History

Founded on the banks of the Ohio River in September of 1814 by Revolutionary War hero Jacob Light, New Richmond is proud of its heritage and connection to the mighty waterway that defines the village’s contemporary and historic existence. 

In February of 1816, Thomas Ashburn, a native of Lancashire, England, laid out a town adjacent to New Richmond, which he called Susanna. In 1828, the two towns merged under the name New Richmond.

With its magnificent site on the Ohio River, New Richmond soon became a center of commerce. 

Steamboats were manufactured here, and the town became a major terminus during the steamboat era, discharging and taking on passengers and freight. 

Clermont County brought their produce to New Richmond for shipping, resulting in the county being referred to as “Cincinnati’s garden.” 

Business boomed in New Richmond as woolen mills, sawmills, and mills for grinding grains spawned furniture factories, clothing factories, carriage works, distilleries, and breweries.

Steamer Tacoma built in New Richmond 1883

Despite close cultural ties with its slaveholding neighbor, Kentucky, across the Ohio River, New Richmond became a hotbed of abolitionist and Underground Railroad activity.

A native of Danville, Kentucky, James G. Birney, under the protection of the citizens of New Richmond, first published his famous abolitionist newspaper, The Philanthropist, here in 1836.

The Presbyterian and Baptist churches passed resolutions denouncing slavery as early as 1834.

James G. Birney

New Richmond became home to many people with diverse cultural heritages. The founder, Jacob Light, was of German descent, and many Germans followed Jacob here, and their craftsmanship can be seen in many buildings. 

Scotch, Irish, and African Americans were also prominent and left a lasting legacy for the town’s culture. 

The Ohio River and time have taken their toll on many of the homes and places of business and worship of these proud people. 

Many structures still remain and retain much of their original character. We invite you to visit and experience first-hand the rich history of New Richmond on the Ohio River.

Foundry workers. Photos courtesy Historic New Richmond, Inc.