Historical Society’s silent auction a success
Marietta Times, April 17, 2013
The Washington County Historical Society held its annual Pioneer Day Community Dinner at the historic Lafayette Hotel, Sunday evening, April 7, on the 225th birthday of the founding of Marietta.
Presided over by WCHS President, Kenneth Finkel, close to 100 people attended with the attendee coming from the farthest distance was Mr. Hughes from West Palm Beach, Fla., in town visiting family who attended with him.
A most enjoyable meal and social evening at the Hotel Lafayette was enhanced by the keynote speaker, David McKain, president of the Oil, Gas & Industrial Historical Association, in Parkersburg. McKain spoke about the 1859 Henderson Hall Plantation Mansion in Williamstown. His topic, "The Women Of Henderson Hall," taught us new and interesting highlights of the many generations of women born and reared in this most historic mansion; their lifestyle, interests, and contributions.
The Washington County Historical Society wishes to sincerely thank the generous Marietta merchants, businesses, WCHS members and friends-of-WCHS for their donations to this year's silent auction: Peoples' News, Putnam Chocolates, Riverview Antiques, Lafayette Hotel, The Cooks' Shop, American Flags & Poles, Settlers' Bank, Barking Dogs Books & Art, Over The Moon Pizzeria, Original Pizza Place, Weber's Grocery Store, H. Rietz & Co., Peoples' Bank, Marietta Office Supply, Pier I, 'The Castle', Sweetapple Farm, Henry Fearing House Museum, Today's Hair Studio, Ohio State University Sports Office, The Honorable Mayor Joe Matthews, Scott Britton, Professional Artist Michael Dickinson, Professional Master Woodcrafters (brothers) Mark and Mike Davis, 'Brooks' and Beverly Harper, Mary Alice Hoffman, Mary Jo Hutchinson, Kurt Ludwig, Carol McConnell, Debbie 'Crump' Nations, Councilman Harley Noland, Allan and Carol Norris, Gretchen Otto, Donna Pritchett, Professional Fabrics Artist Janice Uhl, Author Lynne Sturdevant, Judy Van Dyk, Author Dianne W. Vezza, and Glen Wolfe.
The monies from the silent auction will be applied to the WCHS Project Funds earmarked to replace the roof on our 1859 Putnam Villa 'Anchorage' which will one day serve as archives, offices, and museum for the Washington County Historical Society. Anyone wishing to financially assist the WCHS with this expensive roof replacement may do so by mailing your check to the Washington County Historical Society, P.O. Box 103, Marietta, Ohio, 45750. We thank you in advance for your interest and support.
Gretchen Otto and Dianne W. Vezza,
Co-coordinators silent auction
Marietta’s turning 225
By Evan Bevins - Marietta Times, April 3, 2013
The 225th birthday of Marietta may not be celebrated with as much fanfare as the 98th, but there will be plenty of opportunities in the days ahead to honor and learn about the first settlement in the Northwest Territory.
As it has for the last five years, the anniversary of the founding of the Pioneer City on April 7 - and Belpre on April 9 - will be marked during a series of history and genealogy-themed events comprising "14 Days with the Pioneers and Patriots of Washington County." New exhibits will be on display at the Campus Martius Museum, authors and local historians will offer presentations and numerous people will be clad in historical garb.
It's an extensive schedule but different from the all-day festivities recorded in an 1886 edition of The Marietta Register-Leader, said Gretchen Otto, second vice president of the Washington County Historical Society.
"The celebration of Marietta's birthday was treated like a holiday," she said. "There was a parade. ... There were bells and whistles. There were speakers in Muskingum Park."
But Otto doesn't think the change means Marietta's history isn't still appreciated.
"I think we find other ways to celebrate Marietta," she said, pointing to events like the Sternwheel and Sweet Corn festivals and the efforts of groups like ReStore Marietta and the Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Some of those events draw on the history of the area, and activities like those being offered over the next two weeks also draw people in, said Jean Yost, president of the Washington County Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, one of the groups organizing the festivities.
"We've had real good turnout to the events over the years," he said. "We have a lady coming from Florida (this year) whose husband, Ed Pugh, was one of the people on the 1937-38 trek from Ipswich, (Mass.), to Marietta."
That journey recreated the original one made in 1787. The landing will be staged again on Sunday, with local historian Bill Reynolds portraying Col. Rufus Putnam, one of Marietta's founding fathers.
Yost said the origins of Marietta matter far beyond the city limits.
"The founding of Marietta was the first stage of implementation of the Northwest Ordinance," he said. "It preceded the Constitution by two months. It set the standard for how new states would be admitted to the union ... prohibited slavery ... essentially set aside ground for religion and education."
Campus Martius, the fort that is the namesake of the museum that now sits on its grounds at Second and Washington streets in Marietta "was home of the governor, (Arthur) St. Clair, the supreme court and the laws of Ohio," Yost said. "The laws that preceded the establishment of the state were written here in Marietta."
The week's activities will involve local historians - like Jeff Spear's presentation Friday at the Ohio River Museum on the history of a family tied to the W.P. Snyder Jr. docked there and Louise Zimmer's talk on Marietta's early days at the local Daughters of the American Revolution luncheon Saturday - and local residents, including the students of Harmar Elementary School ringing the bell at the Henry Fearing House Museum on Friday, an opportunity that will be afforded to the public on Sunday. But people from outside the area will also share their perspective as well.
Author James Williams will debut his new book, "Blazes, Posts and Stones" on Saturday at Campus Martius Museum. The book deals with the history of surveying in Ohio, but will appeal to people beyond that subject, Yost said.
"He'll talk to you about the man that was there surveying and a little bit about his background," he said. "He's winding into his (story) not only the history of the surveying of Ohio, but he's telling you about these characters."
Anchorage holds 2nd ‘Mourning’ on September 8, 2013
By Brett Dunlap - Marietta Times, Sept. 9, 2013
For the second year in a row, visitors came to the Anchorage in Marietta on Sunday to honor the passing of one of the home's original residents.
Dozens of people passed through the doors of the historical home on George Street, built in the late 1850s by David Putnam for his wife, Eliza.
Members of the Washington County Historical Society hosted their second annual "Mourning for Eliza Putnam" event on Sunday afternoon at the home.
"We are actually doing a memorial service for Eliza Putnam, whom this house was actually built for," said society member Valerie Wright. "She actually died 151 years ago (today).
"We did this (Sunday) because it was easier for people to come in."
In the 1850s, Eliza Putnam took a trip to the East Coast in New Jersey and came across a house she very much loved which became the basis for the Marietta house. The home cost around $60,000 to build, which today would have cost $1.5 million to do, Wright said.
"The house was built with the woodwork and stonework all quarried and timbered from this property and some from Harmar Hill," she said.
Visitors to the home Sunday learned about the history of the Putnam family and were able to tour the 22-room residence which was built from 1855-1859. They also learned about the funeral customs of the late 19th Century, the Victorian era.
"We are doing this to bring in people to see what has been done to the house by the historical society, because they are refurbishing the house," Wright said. "The main floors have been redone.
"This event is going on to help them continue to raise money to help with the restoration and get the house back to the way it was when she lived here."
Eliza Putnam died on Sept. 9, 1862, from heart failure at the age of 54, having only been able to spend a couple of years in the house.
Wright read Mrs. Putnam's original obituary which appeared in the Marietta newspaper of the time and discussed some of the traditions and superstitions associated with death and funerals of that period.
Someone would actually sit with the deceased for a time in a tradition that became know as "a wake." A wake was done to make sure a person was actually dead because people, at the time, were very worried about being buried alive.
The blinds in a home were also drawn when someone died. All the clocks would be stopped at that time to show the proper respect.
"Back in the Victorian Era, they believed the mirrors needed to be covered up because they thought that the next person to look in that mirror after someone died in the house was going to be the next person to die," Wright said. "Others believed the mirrors had to be covered up or the soul of the deceased would become trapped or see themselves in the mirror and become confused.
"They were very big on their superstitions."
Families would sometimes call on photographers to take pictures of the deceased with family members often propping up the deceased family member. Locks of hair from the deceased were taken and fashioned into things like broaches and other things to go with jewelry as a reminder of them.
One of Sunday's visitors, Jackie Hendricks of Belleville, saw the event being mentioned on Facebook and decided to come and see it. She had been to the house previously during a ghost hunting event.
"I love this place," Hendricks said. "I love the historical part of it and I liked the ghost hunt."
She said she had interesting experiences through both programs.
"'I liked both parts of it," Hendricks said. "I like anything with historical value.
"I just love the architecture here. It is amazing."
The proceeds from the tour go to the historical society for the Anchorage Restoration Project. The house has a number of needs and the historical society is looking at what can be done next. A lot of work is done by volunteers.
"It is a process," Wright said. "It takes a lot of time.
"We have been coming up here for five years. The progress of this has been phenomenal."
The house has hosted ghost hunting events in October and a masquerade ball in May in which money raised has gone to restoration efforts.
"This place is a home away from home," Wright said. "We are here a lot.
"Everything we do is to refurbish the house."
Festive Fearing House
By Evan Bevins - Marietta Times, December 8, 2012
As they looked at the Victorian-era Christmas decorations on display in the Henry Fearing House Museum Friday, some Harmar Elementary fifth-graders were surprised to learn the holiday wasn't always celebrated in Marietta with much, if any, fanfare.
The early settlers who came to the area brought traditions from New England that didn't involve a lot of decorating or other activities around Christmas Day.
That was hard for fifth-grader Mackenzie Hess to imagine.
"Christmas is my favorite holiday," she said. "It not all about the presents; it's all about your friends, your family and Jesus."
Hess and her classmates were continuing the decades-long relationship between their school and the nearby museum, run by the Washington County Historical Society in the former home of its namesake - the son of the first lawyer in the Northwest Territory, father to a Civil War general and grandfather-in-law to U.S. Vice President Charles Gates Dawes.
The visit by a pair of fifth-grade classes kicked off the museum's annual Christmas open house. Members of the public can tour it from 1:30 to 5 p.m. the next two Saturdays and Dec. 16. It will be open from 3 to 7 p.m. this Sunday.
The children did more than look on Friday. They decorated a Christmas tree in the reception room with ornaments they'd made with their thumb prints as the basis. The designs included hearts made from two thumb prints, reindeer drawn around a horizontal print or snowmen from a vertical one, said fifth-grader Kaitlyn McClead, who added that the activity provided a good break from regular schoolwork.
After adorning the tree, the students moved into the parlor, where co-manager Glen Wolfe described the decorations that would have been on a tree in the mid- to late 1800s.
"They used to make paper ornaments, and they'd cut pictures out of newspapers and magazines," he said.
Wolfe told the children that on Christmas morning, the doors to the parlor would be closed and the father would light the candles attached to the branches. As he stood by with a bucket of water, the children would enter to see the tree lit for the first time.
"Back then it was just one morning they'd have lights on the tree," Wolfe said.
"Do you still do that?" one child asked him.
"No, I have lights on all the time," Wolfe laughed.
McClead said she enjoyed looking at the furniture in the upstairs bedrooms, while classmate Cailin McCracken liked seeing the old toys on display.
It was interesting to see "what kind of toys they got for Christmas and how they were different from the toys we get for Christmas," she said.
Pioneer Day speaker spins stories about unknown generals of the Civil War era
By Ashley Hill - Marietta Times, April 8, 2011
It was 223 years ago Thursday when Col. Rufus Putnam and 46 other men arrived at the mouth of the Muskingum River and established Marietta, the first permanent settlement in the Northwest Territory.
The birthday of what has come to be known as the Pioneer City was celebrated Thursday, with bell ringings, special programs and exhibits and the Washington County Historical Society's Pioneer Day Dinner.
During the dinner at the Lafayette Hotel, Ohio Historical Society marketing manager Mark Holbrook told stories of the unknown generals of the Civil War. The program was made possible in part by the Ohio Humanities Council, with support by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Holbrook is a Civil War reenactor and often portrays historic characters for various events, in addition to being an actor in the Echoes in Time theatre series at the Ohio Historical Center in Columbus.
"There were 325,000 soldiers from Ohio in the Civil War - 229 of them became generals," he said. "No other state had that many generals in the army."
Williamstown resident Donald Riddle, who was on hand for Holbrook's presentation, said he didn't realize so many Civil War generals were from Ohio.
"I don't know much about Ohio because I wasn't born in Ohio - I'm still interested in the history, though," he said.
Also during Thursday's dinner, Washington County Historical Society president Ken Finkel was given an award for "outstanding service and leadership in 2011". Finkel has served as the society's president for three years.
"It's been an honor to serve the Washington County Historical Society as its president," he said.
"I've had a lifelong love of history."
The events and programs Thursday were part of the "12 Days with the Patriots and Pioneers of Washington County," which kicked off April 1..
"When we started our SAR (Sons of the American Revolution) chapter six years ago, we were looking at how we could get people more interested...(in) who our patriot and pioneer ancestors are," said Jean Yost, president of the Marietta chapter of the SAR, which is sponsoring the "12 Days". "We try to have real neat stuff over the weekends to get the school kids out and the public involved."
Yost said during the multiple day celebration last year about 2,000 people took part in the various things scheduled.
Yost said there are a slew of other special events and programs scheduled for the coming days. Saturday at the Campus Martius Museum, director Floyd Barmann will present "Native Americans of the Northwest Territory and Native American Architecture."
"He's uncovered paintings that were done by French, Germans and...people outside the country," Yost said. "There will be some things from that presentation people have never seen."
On Sunday, several museums, including the Peoples Mortuary Museum, the Henry Fearing House, the Children's Toy and Doll Museum and the Oliver Tucker Museum will be open for tours.
"All of the museums that are open on Sunday are free," Yost said.
Historical Society has Adena Remains
By Sam Shawver - Marietta Times, July 22, 2010
The remains of what is believed to be a youngster from Ohio's prehistoric Adena Culture (800 B.C. to 1 A.D.), discovered in a burial mound on private property in the Devola area in May, are currently in the hands of the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus.
"The landowner donated the remains and artifacts from the partial excavation to the Washington County Historical Society. They accepted the artifacts, but the remains were given to the (Washington County) sheriff who brought them to us," said Kim Schuette, communications and media relations manager for the Ohio Historical Society.
"We will include the remains in our NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) inventories where they will be made available through our database to tribes who may want to claim them," she added.
Earlier this year local archaeologist Wes Clarke was contacted by officials with Marietta's Campus Martius Museum and asked to examine a small burial mound that could be destroyed during development of a piece of private property in Devola.
Clarke said the remains and a few artifacts - pottery shards and arrowheads - were discovered during a five to six-week dig at the site with local volunteers.
"The mound and items we found identified with the Adena Culture, so we have every reason to believe the remains were at least 2,000 years old," he said.
But Clarke noted that his dig wasn't the first into the burial mound, as it appeared the center of the mound had been tampered with sometime in the past, probably 60 to 70 years ago.
"It's not unusual to see these smaller mounds in this area of Ohio, but I would recommend that people just leave them alone to preserve them for future generations," Clarke said.
The remains were turned over to the Washington County Sheriff's Office who took them to Ohio University in Athens where it was determined the skull was over 100 years old, and there was no reason for a criminal investigation.
Afterward the Devola property owner offered to donate the artifacts and remains to the county historical society, which only accepted the artifacts.
Sheriff Larry Mincks said the county prosecutor then suggested turning the remains over to the Ohio Historical Society.
Schuette said once the remains are officially accepted by the society, their location will be placed in an online database that details all Indian remains in the society's inventory.
"That information will be made available to Native American tribes who may have been associated with Ohio and who would have an interest in repatriation (returning the remains to a gravesite)," she said.
Ohio Historical Society archaeologist Brad Lepper said federally-recognized tribes with geographic ties to this region can apply for the remains and would be the first considered.
But under a new NAGPRA guideline, other non-federal tribal groups can also now apply for the remains if federally-recognized tribes are not interested.
Lepper said if there is no interest in repatriation by the tribes, the remains may be turned over to the state for proper burial.
He noted that there is no current law preventing private property owners in Ohio from destroying burial mounds located on their lands, but landowners cannot sell artifacts found in those mounds.
Lepper said states like Indiana and Kentucky have enacted laws against destroying burial mounds on private properties.
Museum 0pen for 2010
By Ashley Hill - Marietta Times, May 4, 2010
Judy Hill, a volunteer at the Henry Fearing House Museum, said there were days that went by last summer when not a soul passed through the museum's doors.
She said the museum will officially open for the summer season Friday, and she's hopeful it will be more popular than it has been in recent years.
"The last couple years have not been good as far as tourists," she said. "I'm hoping it will change."
The museum, located on Gilman Avenue in the Historic Harmar Village, will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Hill said there used to be a charge for touring the house, but that's no longer the case.
"We want people to come in and tour the house, so we decided to do it on a donation basis," she said.
The Washington County Historical Society purchased the home in 1974, and, after extensive restoration, opened it as a museum in 1982.
"It's not exactly the way it was when Henry Fearing lived there, but we have pictures of the interior when Henry lived there," Hill said.
Henry Fearing was born in 1798 at Fort Harmar, the region's first frontier military fort. She said he built the house in 1847, and died in 1894 at age 96.
Fearing's father, Paul Fearing, was the first lawyer in the Northwest Territory. Henry Fearing's granddaughter married former U.S. Vice President Charles Gates Dawes, a Marietta native.
While some of what is in the museum once belonged to Henry Fearing or his family members, other items are historical pieces that have been donated by historical society members.
Hill said the featured exhibit for this year includes kitchen supplies from the 1920s and '30s.
"It doesn't have anything to do with the Fearings, particularly, but we have a display room where we put special exhibits," Hill said. "It's the type of equipment people of a certain age will remember from their childhood."
Happy Birthday, Marietta!
By Connie Cartmell - Marietta Times, April 8, 2009
Ethan Ross, 7, of Beverly listened intently - wide eyed at times - as author Alan Fitzpatrick spoke Tuesday night at the 221st anniversary of the founding of Marietta, sponsored by the Washington County Historical Society at the Comfort Inn.
"There was a terrible, terrible war in the Ohio Country, unlike anything before - a racial war -and the two sides were not going to work things out," Fitzpatrick began his talk.
In full costume and black face paint, as a white man fighting alongside fierce frontier Indians in the late 1700s, Fitzpatrick, a native of Canada living in Wheeling, W.Va., told secrets and untold stories of the savage battle for control of the Ohio Country during the American Revolution.
His research, which includes seven major untold stories, was gathered from British and Canadian archives 250 years old.
"It was pretty cool," Ross said afterward.
His grandmother, Susan Wainwright of Waterford, brought her grandson to the event because of his curiosity about Native Americans. What he's learned will be part of his Cub Scout Pack 219 badge work, she said.
In a spirit of celebration, more than 100 members of the society, guests, local political leaders, including Mayor Michael Mullen, and interested citizens attended the annual dinner.
Donna Jean Ludwig of Marietta performed an original song on guitar that she wrote in tribute to her city.
"I have been dreaming of singing it here tonight," she said.
The dinner recognizes the establishment of Marietta and of the Northwest Territory, said Kenneth Finkel, president of the historical society. It marked the grand finale of five days of historical programming, sponsored by the Marietta Ohio Chapter Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), this one in conjunction with the historical society.
"It's been real good - a great five days," said Jean Yost of Barlow, president of the SAR.
Earlier Tuesday, students at Harmar Elementary School rang the bell throughout the day at the Fearing House in Harmar Village, a longtime tradition on Marietta's birthday.
There were also tours of the historic house during school hours.
Special awards from the historical society went to Bob and Judy Hill of Marietta, Tuesday, for their volunteer work at the Fearing House.
Al Cummings of Marietta received an award for attention to The Anchorage, which is owned by the society.
Eileen Hayes, secretary of the historical society, who is stepping down, was honored for 10 years of service.
Fitzpatrick is the author of "Wilderness War on the Ohio, The Untold Story of the Savage Battle for British & Indian Control of the Ohio Country During the American Revolution."
"I loved it," Betsy Wheeler of Marietta said of the program. "I've always been a fan of the American Indian and I think their side of the story should be told more often."
In his talk, Fitzpatrick told of white men, loyalists, who were not in sympathy with the American rebellion against the British, white children (later adults) who had been captured and "adopted" by the Indians years before and bonded with the Indians, or traders who were white men working with the Indians before the conflict. There were also "green coat" provincials who supported the British.
Many fled to Canada after the war, he said.
"These people may be called 'cultural mediators,' on one hand, 'terrorists' on the other side," Fitzpatrick said.
The British supplied the Native Americans with weapons, ammunition, even food to fight against the frontier settlers, he said. It was a deliberate strategy that came from the highest military leaders to establish two separate fronts, one east of the Allegheny Mountains, one west, during the American Revolution.
In addition, a white military person would accompany Indian war parties, working to change the way the Native Americans fought. Because Indians traditionally hunted along the way, they were fed so they didn't have to hunt.
"Your ancestors living in this Ohio Country never knew, never imagined," Fitzpatrick said. "A white man fighting with the Indians, it was inconceivable - inconceivable to people at that time."
But white fighting alongside Indians was not unusual.
One-third of the population sided with the king of England," he said. "You had Butler's Rangers, an elite group loyalist Americans who were fighting for revenge. They never lost a battle on the field."
In the Ohio Country at that time, a man or his family could not leave the safety of a fort or settlement because of war and scouting parties.
"They were watching the river," he said. "You couldn't go up or down the Ohio without someone seeing you. They were in the tree tops and along the ridges. The intelligence (gathering) of the British through the Indians was perfect. The Americans had no intelligence."
When the Revolutionary War was over in the East, battles continued in the Ohio Country and west of the mountains, he said.
"The war went on here and the British at Fort Detroit were not told," Fitzpatrick said.
Ultimately, for the Native Americans, it was the end of a way of life, he said. Tribes began to "exit" west.
By 1784, bows and arrows were not cutting it anymore," Fitzpatrick said. "Certainly, the Americans were not going to supply the Indians and the British were not supplying them any more. The British closed the door on the Indian."
The Native American was in the stone age, while the white population advanced into the industrial age, he said.
Marietta Celebrates 220 Years in 2008
By Connie Cartmell - Marietta Times, April 9, 2008
Monday’s celebration of the 220th anniversary of the establishment of Marietta and the Northwest Territory had more to do with the future than the past as space shuttle astronaut F. Story Musgrave shared some truly “far-out” experiences at the 2008 Founder’s Day Dinner.
“He is a patriot, a veteran of the Marine Corps, and he’s a pioneer, too,” said Scott Britton with the Washington County Historical Society who introduced Musgrave.
Standing in front of a slide showing one of the shuttle liftoffs, Musgrave leveled with the audience about how he felt during the launch.
“I do not like any part of the launch, I don’t like the risk. And there’s just too much vibration going on,” he said.
Musgrave said the command center makes contact to check on the condition of each shuttle astronaut during the liftoff.
“They asked how everyone is doing, and everyone says ‘OK,’” he (Ken Finkel, Scott Britton, Story Musgrave, Mayor Mullen) said. “But when they came to me I said ‘this is scaring the sh— out of me.’”
Musgrave was the first to take a shuttle space walk, a skill that he also used to help make repairs to the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope.
“Working in space is a form of choreography,” he said. “I’m mission control’s hands and eyes as I work on that telescope.”
At the end of his presentation Musgrave treated the audience to some amazingly clear slides of the Earth and other planets, distant stars and galaxies, compliments of the repaired Hubble Telescope.
“For those who will follow me into space, I say ‘please continue this quest,’” he said. “It’s important that you say what you want to do in life, then do it the very best you can.”
A 1960 graduate of Marietta College, Musgrave is the only U.S. astronaut to have flown on all five space shuttles. In 2003 he was one of four shuttle astronauts to be inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame at the Kennedy Space Center.
Musgrave was also presented with the Silver Good Citizenship Medal by the Ohio Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.
“This is the highest honor we can give to a non-member of the society,” said Richard Fetzer, president of the Ohio Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.
“(Musgrave) was just fantastic, he’s a hero and a great philosopher,” Fetzer added. “This is what makes America great.”
New Officers Named to WCHS Board for 2008
November 6, 2007: The following historians were recently elected as officers of the Washington County Historical Society for 2008.
President: Ken Finkel
Vice President: Ruth Thorniley
2nd Vice President: Gretchen Otto
Recording Secretary: Eileen Hayes
Corresponding Secretary: Georgaleen Hockenberry
Treasurer: Peter Polites
Other board members elected are: Gordon McCarthy, Wes Clarke, Al Cummings, Kurt Ludwig, Alan Norris, Andy Verhoff, and Roger Hall.
Historical Society Helps to Preserve the Past
By Connie Cartmell - Marietta Times, December 27, 2007
When Scott Britton joined the Washington County Historical Society, he was among just a handful of young members.
Today, he still is, but the age mix is slowly improving.
"History is always something I've enjoyed and I just got interested in it," Britton, 39, said of the local historical society. "I went to a few meetings and have been active since. Marietta has a lot of tradition and a lot of families have been here for generations."
Britton's family has been in Marietta since 1788. Local history doesn't go back much further than that. He is past president of the historical society and active in nearly all aspects of the organization.
Young members are a precious commodity to any volunteer group, but to the historical society, they are the life blood.
The historical society is at low tide today with 346 members, but at its zenith there were 500 members, said Georgaleen Hockenberry, trustee, recorder, and membership chairman.
"We need younger people," Hockenberry said.
The Washington County Historical Society is actively seeking younger members to carry the torch into the next generation.
"One of the big obstacles is that young people are working and have many commitments with family and other things to do," Britton said.
When he was president of the society, Britton worked hard to help establish several related organizations, including the Sons of Union Veterans and the Sons of the American Revolution. The goal was to introduce younger members to the historical society through the portals of two dramatic confrontations on American soil, the Civil War and American Revolutionary War.
"Younger people are very interested in these organizations," Britton said. "The Civil War is still a pretty popular topic."
Once interest and participation is established in these affiliated groups, it's a short step to historical society membership itself, he said.
"I believe we are reaching some of the younger children with the Founders Day program (April 7) at the Fearing House," Britton said. "Learning about these special historical places helps remind them of the tradition of Marietta," he said.
Interesting topics for meetings and programs - such as anything about the American Civil War - are a key to luring younger people, Britton said.
Hockenberry, a member of the historical society for many years, sees important missions for the cadre of future members coming up. She is one of a small group of historical society members who volunteer their time several days every week at the society archives, located at 346 Muskingum Drive.
"We still need help and workers at the Anchorage and need docents for the Fearing House (Harmar Village)," Hockenberry said.
Society programs, "The Tallow Light" quarterly magazine, and articles from time to time in the newspaper help encourage membership, she said.
Regular meetings of the society are the first Monday each month (except for January, which will be the second Monday), at 7:30 p.m. at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 320 Second St.
Harley Noland, owner of The Levee House Café and a new Marietta City councilman, was an officer of the society years ago. He helped save the Fearing House (Harmar), helping restore it for visitors, and was a member of Friends of Harmar for years.
But like many other younger members, Noland simply ran out of time.
"We need to enlist younger people," he said. "In other cities, historical societies often are part of preserving a certain part of the town -homes and buildings."
Younger people jump in because they are interested in preservation of neighborhoods because they live there, he said.
Younger and older members contribute to the society, said Ken Finkel, new president of the local historical society.
"The backbone of any community organization is its older members," said Finkel. "These members are our connection with the past. They often have more time. But we also need interest by younger members in preserving the past."
Grants to fund the projects that will keep Marietta's history alive are his biggest goal and challenge.
Restoring the Anchorage: Dedicated Volunteers Needed
By Connie Cartmell - Marietta Times, August 24, 2007
A gentle October breeze stirs the dry leaves as the little girl shuffles across the uneven sidewalks. She kicks
a small stone ahead of her as she makes her way slowly along Harmar Street.
Except for flocks of birds gathering for a winter journey, the skies above the placid Muskingum River are clear and deep blue.
Trees lining each side of Putnam Avenue are painted in brilliant crimson, gold and rust. They rustle in the breeze.
The scene might have been just that way the very day Ruth Thorniley Hawkins of Marietta visited her friend in Harmar, about the end of the 1940s, so many years ago.
“I remember as a child, walking past it,” Hawkins said recently. “I had a good friend who lived in Harmar.
I was always impressed with the grounds and the house, of course. (Owner Edward) MacTaggart was always mysterious to me,” she said.
Today Hawkins is a volunteer at the seriously aging Anchorage — a weekend warrior so to speak.
Along with a small cadre of like minds, hands and hearts, she works, sweats and gets dirty, dedicated to the goal of saving the imposing and somber, 24-room Italian villa-style mansion from the wrecking ball.
“It’s a unique home, and it has a lot of history,” Hawkins said. “I’ve been with it since the beginning, probably since 1995. I voted to try it. It’s such a long process.”
The Anchorage is a lady in waiting.
Restoration of the long-abandoned house got its start just after the property was sold in 1995 to the Washington County Historical Society by Marietta Area Health Inc., an affiliate of Marietta Memorial Hospital, for $1.
The work of restoration continues today, often with great frustration. There is next to no money for the project and only a handful of volunteers to work. As time passes, the house deteriorates more.
“It will never get done in my lifetime,” said Al Cummings, unofficial construction supervisor on the job. “I’m 76 now and I’ve been here seven years. My wife tells me I should walk away.”
His voice trails as he makes his way gingerly into still another second floor bedroom of the house during an impromptu tour.
“Be careful there on that balcony. Those railings aren’t safe at all,” Cummings said.
It is a bright and sunny Saturday morning and a handful of local men, most all members of the historical society, are doing their best to make a difference.
Two men in the Music Room (to the right as you enter) are stripping and repairing a window shutter. Across the hall, in the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) Room, a man is on a high ladder replacing trim molding along the edge of the 13-foot ceiling.
In the middle of the grand center hall, there is a once-gas chandelier — the only original light fixture remaining.
“The only reason it never came down with all the rest is nobody wanted to mess with it,” said Allan Norris, of Marietta, another longtime volunteer. “There’s two bats living in there now. We’re workin’ to get them out.”
The house was greatly altered, mostly cosmetically, when it was a nursing home more than three decades ago. Almost all the vinyl linoleum has finally been removed to reveal incredibly beautiful — but in need of sanding and finishing — wood parquet floors below.
Outside, a man is cutting weeds and trimming along the sandstone foundation of the house. All work is volunteer. There is no money to pay for labor or even the most modest of materials.
“We have a lot donated to us, and that’s wonderful,” Hawkins said.
In what was once the small family dining room, and later the billiard room, she and her husband are cleaning and sweeping.
A modern bathroom was installed in a small room at the rear of this room.
“We called it the ‘mystery room,’ because nobody could figure out what it was ever used for,” Hawkins said.
All in all, there are maybe eight volunteers on this day — and that’s a good turnout. Cummings will take any help he can get, whether just to sweep and “gofer” or for skilled carpentry and plumbing duties.
“It would be wonderful if we had talent, but we just need people,” he said.
Painstaking restoration work is being done every other Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., through the fall. Any help, whether or not the individual is a member of the historical society or resident of Marietta or Harmar Village, is appreciated.
“I’d like to see the structure saved. It has historical value to the community,” Cummings said. “These guys have worked their tails off. We need to make things happen.”
Marilyn Logue and her friend, Clyde Dilley, both of Columbus, saw a brief story about restoration work at The Anchorage and stopped by when they were in Marietta Aug. 11. Logue grew up here and her family had a presence locally since 1830.
“Is there anything we can do to help?” she asked Cummings.
He put the couple to work in the old carriage house, attached to the rear of the building.
“We need $80,000 for the roof,” Cummings said. “This place needs abundant work. There are 24 rooms in the whole building and as much as I’ve worked here in seven years, I never counted the bedrooms. I don’t know.”
The front doors of the house disappeared at some point, but all the original marble fireplace mantles, woodwork and interior doors are mostly in place.
“I’ve begged, badgered and bartered every business in Marietta over the years,” Cummings said. “They see me coming and run.”
There was once a $50,000 grant from the state of Ohio for The Anchorage, but grant monies lately have been few and far between.
A porch sale from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday will help raise funds for restoration of the mansion. It’s an annual event, which also includes tours, for a donation.
The long-term goal is moving offices and archives of the Washington County Historical Society from temporary quarters on Muskingum Drive to The Anchorage.
In time, visitors will be welcome. School and tour groups and out-of-towners will have access to the historical richness of The Anchorage as it may have looked nearly 100 years ago, in the height of the Victorian era.
“The big thing is working on specific rooms, completing those rooms and being able to show them to the public, so that more people will consider continuing donations to help us,”
said Scott Britton, president of the historical society. “We would like local organizations to consider sponsoring a room. The DAR has been a tremendous help, and the main parlor is nearly complete.”
There is no way to tell now how long restoration of the entire house may take.
“We are fortunate to have photographs of many rooms of the house as they looked when Edward ‘Eddie’ MacTaggart lived there,” said Marietta resident Nancy Hoy, architectural historian.
MacTaggart, who purchased the home in 1918, made his money in oil in the West, Hoy was told, traveled the world extensively and fashioned rooms of The Anchorage from each country he visited.
“There was an Oriental room, French room, etc.” Hoy said.
Many furnishings were brought back from MacTaggart’s overseas trips.
MacTaggart was planning a major renovation of the house in the late 1920s and early 1930s when the Great Depression hit and ended those plans, Britton said. MacTaggart died in 1952 and donated half the house to Marietta College; the other half went to his sister, Sophia Russell.
Existing photographs are prominently displayed in each room so that restoration can follow closely.
The house was built in 1859, just before the Civil War, by Douglas Putnam, a prominent local businessman, for his second wife.
Putnam is said to have been the richest man in Marietta at the time, and his wife was determined to have the grandest and most gracious home in Marietta.
“She had seen this house on a visit to the East. It is Italian villa-style, the only one of its kind here, at the time,” Hoy said. “Douglas Putnam was a frugal man and convincing him to spend the money (said to be about $80,000 to build at the time) probably wasn’t easy.”
It took eight to 10 years to complete. The sandstone used in the construction was all from the local area, Cummings said.
MacTaggart and his sister were the last occupants of the house, with the exception of nursing home patients.
“I am told the brother and sister didn’t get along and didn’t live in the house at the same time,” Hoy said. “Sophia was active in entertaining her (Marietta College) sorority there. Also, an elevator was constructed in the back for her to get to the second floor as she became elderly.”
The prominent front elevator was built when the nursing home, the Christian Anchorage Nursing Home, was there, Hoy said.
The formerly expansive and sweeping front lawn to Harmar Street was once punctuated by a steep and wide staircase to the house, which has since been removed. In very early days, the lawn went to the banks of the Muskingum River.
Harmar Place Nursing Home now fills the front lawn of the property. The only access to The Anchorage is off George Street.
Georgaleen Hockenberry, a Marietta resident and member of the historical society, remembers giving a piano recital in the music room when she was in high school. She knew Sophia Russell.
“It’s part of Marietta history,” she said. “If it is torn down, like so many others have been, it’s just gone."
Marietta’s 219th Anniversary Celebrated on April 7, 2007
Cornstalk, a.k.a. Dan Cutler, 59, an Ohio Chautauqua re-enactor from Milton, W.Va., provided the group with an entertaining look at history through the Native American’s eyes during Monday’s annual Pioneer Day dinner at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.
The event is held each year to commemorate the founding of Marietta 219 years ago.
“It’s great to have a speaker like Dan Cutler here who can address some of our early Ohio history,” said Scott Britton, president of the Washington County Historical Society.
The statement on dying was attributed to Cornstalk shortly before the chief, his son and several other Indians were killed by American colonial soldiers in what is now Point Pleasant, W.Va., on Nov. 10, 1777.
“They had come in peace, but were actually murdered by the soldiers,” Cutler said. “I have heard that afterward they dragged Cornstalk’s body around the fort.”
Dressed in leather, sporting a bear claw necklace and feathered headdress, Cutler, his face painted red with white markings, spoke of the great chief’s life as a warrior and hunter along the rivers and woodlands of what would eventually become the states of Ohio and West Virginia.
“No one really knows what Cornstalk looked like, but we do have a couple of line drawings from the late 18th century,” he said.
“I’ve been doing these historic presentations for about eight years, and have been doing Cornstalk for about four years now,” Cutler said. “I developed the character through Ohio State University’s Chautauqua living history program.
“We should be proud of our heritage,” he added. “Kids grow up today not knowing about the history that existed in their own backyards.”
Born in Pennsylvania in 1727, Cornstalk’s family moved into the Ohio area when he was around 10 years old. His Indian name was Keigh-tugh-qua, according to information from the Ohio Historical Society.
The Shawnee chief fought for the French during the French and Indian War, and he took part in Pontiac’s Rebellion in 1763.
On Oct. 10, 1774, Cornstalk and other Shawnee warriors fought with Lord Dunmore in what became known as the Battle of Point Pleasant that resulted in a peace treaty whereby the Indians agreed to give up all lands east and south of the Ohio River.
In 1777 Cornstalk and his son had reportedly returned to Point Pleasant to warn soldiers at the fort of an impending attack by other Shawnee warriors who had been stirred up against the Americans by British soldiers.
They were captured and later killed.
The Shawnee chief’s grave is located in Point Pleasant.
“Cornstalk had made so many wars that he didn’t get much good publicity,” Cutler explained. “He had been labeled as a ‘bad Indian.’”
Monday’s event marked the 219th anniversary of Marietta’s founding.
“I don’t know of many communities around the state that celebrate their histories each year,” said Andy Verhoff, director of Marietta’s Campus Martius Museum and a member of the county historical society.
“This community is very proud of its history, and there are younger people who are just as proud as the older generation, too,” he said, noting that local history is now taught in fourth and fifth grade classes.
“My niece is from an elementary school north of Cincinnati, and she knew all about Campus Martius and the local history of Marietta,” added Verhoff’s wife, Rachel.
“This is the only community that can celebrate being the first permanent settlement in the Northwest Territory,” said Mayor Michael Mullen.
“Everything that moved past the original 13 colonies embarked from this point,” he said. “This celebration says a lot about our heritage and preserving the tradition for future generations. We want to keep the circle unbroken, so it’s important for us to know our local history and pass it on.”
“We want to keep our stories alive,” Britton added. “And this is a wonderful event that brings members of the historical society together. We’re here to preserve our county’s history, whether through physical objects that people may donate, like antiques, or through records and other historical preservation.”