Seaton family papers
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.
- Seaton family papers
- 21 Cubic Feet
- United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865.
- Railroad companies -- United States.
- Iron industry and trade -- Kentucky.
- 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).
- Preferred Citation
- [Identification of item], Seaton Family papers, 1788-1956, 56M307, Special Collections and Digital Programs, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington
- University of Kentucky
- 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
- Box 1, folder 9
Letters to Mrs. Harriet Means, 1855-1866
- Box 4, folder 3