Former Navy SEAL to speak at JCHA dinner

STEUBENVILLE – A former Navy SEAL and Mingo Junction business owner will share his experiences at the annual dinner meeting of the Jefferson County Historical Association, a group that is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Frank Hoagland, a graduate of Buckeye North High School who went on to serve the Navy from 1982 to 2003, will be the guest speaker at the dinner, which will be held Sept. 25 at the Steubenville Country Club.

Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., with dinner to be served at 6 p.m. Tickets are $30 and reservations should be made no later than Sept. 11 by calling (740) 283-1133.

A few years after his discharge as a senior chief petty officer, Hoagland established his own business, Special Tactics and Rescue Training, to provide various services to national security and law enforcement agencies and to private entities.

Charlie Green, second vice president of the Jefferson County Historical Association, said he met Hoagland while attending the Smithfield Veterans Day service and looks forward to hearing more about his career in the Navy, which included covert operations.

Green noted training for Navy SEALs, whose name is derived from their sea, air and land operations, is known for its extreme rigor.

Green said Hoagland is the latest of many distinguished guests who have spoken at the group’s annual dinner meetings over the years. Others have included Marine Corps Col. Michael Naylor, who was deputy commander of Marine Corps Installations West at Camp Pendleton; federal Judge William H. Webster, who was director of both the FBI and CIA; among others.

Green noted at the dinner and an open house, held in May, the group has been celebrating its 40th anniversary. He noted the group was formed in 1972 with the goal of preserving the county’s history through a local museum.

It was not the first historical association in the county, as the first was established in 1892 and another was formed in the 1920s. There is little record of the earlier groups, but the first published a book, “Centennial Souvenir of Steubenville and Jefferson County” to mark the county’s 100th anniversary in 1897.

Green said the current group met at the Jefferson County Courthouse while pursuing a location for a county museum. It began with about 30 members but quickly grew to more than 200.

Under the leadership of William Brandt and others, the group considered several sites for the museum, including the former Pennsylvania Railroad station on North Sixth Street and the city’s former post office at Fourth and Washington streets, he noted.

Green said funding often was a barrier but in 1976 the group ultimately purchased the museum’s present location, the former home of Emma Carter Sharpe at 426 Franklin Ave. for $64,800.

Through the fundraising efforts of many, the group was able to pay off the building’s mortgage of $50,000 in four years.

“They were very, very fortunate in having a lot of generous donors who made that possible,” Green said.

He said the house was built in 1919 by Sharpe and her husband, Alexander Beatty Sharpe, a member of a prominent Steubenville family that founded and operated the Ohio Foundry.

Over the years Emma played an active role in the community, Green said. A strong financial supporter of the College of Steubenville, the forerunner of the Franciscan University of Steubenville, she held a year-end party for the school’s graduating seniors at her home, as well as providing funds for a heart monitoring device at the former Ohio Valley Hospital and nurse for Steubenville City Schools, among other causes.

She also was involved in the 1950s in writing zoning laws for the city, Green noted, adding, “She was a very progressive woman.”

Emma also led other local women in knitting sweaters, scarves and socks for local servicemen abroad during World War I.

“She was just a wonderful lady,” Green said.

The mother of two, Emma became a widow twice – first following Alexander’s death in 1936 and again following the death in 1942 of her second husband, the Rev. Harold Zeis, who was rector of St. Paul’s Church.

Emma died at age 83 of leukemia in 1962.

At the time the home was purchased, the Sharpe house was home to former city councilman David Fortunato, whose family also operated a hairdressing shop there.

The historical association has made great use of the house’s 19 rooms, filling it with antiques, photos and artifacts reflecting various aspects of the county’s history.

The River Boat room depicts the various modes of transportation used by Jefferson County residents over the years. In it are a large steering wheel from the Ohio River towboat the Monitor donated by Brandt and an electric train display donated by John Carlton.

The museum’s genealogy library includes about 6,000 books and is named for Vivian Snyder, a founding member of the group who donated many from her personal collection.

Green said the museum has had visitors researching family histories from as far as Alaska and during open houses coinciding with the Dean Martin Festival, received guests from Germany, Ireland and many other places.

It is open from 10 a.m. to 3 pm.. each Wednesday and Thursday and by appointment by calling the above phone number.

(Scott can be contacted at