De La Palma, OH (1852 – present post office & farming town)
Classification: ghost town
Location: Sterling Township, Brown County – On Dela Palma Rd near the intersection of Bardwell West Rd
De La Palma was founded by Absalom Day (1773 – 1839) Elizabeth (Earhart) Day (1776 – 1843). They were one of the original 10 families in Williamsburg & received a land plat for settling there when it was a 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 Dela Palma Rd. Absalom & Elizabeth ended up with 12 children. Most of them married into families from nearby towns & moved away. The road into what would become the tiny town of De La Palma provided a good traveling route between Clermont County & that section of rural Brown County. In the mid 1800s, William Weeks bought the Day farm & opened up a post office there. It ran from 1850 – 1882 & helped get 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 Dela Palma Rd & Bardwell West Rd.
Absalom & Elizabeth were buried with some of their family members & other early families from the area in Price Cemetery near the bank of Four Mile Creek in Clermont County. It’s on private property next to Ireton Rd, which runs parallel to Dela 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.
Georgetown, OH (1819 – present farming, mill, and merchant town)
Classification: historic town
Location: Pleasant Township, Brown County – on SR 125
Allen Woods (1767-1862) immigrated to the United States from Ireland and married Hannah (Galbreath) Woods (1767–1852) in Pennsylvania. They moved to Ohio in 1803-1804. Allen platted Georgetown along what is now State Route 125 with 22 lots and 2 outlots in 1819. It quickly acquired more plat additions from local landowners and became the county seat in 1821. The town was attracting everything it needed, including mills on White Oak Creek, grocery stores, hardware stores, blackmiths, and doctors. Public buildings such as new schools and churches were constructed whenever necessary. The population was at 618 in the 1850 census.
It was stated in the 1883 History Of Brown County, Ohio that Georgetown’s growth was slow but steady. The town had a train station on the Cincinnati, Georgetown, & Portsmouth Railroad from 1886-1936 but its arrival and existence didn’t create a major population boom for the town. Businesses usually did well in the town square though and were rarely unoccupied. The Georgetown Historic District was added to the National Register Of Historic Places in 1978. It consists of 17 acres with 42 buildings and offers an alternative to the normal shopping experiences of the era. Parking is free in the town square and many historic structures are within walking distance.
In accordance with agreeing to be the county seat, Georgetown’s first courthouse was built in 1823 and eventually needed replaced. A much larger courthouse was completed in the town square in 1852. During the Civil War, and on the same day they reached the Wickerham Inn, a Confederate detachment of 200–300 hundred of Morgan’s Raiders cavalry unit took control of the town square while stealing horses and goods from stores and residents. Long After surviving that day, a section of the courthouse was destroyed in an arson fire in 1977. Local citizens formed the Brown County Courthouse Reconstruction Association and raised funds for its restoration. The courthouse was rededicated in 1982.
General of the Union Army in the Civil War and 18th President Of The United States, Ulysses S. Grant, spent his childhood in Georgetown before leaving for the West Point Military Academy in 1839. His father Jesse Grant (1794-1873) and mother Hannah (Simpson) Grant (1798-1883) saved up $1100 in Point Pleasant, Clermont County. They moved to Georgetown and built their family home on Grant Avenue in 1823 when Ulysses was just a year old. Jesse owned a tannery across from the house and ran a construction business. He was the mayor of Georgetown from 1837-1839.
The Grant’s home was purchased by John and Judy Ruthven in 1977. They donated it to the state in 2002. The house was declared a National Historic Landmark by the federal government and a total restoration was finished in 2013. The school Ulysses attended is restored on S Water Street. Both are museums run by the Ulysses S. Grant Homestead Association. Georgetown is also home to the annual Brown County Fair. The population in 2010 was 4,331. It’s one of few old towns in Ohio that can boast of never having a lower 10 year census count than the prior one.
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 US 52 at the intersection of SR 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. Only a few families took him up on the offer though. 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 were about a half dozen log cabins in 1828 & Higginsport got its 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 constructed in 1842 replaced the earlier stone & log cabin chapels. One of the main sources 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 1880s 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. A large school was constructed on Gaines St in 1880. 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 & didn’t get any big businesses in the 1900s to create another population boom.
These days, Higginsport has around 250 residents, & the number is likely to decline in the future. Most of the original streets remain intact with older buildings scattered around. An abandoned bridge crosses Red Oak Creek between SR 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 SR 221. The school closed in 1987. It’s one of the photographed & popular abandoned schools in the state.
Levanna, OH – (1799 – present river town with less residents than in the past)
Classification: semi – ghost town
Location: Union Township, Brown County – On US 52 at the intersection of Pisgah Hill Rd
It was settled in 1799 by John Liggett, followed by a few other families & businessmen. Levanna 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 printed. The town didn’t grow fast, but kept growing & had its heyday in the 1870s & 1880s.
There was a saw mill, lumber yard, & a small manufacturing factory operated by Boyd & Company, which also 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. The abandoned house attached to this listing was the hotel. Vineyards were another source of income as grapes grew well on the ridges above the Ohio River & made good wine. In the early 1900s, the town had a train station on the Ohio Valley & Columbus Railroad but it went out of business before the 1920s.
Levanna doesn’t have any stores or businesses today, but there are a few old abandoned houses around town & its a nice drive along the Ohio River & scenic byway. Some of the early settlers of Levanna were buried in Pisgah Ridge Cemetery north of town on Pisgah Hill Rd.
New Hope, OH (1810s – present farming town with less residents than in the past)
Classification: small town
Location: Scott Township, Brown County – On New Hope – White Oak Station Rd at the intersection of Main St off of US 68
New Hope was settled by Daniel Holloway (1795 – 1842) & Dillany (Reynolds) Holloway (1795 – 1881). They were already married when they arrived in the area sometime around 1818 & built 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 a 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 are many old buildings & structures that are well worth stopping by & taking pics of.
The old hotel & stagecoach stop built in 1846 is on the left side of Man St & a former grocery store & Odd Fellows meeting hall is across from it. A small building marked Scott Township Hall is in the lot behind the town marker on Main St. 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 that was built in 1935 & closed in 1971. There are a few old cemeteries on the outskirts of town.
Ripley, OH (Staunton) – (1812 – present farming, abolitionist, & river town)
Classification: historic town
Location: Union Township, Brown County – On US 52 at the intersection of US 62 & US 68
Ripley was settled by Revolutionary War veteran Colonel James Poage (1760 – 1820) & 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 their 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, James 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 1820s – 1860s, 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. Corn & tobacco farming were the 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 time. When the Civil 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 1870s were probably the peak of Ripley’s heyday. It had multiple mills, a lumber yard, two 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 1900s. Much like its nearby neighbors of Levanna & Higginsport, Ripley didn’t get big businesses in the 1900s to create a population boom in that century. However, it did maintain much of its population which is around 1750 today.
There are several historical markers & old buildings around town. Ohio Historical Marker # 8 – 8 on N Front St has info about river town life in the 1800s. At the Union Township Library on the corner of Main St & Market St, Ohio Historical Marker #9 – 8 has a story about the Civil War & a restored cannon in the yard. Ohio Historical marker #7 – 8 at 502 S Second St tells the tale of Camp Ripley during the Civil 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, 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 US 52 in the middle of town. James & Mary Poage 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.