During his lifetime, Roy Riethmiller taught art to over six thousand students and produced more than one thousand oil paintings. Many of his works focus on Martins Ferry and can be seen in various businesses throughout the city.
A 1938 graduate of Martins Ferry High School, Mr. Riethmiller went on to attend Carnegie Institute of Technology (a predecessor of Carnegie Mellon) in Pittsburgh. His college learning was interrupted by WWII. Because a health issue kept him from military service, Mr. Riethmiller went to work for Blaw-Knox in Martins Ferry where he helped build anti-aircraft guns. When the war ended, Mr. Riethmiller returned to Carnegie to finish his college work.
In 1955, Mr. Riethmiller began his 25 year teaching career. Art students from fourth grade through high school were fortunate to receive his knowledge and expertise.
As a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Martins Ferry, Mr. Riethmiller served as deacon, elder, and church trustee.
When asked about his talents Mr. Riethmiller once stated ?The Good Lord knew where to put me. There?s no more picturesque place than Belmont County.?
Charles R. Shreve
When Mr. Shreve accepted the position of Superintendent of Martins Ferry Schools in 1859 at the age of 35, he began an era of educational reform which may never be matched. During his tenure as superintendent (the longest in the history of the school system at 29 years), Mr. Shreve emphasized the importance of educating children through a challenging curriculum. He abandoned the controversial $1 per year tuition cost as well as allowed for the teaching of African-American children.
Other accomplishments of Martins Ferry Schools under Mr. Shreve include doubling the size of Union School and adapting buildings for North and South Schools until permanent buildings were erected. Perhaps Mr. Shreve?s proudest moment came when the first class, comprised of three young ladies, completed the entire course of grammar and high school in 1869.
Born in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania in 1912, Annie Tanks became a beloved citizen of Martins Ferry. Described as an archivist, historian, and researcher of the highest caliber, her passion for the city?s history and its people was obvious to all who knew her.
Miss Tanks served as librarian at Martins Ferry High School and became an integral member of the Martins Ferry Area Historical Society when the organization was in its infancy. Her book entitled ?A Town of Grandeur: Essays on the History of Martins Ferry, Ohio? encapsulates both the small and grand details of the city?s history.
Dr. Richard H. Wilson
Dr. Wilson?s many contributions to the citizens of Martins Ferry began in 1898. It was in that year he established his private practice. A ?horse and buggy? doctor, Dr. Wilson often found himself delivering babies in homes by candlelight or rushing to the scene of accidents at mills.
In 1906 Dr. Wilson established the Martins Ferry Hospital where he was the only surgeon on staff for years. He owned the first x-ray machine in the region and was a pioneer of early ambulation after surgery.
Considered by many Martins Ferry families as a ?guardian angel? for his lifesaving skills, Dr. Wilson gave generously to the community. It is estimated he contributed more than $200,000 over a 20 year period to the city?s hospital.
James Arlington Wright was born in Martins Ferry in 1927. Growing up during the Depression had a profound effect on young James Wright and would shape his art throughout his lifetime. He became well known for his descriptions of the post-industrial American Midwest.
After graduating from Martins Ferry High School in 1946, Wright joined the army and was stationed in Japan during the American occupation. After his service Wright attended Kenyon College where he graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1952. He continued his education studying at the University of Vienna Austria on a Fulbright Scholarship.
Mr. Wright captured the Yale Younger Poets Prize in 1956 with The Green Wall. He later became known as a technical innovator in the use of his titles, first lines, and last lines which he used to dramatic effect.
While his poetry often focuses on the emotional suffering of the disenfranchised, Mr. Wright?s works are at the same time optimistic and point to the endurance of the human spirit.
In 1972, Mr. Wright was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his work Collected Poems.? He is often referred to as one of America’s finest contemporary poets.
To hear James Wright read one of his works click here.
Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Zane
Elizabeth Zane McLaughlin Clark was born in Virginia, a member of the Zane family which founded Wheeling, West Virginia.
In 1782, during an English and Indian attack, Fort Henry?s supply of gun powder became depleted. In an act of astonishing courage, Betty ventured outside the fort?s walls on a now legendary run for more munitions. It was this brave act which saved Fort Henry and ultimately led to the settling of Martins Ferry.
Eventually Betty moved to Martins Ferry and died in Belmont County. Her remains are buried in Walnut Grove Cemetery (sometimes called Betty Zane Cemetery by locals). A monument erected in her honor by local school children in 1928 stands at the entrance to the cemetery.
Betty Zane has been immortalized in a novel by Zane Grey and inducted into the Ohio Women?s Hall of Fame in 2000.