OCT 30, 2020
STEUBENVILLE — Before it was the Beech Bottom Industrial Park, the 480,000 square foot building and 60 acre site was home to steel mills operated by various companies and employing hundreds of people over the course of more than 70 years.
And officials with the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, its current owner, recently
discovered employment records for many of them and have decided to share that information with the public through the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County and the Brooke County Historical Museum and Cultural Center.
Ruby Greathouse, volunteer curator for the museum, noted the steel mill employed hundreds while operated by companies ranging from Whitaker-Glessner to Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel and finally, RG Steel, which declared bankruptcy in 2012.
Acquired by the BDC and Hackman Capital of Los Angeles that year, the site is now home to several businesses.
Erika Grubbs, local genealogist and librarian based at the library’s Schiappa Branch, has been digitally scanning more than 400 of the records, which reveal the names, birthdates and addresses of employees who worked at the steel mill in its early days, primarily the 1920s and 30s.
She noted the employees came from many areas of the Ohio Valley. In addition to many Beech Bottom residents, the steel mill’s staff included citizens of Steubenville, Mingo Junction, Brilliant and Bellaire, among other communities.
“I was excited to find Dean Martin’s uncles in them,” Grubbs said, adding she checked obituaries and a City Directory to confirm the Crocetti brothers working there were in fact kin to the Steubenville native who changed his last name while pursuing stardom.
Grubbs noted many of the steelworkers were immigrants and some records indicate when they came to America.
She said the records will be uploaded to the Digital Shoebox, a database of digitized photos, books and documents collected by libraries in southeastern Ohio, and accessible at www.steubenvillelibrary.org by clicking on “History and Genealogy” under the website’s “Services” tab.
Grubbs noted there’s still more work to do, as she’s compiling an index of names from the records, and will be scanning about 30 records of employees from the 1930s, 40s and 50s in the possession of the Brooke County Historical Museum.
BDC Executive Director Marvin Six said when all of the records are digitized, they will be turned over to the museum with paper copies that may be perused by the public.
He added copies also will be available at the Beech Bottom Municipal Building.
Greathouse noted the half-sheet paper records scanned by Grubbs are much less durable than the cardboard records in the museum’s possession.
She said the originals will be stored on the museum’s second floor with other genealogical data collected by the Brooke County Genealogy Society.
Bobbi Elliott, a volunteer with the museum and member of the group, said while members have gathered many birth, death and military enlistment records for Brooke County residents, these will be the first employment records to be added to the extensive collection of data.
Greathouse noted it’s not the first time the BDC has donated items found at the former steel mill.
They include 3 foot long samples of corrugated roof deck used to market the mill’s product to builders of roofs, sheds and other structures; and framed photos of its machinery in operation.
She said the museum at 704 Charles St., Wellsburg, hasn’t been keeping regular hours since the pandemic but visits by small groups can be arranged by calling (304) 737-4060.