The Mysterious Cotton House


Cotton House by Mike Tewkesbury

In 1815, a man named Dr. John Cotton moved to Marietta with his bride Susan. A sharp-witted man of learning, he was astounded that the Ohio Company had chosen such a disagreeable place to settle as Marietta, Ohio. He saw the problems from flooding, the bad agriculture and rampant diseases of the town. However, he decided to stay and moved into a large home on the corner of Butler and Post Street. The building was once located just behind where Twisted Sisters is today and later became the St. James Hotel.

Rear of St. James Hotel

Dr. John Cotton became a mover and shaker of the town and was one of the main people to help found Marietta College. He often lectured there and at the Female Seminary located at the corner of Second and Putnam Street.

Dr. John had 2 sons: John Jr. and Josiah Dexter. Both boys became doctors. However, the family relationship suffered much strain during the Civil War. Dr. John Cotton Jr. married into a Confederate family, with his own wife being arrested for aiding the Confederate Army (in which 5 of her brothers

served). Dr. Josiah Dexter Cotton, however, was a surgeon for the Union Army.

In 1853, a grand white house was erected on Fifth Street. Built by Dr. Josiah Dexter, it has been known as the Cotton House ever since.

Fifth Street and Cotton House in 1860s

At the time, Fifth Street was sparsely populated, with most of the homes near Marietta College. The streets were not yet lined with bricks, and the hills made Fifth Street difficult to reach at times. The house is Greek Revival in style.

Willia Cotton

Dr. Josiah Dexter Cotton was a well-respected man in town, and had a loving family of 8 children (4 of which survived to adulthood) and a happy marriage with his wife. A very forward thinking family, they supported abolition and equal education for women. Dr. Cotton's youngest daughter, Willia, became one of the first female

graduates of a co-ed Marietta College campus in 1898. She never married, instead pursuing a career in library science. She was the head of the Washington County Public Library until she was involved in a car accident in the 1930s.

Josiah Dexter Cotton

Dr. Cotton seems to have had such a happy family life that it is hard for him to leave the house! When the new owners moved in and started renovating the house back to its original grandeur, a man knocked on