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Look Back: Looking back at Belpre

The Capt. Jonathan Stone House, built in 1799, is the oldest building in Belpre. Today it is high and dry on the north side of Blennerhassett Avenue. When built it was nearer the bank of the Ohio River. The home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Stone, born in 1751, was instrumental in the early development of Belpre and Washington County. (Photo by Bob Enoch)

Of [Aaron] Burr few reminiscences can be obtained. The present elder Mr. Geo. Dana informed us that he can recollect of his father speaking of him as a pleasant, bland gentleman; and his celebrated act of treason was looked upon, and generally believed by all who knew the man and his schemes, to be nothing but a colonization scheme. Two of Mr. Burr’s uncles accompanied Burr to the southwest, and he recollects of hearing them relate how that in crossing the Mississippi, Burr would frequently fall into pit-holes made by the roots of dead trees, and they would assist him out. Burr’s celebrated daughter [Theodosia] seems not to have been mentioned in the annals of Belpre, as far as the present older inhabitants can remember. They think she was never at Blennerhassett’s.

It is to the soil alone that Belpre must look for its wealth and prosperity. It is the true source from whence must come any future boom, if boom it shall have. Great crops of melons and fruits as well as the usual cereals are now raised here; and when the highest development of the beautiful prairie is reached, there is no telling what the result will be. A flouring mill is badly needed, and to the right man would afford a sure means of wealth. As an evidence of the staying qualities of the soil about Belpre, there is shown to the stranger an old tree which was planted or grafted in 1790, and still produces great crops of apples – a record hard to equal, impossible to beat.

The town can boast of the usual number of enterprising firms, among the most prominent being J.M. Stone, J. Alderman, N.B. Adams, O.L. Davis, and J.H. Ollum. They all possess large and commodious buildings and evince a spirit of enterprise which speaks well of the place.

Mr. Buck, the well known Buckeye pump man, informs us that the timber obtained at and near Belpre is the best in its line that can be found anywhere. Large firms from abroad offer to take off his hands many million feet. For making pumps the white poplar or pine of Belpre is renowned far and wide, and indeed immense quantities are cut and prepared and shipped to a distance.

N.B. Adams is perhaps the most active and wide-awake man in all Belpre, who in his handsome, well furnished, neat brick building, has one of the finest drug stores we have been in outside of the larger cities. His stock of pure, fresh, unadulterated medicines and drugs is fully up to what our larger concerns carry, and is more than sufficient to meet any demands upon it. Mr. Adams has been in Belpre some twenty years, and in that time has succeeded in building up a trade which must be the envy of rivals if he has any. His well stocked shelves, handsome counters and show cases, and his prescription department, cannot be excelled. To fully do him justice one must call on him, especially when in need of drugs. His courtesy is proverbial, and those who buy of him once are very apt to become regular patrons. Belpre should have a few more men like N.B. Adams, the popular citizen and druggist.

Excerpt from The

Parkersburg Daily State Journal

March 11, 1886

***

Bob Enoch is president of the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society. If you have comments or questions about Look Back items, please contact him at: roberteenoch@gmail.com, or by mail at WCHPS, PO Box 565, Parkersburg, WV 26102.

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