by Robert F. Michels
Michael Uhrich was the Pioneer of Mill Township and founder of Uhrichsville, born in Dauphin County Pennsylvania, August 7, 1751 and in 1772 married Catherine Borr
oway with whom
he had eight children. Mrs. Uhrich died in 1794 and Mr. Uhrich remarried, to Susannah C. Rouse. Mr. Uhrich purchased 1500 acres of land from John Rathbone in 1804 at the cost of $1.00 per acre and that same year migrated here from Pennsylvania bringing with him his wife and five of his children (Hannah, Catherine, John, Jacob, and Michael). Uhrich built a two story log cabin and in 1806 a grist and saw mill along the banks of the Stillwater Creek in which four wheels were in operation, one for wheat, two for corn, and one for sawing lumber.
Mr. Uhrich became one of the county's most prominent and useful pioneers. The city was eventually named for him. With the coming of the canal era, wheat buying and shipping was the chief business of the village. The communitythrived on corn and grain trade and was considered a very important canal town although it was miles from the Ohio and Erie Canals. The Creek could handle flatboats, thus providing access to the Tuscarawas River and the Canal systems. The town flourished as grain from a wide area was transported by wagon to Uhrichsville.
The first Doctor was Dr. H.H. Worstler, an Englishman who settled in the village shortly after it was founded. The town was initally called Waterford because it was located at a fording place on the Moravian trail over the Big Stillwater Creek; however, due to another community bearing the Waterford name another name was needed due to the confusion in the mail system. Many referred to the community as Uhrich's Mill, therefore the transition to Uhrichsville was made. In 1839 the citizens petitioned the state legislature to change the name of their community.
The town of Waterford was laid out on the East side of the Big Stillwater in 1833 by Michael Uhrich (son of the Michael Uhrich, initial purchasor of the 1500 acres aforementioned.) A petition signed by John Milone and 75 other citizens of Uhrichsville, dated June 5, 1866, was presented to the County Commissioners two days later, praying for the incorporation of the village. On August 13th, the incorporation was granted and the village was ordered to be organized. The first election was held November 10, 1866 in which John Milone was elected Mayor. A total of 175 votes were cast.
The City's history can be divided into various periods of production and depression; the first being the Canal period, a period of activity and vigorous growth. Uhrich's Mill provided a nucleus for a flourishing trade that extended over a period of 50 years. In 1842 there were six warehouses used for grain storage, all along the banks of the Stillwater Creek. The area continued to grow and prosper through the 1840's and early 50's. Early in the 50's the Steubenville and Indiana (later to become the Pennsylvania) Railroad was completed. The railroad system devastated the local grain business as trains could stop at every station and it was no longer necessary for the farmers to bring their grain to Uhrichsville.
A period of general depression between 1854 to 1865 followed. Business was extremely dull and property value greatly depreciated. The 1850 census indicated a population of 577. Only 69 persons were added during the next decade.
In 1865 the Pennsylvania Railroad built its shops in Dennison. Uhrichsville shared in the boom that the railroad and shops brought to the area. The population of the Uhrichsville and Dennison (referred to as "twin cities" doubled and small business began to thrive. A series of labor related problems brought about a strike in the Dennison Railroad shops in 1922 that left 2,500 railroaders out of work.
The Clay industry emerged here in 1883. Rich veins of clay and coal were discovered, leading to a production of clay and brick materials, resulting in the town being deemed "The Clay Center of the World," and to date, celebrates "National Clay Week" annually.
James and Frank Mazurie were the early founders of the first clay plant of the area, manufacturing small six inch drain tile, and was known as the Mazurie Tile Co.
Later William G. Hartford, and J. M. Cooper, both from Toronto, Ohio, with the aid of Thomas J. Evans, George Beck and Andrew Robinson, established the Diamond Fire and Clay Company. Much of the work was done by manual labor with the company employing 150 men.
The Diamond Company later merged with the Mazurie tile factory and was later taken over by the American Sewer Pipe Corporation. Two years after the founding of Diamond, Thomas J. Evans and George Beck formed the Uhrichsville Fire Clay Co., located west of Diamond. Evans later sold his interest and started the Evans Pipe Company at the southwest corporation limits of Uhrichsville (Newport Road).
Formed in 1906, the Evans Pipe Company grew and expanded until it became one of the world's largest producers of sewer pipe and other heavy clay products.
The Buckeye Fire Clay Company was organized in 1891 by W. K. Eckfeld, Oliver Knisely, E. R. VanOstran and Joseph Loab. The plant's first products were horse watering troughs, gutter tiles, drip stones, building blocks and chimney tops.
Other Clay producing companies in the area included: Advance Fire Clay, J. K. Porter Pipe, Larson Clay Pipe, Clay City Pipe, Michigan Sewer Pipe, American Vitrified Products, WolfLanning (later known as Buckeye Fire Clay) and Superior Clay Plant No. 2.
The Clay industry bagan to fade in the mid-20th century. Only two clay plants currently continue operations in the City.The Superior Clay Corporation located on the City's southwest side, owned and operated by the E. W. McClave Family, produces clay pipe, tile, chimney tops, flue liners and Terra-Cotta. The Semco Ceramics Company, formerly Belden Brick, located in the Northern portion of Uhrichsville specializes in the manufacture of clay tile.
The Uhrichsville and Dennison School systems consolidated in 1965 to form the Claymont School District, including one high school, one junior high, and six elementary schools.
Beginning in 2016, students will be assigned to a building based on their grade level.The district’s four preschool classrooms have been relocated to Park Elementary in Dennison, and a fifth preschool classroom has been added.All kindergarten and first-grade students will attend classes at Trenton Avenue Elementary in Uhrichsville, and all second- and third-grade classrooms will be distributed to Eastport Elementary. Fourth-grade classes will be moved to Claymont Intermediate, and sixth-graders will move to Claymont Junior High.
In conjunction with the new grade-level reconfiguration plan, four buildings are receiving new names.Park Elementary will become Claymont Preschool. Trenton Avenue Elementary will be known as Claymont Primary. Eastport Avenue will become Claymont Elementary, and the junior high will be renamed Claymont Middle School.Claymont Intermediate school, which will contain grades four and five, will retain its name, as will Claymont High School.