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History of Newport


History of Ohio Community Is Told

Newport Prosperous Village

The Parkersburg News, Sunday March 12, 1961

            The village of Newport, O., is on a flat, fertile plain along the Ohio River almost opposite St. Marys, county seat of Pleasants County.

            The land where Newport stands was conveyed to Ebenezer Battelle, Sr., about 1801 by Neal Cortner and John Cotton who had resided briefly on the acres before selling out and moving on.

            The first buildings where Newport now stands, other than the two or three squatters cabins built as early as 1798, are said to be the log cabin of John Cotton built near the river, and the cabin of John Luckey on the present site of the village. 

            Ebenezer Battelle, Sr., built the first substantial house.  At that time the hamlet was called Upper Newport to distinguish it from Lower Newport which was only six miles above Marietta.  Battelle’s house had several rooms instead of the one large room in the quickly constructed cabins of the early settlers.

            The first brick residence built from bricks baked on the premises was erected about 1809 by Captain Daniel Greene.  Others settlers floating down the Ohio often stopped at Newport and stayed, not going on to their intended goal of Marietta. 

            Thus, when Battelle had his land surveyed for a town on Jan. 30 and 31 of 1839, the nucleus of a village was already established.

Newport Grew Fast

            Less than 50 years later, at the beginning of the 1880s, Newport numbered 50 dwellings and 300 inhabitants. 

            Besides a steam operated flouring-mill, there were two blacksmith shops, one wagon shop, a cigar factory, a harness and show shop, seven general stores and three hotels.  The Thribble Shovel Plow and Cultivator was also manufactured at Newport about this time. 

            It was recorded that all seven general stores were unusually prosperous and that the Cree House and the City Hotel were the leading hostelries in 1880.

            For many decades Newport was belligerently against any form of alcohol, in fact none is sold in the village even today and only two such establishments are located anywhere in the township.

            Perhaps this firm and united stand on temperance came about as the result of an earlier and more lenient attitude towards the subject.

            Almost all early pioneers distilled their own liquor.  They used it for medicine and hospitality, for frost-bite and snake-bite, and in lieu of the many comforts left behind when they trekked westward. 

            During the first years of the Newport settlement it is recorded that “whiskey-mills were even more numerous than grist-mills.”

            One of the earliest of record was operated by John and Richard Green [e] and Ebenezer Battelle in 1805.  This venture had three busy stills and a considerable output of apple jack and peach brandy. 

            William Dana started a stillhouse in 1815 which he ran until 1833; Thomas Ferguson had a busy still for a number of years, and an old log distillery which burned in 1826 was also located in Newport Twp. and did a thriving business from 1820 to 1832.

            From old account books preserved from that early time, it appears that whiskey was accepted in the area as legal tender and was always bought and sold in no less than gallon lots.

            Due to an embarrassing and unfortunate occurrence which the passage of time now makes humorous, there was a strong reversal of feeling on this subject.  The operations of the distilleries disappeared almost overnight.

            In the place of whiskey mills, Temperance Societies sprang up, and Newport village and the entire township became the driest place in all the Northwest Territory.