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Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County
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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Archives of the Local Area Newspapers

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, January 22, 2006

While we are fortunate to have archival copies of the "Herald Star" available on microfilm for the past 200 years, many more newspapers existed in our area. Small, local newspapers were common in the villages of our county over the years.

The "Toronto Tribune" served that area beginning in 1879.  Unfortunately, the newspaper office was destroyed by fire in 1961, and only the more recent editions before the paper-ceased publication in 1990 remain. Other villages having newspapers included Mount Pleasant, Smithfield, Irondale, Knoxville, Mingo, Richmond, and likely more communities.

Last year, the library obtained copies of the "Wintersville Citizen," a local newspaper that began with the December 6, 1962 edition. Volume 1, Number 1 stated that the newspaper was a "dream come true" for area residents.  Published weekly on Thursday, the newspaper would provide civic and social news for the area.We were able to obtain about five years of the Wintersville Citizen; which was published for several years after the 1968 termination date of our issues.

Business history is covered by the advertisements contained in the newspaper.  In our 1962-68 span, many new businesses opened, others changed, and some closed forever. Clubs and school activities are highlighted in the four-page newspaper.  Bowling leagues and other sporting activities received significant coverage.

Eve Seiter was engaged to write a weekly column in the Wintersville Citizen, which was featured in the 1963 and 1964 editions. The first issue contains a note in a bottle found on the grounds of the former Wintersville Elementary School.  It had been buried on April 17, 1925 at a tree planting ceremony with the names of all students present that day.

The features were often historical in nature.  In 1963, she wrote from the notes of Mr. Sherman Floyd (1863-1959) as he gathered materials for the 1933 Farmer's Institute of Wintersville. Mr. Floyd told about the Plank Road, which started at Union Cemetery in Steubenville and went into the center of Wintersville.  The white oak planks were two inches thick and 9 ft. long, but were broken quickly with wagon traffic. The Steubenville-Indiana Railroad ran through Cross Creek, with the first train reaching Unionport in 1853.

Another feature story in 1963 tells about the last day of school in 1886 at the Powell's Lane Schoolhouse.  It was a two-room school, so as to divide the space between younger and older children. Thirsty children passed the water bucket and dipper around the room.  A big stove in the center of the room heated the building and dried wet boots from the walk to school. Sometimes the school had a foul smell from the boys who had tended their animal traps on the way to school. School ended earlier than it does now, as the boys had to help on the farms as the season warmed.

These newspapers are not yet available for public use, as we want to digitize them to preserve the originals. Newspapers over 40 years of age have begun to "yellow" and we want to preserve the information for future generations.