East Liverpool Historical Society



By Glenn H. Waight, Retired Editor of The Review. This article originally appeared in the Plate Turner's Handbook published for the 35th Annual Pottery Festival, June 13,14,& 15, 2002

The narrow, bumpy roadway lies almost silent, flanked mostly by a scattering of old buildings, with railroad tracks on one side, side street approaches to the Ohio River on the other.

It contrasts with the imagined 19th Century scene of a busy thoroughfare, jammed with city shoppers, potters and visitors plus wagons and family buggies traveling to the stores, saloons, hotels, offices and other establishments.

East Liverpool's 2nd St. was the central business district of that era, been containing some of the older potteries that were to make the city notable in the ware industry.

The Pioneer Potter of East Liverpool, Ohio, bult by James Bennett in 1839
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Laid out in the 1802 town plat of founder Tom Fawcett, the street was a block north of First St. near which James Bennett had built and operated the first pottery in 1840. First St. later was eroded by the Ohio River, and covered when the water level rose with construction of dams and locks.

GROWTH OF Fawcettstown was slow, and by the mid-1820s only a few families lived along Second St., sometimes marked by weeds with the major traffic consisting of horsemen traveling the State Road from Wellsville to Beaver Creek and Pennsylvania.

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Building of homes began slowly on this almost level area by the river, and the early potteries were erected here, Harker Pottery Co., the second pottery in town, was founded in 1841 on nearby River Rd., and the Mansion House on 2nd at Washington was third, started in 1842.

Still standing today are a shop and kiln of the Goodwin-Baggott pottery which James Goodwin had launched on 2nd St. at Pink Alley to produce Rockingham and yellow ware. It was sold in 1853 to brothers Samuel and William Baggott, recent English immigrants.

Most of the early mayors resided on 2nd St., including the second, Sanford C. Hill, who came to town in 1817 to open a store, then turned to surveying and producing nationally known almanacs. William Devers, fourth mayor, operated the Black Bear Inn, later the Ohio Hotel, on 2nd St.

William P. Morris, the fifth mayor, resided at 118 W. Second St., in one of the early brick structures in the village and almost opposite the home of Sanford Hill. It was to this home which his sister and his nephew, young Andrew Carnegie -.- future steel industry magnate and philanthropist -- came to visit on occasion. A painting of the house by artist David Blythe hangs in the Museum of Ceramics.

One of the town's first notable events was staged on 2nd St. -- a huge barbecue with speech-making July 4, 1811, celebrating the nation's independence declared only 35 years before. During a march and drill by the militia along the thoroughfare, Capt. John Wilcox reportedly shot off one side of his face whiskers.

THE START OF railroad connections, first to Cleveland in 1856 and later to Pittsburgh. spurred growth of the town and its business section, ending reliance on riverboats and stage coaches for transportation. There was no depot at first, and tickets were sold by agent Thomas Blythe, brother of artist David Blythe, from his home on lower Broadway.

The new railroad tracks cut across Second St. near Jefferson, and it became a deadend section near Jefferson. While the business section lay primarily east of Market St., several homes, some large, were sited on the west.

Steamboat traffic continued for some time, however, pulling up to the wharf boat, unloading cargo and taking aboard freight and passengers destined up and down the stream. The flow of out-of-town visitors and local folks made for lively activity on Second St., both in the normal business hours and the more carefree and often troubled hours of darkness.

The railroad passenger station near Broadway and the street in front were scenes of emotional departures and arrivals of troops during the Civil War, Spanish-American War and First World War. The freight station on the other side of Broadway was ever bustling with the handling of supplies, materials, express shipments to and from the potteries, stores and other businesses.

The city's first and most bizarre unsolved murder scene was 2nd St. where in 1861 the body of Christian Olsen, a Swedish or Danish immigrant, was found mangled on the railroad tracks near Broadway.

Olsen had reportedly been assembling an airplane invention in a room on Third St., and investigation revealed he had been shot and his corpse placed on the rails to suggest he'd been hit by a train. Neither the Flying Dutchman's killer nor his stolen plans were ever found.

SOON THE CERAMIC ware industry began to flourish here, and new firms were building plants uptown, hiring English immigrants and others, and East Liverpool was expanding to the north and west. By the late 1880s, many retail stores, service businesses and professional offices had relocated up to Third and Fourth Sts.

Second street as photographed in 1888
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Jesse Harris came to town in 1861 to print the city's first newspaper, The Mercury, from a store building on 2nd St. at Union St. His wife had a millinery shop on the first floor. The weekly lasted only six months, and no further local publications served the community until 1879 when William McCord started The Saturday Review, later the daily Review, in the Thompson House at 3rd and Broadway.

Among 2nd St. businesses in 1870 were Gaston & Bro. -- hardware and drugs and B. Wolper bakery -- confectionery and tobacco -- both at Union; City Hotel (M. Hilbert) near railroad station; XX Saloon (Wm. Croxall), at Washington.

Till & Davidson, groceries, fish; Frederick & Son, dry goods, ladies and gentlemen's clothing, boots and hats; J. Hamble fancy dry goods, ladies and men's items, groceries; Blackmore & Simms, tailor, men's clothing between Broadway and Union.

Later the commercial sites included, Verner's Jewelry, Shenkel's barbershop, Martin's plumbing, Curry's Furniture, Davidson's Opera House, Orr's Drug Store and Nath's , Baker and confectionery.

Meanwhile streets were unpaved, and wet weather brought mud to splatter pedestrians and slow down travel. Not until 1887 did city officials have firebrick laid on Fifth St. between Market and Broadway. Second St. was next.

BUT THE OLD thoroughfare was becoming a rough neighborhood of second rate hotels, taverns, gambling dens and houses of ill repute. Smoky Row was the name applied to one or two blocks which were a continuing source of nuisance for law officers.

It was the first assignment for policeman Hugh McDermott, a boxer and likeable enforcer who became an almost legendary Chief operating out of the cupola-topped brick City Hall built in 1878 up at Third and Market Sts.

Alcohol served at the many saloons was blamed in large part for the lawbreaking which was becoming rampant in the city. During 1892 police made 468 arrests, mostly on 2nd St. Included were 22 for gambling, four for adultery, five for insulting females, two for indecent exposure, 22 for assault and battery, 152 for disorderly conduct, 82 for intoxication and 71 for fighting. (1)

At the turn of the century, prostitution, cohabitation and other sex-related offenses became more common; even use of hashish and cocaine use was prevalent.

Temperance movements and reform administrations began to curb the crime and scandal, but for some time, East Liverpool was the Tri-State Area hub for shopping, services and a good time.

BY 1879 SEVERAL hotels were serving visitors and a few permanent residents. They included the Washington at 2nd and Washington, and the Brunt House, with almost all featuring "Sample Rooms" where pottery industry salesmen could display their wares.

Musical concerts and other attractions were held to draw shoppers. The Tribune reported in May 1876, "Second St. was so thronged Saturday evening it was almost impossible to pedestrianize. The evening was delightful, and everybody seemed to enjoy it." (1)

The street was the center of a major six-week revival conducted in 1912 by Billy Sunday, ex-professional baseball player and nationally known evangelist. The old Mansion House was torn down to erect a tabernacle tent seating 7,000, and more than 22,000 attended the opening day's three services.

Time by-passed Second St. in the later 20th Century, but it remained an important if shabby remnant of the city's origins. The late Harold Barth, civic leader and area historian, often conducted tours of the historic street before the tracts just to the north were purchased by the Ohio Department of Transportation and buildings razed for the four-lane Freeway between 2nd and 3rd Streets.

Construction of the Freeway was halted for several months in 1990-91 when the Ohio Historical Society and other research groups excavated several sites between 2nd and 3rd Sts. which yielded prehistoric artifacts and items from the town site's early days.,

A look down 2nd St. today reveals only two businesses -- Mason Color Works and Lane Casting -- along with two occupied homes and five or six vacant houses, all on the south side, the north side having been cleared for the Freeway right of way.

QUIET, ALMOST deserted now, a busier future lies in store for Second St. in the Goodwin-Baggott pottery designated for renovation by the Ohio Historical Society for many years, planning it to be a visitors attraction and educational tool for youth.

The remaining portion and bottle kiln of a larger 19th Century plant, it is of brick construction on a cut stone foundation. Some restoration was undertaken by the state historical society in the 1970s. The original kiln is the last of some 300 that existed in the city when it was a national pottery center.

The plant was originally started in 1843 by John Goodwin who rented a warehouse on lower Market St., built a kiln beside it and began producing Rockingham and Yellow ware. Later he added door knobs.

Goodwin had come from Burslem, England, stopping at New Orleans, St. Louis and Cincinnati. He first worked at the Bennett pottery in 1842, then at Harker's.

In 1853 he became interested in real estate, sold his pottery operation to the Baggott brothers, Samuel and William, who had recently arrived from England. The Baggotts produced Yellow ware for nearly 40 years, after which the building was converted to a pottery supply works in 1902 by Mountford & Son.

Funding the renovation project has been sought repeatedly with the state, along with various improvements for the Museum of Ceramics, but has been postponed time and again.

The initial funds are to provide for architectural planning, exhibit research and critical repairs. Later undertakings will include door and window repair, restoration of steps, exterior and interior painting, woodwork and brick flooring repair, plaster restoration, improved parking with pavement and exhibit production.

If the shop and kiln are restored, the site would be a welcome addition to the city's image of a former pottery center which continues to produce fine ware. It would also complement the unique and valuable collections, programs and other offerings of the Museum.

An actual vestige of the city's ceramic past, featuring modern display and interpretation techniques would also bring new tourist traffic and additional businesses on old 2nd St., recreating some of the active and exciting times when the thoroughfare was the heart of `Crockery City.'

(1) City of Hills and Kilns, Wm. Gates

2nd St. Firsts

The town's first brick house was built on 2nd St. near Washington by the Postmaster Collins. The first frame home had been constructed by pioneer Joseph McKinnon on 4th St. near Market, the founder Fawcetts having made their log structures on the height above later Jethro.

The first bank in town was opened in 1870 by Huff & Co. of Pennsylvania in the Dobbins House hotel on 2nd St. A building was erected on lower Broadway, but the firm failed in the Panic of 1873. The building was later occupied by the local First National Bank.

Prior to the opening of City Hospital on W. Fifth St. in 1905, Dr. William J. Taylor, who had come from England in 1890, opened a small private hospital on 2nd St. at Union in 1903, enlarging it a year later.

The first tavern in town was a log structure built in 1809 on upper 2nd St. by the founder's son, Tom Fawcett, who also sold a few goods and operated a river ferry.

An important source of good water for householders and businesses along the street was the Brawdy well at the southwest corner of Union St., a tract owned by Dr. Benjamin Ogden, first physician in town

SOURCE: Plate Turner's Handbook, 35th Annual Tri State Pottery Festival (June 13, 14&15, 2002) pp 9-13

The first settlement in Liverpool Township was in 1795. One of the earliest settlers was Joseph McKinnon, who located here in 1799. His son, George K. McKinnon, was the first white child born in Columbiana County.

Thomas Fawcett and Robert Boyce settled in what is now East Liverpool, in the latter part of 1799 or 1800, where they purchased 1,100 acres of land, fronting on the 'river and reaching from what is now Union Street to Jethro.

Thomas Fawcett laid out a town and called it St. Clair, but the inhabitants rechristened it Fawcettstown in honor of its founder, and by that name it was known until rechristened Liverpool.

The oldest standing home in town was built by Sanford Hill. Mr. Hill also opened the first dry goods store in 1819. He was for many years the most prominent mon in town and achieved wide distinction through his astronomical and other calculations for almanacs. For forty years he did most of the surveying done in this part of the country.

The original town grew slowly - and civic improvements were even slower! The first shingled roof in town was put on Robert Boyce's cabin by "Old Gauge", a carpenter whose correct name was William Hudson. "Old Guage" was a famous character, the greatest whiskey drinker in the county, but he never got drunk. He could maul 400 rails a day and was an excellent workman. He drank a gallon of whiskey every day, taking a half pint every hour; this is how he earned the name "Old Gauge".

1840 marked the beginning of the pottery industry and a rapid rise in the town's growth. The town began to spread "up the hill" and to establish its main business district along Fifth Street. At one time East Fifth Street to the Horn Switch was a solid line of potteries.

SOURCE: Excerpts from "A Stroll Down Second Street" Memories, Skills, Progress, Tri-State Pottery Festival June 17-18-19, (1971), pp. 25-26

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