Submitted by Lorna Marks
I. T., November 26, 1967
The vast importance of the Ironton area as an industrial center began around 1850 with a dry apple house and a small foundry.
The dry apple house, to which, many apples from the Lawrence County orchards were brought in the fall of the year for curing, was located at Seventh and Lawrence streets. The Ironton Foundry, known as “Campbell, Ellison, & Co.,” was believed to have been located on the banks of the Ohio River near the mouth of Storms Creek, which later became the site of the first saw mill in the city. In the one year the city of Ironton had been in existence, it had accumulated a population of 574 persons. At that time Burlington, a river community, was the county seat. But soon after, due to the pursuits of John CAMPBELL, the founder of the city of Ironton, and his associates, Ironton became the Lawrence County seat due to its close proximity to the territorial and population centers of the county. The court house was erected in Ironton in the year 1852, with citizens and supporters of the city subscribing to $1,200 to finance the building.
The pulse of the county, Ironton in Upper Township, was engaged in the thriving capitalism of the iron industry, and area owed much of the success of the industry to the Ohio River, which offered an immediate transportation facility of the processed iron ore.
In the year 1850 the face of a real metropolis was starting to take shape. Churches were founded. Roads were built. Industries were beginning to crop up. And people from everywhere were swarming in and making Upper Township and Ironton the “melting pot” of the county.
The township’s 2,494 persons, breaking down to 1,349 men and 1,145 women, were employed as clerks and laborers, miners, furnace men, lawyers, school teachers, physicians, railroad agents, ministers, contractors, grocers and bakers, saddlers, and even a few were shoemakers, tailors, stone cutters, butchers, tavern keepers or artists. The ledgers of the 1850 census, from which these figures were compiled, uphold the presence of germinating metropolitan area.
At the time of the census, there were 417 dwellings in the river township, with 425 families residing within them. There were 1,344 white males, five colored males, 1,142 white females and three colored females in Upper Township. Of this total, 214 of the residents over the age of 20 years could not read or write and 264 pioneers had attended school within the year.
The second largest township of that census, Upper Township contained 14,123 acres, valued at $172,655. The population of the township had nearly doubled from the 1,161 residents recorded in the 1840 census and proceeded to double again before the 1860 census, which recorded 4,924 persons. The 1960 census recorded 21,372 persons in Upper Township.
But aside from the facts and figures depicting the growth of Ironton, there were other settlements in the township in the year 1850. These included Goal Grove, Hecla, and a little community near what is now Coryville (Coraville in past days) called “Old Maidville.”
The community, which contained several residences on a main street with a school at the end of the street, was said to have been named after the two or possibly three “old maids” which resided there.
The settlement landowners included E. CALDWELL, J.F. WELCH, Thomas GOLDEN, W. R. and William RICHARDSON, T. MILLER, Charles MAY, C. SECTON, and “School.” According to a section map in “Lake’s Atlas of Ohio,” published in 1887. The old atlas, which is available for use at the Briggs-Lawrence County Public Library in Ironton, along with the census microfilms and historical data, shows the village of “Old Maidville.”
The spinsters after whom the village was named were reportedly Misses Betsy and Polly BREEDEN, recorded on the 1850 census as being from Virginia, aged 73 and 67, respectively, and unable to read or write. They lived in a cabin about a mile behind the city of Ironton.
According to the obituaries of the “old maids” found in newspapers at the library, Betsy died on Dec. 26, 1855, and Polly died in July, 1860 in the Lawrence County Home.
A third spinster, reported to be Mattie LAYNE or LANE, a school teacher at “Old Maidville,” is often said to have had a part in the naming of the village.
Unusual name-spellings and surnames recorded on the 1850 census ledger included BURNES, CANTERBERY, LOYD, DONEVAN, MAHEW, HOLLADAY, McKINLY, RICHASON, KEILPATRICK, DENIS, SCURVIN, McGAR, SMEDLY, MITCHEL, STEARNE, McCLAINE, MORRIL, WILY, SHUPE, VOGLESEN, BUCANNAN, MURDICK, PHENY, DUFFEE, WHITIER, SHATRICK, KOUNSE, ROE, AIRES, CHEMMISON, HAMBLETON, BRATT, NEWMEN, BEACKLEY, RENNICH, McQUIG, BENTLY, CANON, BURK, BARTTLET, MILLERSON, RICHE, STEPHESON, SISSEL, MURRY, COLWELL, MICHEL, DELANA, SHANON, BAR, PRUET, DEARING, HACKWITH, SHURMAN, HEPPLER, BREADMAN, and CHESTNUTWOOD.