Sunday, January 16, 2011

Kanawha Salt Business Found in Oldest Existing 1848 Daguerreotype Photo

I'm so excited about this find I had to post this. The best find to start of good in a not so good 2011 year. Historically, this is important to me because I'm piecing together a puzzle within my family tree. This is on my mom's side of the family. It goes back in the Hall family a century ago. In the family history line the Halls moved from Franklin Co., VA to Kanawha Co., VA. The progenitor of the family Thomas P. Hall was a farmer who also worked in the Kanawha Salines, where he lived with his wife, Malinda (Henley) Hall and their 16 children.

This brought me to an article I found in regards to the oldest existing daguerreotype photo in 1848. It had two views of the photos with a zoomify capability so you can tour through the amazing photo from antiquity. While move around in the the image I stumbled upon the sign on one of the buildings. It read Kanawha Salt from the front and on the right hand side of the building. What an amazing surprise! I said, "Lord, can it be true?" There it was. The photo (shown)  is from the actual 1848 daguerreotype.  The photo was taken by Charles Fontayne and William Porter in Cincinnati, Ohio on Sunday, September 24, 1848. If you like to see the entire original daguerreotype go to NPR website by clicking on the link here. The following year after this photo was taken, 1849, there was a cholera outbreak. The Embassy steamboat that appears in the photo that transported passengers from Pittsburgh to St. Louis collapsed two flues at Three Mile Island, June 9, 1849. Ten persons were killed and twenty-five wounded.

In the early 1800's the salt industry was important for Kanawha County, Virginia. It thrived in Malden, western Virginia and was the principle source of alt for the pork packers of Cincinnati. Salt was first known to the buffalo and other game at the mouth of Campbell's Creek and the Indians who pursued the game became known to whites in 1755 when the Shawnees put white captives to work boiling brine dipped from the salt springs into dry salt. Systematic salt production started with Elisha Brooks in 1797 in what was Kanawha Salines, now Malden. Joseph Ruffner, a farmer from Shenandoah Valley bought a tract of land and began salt making by crude process of dipping brine from the springs and boiling it in kettles. In 1803, the Ruffner family built the first grist mill. It was called the Ruffner Salt Works, in present Port Amherst and began large scale salt production in 1808. In 1831, Malden was laid out by the Ruffners as a subdivision and called it "Saltborough" with streets and alleys on a New England pattern. The riverfront was dedicated to the common recreational use of the residents of Saltborough. The town is located west of the Dickinson property and east of the Ruffner Salt Works at the mouth of Campbell's Creek where Port Amherst in located. By 1846, from Malden to Point Pleasant on the Ohio River telegraph wire is hung along poles. The famine in Ireland created America's first mass migration with 1.8 million Irish coming to America, a few of them to the Kanawha Salines. During this time Zachary Taylor, then Millard Fillmore were presidents. The California Gold Rush began in 1849. By 1850, Cicinnnati's pork packing industry was the center of the United States. Chicago had a population of 30,000 mostly immigrants including Irish, German, and Poles.


References
Stealey, John E. III. The Antebellum Kanawha Salt Business and Western Markets
Cohen, Stan. Kanawha County Images
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