|Before Sebring Was
|Before the year 1898 a number of more or less prosperous farmers were occupying
the tracts of land lying from four to five miles each of Alliance, Ohio and between
that city and Beloit. None of them had visions of the land on which they lived ever
being anything else buy farm land. Much of it was lowland and not too desirable
without extensive draining.
For historical purposes it may be said that Stephen D. and Lizzie Gray had a home
located on what has become West Ohio Avenue, containing the lots just west of the
site of the Sebring Motor Company garage. They Gray farm extended east to about
where fourteenth street is located and west to near Seventeenth Street. It was
purchased for $50.00 an acre.
The Elizabeth Taylor farm adjoined the Gray farm on the east, extending east to the
present Twelfth street. North and south it covered the tract from Ohio Avenue to the
William F and Sarah Johnson's home was on the present New York Avenue. It
extended from Johnson Road on the west to Sixteenth street on the east, and from
Ohio Avenue on the east to the alley south of Texas Avenue.
The Jacob and Margaret Biery farm extended form the east side of Nineteenth street
to Johnson Road, and from Ohio avenue to the north side of the 'Annie' railroad
switch crossing on Johnson road.
Caroline Thompson's farm fitted in between Eighteenth and Nineteenth streets on the
east and west and Ohio avenue and the section line on the south and north.
Other neighboring farms were owned by Erskine Allison, Jacob and Anna Aellig,
John T. and Rebecca Mather, Jesse Mather, David Pickett, Joshua and Phoebe
Stanley, J.D. Walker and I.B. and Alferetta Heacock.
|In the year 1898 other eyes became centered on the tract of land covered by these
farms. From East Liverpool, Ohio, lived the family of George E. and Elizabeth
Larking Sebring, a very unusual family of restless, ambitious boys and two girls.
Drunkenness was a large issue, as it was often Wednesday after pay day before full
production would be resumed in the plants. Therefore, the Sebring brothers
developed their new city with every deed stating that no alcohol could be sold. The
Sebring Land Company was incorporated in Columbus for the sum of $50,000 on
April 25, 1898. A spokesman for the family estimated that there would be about 500
families in the community by the fall, and more than 1200 in a year, and 10,000
residents within two years. Actual purchase of the farms began in April 1898. It was
officially named 'SEBRING" in the Alliance Review May 9, 1898. The only shelter
for men who came on ahead was the old cow barn on the Gray farm with just blankets
to partition the structure into 20 sleeping rooms. Construction began May 19, 1898,
with the first railroad train passing through. By May 25, construction was began on a
boarding house which accommodated 50-100 men with 'its cuisine department and its
menu superb'. It was presided over by a hostess 'of long experience', Mrs A. A.
Talbott of East Palestine. 600,000 bricks were ordered from the Youngstown Brick
Company, just east of Beloit, along with a large quantity of stone for foundations.
There were 40 carloads of construction materials waiting to be unloaded for the first
buildings. While George E's home was about $12,000, the first 50 homes were built
for $1,000 each. Ground was broken for the first pottery plant and that first year
brought the completion of two large potteries, a stave factory, railroad depot, 5,000
feet of side track, a hotel that accommodated 80 guests. An electric light plant and
sewer systems, two telephone lines 20 business blocks, and the paving and curbing of
On June 9, 1898, a new newspaper was printed. It was published at the pottery plant,
and was known as the Sebring News. L.M. Stanley was the editor.
|Then Came the Sebring's
|Sebring grew rapidly, including plants, businesses, schools, churches homes and spirit.
The Sebring's playfully boasted that it would be only a matter of time until Alliance
would be a suburb of Sebring. Sports were a major attraction, and included baseball
and football teams. The early boosters dubbed it 'The Town Worth While'.
The Oliver China Company was the first to open. A big dance was held in the pottery
before they started to work, people coming from as far as East Liverpool by train,
bringing picnic baskets with them. The rest of the place was nothing but mud, as there
had been much rain, and little drainage on the flat acreage.
The first church service was held in an old building, at the corner of Oregon Avenue and
The Sebring's wanted to make a system of public education for the children. Before that
came to fruition, Frank's children were taught in a private school at the corner of
Maryland avenue and Fifteenth Street. They were taught by Miss Laura Crew, she
became Mrs. W. K. Talbott and moved to Damascus.
The first public school was opened in 1900 in the 'Gray Barn', a one room structure
housing grades one to eight, on the southwest corner of Oregon avenue and Fifteenth
Street. Miss Anna Begue was the teacher in this school.
The following year the Ohio Avenue building was erected at a cost of $6,000, and a
three year high school was started, with an enrollment of ten. Marshall Cox was the
principal and only high school teacher. For some time, during 1903 and subsequently
two grades were taught in the city hall and a first and second grade school building was
located near the site of the Lincoln school at Seventeenth street and Indiana Avenue.
This frame building cost $$1,450.00.
The Lincoln Building, which was used as a high school, was constructed in 1909 at a
cost of $20,000. The South side and McKinley buildings were erected in 1914. Mrs.
Fred Shaffer was the first principal in the McKinley building while it was an elementary
building. It was used as a high school since 1924. An auditorium was built in 1924 at a
cost of $120,000. Class rooms and offices were added at a cost of $85,000. Then an
athletic field and stadium were added through the WPA and PWA government
programs. Kindergarten was added to the system in 1940. In 1949, the enrollment was
983, with 35 teachers. Ground was broken July 18, 1949 for a new elementary building
on the South Side at a cost of $150,000. Frank A. Sebring heirs donated the 18 acres,
and the building was named after him.
Sebring is near the Mahoning River, and has always had an adequate supply of water. When
the town was first started, wells were drilled in the back of the Oliver China Company, now
royal China. Five years later, arrangements were made with the Mellon Company of
Pittsburgh, who suppled the village with water until 1919. The town bought the pumping
station at that time, at a cost of $96,000. In July, 1922, bonds were issued for the
completion of a disposal plant, at a cost of $72,000.
The Ohio Bell Telephone Company was granted an ordinance passed by village council
October 3, 1901 to place poles and wires along the community's streets and alleys. By 1924
there were a total of 350 telephones operating in the community. There were over 500 by
1930, and by the depression it was back to 300 in 1935. By the end of WWII, 1,000
telephones were in use.
|Lights and Power
George E Sebring had the first house in East Palestine, Ohio to have electric lighting. When
he decided to build the town of Sebring, he wanted the 'electrician', S. E. McKee, who had
wired his home to be a citizen of the new town and his first job would be to sire the Sebring
home and the Oliver China Company.
A steam engine driven Electric generator was installed. People soon learned that the water
was laced with magnesium, and avoided its effects by drinking soda pop.
In the early days, electricity was only thought of as useful for light, so the power house only
ran from the time it began to get dark until 11 p.m. As people turned off lights, those
remaining on became progressively lighter and hotter. If anything flammable was near, you
could expect a fire.
In 1910, the Sebring's sold the poser plant to Mr. McKee, and enabled residents to have
electric services 24 hours per day.
The first street lights were lit in 1912 on Fifteenth Street. Meters were not installed until the
following year. A minimum charge of one dollar was made. Every house in Sebring was
wired, since gas was not available in the early years.
Among the early incorporations was Sebring's first financial institution known as the
Buckeye Building and Loan Association. It shared space with The First National Bank. In
1925 the Buckeye moved to a new location on 15th street, where it was renamed Citizens
Banking Company. The Citizens Banking Company closed October 7, 1931 during the
Depression. The Buckeye was reorganized by the Midland Savings and Loan Association of
Alliance, becoming the Midland-Buckeye. A new First National Bank was sponsored by the
Sebring Retail merchants Association, and opened February 7, 1948.
Transactions in real estate began with the founding of the village, at which time the Sebring
brothers put lot numbers on slips of paper, tossed them into a hat and each drew out a
number in turn, thus establishing ownership.
The first realty company was the Sebring Land Company, formed by various brothers
Sebring. George E and his son H. Orville operated a firm on North Fifteenth. While they
were doing this, they also founded Sebring Florida, as a haven for retired Salvation Army
captains. They spent part of their years in Florida for a time and the summers here, but later
gave up their office here.
The F.A. Sebring Realty Company and West End realty Company were also active here, and
operated by various members of the Sebring family.
William Green was the earliest noted Master Builder of the village. He built the Oliver
pottery. Advertisements in 1900 by local builders offered homes from $500 to $5,000. J.
Andrus McBain is associated with the building of the Methodist Church, O.H.Sebring
residence and many others.
F.D. Shewell built the F.A. Sebring residence and Presbyterian church, two of many. Jacob
Myers, a Salem architect made the plans and supervised the building of O.H. and E.H.
The first insurance agent in Sebring was George E. Sebring, representing the Aetna
Insurance Company in 1902. He was succeeded by Dick Albright. They also sold real
estate and ran the local Wells-Fargo Express agency. The Sebring Insurance Service was
started in October, 1946 by William Buck and Ray Poorbaugh.
Sebring has had several large fires in its history, July 24, 1920, at 3 a.m., fire broke out in
a Chinese Laundry on West Ohio near the square. The water line was broken. The fire
quickly spread and totally destroyed the Knight building, The Herman building and the
Sebring Times plant. The loss was at $70,000.
In January 1931, the Ohio Avenue Motor Company at the corner of 16th and Ohio Avenue
caught fire and burned for a total loss. 42 automobiles were destroyed.
A boiler explosion on February 3, 1947 wet the Grindley Artware Manufacturing Company
afire. It spread from one part of the plant to another, and left nothing but ruins.
The O.H. Sebring mansion on Ohio avenue burned on Thanksgiving evening 1943, while it
was owned by Dr. and Mrs. A.M. Overlander.
|Much of the information contained on this page is from 'Sebring, Ohio: A Brief
History of the Town, its Founder, Industries and Institutions published by The
Anniversary Committee in connection with the celebration of its 50th anniversary
|Liquor in Sebring
The Sebring brothers wanted no liquor to ever be sold in the new town of Sebring. All
deeds for lots contained a clause prohibiting the sale of intoxicants, except for the Hazen
Drug Store. It is said that a beer company offered to pave the streets in the whole town if
they would let them have a saloon. They were refused. Streets were reportedly so muddy
that you couldn't tell what color the horses were. On Sunday, no movies or ball games were
allowed. Young people would entertain themselves by walking to Beloit, boys following
the girls, and return by street cars. After the repeal of prohibition in 1933, several places
began selling liquor. Dry forces in town rallied and organized in the late 30's, but Judge
Jenkins ruled that since the liquor houses had been allowed to open and run for so long, they
had lost the rights under the deeds. Retail saloons then began operating within the law.
In 1947, the dry element in the town were able to call an election, and after a hard campaign
and the sale of intoxicant in Sebring ended in March, 1948.
|Lodges and Clubs
|126 North 15th Street