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most as good a civil as a military record. There have been among them "two territorial governors, a secretary of the United States Senate, who had also been a representative in Congress, several clergymen of note, college professors, authors, and editors and many physicians, lawyers and successful business men." The majority of them were picked men, — picked, that is, by the happy accident of birth and blood, a sort of a natural aristocracy.
Mark Hanna did more than hold his own among his vigorous playmates. He was one of their leaders — although not any more of a leader than were a dozen other boys. All accounts agree as to his disposition and behavior. He was active, willing, sociable, generous, friendly, mischievous, high-spirited and aggressive. He did not shirk any task which could be properly laid upon him, and he eagerly sought all sorts of games, amusements and contests of skill and strength. He learned his lessons, but he was not studious. He did his chores, but during their performance he was always planning some other and more amusing occupation. In short, he was thoroughly a boy — wise not beyond his years, but according to his years.
His behavior as a boy was not, however, entirely a matter of the natural and wholesome inconsequentiality of youth. His nature was not cast in any special mold. It was not biassed in favor of any single expression. He passed easily and freely from one occupation to another, and did not linger long over any particular task. What gave singleness and wholesomeness to his personality as a boy and later as a man was not the possession of any special faculty or interest, but an all-round adaptability and humanity. From the beginning his great gift was a gift for good-fellowship. According to the unanimous testimony of those who knew him as a boy he was expansive, good-natured and sympathetic — claiming friendship and fidelity and returning all that he received with abundant interest.
THE PASSING OF NEW LISBON
Benjamin Hanna and his sons were so prosperous in New Lisbon that had the town itself continued to prosper, most of the family, including probably Mark Hanna, would have remained there indefinitely. But New Lisbon suffered one of those set-backs to which our rapidly changing economic conditions subject many American towns and cities, and from which it never fully recovered. Inasmuch as this set-back was chiefly due to the failure of an enterprise which involved the business and the capital of the Hanna firm and resulted in the dispersal of the family, its causes, incidents and consequences must be described in some detail.
The great need of the pioneer communities was cheap and adequate means of transportation. In its absence they were confined to local markets. They could do little with their corn except feed it to their hogs, and not very much with their hogs except eat them. Without transportation the very fertility of their lands and their own energy and hard work merely increased the local congestion of agricultural products. With transportation their farms doubled in value, and they could sell their superabundance of commodities for a relative abundance of cash. The consequence was that the pioneers hankered after improved means of transport very much as their forbears had hankered after salvation.
Early in the nineteenth century the cheapest and most efficient means of transport was by water. Of course road builders were active; but in the West the distances were too great to permit of the economical transportation of freight in wagons, and the country was too sparsely settled to support really good roads. The markets they wanted to reach were hundreds of miles away. Waterways were the thing; and the invention of the steamboat increased suddenly and enormously the commercial value of navigable streams. Ohio was bounded on the south by one of the greatest navigable rivers in the country; on the north by one of a string of navigable lakes; and it was cut up by a system of smaller watercourses which could be used for scows and flatboats. Those parts of the state which enjoyed immediate access to such means of transport profited enormously. The other parts of the state languished. Cincinnati was the commercial metropolis. In 1840 it possessed almost seven times as many inhabitants as Cleveland.
The only way to make up for the lack of natural navigable waterways was to build canals; and after some years of hesitation Ohio took to building canals in earnest. Between the years 1825 and 1842, when the system of state canals was completed, there were constructed in Ohio some 658 miles of canals at a total cost of nearly $15,000,000; and of these the most important was the Ohio Canal, which ran from Portsmouth on the Ohio River across the state to Cleveland at the mouth of the Cuyahoga on Lake Erie. "The effect of these improvements," says the historian of Ohio,1 "upon the growth and prosperity of the state can hardly be exaggerated. They opened to her farmers and merchants the markets of the Ohio, the Lakes and New York. They enhanced the value of the lands and of the products. They not only united a long segregated people, but made them prosperous."
New Lisbon, however, was not properly situated to obtain any benefit from the system of state canals. It was separated from the Ohio River on the east by a dozen miles of rough country, and from the Ohio Canal on the west by several times that distance. Its inhabitants realized, as soon as the canal building began, that it would lose its standing as the busiest trading centre in the interior of eastern Ohio, unless it could obtain thoroughly good water communication with the local and remoter markets. Asearly as Jan. 11,1826, the General Assembly authorized the incorporation of a company to construct the Sandy and Beaver Canal, which was to run from a point on the Ohio River through New Lisbon to a point on the Ohio Canal in Tuscawaras County. In this way the products of
1" Ohio," by Rufus King, p. 350.
New Lisbon and its neighborhood could be cheaply transported both to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, and to Cleveland and Buffalo; and New Lisbon would not only hold its own, but become a populous thriving city.
Evidently, however, there were difficulties connected with the raising of capital for such a purely local enterprise. Probably it did not look as good to outlanders as it did to the people of New Lisbon. As an air line the distance between the terminal ports of the Sandy and Beaver Canal was some forty miles, but this stretch was increased to sixty by the necessity of following the watercourses and dodging hills. The engineering difficulties were serious. For eight years after the incorporation of the company the project languished, and it was not until the end of 1834 that ground was actually broken. In the meantime the Ohio Canal had been practically finished, and a large part of the state was entering upon a period of unprecedented prosperity. Wheat went up from twenty-five cents to a dollar a bushel, and corn and oats almost in proportion. Even potatoes, which previously had been too cheap to have a price, brought forty cents a bushel.
It was with high hopes, consequently, that on the 24th of November, 1834, New Lisbon celebrated the beginning of the great work. It was essentially a local enterprise. Some help had been obtained in Philadelphia, where the merchants of New Lisbon had wealthy connections; but most of the money was subscribed by business men of the town and the other small places along the line of the canal. Benjamin Hanna was president of the company. Leonard Hanna was a director. The whole family invested liberally in its stock. They realized that the future of New Lisbon depended upon the success of the undertaking.
Even after ground was broken, however, progress was far from being uninterrupted. Work had to be suspended during the panic of 1837. Reorganization was necessary; and to facilitate it Benjamin Hanna turned over half of his stock in the old corporation to the new one. After a delay of some years work was resumed, and finally in 1846 the canal was actually finished. On October 26 the first boat made the voyage from the Ohio River to New Lisbon; and the jubilation of the citizens of that town was not apparently diminished by the fact that the boat stuck in the mud and had to be hauled to its dock, not only by horse and oxen, but by the willing arms of a large number of enthusiastic citizens. The event was properly celebrated in a spacious warehouse, which Benjamin Hanna had built on the margin of the canal, and which was filled with immense stores of grain, wool and produce for shipment to the Ohio.
The canal was a failure almost from the start. The section between New Lisbon and the Ohio River was operated with some success for a while, and large shipments of wool and pork were profitably made to Pittsburgh. But the rest of the canal was a frank fizzle. It was too difficult a problem for the local engineers. West of New Lisbon two tunnels had to be cut through the hills, one of which was three-quarters of a mile long. The number of locks made the cost of maintenance impossibly high, and scarcity of water rendered it necessary to dam several creeks and rivers and to build two large reservoirs. The work was hastily and badly done. The banks were always caving in, and the dams breaking. Water was frequently lacking. It is said that only one boat ever made the complete passage, and that boat was forced through by the contractors, so as to qualify for certain payments under their contract.
The effect of this failure upon the fortunes of New Lisbon and the Hanna family was disastrous. Not only was the country-side drained of its accumulated capital, but it was deprived of means of recovering from the loss. Two million dollars had been sunk in the ditch, of which, according to Kersey Hanna, his father and brothers had supplied no less than §200,000. All of this money was hopelessly lost. Even that section of the canal between New Lisbon and the Ohio was not operated for more than a few years. Its trade was killed by the competition of the incoming railroads — a form of transportation which the citizens of New Lisbon had resolutely and insistently diverted from their town. By 1852 the Fort Wayne and the Cleveland and the Pittsburgh roads were already being operated through Columbiana County, but at some distance from New Lisbon. The town was side-tracked. The canal of great hopes was abandoned. New Lisbon ceased to be the trading centre