Seaton family papers

Abstract

This collection primarily relates to the Means family of Ashland, Kentucky, who played a dominant role in the development of the iron industry in the Hanging Fork region of southern Ohio and in eastern Kentucky. They also played a prominent part in the development of both river and rail transportation in the area and in the formation of Ashland, Kentucky as an industrial city. These papers include both personal and business-related correspondence, financial records, legal documents, memorabilia, newspaper clippings, journals, scrapbooks, and photographs.

Descriptive Summary

Title
Seaton family papers
Extent
21 Cubic Feet
Subjects
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865.
Railroad companies -- United States.
Iron industry and trade -- Kentucky.
Arrangement
Organized into the following series: Family and Business Papers (1788-1951, undated), Financial Materials (1794-1940, undated), Journals (1839-1927, undated), Scrapbooks (1841-1929, undated), Legal Materials (1897-1898), School Notebooks (1843-1887), Topical Files (1859-1956, undated), Genealogical Materials (1830-1914, undated), and Oversized Materials (1846-1928, undated).
Finding Aid Author
Processed by Beth Eifler; machine-readable finding aid created by Beth Eifler
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], Seaton Family papers, 1788-1956, 56M307, Special Collections and Digital Programs, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington
Repository
University of Kentucky

Collection Overview

Biography / History
The Means family played a dominant role in the development of the iron industry in the Hanging Fork region of southern Ohio and in eastern Kentucky. They also played a prominent part in the development of both river and rail transportation in the area and in the formation of Ashland, Kentucky as an industrial city.
John Means' grandfather, Colonel John Means, was a wealthy South Carolina upcountry planter, who migrated from Bucks County, Pennsylvania and settled in the Union District of South Carolina (Spartanburg). Though a slaveholder, Means had little sympathy for the institution and in 1819 he migrated to Manchester, Adams County, in southern Ohio, where he granted freedom to his twenty-five slaves. In Ohio, he engaged in farming and was a land agent of Albert Gallatin. He also built and operated of one of the first iron furnaces in the Hanging Rock region.
His son, Thomas W. Means, after a brief apprenticeship as a store keeper at Union Furnace, Ohio, formed a partnership in 1837 with David Sinton and took over operation of the furnace. Throughout the 1840s and 1850s, Means and Sinton came into control of several furnaces in southern Ohio and eastern Kentucky. The Ohio Furnace, purchased in 1847, was reportedly the first charcoal furnace in the country to produce as much as tens tons of iron a day.
Hugh Means joined his brother Thomas in 1831 at Union Furnace, first as store manager and then assisting in the sale of iron. After spending a short time in Alabama on a merchandizing project, he returned in 1837 to Ohio to settle his father's estate. Together with Thomas Means and William Culbertson, he built the Buena Vista Furnace in 1847 in what is now Boyd County, Kentucky. Throughout his life, he maintained a close personal and financial relationship with Thomas and with his nephew John Means.
John Means was born at West Union, Adams County, Ohio in 1829. After leaving Marietta College in 1848 because of poor health, he began his apprenticeship as a store keeper at the Ohio Furnace. In 1851 he went to Buena Vista Furnace which was then under the control of his father. There he served in various capacities until 1861 when the furnace was shut down due to the Civil War. In 1854, acting as his father's agent, he purchased the land upon which the city of Ashland, Kentucky now stands. In 1856, John, along with his father Thomas, uncle Hugh, and several other businessmen, formed the Kentucky Iron, Coal and Manufacturing Company to develop the town of Ashland. In the same year, the Meanses formed the Cincinnati and Big Sandy Packet Company, a river line made up of big iron freighters. They also bought up the bankrupt eastern division of the Lexington and Big Sandy Railway and, organizing the Ashland Coal and Iron Railway, extended its lines to their vast timber and coal lands to aid in the development of the area.
Aside from the role in which the Means family played in the development of the iron industry, the development of transportation, and the establishment of the industrial city of Ashland, they also founded several banking institutions and personally supported various civic and religious organizations.
John Means married Mrs. Harriet Hildreth Perkins on October 25, 1854. She was the daughter of Dr. Samuel Prescott Hildreth, of Marietta, Ohio, a member of the state legislature, assistant State Geologist, and local historian. Together, John and Harriet had six children: Thomas Hildreth, Eliza Isabella, Lillian, Rosalie, Harold, and Ellison Cooke (E.C.).
Inheriting a vast industrial and financial empire from his father, E.C. Means, after attending Marietta College andthe Massachusetts Institute of Technology, graduating from the latter in 1887. He began his career as assistant to the manager of the Low Moor Iron Company which his father had helped form in 1873 in western Virginia. He also served as superintendent of the Ashland Coal and Iron Railway from 1891 to 1901, when he then became general manager of Low Moor. In 1916 he returned to Ashland to accept the position of president of the Means Realty Company. He also held various executive positions with the Yellowstone Poplar Lumber Company, the Ashland Steel Company, Norton Iron Works, and the Clinton Fire Brick Works. Aside from his business associations, Means was also active in civic affairs of the community, the Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, and served as chairman of the Ashland Water Works from 1921-1931.
William Biggs Seaton, son of Mary Rice and John Seaton, was born July 18, 1855, in Greenup, Kentucky. After a formal education, he began his business career in 1872 as a store keeper at the Bellefonte Furnace near Ashland. There he served in various capacities until 1881 when he became manager of the Mount Savage Furnace. In 1886 he took a position of cashier and general manager of the Ashland Coal and Iron Railway Company. The following year he assumed charge of the Bellefonte Furnace for the Means and Russell Iron Company and later became the company president. He held the position of secretary and general manager of the Kentucky Iron, Coal and Manufacturing Company, was a leading factor in the organization of the Independent Telephone Company, and was principle owner of the Park City Telephone Company. In 1908 he became President and general manager of the Ashland Iron and Mining Company and the Ashland Coal and Iron Railway. He also served as the vice-president of the Norton Iron Works, president of the Clinton Fire Brick Company, and director of the Ashland National Bank and the Merchants Bank and Trust Company.
In 1885, William Biggs Seaton married Elizabeth Isabella Means. Elizabeth was born August 8, 1855, a daughter to John Means and Hildreth. William and Elizabeth had five children: Harriet Hildreth, born June 18, 1886; Isabella Seaton, born May 17, 1888; John Means Seaton, born April 15, 1891; Kendall Seaton, born February 26, 1893; and Edward William Seaton, born April 26, 1894.
William Biggs Seaton died in 1926.
Scope and Content
These papers are primarily those of John Means (1821-1910); his wife, Harriet Hildreth Perkins Means (1826-1895); their son E.C. (Ellison Cooke) Means (1864-1956); his brother William (d. 1837); his uncle Hugh Means (1812-1884); his grandfather, Colonel John Means (1770-1837); his aunt, Margaret A. Means (d. 1921); and his son-in-law, William Biggs Seaton (1855-1927). Materials include both personal and business-related correspondence, financial records, legal documents, memorabilia, newspaper clippings, journals, scrapbooks, and photographs.

Restrictions on Access and Use

Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Access Collection is open for research.
Use Restrictions
Copyright has not been assigned to the University of Kentucky.

Contents of the Collection

FAMILY AND BUSINESS PAPERS, 1788-1951, undated

Arranged chronologically, these materials include both personal and business-related correspondence, as well as other miscellaneous papers of the Means and Seaton families.

1788-1813

These few papers relate to the settlement of the estate of Thomas Williamson of Spartanburg, South Carolina, of which Colonel John Means was appointed executor.

1788-1813

  • Box 1, folder 1
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1818-1839

The papers of this period relate primarily to Col. John Means' work as an attorney and land agent for Albert Gallatin, including a letter from Gallatin expressing appreciation for his services. There is also a letter from Means to his son Thomas Williamson concerning Means' work as a member of Ohio's state legislature in 1825.

1818-1829

  • Box 1, folder 2
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1830-1834

  • Box 1, folder 3
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1835-1839

  • Box 1, folder 4
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1840-1849

These papers include primarily business correspondence and receipts of Hugh Means and James W. Means, a merchant at Portsmouth, Ohio. There are also several land indentures of Thomas W. and Hugh Means.

1840-1844

  • Box 1, folder 5
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1845 January-June

  • Box 1, folder 6
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1845 July-December

  • Box 1, folder 7
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1846-1849

  • Box 1, folder 8
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1850-1859

This period includes the business papers of Hugh Means while he was a store keeper at Buena Vista Furnace; of John Means relative to the formation of the Kentucky Iron, Coal and Manufacturing Company; and of John's partnership in the Ashland Steam Ferry Company. There is some correspondence dealing with the purchase of stock in the Lexington and Big Sandy Railway by the Kentucky Iron, Coal and Manufacturing Co. and miscellaneous papers of John Means.

1854

  • Box 1, folder 9
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1855-1859

  • Box 1, folder 10
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1860-1869

Correspondence from this period is primarily comprised of business letters of John Means concerned with various facets of the iron industry and commercial expansion in the Ashland area. There are a few papers relating to a law suit between the Kentucky Iron, Coal and Manufacturing Company and the Lexington and Big Sandy Railway and on the formation of the Ashland Home Guard. Correspondence between Harriet Means and her mother concerns the Civil War, mentioning the presence of troops and war preparations in Marietta, Ohio.

1860

  • Box 1, folder 11
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1861

  • Box 1, folder 12
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1862-1863

  • Box 2, folder 1
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1864

  • Box 2, folder 2
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1865-1866

  • Box 2, folder 3
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1867

  • Box 2, folder 4
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1868-1869

  • Box 2, folder 5
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1870-1879

Mostly business correspondence. A few letters to Jesse D. Bright in Frankfort requesting favorable legislation action concerning the Lexington and Big Sandy Railway Company. Includes business papers of the Norton Iron Works.

1870-1871

  • Box 2, folder 6
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1872-1874

  • Box 2, folder 7
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1875-1879

  • Box 2, folder 8
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1880-1889

Includes miscellaneous business papers and correspondence.

1880-1885

  • Box 2, folder 9
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1886-1889

  • Box 2, folder 10
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1890-1909

Included here are papers concerning the affairs of the Ashland Coal and Iron Railway, the People's Telephone Company, the Ashland Fire Brick Company, and the newly formed Ashland Iron and Mining Company. There are also several letters to W.B. Seaton from E.C. Means at Low Moor. Other papers concern John Means' donation of land for a public school in Ashland and the estate of Elizabeth Means.

1890-1899

  • Box 2, folder 11
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1900-1903

  • Box 2, folder 12
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1904-1909

  • Box 3, folder 1
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1910-1919

Included here are papers describing the condition of the Ashland Iron and Mining Company, as well as the iron industry in general, prior to World War I and the effect of the war on a declining market. They also describe the expansion of plant facilities in order to meet war demands and government restrictions on the economy, especially price regulation and the effect of the cancellation of large government contracts upon the industry. Some papers concern the negotiations of the Ashland Coal and Iron Railway with various members of the Means family. Papers relating to the Ashland Water Company are also included.

1910

  • Box 3, folder 2
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1911-1912

  • Box 3, folder 3
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1913-1916

  • Box 3, folder 4
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1917-1919

  • Box 3, folder 5
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1920-1929

Correspondence between W.B. Seaton and Charles Means of the Means and Russell Iron Company. Condition of the Ashland Fire Brick Company and the liquidation of the Kentucky Coal, Iron and Manufacturing Company. There are tributes to Seaton who died in 1927, papers dealing with his estate, and letters revealing the extent of his wife's charities.

1920-1923

  • Box 3, folder 6
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1924-1929

  • Box 3, folder 7
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1930-1951

Primarily personal letters of Mrs. W.B. Seaton with a few business papers. There are letters to E.C. Means from Charles G. Dawes, Vice President of the United States under Calvin Coolidge, as well as tributes to Dawes after his death in 1951.

1930-1938

  • Box 3, folder 8
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1941-1951

  • Box 3, folder 9
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UNDATED

Miscellaneous, undated

  • Box 4, folder 1
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Cards and invitations, undated

  • Box 4, folder 2
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TRANSCRIPTS

Letters to Mrs. Harriet Means, 1855-1866

  • Box 4, folder 3
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FINANCIAL MATERIALS, 1794-1940, undated

Includes account books, cash books, ledgers, journals, and miscellaneous related materials for individual members of the Means and Seaton families and the businesses in which they were involved. Arranged alphabetically by individual or company name; chronologically thereunder.

BUSINESS

American Rolling Mill Company

Cost Sheets, 1922 January

  • Box 4, folder 4
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Balance Sheets, 1922 January

  • Box 4, folder 5
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Ashland (City)

Ledger, 1876-1881

  • Box 4, folder 6
Includes financial information for Ashland, Kentucky, including city statement, debts due to the city, receipts and expenditures, etc. To top

Ashland Fire Brick Company

Ledger, 1912-1921

  • Box 4, folder 7
To top

Ashland Improvement Company of Kentucky

Ledger, 1890

  • Box 4, folder 8
Also includes financial information for the Kentucky Iron, Coal and Manufacturing Company To top

Ashland Iron and Mining Company

Accountant's Report, 1917 December 31

  • Box 4, folder 9
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Accountant's Report, 1918 June 30

  • Box 4, folder 10
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Balance Sheets, July-December 1917, 1917 July-December

  • Box 4, folder 11
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Balance Sheets, 1918

  • Box 5, folder 1
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Balance Sheets, 1919

  • Box 5, folder 2
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Balance Sheets, 1920

  • Box 5, folder 3
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Balance Sheets, 1921

  • Box 5, folder 4
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Comparative Statements, 1913-1916

  • Box 5, folder 5
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Cost Sheets, 1921 July-December

  • Box 5, folder 6
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Creditors, 1919

  • Box 5, folder 7
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Description of lots sold to the Ashland Iron and Mining Company by the Means and Russell Iron Company and Deeds of Conveyance Forms, 1899

  • Box 5, folder 8
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Estimates and Contracts, 1915-1916

  • Box 6, folder 1