In 1938, during the North-West Territory sesquicentennial celebration, Portsmouth residents put on a "gigantic parade" through the city, carrying a large stone at the "head of the procession." The City Recreation Department placed the stone "in concrete at the base of the flag pole" and local dignitaries dedicated the new city park, which they named Alexandria Point. Located just outside the city's flood wall, the park provides visitors with a scenic view of the modern-day confluence of the Ohio and Scioto Rivers.
The stone, with its 1802 inscription, explained the Daily Times, had recently been recovered from the Westside bottoms of the Scioto River. Local historian Alfred Fagan believed it to have originated as a cornerstone from the now abandoned village of Alexandria, which area residents and the history books remembered as the first American settlement at the mouth of the Scioto.
The Alexandria Stone makes for an odd historical marker, as the date with which it is inscribed has no direct connection to anniversary of the adoption of the North-West Ordinance, which was being celebrated in 1938. Nor does it refer to the date of Alexandria's founding, which was first settled in 1796. And, lastly, it has been removed from its original historic location. It is, however, all that visibly remains of abandoned Alexandria.
The stone's original inscription may have had included the initials, "E. L." inscribed over the date, 1802. It's possible the letters represented the initials of Elias Langham, who officially surveyed and platted the village in 1799. Langham did own at least one lot in Alexandria, where he built a residence, but it does not appear he ever lived there for any extended period of time. In short, whether the Alexandria Stone came from Langham's house, we will never know.
The stone was recovered in 1931 by Squire Oscar Foster, who acquired it from a family living near the mouth of Carey's Run, not far from where Alexandria had once been located. "He chanced upon it at the home of a West Side family who were using it as an outdoor step and who were not aware of its historical significance." Foster then gave the stone to Alfred Fagan, whom the Portsmouth Daily Times described as "the city's most ardent and knowledgeable historian" and a descendant of Judge John Collins, one of the first settlers of Alexandria. Thus, Fagan, the 80-year old great-great grandson of Collins, is the one who arranged to donate the stone to the City Recreation Department for its installation in Alexandria Point Park.
Interestingly, Robert Dafford's mural of Alexandria depicts a pioneer river town, with numerous stone houses. There were, in fact, very few such structures. Perhaps one could argue that the vision of Alexandria found on the Portsmouth flood wall reflects the aspirations of Alexandria's founders more than the reality of the pioneer settlement. Extent records suggest that the village had far more log cabins and framed houses than those made of cut stone. This, it should be noted, however, only makes the Alexandria Stone at Alexandria Point that much more rare and historically significant.
Barbara Keyser Gargiulo, editor, "Early Reminiscences of Portsmouth," in Scioto County, Ohio Newspaper Abstracts and Historical Reminiscences, 1866-1869 (Milford, Ohio: Little Miami Publishing Co., 2006).
"Old Stone Is Landmark for New City Park," Portsmouth Times (2 November 1939).