Wicked tales: Librarian writes about Lawrence County history

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, July 2, 2024

By Terry L. Hapney, Jr.
The Ironton Tribune

What do Lawrence County’s iron furnaces, ghosts, other hauntings, happenings and murders all have in common?
They are each the focus of books written by Briggs Lawrence County Public Library’s Lori Shafer—the latest of which is set to release in August.
“I like to focus people’s attention on things they don’t hear about or know,” Shafer, a librarian at Briggs, said. “It’s interesting.”
Shafer, a long-time local historian born and raised in Ironton, has written short biographies on people and write-ups based on information about local businesses.
“The old newspapers can be quite graphic sometimes,” she said. “They didn’t hold back very much. It’s always interesting to find and is on a variety of topics.”
Currently, Shafer—a graduate of Ironton High School, Ohio University Southern and Kent State University—has written and published six books. The new one, her seventh, is her first professionally published book. The History Press is in the process of editing it.
“They do the thin books you see at CVS—on different parts of Ohio,” Shafer said. “They do ‘Images of America.’ I’m doing one on ‘Wicked Lawrence County, Ohio’—some of the crimes that occurred here.”
Shafer’s other books are “Iron Furnaces of Lawrence County, Ohio,” “Ghost Stories of Lawrence County,” “Haunted Tri-State” volumes 1 and 2 and “It Happened in Lawrence County, Ohio” volumes 1 and 2.
“Those are just different events that might interest people,” she said. “I try to get the information out there because it helps people learn more about our area.”
Shafer said many local citizens do not realize all the historical impact made in this area or all the different events that have happened here.
“It’s fascinating,” she said.
Some teachers use the books to introduce their students to local history. Library patrons can check them out and copies are available in the library’s genealogy department.
There is a collection of local authors at the library, including Danny Fulks who wrote “Tragedy on Greasy Ridge: True stories from Appalachian Ohio.” The collection also features Marilyn Thornton Schraff’s “Kitts Hill: A Rural Appalachian Community in Southern Ohio” and “Moonshine: Illicit Spirits in the Appalachian Hills of Rural Southern Ohio.” Another part of the collection is Duane Null’s books titled “History of Superior,” “History of Blackfork” and “History of Waterloo.”
Shafer said the library’s collection also includes books on Ironton turning 100 years old and on South Point’s general history such as its founding and business community.
One of the stories Shafter included in one of her books was the result of a young woman stopping by the library quite a few years ago. Her father was in a fire and was badly burned at St. Lawrence School.
“She was looking for information on it,” Shafer said. “It took us a while to locate it. We had to figure out how old he was.”
It turned out that during a Thanksgiving program there was a gas leak. While the children and mothers were upstairs in the program, someone went down to the crawl space to check on a gas leak.
“They lit a match; it blew up and caught the school on fire,” Shafer said. “A lot of people were injured. She was curious and wanted to know more.”
Those interested in Shafer’s newest book—once released—can check it out at the library or purchase it at local businesses. Some books she has written are available at Cardinal Wishes Antiques at 311 Vernon St. in Ironton.

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