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Lawrence County Seal

“Stephen D. Burcham: The history behind the Seal of Lawrence County, Ohio”

The Herald-Dispatch


Many people know that Lawrence County has an official seal, but are unaware of the historical significance of the items which appear therein. The seal grew from a discussion of various members of the Lawrence County Historical Society including Ironton residents Dr. John Haney, Lou Ann Blagg, Buddy Haney, Tim Selb, Art Shaffer, John Jones, Isabelle Jones and Proctorville resident Margery “Betty” Burcham. The committee wanted the seal to reflect the history and heritage of our county.

After several meetings, this committee decided to include depictions of three symbols and the year of the county’s formation on the seal. The furnace in the upper left hand corner of the seal is representative of an Iron Furnace (17 were located in the county) from the Hanging Rock Iron Region representing pig iron manufactured in this county in the 1800s. These furnaces were blast furnaces – iron ore and limestone were smelted in a furnace heated by burning charcoal with a blast of air. Smaller furnaces could produce one to two tons of iron per day and were often cast directly into pots, kettles and skillets. Larger furnaces could produce up to 100 tons of iron which was cast into heavier machinery and weapons used during the Civil War.

The apple on the seal is from the eastern end of the county, which was the birthplace of the Rome Beauty Apple. The apple originated on the Gillette family farm near Proctorville near the present day site of Fairland East Elementary School. The first tree began to bear fruit in approximately 1820 and was eventually named for the township from which it came. The apple is one of the top 10 varieties of apples produced in the United States. It is a popular variety used for cooking, is red in color and typically ripens in August and September.

The boat depicted on the seal was originally to be a packet boat named Minnie Bay from the Bay Packet Lines. Packet boats moved mail, passengers and freight along the Ohio River to various communities. The Bay Packet Line was a company owned by two Lawrence County brothers, George, who lived in Proctorville, and William, who lived in Ironton. The boats operated on the Ohio River during the 1800s. Over the course of the company’s lifetime, it operated over 50 packet boats between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, and was the largest packet boat company on the Ohio River. The brothers also had a sister, Sarah Bay Smith, who was the first licensed female river boat pilot on the Ohio River, which was during a time in which women did not yet have the right to vote. Her headstone in Woodland Cemetery has a pilot wheel depicted on it to note her accomplishment. The Minnie Bay was a single story boat; however, the artist who designed the seal, Lee “Danny” Daniels of Chesapeake, felt a multiple story paddlewheel was a better emblem for the seal.

The seal was officially adopted by the Lawrence County Commissioners on November 6, 1985.

Lawrence County has a proud heritage. The seal of the county depicts only a portion of the role we have played in the development of our nation.

Submitted by Stephen D. Burcham, Lawrence County Ohio Treasurer and lifelong resident of Proctorville.

Morris Block Fire

Morris Block Fire


Ironton Register, Thursday, January 14, 1892, Volume 43, Page 27
MORRIS BLOCK IN FLAMES – On the 4th, there was a fire at Morris Block, which was extinguished before it did a great deal of harm. On the 8th, the fire broke out again and destroyed the block. The alarm was sounded at 5 o’clock a.m., but before the fire companies got there, and they were prompt, the building was doomed. The part occupied by Fletcher’s store and furniture, was filed with flame, and in a few minutes the entire block was enveloped, and a great volume of flame issued from the building, causing roof, floors and walls to tumble. So hot were the flames, that the awnings on the opposite side of the street caught fire, and the heat broke the plate glass in the bookstore and ladies’ store fronts. The fire companies did all that was possible, and the fire did not do even greater destruction, was due to their vigorous efforts. Six streams were thrown on the flames constantly, or were turned on adjacent property as occasion demanded. When the west wall of the block tumbled, it crushed in a frame building belonging to E. Bixby, and occupied by Esq. Henry. Mr. Weiler’s, house, close up to Morris Block, was saved by the firemen, though the interior got a good wetting. All the property of K. of P. in their hall in the third story; all of Fletcher’s furniture and goods: all the type, presses, stock and material of the Republican office, were destroyed. And the block itself is a complete wreck. The East building of the block is standing, but it is a mere shell and will be removed. The block was insured for $9,000; the Republican office for $3,500, and Fletcher’s for $3,500. The cause of the fire seems to have been merely a revival of the conflagration four days before.

Ironton is 5 Years Old

Ironton is 5 Years Old

Ironton Register, Tuesday, June 20 1854

Five years ago this day, Tuesday June 20th, the first sale of lots took place in Ironton. Then almost everybody looked upon the matter of building up a town here as an experiment, with all doubts as to its success. Not more than two or three individuals were at all sanguine of more than moderate success – at least, had no idea that the town, this quick, would be anything like what it is. Doubts, however, long since vanished, and realities took their place.

Five years has wrought an immense change in the farms of the Summer of 1849, with their then growing crops, and upon which the infant Ironton then sprung into existence – the change, what is it? Upon these farms of five years since now flourish but little short of four thousand people, most moral, temperate, industrious, energetic, thriving – people that have laid up some seventeen millions of bricks, built some five or six hundred houses, erected seven or eight very heavy manufacturing establishments, mechanic shops, etc – a people with a prosperous railroad extending 13 miles to the interior; with the landings of ten blast furnaces, thirty-five stores of various kinds, six or eight churches, union public schools, two printing offices, county seat and accompanying public buildings, etc. – a people with probably the heaviest productive capital of any town of like size in the entire West – in a word, a people with any unexpended amount of GO AHEAD.

Down in the Coal Mines

“Down in the Coal Mines”
Cincinnati Daily Gazette, May 19, 1873

Click the link below to read “Down in the Coal Mines” at the Ironton Tunnels. Article is a Microsoft Word document.

5-19-1873 down in the coal mines

The 1937 Flood

The 1937 Flood

The Great Ohio Flood of 1937 ranks among Time Magazine’s Top 10 Historic U.S. Floods.

The 1937 flood remains the flood of record for many locations along the Ohio River, leaving an estimated 350 dead and nearly 1 Million homeless.
The entire river was in flood, with record flooding from Point Pleasant, WV down to the Ohio’s confluence with the Mississippi at Cairo, IL. (source: NWS)


This photo is taken at 2nd and Center Streets during the 1937 Flood
This photo taken in 2017 shows the same perspective in downtown Ironton 80 years later








Nellie Grace Herald sat on a couch in one of the big houses on Fifth Street with a dog by her side and watched the river rule.
A private duty nurse caring for Nellie Marting Lowery, widow of Dr. Andrew Lowery, Herald writes to her family on January 24, 1937, three days before the mighty Ohio crests in what historians call the greatest – and worst – flood to ravage the Ohio River Valley.

For 11 days the 1937 Flood paralyzed communities among its path.

“Things look terrible to me,” Herald writes. “Everyone says it’s as bad as the 1913 flood. We get the news over the radio every hour. The water is still raising. I sure do hope it will stop soon. The water is up at the corner of 5th Street in front of us. They said last night just the top of Dr. Hunter’s house could be seen.”

For 20 days, starting January 5, the rains came, drenching the river with a total of 12 inches of water. That, added to December snows, sent the Ohio into a tailspin, sending in 19 feet above flood stage. But those facts interest only historians as decades later they put together their accounts. What mattered to Herald was when would the fierce waters retreat. Until then, for her and those around her, days meant discomfort, fear, fights for survival and much prayer. Read the rest of the story HERE.

Route 75 Tunnel

Historic Route 75 Tunnel – Ironton, OH

Image result for route 75 tunnel ironton, ohio

During the days of horse and buggies, the old State Route 75 tunnel at Ironton Ohio was constructed in 1866. This was how people entered and exited Ironton at the time. This 165-foot-long tunnel was buried more than 50 years ago, during new highway construction, but it was re-opened in the spring of 1989. The Ironton Tunnel is now opened around Halloween and operates as a haunted tunnel.

See a video of the tunnel HERE 

Builders- Dr. B.F. Cory and Mahle Brothers
Total length: 165.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude: +38.54049-82.67395   / 38°32’26” N, 82°40’26” W