STORIES OF INTEREST

 

The Eisteddfod
It happened every spring, and during that time, thousands of students within the Jackson City School District have participated in the musical heritage known as The Eisteddfod.
For more than 30 years during that time, Mr. D. Merrill Davis would crisply announce the name of each contestant, just as the founder R. R. Thomas did before him did and those after him, such as Raymond Lynn Boothe, have done as well, and the specially selected song was sung to parents and classmates alike. But few might know the history of the Eisteddfod in Jackson, and how it drew the attention of the nation back in 1930.


The Eisteddfod is a Welsh Singing Festival that has its roots dating back nearly 1,000 years. The first Eisteddfods in Jackson County were held in 1863 near Oak Hill, and the tradition of the Eisteddfod moved to Jackson in 1924. That year, the local Welshmen brought in R. R. Thomas from Portsmouth to develop a program for the community and school. It was also that year the first Eisteddfod was held for the Jackson City Schools. With this came the Southern Ohio Eisteddfod Association, which just two years earlier in 1922 had begun to conduct competitions. With Mr. Thomas at the helm, interest continued to grow in the Eisteddfod in Jackson, so much so that in 1928, an Eisteddfod Auditorium was built in Jackson where currently the parking lot is located behind the Jackson County Job And Family Services building on South Street.


At the National Eisteddfod in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. in the fall of 1928, John Jones of Jackson, who was an officer in the national organization, suggested that the 1930 National Eisteddfod beheld in Jackson. Then, on November 19, 1928 at a meeting in Utica, New York, Jackson beat out such cities as Utica, Chicago and Pittsburgh to hold the national event. One of the reasons for the selection of Jackson was the Eisteddfod Auditorium, believed to be the only building in the world devoted to the practice of the Eisteddfod. The building had been built entirely through subscriptions from local citizens and the Welsh "iron masters". Jackson soon began to prepare for the national event. A new floor was constructed in April, 1929 and the first event in it after that was the Annual Automobile Show. Then came the big event, the National Eisteddfod on October 23-25, 1930. The newspaper was asking all homes with extra rooms to make them available, as it was predicted that 500 singers would participate in the national event, including 11 ladies' choirs, nine male and seven mixed choruses along with three bands. Interest was so great that a special edition of the newspaper was published announcing that Lima and Cleveland were the winners of the big money at the event, Lima groups winning the Ladies' Chorus and Mixed Choir competition and the Cleveland Orpheus Chorus having the top male chorus.


The month of October, 1930, proved to be a big month in the history of Jackson for new and exciting entertainment as it was the weekend before the National Eisteddfod that the Markay Theatre opened for the first time, having as its initial attraction "Playboy In Paris" with Maurice Chevalier. The Southern Ohio Eisteddfod Association events brought to Jackson in 1924 contained competition for choirs, poetry, readings, piano and recitations. During its existence, artists from as far away as New York, Chicago and Canada came to perform, and in 1941, with the advent of World War II, the competitions came to an end. The Eisteddfod building was destroyed by fire in the early 1970s.


As for the Eisteddfod itself, it continued to live on in the Jackson City Schools throughout the 20th century, giving young children in all grades a chance to perform and display their musical talent. Almost each and every community has a tradition or two that is unique, contains fond memories and is special to all who took part. In a community where musical appreciation has been held in such high esteem throughout its existence, The Eisteddfod maintains that place in Jackson lore.

 

Camp Arrowhead

Oh, the joys of being young - dreaming about playing baseball morning, noon and night, every sunshine-filled summer day, then going swimming in between and finishing the day with a good time among wonderful friends. And the joys of being an adult, able to make the dreams of young men come true, having the mind of a major industrialist yet the heart of a young child who still believes in all the good things the world has to give. These were among the joys of Edwin A. Jones - the dreamer, the doer, and most of all, the ultimate giver and the man, who for nearly a thousand young men, made dreams into reality. There are also the joys of being a young man and working with young boys, seeing them turn into men. Is there no greater feeling of gratification than to see a young man reach his potential because you were able to say the right word and point him in the right direction?


These were the joys of D. Merrill Davis - the man who could have lived and worked anywhere in the world, but gave his exquisite talent to the county which had been his home since birth, and the man who most likely influenced in a positive way, more lives than anyone in his county's history. All that was left was for these two giants to join forces, and when two great men put their equally great ideals into one - the result became known as Camp Arrowhead, without question one of the finest boys' camps in the United States and located right here in Jackson County.


It has been over 30 years since the last young man spent his nights at Camp Arrowhead. It is now owned by the State of Ohio and is known as the Lake Katharine Nature Preserve, but still stands as a statue to the beauty of life and the excellence of man. During the 1950s, if you were a young boy, there was one place to be and that was Camp Arrowhead. "It was every boy's dream," said former Jackson Mayor Tom Evans, who was one of those boys who dreamed about the camp but never attended. "All the boys at the high school wanted to go. It was the ultimate boys' camp around."


Young and old alike revered the camp, possibly because it exemplified all the ideal many people were looking for during the late 1940s and early 1950s. "In its heyday, Camp Arrowhead was one of the most prestigious boys' summer camps in the Midwest and an important part of the summer scene in the Jackson area," recalled Ed Clark, the long-time Jackson newspaper editor who arrived in Jackson during the camp's third summer of operation. "It was the source of many news stories, such as the selection of Edwin A. Jones Foundation campers from Jackson," Clark continued. "Arrowhead sports teams competed in Jackson and we always did several feature stories each summer on some facet of the camping program. I have many warm and pleasant personal recollections of the camp as Camp Director D. Merrill Davis extended me an open invitation to visit the camp, a privilege I used and cherished each summer," concluded Clark.


For Davis, being the camp's director was a year-round project. He recruited the young men for the camp, going out on weekends after teaching school all week to find counselors and prospective campers. He traveled the state far and wide and many times reached beyond its boundaries. D. Merrill Davis never did anything unless he could make it first class. Camp Arrowhead was no different and Eddie Jones knew this when he hired him to be the director of his camp. "Edwin Jones had the idea of a boys' camp for youth for quite some time," said Davis. "He was quite a philanthropist, helping many through college and he thought Southern Ohio would be the best place for his boys' camp."
Jones was the president of Globe Iron at the time, the blast furnace which occupied the space now housing the Jackson Square Shopping Center, and was one of Jackson's leading employers. But the money he earned from his successful business ventures more times than not went back to the community he loved and the young people he wanted to serve.


Jones owned some land in eastern Liberty Township and he and Jim McKittrick together bought land around where Jones already owned. The land was bought prior to World War II and it was at that time a lake was constructed, later to become the beautiful Lake Katharine, named after Jones' wife. Jones had already started the Edwin A. Jones Youth Foundation, and raised money for it in various ways including a Red and Blue Golf Tournament at Fairgreens Country Club. Then in the fall of 1948, Jones made a call to Jackson High School and asked Davis if he could have a half hour of his time. Jones took Davis to where the future camp would be and to where a footer had been dug for the director's cabin. "Merrill, your family will live here and you are going to run my boys' camp," Jones told him. Davis had experience in being involved in youth camps as he had been active in 4-H camps before World War II. He had built up programs for college seminars and 4-H camps that were used around the country during the summers, but they now took a back seat to his new summer occupation.


"We opened in June, 1949, and it was one of the finest facilities in the United States," Davis proudly recalled. "Everything was first class. There were Grumman aluminum canoes, Moosberg rifles, archery, tennis and basketball courts, a fine dining hall and a good staff." Davis said there was a mixture of boys, from the boys who hailed from affluent families to those who otherwise would not have been able to financially attend. That was where the Edwin A. Jones Youth Foundation came in, paying the expenses for the boys who could not afford it. In Jackson, a faculty committee would choose the boys for the scholarship on the basis of scholarship, character and citizenship and surrounding towns and school districts such as Oak Hill, Wellston, Portsmouth, Logan, Chillicothe, Gallipolis, Pomeroy, Lancaster, Middleport, Marietta, Waverly and others were each asked to choose their top junior high boy to attend the camp. For most of those young men, their tuition was paid by the Edwin A. Jones Youth Foundation, which basically amounted to an out of pocket donation by Edwin Jones himself. "Each year, he would donate between $30,000 and $40,000 for tuitions for these youths," Davis said. "Most of them would have never had the chance to attend the camp otherwise."


There were between 60 and 65 boys each year who came to the camp and around 12 counselors would also be on hand to help care for the boys. All told, Davis remembered there were about 80 to 90 people living at the camp during the summer. "They came from all over the United States, but mainly from Ohio, although we had some from as far away as Florida and Connecticut," he noted.


Davis was not only the camp director, but the bookkeeper, recruiter and about anything else the camp needed. "It was thrilling to start something brand new in a society of boys and young men," he said, adding that his experiences with 4-H camps had been a big help in getting things started.

 

Each camping season was unique in that it set its own standards. "There was no tradition coming in, good or bad," Davis recalled. "We set our own tradition. This helped us to lay the foundation for the 'Arrowhead Spirit,' and we encouraged the young men to enter all the activities and everyone played together," he pointed out. Davis said the camp's goal was to build around such things as the basic traits of character, honesty, integrity and compassion. He added he wanted the campers to gain a feeling for morality, integrity and manliness while attending the camp. And when the first day of camp came, everyone started out as equals.


"There was no way to tell once camp begun who was rich, who was smart, who was this or that, they were all the same," Davis mentioned. "Compassion was the big word. We wanted them to learn how to be nice to people, learn to be tolerant. We tried to have each boy understand the worth of his fellow camper," he continued. From its first season, the camp was a trademark of excellence for Jackson County through the decade of the 1950s. But after the 1960 camp closed and 12 years as its director had passed by, Davis decided it was time to use his summer to pursue new activities. "I wanted to devote more of my summer time to music," he recalled. "It [being the camp director] was very time-consuming. The responsibility for 80-90 young men for six weeks, 24 hours a day, is wearing."


But the 12 years Davis spent as the camp's director were well worth it. "My relationship with Eddie was the finest," he recalled. "I cherish the years we worked together. To him, the goal was much more important than the money." The camp during the 1950s was as well known as the Apple Festival, and he added that word-of-mouth was the best advertising the camp had. Jones, who is now 91 and lives with his daughter in Newark, New Jersey [at the time of this original writing], had attended camp himself as a young boy and had also been a camp counselor. "His joy was helping other people, especially other young people," Davis remembered. He said the counselors were picked for quality and all had good backgrounds, and that many campers later became counselors. "The backbone was the counseling staff," Davis said.


The camp only operated a couple of years after Davis left and then was turned over to the Girl Scouts for $1 a year before the state finally bought the property and it became the nature preserve it is today. Davis was proud of the many good programs and good counselors at the camp. There was a full-fledged nature program, an archaeology program and many others. The list of campers and counselors in addition to the accomplishments they compiled later in life would read like a "Who's Who." Among the assistant directors were John Finch and long-time Athens coach Harry Lackey. "Being the director was a difficult job, but it was very satisfying," stated Davis.


But in the end, Camp Arrowhead was no more than two great men, with great ideals, putting them to a great use and turning out great young men. The legend of Camp Arrowhead has lived for many years and should live forever. The camp which some don't even know existed is one of Jackson County's greatest treasures. For Eddie Jones, it was the side of the man often kept in the background and silent. While he has given in many ways to his native community, no better monument for his true greatness could ever be erected than his work with his camp. And D. Merrill Davis, the silent leader who brought forth a demeanor that most men only idealize about perfecting, has the undying gratitude of a thousand young men and more for being that important part of their lives. "I had one man say his boy came home different, a young gentleman. Other young men have told me it was the high point of their lives, they gained a great deal of tolerance," remembered the man they all grew to love and respect so much. For every boy who went through Camp Arrowhead, a little bit of the camp left with them. And with that "Arrowhead Spirit" and the efforts of two remarkable men, a society and thousands were better served for it.

 

Happy Birthday, Governor Rhodes

By Randy Heath, newspaper journalist, written in honor of Governor Rhodes's 90th birthday in 1999

 

From humble beginnings he came, a village of just a few hundred people far away from the bustling city, and the loss of his father at age nine. Life, plus a devoted mother, though, taught him the value of work and the lessons he would need to survive. The young man from Coal Township learned them very well, and transformed his skills and knowledge not only into a legendary life of public service, but the foundation to guide one of America's great states on a visionary track to soaring new heights.

 

On Monday, this young boy who became one of Jackson County's most notable native sons, former four-term Ohio Governor James Allen Rhodes, will celebrate his 90th birthday.
While he might pause to recognize the milestone and reflect on his multitude of accomplishments, it will be no reason for him to cease his daily work of consulting and helping to make his beloved Ohio a better place to live.

 

The century was less than a decade old when Rhodes was born in Coalton. When his father died at Rhodes's young age, his mother was left with three children to raise and little finances to forge ahead. Although not even a teenager, he knew he would have to find employment to help his mother make ends meet, and 80 years later Rhodes continues to work away.

 

He has traveled the world, been admired by presidents, served longer than any other governor in the 223-year history of the United States of America. Jim Rhodes, though, has never forgotten where home was. "I am a Jackson Countian at heart, period," proclaimed Rhodes at the Jackson High School Hall of Honor ceremony last month. "I love coming back. I will do everything I can for Jackson County."


Besides his native roots, he also believes his upbringing by his mother was influential in his lifetime of success. "I did everything I could to help my mother after my father died," said Rhodes. "She taught me discipline. She was great." His mother, until her death in 1950, even often advised him during his political campaigns, he recalled. Rhodes not only had his mother close by for counsel, but surrounded himself with two other Jackson Countians in positions of prime importance. The late Fred Rice was his campaign manager and was also a tireless worker for Jackson County. Norm Crabtree, who joins Rhodes and Rice as members of the Jackson High School Hall of Honor and annually attends the induction ceremonies, was instrumental in the building of the many airports constructed during the Rhodes administration. He fondly recalls his 60-year relationship with the former governor. "He is the best thing that ever happened to Ohio," Crabtree stated. "He still generates enthusiasm that makes things happen. He could get people to work together."

 

When Rhodes speaks of his days as governor, he recalls them proudly. "We changed this state. I am most proud of the 16 years I served as governor," he observes. "As governor, we brought in more federal highways, more plants, more industry. We built more roads by accident than others did on purpose." He still believes the improvements in the transportation, including airports in every county, keyed Ohio's growth during the 20-year period from when he first became governor in 1963 until he left office in 1982.
He also felt that education and better employment opportunities went hand in hand.


"I called the university presidents together and told them we wanted more college branches," he remembered. "Young people want education. These young people need a good job to become wage earners. We want them to have a job in one hand and a diploma in the other."

 

Although he no longer serves in elective office, Rhodes is still working for the citizens of Ohio through James A. Rhodes and Associates, which does consulting and government relations work. His grandson, Ric Moore, helps oversee Rhodes's business interests. "He plays a pretty active role in the business, making phone calls and working daily," said Moore, who accompanied his grandfather to Jackson. "He is as active as ever. Sometimes, it is tough keeping up with him." Rhodes broke his collarbone over Memorial Day, but Moore says he is completely healed from that injury.


The former governor has always proudly maintained strong ties to his home county, and that influence and effort has certainly been an asset to the county of his birth.
Jackson Mayor Tom Evans believes Jackson Countians enjoy a much better quality of life today because of Rhodes. "At that time (while he was governor), both the governor and the Speaker of the House (Vern Riffe of New Boston) were from southern Ohio," remembered Evans. "It was really a blessing for this area. Although of different political parties, they put southern Ohio ahead of politics."


Evans credited Rhodes's good relationship with Jeno Paulucci in helping to bring him back to Jackson County and begin a food manufacturing facility where Pillsbury is today.
Rhodes also worked hard on the upgrades of the Jackson County Airport, which today is named in his honor, in addition to playing a major role in the development of the Appalachian Highway, which runs through Jackson and is also named in his honor.


Current State Representative John Carey from Wellston has a set answer for those who want to know where his district is. "I always tell people I'm from Jackson County, Jim Rhodes's country," he says. "His name is still very prominent in Columbus. There are several people still in state government who either worked for him or who were influenced by him. What impressed me, though, is that you always hear good things about when he was governor," Carey remarked. "Obviously, it was a time of good government."

 

Duke Rhodes has long been active in the Jackson County Republican Party and is a second cousin to Jim Rhodes. "His career has definitely given our county party additional pride knowing that he was from Jackson County," Duke Rhodes commented. "When you get elected governor in Ohio, you are the leader of the party in the state and for 16 years we produced the leader of the Republican Party of Ohio."

 

On the occasion of his 80th birthday, a book entitled James A. Rhodes at Eighty was produced by Stanley J. Aronoff, president of the Ohio Senate; and Riffe, who was Speaker of the Ohio House. The two leaders opened the book with these thoughts: "It is impossible for any of us in state government, regardless of our party preference, to ignore the impact of James Allen Rhodes on Ohio's governance, campaign methods, and politics. As the right man at the right time in Ohio, he permanently changed for the better the way of the state in education, recreation, transportation and industrial development during his 16 gubernatorial years."


Former President George Bush, shortly after being elected President in 1988, autographed a picture to Rhodes, saying, "To Jim Rhodes, my friend whom I respect. He taught me a lot!"


Jim Rhodes was born in Coalton, the son of James and Susan Howe Rhodes. His father was a coal miner and operator as well as a Republican precinct committeeman. In 1910, the family moved to Jasonville, Ind. to secure a better job opportunity. The elder Rhodes, though, died in 1918 of influenza, whereupon his family returned to Jackson County. Thereafter, Mrs. Rhodes supported the family, including her son Jim and daughters Garnet and Della, by working in a cigar factory and operating a boarding house.
The former governor attended elementary school at Mound Street School and Portsmouth Street School in Jackson, and junior high school at Broadway School, also known as Old Central.


As a student, he became janitor of the two-frame supporting buildings of the Old Central building; receiving ten dollars a month. Prior to that, he had worked at Michael's Ice Cream Store, turning peanuts for $1 a day shortly after his father died. While he was in eighth grade, he and his family moved to Springfield where he continued working as a newspaper boy, clerk, errand boy and at other odd jobs. While attending Springfield South High School, he made the all-state football and basketball teams. But his influence on sports would also extend far beyond his high school days, and even back to his home county. In the spring of 1938, Jackson High School, which had unofficially been known as the Red Devils, decided it was time to select an official name for the high school's athletic teams. The letter from Rhodes's homestead in Columbus, where he was serving on the Columbus Board of Education, was the first one submitted to vote for the name, "Ironmen," which later became the high school's official nickname.


In 1948, while mayor of Columbus, he represented the United States at the 1948 Olympic Games at London, served two terms as president of the Amateur Athletic Union and was a founder of the Pan American Games. It was in the 1930s, though, he embarked on what would be nearly a half-century of serving in elective office. In 1932, he organized a campus Republican Club while a student at Ohio State University, the beginning of his political life. In 1934, he successfully ran for his first political office, ward committeeman, ousting the incumbent committeeman who had held the seat for 16 years. He won election to that post twice. In 1937, he was elected to the Columbus Board of Education for one term and in 1939, elected to the first of two terms as the Columbus City Auditor. In 1943, it was on to the mayor's office in the capital city for the first of three terms and then in 1952 he was elected as the state auditor of Ohio, re-elected to the post again in 1956 and 1960.

 

He was first elected governor of Ohio in 1962, when he ousted incumbent Democrat Michael DiSalle by over 500,000 votes. He was returned to office in 1966 with a resounding victory over Frazier Reams in which Rhodes captured 87 of Ohio's 88 counties.Term limits forced Rhodes to leave the governorship in 1970, but he narrowly edged incumbent governor John Gilligan in 1974 and served two more terms before leaving office in 1982. The month before he left office, a bronze statue was dedicated in his honor on the northeast corner of the Statehouse grounds. The statue was well deserved when reviewing his brilliant record as governor.


In education, many more college branches were established in Rhodes's dream to take education beyond high school to within 30 miles of every Ohio student.
As for those wanting to enjoy themselves, the number of state parks during his reign grew from 49 to 71, state lodges went from one to seven, with more than four times as many cabins and campsites developed at state parks.


And Governor Rhodes was always huge on roads, and almost 1,400 miles of interstate highways were built and opened during his first eight years as governor.
Today, from the airport in this county to the Rhodes Office Tower near the statehouse in downtown Columbus, countless buildings and other items are named in his honor. He was elected to various public offices 15 times between 1934 and 1982.


He was also an author. Between 1959 and 1969, be authored or co-authored five books, including The Trial of Mary Todd Lincoln, Johnny Shiloh, Teenage Hall of Fame, The Court Martial of Commodore Perry and Alternative to a Decadent Society.


He was married to the late Helen Rawlins of Jackson County for nearly 45 years and they were the parents of three daughters, Susan, Saundra and Sharon.
An article in the Nov. 3, 1937 edition of The Wellston Telegram announced that "Jimmy Rhodes, grandson of Mr. and Mrs. Ellison Rhodes of Coalton, had been elected to the Columbus Board of Education."


The story said he led the field and continued to forecast his political potential. "Mr. Rhodes is only 27 years old, but he has been Republican committeeman in the Sixteenth Ward in Columbus, and gives promise of reaching the political heights of Ohio."
Little did they know.

 

"Our Town" The Last 50 Years by Journalist Ed Clark, written Sunday, October 3, 2004 for the Jackson County Times-Journal
Sometimes it's hard to know what passing thought or scene will trigger long ago memories. Coming out of the courthouse on a recent afternoon I paused for a glance at "downtown Jackson" before descending the wide concrete steps to the sidewalk level. In that instance, my mind took a quantum leap of a half century plus backward in time and I was remembering the people and businesses of downtown Jackson a half century ago in the early 1950s. Perhaps the recent announcement of the closing of The Colonial Restaurant contributed to these thoughts.


Really, the broad outlines of downtown Jackson have not changed that much, even though the expansion of commercial activity out on the East Main Street strip has resulted in competition for the established stores in the downtown business district. But the broad outlines of the downtown area are much the same, anchored by the Memorial Building and the big bank building (now National City but then First National) on Broadway and courthouse square and the town's tallest structure, the Cambrian building, on Main Street.
On courthouse square, the "old jail" building is gone, replaced by the Allison Health Center and the "old jail No. 2" is replaced by a parking area for county employees.


The Cambrian is no longer a grand old hotel, but now houses residential apartments subsidized by a Metropolitan Housing Authority. The retail and office storefronts downtown present about the same facade, but for the most part, the businesses are different. I can think of only a handful of downtown business places still operating in the same locations and under the same familiar names as when I came to town in the early 50s. Lewis Drug Store is still a fixture on Main Street, as are Coll Auto and Carlisle Insurance and Jackson Implement Co. on Broadway and Water Streets. The Fashion (women's wear) is still operating but under different ownership. M&E Jewelry has the same owners but a different name - Engraving Plus. On the other side of Broadway, it's now A. L. Terry's Jewelry instead of Jake Jenkins. The Markay name is still prominent on Main Street as a cultural arts center instead of a movie theater. Wood Furniture Co. has moved from Portsmouth Street to Broadway.


There are probably other long-time downtown businesses dating back to the early 1950s which have escaped my memory. If so, let me know and accept my apologies.
Some notable downtown landmarks are gone; Abraham's Confectionery; The Playhouse; The Cambrian Restaurant; Grimes Restaurant; George Simmerman's Restaurant; Harbarger's Restaurant (in its later years under a succession of names); Stiffler's Store and Luckoff's Store; Murphy's Store; Michael's and Elberfeld's were big downtown retail operations and there were many other smaller operations now gone.


The expansion of the East Main Street commercial area has provided strong competition for the downtown area. Many other changes have occurred in Jackson over the past half century, many of them progressive and beneficial moves adding assets to the community. To mention just a few of these, we have three brand new schools, two elementary and one high school. The old high school is being renovated for a middle school and the current middle school will become an elementary school.

 

Jackson now has a long needed hospital and excellent outpatient care is offered by two large and well staffed medical clinics; the Markay Cultural Arts Center, Lillian Jones Museum and a fine public library serve the cultural needs of the community.

 

Both the city and the county have added handsome new buildings; churches in the community have added new facilities over the past half century. Recreational facilities have been expanded (including a fine new high school stadium financed by donations from the community and private businesses). I guess the key word of my impressions of the last 50-plus years in Jackson is "change." When I came to Jackson 50-plus years ago, the economic health of the city was based on heavy industry - the DT&I car shops; Globe Furnace, Jisco Furnace, Crown Foundry and Furnace Foundry.


All of these are now gone. But Jackson remains, unlike many small towns over the nation; Jackson didn't fold up and die when our long-established heavy industry shut down or moved away. The community actively sought and obtained new industries, largely in the plastics, cabinet production and food processing industries. Jackson remains a vibrant, busy community with a diversified industrial base, including Bellisio Foods and MASCO Corporation (formerly Merillat Industries). Many local residents are employed in nearby industrial operations well within commuting range, such as the Pike County atomic plant and the General Mills food processing plant in nearby Wellston.


"Change" is the key word. Americans are a restless and mobile people, especially since the days of the Great War (World War Two) and its aftermath. Many men and women have left Jackson to settle over this country. And many others have come from all parts of this nation to settle in Jackson and Jackson County.


For better or worse, Jackson and Jackson County are changing each decade. I think and hope the change is for the better, but change we will.

 

Jackson County from its beginnings...Courtesy of historian Robert Ervin

Jackson County was organized on March 1, 1816. It received its name from General Andrew Jackson who, after winning the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812, was one of the best known national figures of that time. The county was carved from portions of Scioto, Gallia, Athens and Ross counties. It has an area of 415 square miles and a population of 32,641. It has two cities and two villages. The two cities are Jackson, the county seat, with a population of 6,184, and Wellston with a population of 6,078. The two villages are Oak Hill, population 935, and Coalton, population 545.


Jackson was first laid out in two parts. The first part was known as the "north half" and was laid out on May 8, 1817 by Joseph Fletcher of Gallia County. The "south half" was laid out later in 1819 by Dr. Gabriel McNeal and completed on November 4, 1819. The town was incorporated in 1847; the effective date was February 8, 1847. Wellston was laid out in 1873 and 1874 by Harvey Wells in the northeast corner of Milton Township. The plat contained 271 acres laid out into 784 lots. The town was incorporated by the state on May 9, 1876, and the government was inaugurated on May 10, 1876. Oak Hill was laid out in 1832 by Julius Augustus Bingham. The name came from a grove of oak trees near the home of the founder. With the coming of the railroad in 1853, a larger town was laid out along the railroad and called Portland. When the post office was established in 1837, it was given the name of Oak Hill. On March 12, 1873, the villages of Oak Hill and Portland were incorporated under the name of Oak Hill. When the post office came to what is now Coalton in December, 1876, it was known as Eureka, but there was another Eureka in Gallia County. So the Eureka in Jackson County became Eurekaville. On July 1, 1879, the name of the post office was changed to Coalton "because the only producing agency in Eurekaville was Coal and Coal was mined by the TON."


The first industry of the early settlers in Jackson County was the manufacture of salt. Perhaps if it had not been for the briny waters of Salt Lick Creek, the city of Jackson would not be in existence today. The area was covered with forest. Deer, elk, and other wild animals came to lick the salt from the exposed rock in the creek bed. Then came the prehistoric race of mound builders and the American Indians. On the early maps, what is now Jackson was listed as "Scioto Salt Springs," "Scioto Salt Works," "Salines" and "Salt Lick Town."


The first salt boiler at the licks was Joseph Conklin of Maysville, Kentucky, who came in 1795. By the Act of 1796, the United States Congress reserved an area equivalent to one township, 36 square miles or 23,040 acres, surrounding the Scioto Salt Licks in the townships of Lick, Liberty, Franklin and Scioto. This became the Scioto Salt Reservation. No land within this reservation could be sold. Settlers entered the area from Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky to manufacture salt. The salt camp on the site of Jackson was first known as "Purgatory" and was located on the site of the First Presbyterian Church and the water tower. The mound builders and the Shawnee Indians collected salt by the use of "salt pans," pits carved into the creek bed. There the brine water was collected and permitted to evaporate by the sun leaving the salt residue. The salt boilers first made excavations of 6 to 8 feet and finally 20 feet into the sandstone. The fresh water was excluded by a "gum," a section of a hollow tree sunk into the cavity. Later the wells were sunk along the bank of the creek to a depth of 30 feet before reaching the sandstone. A salt furnace consisted of a dividend trench, lined with stone, over which were placed two rows of kettles, each of which had a capacity of 20 to 30 gallons. These furnaces ranged from 60 to over 100 feet in length. After the brine water was placed in the kettles, the wood in the trench was ignited and the brine water boiled until it was evaporated, leaving the salt.


On October 1, 1804, the federal government established a post office at the salt licks, and it was given the name of "Salt Lick." By the year 1810, the population of salt boilers had increased, and the name of "Purgatory" was changed to "Poplar Row." The name resulted from the growth of poplar trees in the area and the row of cabins constructed of poplar logs. On July 1, 1817, the name was changed to Jackson in honor of President Andrew Jackson, and Jackson became the county seat. By 1810, a much stronger brine had been discovered along the Kanawha River in what is now West Virginia. On January 3, 1818, the Ohio Legislature voted to sell the Scioto Salt Reserve. Although Congress was slow in granting permission, the sale was finally approved in June, 1826, and the first local industry became history.


African Americans first came to Jackson County as slaves; they came with their masters to make salt. Ohio was not then a state nor was it free. After the Ordinance of 1787, all African Americans who came to what is now Jackson County enjoyed freedom; they were either runaways or freed men who had been freed by their masters. The settlement of the Welsh in Gallia and Jackson counties was purely accidental. Their intended destination was Paddy's Run (Shandon), the oldest Welsh settlement in America, in Butler County north of Cincinnati. "The 1818 Welsh," as they were known locally, laid the foundation for settlement in the region. The "Great Welsh Tide" of 1830 to 1840 brought over 3,000 immigrants into the region.


With the depletion of salt, other resources of Jackson County were developed, coal, iron ore, and fire clay. The early salt boilers believed that the outcropping of coal was black stone and used it to support their kettles until it burned and let the kettles drop into the fire. As early as 1820, coal was removed from small drift mines north of Jackson and transported by wagon to blacksmith shops in Chillicothe. In recent years, underground mining was replaced by stripping or surface mining by removing the overburden with mechanical equipment. By 1954, ninety percent of the coal produced in Jackson County was recovered by the stripping method. Today, one major coal company remains in the county.

 

The coming of the Scioto and Hocking Valley Railroad in 1853 was imperative in the development of the resources of Jackson County. "The great Railroad Jubilee in Jackson" occurred on August 18, 1853. On that day the railroad was completed to Jackson. Before the appearance of the railroad, a stagecoach line passed through the region along the old Chillicothe Road between Chillicothe and Gallipolis-Point Pleasant. The stagecoach line was owned by Abraham French who operated the French Hotel on Main Street in Jackson that also served as a stagecoach stop.


The first iron furnaces in Jackson County used charcoal for fuel. Over a period of two decades from 1836 to 1857, there were eleven charcoal furnaces constructed in Jackson County. They were Jackson, Keystone, Buckeye, Cornelia (Iron Valley or Lincoln), Latrobe, Jefferson, Monroe, Cambria, Limestone, Madison and Young America. There were twelve stone coal furnaces in Jackson County between 1855 and 1969. Their fuel was stone coal and coke. The furnaces were Salt Lick (Diamond), Orange, Star, Fulton, Globe, Huron, Milton, Wellston Twin Furnaces, Tropic, Ophir, Eliza and JISCO (Jackson Iron and Steel Company). The last two furnaces to operate were Globe and JISCO. The former closed in 1960, and the latter closed in 1969.


The earliest bricks were made by itinerant brickmakers. This method was followed by the local brick yard that used the same procedure as the itinerant brickmaker but in a permanent location.


In 1872, a good quality fire clay was discovered in the vicinity of Oak Hill. The Aetna Fire Brick and Coal Company and The Oak Hill Fire Brick Company were established in 1873.
As Jackson County came into the turn of the century in 1900, commercial orcharding began its development. By 1930, more than fifty orchards were operating in the county. Today, one major commercial orchard remains.


The DT&I Railroad car shops operated in Jackson from 1906 to 1984. On Thursday, October 18, 1906, there was the first payroll for employees. Checks totaling in the amount of $12,418 arrived on the noon train from headquarters in Detroit for payment of wages for the month of September. Some 350 to 400 men were employed. Henry Ford owned the DT&I from July 9, 1920 to June 27, 1929. He was known for order and efficiency; and when a train was on the siding, the crew was expected to polish the engine. On Saturday, May 21, 1921, Ford visited Jackson to inspect the car shops and the local Ford dealership. The last DT&I train departed Jackson on March 27, 1984.

 

Coalton and the Cash Register...Courtesy of historian Jack Rhea, taken from "The History of Coalton and Coal Township, 1953"

The cash register, which can be found in nearly every business and store worldwide today, is the result of an idea that had its roots in Coalton, Ohio, USA. As one writer put it, "It came from an idea that grew in Coalton." The main factor of the National Cash Register Company is located in Dayton, Ohio. The Company of today (1953) is a reflection of its founder's belief in the universal need for its products. John H. Patterson did not invent the cash register but he was one of the first to use it. More importantly, he visualized its ultimate use throughout the world. Mr. Patterson's first contact with the cash register was here in Coalton. He operated a general store in connection with his coal mines. The store was in the building now owned by Enoch Wood and Sons. In an effort to stop losses which were eating up his profits, Mr. Patterson installed three cash registers. He was so impressed with the results that he bought the patents and manufacturing rights and founded The National Cash Register Company.


Today (1953), there are 33,000 National Cash Register employees throughout the world. National products have grown from the simple machine of the 1880s to a complete line of cash registers, accounting machines, and adding machines. These products are used in more than 90 countries. When Mr. Patterson started in the business he said, "What is good for a little store in Coalton is good for every store in the world." He proved the truth of that statement, lived to see a worldwide business grow from that early experience here in Coalton.
 
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CASH REGISTER AS TOLD IN 1953:

"Go into almost any country in the world today and one thing familiar you are sure to hear… the ring of a cash register bell. For years the cash register has been accepted as standard equipment in retail stores. Yet, just three quarters of a century ago it was looked up on as a "new fangled" and largely unwanted device. The chain of events which led to the development of the cash register and its worldwide use began to a considerable extent right here in Coalton. In 1878 James Ritty, a café owner in Dayton, took a trip to Europe. He was troubled by the shortages in cash which plagued his business. Watching the device which counted revolutions of the ship's propeller shaft, he wondered why a machine could not be built which would count and protect the money taken in. Returning to Dayton he and his brother designed a crude cash register. The first model, a dial machine, was never sold. It was followed by a "paper roll machine" which found a limited market.


One of its purchasers was John H. Patterson who had begun mining coal in the Coalton-Wellston area just about the time Ritty was thinking of a cash register. In connection with his coal mines, Mr. Patterson operated a general store which sold goods to the miners. The store was in the building where the Wood Brothers now have their hardware and building supply store. In two years of operation the store showed a loss of $3,000 despite a good volume of business. In an effort to stop this loss, Mr. Patterson installed three of the new cash registers which he had heard of in Dayton. Crude though these machines were, they did provide some check on cash and transactions and the loss was turned into a profit. Mr. Patterson was so impressed with the possibilities of the machines that he and his brother bought 50 shares of stock in the company which made them.


By 1884 the business of manufacturing cash registers had already passed through several hands and was showing a loss. In the meantime Mr. Patterson had withdrawn from the coal business and was looking about for something to do. He went west with the idea of raising cattle. However, a chance meeting with a New England merchant vacationing in Denver helped to renew his interest in the cash register and sent him back to Dayton to buy the Company. This merchant praised the cash register as a tool of business and said that he could take a vacation with a free mind because he used these machines in his store.


Mr. Patterson bought the stock of the National Manufacturing Company for $6,500 and immediately regretted his purchase. His friends told him he had bought a company that was losing money and a product that nobody wanted. He tried to sell the stock back, even at $2,000 less than he had paid for it. The seller refused to buy back, said he would not take it as a gift. From that day on, Mr. Patterson's faith in the cash register never wavered. He often said and firmly believed that "The more we sell, the more good we do." Although he was always handicapped by lack of money in the early days, he embarked upon a program of product development, selling and advertising that not only built the cash register business but marked the man himself as at rue industrial pioneer.


Mr. Patterson did more than build cash registers. He set new standards for working conditions, landscaped the ground around the factory, and built the first "daylight" factory with 80 percent of its wall space glass. He gave much thought to the development of good employee relations, started restaurants for employees, originated the suggestion system and pioneered in many other directions.


When Mr. Patterson bought the company, the "factory" consisted of one room, 40x80 feet with 13 employees. Today the main factory at Dayton consists of 28 buildings and employs 12,500 men and women. There are other factories in overseas countries and sales and service organizations operating through the world. The little paper roll cash register used by Mr. Patterson here in Coalton has been supplanted by a series of successors. As a matter of fact the term "Cash register" no longer accurately describes the company's products for accounting machines and adding machines, as well as cash registers have borne the National trademark for a good many years.


The Company's products are used today not only in every type of retail store but in banks, factories, hospitals, hotels, government offices, and public utilities… wherever money is handled or records are kept. The bell which rang out on John H. Patterson's cash registers here in Coalton years ago when miners bought lamps or clothing or food has truly become "The Bell Heard Round the World."