SUTTON TOWNSHIP — Bob Beegle is well known in Meigs County for his gift of storytelling. A lifelong resident of Sutton Township, he entertained the audience with his “Tales and Tidbits: Sutton” at the Chester Shade Historical Association Banquet.
Beegle opened his presentation by describing the township: “Ohio River, coal, salt, immigrants; seven miles east and west, six miles north, and south eight miles of river. Sutton Township was established in October 1817 as part of Gallia County, making it a year and a half older than Meigs County. The land was taken from Letart Township and named for a New England town by Fuller Elliott.”
Most of the information Beegle provided is from a book by Victor Brown written in 1937 for the Bicentennial of the Northwest Territory.
“Early settlers came down the river, there was no interstate, no highways, they came from Marietta, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, later Wales and Germany. The Welsh settled in Welsh Town and the Germans in Dutchtown.”
“The early population centers were Graham Station (later renamed Racine), Syracuse, and Horton’s Upper Bank, now known as Minersville. The reason the name was changed to Minersville was became it became a mining town made up of miners living in Welshtown and Dutchtown, so they just began calling it Minersville.”
“Settlers came to the area near Graham Station for good farm land. Some of the first families were Elton, Nease, Gilmore, Warner, Buffington, Roush, Stivers, Wolfe, Karr… and then there was Lucius Cross.”
Cross was a rather industrious man who established a grist mill on Bowman’s Run Road, followed by a sawmill.
“Cross owned a lot of land so he had timber, he had farms, and he employed over 100 people early in the township’s history. He opened river trade: he had a crew that built flat boats and was one of the first to bail hay which he shipped, along with produce, down the river. His wife opened a trading post at their house, and in 1860 they moved to Racine. Lucius Cross’ son Waid joined his dad 1892 and built Cross’s Store.”
By the time the name was changed from Graham Station to Racine in 1852, the town had become an agricultural center for the area. Industry flourished with businesses producing such goods as flat boats, skiff boats (Boone Weaver), monument works, Star Mill Flour and Feed, and the list goes on.”
“When I was growing up, Racine had a movie theater, we watched a lot of movies there. My relative, not going to tell you who it is, but he carried, before you needed a permit… he liked Hopalong Cassidy and would jump up and fight, bam bam (interact with the characters). Suddenly he saw a guy coming around a rock who was going to get Hoppy, and he shouted, “Look out Hoppy” and jumped up and shot the bad guy, may be true and may be not, I wasn’t there!” Beegle said with a twinkle in his eye.
· Star Mill Flour and Feed Store burned in 1920 after being struck by lightning. Star Mill Park is now located near the site, and the two-story building at the Park’s entrance was erected from timbers taken from the original Cross’s Mill.
· After closing at the Bowman’s Run location, Cross’s Mill (the building) was moved to Landmark in Pomeroy.
· “In 1949 the town had a Doc Philson Day to celebrate Philson’s 52 years as a physician in the Racine area. Philson said he delivered 4,000 babies and I was one of them!”
· “One of the largest trees in Ohio, the ‘Old Elm Tree’, measured 28 feet, 8 inches circumference at the base.” The tree was a popular place for children to play in the shade and inside the hollow trunk of the tree. A bench leaning against the tree’s trunk was a place to visit and wait for the street car that ran from Racine to Hobson. Age and decay made the tree hollow, and when it became a danger it was removed.
· “The first invasion of the North took place in Racine. Confederate General Jenkins established a camp under the Old Elm. The only reported causality of Racine citizenry was a man named Webster. Being deaf, he did not hear the troops orders to stop and was shot running away.”
· “Tad Ellis, a newspaper guy from the Pomeroy newspaper, is the one who said Racine was the Paris of Meigs County. Ellis hooked up with fellow journalist W.P. Shipley, from Racine. Shipley was a reporter in Gallipolis, and he and Ellis attended several presidential elections. They would go to Chicago or some other place and hook up with other newspapers.”
Township Tales and Tidbits for Sutton Township were presented by Bob Beegle during the Chester Shade Historical Association Banquet. There is so much to learn about Meigs County, so many interesting “Tales and Tidbits”. If you have some you would like to share, please send them to L.Faudree.Hart@gmail.com. Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for The Daily Sentinel.