East Liverpool Historical Society

This article by Joan Witt originally appeared in the Bicentennial Book

Thomas Fawcett and his wife Isabella were Irish Quakers who came from the Chartiers area of Western Pennsylvania in 1798. He had purchased 1100 acres of land and chose to live on a small rise in the western section of his land near the river. Fawcett platted a town and named it St. Clair in honor of Arthur St. Clair, the governor general of the Northwest territory. The riverboat men and the local citizens called it "Fawcett's Town" in honor of him. Fawcett was not much of a real estate promoter and the town didn't expand as he had hoped.

His son John took over and re-platted the town and called it "Liverpool" in honor of the majority of English settlers. John's work as a government agent took him away from town often; he had an opportunity to trade the land to Claiborne Simms from Wheeling for a large farm. In 1834 when the city was chartered by the State of Ohio, the name was changed to "East Liverpool" because there was another city of Liverpool in Medina County.

Until the arrival of James Bennett and the English potters in 1839 and thereafter, the town did not prosper. However, when they realized the availability of good clay, a fine water system and plenty of workmen, the town started to expand rapidly

Throughout the remainder of the 19th century, the largest percentage of the population was from the pottery areas of England. East Liverpool soon became a leader in the production of ceramic products. The number of different potteries grew rapidly. To this day, there are a large percentage of individuals who trace their heritage back to the Stoke-on-Trent area of England. Recently there has been a strengthening of the ties between the two areas.

Up until the turn of the century probably 85% percent of the population could trace its heritage to English background. The judges even came from Lisbon to hold Naturalization proceedings for the mainly English immigrants. The Sons of St. George was one of the leading social organizations in the community. St. Stephen's Episcopal Church was the first organized church body and as such received the land for the church. It continued to be a strong denomination for many years.

After the English probably the next largest ethnic group were those of German background. In the 1870's the Pastor of the German Lutheran Church was teaching German at the Church on 3rd and Jackson Streets. Many of the first arrivals came here as artists to work in the potteries. Through the years there have been several different bottling companies run by Germans as well as some of the early Restaurants.. The German family names which have the longest lasting impression on the community must be the Updegraff family in which Jacob came here after the Civil War and continued to live within the community for the remainder of his life. One of his daughters was a seamstress following his trade as a tailor; and his daughter Florence served as a teacher and Principal in the High School for 47 years. She was considered the most influential lady during her life in town. Jacob Schenkel had another well known name in town. Jacob also served in the Civil War and is now remembered for his Diary which told of his service particularly during the Battle of Gettysburg and his activities after the battle through November. He served as a nurse for the wounded and posed for many "staged" photographs. Jacob took an active part in many social organizations of the community. The Reinhartz name is also very familiar in that Reinhartz served as the leader of the Lutheran Parish for many years, and was also a member of the School board.In more recent times the community has been most fortunate to have had Hans Hacker as one of this adopted citizens. Hans worked as an artist making Decals for the pottery industry ;but he is better remembered for being one of the "Social Historians" of the community in that he recorded on canvas many of the historical structures of the community. Through his work on canvas we have been able to preserve much of the mid 19th century history of the community.

The Italians began to arrive here after the turn of the century. Many came and worked in construction jobs and others in the produce and food markets of town. Most of the families moved into the east end section of town. The second and third generations have branched into all professions and areas of the town

The first Greek families came here during the teen years after the Greek wars. Early on the families were involved in food service activities. They were known for their confections and good food. There were several places particularly along 6th Street where young men had opened Billiards parlors and small restaurants.

Members of the Jewish community came here and entered into retail trade and food services. Early in the 1870's Sam Lazuras was operating a Clothing Store on 5th Street. ( The name has not been traced from here to be of the same Lazuras Clothing of today, but perhaps there may be a connection.!) The Bendheim name was connected with shoes also during the 1870's. Around the turn of the century the Bendheim name was located on Market Street near the Diamond. For a great many years the Shoe Store was located on E. 6th Street. Several members of the second and third generations have entered the Dental and Medical professions.

By the year 1803 there was in this area a black family who settled along the Campground area of town. Edward DeVore had been a slave and purchased his freedom by driving wagons from the eastern part of the Pennsylvania to Pittsburgh. After receiving his freedom, he brought his family to this area. The children attended school under the leadership of Robert Boyce who early on was one of the first teachers in the Wellsville area. The DeVore family worked hard and by the 1830's had constructed a large stone house which sat off of Campground Road. There is a small cemetery in the back of the property for family members. The property remained in the family long after Mr. DeVore passed away and his children , grandchildren and even great grandchildren continued to live there. The property is now out of the family but the building remains. The first black to graduate from East Liverpool High School was Emmaline Southhall. She moved to the south and along with her husband was the owner of a large black newspaper in the south. Of course to this day the Southhall family continues to live and work in town. Another early family was the Spires family.

During the last twenty years, many professional families from India, China, Korea, the Phillipines and other Asian areas arrived in the town.

All of the ethnic groups have contributed greatly to the fabric of the community. For the last six years each September the community celebrates its rich heritage with Ethnic Day in Thompson Park. On that day several thousand attend, to taste foods from all over the world ; listen to different "culture" music groups and shop at craft booths highlighting the different cultures.

Individual outstanding citizens

Early on we were very fortunate to have some talented men and women who developed their skills here and shared them with not only this community but in some cases with the world.

Will L. Thompson

During the period of time between 1874- and 1908, Will was probably the leading songwriter of the times, at least from the sheer numbers of music which is attributed to him. He first wrote ballads and love songs; he also wrote many marches, some comedy songs but is best remembers for his many religious offerings. His best known Hymn, "Softly and Tenderly, Jesus is Calling " has been translated into more languages than any other hymn. Not all of his works have been identified because he apparently wrote under many different names. While he was known all over the world for his hymns, we here in East Liverpool know him as the owner of a large music Store on 4th and Washington Streets; and as the person who donated 100 acres of land for the free use of the people of the community. Will was a benefactor of many worthy causes within the community, his money helped the YMCA, the Carnegie Library, Emanuel Presbyterian Church and the East Liverpool Historical Society to name but a few organizations.

Sanford Hill

Sanford was born in Virginia ( now West Virginia) but spent most of his life here in East Liverpool. He was a store clerk, school teacher, Justice of the Peace, Town Recorder, and Mayor. We best remember him. for the many almanacs he produced from 1840-1870! He did all of the calculations on the weather conditions at least six months in advance and sent them off to the publishers. He was considered a wise counsel for the community as well as for others who came a great distance to ask his advice. The Hill sons and grandsons continued as lawyers and business men in this community.

David L. Blythe

David was born on a farm between East Liverpool and Wellsville. in 1815. Early in his life he was an itinerant portrait painter He also did some woodcarving. As a young man he moved to Western Pennsylvania and continued his work. He followed the troops during the war and painted war scenes. He is best remembered for his genre paintings and his commentary on life in the Pittsburgh area. He apparently never recovered from the death of his wife after only one year, and he was found dead in Pittsburgh at the age of 50 years. The Carnegie Library and the East Liverpool Historical Society own many of his paintings.

Florence Updegraff

The lady of East Liverpool who had the most influence on East Liverpool through the years is Florence Updegraff. Florence moved here as a small child with her family. She graduated from the Union School in 1879 and began her teaching career the next year in the grammar school. In 1890 she became the Principal of the High School. During her term which lasted until 1927 she saw the construction of Central Building as well as the new "white" building in 1915. The number of students in the schools greatly expanded as school laws changed. She saw the introduction of high school athletics, addition of the Band, School Year Book and Newspaper as well as the acquisition of Patterson Football Field. After she retired from teaching she was elected to one four year term on the School Board.

In addition to her contributions to education in the community, she was active in her church, President of the YWCA and the Federation of Women's Clubs. She was also active in the Red Cross, and was a speaker for the Bond Drives during the first world war. At her death in 1935 she was considered one of the leading citizens of the community. Yet it was many years after her death before a tombstone was placed over her grave by business men in the community.

Jere Simms

Jere Simms was a descendant of the third owner of East Liverpool His grandfather had traded a farm in the Wheeling area to Thomas Fawcett Junior for the Liverpool townsite. Simms chose the newspaper business working for a few years out of town before he purchased the "East Liverpool Democrat". He is best remembered for the "Tribune" newspapers and the Simms Printing Office.

It was Jere Simms who first called East Liverpool the Staffordshire of America and also referred to the city as the City of Hills and Kilns. Simms interest in history was noted in his many articles of historical interest in his newspapers and his writings about John Hunt Morgan's Raid. It was Simms idea to publish a two volume history of the history of Columbiana County. He died before he could complete that task. He also served as President of the East Liverpool Historical Society.

C. A. Smith

A very enterprising business man of the area was C. A. Smith. Although he was not a resident of East Liverpool, his business interests greatly affected the town. Smith started in the gas and oil drilling business but is much better remembered for the transportation system which he developed. After the Chester Bridge was constructed , he expanded the trolley lines through East Liverpool and Chester, West Virginia. He owned Rock Springs Park in Chester and promoted ways to get crowds to the park. That was the place for picnics and family outings, school dances and many other community affairs.

Mr. Smith also had an interest in the Taylor, Smith and Taylor China Company as well as Hillcrest Farms where he produced fine orchards and champion cattle.

Monroe Patterson

Monroe Patterson was a prosperous industrialist who greatly benefitted this town. He was the owner of the Patterson Foundry which supplied most of the potteries with needed supplies and equipment. Through Mr. Patterson's generosity, the West End field became Patterson Field for high school sports. After the death of Mrs. Patterson in the mid 1920's, Mr. Patterson had plans drawn up for a four story building in which working women could reside. The Mary Paterson Memorial Building was started under Monroe's direction, but he died before the building could be completed. From 1930 until the early 1980's the building housed many working women. It provided adequate living quarters, a large auditorium , a swimming pool and a restaurant. As living conditions changed , other options were available for working women, the basement and first floor became commercial ventures. During the 1980's the building was closed. It is now the property of Kent State University. Mr. and Mrs. Patterson would be pleased to see how the building is now being used by the students.

Homer Laughlin

A name synonymous with success in the East Liverpool area is that of Homer Laughlin. Homer was born in Beaver Bridge, Ohio and attended Neville Institute. After serving in the Civil War, he returned here and first worked in the oil and gas operations at Smith Ferry. Later along with his brother Shakespeare, he was in the China importing business. By the early 1870's the brothers had bought their first building on West Market Street ( Dresden Avenue) and opened a pottery. They received a $500 bonus from the city and started a four kiln pottery. From the start the Laughlin Brothers were very successful. Shakespeare left the firm to go back to the Import Business.

Homer expanded the pottery and first moved to the River Road and then to a much larger plant in the East End. Homer was the first local pottery to use an American Back stamp--- the Eagle towering over the lion. Mr. Laughlin was known for making many improvements and innovations in the industry. By the late 1890's Homer Laughlin wanted to move on to other ventures. He sold his interests in the pottery to his bookkeeper Mr. Wells and the Aaron family of Pittsburgh. Homer Laughlin moved to California and the Homer Laughlin China Company expanded again by moving to Newell, West Virginia into new factories. The company continues to be innovative and still has expanding markets.


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