Let’s Get Acquainted

…Series of Articles Concerning Interesting Business And Professional Residents of Ironton

Submitted by: Shirley Reed


This is the Sixteenth of a Series of Articles Concerning Interesting Business And Professional Residents of Ironton — Your Neighbors.

Below is one of Ironton’s first families – descendant of one of the founders of the city. Tis no wonder the life story of E.S. Culbertson, one of the prominent business leaders of the city and county, reads like a backward glance into the history of the city of Ironton.
From those early days prior to and including 1848 when the city was in its infancy, when the Hanging Rock Iron Region was looked upon as one of the great industrial sections of the country, there has been a Culbertson associated with development of the districts resources, culture and business life.
This section of the Ohio Valley was a far cry from its present state when John Culbertson, grandfather of Ed Culbertson, Ella and Jennie Culbertson, moved with his family from Pennsylvania. Attracted by the growth and promise of this new-developing area of coal, iron and timber resources the elder Culbertson joined pioneers and was associated with John Campbell and others in founding the city of Ironton. Founding of a city meant the birth of industrial and business ties and it is an unusual coincidence that E.S. Culbertson, during his active business life, has been associated with two institutions in whose organization his grandfather played an important part. The elder Culbertson was one of the founders of the old Iron Railroad, comprising the southern end of the present D.T. & L. line, and of the old Iron Bank, forerunner of the present First National. E.S. Culbertson was formerly an employee of the Iron Railroad and today he is chairman of the board of the First National Bank.
E.S. Culbertson was born at Lawrence Furnace, a son of Cambridge Culbertson and Emily Rankins Culbertson, but he can really be considered a “city” boy for his folks moved to Ironton when he was only two weeks old. He has since resided in Ironton, received his education in public schools here and at the age of sixteen years started his life’s work. He secured employment in the Iron Railway office in 1884, and assisted in the paper work incident to operation of a line that extended to Center Station and was built principally to bring in iron from charcoal furnaces. C.C. Clarke was general manager of the road at that time, was interested in the lumber business and after sixteen years of service on the railroad Mr. Culbertson took up what was to be his life’s work. He accepted the railroad job when sixteen because “it was a job” as he said but with manhood came a vision of opportunities of the future. It was close to start of the twentieth century when Mr. Culbertson entered the tie business and he is still engaged in that filed, though his interests have extended to a varied line of endeavor. He did not follow in the footsteps of his father, who was a furnace man.
Although Culbertson’s business interests are many, the one firm probably closest to his heart is the Culbertson Lumber Company, of which he is president, owner and manager. It has offices on south Third and Clinton streets and Mr. Culbertson and John Lowe, office manager, give attention to business items there. The firm deals in railroad cross ties, with the B. & O., D. T. & I., and N. & W. as clients and even in this industry there is a story of romance and development. Formerly all railroad ties had to meet 7 x 10 x 81/2 specifications and all were of white oak. There were fears the white oak supply in this section would be worked out, ruining the industry, but science came along to meet the problem and today ties are treated so that any kind of oak, beech, hickory or ash satisfy railroad requirements. All are trimmed in the woods and are turned over to railway concerns in their natural state, for creosote treatment at the company plants. And added conservation of lumber was brought about in the clipping of specifications so that 7 x 9 x 81/2 ties are now used. In the “old” days ties sold for 35 cents but in “good” times of recent years the charge mounted to $2 each.
The Culbertson Lumber Company formerly owned vast acres of timberlands but only recently a ____ acre tract was sold to the government for reforestation. Some timberlands are still held.
In addition to being head of the lumber concern, Mr. Culbertson is president of the Ironton-Russell Bridge Company, is chairman of the First National Bank board, is president of the Ironton News Company and president of the Crystal Ice Company. He is a charter member of the Rotary Club, is a member of the Knights Templar and Elks, and is a vestryman of Christ Episcopal Church. Jovial, of firm and sound business policies, he has carried valued ability and foresight into every organization with which he affiliated.
Mr. Culbertson and Miss Alice Cherrington, niece of Judge Thos. Cherrington, were united in marriage during 1904 at Gallipolis, Ohio, and one daughter, Emily Lucy, was born to their happy union. She is the wife of William B. Wingert of New York, general superintendent of the Semet Solvay Company. Misses Ella and Jennie Culbertson, who lived in the old homestead on south 4th street, comprise the Culbertson family that traces its local original back before Ironton was born, when John Culbertson and his family arrived as pioneers from the more populous state of Pennsylvania.
During his varied and active business career Mr. Culbertson found time for civic enterprise and ten years of his life were devoted to development of Ironton. He served that many years as president of Ironton City Council and his regime was marked by harmony and progress. He served as council head during the terms of Mayor E. F. Tyler, “Kid” Collett, Harry Mountain, and Harry Moulton.
Mr. Culbertson was associated with such men as Dr. C. C. Wilson, Dr. Alf Robinson, Choke Colvin, Henry Gearhart, Ed Hannon, Levi Henry, Dave James and others during his long span of civic service. During his regime two horse-drawn fire trucks were installed and in those days “that was something.” Two of the horses, “Colonel” and “Ed,” were named after Colonel H. A. Marting and Edward Hannon. Two others, “Cub” and “Choke,” were named after Mr. Culbertson and Choke Colvin. And those youths of today, whose lives have been filled with the clang and whistle of present-day automobile fire engines will never know the thrill that came to those fortunate enough to be in the vicinity of a fire station when an alarm sounded in the “old” days. There was an air of excitement, an unrivaled thrill as the gates opened as though by magic, the well-trained horses pranced eagerly into place and harness dropped on their backs. Firemen were at hand to make the few adjustments necessary, there was the stamping of hoofs and a flying of sparks as the horses slipped to a rapid getaway and then a pulsing, rapid dash to the scene of the blaze. There was something about the plunging, bucking pair of fire department horses that did something to the spine. And along the route taken there was a sawing of reins as the mad dash was slowed a bit so that a volunteer fireman could “board” the wagon.
William George was fire chief in those days, J. R. C. Brown was city engineer. George H. Davies was city clerk. Carmi Thompson, now of Cleveland, was city solicitor, and “Cat” King and John Brice served as chief of police.
No wonder Mr. Culbertson’s eyes light up when he talks of the past. He has seen Ironton grow from a mud-splattered town into a modern city of overhead crossings, modern conveniences and flood walls. And probably a greater thrill comes from realization that he participated in its steady expansion.

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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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