Columbiana County’s origins date back to 1803, the year it was organized by the Ohio legislature…the same year in which the state of Ohio was chartered.  Named in honor of Christopher Columbus and Queen Anne, the county originally comprised large sections of Stark, Carroll, Jefferson and Mahoning Counties.  Situated on the eastern border of the state, with its southern tip bordering the Ohio River, the county had long been associated with its rich agricultural lands and its pockets of industry, most particularly the ceramic and pottery industries.  During its early development, leading up to the early 20th Century, Columbiana County was known for being the leading producer of pottery in the United States. The Village of New Lisbon (now Lisbon) was established in 1803 as the seat of the county government.  The county was otherwise divided into 18 townships, with its two most populous cities, still today, being Salem in the north and East Liverpool in the south.  Several other smaller villages populate the county which has a population of approximately 107,841 (last census in 2010).

Marcus Alonzo Hanna

New Lisbon was situated at the center of the county and would evolve into a thriving community.  In addition to being the county seat, it was also the headquarters of the Sandy & Beaver Canal Company.  The canal – which traversed 70 miles through Columbiana County, connecting the Ohio River with the Ohio Erie Canal – was owned by Benjamin Hanna, one of the leading early citizens of the county.  He was also the grandfather of a future U. S. Senator, Chairman of the National Republican Party, and influential advisor to President William McKinley ~ Marcus Alonzo Hanna. Mark Hanna was born in New Lisbon in 1837.  In 1852, about the time of the collapse of the family’s Sand & Beaver Canal, he moved to Cleveland, Ohio with his family.  There he enrolled in high school, becoming a classmate and friend of John D. Rockefeller…and eventually becoming one of the leading industrialists not only of Cleveland, but in all of the United States. By the late 1860’s, Hanna’s business interests included vast coal and iron mines, steamship operations, street railway lines, various banking institutions and newspapers.  He would become one of the most noted industrialists of America’s so called ‘gilded age’.  This, in turn, led to his prominence in Republican Party politics. In 1896, Mark Hanna had become the Republican National Chairman and managed the successful presidential campaign of William McKinley – whose family roots also go back to Columbiana County.  McKinley’s parents and grandparents had resided in New Lisbon, Ohio – their homestead is now the Boy Scouts of America retreat just west of Lisbon. In 1897 Hanna was appointed to the U. S. Senate from Ohio.  He was re-elected in 1900 and served as one of the most powerful members of that body until his death in 1904. In the final analysis, Mark Hanna is regarded by many political historians and scholars to be one of the most successful Republican leaders in the history of the Party.  Karl Rove, chief political advisor to President George W. Bush, places Hanna as top on his list of “most admired” political figures in history.  

Secretary of War – Edwin Stanton

Edwin M. Stanton served as the U. S. Attorney General under President James Buchanan from 1860-61 and then was Secretary of War throughout the most of the American Civil War and Reconstruction era.  From 1840 to 1850, Stanton had been a circuit lawyer working out of the Jacob Picking Building in New Lisbon, Ohio – the historic building immediately east of the present day Columbiana County Republican Party Headquarters. Following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, Stanton remained as Secretary of War under President Andrew Johnson.  But the two became bitter enemies, culminating in Johnson’s firing of Stanton in 1868.  Stanton refused to leave, though – barricading himself in the Secretary of War’s offices.  He finally resigned his office in May of 1868.  Later that same year, newly elected President Ulysses Grant appointed Stanton to the U. S. Supreme Court, an appointment he had long sought.  However, before he could even take office, four days later, Stanton died.  

Ronald Reagan’s Chief Economic Advisor – Arthur Laffer

Arthur Laffer would become the Chief Economic Advisor to President Ronald Reagan and the architect of Reagan’s massive tax reduction program of the 1980’s.  A Stanford University Professor with a PH.D. in economics, Laffer became most well known for his “Laffer Curve” – an economic bell curve that illustrated how reductions in individual tax rates could result in actual increases in gross tax receipts.  Laffer first popularized this simple concept on the back of a napkin in an attempt to explain it to then Congressman Dick Cheney over lunch at a Washington, D C restaurant.  Laffer’s economic theories ultimately led to Ronald Reagan’s 30% across-the-board reduction in marginal tax rates, spawning the largest economic expansion of the 20th Century. As a young boy, Laffer would spend much of his summer time visiting with his grandparents who had a wonderful old “century home” along Plymouth Street in Hanoverton, Ohio (Columbiana County).  His Great Grandfather had been a Presbyterian Minister at the large Queen Anne style Presbyterian Church along Plymouth Street next door to the family home…and just down from the Historic Spread Eagle Tavern. Laffer returns back to Hanoverton for visits from time to time. See more on Laffer here.  

Recent “History in the Making” Republican Happenings

In 1988, Peter and Jean Johnson undertook the restoration of one of Columbiana County’s landmark tavernhouses   The Spread Eagle Tavern.  Situated along Plymouth Street in Hanoverton, this three story brick structure dates back to 1837, when the village of Hanover was a secret stop on the “underground railroad” and a vibrant port on the Sandy & Beaver Canal.  With the objective of restoring the tavernhouse back to its “original splendor”, this federal period icon of the canal era, with its stately front façade, its elegant interior appointments and its “old world” charm has been converted into an upscaled restaurant and inn.  Its seven dining rooms and five bed rooms inside feature a fireplace in every room…with Republican photos and memorabilia throughout.  And, underneath the tavern’s first floor is a fabulous “rathskellar” with twelve-foot vaulted brick ceilings There could be no better setting for the Columbiana County Republican Party’s frequent receptions, rallies, and special occasions than a place so steeped in history.  Indeed, the Spread Eagle Tavern has become just such a place. Special guests there have been varied and many. They include: Vice Presidents Dan Quayle (’92) and Richard Cheney (’06); Presidential Candidates Patrick Buchanan (’96), Jack Kemp (’96) and John McCain (’06); U S House Speaker Newt Gingrich (’94); U S Majority Leader Dick Armey (’98); Freedom Fighter Col Oliver North (’95); Former Nixon Aide and Radio Personality G. Gordon Liddy (’99); Radio Personality Michael Reagan (’00); U S Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Rod Gram (R-MN), Spencer Abraham (R-MI), Pete Domenici (R-NM), Mike DeWine (R-OH), George Voinovich (R-OH)…and most all of Ohio’s state Republican politicians.  Over one million dollars in Republican campaign contributions had been raised at the Spread Eagle Tavern in its first ten years in business.