Born in Germany in 1784, Michael Beaver settled in what would be named Beavertown around 1832.
Located at the bottom of Parr Hill and Sheets Run in Grandview Township, Beaver and his wife are buried at the family homestead there, according to David “Packy” Beaver, 47, of New Matamoras.
Packy Beaver is a descendant of one of Michael’s six sons—”Dragon” John Beaver who fought in the Civil War.
“Every other person in that direction is named Beaver,” said local historian Louise Zimmer.
Beginning in the late 1880s and on into the 1900s, Beavertown was known for its moonshine stills, Beaver said.
Zimmer was in agreement.
“It definitely had a big reputation for that. It was definitely moonshine territory,” she said.
Beaver’s father, born in 1928, told him the story of hopping on a riverboat at a young age and riding it to Pittsburgh. There his father saw a liquor bottle marked “Beavertown, Ohio.”
Born in 1928, Beaver’s father could remember stories of “revenuers” coming into Beavertown to “bust up stills,” he said.
“After they left, people would get the scrap metal (from the stills). Anything to make a penny in the Depression times,” he added.
An old newspaper clipping Beaver has seen from the 1970s about the town of Beavertown had a headline that read “Knock on the door for any pint,” he laughingly said.
At one time, Beaver’s family owned a couple of sternwheelers.
“They took mussel shells out of the river to a button factory in St. Marys, Va.,” Beaver said. Signs marking places like Pinehurst, Unionville and Stanleyville may mean little to most folks, but continuing to identify the areas is an important tool for preserving the history of the area, according to some.
“These signs are a connection to the past,” said Dan Hinton, 56, a local historian from Palmer Township. “It marks the roots of an area and except for those signs, I think a lot of these places would cease to exist ... People would simply forget them.”
Washington County Engineer Bob Badger, who has 40 years experience maintaining area roads and road signs, said continuing to mark the areas is necessary.
“It does help people find places,” he said. “And even if they’re not fully incorporated, I think there is some historical value to maintaining these signs.”
For the past five years, Kerry Yeager, 54, has lived just inside an area known as Pinehurst, located on Ohio 550 just south of Marietta.
“I know it’s sad to say but I really don’t know why it’s called Pinehurst,” he said. “I know it’s a great landmark for when I’m having something delivered. I just tell them to look for the sign ... They find it every time.”
Ernie Thode, manager of Local History and Genealogy at the Washington County Public Library in Marietta, said Pinehurst was once known as Upper Mile Run and Lower Mile Run.
“It appears at some point a Christian church minister there decided they communities should have an identity all their own,” he said.
The exact date of the renaming was not listed in the archives, but it appeared it was before 1950, Thode said.
It’s far from the only sign in the area that makes note of a community that’s significantly shrunk or completely disappeared.
Also known as Pinchtown, Unionville was founded around 1833 and was a thriving community until most of the area was destroyed by the flood of 1913.
“One of the early settlers there described the area as having the appearance of being pinched between the hills and the Muskingum River,” said Louise Zimmer, local historian and author. “So a lot of folks came to know the area as Pinchtown but there are other stories about the name, too.”
One popular tale alleges police would hide behind a sign located in the center of the town at the intersection of Ohio 60 and Ohio 821, just north of Marietta, and “pinch” motorists who were speeding.
Over the years the community has dwindled to just a handful of homes. As recently as 30 years ago the area was home to a popular diner. The rundown building remains, but not much else, although a sign along Ohio 60 still reads “Unionville.”
Longtime Unionville resident June Rose, 80, said she’s heard tales of bootleggers who would sell their hooch from a nearby tunnel.“You never know what to believe,” she said.
As for Unionville, the name was likely selected to recognize the area’s support during the Civil War, said Scott Britton, local historian.
Stanleyville, in Fearing Township, is another area still marked but no longer a busy community.
Zimmer, who grew up in Stanleyville, said the name was changed in 1878 to honor Thomas Stanley, who settled there in 1800.
“Stanley built the mill there, and back then that was extremely important to a community,” Zimmer said. “Stanleyville was a once-booming area with a school, church, general store and a post office ... Now it’s mostly farms and a few homes that are scattered about.”
The community is located between the communities of Caywood and Whipple, just north of Marietta.