Celebrating 125 years
New Straitsville Timeline Being Developed
by Tim Dunkle
As part of the New Straitsville Local history Group's efforts to collect and retell the town's story, the development of a has been undertaken. Tim Dunkle, President of the Hocking County Historical Society, local history group member and former resident of the village has undertaken the task of assembling the piece. He presented it to the public for the first time at the town's Quasqui Centennial Dinner in July of this year (2000). He welcomes additions to the work, particularly for the period, 1925-present. The New Straitsville Local History Group meets on the first Thursday of each month at Main St. Antiques. The current, but changing draft of Tim's work follows.
Before The Town
1817: Perry County was formed from parts of Muskingum, Fairfield, Washington and Athens Counties.
1823: Saltlick Township was formed. It originally contained the land where New Straitsville is located.
1835: Old Straitsville was founded by Jacob and Issac Strait.
1842: the Hocking Canal was completed—the transportation forerunner of the Columbus and Hocking Railroad.
1845: St. Peter's Catholic Church, (Old Stone Church) was built by Timothy Fagan. The last mass was celebrated on November 23,1880. One of its members was Janarius McGahan, the journalist named "The Liberator of Bulgaria."
1845: The Methodist organized and built the "Harbaugh Meeting House," named for the family who donated the land. Located on what is now the New Straitsville Cemetery. Operated until 1871.
1850: Payne community was settled.
1864: The Mineral railroad Company was formed. Two men who purchased stock were Thomas Ewing and John D. Martin. In June 1867 it was renamed to the Columbus & Hocking Valley Railroad, and construction was begun. In 1868 it reached Lancaster and in mid-1869 it reached Logan and Nelsonville.
1869: Logan businessmen incorporated the Logan and Straitsville Railroad in March (Note: Straitsville, not New Straitsville. New Straitsville was not in existence yet.)
1869: John D. Martin purchased the first parcel of land from Joseph and Almyra Woodruff in December.
The Town Is Born (1870-71)
Spring, 1870: Martin plats the town site.
April 14, 1870: The first lot was sold to J. J. Achauer (Lot #162) The first house was built by William Patterson on Ewing Street.
Spring, 1870: The Columbus and Hocking Railroad absorbed the Logan and Straitsville Railroad. Construction had not yet begun.
June 15, 1870: The Straitsville Mining Company first coal mine opened (The Old Bank, South Rt. 216.)
July 19, 1870: New Straitsville is dedicated.
July 20, 1870: A "railroad excursion" from Logan was held by Mr. Martin. Buggy transportation was provided since the railroad was not yet built. Picnic, music, dancing, coal mine tour, and an auction of town lots were held as part of the event.
Late 1870: Albert Van Heyde was appointed the first Postmaster. His father, William Van Heyde, and Pius Clark were the resident heads of the Straitsville Mining Company.
January 2, 1871: The Straitsville Branch of the Columbus and Hocking Valley Railroad opens.
July 13, 1871: Cornerstone is laid for Edith Chapel Methodist Church (M.E. Methodist Episcopal.)
1871: Joseph M. Riley elected as fist Mayor; Population reaches 300; and the "Old Red School" is built.
1872: Coal Township is formed from Southwest Corner of Saltlick Township.
December 1872: New Straitsville was officially incorporated. A marshal, clerk, treasurer, and five councilmen took office. A Jail and a mayor's office was built.
The Early Years
1874: New Straitsville Masonic Lodge chartered.
September 23, 1875: Knights of Labor local formed in New Straitsville by newly arrived union organizer Christopher Evans.
1877: Christopher Evans moves to New Straitsville.
1877: A Second line from the Columbus & Hocking Valley Railroad reaches New Straitsville with tracks built from Nelsonville up to Monday Creek Valley to the village.
1879: The Church of Christ is organized and Church is built on the West end.
1880: Census shows the population of New Straitsville to be 2,782.
1880: The IOOF (International Order Of Odd Fellows) Lodge is dedicated on Clark street. The three story building houses store-fronts and Opera house and Lodge headquarters.
1880: New Straitsville Fire Department Established.
1880: The Welsh Baptist Church is built on Van Heyde Street after organizing in 1870.
1880: Bessie Furnace (iron) is open flourishing only until the mid 1880's.
March 1883: The Columbus & Hocking Coal and Iron Company was formed syndicating 18 mines in the vicinity of New Straitsville. The syndicate controlled 12,579 acres of coal and ore lands 570 company owned houses and 12 stores.
May 1883: First high school commencement held. Six students graduated.
October 13, 1884: The Syndicate operators lowered the price, paid the minors from 60 cents a ton to 40 cents a ton. This led to a bitter strike and the sending of lighted coal cars soaked in kerosene into mine shafts setting off the Great New Straitsville Mine Fires that would burn underground for a century. The first fire was set at Plummer Hill Mine. The strike lasted until March of 1885. Mining in the immediate vicinity of the town would never return to its pre-strike levels.
1890: Following several years of secret meetings, many held in New Straitsville's Robinson's Cave, The United Mine Workers of America is formed at a convention held in Columbus. New Straitsville's Christopher Evans is elected the First Secretary of the Union, village resident John Wilson is also a delegate at the convention.
Fall 1890: The Shawnee and New Straitsville electric Light Company was formed.
1893: A Village Library is created in a room at the village school.
1893: Mt. Zion Church is built.
Diversifying the local economy, continued confidence in the town (1900-1920)
1900: New Straitsville's Population is reported at 2,302 in the 1900's census.
1903: The Martin Banking Company is established.
1904: The New Straitsville Social & Athletic Club is built.
1904: The New Straitsville Imperious Brick Company is built. The plant would grow to produce 100,000 bricks per day.
1904: Nearby, the Greendale Brick Company is built.
1905: The oil boom begins. To major oil companies are established: Kachelmacher Oil and Chartiers Oil
1916: New School is built on the upper end of Clark Street.
1916: Corner stone is laid for a new Methodist Church at the corner of Clark and Main Street.
1920: The Populations of New Straitsville is 2,208.
The Decline Begins
1920's: Prohibition is the law of the land, bitter mine strikes spell the end of the great Hocking Valley coal boom. Unemployed miners began making Moonshine Whiskey in mines as a means to economically survive.
September 32, 1929: Fire destroys half of Main Street. Lost were the Watkin's Hotel, Masonic Hall, Spencer's Grocery. Shuttleworth's Drug, Rischert's Grocery, Dave Atlas Store, Deannie Evans / Patty Crow Saloon and James Morgan's Bakery. Morgan's Bakery was blown up to stop the fire.
1927: New Library is built after successful campaign by Librarian Maria Ewing Martin.
1929: Greendale Brick Closes.
1930: Bessie Furnace is torn down.
December 17, 1930: The Martin Bank goes under in the great depression.
1930: Population drops to 1,718.
1930's: WPA Projects worked busily to save town from raging underground mine fires.
1930's: Mine fires draw national attention as tourists and news reporters' flock to town. Two mine fire tour concessions compete for business. Ripley's Believe it or not radio show broadcast from the mine fires.
1939: Daily passenger service is discontinued.
1940's: Federal government begins buying land around the village that will eventually become the Wayne National Forrest.
1940: Population Drops to 1,473.
September 3, 1940: Demolition of IOOF Opera House begins.
1950: Population drops to 1,122.
1952: Excursion train marks the last passenger train to leave village.
1958: Delyn Theater converted into Village Gymnasium.
1959-1965: Burr Oak Water system is designed and constructed, bringing the village its first full-fledged public water system.
1960: Southern Local School District Formed.
1961: New Straitsville High School Closes, consolidated with Shawnee High School.
1964: Miller High School Built.
1970: Huge centennial celebration held. Repeated the following year as the New Straitsville Moonshine Festival.
1992: St. Augustin Catholic Church closes and is torn down.
1993: New Straitsville Elementary school closes. New Southern Local elementary and middle School complex opens at Hemlock.
1995: Payne Cemetery is rededicated at the southern edge of township, commemorating black civil war veterans who lived there.