De La Palma, OH (1852 - present post office & farming town)
Classification: small town
Location: Sterling Township, Brown County - On Dela Palma Rd. near the intersection of Bardwell West Rd.
De La Palma was settled by Absalom Day (1773 - 1839) & his wife Elizabeth (Earhart) Day (1776 - 1843). They were one of the original 10 families in Williamsburg who received a plat for settling in the newly formed town. Their daughter Mary, born June 28, 1797 was the first child born in Williamsburg.
A few years later, sometime around 1800, the Day family moved to a farm next to what is now De La Palma Rd. Absalom & Elizabeth ended up with 12 children, most of which married into families from nearby towns & moved away. The road into what would become the tiny town of De La Palma provided a good route between Clermont County & that section of rural Brown County. In the mid 1800's William Weeks bought the Day's old farm & opened up a post office there. It ran from 1850 - 1882 & got De La Palma into the 1883 History Of Brown County as a post office town. There was also a one room schoolhouse that operated for a few decades & still stands at the corner of De La Palma Rd. & Bardwell West Rd.
Absalom & Elizabeth Day are buried with some of their family members & other early families from the area in Price Cemetery (Clermont County). It's near the bank of Four Mile Creek on private property next to Ireton Rd. which runs parallel to De La Palma Rd. north of town. Margaret Malott, the last postmaster in De La Palma is also buried there. Her family has a nearby road named after them where their large farm was.
Higginsport, OH (White Haven) - (1816 - present farming, mill, & river town with less residents than in the past)
Classification: small town
Location: Lewis Township, Brown County - On U.S. Route 52 at the intersection of Rt. 221
Higginsport was basically platted on top of what was already a ghost town. In 1804 Revolutionary War veteran Colonel Robert Higgins (1746 - 1825) from Pennsylvania settled next to the Ohio River near mouth of Red Oak Creek with his wife Mary (Jolliffe) Higgins(1763 - 1806). Robert platted the village of White Haven & offered incentives to new settlers, however only a few families took him up on the offer. The would be town was scratched & Robert tried again platting Higginsport in 1816 with 114 lots, a public square, & the town named after his family.
There was about a half dozen log cabins in 1828 & Higginsport got it's first store that same year followed by several more stores & a post office in 1829. The first brick house in town was built in 1835 at the corner of Water St. & Brown St. & a brick church in 1842, replacing the earlier stone & log cabin chapels. One of the main source of income for locals was farming corn & tobacco. White Burley tobacco was named after the color of the plants & is know to have been grown in the area before 1850. A steam powered grist mill was built in 1855 by Henry Davidson & William Dugan. They added a whiskey distillery in 1861 & a warehouse in 1863.
The 1880's was probably Higginsport's heyday with a population of around 850. The town had a couple dozen small businesses including general, dry goods, clothing, & grocery stores, two tin shops, two drug stores, a hardware store, & tobacco store. There was also a blacksmith, doctor, 17 tobacco warehouses at the peak of production, & several churches over the decades. One of the last major businesses in Higginsport was a steam powered saw mill built by Boyd & Co. of Levanna in 1887. The town never had a railroad though & didn't get any big businesses in the 1900's to create another population boom.
These days, Higginsport has around 250 residents. Most of the original streets remain intact with older buildings scattered around. An abandoned bridge crosses Red Oak Creek between Rt. 221 & Old A & P Rd. It was built with steel made by the Carnegie Steel Co. who's owner Andrew Carnegie was once one of the richest people in the world. Robert & Mary Higgins are buried with some of their family members & other early settlers in Higginsport Cemetery north of town on Rt. 221. The Higginsport School was built in 1880 & closed in 1987. It's currently open for paranormal investigations, phone # (419) 575-1164 & Facebook page link - https://www.facebook.com/hauntedhigginsportschool/. A very old abandoned stone building west of town on the south side of U.S. 52 is reportedly the old jail.
Levanna, OH - (1799 - present river town with little growth)
Classification: semi - ghost town
Location: Union Township, Brown County - On U.S. Route 52 at the intersection of Pisgah Hill Rd.
It was settled in 1799 by John Liggett, followed by a few other families & businessmen. Lavanna had a log cabin school in 1800, the first ferry boat in Brown County around 1810, & was also where the first newspaper in the county was made. The town didn't grow fast but kept growing & probably had it's heyday in the 1870's.
There was a saw mill & lumber yard operated by Boyd & Company who also had a small manufacturing factory & did business in nearby Higginsport & Ripley. Levanna also had a one room schoolhouse (Union Township #10), a blacksmith shop, church, planing mill, & a cooperage that made wine & whiskey casks. Vineyards were another source of income as grapes grew well there & made good wine. In the early 1900's the town had a train station on the Ohio Valley & Columbus Railroad but it went out of business before the 1920's.
Levanna doesn't have any stores or businesses today but there's a few old abandoned houses in town & it's a nice drive along the Ohio River & scenic byway. Some of the early settlers of Levanna were buried in the cemetery north of town on Pisgah Hill Rd.
New Hope, OH (1810's - present farming town with less residents than in the past)
Classification: small town
Location: Scott Township, Brown County - Next to U.S. Route 68 at the intersection of Main St. & New Hope - White Oak Station Rd. (County Highway 5B)
New Hope was settled by Daniel Holloway (1795 - 1842) & his wife Dillany (Reynolds) Holloway (1795 - 1881). They were already married when they arrived in the area sometime around 1818 & build their cabin on the plateau where New Hope currently sits. The town formed as more families moved there over the next few decades. In 1849 the cholera epidemic swept through New Hope as it did in many other places in Ohio & around the country. 22 of the approximately 100 residents in town perished from the disease.
New Hope started growing again after that & in 1876 the town had a wool mill, saloon, 3 stores, a school, church, blacksmith, doctor, & a wood frame bridge that crossed White Oak Creek. The population in 1880 was 138 & never boomed due to the lack of a canal or railroad. New Hope's post office ran from 1828 - 1906. Today the town probably has less than 100 residents who we'd like to thank for keeping it clean & preserving their history. We didn't see any abandoned houses & there's many old buildings & structures that are well worth stopping by & taking pics of.
The Old U.S. Route 68 iron bridge, built in 1884, sits abandoned & closed off from traffic crossing White Oak Creek at the end of Main St. Before you even get to that point there's a very old hotel & an abandoned grocery store / meeting hall across the street, both of which are super cool! A small building marked Scott Township Hall is in the lot behind the town marker on Main St. (maybe a reproduction?). Over on New Hope - McKinley Rd. the Methodist church built in 1851 is still open. A little on down the road is the abandoned Scott Township School built in 1935 & closed in 1971. There's also a few old cemeteries on the outskirts of town. We highly recommend visiting if you're in the area & expect New Hope to stay on our Top 10 Small Towns list for years to come!
Location: Union Township, Brown County - On U.S. Route 52 at the intersection of U.S. Route 62 / 68
Ripley was settled by Colonel James Poage (1760 - 1820) who was a Revolutionary War veteran & his wife Mary (Woods) Poage (1766 - 1830). James received 1,000 acres in Ohio from the state of Virginia for his service & moved his family there in 1804. They built a cabin on the land next to the Ohio River near the bank of Red Oak Creek. James was an abolitionist but couldn't free his slaves in Virginia for obvious reasons at the time so he let them go upon arrival in the safety of Ohio. A few years later he platted the town of Staunton, named after Staunton, Virginia. It only attracted a few families though & the town was renamed Ripley after General Eleazer Wheelock Ripley (1782 - 1839), a hero of the War of 1812.
More families moved to the area & Ripley's growth began. It got a very early post office in 1816 & was involved in a bitter dispute for the Brown County seat of justice. The county courts were temporarily held in Ripley for a few years until moving to Georgetown. During the 1820's - 1860's Ripley became an important shipping point on the Ohio River for crops from the county to be transported to towns along the Ohio & Mississippi Rivers. Farming corn & tobacco were two main sources of income for local residents. The town was second place in Ohio, just behind Cincinnati, in 1846 for pork packing.
In 1860 the Ripley Gas Light & Coke Company installed gas powered lights in 75 homes & 16 streetlamps making Ripley one of the first night time illuminated towns in Ohio. Ripley also had a strong abolitionist movement led by Rev. John Rankin (1793 - 1886), a Presbyterian minister from Tennessee, & his wife Jean (Lowrey) Rankin (1795 - 1878). They hid runaway slaves in their home at night & helped them escape to freedom on the underground railroad during the day. When the Cival War began in 1862 Ripley's old fairgrounds were used as a mustering & training point for Union Soldiers. The end of the war created an industrial & population boom the town.
The 1870's were probably the peak of Ripley's heyday. It had multiple mills, a lumber yard, tow boatyards, a school, hotel, town hall, pork packing & slaughterhouses, a couple of cooper shops, several churches, and a large tobacco warehouse. There was also a train station on the Ohio River & Columbus Railroad in the first couple decades of the 1900's. Much like it's nearby neighbors of Levanna & Higginsport though, Ripley didn't get big businesses in the 1900's to create a population boom in that century however, it did maintain much of it's population which is around 1750 today.
There's several historical markers & old buildings around town. Ohio Historical Marker # 8 - 8 on N. Front St. has info about river town life in the 1800's. At the Union Township Library on the corner of Main St. & Market St. Ohio Historical Marker #9 - 8 has a story about the Cival War & a restored cannon in the yard. 502 S. Second St. has Ohio Historical marker #7 - 8 tells the tale of Camp Ripley during the Cival War. Another Ohio Historical Marker #4 - 8 at 300 N. Front St. is for the John P. Parker House. John Parker (1827 - 1900) was a freed slave who became an inventor & businessman who helped slaves on the underground railroad. Both the Parker House & The Rankin House on Rankin Hill Rd. are on the National Register Of Historic Places. The Rankin's were buried in Maplewood Cemetery next to U.S. Route 52 in the middle of town. Ripley's early settlers & families including the Poage's were buried in Old Ripley Cemetery next to the bank of Red Oak Creek in the woods at 4th & Cherry St. where the end of 5th St. once was.