Firsts in Lawrence County

Submitted by: Sharon Milich Kouns and Martha J. Martin

First Woman Police Chief in Ironton
Pam “P.K.” Wagner
Occupation: Police Officer


First Female Mayor of Ironton
Katrina Keith
Occupation: Mayor


First Woman Police Officer in Ironton
Beth Ann Rist
Occupation: Police Officer

First Full time Female Commissioned Deputy Sherriff in
Lawrence County Ohio

Terri Martin

Worked as a full time patrol officer, in the year 1982/83 – check the mother’s day 2006 edition of the Ironton Tribune for more details.

First Postmaster in Ironton
Caleb Briggs
Dr. Caleb Briggs, whose name is borne by Ironton’s (Lawrence County-present) Public Library, was Ironton’s first Postmaster.  It is disclosed by records made available by John Roberts on North Fourth Street.
Dr. Briggs was named Postmaster on January 14, 1850 during the term of Zachary Taylor as President.  He served until July 6, 1853, when Benjamin F. Cory was named during the term of Franklin Pierce.- 1941

First Post Office in Ironton
Was near Third and Lawrence, during the years when that neighborhood was the principal section of Ironton.  In 1853, it was moved to Union Hall at Second and Lawrence.  In 1859 was located on Second and Railroad.  later, it was located near Campbell and Center, next at Second and Center and in 1900 was moved to the present Goldcamp building at Fourth and Center.  The present Federal Building was completed in January 1193 during the term of Jeremiah Davidson as Postmaster. –1941

First Woman Dentist in Ironton
Jenkins, Dr. Jennie D.
Occupation: Dentist – 1st Woman Dentist in Ironton
I. R. Oct. 11, 1900 – Miss Jennie Jenkins, who has been assistant to her brother, Dr. W. C. Miller, in his dental office, will enter the Ohio College of Dental Surgery at Cincinnati for a course of instruction in that institution. She leaves tomorrow and will be accompanied by her mother. Miss Jenkins is the only young lady of this section to undertake the profession of dental surgery, and her friends will watch her progress with interest. See also: Miller.
I. R. May 7, 1903 – GRADUATES AS DENTIST. Ironton Girl Alone in a Class of Eighty-One. – The Cincinnati Times-Star Tuesday morning has a splendid picture of Miss Jennie D. Jenkins and the following comment:
“A pretty Ironton (Ohio) belle is the only woman in a class of 81 to graduate from the Ohio Dental College in the class of 1903. When Jennie Jenkins graduated from the High School at Ironton at the age of 15 years her mother said that Jennie should be a music teacher and so Jennie tried. She practiced and practiced, but it wasn’t any use, for the music wasn’t there. One day she shut down the piano quietly and with determination faced a gently looking mother.
“I’m not going to study music more,’ she said. ‘It’s no use, mother; I’m going to be a dentist.’
“And no amount of persuading could change the girl’s plan. Her brother, Dr. C. W. Miller, of Ironton, was a dentist and the next morning she went down to his office. To humor her he taught her how to work in his laboratory. In a short time she was so valuable that he immediately recognized her evident bent in the dentistry line. So Jennie and her brother said that Jennie should go to a dental college and a mother careful of her daughter, packed up bag and baggage and came to Cincinnati to live for three years while Jennie learned to pull teeth and acquired sundry other important knowledge in dentistry. For three years, while her brother boarded in Ironton and saw a family reunion in dreams only, Mrs. Lillie Jenkins and her ambitious little daughter have lived at 417 Hopkins street. Following the graduation exercises Mrs. Jenkins and her daughter go back to Ironton, where Jennie’s brother has arranged an office for his little sister. For Jennie absolutely refuses to go into partnership and office with her brother. She will be the only woman dentist in Ironton and a distinct novelty in that thriving town. And it’s ten to one that numerous epidemics of toothache will be the customary condition of the entire lot of “best catches” among the beans of Ironton this summer. Miss Jenkins’ father has a position in the Bessemer Steel Works in Bessemer, Ala.


First Thanksgiving Service in Ironton
Ironton Register, Nov. 26, 1868 states: 
The first Thanksgiving services ever observed in this city, were held in the building now known as the Frame School House. The services were conducted by Rev. Dan Young or Rev. Jos. Chester, but we are unable to ascertain positively which pastor had the honor.

First Member of the D. A. R. in Ironton
Ironton Register, March 19, 1908
Mrs. S. G. Gilfillan becomes the first member of the D. A. R. in Ironton (as far as the Register could learn). This honor comes through her father, the late L. T. Dean’s ancestor, one Nathan Dean, who answered the call of his country in 1776. The Dean family came from England to America in 1637. The old Dean church in England was established in 1400.

First Bicycle in Ironton
Ironton Register, July 4, 1895
The first bicycle ever in Ironton was in the Summer of 1870.

First Residents of Lawrence County:
See obituary of Christian Yingling in the
Ironton Register, September 18, 1856.
Andrew Yingling, father of Christian, settled in 1798 in what is now Lawrence county. In the same year, Rev. John Kelley, settled with his father, Luke Kelley, just below. At that time “Sammons” as he was called (Simmons was the true name), a relative of C. W. Simmons, present treasurer of Lawrence county, lived in a cabin opposite Big Sandy. Next below, in order, came the cabins of Andrew Yingling, Luke Kelley, James Kelley, Vincent Ferguson, Peter Van Bibber and George Stewart – al that there were in what is now Lawrence county.

First County Seat of Lawrence County:
The first county seat was Burlington. Was moved by vote (1851) to Ironton in 1852.
Ironton Register, August 28, 1884 – The county seat changed by vote on Oct. 14, 1851 but transfer not made til a year later. 1043 votes for and 697 votes against.

First Daily Mail in Ironton:
Ironton Register, October 23, 1856 – Ironton first blessed with one, this week. Commencing last Monday. And for it we are indebted to the efforts of Ralph Leete, Esq. . . .

First Funeral Held in Memorial Hall in Ironton:
Was that of Thomas Winters, Sr. even though Spencer congregation had been holding services there for several months.

First white male child born in Lawrence County:
Ironton Register, April 12, 1894 – James Miller, known for years by the people of Rome Township as being the “first white male child born in Lawrence county,” died last Thursday. At dinner time, his daughter found him lying upon a sofa in his usual condition and resting so quietly that she concluded not to disturb him but to carry his dinner in to him. When she returned with the dinner, the old man was dead. Mr. Miller was Constable in Rome Township for a quarter of a century.

First drain tile, first red brick and first fire brick in Lawrence County:
Ironton Register, May 16, 1901 – Edward Adkins, a blind inmate of the county infirmary, who has been with the institution for the past seven years, is a genius in his particular line. He has made 65 tombstones of potter’s clay for the graves of the deceased inmates of the infirmary and has placed 50 of them over the graves. Mr. Adkins was born in the north of England in 1813, and came to this city about the time it was laid out (1849 – smk). He lost his eyesight in 1882. He is credited with having introduced the drain tile here in 1849, made the first red brick in Ironton in 1850 and the first fire brick in Lawrence County.

First Newspaper in Lawrence County:
Ironton Register, Dec. 3, 1868 – We have been looking over an old volume of the Lawrence County Gazette, the first paper ever printed in this county. It was edited by Mr. W(yatt). C. Wheeler…

Ironton Register, September 11, 1856 – The first show of a newspaper in this county, was a paper actually printed at Portsmouth, the publication of which was commenced on March, 1820, by C. Hopkins, under the style of “Scioto Telegraph.” In October, 1820, Mr. Hopkins enlarged the paper, and added to its title, calling it “Scioto Telegraph and Lawrence County Gazette,” issued simultaneously at Portsmouth and Burlington. The First paper printed in this county was the “Lawrence County Gazette,” in 1845, by W. C. Wheeler. It had an existence until December, 1849 or January, 1850.

First Barber in Lawrence County:
Ironton Register, September 11, 1879 – Gabriel Johnson claims to be the first barber who shaved a man in Lawrence County. He started a shop in Burlington nearly 40 years ago, and has been in the business ever since. What a wonderful variety of acquaintances he has scraped up!

First Barber in Ironton:
Ironton Register, August 28, 1884 – Tommy Jim was the first barber in Ironton and had a shop where the S. V. Depot stands.

First Bookstore in Ironton:
Ironton Register, January 18, 1872
 – Frank Hansche, whose father started the first bookstore in Ironton, is now here.

First Railroad Company in Lawrence County:
The Iron Railroad Company incorporated on March 7, 1849.

First locomotive on the Iron Railroad:
Ironton Register, August 28, 1884 – The Essex was the first locomotive on the I.R.R. It arrived Nov. 1851.

First Mayor of Ironton:
Ironton Register, August 28, 1884 – Was J. M. Merrill.

First Public Well in Ironton:
Ironton Register, August 28, 1884 – Was the one on 6th & Buckhorn. It was put down by private subscriptions in the early part of 1853, and cost $164.

First Sheet Iron Made in Ironton:
Ironton Register, December 18, 1856
 – The Ironton Rolling Mill, H. Campbell & Co., on Monday of this week, made about a ton and a half of beautiful Sheet Iron, the First made in our town. Geo. P. Rogers, agent; John Pritchard, manager.

First Store in Ironton:
Ironton Register, August 28, 1884 – Was Irwin & Kelly’s, where Belfont furnace now stands.

Woman Who Rode First Train to Etna:
Ironton Register, February 2, 1910 – Mrs. Louise G. Black, residing at 137 Railroad Street, who has reached the ripe old age of 80 years, informs the Register that she has the distinction of being the first lady that ever rode out on the Iron Railroad to Etna Furnace. She says she don’t remember the date, but it was fully sixty years ago and on a Saturday when it was made known that the first train was to be out to Etna.

Her father, Dr. Gates, resided there and Mrs. Black was longing for the time to come to enjoy a ride on what they called a railroad in those days. The road was laid off with wooden rails and when the time arrived, the trip had to be postponed on account of the coach not being finished, anyway, not being ready to take on the passengers.

Mrs. Black was at the depot with her husband, who was an engineer and blacksmith and when she saw she was to be disappointed after patiently waiting so long, tears came to her eyes, for not being able to go out to Etna to see her parents. The engineer on the train noticing the disappointment expressed on Mrs. Black’s face, and being well acquainted with her husband, called out to him for them to get up in the engine, which they did, thus giving Mrs. Black the distinction of being the first lady to ride on the road which is now the D. T. and I. Railroad. (Dayton, Toledo and Ironton – now defunct – smk).

The coach is now a play house for the children of Mr. and Mrs. L. R. Andrews in the back yard of their home on South Sixth Street. C. C. Clark had the old relic and let Mr. Frank Dupuy have it for his children to play in when he sold out to go to California, it came into the possession of Mr. Andrews. Mrs. Black is the mother of Contractor S. G. Black and James Black, the sign writer of this city.

First Foundry in Ironton:
Ironton Register, July 13, 1876 – The Ironton Foundry was the first iron industry started in this town, and has ever since been one of our reliable and prominent institutions. The structure was put up in the Fall of 1850, John and Hiram Campbell* marking out the foundation lines. The brick work was done by A. O. Sheppard; Hammond Howe constructed the suspension roof, and Thos. Winters did the carpentering work. The structure was enclosed by the time cold weather came, and in the Winter of 50-51, the carpenters were fitting up the interior. The first melt was in May, 1851. The foundry then employed 22 molders. Some of these came from Mt. Vernon Furnace, where the company had been engaged in profitable foundry business. The names of those who came in from Mt. Vernon at that time are as follows: William Levering, Jeff. Gustin, John Alexander, Dan McDaniel, Wm. Hayes, Wm. and Thos. O’Neil, Philip Isaminger, John, William and Alex Wilson, Wm. and John Sterne, Henry, Arch and James Steece, Sol. Isaminger and P. I. Moyer. W. C. Frailey, the present foreman of the foundry, started in as foreman at the beginning, and has continued ever since, except an intermission of six months. Wm. Dundon was cupola tender for 22 years. Of the original molders only three or four are left, but several of them have sons at present engaged there. The firm originally was Campbell, Ellison & Co. It changed four times afterward – Campbell, Woodrow & Co., Campbell, Mears & Co., Olhaber & Co. That the foundry may be rebuilt** and continue its operations in this place is the strong hope and desire of every citizen.
*John and Hiram Campbell were cousins.
** The Disastrous Fire – Ironton Foundry in Ruins – I. R. July 13, 1876.

First Automobile (Funeral) Cortege in Ironton’s History:
Ironton, Ohio, February 19, 1915 – The first automobile funeral cortege in the history of the city was that of yesterday, at the burial of the little son of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Marting, the automobile dealer.

Eleven machines were in the cortege and it was an impressive sight. Rev. B. D. Evans conducted the last rites over the child. Burial in Woodland, under direction of Gholson and Sons. A beautiful limousine was used for a hearse and it was completely filled with flowers.

First Packing House in Proctorville:
Ironton Register, January 9, 1879 
– Frank Suiter has the first packing house in Proctorville, and is doing a brisk business in the pork and beef line.

First Sheriff of Lawrence County:
John Kelly elected March 4, 1817 in Burlington.

First Hebrew School in Lawrence County:
Opened in Ironton September 3, 1874

First Brick House in Lawrence County:
Ironton Register, May 15, 1902 – under Ye Olden Times – Mr. Ventraux, built the first brick house (except for the Burlington tavern) in this county. Later owned by Ephraim McGee.

First Councilmen of Ironton:
Ironton Register, August 28, 1884 – John Campbell, J. S. Rodarmor, Morris Jones, E. J. Folwell, and Hugh Crawford.

First BRICK Schoolhouse in Ironton:
Old Central on Sixth Street, between Vernon and Washington Streets (site of the present day Kingsbury School.)

First Pay-Phone services in Ironton:
The year 1881. Local calls were 10 cents and long distance calls were 25 cents.

First Fire Engine in Ironton:
The year 1865 and it was first used to battle a fire at the old Ironton House.

First case of capital punishment in Lawrence County:
April 2, 1869, a hanging on the courthouse lawn in Ironton.

First residential use of natural gas in Ironton:
July 3, 1899.

First Pastor of Baptist Church in Lawrence County:
Ironton Register, September 18, 1856 – Obituary of Christian Yingling states: – Rev. John Lee, first pastor of “Storms Creek Church” the Baptist Church of Ironton.


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About Lawrence County, Ohio

Lawrence County, Ohio borders the Ohio River at the Southernmost part of the state. Six architecturally interesting bridges span the Ohio River, connecting Lawrence County with various locations in both Kentucky and West Virginia. Because of these bridges, metropolitan Ashland, KY and Huntington, WV are just minutes away from virtually anywhere in the county.

Lawrence County Ohio was organized December 20, 1816, the first Court of Common Pleas was organized March 4, 1817. In 2016, Lawrence County celebrated its Bicentennial… click here to view photos of the Grand Finale event.

The first election was held April 7, 1817, with Joseph Davidson, Joel Bowen, and David Spurlock elected county commissioners. Their first meeting was held Monday afternoon, April 21, 1817, at the home of Joseph Davidson in Burlington.

Lawrence County, Ohio was named after Capt. James Lawrence, a native of Burlington, NJ and a gallant naval officer of the War of 1812.

Lawrence County was home to 23 blast furnaces and was once the world leader in pig iron production.

The county seat is Ironton, where you will find our government offices, restaurants, museum, library, splash park, civic organizations, and is home of the famous Memorial Day Parade.

Check out what’s new in Lawrence County, with the Lawrence County Guide Book. 

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