PARKERSBURG MID 1800s WAS A BOOM TOWN
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Parkersburg WV 26101
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PARKERSBURG A BOOM TOWN 1850s
A rare pamphlet describing Parkersburg at the beginning of the Civil War has been acquired by the West Virginia Collection of the University library at Morgantown. The pamphlet, "Notices of Parkersburg, Virginia, as it is in July, 1860, includes a colored print by Benjamin H. Latrobe viewing Parkersburg from the south side of the Kanawha and a plan of the town which locates all of the public buildings, churches and manufacturing establishments. Issued as a "boomer" publication to advertise the advantages of Parkersburg to manufacturing, business, commercial and agricultural agents, the pamphlet made: appeal to all to investigate the unparalleled advantages of the thriving Ohio river town. The pitch used in 1860 might have been taken from the promotional literature of the industrial development corporations of 1950's Commercial men must perceive that parkersburg can not but become a market for all western products. Parkersburg holds out as . many inducements to the
manufacturer in almost every branch of industry as to the merchant: and the farmer such as cheap fuel cheap building materials of every kind and of the best qualIity cheap subsistence pure air ample space for the dwellings of operatives, and sites for factory, buildings, work shops and warehouses. Third Ranking City In 1860 Parkersburg was the third ranking city in present West Virginia. The "oil fever" was running high and transportation seemed to be the key to an unlimited future. The completion of the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad and the Northwestern Virginia Railroad in 1857 had put Parkersburg on the main track between ST. Louis and Baltimore. By1 860, according to the pamphlet up to eight Freight trains of 15 or 16 cars were during the business season daily dispatched from and received at the depot. Parkersburg had daily steam boat connections with Cincinnati, Wheeling and Zanesville. Tri-weekly and semi-weekly runs were made to and from Gallipolis, Portsmouth and Charlestown.
More than 150 buildings were erected in Parkersburg between 1857 and the summer of 1860. Some 25 of these were completed in the first six months of 1860. There were fifteen miles of streets and alleys yet the town had no funded debt. Furnishing goods and supplies for the industrial activity in the: area and employment for the rising population in the town, were two lumber mills a boat yard four steam tanneries, three gristmills, a distillery, two iron foundries, two tobacco factories and two potteries. These establishments are located on the map reproduced here.
Parkersburg in 1907 a hustling and up to date city of 25,000 boasted 15 miles of brick paved streets, 20 miles of electric street railways, costly club houses, two large theatres, three daily newspapers, and many advantages of a city much larger according to information gathered from a 1907 City Directory. The ten banks had aggregate deposits of more than $8,000,000 with the three building and loan associations having resources of in excess of $2,000,000. Through out the country the average deposit per citizen was $85.00 in Parkersburg $232.00 Industrial Parkersburg One and a half million dollars a year went to pay the three thousand workers in 200 business establishments. The finished products turned out by these workers brought in $6,000,000 annually. Some of the major businesses were wood working plants, mantle makers, artificial stone works concrete blocks , railroad repair shops, tile and brick works, foundries forges, and oil refineries and chemical plants.
Raw materials for manufacturing, fire and potters clay, glass and fruits and vegetables for canneries, wool and cotton were plentiful and cheap. Labor which was plentiful, mostly native American, was considered the best to be had. Problems were practically unknown and "plenty of good female help can be had for work which suitable for women Dudley Hats from London which were $5.00 Suits made to-order retailed at $20.00 to $40.00 with shirts being sold for 50 cents.
City Cab Service
Feldner Transfer corner of 8th and Avery St. rented chauffeured cabs and coupes, for funeral service or social calls, wedding parties, theatre parties and private calls day or night. They offered fine turnouts for light driving and specalized in clipping horses to put them in trim for spring driving. G. E. Leavitt and C0. Juliana St. between 2d and 3d were proficient as undertakers, ran a harness and vehicle shop, and were sole agents for the . J. I. Case Threshing Machine Co. Zonophones, Victor Talking Machines, Edison Phonographs and the finest pianos and sheet music could be purchased on easy terms at Lloyd Baxter music co.
Elite Cafes Private parties and banquets were catered to from Peter's Cafe, 208 3d St. and meals to order were promised at any hour. Ladies and gent's dining rooms were in connection. In a shop located under Central Banking and Security Co. hirsute appendages were removed painlessly while the customer waited. The Market Street Tonsorial Shop persuaded a prospective customer to "wire, write, or phone for an appointment or come anyway. The boys, they said, "will be glad to see you. Although Parkersburg has undergone many changes in prices, businesses, and population, a quote from this 1907 City Directory is still applicable, "No Use Talking -Parkersburg is Pretty!"
The industrial city spent more than $2,750.000 for expansion most of which went to improve railroad and water transportation facilities. Additional and cheaper fuel gas was .95 per 1,000 ft. with coal being $1.25 per long ton) was needed for expanding factories which sprung up. The lock and dam being constructed at that time five miles above the city at a cost of $850,000 to the United States government assurred a growing city like Parkersburg with continuous navigation too the other harbors along the Ohio River north.
In the eastern part of the city on the south bank of the Kanawha River 1500 acres of land for factories had been purchased by the Parkersburg Industrial Co. headed by Senator J. N. Camden, to remedy the situation of lack of land for this purpose. In 1907, a new bridge the East St. bridge and amacadamized road to an other part of the city South Side partially solved the land problem.
Bargains and Businesses
Old fashioned bargain day shoppers would be pleased at 1907 prices. The finest patent leather shoes for men could be bought at $5 per pair. The lady was offered the newest line of foot wear at $3.50 with shoes being dyed free to match any gown. the newest hotel in town, the DeWitt, offered both American and European plans for $1 and $1.25. Businesses such as the Crystal Springs. Water Co. at Sprindale north of Beechwood offered only the finest products. Crystal springs water wasn't advertised as a luxury, It is in reach of every family n omatter how humble their circumstances. The going price was only .50 per dozen half gallon bottles and was sure to ad life to one's years and years to one's life. At Mrs. Tandy Brown's Fashionable Hair Dressing Parlor, 816 Clay St, the Parkersburg socialite could secure a manicure or massage, be assurred of having "all hair work done to order" or even call and have a hairdresser come to her home. Bryan and Speece Men's Furnishers at 609 Market St. were sole agents for Hawes and Albert Hats. These retailed at $3 and $3.50 respectively but cheaper ones could be purchased along with imported
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