Rendville, Ohio

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Rendville is a small community in Perry County, Ohio.

In 1879, the Ohio Central Coal Company established Rendville, Ohio. Traditionally, white miners had refused to allow companies to hire African American miners. William P. Rend, the founder of Rendville and owner of a mine in this community, hired large numbers of African Americans as well as Europeans. White miners in surrounding communities, especially in Corning, Ohio, feared that African American miners would drive down wages.

To prevent the continued use of African American miners, in 1880 white miners in Corning and neighboring communities descended upon Rendville, apparently hoping to drive the African Americans from the community. In an attempt to mask their true intentions, the white miners smuggled firearms into the community in wagons, with the guns concealed under hay. According to newspaper accounts no significant violence occurred, although Ohio Governor Charles Foster did dispatch the Ohio National Guard to disperse the mob. In a small skirmish, three or four protestors were injured. This event became known as "the Corning War."

Tensions between the white and African American miners continued. In 1888, a mob of Corning whites prepared to descend on Rendville, following the murder of a white Corning man presumably by an African American man from Rendville. Rendville's mayor, Isaiah Tuppins, the first African American man to serve as a mayor of an Ohio community, convinced Corning law enforcement officials to disperse the mob and to protect the accused man.

Despite these racial tensions, Rendville grew quickly. By 1884, nearly three hundred African Americans resided in the community. Nearly 1,500 Caucasians also lived in Rendville at this time. Most of the residents were young males, and at least partly because of this, a sense of lawlessness pervaded the community. The town averaged one bar for every twenty-five residents. Gambling was common. Violence routinely occurred.

By the mid 1890s, Rendville entered a period of decline from which it never recovered. The coal industry floundered, primarily due to overproduction. Work became difficult to find in the mines. In 1895, Rendville residents sought assistance from the state government, claiming that 225 families in the community were without food. Most miners had exhausted their credit at local stores and found themselves in immense debt. Numerous miners tried to find work further west, but most of these people returned to Rendville after not locating employment elsewhere. Besides the difficult economic times, a fire occurred in the community on October 2, 1901. The fire destroyed sixteen buildings, including the town hall, at least one store, and a Baptist Church. Residents rebuilt the community, but they continued to struggle.

Rendville experienced a brief resurgence during World War I. This economic turnaround was short lived, as the nation entered the Great Depression in 1929. By the early 1940s, the town boasted only two stores, one bar, a post office, and just over one hundred homes. By 2000, Rendville, like many other former coal towns, had virtually ceased to exist. In 2000, only forty-six people lived in the community. Nearly ninety percent of the residents were white.

Despite Rendville's difficult history, the community produced several important people, including Richard L. Davis, a prominent labor organizer, Isaiah Tuppins, the first African American mayor in Ohio, Sophia Mitchell, the first African American woman mayor in Ohio, Pastor Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., and Roberta Preston, the first African American woman postmaster in the United States of America.

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