Steubenville History


Steubenville, the county seat of Jefferson County, is located in southeastern Ohio.  The city was founded in 1797 by Bezaleel Wells and James Ross.  The Steubenville Federal Land Office was established in 1800 for recording land deeds for the Northwest Territory. Beginning in 1785, Government lands were surveyed by an Act of Congress. The ranges were numbered consecutively with Range 1 Twp 1 of the Seven Ranges being located in the northwest corner of Wells Township in Jefferson County.  The first sale of lots in Steubenville was August 25, 1797.

The original land office building has been preserved and is located adjacent to the reconstructed Fort Steuben. Fort Steuben was erected here in 1786 to protect the land surveyors from Indian attack.  The fort was named for Prussian Drillmaster Baron von Steuben who incidentally never set foot on these grounds. Steubenville derives its name from the fort and is steeped in a rich history. The reconstruction of this fort began in 1986.  It was re built on the original site. The first Merino sheep in the United States were brought here by Bezaleel Wells in 1814. The first woolen mill in the United States was built in Steubenville by Wells in 1815. The Steubenville Female Seminary operated from 1829-1898 and graduated over 5,000 women from its academy.

There have been many industries in Steubenville’s history including coal mining, paper mills, glass factories, potteries, nail factories and steel mills. These industries brought many immigrants to the Ohio Valley making it a melting pot of many nationalities that still call Steubenville their home.
Steubenville’s first railroad bridge to cross the Ohio River began in 1857. Delays occurred and it did not open until 1865. One pier of that original span still supports the current Railroad bridge and can be viewed from State Route 7.

Edwin McMasters Stanton, President Lincoln’s Secretary of War, maintained a circulating library in his home here as early as 1830. This home library contained his private collection of literary works. The City Library of Steubenville opened in 1848. By 1902, these works were donated to the new Carnegie Library.  Industrialist Andrew Carnegie provided the funding for this library that was named for him. Carnegie had been a telegraph operator here early in his career. Today this library is known as the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County.

Famous sons include Dean Martin, Edwin Stanton, Jimmy the Greek. Chief Red Cloud is buried in Steubenville Union Cemetery and lived to be 120 years old.


Courtesy of Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County

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