A lot of history began on Ironton’s Railroad Street

Published 2:54 pm Friday, September 26, 2008

Not long ago I was asked for historic information about the big white house at 519 Railroad street.

I found that it was numbered 187 before houses were renumbered by block during World War I. At Briggs Library, Mary Counts found a Charles Peters, born 1855, at 187 Railroad in the 1893-94 city directory.

At the recorder’s office at the Courthouse, Sharon Hager Gossett’s staff started me on a deed search.

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I found that on Nov. 28, 1882, Charles and Rosa Murdock Peters bought 187 Railroad from Frank and Fannie Murdock. Since Rosa, an 1873 Ironton High School graduate, was a Murdock, it’s probable that Frank and Fannie were her parents and the house and property may have been a wedding gift.

When talking to Harold and Wanda Spears about a Jim Peters who played on the famous 1906-07 Ironton baseball team.

Wanda said Harold’s mother, Esther Dupuy Spears, told about their house at 611 Railroad Street being built about 1890 with indoor plumbing installed, the first bathroom in Ironton. Outhouses were still the rule of the day.

Esther said that Mrs. Rosa Peters at Sixth and Railroad streets decided she wanted an indoor bathroom. Although Charles resisted, Rosa got her way and 187 Railroad became the second house in Ironton with a fully equipped indoor bathroom.

Kay Rader told me that Charles Peters lived at 519 Railroad and was a good friend of Earl Murdock, the blind piano tuner. Jeanne Kinley told me this Earl Murdock was still tuning pianos in the 1950s, so he could not have been of Rosa’s husband Charles’ generation.

I consulted Judy Carpenter at the library and in the 1900 census she found that at 187 Railroad there lived Charles and Rosa Peters, son Charles, 15, and daughter Mary, 7.

I concluded that son Charles Peters was Earl Murdock’s friend and that they were probably cousins.

Kay said that Charles went to Columbus with Earl while Earl trained to become a piano tuner at the state school for the blind. Earl tuned many pianos and sold sheet music in his downtown music shop near Staley’s; Mrs. Alberta Albertson was his assistant and she would play and sing new music for prospective buyers.

The senior Charles Peters was the son of John and Mary C. Peters. He became a bookkeeper for Monitor and Lawrence furnaces. His father John and John Campbell had built Greenup Furnace and Olive Furnace, and John Peters later bought Monitor Furnace in Petersburg, now Coal Grove. John Peters was one of the 24 men who organized, on March 17, 1849, the Ohio Iron & Coal Co. to establish Ironton. John Peters was elected to the first Ironton School Board on May 22, 1851 along with John Campbell, James Kelly, W.D. Kelly, S.R. Bush and Thomas Murdock; the Murdock and Peters families knew each other well.

The house at 519 Railroad was probably built by Frank and Fannie Murdock. In the deed book at the Recorder’s office, I found that Rosa Murdock Peters sold 519 Railroad on December 24, 1931 to the First National Bank.

In conclusion, the big white house on the northwest corner of 6th and Railroad has some historic significance; for about 49 years it was the home of the family of Charles Peters, son of one of the founders of Ironton.