Iron and the Cement Industry

What do the furnaces have to do with the cement industry?

Many of the furnace men (and women!) played a huge role in keeping the industry of Lawrence County alive and buzzing. Some of the same materials used to make iron (limestone especially) were of exceptional quality and perfect for making quality cement. If you read about Center Furnace, you already know that Superior Portland Cement bought the furnace and surrounding property to build a massive cement factory in 1906. By that time, Ironton Portland Cement had been running for a few years (on property purchased from Hecla Furnace).

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Speaking of exceptional materials, the Maxville Limestone was found by our very own Caleb Briggs. Dr. Briggs was one of the members of the Ohio Iron & Coal Company and Briggs Library’s namesake.
Source: “A Standard History of the Hanging Rock Iron Region” by Eugene Willard

This text, taken from the Ohio Dept of Natural Resources Geological Survey, shows the specifications of this famous limestone.


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Source: http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc38385/m1/21/

For pictures of the Marquette Cement Plant…click HERE.

For pictures of the Alpha Portland Cement plant…click HERE.

Geology aside, here are some of the people involved:

Silver Gloss Gilfillan

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Here we see an article from “Iron Age” regarding S.G. Gilfillan’s affiliation with Belfont Iron Works….


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Ironton Portland Cement later became Alpha Portland Cement. There’s S.G. Gilfillan again as one of the directors.


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Here was Ironton Portland Cement shortly after it was renamed Alpha Portland. Most of this was demolished years ago with the last few pieces coming down last year….for pictures of the plant and the demolition, click HERE.

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The Ironton Register reports Ironton Cement organized in 1901 by Samuel Brady Steece and others.


Samuel Brady Steece

S.B. Steece was a Civil War veteran (buried in Woodland Cemetery), one of the first graduates of Ironton Schools, and founder of the Ironton Portland Cement Company. He married Ella Willard (daughter of James Willard – proprietor of Buckhorn Furnace).

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A 1902 letterhead showing officers of Ironton Portland Cement. S.B. Steece is the president….Henry Marting is the Vice President. [H.A. Marting owned Big Etna/Marting Iron and Steel…click HERE].
S.B. Steece’s son is Albert Campbell (AC) Steece…the secretary and treasurer listed above.

PictureHecla Iron & Mining (Hecla Furnace) sold land to S.B. Steece for the cement plant in 1901 (Deed Book 72 Page 390)


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S.B. Steece and others formed the Crystal Ice Company in 1890.

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Oscar Richey

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1902 letter from the Kelly Nail & Iron Company showing Oscar Richey as the secretary….he also served as president and general manager at times, alongside the Kelly brothers (Lindsey and Ironton Austin Kelly…click HERE).


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Oscar Richey was also president of the Ironton Malleable Co…later became Dayton Malleable…finally Ironton Iron.

Nannie Kelly Wright

My favorite historical figure can be seen in just about everything related to Lawrence County…including the cement plants.

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She subscribed $50,000 toward building Superior Cement

Source: “Ohio Law Bulletin” Volume 62, 1917.

http://books.google.com/books?id=_FsyAQAAMAAJ&lpg=PA455&ots=Y5QlWOWRTf&dq=%22superior%20portland%20cement%22%20ohio%20wright&pg=PA455#v=onepage&q=Mrs.%20Wright&f=false


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Original Superior Portland Cement Co.
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Mine Map for mine LE-022….if you look at the top left it shows that Nannie H. Wright owned property bordering Alpha Portland Cement. The map (with the ability to zoom in) can be found HERE….it was scanned upside down so you’ll have to right-click and select Rotate a couple times.