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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Steubenville--Where Heaved Ohio's Tide by John Maltese

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, March 18, 2012

He handed me a copy of the 20 page booklet that he had authored in 1966, saying “thought you might enjoy a copy of this.”


It was my first week on-the-job here at the library, and the man was John T. Maltese, a member of the library board when I was hired in 1983.


He said that he had a few copies remaining, and that the booklet was published in honor of the 150th anniversary of the First National Bank & Trust Co.


Mr. Maltese was known as an area teacher, sports fan, and businessman --- and member of the Library Board for many years.


His next comment was, “What do you think of that title?”  I had glanced at the title several times to make sure I was reading it correctly; pondering what it meant and why someone would select such a peculiar phrasing.


“Steubenville – Where Heaved Ohio’s Tide” was clearly printing on the front of the booklet, and repeated on the title page.


“Do you know where that came from?” was his question.  I told him that I had never encountered that particular phrase.


The story is on the second page.  The phrase comes from a poem written in 1844 by Steubenville native Oliver C. Gray, known as an orator and writer on many subjects:


“Near Fort Steuben, where heaved Ohio’s tide,

And oak-shades danced upon its crystal sheen,

A rude old rock, in solitary pride,

Rose gray hard by a wide wrought slope of green.”


The booklet is a delightful accumulation of stories of our area, all extracted from some of the basic histories of Steubenville and Jefferson County.


True to his library connection, Mr. Maltese was careful to establish a Bibliography in the back of the booklet so the reader can go to the sources for more of the stories.


He tells the story of Jacob Walker who established a claim in our area 20 years before the construction of Fort Steuben.


The City of Steubenville was established after Fort Steuben was closed and gone, the street grid extending from North to South Streets, and Water St. to 4th St.


Mr. Maltese concentrated on stories of interest in his booklet, such as the 1878 demolition of the city building carried out by citizens disturbed that a new city hall hadn’t been constructed.


The corner of 3rd and Market Streets also had been the location of an early “Whipping Post” for the delivery of justice.


Near that same corner may be the final resting place of Peter Synder, who was commissioned in the 1820s to dig a well, the walls of which collapsed and buried him 100 feet below the street.


Edwin M. Stanton occupies several pages of the booklet, including the story of his desire to be buried in Union Cemetery.  Upon his death in 1869, he was instead buried in Washington, D.C.


Mr. Maltese noted the section called, “Ohio’s first permanent settlement.”  I am sure it was because I am a Marietta native that he pointed to the case that both he and Joseph Doyle made in the county history that Steubenville settlement pre-dates Marietta’s April 7, 1788 founding.


As my employer, I smiled a nodded in agreement with his analysis, but realized that military and civilian history was being mixed.


I do think that eastern Ohio has been shortchanged in Ohio history, a fact that seems to be slowly changing with the establishment of Historic Fort Steuben.


Perhaps the strongest point of the booklet is the wealth of great photographs that were used, some much clearer than found in other sources.