EDITOR'S NOTE: Joan Witt prepared this fictional account of the early families based on information provided from many historical sources and personal recollections recorded in print from the Bradshaw and McKinnon families.
This article originally appeared in the 1985 Pottery Festival Souvenir Program
By Laura Bradshaw Barth*
Gather round children while I tell you about some of the early families of our town. My Grandmother Riley used to gather her grandchildren around like this and tell them tales about the early days of East Liverpool. I was one of her youngest granddaughters and just loved to listen to her. She had a good memory and knew most of the early families. She was born in the 1770's and died in 1880. Mother told us she was not certain just when Grandmother was born, but I believe there are dates on her tombstone out on the family farm.
Grandmother McKinnons family came here about 1794 or 95 from western Pennsylvania. Uncle Michael McKinnon was an early mail carrier from Wellsburg, Virginia to Georgetown, Pennsylvania. Most of the children were born in Pennsylvania but the youngest son, George, was supposedly the first white child born on this side of the river. The family first lived out along California Hollow, then some of them moved to the east end section of town. George married Ada Babb, whose father John, owned the island and had a blacksmith shop on it. My great-grandparents at one time lived on Third Street. Some of the McKinnons owned land along the Calcutta Road—you know it better as St. Clair Avenue; some remained in the east end area—up around Ralston's Crossing and Mulberry Street. The first Ohio City school was built on their land. George and Ada McKinnon even donated land for a cemetery at Boyce and Penn Avenue around 1830. Many of the McKinnon relatives were burned there. Most of the graves have been removed to other locations by now.
Grandmother married Matthew Riley in 1805. They had 10 children. Originally they owned a farm which extended from about Broadway east to just beyond the Thompson Pottery on the River Road. Grandmother often reminded us of the time in 1811 when the ground shook and the pots and pans and dishes rattled. At the time the people in town really didn't know what happened. Later they learned it was an earth quake which was centered in Kentucky. Grandfather Riley served in the War of 1812. He returned home before the war ended due to illness and decided to hire a substitute to go back for him. In order to get enough money to pay for the substitute, he had to sell the farm. Later they were able to buy another farm—this time along the Lisbon Road and extending back along the Irish Ridge Road. Grandfather died when my mother was about 2 years old, so it took a lot of hard work and determination on the part of Grandmother and all the children to keep the farm going. Both Grandmother and Grandfather were buried on the farm along with Venlinda, a daughter who never married. Why, when I think of all the land that my relatives had at various times, we would be rich if it were still in our possession. But let's continue with some of the other families.
Most people know that the town was once called Fawcettown, but perhaps they don't know anything about the Fawcett family. Grandmother often reminded us that her family was here before the Fawcetts. She thought the Fawcett's were a delightful family. All of their children were very hard workers who helped their parents clear the land. The Fawcett home was in the west end near Carpenter's Run. Thomas Fawcett purchased 1100 acres of land which extended from the river to about 4th Street and east to Washington Street. He had the land divided into town sites but he was not very successful in selling the lots and establishing the town.
Grandmother's father was born in Ireland as was Thomas and Isabella Fawcett. They often compared their early life in western Pennsylvania and their move to this area. Grandmother and Grandfather were really more friendly with Abigail Fawcett and her husband Joseph Smith. He ran the first saw mill. Their son, William G. Smith owned some of the land that Grandfather had to sell to pay of his debt for the substitute for the war service. Many people recognize William G. Smith's name because even though he moved from town in later years, he was probably the first historian of "Old Fawcettown." I believe all of the four Fawcett sons moved away although some of their children married and remained here as did Abigail's children. Two of her daughters married pottery leaders who were friends of my father, John Goodwin and Isaac Knowles.
About the time that Thomas Fawcett came to town, the Boyce and Hickman families also arrived from the same general area of western Pennsylvania as the Fawcett family. Both of those families settled along the Campground Road area. Both had large families and of course there are several branches of those families still around. I remember my son, Harold commenting on visiting a small cemetery on the Campground Road where there are some Boyce and Hickman tombstones.
One of the early school teachers in Yellow Creek was a man by the name of Boyce. Guess most of your families would recognize the Boyce name as connected with the Harker Pottery and the First National Bank. David Boyce served in the State Legislature in the 1870's. Then also the Boyce name is connected with the east end part of town. One section of east end was even called Janesville in honor of David Boyce's wife. There is a Boyce Street and the Boyce Methodist Church. I know the streets "Anna" and "Elizabeth" were named for a family that lived in the area—perhaps it was one of the Boyce families, I just don't remember for certain. Some of the Boyce family members remained as farmers and lived in Yellow Creek Township; some family members moved further west in the county. Some of the early historians related the story of "Old Gauge", the carpenter who put shingles on the Robert Boyce home. It seems that "Old Gauge" could not work unless he had his bottle always near by. He stopped and drank a pint at regular intervals but was never "drunk."
I'm just not certain about the first Hickman family. There was a Doctor Hickman here from 1840 until 1880's who was active in the first Presbyterian Church and also served as a Director of the First National Bank. His home was near my grand parents old farm. I really do not know how, but I believe
he was related to the first Hickman family on the Campground. There were other Hickman families out in Calcutta—I believe the Calcutta United Presbyterian Church was built on their land. Then there was another family who lived out near Sprucevale in the mid 1800's.
Around the time that my McKinnon relatives arrived here, Noah Grant, a shoemaker, settled in Swamp Meadow near the present Neville School.
About 1800 he married Annie Kelly whose family also lived near there. The Grant family remained here for a few years and then moved further west in Ohio. This was one of the town's claim to fame! Noah and Annie Grant's son Jesse was the father of U.S. Grant, President of the United States.
Another person who should be remembered is John Bever or Beaver. My son Harold has done some research on this man. He owned many acres of land along the state line. He was an early surveyor—worked on the surveying of this county. The surveyors began their work from the Point of Beginning Mark which was done in 1785 at the state line. Bever also ran the first paper mill in Ohio. As I recall he was also responsible for establishing Neville Institute. At his death he left a sizeable estate with money set aside to educate young boys. The Neville Institute was built on his land. It was started shortly after his death, and for several years was run separate from the city school system.
My mother was the youngest often children in her family and really did not remember her father very well. He died before she was two years old. She often told us about working on the farm. She was only 16 when she married James Logan. He was a riverboat man and for a few years they lived in Indiana. Then they came back and lived on 2nd Street and watched the building of the first pottery by the Bennett brothers. Mr. Logan died about 1839 or 40. Mother's early married life was not easy and she was left a widow like my grandmother with young children. Somehow they both managed.
Now I have mentioned several of the early families as I remember hearing about them from Grandmother and from what little first hand information I have. I still think my Father's story is very interesting and if you don't mind I'll tell you his story. He didn't arrive from England until about 1843 after the pottery business had begun here. Since he had been a potter in England, he began his career by working for Mr. Goodwin. I think Father was more interested in buying land. The first thing he did was to purchase the land near the present Library. After he married Mother they built their large home—right there on the site of the Library. That land was part of the land that Grandfather had to sell in order to pay for his war service. Father didn't remain in the pottery work very long. He soon bought the Hall behind our home—it was called Bradshaw Hall. Father also edited the "East Liverpool Democrat" newspaper for a short time and also served as a Justice of the Peace and even Mayor of the town.
After Mother and Father settled in the new home, he began to purchase more land—this time up on the hill. At first it was to be our farm, but then Father decided to divide it into lots and sell them to individual owners. We all enjoyed the delight of naming the streets in this new section—there was a street named for each of us at home. Bank Street was named for the clay banks first located there. Ambrose, Enoch, Eugene, Laura, Ida, Lilly, Riley—all our family. But wait! The Bradshaw name really can't be included with the first families. By the time Father arrived here, the town was really growing and expanding rapidly.
I'm beginning to ramble too much, even for me, so I think I should close my story hour. Come back again some time and I will tell you other stories that I remember from my younger days.