This book review was originally posted on the Crawford County Chapter of OGS’s rootsweb site on Monday, August 31st, 2015.
Crawford County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society – Book Review by Marty Keller
In his Introduction to his book, Mr. Batory gives credit to two individuals that urged him to do this history, William Fisher, Director of the Crawford Park District headquartered at the Lowe-Volk Nature Center, and longtime Leesville resident Joe Everly. In the beginning it was supposed to be a short article on the history and geology of the abandoned sandstone quarries in and around the village of Leesville. The project eventually evolved into a 195 page book. Gathering information was difficult on an industry that began in 1829 and disappeared in 1912. Not a person is living that has any memory of the quarries in operation. The quarry owners are long gone. Information for the book had to be found in state geological survey reports, newspaper accounts, financial and business ledgers which somehow had survived, and from stories handed down to present day residents.
The author relates that until so called urban renewal replaced them several years ago, all the flagging (sidewalks) in the village of Crestline were of sandstone cut from the old quarries in Leesville, Ohio about 3 miles to the west. The material which would make Ohio famous for its grinding stones was called Berea Grit. The Berea Grit of northern Ohio and the Waverly Quarry stone of southern Ohio are all part of the same vast sandstone deposit. Important to Leesville, it was also once a source of the finest building stone in the U.S. In the chapter named “Geology” the history is told of the formation of the various layers of sandstone across the continent when seas covered the earth. This started with the Mississippian Period, some 345,000,000 years ago. Through the evolution of time, the seas receded to reveal the layers of stone after erosion. There are several forms of rock formations. Split-Rock could be readily split into thin layers. The bed of the Sandusky River at Leesville is littered with naturally split slabs. Liver-Rock is characterized by the absence of well marked structural features. Alien Run and the Paramour Creek join just east of Leesville, traditionally forming the Sandusky River.
On June 6, 1782 Col. William Crawford was seized by Delaware Indians near the mouth of the Alien Run. The first settlers arrived in 1816-1817. In 1828 Rev. Robert Lee came to the area and bought 160 acres from Jacob Snyder, high on the Sandusky’s northern banks. The following year, he laid out the town, which he named Leesville. In 1833 there was an influx of Germans to the area. The bridges that were later built over these waterways were of quarried stone from this area. On pp. 12 is a picture of the bridge over the Paramour Creek. Standing on the bridge are five ladies named Stella Volk, Zeila Volk, Bessie Lowe, Emma Bauer, and Edna Volk 1910. Lloyd Volk, son of Bessie Lowe and Earl Volk donated the Lowe-Volk Park Property. Finished products include wall stone, arch stone, bam sills, grave stones, bridge stone, chimney caps, flagging, curbing, etc. In 1896, the Crawford County Historical Society decided to erect a suitable monument on Bucyrus S.R. 19, between Gallon and Bucyrus to commemorate Col. Crawford’s Battle of the Olentangy. Revs. C. Hassell and J. Winter Jr. drove a buggy to Leesville to negotiate the purchase of a sandstone obelisk. base and foundation block. Leesville Stone generously donated a third of the cost. Longstreth created the obelisk and engraved the sandstone base. Rev. C. Lober, Sam Eichhorn, and a group of others, hauled the foundation block to the site where Longstreth later completed the job.
The History & Geology of the Leesville, Ohio Stone Quarries” by Dana Martin Batory. Review by Marty Keller. Continued: One of the first German immigrants was John Bippus born Sept. 10, 1767. He was 62 years old when he opened his quarry in 1829. Others were Maxwell Ludlow, James Morrow, later came J. A. Thoman, Benjamin Heckert, John Haller, and another by John Neumann. Joe Everly’s J & M Trading Post was at the intersection of S.R. 598 and County Road 299 and was built in 1830. Its massive foundation is of rusticated sandstone cut locally. Fords (for river crossings) were used almost exclusively in the early days. The first Jefferson Township bridge, carrying Bucyrus Leesville Road was built over Paramour Creek at Leesville. The famous 500 member Mormon Exodus with 59 wagons, 27 tents, 97 horses, 22 oxen, 69 cows and one bull passed over the bridge July 17, 1838 on their trek from Kirtland, Ohio to Missouri. The stone arch bridge across Sandusky River, at the southern limits of Leesville was completed in 1872 at a cost of $3000.
The History & Geology of the Leesville, Ohio Stone Quarries” by Dana Martin Batory. Review by Marty Keller. Continued: In the early 1870’s there were 6 stone quarries in the area. At the Clemens & Co quarry was the famous Blue Hole taken over by boys and men from all walks of life for skinny dipping. The water was always cold and clear. Beer and soft drinks were sunk to the bottom to cool. There was much consolidation and by 1879 the only company left was the Leesville Stone company. Quarrying had become a big business and the Leesville Quarry had acquired a reputation for having the finest blue and white stone and the lasting durability of it. It had become a multimillion dollar business. A local July 17, 1888 newspaper boasted “the company is a strong one, taking the company as it is, with all its equipments, such as the drilling, trenching machine (run by steam), the derricks and four gangs of stone saws (making upwards of one hundred saws, run by steam), the water works, the apparatus to run loaded trucks of stone in and out of the building as wanted, and the two blacksmith departments, it is a grand sight to see.”
There was a trunk line running from the quarries to the mainline of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago Railroad. This enabled them to ship stone to nearly every part of the country. By the year 1889 there were about 80 men employed running the machinery. Between the years 1890 and 1892 The company hit its peak. They added new machines and doubled their sales. From the July 4 Advocate: Tuesday July 2, 1901 at midnight, a fire swept through the quarry complex. The mill at the Leesville Quarry caught fire from the engine room and today is nothing but a mess of ruins. Men were engaged at work and when the fire was discovered it was making such headway that the mill men had to run for their lives. Also burned were two of the derricks nearby.
In May 1907 Notice was given to all stockholders of the Leesville Stone Company of Dissolution of its corporation. The decision to cease operations seemed odd, given the fact that supplies were still being purchased and delivered. It is believed by some that the stockholders saw the handwriting on the wall. Many of the quarries in the state had run out of good stone but the real reason was that there was a sudden change in preferred building materials. The attractive shapes, textures, and color of mass produced bricks led to their growing use in structures where formerly stone was used. The third cause was Portland cement, whose use grew by leaps and bounds, replacing stone for foundations, culverts, bridges, steps, sills, caps, and entire walls. On April 30, 1907 the Leesville Stone C. officially ceased to exist. A public auction of company assets, including the land, which was purchased by Oscar and Harry Morrow, was held May 11, 1907.
“The History & Geology of the Leesville, Ohio Stone Quarries” by author Dana Martin Batory is available on Amazon.