Dover Tuscarawas Ohio

by kind permission
of the Dover Mercury, (KMG)
5th July 2007

Following the American War of Independence (1776-83), Ohio became destination for migrant Europeans. The indigenous Native American Indians opposed this but at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794, they were defeated and the European bought their lands. It was in 1806 Jesse Slinghoff and Christian Deardorff bought 2,175 acres for just over $4,600. A year later - 200 years ago this year - Deardorff platted a town, which he named after his hometown of Dover, Pennsylvania (Dover Mercury 21 September 2006). This new Dover was in Tuscarawas County, so named after the nearby Tuscarawas River. In 1832, the river was incorporated into the Ohio and Earie Canal, which joined the Ohio River with the Great Lakes. The result was a trade boom to the community of Dover and the U.S. Postal service added the suffix of Canal to the name. Ten years later Dover received its incorporation as a village and Joseph Slinghoff was elected as the first Mayor.

It was in 1837 that William Clarke Quantrill, possibly one of Dover's most notorious sons, was born. Little is known of his early life in Dover other than that he became a teacher. By 1858, Quantrill had become a professional gambler but returned to teaching in Lawrence, Kansas. At the outbreak of the American Civil War (1861-65) Quantrill who had been charged with horse theft and murder, was on the run.

William Clarke Quantrill

Aided by the notorious outlaw Jesse James, Quantrill led a band of Confederate guerrillas into Missouri and Kansas, raiding farms and communities sympathetic to the Union. Like many guerrilla leaders he was considered a notorious and bloody raider by one side - the Union command declared him an outlaw. To the Confederates he was a dashing free-spirited hero and was given rank of captain! This controversy still exists today.
In August 1863 the Unionists held, as captives, female relatives of the Quantrill gang in a prison which collapsed, killing many of them. Whether this sparked what happened next or whether Quantrill had planned it, is again much debated. Albeit, in the early hours of 21 August, Quantrill attacked, burned and pillaged the town of Lawrence, Kansas, killing more than 150 unarmed men, women, and children.
In retaliation an Unionist edict forced the depopulation of part of Missouri forcing tens of thousands of civilians to abandon their homes. Union troops then marched through burning everything in order to deprive Quantrill's raiders of food, fodder and support. Two years later Quantrill was shot in an Unionist ambush and died from his wounds.
The ambivalence towards Quantrill is reflected in the films Hollywood has made about him. On the one hand there is the Dark Command starring John Wayne, who plays a thinly disguised Quantrill. More recently there is the Ride with the Devil, starring Toby Maguire, which covers the Lawrence massacre but only alludes to Quantrill.
Following the Civil War, Dover continued to prosper and with the railroad came the establishment of many steel mills. The first blast furnaces had opened in the mid 1850s and the first rolling mill was introduced in 1867. In 1882 by Reeves Steel arrived and the company became the main stay of the economy changing it from predominantly agricultural to industrial. However, the surrounding area has kept much of its agricultural features due to influence by Amish and Mennonite communities.
The election box appears to rule Dover, in 1898, voters approved to spend $5,000 on the construction of an electricity generating plant and in 1935 voted for submarine cables to be laid across the Tuscarawas river, to extend the service. Ten years later the river was dammed, following the town's voter’s approval. In 915 the people voted to drop 'Canal' from the city name and two years later they voted that colour segregation in local schools should cease.

Ohio bicentenary flag

In 1908 the people of the town voted Dover 'dry' putting 22 saloons and two breweries out of business. However, when the Volstead Act (Prohibition) was introduced in 1919, Dover, because of it proximity to the Tuscarawas river and the Canadian border, became a centre for illegal alcohol supplies! Thus, when the Act was repealed in 1933 the Dover voters consented to the sale of alcohol there too. Today, like many other communities that had relied on industry, Dover is having to diversify its base, which appears to have left a none too welcome legacy, pollution. The Dover Chemical Corporation has now closed but its site is deemed a public health hazard due to past exposure to dioxin. This is being dealt with and the City continues to flourish Thanks to Chief Ronald R Johnson, Police Department and Local Historian.

fruit and veg market stall

The Official website of the City of Dover, Ohio

J.E. Reeves Victorian Home and Carriage House Museum