Early Settlers - The Salt Boilers


Established in 1795, Jackson was one of the earliest settlements in the Northwest Territory. It was first named "Salt Lick Town" because the Scioto Salt Licks were located there. It was the location of the Scioto Salt Works, Ohio's first industry.


Jackson is located relatively at the geographical center of Jackson County along the banks of historic Salt Lick Creek. Its significance as an important early settlement lies in the fact that the "Scioto Salt Licks," or salt springs, were located here. Archaeological evidence indicates Indian and animal populations dating back to prehistoric times gathered at the licks to obtain salt.


Because of the presence of the salt licks, many trails came from all directions into the licks like the spokes of a wagon wheel. These trails were so well engineered by the buffalo and other animals in regard to gentle grades and best directions, that many became highways in later years. A look at a modern road map illustrates this. Many fossils of ancient and extinct species were found here.


One species of the prehistoric mammoth, "Elephas jacksoni," was discovered here and thus carries the name "Jackson." There are many accounts of early explorers and pioneers who were brought to the licks by their Indian captors to help make salt, including Daniel Boone. Even the celebrated explorer, Christopher Gist, visited here.


Another sight the first settlers saw was on the public square where the Courthouse now stands. Here people found trees with their trunks charred and burned, along with evidence testifying to torturous deaths suffered by white prisoners who were burned to death.


Settlement did not begin here until September of 1795, after the Treaty of Greenville was signed. A community began to grow because of the need for salt. In a few short years, this influx of people formed a community. It was named Salt Lick Town.


In 1798, Ross County was formed. The southeast corner of this county was Township Seven, Range Eighteen. This is the township in which the Scioto Salt Licks were located. Even though a part of Ross County, the Federal Government held title to the licks themselves. This was due entirely to the importance of salt.


The United States Congress set aside a tract of land equivalent to a township (six miles square) comprised from parts of four townships around the salt licks. This became "The Scioto Salt Reserve." The main stipulations were: Anyone could live within this reservation and make salt there; however, they could not purchase any land within the reservation.


Because of the rapid influx of settlers, salt was essential. Used mainly for preserving meat and seasoning, until the discovery of salt licks west of the Appalachian Mountains, salt had to be transported from the eastern part of the United States, making it very expensive. Those who first began making salt used single kettle affairs. This was a slow method and production yielded only small amounts.


Soon more ambitious methods of producing salt began. From single kettle affairs the new "salt furnaces" were arrangements with 50 to 60 kettles. These were capable of producing about 8 bushels of salt per 24-hour period, equivalent to about 400 pounds. This required boiling 3,600 gallons of the brine-rich waters from the licks.


Each year, from 1800 on, the number of furnaces increased. Finally, in 1910 there were 14 along the valley of Salt Lick Creek. The fuel (wood) required to operate the furnaces was incredible. The land, which only a decade ago had been heavily forested, became nude and bare of its magnificent forests. It was shocking how complete was the disregard in which the land was being handled. William Henry Harrison, who later would become President of the United States, visited the area in 1800 and recommended to the Congress that the Scioto Salt Reservation should be leased to prevent any further waste and destruction to the salt lands.


After Ohio became a state in 1803, one of the first things the new legislature addressed was how the Scioto Salt Licks would be managed. It was determined to appoint a "Salt Agent" to oversee all operations. Taxes were levied on all furnace operations based on the number of kettles and their capacity. New regulations and changes to existing ones became a regular part of the salt works operations until their end in the mid 1820s.


After 1810, production of salt at the licks began to diminish. This was because a much richer salt brine was discovered along the Kanawha River in what is now West Virginia. The brine was twice the strength of that at the Scioto Salt Works. This meant that twice as much salt could be produced from the same amount of salt brine.


By 1815 the need to establish a more accessible seat of justice was being discussed. To reach Chillicothe or Gallipolis took a full day by stage coach. This was a principal factor in the organization of what is now Jackson County. Jackson County was organized on March 1, 1816, and by order of the legislature this new county was named Jackson County, after General Andrew Jackson (a national hero at that time and who one day would become the President of the United States).


Acting on a request from the Ohio Legislature on April 16, 1816, the United States Congress gave authorization to select one section of land within the Salt Reservation which would make the most appropriate seat of justice. The salt licks, however, were excluded from any transfer of ownership. All proceeds from the sale of the lands within this section would be used to build a courthouse and other public buildings for use by the county. It was during this time the town's name changed from "Salt Lick" to "Jackson Court-House."

The State of Ohio also sought to save the salt industry by drilling deep into the sub strata to obtain stronger salt brine. A richer brine was found at a depth of about 400 feet but it would not rise to the surface. By about 1802 the handwriting was on the wall. The salt industry, as an economic base for Jackson, was doomed. From 1820, when there were five furnaces in operation, their numbers declined. Eventually production stopped altogether.


In 1826, in the report of the Scioto Salt Work Agent's report, the last sentence reads: "The making of salt at the Scioto Salt Works has been entirely abandoned."

Thus ended Ohio's first industry.


Courtesy of the Jackson Historical Society,
the City of Jackson Tourism Board,
and the Jackson County Genealogical Society.


Iron Furnaces in Jackson County


Except for the quarrying of miller's burr stones and agricultural activities, very little economic growth occurred in Jackson or Jackson County until the birth of the charcoal iron industry in the early 1850s. The iron industry in turn brought railroads to the Jackson area. This led to a solid and steady economic and population growth. The county's population was under 4,000 in 1820 and jumped to 10,000 by 1860. With this combination, Jackson became an important part of the emerging charcoal iron industry. Before 1850, there were only two iron furnaces in the county. Twenty-one furnaces were constructed in the Hanging Rock Iron Region between 1853 and 1856. Jackson County accounted for eight of these during that time and by 1856 eleven furnaces were operating in the county.

By 1860, the town of Jackson had a population of 1,077 and prosperity continued as the Civil War created a great demand for the high quality Hanging Rock charcoal iron. The iron used in the construction of the Union ironclad, "Monitor," came from nearby Jefferson Furnace just west of Oak Hill. During the Civil War, General John Hunt Morgan and his Confederate troops paid Jackson a visit during his famous "Raid." He and his two thousand troops spent the night here, arresting all men and older boys, burning the railroad station and rolling stock, looting stores and destroying a local Yankee supporting newspaper.

However, by 1869 many of the charcoal furnaces began to go out of blast. They were being superceded by a series of new coke or coal fired furnaces which were able to draw upon the abundant coal resources of the region. Between 1864 and 1866 three new coke furnaces were established in the area. A second surge in coke iron furnaces occurred from 1872 to 1875 when six more stacks were built in the county. In 1882, Jackson County ranked third in the state in the production of pig iron. Coal was a growing factor in the economic development of Jackson. Coal shipments rose from 10,000 tons in 1878 to 300,000 tons in 1880, making Jackson County tenth in the state's production of coal.

By 1898 the county was the largest producer in the state with 89 mines and an annual tonnage of over 1,500,000 tons. This was in a time when all coal was mined by hand. Because of its impressive position in industry and population, Jackson became a favorite location for national political figures to visit. Jackson would host visits by William McKinley and President William Taft, starting a trend which would later bring candidates Warren Harding and still later Thomas Dewey. Iron production also received a temporary boost at the turn of the century.

During the period of 1899-1900, iron prices were soaring and Jackson experienced a tremendous boon between 1902 and 1906. Inter-urban railroad (street car) service was introduced with the construction of the Wellston Jackson Beltline Railway. It was at this point that Jackson reached its economic zenith. As business increased Jackson saw the number of railroads serving this area expand. At its height Jackson was serviced by four railroads: The Baltimore and Ohio (B&O), The Detroit, Toledo and Ironton (DT&I), The Hocking Valley, later the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) and finally the Wellston and Jackson Belt Railway.

In 1908, Jackson County saw the construction of its last iron furnace. At the same time, the southern Ohio iron industry was beginning to decline because of increasing competition from the cheaper and higher quality Great Lakes region ores. By the 1930s the production of clay products had taken up some of the economic slack but the prosperous boom days associated with the iron and coal industries were over. With the coming of World War II, Jackson found itself with two blast furnaces. These were prime employers in the area, continuing after the war with Globe Furnace closing in 1960 and JISCO closing in 1972.


Courtesy of the Jackson Historical Society,
the City of Jackson Tourism Board,
and the Jackson County Genealogical Society.

The Teaching Burlile Sisters

by Jack Rhea

Writer's Note: Following is a story with a human interest twist about three wonderful ladies who contributed much in their lifetimes to the field of public education.

Very early in the 1900s, three daughters were born to Murray and Elizabeth Hartsook Burlile. Audrey was the first born, next was Doris and then Ruth. They lived on the Keystone Road near State Route 327 and attended a one-room school at Gee Town. After moving to Vinton, Ohio, for one year, they settled permanently on property at Rocky Hill near old State Route 35 and the Thornton Grocery.

The girls completed their elementary education in a one-room school at Rocky Hill. Audrey graduated from Jackson High School in 1922. Doris and Ruth were both in the second graduating class at Bloomfield High School in 1925. They all attended Coalton Normal School to prepare for their teaching careers. Audrey also attended Rio Grande College. Audrey taught for many years at Oak Hill and Bloomfield Elementary Schools and was married to Max Poore, long-time Winchester garage operator.

Ruth taught for several years at Kessinger School in Lick Township and Kinnison in Jackson. She was married to Russel Jones, long-time Jackson High School teacher and mother of the late Blaine Jones. Note: In regard to Russel Jones, he was one of my teachers at Jackson High School around 1949 or 1950. --J.R.

Doris, taught for many years at Bloomfield, Coalton and Mound Street in Jackson. She also served as Attendance Officer in Jackson for several years. She was married to Fred Turner and was the mother of Tom Turner, well-known retired insurance agent in Jackson. All of the above are now deceased. Note: Tom Turner is the one that Ed Clark always referred to in his newspaper column as "the aging shortstop." In my opinion, Tom Turner was and is one of the most outstanding athletes ever from Jackson County, Ohio. He is truly "a great guy." --J.R. Doris Turner resided while living for many years on North High Street in Jackson.

As Paul Harvey, would say, "Now you know the rest of the story," of the teaching Burlile sisters who were better known in our community as "Audrey Poore, Doris Turner and Ruth Jones." Each one of these dear ladies contributed much to the betterment of our society in general, "in a selfless way," as teachers in the public school system of Jackson County, Ohio. Note: The material in this particular writing was made available to me courtesy of my sister-in-law, Pat Rhea, who resides on North High Street in Jackson. She was a neighbor of the late Doris Turner for several years prior to the latter's death. --J.R.



Globe Iron and JISCO Furnace - THE FURNACES OF THE 20th CENTURY

Photo: GLOBE IRON COMPANY, EAST MAIN STREET (current location of the Jackson Square Shopping Center)

While charcoal iron furnaces dotted the Jackson County countryside in the 19th century, there were two furnaces that produced silvery pig iron that remained well into the 20th century before all of the furnaces of Jackson County become a moment in time. There were eleven charcoal iron furnaces that were constructed over a 21-year period from 1836 through 1857 throughout the county.

Jackson County was a part of the Hanging Rock Iron Region (so named because of the topography). Elliptical in shape, it covered nearly 1,300 square miles in Ohio and just over 500 in Kentucky bordering the Ohio River. Besides the charcoal iron furnaces, there were also stone coal and coke furnaces being in the second half of the 19th century. Two of those furnaces constructed soon after the Civil War were Fulton Furnace in 1865 and Globe Furnace in 1872.

The Fulton Furnace was based on the southern edge of Jackson and was started by Captain Lewis Davis, who had been associated with the Orange Furnace. The furnace was located just east of the current day intersection of Main and South streets, near the location of the Jackson Square Shopping Center.

The original Globe Furnace was on the west edge of town and operated for only four years until 1876, when it was destroyed by fire.

In 1873, the Globe Furnace Company and the Fulton Furnace Company were reorganized and took the name the Globe Iron Company. The furnaces continued to operate independently until the 1876 fire of the Globe Furnace and Fulton Furnace was then renamed Globe Furnace and remained near the Main and South streets intersection.
The Globe Iron Company operated successfully under the leadership of Thomas A. Jones until his untimely death in 1887 at the age of 81, he was killed in a buggy accident in an attempt to catch a business train bound for Cincinnati.

Eban Jones succeeded his father as president in 1887 and soon became an experienced iron master. It was during his time as president that Eban's son, John E. Jones, made an interesting discovery. Periodically the furnace would produce an "offcast". This is an iron product that contains a higher than normal level of silicon. This occurred when the furnace was overburdened with siliceous ores in conjunction with higher than normal hearth temperatures. He further discovered that this product was useful in grey iron castings, malleable iron, and in the open hearth and electric steel making process.

Thus, with the help of local ores, limestone and Sharon #1 coal, Globe was able to forge out a business specializing in silvery pig iron, an iron defined as an alloy of iron, manganese and silicon. Aided by a seam of coal naturally suited for this process, John E. Jones convinced his father to develop an entire business around this specialty product. Globe's specialization in silvery pig iron became so successful that the company paid off all of its debts and declared a dividend in 1901.

The success of the silvery pig iron enabled the company to begin its first major capital improvement in 1900, followed by another major modernization project to the existing stack and related facilities in 1912.

Another furnace in Jackson, Star Furnace, located near the present site of Luigino's, had also seen the value of this product. Star Furnace had the first iron stack ever erected in the county and was one of the most modern of its time. That plant, though, was abandoned in 1923. While Globe Iron was blossoming and Star Furnace was still going strong, the last blast furnace company in the Hanging Rock Iron Region was organized in 1906 with the Jackson Iron and Steel Company (JISCO).

Construction started immediately and two years later, on October 6, 1908, the new furnace was placed into operation, with its first expansion in 1914 when two more boilers and stove among other things were installed. As time progressed, both furnaces continued to make improvements which allowed they survive challenging economic times. In 1923, the furnace at JISCO was remodeled and more extensively in 1928, when the cast house was enlarged.

In 1929, Globe Iron erected an entirely new blast furnace with a height of 87 feet. The plant also erected five new hot blast stoves, which were painted silver and black. These colors would later become a trademark for the Globe plant. The plant employed about 125 men, including the men who worked in the mine. This modernization program made Globe one of the finest blast furnaces of its time.

However, the Great Depression was soon at hand and by 1930, it was becoming obvious that Globe was about to go through some difficult times. The continued economic slowdown caused Globe to close its doors for an entire year in 1932. John E. Jones himself helped many Globe employees during this period by extending credit at the Globe Store.

It was well in 1935 before sales reached over the one million mark, with a problem that was plaguing Globe Iron was a high inventory of pig iron. But just about any problems for both Globe Iron and JISCO were erased by 1940 because of the increased demand of pig iron on the eve of World War II.

In 1942, the first JISCO stack was dismantled and replaced in record time with a new and larger structure. Adequate water supply for furnace operations was made possible when The Jackson Iron And Steel Company purchased 562 acres of hill and valley land less than a mile from the plant and constructed a dam, when completed in 1952, created a mile-long, seventy acre lake.

The retirement of John E. Jones as president of Globe Iron Company in 1941 brought a new era in its history. Edwin A. Jones, who had long been involved with the everyday operation of the company, became chairman of the board on the eve of World War II. His brother, Marshall Jones, became president and general manager. Unlike his father, Edwin A. Jones had worked to develop Globe from a local producer, to an iron business that was competitive nationwide.

The 1950s were also a good time for the two furnaces. Globe Iron was not only overhauling its Jackson facility, but looking to expand into other products. The Globe office, later the central office for the Jackson City Schools, was completed on April 10, 1952. The most significant change in the Globe Iron Company came on April 24, 1956 when the shareholders voted to merge and combine operations with the Interlake Iron Corporation.

It was the decade of the 1960s, though, that brought an end to a Jackson County era that had actually had its roots as far back as 1836. The end of the Jackson Globe Iron plant came on September 4, 1960, when a tremendous explosion at supper time, around 5:10 p.m., killed one man, severely burned another an injured three others. The damage was so extensively that the blast furnace never reopened.

The office building and some other buildings in the mid-1960s were developed into the Manpower Training Center, to help train workers for new jobs. Manpower Training Center closed in the early 1980s.

The remainder of the land was cleared and now stands the Jackson Square Shopping Center, opened in the late 1960s and still the largest shopping center in Jackson.
JISCO, located on the western edge of the city, continued to produce until May 20, 1969, when its final call came and the furnaces of Jackson County were silenced once and for all.

Photo below: AERIAL PHOTO OF JISCO FURNACE (Jisco West Road)


* * *
This article was written by Randy Heath, executive director of the Jackson Area Chamber Of Commerce. The information concerning Globe Iron Furnace was taken from the booklet River Of Iron, A History Of The Globe Iron Company by Raymond-Lynn Boothe, Ph. D., whose father operated the gasoline station that stood in the shadows of the furnace. The information on JISCO came from the book A History Of Jackson County, Ohio, and was written by J. Willard Potter, who served for decades a director and secretary of JISCO. Other material was gained from the Robert E. Ervin book Jackson County: It's History And It's People.



Remembering the Ladies ...

Romaine Aten Jones

The following article pertains to a lady who contributed much to Jackson County's illustrious past in a very professional way. This dear lady, now deceased, wrote a book in 1942, entitled "Early Jackson." It is a splendid historical account dealing with Jackson in the days of yesteryear. Romaine Aten was born in Jackson County, November 11, 1873, one of four children of Ell and Sarah Helphenstine Aten. Her father was a cabinet maker and together with Harry Marshman operated a furniture store and funeral home at the southeast comer of Broadway and Pearl streets in Jackson. This partnership lasted 34 years. Romaine graduated from Jackson High School and shortly thereafter married Benner Jones who was first a practicing attorney, then later a mayor of Jackson and a judge in the county judicial system.

"Aunt Rome," as she was affectionately called, was county chairwoman and a life member of the Ohioana Library Association. This organization honored noted accomplishments in the arts by fellow Ohioans. "Aunt Rome" also received an award from President Herbert Hoover, for work done for the government during World War One. She was also a trustee of Rio Grande College and a lifetime member of the Woman's Literary Club of Jackson. It was to this club that she presented a paper on Jackson County history, later expanded and published as a volume entitled "Early Jackson," in 1942. For Ohio's Sesquicentennial, 1803-1953, she combined her talents with those of Anna Mae Jenkins, to write "The History of Jackson County." She was also historian of the Jackson High School Alumni Association. She died on June 24, 1963 at 89 years of age.

Anna Mae Jenkins

Mrs. Anna Mae Jenkins, along with Romaine Aten Jones, co-authored "The History of Jackson County, Sesquicentennial Edition," in 1953. Following is a brief account of Mrs. Jenkins' life: A Jackson County school teacher during the early part of the twentieth century, Anna Mae Evans was born in Jackson in 1886. She attended the old South Street School in the City until 1901 or 1902. At this time the family moved to a farm home in Jefferson Township. As a result of this move, Anna Mae started attending school at the Central Building in Oak Hill. Graduating from high school in 1905, she attended the Portland Academy in Oak Hill until she passed the Boxwell Examinations, which made her qualified to teach school.

For the next five years of her life, she taught school in one-room school houses in Jefferson, Hamilton, Liberty and Madison Townships. Some schools of the past where she instructed students in the three R's were Oakland, Pyro, Comer and Maybees. She was married to Mr. Robert W. Jenkins in 1910. They lived on a farm near Oak Hill until 1927, raising a family of four children, two sons and two daughters. The family moved to Jackson in 1927. Mrs. Anna Mae Jenkins passed away in 1983.

Lucy B. Jones

Lucy B. Jones was a renowned Jackson County Educator of the past. It was said that during the first year Miss Jones taught school, she rode horseback each day to and from school. Her salary was $40 per month. She continued teaching in the Jackson Schools instructing in every subject except languages for 50 years. For 15 of these years, she served as Principal of the high school at Kinnison. The tall, red-haired lady was known as a firm disciplinarian as well as a dedicated teacher.


Julia Ann Bundy

Julia Ann Bundy was born on a farm at Wellston in Jackson County, Ohio, on June 17, 1847. Miss Bundy's place of birth was a log farm house which had been built by her grandfather in 1808. The Bundy family was one of the most prominent and influential in southern Ohio's history, especially in regard to politics. Julia Ann's father, H.S. Bundy, besides being a highly respected attorney, was at one time a Whig Congressman. The City of Wellston was laid out on the Bundy farm by Harvey Wells in 1873.
Concerning H. S. Bundy, at one time during its early history, Ohio had what was known as "Black Laws." A black man could not testify against a white man in a court of law. Congressman Bundy was very instrumental in getting this unjust law repealed in the State of Ohio.

Julia Ann Bundy graduated from Ohio Wesleyan Female College at Delaware in 1868. She met Captain Joseph Benson Foraker, whom she married in October of 1870. Mr. Foraker was described as being a very brilliant man who was active in the Republican Party. He served for two terms as Governor of Ohio, being inaugurated in 1886. He also served in the U.S. Senate for several years. In 1932, when Julia B. Foraker was 84 years old, Harper and Brothers Publishers printed her book entitled, "I Would Live It Again." This book is said to deal quite extensively with Mrs. Foraker's early life at her Jackson County home in Wellston. Julia Bundy Foraker passed away in July, 1933.

* * *
by Jack Rhea, Telegram Historian

Researcher's Note: Source of much of the following was,
"The History of Jackson County, Sesquicentennial Edition, 1803-1953."



The D T & I Car Shops

The Detroit, Toledo and Ironton Railroad Company (DT&I) was once known as the Detroit Southern Railroad Company. The Southern went into receivership on July 5, 1904, with Samuel Hunt as receiver. On Saturday, December 17, 1904, The Jackson Herald announced that the new Detroit Southern Shops would be located in Jackson on a 28-acre site on Athens Street known as the Jackson Racing Park, a one-third mile track with a grandstand. Local industrialist Edwin Jones (father of the late Lillian Jones) had received the announcement on Friday in a letter from Receiver Hunt. Jones had constructed the Cambrian Hotel in 1900 and had brought the Crown Pipe and Foundry Company to Jackson from Marietta, Ohio in 1902. He had been in negotiations for almost four months with Hunt and had made visits to New York City for conferences with F. E. Lisman, the principal bondholder of the road.

The old shops had been located in Springfield, Ohio, employing 250 to 350 men with a monthly payroll of $20,000. The prime factors in selecting Jackson for the new shops appear to have been that this county furnished the bulk of the traffic and the probability that the road would later be extended into the coal fields of Kentucky and West Virginia. The new shops in Jackson were to be larger than those in Springfield, up-to-date, and equipped with all modern machinery. All repair work of the whole road was to be done in Jackson, and perhaps 500 men would be employed, increasing the local population by 1,500 to 2,000 persons.

A portion of the agreement was for local citizens and businessmen to raise $28,000 by public subscription. Twenty thousand of the amount was to serve as a bonus or a "guarantee fund" to go toward the cost of the company moving from Springfield and the eventual construction of some 15 buildings. The cost of the sit was $6,200, and the remaining $1,800 was to be used to purchase a house that stood in the way.

Seven committees of there persons each appear to have been organized to canvas the citizenry. They were as follows:
No. 1, Dan Crossin, Art Ervin and James Morgan;
No. 2, R. C. Cavett, Ed. W. Foster and James D. Wittman;
No. 3, J. E. Jones, C. O. Brown and D. P. Coll;
No. 4, Ed Jones, H. A. Bedel and Oscar Ervin;
No. 5, J. J. McKitterick, John Inman and Emmett Dungan;
No. 6, James C. Poore, S. O. H. Callahan and Tom Washam, Jr.;
No. 7, L. V. Brown, E. B. Matthews and William Fogarty.

Other workers who assisted were: W. E. Evans, F. E. Bingman, James Ridenour, Robert Grime, W. H. Kelsey, Henry Hollberg, W. C. Martin and George E. Morgan. C. O. Brown was the treasurer of the Car Shop Fund, and the Iron Bank (now the site of Barry Smith Law Offices) was the repository for the fund. On Monday, December 19, 1904, the first day of the drive, $10,000 was subscribed, and by Thursday of that week, the subscriptions had reached $19,525. It was at that time that Jones pledged to assume all above $21,000. By Thursday afternoon, December 22, the entire $28,000 was guaranteed, and at a final meeting, Samuel Hunt delivered a moving speech. He congratulated the citizens of Jackson for their excellent work and paid a high tribute to Edwin Jones. He stated that it had been impossible to avoid him, and the only alternative was to surrender.

The first plans called for a machine shop, 110 by 200 feet; boiler shop, 75 by 100 feet; blacksmith shop, 60 by 80 feet; a mill, 75 by 145 feet; passenger car paint shop, 50 to 160 feet; freight car repair shop, 70 by 225 feet; store house, 50 by 100 feet; store room and office, 49 by 100 feet; oil house, 25 by 50 feet; and a round house with 18 stalls, 83 feet deep. On Tuesday, April 18, 1905, the contract for building the shops was awarded to the Pittsburgh Construction Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. On Sunday, April 23, workmen began removing the grandstand and the fence surrounding the race track, and on the following Monday, workmen began laying track into the site. The reasons given for the long delay since the first announcement in December were that big items move slowly, and there was also the forthcoming sale of the railroad. The sale came on Monday, May 1, 1905, to Otto Bannard, of the New York Trust Company, for $2,000,000. Samuel Hunt was to continue as president of the company. On Saturday, May 6, came the announcement out of Detroit that the name of the Detroit Southern had been changed to Detroit, Toledo and Ironton Railway.

By June 3, work on the shops was reported as progressing satisfactorily. The buildings were larger and more substantial than first thought possible. A force of men were also engaged in laying additional track. On June 14, newly appointed manager (superintendent) R. K. Smith arrived in Jackson; he was well satisfied with the progress and was of the opinion that more land would be required. By the month of October, however, Superintendent Smith had discovered that the foundations erected by the Pittsburgh Construction Company were faulty, and he announced that he would complete the new shops under his own supervision. By November 15, the foundations had been strengthened at all points, and a large force of men were at work on the roof of the main building. The grading for the round house was also progressing. On January 24, 1906, it was reported that the roofs of the buildings were practically complete, and all doors and windows were in place. Two large boilers, to be used to provide power, had arrived, and the foundations for the roundhouse and store room were completed. Excavation for the turn table was down to a depth of 11.5 feet of the required 14 feet. Clay had been used in filling around the foundations to prevent water from settling under the buildings. On Tuesday, April 3, master mechanic W. H. Haynen arrived in the city along with A. H. Powell who was to be in direct charge of the local shops and to supervise the installation of new machinery valued at $38,000.

Executives appear to have changed as often as the controlling corporations. Prior to 1920, the railroad had been operated by six different corporations, had been in receivership four times, and had been operated for two and one-half years by a bondholders committee. Originally, there was the Detroit, Jackson and Pomeroy Railroad incorporated on December 17, 1874. Construction of the road began on a farm three miles south of Springfield on May 10, 1876. The first rail was laid on the Jackson end of the line on December 7, 1876 during a ceremony near the former depot (now the site of Apple Attic Antiques and Crafts). The brick masons at the shops site appear to have gone on strike in April but were back at work on May 18, and bricklaying had begun on the oil storage building. Mechanics were also busy setting machinery. Some 1,200 car loads of fill dirt had been dumped on the grounds.

The finishing touches were being applied to the new shops by July 11, 1906. The machinery in the carpenter shop was in operation, and the machine shop and blacksmith shop were being prepared for active service. On Tuesday, August 21, thirty-five skilled mechanics were added to the work force, making a total of 160 workers. Skilled mechanics were drawn from Springfield, Chillicothe and Portsmouth. An inspection committee published a notice to contributors in the Saturday, September 8, 1906 issue of The Herald that the railway company had complied with the provisions of the contract and should receive the $20,000 "guarantee fund." The total cost of the shops appears to have been $150,000, some three times the amount anticipated. Sixteen thousand of that amount had gone into the cost of installing an electrical plant, a mechanical appliance for coaling the engines, and the steam heating system.

A portion of the letter is as follows: TO CONTRIBUTORS OF THE DETROIT, TOLEDO & IRONTON SHOPS GUARANTEE FUND: We, the undersigned committee, appointed by the subscribers for an inspection of the Railway Company's shops to ascertain if the provisions of the contract have been complied with, beg leave to report as follows: After having made a careful inspection, find that the Railway Company have carried out every provision stipulated in their contract, having erected the buildings required and installed them with the latest and most improved equipment. They now have in their employ about 250 men and the probabilities are, that they will employ about double this number within the next year. That they have complied with the provisions of their contract fully, and are entitled to the guarantee fund of $20,000, no one can, or will question after having visited the shops.Respectfully submitted, E. T. Jones, John F. Motz, Daniel Crossin, A. L. Ervin, John J. McKitterick, E. W. Foster, J. L. Gahm, G. David, Edwin Jones.

On Thursday, October 18, 1906, there was the first full payroll for the employees. Checks totaling in the amount of $12,418 arrived on the noon train from headquarters for payment of wages for the month of September. Some 350 to 400 men were now employed. According to the Thursday, October 19, 1906 issue of The Jackson Standard-Journal: "Everything is booming at the shops, and as fast as the facilities for operation can be enlarged, additional men will be put on." On July 9, 1920, the DT&I was purchased by Henry Ford and his son, Edsel Ford. The purchase included 454 miles of main line, 155 miles of side track, 3,200 cars, 85 locomotives and 27 passenger cars, extending from Detroit to Ironton. Henry Ford was known for order and efficiency, and when a train was on a siding, the crew was expected to polish the engine. Ford came to Jackson on Saturday, May 21, 1921. A committee of the Chamber of Commerce escorted him about town and to the Scott building at the corner of Main and Church streets. Charles Scott was the local Ford dealer and constructed the building in 1917.

With the coming of restrictions imposed by the Interstate Commerce Commission, Ford sold his controlling interest in the road on June 27, 1929 to the Pennroad Corporation. Passenger service between Jackson and Ironton was discontinued on September 18, 1932. On February 28, 1951, the controlling interest was acquired by the Pennsylvania and Wabash railroads, and passenger service between Springfield and Jackson was discontinued on May 8, 1954. The last steam engine was repaired at the Jackson shops in 1954, and all steam operations were discontinued in Jackson in 1955. The Jackson shops became a car repair facility.

On June 24, 1980, the DT&I became a part of the Grand Trunk Western Railroad. Active management by the president of Grand Trunk began on August 1, 1980. As the year 1983 was ending, there was the announcement of the permanent closing of the shops. As the last train departed Jackson on Tuesday morning, March 27, 1984, a great era became history. The members of the train crew were: J. Mounts, engineer; L. J. Causey, fireman; William Collins, Jr., conductor; Steve Arnold, head brakeman; and Dave Sharp, flagman. Story Cool was the station agent.

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Courtesy of historian Robert Ervin




From Chun-King, to Luigino's, to Bellisio Foods, Inc.

It was in September, 1957, that a young entrepreneur named Jeno Paulucci ventured into the food production business in Jackson, Ohio with the establishment of Chun King Sales, buying the plant from a former furnace company that used to operate on the site. By January 1958, the facility had an employment of 240 employees and continued to grow. In 1967, the facility was sold to R. J. Reynolds and the facility on East Broadway Street operated until the early 1980s, when the operations were moved elsewhere.

Jeno Paulucci returned to Jackson in the 1982 when he bought the food processing facility in Wellston that is now operated by General Mills and joins Luigino's as one of two Jackson County employers that employ more than 1,000 employees. That facility was opened in May, 1968 by Ralston-Purina Company. After locating in Wellston, Jeno Paulucci bought back the Jackson plant after moving the principal production operations for his new Jeno's, Inc. company (frozen pizza and Pizza Rolls) to Wellston in 1982-83. Jeno's, Inc. was sold to Pillsbury Company in 1985, which closed the facility again.

In 1990, Paulucci received a letter from then Jackson Mayor Tom Evans that the "third time would be a charm", and he should consider establishing yet another food production facility in his old, and at that time vacant, building in Jackson. Paulucci gave the matter considerable thought, felt his experiences in Jackson County had been sufficiently successful to start again, and in December, 1992 with 100 employees, launced production at Luigino's, producers of the Michelina's brand frozen food products, a business he had started in Minnesota in 1990. The letter sent by Evans has since proven to be very beneficial for the community of Jackson and has provided Jackson with its largest employer at 1,000 employees with additional employees expected to be added in the future.

Paulucci has been quoted as saying Jackson County has a very sound location as it is within one day's drive within two-thirds of the population of the United States. From Chun King, to Luigino's, and now, BELLISIO FOODS, INC., this building has served as home for Jeno Paulucci and his business ventures, as well as a home for thousands of local employees to earn their income in the workforce.




The Changing of the Guard

The Jackson area experienced an industrial metamorphous in the 1960s that changed its industrial landscape forever. As the first 50 years of the 20th century were winding down, three of the main employers in the Jackson area were nearing the end of their run. Globe Iron Furnace closed in 1960, JISCO ended operations in 1969 and the D. T. and I Car Shops began to phase out their operations in the early 1970s.

The first major change came on April 24, 1950, when the Jackson City Council passed necessary legislation to allow for the sale of bonds for the construction of a building to house a production facility for the Hercules Trouser Company. Officials a month earlier had approved the South Bennett Avenue property for the site. The factory began operations in the fall of 1951, with primarily a female workforce, and remained in operation until 1960, when operations were moved to Arkansas. It should be noted that another important development in the fall of 1951 was the passage of a bond issue by the voters in November for the construction of Hammertown Lake, the city's water reservoir that has been vital in the food production business in Jackson.

On July 28, 1961, the Jackson Area Chamber Of Commerce announced that a new firm, called Jackson Corporation, was locate in the former Hercules Trouser Company building and would begin the manufacturing of plastic products by September 1, 1961. The actual production of plastic items on South Bennett Avenue began in 1962, expanding their initial location in 1965 and constructing a second building in 1973, which now serves as the facility for all of their production. The Jackson Plastics Corporation has employed more than 200 during its peak employment, but as the current producers of plastic items for use in hotel rooms, their production and employment levels suffered with the downtown in the tourism industry after the 9/11 disaster.

Another big change came in September, 1957 when Chun King Corporation began the production of the oriental food at the site of a former furnace company, a location that is utilized today by the same owner, Jeno Paulucci, as its base of production for Luigino's, makers of the Michelina's brand product. That business is now known as Bellisio Foods, Inc.

In July, 1961, one week prior to the announcement concerning the Jackson Corporation plastics plant, the Ohio Fire Brick Co. announced it would construct a new brick plant on then State Route 124, three miles west of Jackson. That facility still provides employment today through AluChem.


In the mid-1960s, the Jackson Community Improvement Corporation formed to try and lure industry to the Jackson area. In 1964, Goodyear officials announced they would locate in Jackson, initially producing agricultural products. Soon afterwards, though, Goodyear began manufacturing items for the automobile and heavy truck industries, a product that has been a staple of the Jackson operation, that, until 2007, was operated by Meridian Automotive Industries. The first product was produced in July, 1966 and in 1969, the company completed a $1.2 million expansion, which was dedicated by a visit from Gov. James A. Rhodes. They had additional expansions in 1974, 1988 and again in the 1990. Meridian Automotive Systems announced a plant shutdown in August of 2007 due to lack of contracts.

Also in 1966, the Ohio Stove Company, based out of Portsmouth, began a Jackson division on Athens Street at the location of the old Crown Pipe And Foundry. They began by making pistons for compressors for the refrigeration industry, but since have changed their name to OSCO, Inc. and manufacturers scroll compressor components.
The Crown Pipe And Foundry began production on May 27, 1902, but had many problems beginning in the late 1940s and on May 25, 1956, operations were suspended following a two-week strike by 200 workers and Ohio Stove Company bought the facility on July 23, 1965. Although located in Wellston, another big step forward for the Jackson County industrial community came on May 2, 1968 when the Ralston-Purina Company dedicated its newly built facility. This facility has seen several owners, including Banquet Foods, then Jeno's, Inc., followed by Pillsbury in 1985, which was merged into General Mills shortly after the turn of the century. Currently, the General Mills facility and Luigino's are the two largest employers in Jackson County, both employing more than 1,000 employees each.


In 1976, the final large piece to the puzzle was added. Orville and Ruth Merillat, owners of the Merillat Industries, makers of kitchen and other cabinets, broke ground in August, 1976 for the Jackson frame plant with production beginning a year later. The Jackson plant became the first satellite plant and it was Orville's vision to locate component plants strategically to provide the red oak structural parts to fuel his cabinet assembly operations. Jackson was selected due to its proximity to the Appalachian hardwood forests and the availability of a ready and capable workforce. The first manager was a former local resident, John Brunton, who guided the plant through its formative years and now there is a workforce of more than 500 working around the clock.


The area has also attracted new companies such as Coleman Industries, as well as a regional warehouse distribution center operated by American Warehousing & Logistics.

Jackson County offers two industrial parks, one in Jackson and one in Wellston. More than 300 industry-ready acres are available for development. Jackson also offers a commercial/retail park, a newly remodeled shopping mall and several smaller commercial/retail centers.


The downtown areas of both Jackson and Wellston have undergone Downtown Revitalization Projects that helped spruce up and modernize storefronts. They also completed Streetscape projects that replaced sidewalks, installed decorative brick walkways and added period lighting, benches and downtown parks. Jackson County’s future looks even brighter with more than $56 million in new healthcare facilities, all new or completely remodeled educational facilities throughout the county, plus industrial, commercial and residential developments making it one of the faster growing counties in the State of Ohio.

The differences from the beginning to the end of the 20th century, like most other areas, were the difference between night and day, and the complete metamorphous has hopefully provided a never-ending light to the end of the tunnel for Jackson County and its residents.