Ohio Biographies

William E. George

The fire department of any large and thriving community under modern organization and conditions is one of the most important in the municipal service, and to its management the directing head is called upon to bring high executive abilities, broad judgment, diplomatic powers and absolute fearlessness. These qualities are possessed in a high degree by William E. George, chief of the fire department of Ironton, who for a continuous period of thirty-two years has directed the work of the "fire eaters" of this prosperous and important City of the Hanging Rock Iron Region of Ohio.

Chief George was born in Bath County, Kentucky, November 12, 1847, and is a son of Robert and Drusilia (Raborn) George, natives of that county. The father was born in 1814, and was engaged in farming there until the outbreak of the Civil war, when he enlisted in the Eighty-first Regiment, Kentucky Infantry, and upon receiving his discharge, in 1862, came to Scioto County, Ohio, and continued agricultural pursuits until his death in 1883. Mrs. George, who was born in 1818. passed away in 1895, having been the mother of twelve children, four of whom died in infancy, while the others were: Henry W. and Francis, who are deceased; Jane; Levina; William E.; Alexander; Telitha, who is deceased; and John, deceased.

The early education of William E. George was secured in the public schools of his native county, which he attended until he was fourteen years of age. At that time, with other youths of his neighborhood, he became a member of what was known as the "Squirrel Hunters," a youthful military organization, with which he was associated two years. After the family moved to Ohio, Mr. George attended the schools of Portsmouth until he reached the age of seventeen years, and at that time learned the machinist's trade, a vocation which occupied his attention during the ensuing five years. Succeeding this, Mr. George became a buyer of stave lumber on the Ohio River, but after eighteen months went to Huntington, West Virginia, and embarked in mercantile pursuits as the proprietor of a grocery establishment, which, however, he sold one year later, at that time going to Gallipolis, Ohio. After two years in the business there, Mr. George came to Ironton, and opened an establishment which he conducted with some success for three years, then selling out and becoming a member of the City Fire Department. He showed such executive ability that in 1882 he was made chief of the department, a position he has continued to hold to the present time. Although sixty-seven years of age, Chief George is a vigorous and wide awake man, and promises to maintain the service of which he is the head at its past standard of superiority, and to continue to incorporate into the system the methods and improvements indicated by the advancement of science and mechanics. He is entitled to take a justifiable pride in his record as a fire-fighter. His men have the utmost confidence in his ability and trust him implicitly, knowing that he will never send them where he himself will not go. While attending the fierce Ward Lumber Mill fire, in 1911, Chief George lost his left eye, the extreme heat causing inflammation which resulted in the loss of sight in that optic.

Chief George was married April 21, 1871, at the home of the bride in Niles Township, Scioto County, Ohio, to Miss Almeda Stover, daughter of David Stover, a farmer of that locality, and to this union there have been born five children: Orval D., Alfred W., Nora J., William V. and Edward E. Orval D., an electrician of Ironton, married Elsie Conley, and has two children— Irene and Ralph; Alfred M., also an electrician of Ironton, married Mattie Ferguson and has an adopted child—Emerson; Nora married Allen Thuma, superintendent of the Ohio Electric Company, of Ironton, and has one adopted child—Alma; William V., an electrician at Ironton, married Jennie DeLong and has one child—Almeta; and Edward, also an electrician, is single and resides with his parents.

Chief George is the owner of a comfortable residence in Ironton,and also has other realty, including six vacant lots. A republican in politics, his only public service outside that of fire-fighting was as post master at Friendship, Scioto County, some forty years ago. Fraternally he is connected with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and his religious affiliation is with the Methodist Episcopal Church.


From "A Standing History of the Hanging Rock Iron Region of Ohio" by Eugene B. Willard, Daniel W. Williams, George O. Newman and Charles B. Taylor.  Published by Lewis Publishing Company, 1916