Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for May, 2015

Zoar Village – 1800s Communal Living

Bimeler Cabin was built in 1817.

Bimeler Cabin was built in 1817 by their original leader, Joseph Bimeler.

Desire for religious freedom caused about 200 German Separatists to escape their homeland and eventually make their new American home at Zoar Village in 1817. The town received its name from a Biblical source as Lot sought refuge in Zoar from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The group’s leader, Joseph Bimeler, first led the group to Pennsylvania, where they received help from the local Quaker community. The Quakers gave them jobs and finally loaned them money to buy about 5000 acres in northeastern Ohio.

Many in the group were having financial problems so they decided to put all their money together. The Society of the Separatists of Zoar held all property and finances, as they established one of the most successful communal settlements in American history.

Ohio & Erie Canal Museum with an original firehouse door as background

Ohio & Erie Canal Museum with an original firehouse door as background

In their early days, constructing the Ohio & Erie Canal gave work for the people of Zoar, plus easy access to receiving and shipping goods. Zoar actually became a shipping port during the days of the canal. The settlement lasted about 80 years before a public auction sold all communal property, and people began working for themselves.

Today, ten historic buildings offer a peek into life of the people who lived here. Guides dressed in costume give valuable information to make the day entertaining and informative. Special programs are held throughout the year that are educational and fun – from speakers to making hands-on projects. Take a step back in time and explore their way of life.

Residents in the 1800s would meet in the Assembly House each morning where they would be assigned daily tasks. The German women honored cleanliness in all things, so whitewashed walls and even scrubbed trees in their front yards.

The village blacksmith became responsible for making wheels for the buggies that the Zoarites used. Perhaps he had a hand in making the keg wagon that took beer to the workers in the fields. If you didn’t work, you didn’t get any beer!

Zoar School

Today, the former Zoar Public School contains memorabilia and a perfect place for educational programs.

Zoar Public School instructed students grades 1–8 from the village and surrounding area. Grades 1-4 studied downstairs with easy access to the playground, while older students in grades 5-8 were instructed upstairs until the school closed in 1960. At its beginning all instruction was in German, but over the years it gradually switched bit by bit to English.

Zoar Baker

Baker explains how the brick ovens were used.

A bakery contained three main rooms.  One room held bins of various kinds of flour, potatoes, and ingredients necessary for making the baked goods. Another contained a 6′ deep, brick oven, which filled an entire wall. Here 80-100 loaves of bread, each weighing 4-5 pounds, were baked each day. Finally, the distribution room handed out baked goods to students, who delivered various goods each day after school.

Two museums are located at the Town Hall. The Ohio & Erie Canal Museum is downstairs and contains pictures and memorabilia from the days of the canal through that area. Upstairs, The Museum of Zoarite Artifacts contains tools, pictures, spinning wheels, and toys used in those early days.

Pipe Organ at the old Meeting House

Pipe Organ at the old Meeting House

The Meeting House, built in  1853, contains Zoar-made bricks and sandstone from Zoarite quarries. Their unique sounding bell perhaps resulted from silver dollars being mixed with the ore while the bell was being cast. The beautiful pipe organ, purchase in 1892, filled the air with hymns while visitors joined their voices.

The original cabin of the founder still looked like a place this gypsy wouldn’t mind living. In many ways, these people were way ahead of their time!

Zoar Village is off I-77 at State Route 212 between Canton and New Philadelphia, Ohio. Their spectacular garden and greenhouse calls for a return trip and a separate posting. Don’t forget to stop at the Firehouse Grille & Pub for a relaxing break…everything was delicious.


Adam Miller Plays Music for Regular Folks – Folk Music

Adam on stage

Adam Miller presents one of his American Folk Music Programs for Libraries, entitled “Singing Through History”.

Folk songs always tell a story. But when you add a storyteller with an autoharp to the mix, you have entertainment at its best. Adam Miller is an extraordinary storyteller as he weaves the history of our nation and the world into the introductions of the folk songs that he sings. That’s not to mention his fantastic ability at the autoharp and guitar, as he delights the audience with song after song in his rich baritone voice.

The magical way Adam weaves history into his program makes history seem very exciting for everyone. “Of course,” Adam remarked, “history is better than fiction.” Often he performs for school groups and they, too, find him fascinating. To date he has performed for over 1,000,000 students as part of his journey from the Everglades to the Arctic Circle.

Adam Miller performs folk music using his autoharp.

Adam Miller performs folk music using his autoharp.

While the guitar is the most popular instrument in the US today, it wasn’t long ago that the autoharp had that prestige. A hundred years ago Sears catalogue had autoharps listed for $6.95 and many teachers used them in their classroom. Adam’s ability with the autoharp far surpasses any this gypsy has seen. The fluid sound resounded without any apparent effort on his part.

Involving the crowd seemed to come naturally to Adam as he often works with school groups. Frequently throughout the program, he had the audience singing along on choruses. Since this fantastic musician appears at approximately a hundred libraries a year, he has much practice. A repertoire of folk music programs called “Singing Through History”, which he uses at the library presentations, ranges from “Old Songs for Young Folks” to “Steamboatin’ Days”.

Jerry and Joan Albaugh from Friends of the Library were instrumental in bringing this program to Cambridge.

Jerry and Joan Albaugh from Friends of the Library were instrumental in bringing Adam Miller to Cambridge.

Friends of the Library at Cambridge, Ohio were certainly fortunate to connect with Adam Miller. This busy man travels over 70,000 miles a year as he goes from town to town sharing his love of folk music. He builds his show on whatever people want.

The recent show at the Crossroads Library had the theme, “I’m Goin’ to the West”, which included the song and story of the famous Orphan Train. The chorus began, “Take us in. We have rode the Orphan Train.”

The story began in Ireland, where the potato famine destroyed many families and left children orphans. Many youngsters were sent to the U.S. for a chance at a better life. That didn’t actually happen where they landed near New York City, so a Catholic priest there raised funds to send them, and orphans left by the Civil War, by train to the new western settlements to help build railroads among other things. In a short period of time, 250,000 children rode west on what was soon to be called the Orphan Train.

Adam's CDs help make his love of folk songs live on even after he has left the area.

Adam’s CDs help make his love of folk songs live on even after he has left the area.

The oldest folksong. which has been around over five hundred years, has many different versions. That timeless ballad, “Froggy Went a Courtin”, moves at a rapid fire pace, but with the theme of a frog dating a mouse, it seems humorous that it became so popular.

Even as a child, folk songs captured Alan’s heart and he began collecting these old songs back when he was in grade school. His goal was to learn every song he heard. Today Adam knows and performs over 5,000 songs through his large repertoire of shows. There’s no doubt that he is a master at what he does, and he does it with enthusiasm. Exceptional entertainment!

If your school, group, or library would like to contact Adam Miller for a program, email him at or visit his website at  Here you can also purchase some of his CDs, which are very entertaining and relaxing.

Tag Cloud