Beautiful stock certificate from the Portsmouth Dry Dock and Steamboat Basin Company
issued in 1852. This historic document has an ornate with the company's name on top center. This item has the original signatures of the Company's President, and Secretary.
HISTORY OF LOWER SCIOTO VALLEY 1884
Portsmouth Dry Dock and Steamboat Basin Company.
In 1851 a map was gotten out showing the property of the above-named company,
hich consisted of 5,630 lots on the west side of the mouth of the Scioto and a
canal basin connected with the State canal by a branch running directly south
from a little above the third lock. At the foot of the title of the map in one
corner was the announcement: "2,000 lots selected from this parcel to be sold on
the 15th May, 1851, in this city by A. H. Muller, Auctioneer."
This was one of the visionary schemes which imaginative minds delight to dwell
upon, and of which Portsmouth has had no little experience. The great silver
shaft of Indian tradition, within five miles of the city, presented a Utopia
scarcely less charming than this one.
The plat was made for a magnificent city on the wide bottom west of the mouth
of the Scioto, extending back to the hills. Seventy-seven streets were laid out
and named, and generous reservations for parks were made. Had this magnificent
project been fulfilled, and the imagined city taken shape, Portsmouth would now
have been the rival of, or probably superior to, Cincinnati.
The company of men who conceived and took the initial steps of this project
were from New York City. They were attracted to this point by the termination of
the Ohio Canal, which many thought would make this a shipping and transfer point
of great magnitude, since through it would pass all the trade between the North,
East and the great West, which was now being rapidly settled.
The first representative of the company here was a Mr. Stockwell, who, after
the failure of the scheme, went to Wisconsin, from which he afterward
represented a district in Congress. About the same time, or perhaps after Mr.
Stockwell had left, Mr. Stillwell, resident of Brooklyn, represented the company
here. Their resident agent, who purchased
the land (between 500 and 600 acres) and surveyed and platted the city, was
Captain Francis Cleveland, an old resident of this city.
Many lots were sold at the sale above referred to and a block of three-story
brick buildings was erected near the basin between the Ohio and the old bed of
the Scioto, used for warerooms. Considerable business was done for a time in the
transfer of good, and with the attractions for other branches of business which
were being drawn around it the anticipations of the projectors seemed to be on
the way to realization. But the high water of the rivers overflowed the land,
which was an interference not bargained for. At the same time business began to
be taken away from the canal by the railroads, and the embryo city gradually
passed out of existence. No trace of the buildings erected there are now to be
found. The city plat has long since been cancelled.
In December, 1853, Tracy Square was accepted by the council, in which to
establish the city park.
To show the material growth of the city for the period of ten years preceding
1857, the following figures, showing the taxable valuation, are given: Valuation
in 1847, $553,200; in 1853, $1,259, 187; in 1857, $2,447, 624.
Since 1837 the town had been spreading back from the river and covering that
portion north of Fourth street which prior to that date was covered with forest
trees. A general system of wharfage was established in 1852 and extensive
improvements were made at the boat-landing, while the public schools, churches,
merchandising establishments, both wholesale and retail, and industries
generally were all rapidly growing in importance. The first business directory
of Portsmouth was published in the year 1856, compiled by Samuel P. Drake. It
was a meager affair of eighty pages, bound only with a paper cover and much
resembling an old school primer; but it served its purpose, being in keeping
with the city at that time, and we hereby acknowledge our indebtedness to it and
its author for a knowledge of the city at that time.
By 1860 the population had reached 6,055, nearly double that of 1850. Not only
in name but in reality this decade saw Portsmouth transformed from a town into a
During the decade following 1860 the growth was steady, although the per cent
of increase was smaller than in the preceding decade. The city constantly
extended its limits, and by 1867 the lots most sought were those in the
northeastern part of the city, north of Seventh and east of Chillicothe streets.
This tract had been but a short time before an open common-the home of vagrant
geese and browsing cows. To give an idea of the growth of the city during this
period, which seemed to be another of those periodical starts, the following
building statistics for the year 1869 are given: Number of bricks laid in the
city, 6,437, 508 (during the year 1868 about 4,000,000 had been laid); number of
bricks made in the city, 5,425,000; brick buildings erected, 48; frame buildings
erected, 128; buildings remodeled, 32; estimated cost of all, $482, 070.
A seminary called the Portsmouth Female Seminary was established here by an
incorporated company Aug. 2, 1867. The capital stock was $50,000, taken by the
following gentlemen, who composed the company: B. B. Gaylord, President; J. F.
Towle, Secretary; L. C. Damarin, Treasurer; W. H. Lampton, J. L. Watkins and
Wells A. Hutchins. A building and large lot were secured at the head of Second
street at a cost of $30,000, and the seminary entered upon its career. It was
continued quite successfully for about six years, when, for want of patronage,
it began gradually to decline. The property is still held by the company and the
charter retained, but no attempt has been made to conduct a school for several
In 1870 the population was 10,592; in 1875, according to a local census, it
was 13,731, and in 1880 brought the street railway, the water-works, the public
reading rooms and the free library in the way of public improvements. Many new
buildings, some of the finest in the city, were constructed during this period.
In business circles a growing interest set in, and in society a spirit of
refinement began to prevail. Within the last ten years a large proportion of the
manufacturing establishments have started, and as a manufacturing city it has
few superiors of its size. The shipping advantages of the river and the two
railroads from the north have given Portsmouth excellent communication with the
The aggregate sales of merchandise in Portsmouth in 1880 amounted to
$4,896,000, while her 184 manufacturing establishments turned out, in the same
time, goods to the amount of $4,683,700.
Portsmouth has long enjoyed the reputation of being the handsomest town oon
the Ohio River. It being the metropolis of an important mining region and itself
filled with smoking furnaces and various manufacturies, a stranger might
reasonably picture to himself a dreary city filled with impenetrable smoke and
the streets filled with rattling coal carts and iron wagons. But nothing is
farther from the truth. The city is clean and well shaded with trees. Many
master-pieces of architecture deck different parts of the city, and her numerous
lawns and flower-gardens make Portsmouth attractive and pleasant as a place of
In the near vicinity are several points from which a beautiful view is
commanded, notably on the Kentucky side of the river, where the hills rise
abruptly from the water's edge to a height of nearly 600 feet; from one point a
clear view of more than twelve miles each was is had. The Scioto Valley extended
to the north-a broad and level plain with the winding river down its center-is a
scene of magnificence. The Ohio bottom, all of which is north of the river at
this place, is a broad expanse extending to the east and west. Back from the
rivers where the hills begin the rise is abrupt, making an environment
resembling a huge wall.
History from Encyberpedia and
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