Martins Ferry, OH Historical Society Home Page
Martins Ferry In The 1880s

Submitted By Tom Thomas. Typed by Mary Staley.

A number of notable characters included Ephraim Martin, son of Ebenezer Martin and Zackarias Burris, retired. Bill Burris, carrying a market basket on each arm and knitting stockings, socks, and mufflers as he walk along. There was John Witeman, the handbill distributor, Dickey Pierce and Tidy Bottles, both jolly Civil War Veterans. There was Samuel Doughty, better know as Paw-Sam, who peddled a self-concocted brew that he called the Sevenfold Speedy Cure, and claimed that it was good for man and beast. Another Civil War vet was Flicker Coss, the fish peddler.

It was a grand privilege to live in this thriving Village in those good old days, which are now referred to as the “horse and buggy days”. Most of out citizens, although poor, appeared to be extremely happy. There were no local beggars, occasionally a traveling tramp would pass though the Village, beg a bite to eat, then go on his way.

The din of a score of factory whistles every morning , noon, and evening; the whistling of the bells on the passing steamboats; a great many of the passengers boats carrying brass bands or a calliope; the bang-bang-bang of a dozen anvils; the neighing of horses in the livery barns; the lowing of cattle; the scissors grinder; the tooting of the ragman horn; the traveling organ grinder with his monkey; these all furnished wonderful music for me.

The most outstanding events of the 1880s were the burning of the C&P depot and the Commercial Bank Building. The 1884 flood, the riot at the Laughlin Mill, a pistol duel at Fifth and Hanover, the cyclone that destroyed Walnut Grove (which caused the Indiana Mound there to be used as fill on North Fifth Street), and the organizing of the Martins Ferry Volunteer Department.