The little cities of black diamonds are made up of a dozen or so small coal mining towns located in rural south eastern Ohio and they are the bones of what was once a booming coal industry now plagued with poverty and a dying population.
A few of these forgotten small towns have historical significance and are a testimony of good times gone by, such as Rendville, San Toy, and Shawnee. I have blogged about San Toy (here) and I thought I would share some history about Rendville and few photos from a recent visit there.
It’s a tiny town with a big history, and although not much is left today I thought it would be interesting to share some recent photos of surviving structures and artifacts, as well as some history.
The Rock Mill dam park located in Lancaster Ohio has been restored and the mill wheel has been replaced, it is now the largest working water mill wheel in north America.
The first gristmill at this site was built in 1799 by Joseph Loveland and Hezekiah Smith. They also built a store, a distillery, and the Blue Ball Tavern. The available alcohol created disturbances with the Wyandot and Shawnee Indians as well as the settlers. Soon the local community forced Loveland and Smith to leave.
I grew up on this road named after the Stonewall Cemetery, And ended up living in the farm house less than 1/4 behind it. We had a blast as children playing here and even more parking here as a teen.
There are several legends and myths about this place, So I thought I would post some history about it. Stonewall Cemetery is located on Stonewall Cemetery Road, about Â ½ mile from US-22, outside Lancaster, Ohio (Hocking Township, Fairfield County). The coordinates are 39Â° 41′ 28.55″ N, 82Â° 38′ 22.9″ W. Stonewall Cemetery a small family cemetery that is no longer active. It is maintained by the Fairfield County Historical Parks. The cemetery is kept locked to prevent vandalism. The inscription above the gate gives some history about the cemetery. It reads:
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While out taking a Sunday drive with the wife, we stumbled upon San Toy, one of the little cities of the black diamonds, the town of San Toy in Perry County Ohio is gone now, but it has a lot left to indicate that a thriving community once stood at this intersection in the rural backwoods of coal county
Between 1900 and 1927, San Toy was a prosperous company town. It was created by the Sunday Creek Coal Company to provide lodging for its employees at the two San Toy coal mines. How did it get its odd name? There are so many stories that it’s impossible to say. It was a fad of the Victorian era to give things Chinese-sounding names, so maybe San Toy just sounded good. Another story says that the town’s best boxer was named Sam Troy, and they wanted to name the town after him, but the handwriting on the town’s charter was misread and misprinted. Probably the closest thing to the truth is the story that the Sunday Creek Coal Company had invested in a Broadway musical called San Toy (which actually did exist around the turn of the century). When it flopped they lost a lot of money. The story goes that, surveying the town, one said to another, “Let’s hope this isn’t another San Toy”