clay in Sciotoville. He then gathered backers, and formed Taylor, McConnell and Company. In 1864-65, McConnell, Porter and Company formed a brick plant, and in 1868 a third yard was opened by Farney, Murray and Company. In 1871, the three companies merged together and incorporated the Scioto Fire Brick Company. In 1894, the company added paving bricks to their product line. In 1902, Scioto Fire Brick formed the Star Yard.

2013 Archives Month Poster- the lower right corner (dogs high and dry) is the 1937 flood photo we submitted. We actually won first place!

The Scioto County flag. Scioto County was the first county formed in 1803 after Ohio became a state.

Our Civil War program 2012- Members of Battery L set up their cannon on the front lawn. They also had very interesting items set up inside the library. Wonderful program! The members of the reenactment group are descendants of the 1st O.V.I. Battery L. The battery was organized in Portsmouth, Ohio October 8, 1861 and mustered in at Camp Dennison near Cincinnati, Ohio for a three year enlistment on January 20, 1862

Some first library borrowers logs and the first library catalog (1887). A couple of the early library rules: "Books will be issued for two weeks only, and a fine of ten cents for each week will be charged on over due books, which the Librarian is not authorized to remit. No family is entitled to have more than four books at the same time."

Portsmouth Public Library bookmobile service began Oct. 1938 with 35 stops at rural schools, including 4 stops in Pike County. The bookmobile carried over 2,000 books with many on loan from the state library. Pictured here is Henry Clark, the first bookmobile librarian. He drove the bookmobile the first year (1938-1939)

Among those donated to us, the S&H Green Stamps (also called Green Shield Stamps) were trading stamps popular in the United States from the 1930s until the late 1980s. Many of the local grocery stores offered this program. Trading stamps were small paper coupons given to customers by merchants when products were purchased. They could be exchanged with the trading stamp company for rewards, such as toys, personal items, housewares, furniture and appliances.

530 2nd Street- This 150-year-old building suffered a partial collapse on Feb. 5 (2014) due to heavy snow and ice. It was razed the next day.

The Union Mills area was bustling with activity during the canal era with several mills, a distillery, post office and many shops. There were three canal locks in the Union Mills area while the canal was in operation with Lock 50 opening on December 1, 1832.

This cookbook was published as a fundraiser for the soldier’s monument in Tracy Park. Here’s an 1874 recipe- “Snow Flakes” (muffins) 1 quart milk; 6 eggs; ½ cup of butter; 3 pints flour; salt; beat it a great deal. Bake in earthen cups in a hot oven.

In 1819, two acres of ground west of Market were deeded for a graveyard to be used for the early inhabitants of Portsmouth. From 1819 -29, the graveyard filled rapidly due to “the sickly years”. During flooding season, it was frequently under water. Coffins and human bones were washed out by the Scioto River. Greenlawn was opened in 1829, and the remains were moved. In 1883, it was told by the sexton that the bodies from the original graveyard were re-buried at Greenlawn 30-40 to a grave!

Once known as the “Shoe Capital of the World”, Portsmouth’s shoe manufacturing history began in 1850, when Robert Bell came to Portsmouth and formed the Portsmouth Shoe Manufacturing Co. Portsmouth had many, many shoe factories in its history. In January of 1877, the Irving Drew & Company was formed. It was reorganized in 1879 as Drew, Selby and Company. In 1927, Selby had become the eighth largest maker of shoes in the world. In the 1930s, over 2,000 workers were employed at Selby’s.

Built in 1832, the Gaylord Rolling Mills was located at the SW corner of Front and Washington Sts. It was the first mill for iron production in the Northwest Territory and the beginning of Portsmouth steel history. Burgess Steel was founded in 1872 by Levi York. In 1889 , he took over the then idle Gaylord mill after the founder’s death. On June 7, 1898, a fire completely destroyed the mill.

(article from Portsmouth Times May 2, 1863) The Portsmouth Gun Barrel Works was located in the “old red mill above the rolling mill”. The 1864 city directory lists this as the south side of Mill Street near Chillicothe Street. The factory turned out 100 barrels a day. It was the only factory in the country that was making arms from American iron that the government would accept. In 1862, during the war, they had a 2 year contract to produce 20,000 carbine guns for the Cavalry.

Although it was for a short time period, Portsmouth was an aviation manufacturing center. The Vulcan Aircraft Company was established in 1927, and the first plane was flown at Raven Rock Airport in the spring of 1928. Vulcan built the American Moth. The aircraft design was that of a single-winged plane with a yellow body and trimmed in red. January 28, 1929, the plant merged with a company in Indiana who went on to produce twenty-five more aircraft.

The Cogswell Fountain was located at Chillicothe and Gallia Streets. Henry Lorberg, renowned historian, contacted millionaire, Henry Cogswell to donate one of his many fountains to Portsmouth. The criterion for a fountain was the number of saloons in your city. The fountain was to provide an alternative to liquor. The fountain arrived in 1884, but the major flood of that year delayed installation and caused damage. It was dismantled in 1899, and one of the lions is now displayed at SSU.

Baseball dates back early in Scioto County history. The first record of a game being played was in 1866. The two teams were the Sciotos and the River Cities. (or River City B.B.C.). The River City B.B.C. played its games at Waller Woods, an area just north of 2nd Street and east of Waller Street.

Portsmouth had many early theatres, including the LaRoy. The Portsmouth Times headlined that the opening, January 11, 1926, was attended by ‘thousands’. Owners were Simon LAbold and Dan ConROY. Telegrams of congratulations included one from Cecil B DeMille. One of the acts in the opening bill was Milton Berle. The building was razed in 1974 to widen Gay Street.

Previously known as The Knox-Dickey Telephone Company, The Standard Telephone Manufacturing Company was organized in April 1908 and was located at 199 West Front Street.The company lasted only until 1913. September 1913, the company started listing equipment for sale. In December, the newspaper listed a notice that the Standard Telephone Manufacturing Company was being sued for a promissory note.

At its close in 1928, the Wait Furniture Company was considered one of the oldest firms along the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Pittsburg. John Wait opened his business in 1838 on Market Street. Originally everything was made by hand, and he was well known over all Ohio for his mahogany sideboard tables and chairs. Over the years the machinery was run by horse-power then steam. His factory was the first in Ohio to run by steam.

Mr. Dafford gave special attention to every historic detail provided by the Local History Department from the files of the library's history.

Our mural is done! Mr. Dafford will return sometime in October and there will be a reception. Please keep checking for that date.

Progress of our library mural (7/18/13)