Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Great Western Schoolhouse Keeps One-Room School Memories Alive

Reading ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic, the three Rs, were the basics taught in those early one-room schools that stretched across Ohio in the 1800s. Not many are still left standing today but those that are, hold special memories and can teach us lessons from another era.

Great Western School

On the campus of Ohio University-Eastern near St. Clairsville, Great Western Schoolhouse has been restored for just that purpose and still stands in its original place 150 years later. Back in 1870, this school was built by Clark Construction Company of bricks made from the clay found on the banks of a nearby farm pond. The walls are three bricks thick with roughly 30,000 bricks used. It was proudly named for the first steamship, “The Great Western” which crossed the Atlantic in 15 days.

During those early days, attendance was not required but encouraged nevertheless. Most of the time, there were eight grades in one room taught by one teacher. Classes were often held from October through April, a time when students were not needed as frequently for farm work.

Great Western School - 1940 when brick road ran below it
The brick Old National Trail ran below the schoolhouse in 1940.

Great Western School was continually used until 1952. It is one of the very few one-room schools still standing on the National Road. Ohio University-Eastern uses this school to help students and children understand the schools of pioneer times.

These students were the last class to attend Great Western School.

In 1975, Dr. Robert Bovenizer of Ohio University asked the National Trail #348 of International Questers to consider restoring the building. They receive donations from former students and area residents as well as the use of grant money to complete the restoration project. An open house was held in 1976 during our country’s bicentennial.

Great Western - Finished Repairs
Repairs on the brickwork of two sides of Great Western School have been completed.

Improvements continue to be made each year. Recently a new tin ceiling was installed in the school, and the interior walls were restored and painted along with some of the schoolhouse benches. This considerably brightened the classroom. Two sides of the exterior brickwork were restored last fall and look wonderful.

great-western-mrs.-skaggs
Mrs. Skaggs taught at Great Western for many years.

The school still has recitation benches, chalkboards, McGuffey Readers, the original schoolmaster’s desk, two outhouses, and a potbelly stove which was fired by the stronger male students. The wooden students’ desks were donated by another school.

Ann Rattine, schoolmarm, teaches students

When Ann Rattine began teaching in St. Clairsville in 1976, she visited the newly restored Great Western Schoolhouse. Ann recalled, “When I stepped over the threshold, I thought this would make a nice field trip.” At that point, she became an important supporter of the school’s development.

One-Room School Flag
Most one-room schools had a flag above the chalkboard as well as pictures of Presidents Washington and Lincoln.

When Ann retired, she accepted the role of schoolmarm in the restored school. Visiting groups spend most of the day at the school, beginning the day with the Pledge of Allegiance, the Lord’s Prayer, and a Bible story – all things that were done in those early days.

Great Western - typical child
This young lady appears as a typical child at a one-room school.

Large groups of children visit here each spring to have spelling and arithmetic lessons on the old-fashioned slates. Last year nearly 500 students attended. Students are introduced to the ‘dunce hat’, which originally was used if a student didn’t know his lessons.

McGuffey Readers were used by students at all grade levels.

Old-fashioned games are also played. A Spelling Bee gives a break from traditional studies. Outside students might play Jacks, Tug of War, Drop the Handkerchief, or LeapFrog.

One-Room School Desks
The schoolmarm keeps the school in perfect order.

Ann Rattine gives new meaning to the word ‘dedication.’ Not only is she the schoolmarm, but she also does all the jobs that a schoolmarm did at the one-room school. She sweeps the floor, cleans the desks with Murphy Oil soap to have them shining, and puts the classroom in perfect order. Even the pot-bellied stove shines, although it is no longer in use.

One-Room School slate and reader
A typical student’s desk would contain slate, chalk, eraser, and reader.

Former students are encouraged to reminisce about lessons learned, pranks played on teachers and other students, lunch boxes, and stories of how they got to school. Many remember the ‘hot school lunch’ provided by parents during the cold winter months. A large pot would be placed on the pot-bellied stove, and parents would contribute meat, potatoes, and vegetables. At lunchtime, students would fill their water cup with a dipper of warm stew.

Great Western School -Lentz Tavern front
Lentz Tavern, next to the school, provided a place to get water and also a place for teachers to get their room and board.

Drinking water had to be carried from the nearby tavern, where teachers often had their room and board. The water was poured into a large container at the rear of the class. Some students drank out of the same dipper, but most had their own cups to be used for water and stew. The boys often had collapsible cups in their pockets and would get a drink of water at recess from the pond.

Great Western 192 0
Students dressed their best for a 1920s class picture.

Christmas celebrations included the entire community, not just students and parents. This was always a grand occasion. Last Christmas, Great Western Schoolhouse took part in the Noon Rotary Tour of Homes in St. Clairsville to show community members how Christmas was celebrated in the one-room school. Decorations consisted simply of a Christmas tree and lanterns in the windows.

When folks traveled to school in their buggies, they would use a lantern to light the way. Once arriving at the school, those lanterns were set in the windows to give light to the Christmas celebration since there was no electricity. Decorations for the tree were made by the students and included strings of popcorn, homemade gingerbread men, and dried apple slices. 

Great Western School - Lesson Plans
The teacher’s lesson plan was divided into very short segments.

Perhaps you will want to pay the school a visit in 2020 when it celebrates its 150th Anniversary. If you have a group that would enjoy the experience of attending a one-room school at any time, please contact Ann at schoolmarm2009@gmail.com . You may also receive information by contacting Ohio University Eastern at 740-695-1720.

The modern schools are large and grand and beautiful to see,

But many love the country school treasured in memory.

~Helen E. Middleton

Great Western Schoolhouse can be found on the campus of Ohio University – Eastern just off I-70 at Exit 213 to Route 40. Turn left on US 40 West and the school will be on the right hand side.

Marbles Made in America at Marble King

Marlbe King bag of marbles    Many will remember going to school with your bag of marbles so you could join a game at recess. Someone drew a large circle on the playground, participants knuckled down, and the game began. Each player had their own special shooter marble which was usually their largest marble. Mine had a light blue swirl.

   The goal was to shoot a marble outside the circle. You then kept that marble for the rest of the game. Then students either played “for fair” in which marbles were all returned to their owner or “for keeps” – no explanation needed.

Marble King Berry

“Marble King” Berry Pink began selling marbles in the 1930s.

   Someone had to make those special marbles and this is their story. It all began in the 1930s when Berry Pink was selling marbles manufactured by Peltier Glass. By the 1940s, Pink was selling more marbles than Sellers Peltier could produce so they decided to combine their talents of manufacturing and salesmanship in a new company.

   Berry Pink gave away marbles as he traveled around the country hosting marble tournaments. He became known as the “The Marble King” to the children along the way. When the company was founded in 1949, Marble King seemed a fitting name for this new organization.

Marble King Building

The marble factory is located in Paden City, West Virginia.

   At that time the company was located in St. Mary’s, West Virginia. But in 1958, a fire destroyed the factory and the manager, Roger Howdyshell moved the plant to Paden City where it remains today.

Marble King Dad

When he was manager, Roger Howdyshell purchased Marble King in 1963 and his family still owns it today.

   Howdyshell left his mark on the marble industry in several ways. He led Marble King to the top of marble manufactures when he designed the first American made Cat’s Eye marbles. In 1983, Roger Howdyshell purchased Marble King and dedicated his life to making it a success. While Roger died in 1991, the Howdyshell family still operates Marble King and carries on that fine tradition set by Roger.

Marble Rollers

Hot glass is cut into small pieces and rolled into marbles.

   Today, Beri Fox presides over Marble King, the only factory in the United States that manufactures marbles. She was named for Berry Pink and worked at Marble King with her mom and dad all of her life. On summer vacations from college, Beri worked in the family business.

   At that time, most marbles were used in games and toys for companies like Mattel and Ideal. But when video games became popular, Marble King had to make the transition to other uses for their beautiful glass gems. Now, marbles are being used in floral designs, jewelry, architecture, and industrial applications.

Marble King Walt filling the furnace

Wal Lancaster fills the furnace with recycled glass.

   Beri explained, “You can be a broken piece of glass and we can transition you into something new again.” 90% of their marbles are made from cullet glass, which is scrap glass melted down for reuse from several area glass companies. They can make a million marbles a day when in full production.

Marble King Champions

National Marble King champions visit with Beri at the factory.

   This is a frequent stop for tour buses and school groups as they come to learn the history of marbles and have fun along the way. The gift shop includes a 12-foot ring like the one that is used at the National Marbles Tournament in Wildwood, New Jersey. Marble King has been a proud tournament sponsor since 1968. Winners are presented with a $2,000 scholarship for post-secondary education. This year, a virtual tournament was held due to the coronavirus; next year, Marble King will sponsor the West Virginia Marble Festival in Paden City.

Marble King Beri with children

Beri enjoys visiting with children as they play with marble games in the gift shop.

   Kids have a chance to play Ringer in the gift shop. This is one of the traditional marble games where 13 marbles are placed in an X inside a circle. The challenge is to see who can be the first one to knock out seven marbles. “The opportunity to work in an industry that involves kids is what is truly important,” stated Beri. She always enjoys a chance to play Ringer with the kids when they stop by.

Marble King demonstration

   Most people think of marbles being used in toys and games. However, there are many other uses for marbles. Some are used as decorations for weddings, jewelry, fish tanks, and infiltration systems. When you shake a can of spray paint, that rattle you hear is an industrial use of a marble. Special marbles are even used in making wine and beer. They have even been used by NASA for testing in their space balloons. The list of uses is amazing.

Marble King Marble Tower

Towers filled with Marble King marbles create a great conversation piece.

   Their marbles have even made the movies! “Goonies”, “Hook”, and “Home Alone” have featured Marble King marbles as props. Robin Williams used Marble King marbles when he recaptured his youth as Peter Pan.

Marble King marbles

   Marble King marbles are made using recycled glass in the U.S.A. seven days a week, three hundred sixty-five days a year. Marbles have been shipped all over the world to over 17 countries, including Australia, Germany, France, United Kingdom, and Canada. In 2000, Marble King won the Governor’s Award for Excellent in Exporting.

Marble King at Grave Creek Mound

Grave Creek Mound Museum in Moundsville, West Virginia, uses Marble King marbles to create their logo in a large mural.

   In Moundsville, West Virginia at the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex an entire wall displays their beauty in a fantastic, colorful design. Here 47,523 marbles replicate the logo of Marble King.

Marble King Altard States

Altar’d State uses Marble King marbles with a lighted background in every store.

   Altar’d State stores use a clear glass panel filled with Marble King marbles as the backdrop in each store. Lighted from behind, this creates a very beautiful and glowing welcome.

Marble King Marbles 2    Visit their interactive museum and gift shop in Paden City to discover why Marble King is known for quality, tradition, and history all over the world. It’s extra special because today they are the only marble company still producing Made in America marbles.

Made in America parade

Marble King was recognized as an American Made Hero and served, along with others, as the Grand Marshall of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston.

   After 70 years in business, Marble King marbles have earned the right to be called the world’s best-known, and best-loved marbles.

    Marble King is located in Paden City, WV. From Marietta take US-2 North and from Wheeling take US -2 South.  Turn on Park Street and then 1st Avenue. The Gift Shop will be at 401 S 1st Avenue.

Fort Laurens – Only Revolutionary War Fort in Ohio Country

Fort Laurens Entrance

Fort Laurens is in Bolivar Ohio just minutes off I-77.

   Add a little history to your summer fun by visiting Fort Laurens near Bolivar. A Revolutionary War fort was built in Ohio back in 1778 by General Lachlan McIntosh on the banks of the Tuscarawas River. Fort Laurens was the only Revolutionary War fort built in the Ohio Country by the Continental Congress.

Fort Laurens Original Fort

This drawing captures the design of the original fort.

   Fort Laurens was named after Henry Laurens, the fifth president of the Continental Congress. The Americans built Fort Laurens with three purposes in mind.

Fort Laurens rifleman

Riflemen dressed in linen shirt and overalls helped build Fort Laurens.

   First, they hoped to use it as a base to attack the British garrison at Detroit Second, they hoped it would keep the American Indians, who were loyal to the British, from conducting raids against American settlers in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Finally, by offering protection to the neutral Christian Delawares, the Americans might convince them to forsake their neutrality and join the patriots’ cause.

Fort Laurens Men suffering in winter

That cold winter, men suffered at Fort Laurens in cold huts with little food.

   However, conditions were so cold during that first winter that most of the men were moved to Fort Pitt. Learning of the terrible conditions inside the fort, the British and a couple of hundred Indian warriors laid siege to the fort. The men inside the fort were reportedly reduced to making a soup broth of boiled moccasins. Two men snuck out and returned with a deer carcass. It is said that the men were so hungry they ate it raw.

   General Brodhead reported to General George Washington that the fort was too far from Detroit to stage an attack and not close enough to the Delaware Indians to offer protection. General Washington ordered the fort abandoned in August 1779.

Fort Laurens Picnic Shelters

Picnic shelters provide a great place for family gatherings.

   In July of 1887, Christian L Baatz visited the fort and became interested in preserving its history. Baazt with his friends Ed Pease and William Lowe became acquainted with landowner David Gibler. David and his brother had leveled the fort in 1853 for farming. 

   After much promotion on their part, in 1908 Ohio Archaeologists and Historical Society indicated they would like to purchase the land and create a state park. DAR and SAR also wanted to preserve the location for historical purposes.

Fort Laurens School Group

School groups participate in demonstrations to learn more about the history of our country.

   When nothing had been done for several years by these three organizations, Baazt, Pease, and Lowe drew up a petition to gather signatures to present to the Ohio State Legislature to create a proper memorial on the site. In 1915, legislation was passed to preserve the Fort Laurens site.

   It had only served as a fort for one year before it was abandoned in 1779. Part of the fort was destroyed during the building of the Ohio and Erie Canal. None of the original fort remains above ground, but the outline of the fort is still highly visible. The Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail, an 80-mile long recreational trail, goes through the site today.

Fort Laurens Museum

The outline of the original fort can be seen in the vicinity of the museum.

   A museum tells the story of soldiers on the frontier. There is an informative video that you won’t want to miss telling the fort’s history. A display of archaeological items discovered during excavation is displayed in the museum.

Fort Laurens soldiers guarding tomb

Uniformed soldiers were present at the dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown Patriot.

   There is a Tomb of the Unknown Patriot of the American Revolution paying tribute to the unknown defenders of the fort. In 1976, the year of the bicentennial of the American Revolution, a special military ceremony was held to bury the remains of the first soldier excavated in 1973. Twenty-one men lost their lives there in the year it served as a fort and the remains of some of those men are in a crypt in the museum wall. 

Fort Laurens crypt

This crypt in the museum wall contains the remains of some of the men who lost their lives here.

   Events are held here throughout the year from February through December. Check their website for up-to-date events at www.fortlaurens.org . Almost every month they have an interesting speaker. In July, they will be talking about “Women of the Revolution” presented by Sharon Snowden of Ohio First Ladies Museum.

Fort Laurens Reenactment

Reenactments bring to life the conflict of Revolutionary War days.

   Revolution on the Tuscarawas: Revolutionary War Encampment and Reenactment takes place on July 18-19. Explore British and Continental camps to meet soldiers from both sides of the conflict. Children can enjoy musket drills, colonial America games and crafts throughout the day. Tickets must be purchased ahead of time for this event.

Fort Laurens Towpath Trail

This shady Towpath Trailhead leads to the Ohio & Erie Canal after a walk through an enclosed walkway over the interstate.

   Today Fort Laurens is managed by the Zoar Community Association and remains a special memorial to those who died during the Revolutionary War. While there, bring a picnic and enjoy a relaxing walk on The Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail. The trail goes through a shady woods before crossing the interstate on an enclosed walkway. On the other side is part of that original Ohio and Erie Canal. You can walk the three miles to Zoar Village on the towpath trail if you have the time and energy.

   Add history to your summer adventures!

Fort Laurens is easy to reach off I-77 in Ohio. Take exit 93 for OH-212 W, then turn left on Mulberry Steet. Fort Laurens is on the left hand side. There is no admission fee to the grounds but a small fee for the museum.

Flag Day is Every Day at Annin Flagmakers in Coshocton

Flags- Sign on Door

This sign appears on all doorways at Annin Flagmakers.

Annin Flagmakers have been making the flag of our country since 1847. The sixth generation of this family now owns and operates the business. Here workers make over three and a half million 4’x6′ flags each year in addition to many other sizes, including stick flags.

   Alexander Annin had been making flags for merchant ships on the waterfront in New York City for several years before beginning Annin Flags in Lower Manhattan on what was called “Old Glory Corner”. Eventually, headquarters was moved to New Jersey with factories in Coshocton, Ohio and South Boston, Virginia.

Flags Headquarters

One branch of Annin Flagmakers remains in Coshocton.

   These flags are Made in America of the highest standards by experienced flag makers. They have learned what long-lasting domestically made fabrics to use and what inks hold their color the longest. Fabrics include everything from nylon and cotton to polyester, with nylon holding up best outside.

Flags - workplace

This view greets your eyes upon entering the work area.

   State, military, national and international flags are made by Annin. However, the Coshocton facility basically makes US flags with a specialty now and then. When visiting, they were also making golf pin flags.

   Local history shows that the Coshocton branch of Annin Flagmakers was started by a family from Newcomerstown in 1968. Vane and Barbara Scott had been in the business of decorating floats for parades all over the country but were ready to settle down back home.

Vane Scott First Flag

Eugene and Francis Waller with owners, Barb and Vane Scott, proudly display the first flag made by Colonial Flag Company in 1968.

   A man with a flagpole company suggested they bid on a contract for 10,000 American flags…and they won! They purchased six sewing machines and a strip cutter to cut the stripes. That was the beginning of Colonial Flag Co. By 1970, they had moved their business to a larger building in Coshocton.

   When the 1976 bicentennial rolled around, Colonial Flag Co. had difficulty keeping up with orders so decided to sell the company. There were two stipulations to the sale: keep the business in Coshocton and keep Vane and Barbara on as managers. Annin Flagmakers purchased the business at that time. The reason there is a flag company in Coshocton today is due to the determination of the Scott family to keep jobs locally.

   Vane and Barb served as plant managers of Annin Flagmakers in Coshocton until 1991. Then Vane III, or Bud as he is often called, served as manager until 2002 when he retired.

Flags- rolls of stick flags

These rolls of stick flags are ready to be processed.

   Over the years, Annin has made flags for many important national events including:

  • 1849 – Inauguration of Zachary Taylor as President
  • 1851 – Queen Victoria’s Great Exhibit in London
  • 1860 – All wartime flags for the Civil War
  • 1969 – NASA’s Apollo II mission to the moon.

flags-dave-manager.jpg

Dave Rogers, DIrector of Operations, is proud to be part of Annin Flagmakers.

   At Annin Flagmakers headquarters, I had a chance to talk with Dave Rogers, Director of Operations, and learn a little more about the way flags are made today. They employ 150 people full-time and also hire temporary workers during their busiest season. Everyone wants the flags to be in their stores for Memorial Day weekend and the Fourth of July.

Flags - Strips being cut

The digital fabric cutter is prepared to cut white stripes for the flag.

   One popular flag is a 3’x5′ sewn nylon flag. They make around 35,000 of them each week. One of the first tasks is to cut the large rolls of fabric into stripes and place them in rolls of various colors. They can cut up to six different sizes at one time on their digital fabric cutter.

Flags- cakes of color strips

The colored stripes are then placed into rolls before heading to the seamstress.

Flags- adding the field of blue

Janet, a 22-year employee, adds the field of blue to the stripes.

   The stripes are then sewn together with six long stripes and seven short stripes. Once they are together, the field of blue is added. Star Field prepares the embroidered star field where the polished white thread gives sparkle to the stars on the field of blue.

Flags- cutting the edges

A 25-year employee, Anita, makes the edges straight.

   These workers take pride in their product. Three of the ladies together had in 88 years at Annin so worked with speed and precision. Everything has to be perfectly straight and their quadruple-stitched fly hem makes them extra durable.

Flags - Memorial Wall

Their lobby displays flags that were brought back after foreign service.

   When a local young man or woman went off to the war in Iraq, Annin gave them two flags. They asked them to return one flag telling where they had taken it, and the other was for their personal use. A display in the lobby shows several of those flags that were returned to Annin.

Flags - Ohio Visitors Bureau

Get your flag locally at the Coshocton Visitors Bureau in Roscoe Village.

   You can find Annin Flags at the Coshocton Visitors Bureau in Roscoe Village, Walmart, Target, Krogers and many other places. The friendly staff at the Visitors Bureau will take special orders for you and show you the large selection available there.

Flags- Walmart display

This display of Annin Flags is ready to ship to Walmart.

   Show your pride in America by displaying its flag and honoring it with a flag made right here in the U.S.A.

Oh say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave,

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

~Francis Scott Key The Star-Spangled Banner

Topiary Garden Inspired by Painting

Topiary - Old Deaf School Park

Topiary Park is located on the grounds of Old Deaf School Park in Columbus, Ohio.

Walk through the Topiary Garden on Town Street near downtown Columbus, Ohio as you let your imagination take you to “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” This painting inspired Columbus artists James T. Mason and his wife, Elaine to develop a living reinterpretation of that painting on the grounds of the Old Deaf School Park.

Topiary - Painting Print

“A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” inspired this Topiary Garden.

   Georges-Pierre Seurat was a French painter (1859-1891) and this painting on a ten-foot canvas is considered to be one of the most remarkable paintings of the 19th century. The painting took him two years to complete as he first focused on the park itself before painting people from every social class participating in park activities. No figure encroaches on another’s space. All coexist in peace.

Topiary - Relaxing under the tree

This topiary couple relaxes in the shade while reading a book.

   Topiary is the practice of clipping plants into shapes. James shaped the bronze frames and planted the greenery, while Elaine served as the original topiarist. This small garden was developed with the help of the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department. They pay attention year-round to keeping the plants trimmed and in excellent condition around their wire framework.

   This area actually dates back to 1829 when the Ohio School for the Deaf established educational and residential programs for school-age children who were deaf or hard of hearing. By 1953, the school had outgrown its downtown location and moved to a larger property on Morse Road. Today, the Topiary Garden on those old grounds is the only one of its kind in the world – a park based entirely on the interpretation of one painting.

Topiary - Rowboat on the water

There are eight topiary boats on the pond, which represents the River Seine.

   This was all originally built for the opening of the AmeriFlora exhibit that took place in Columbus in 1992. Special care has been used to create close representations of the painting by Georges Seurat in 1884. The pond represents the River Seine and was developed in the early stages of the garden in 1989. There are even artificial hills that help capture the scene.

Topiary Gift Shop

The gatehouse, resembling a French countryside home, holds their gift shop and information center.

   The gatehouse resembles a French country house to match the park’s theme. Here you will find an information center, museum and gift shop. It is located next to a library which has an outstanding art exhibit.

Topiary - Lady reading outside gift shop

Outside the gatehouse, this topiary lady sits reading a book.

   Highlighted are the sculpted topiaries, hedges trimmed into the shapes of men, women, children, boats, and animals. The frames that support the figures are made of 5/8-inch bronze and set in eighteen inches of concrete.

Topiary - Man with tophat

A man with a top hat is one of 54 topiary characters in the scene.

   There are actually 54 people, eight boats, three dogs, a cat, and a monkey included in the carvings. The largest topiary is 12′ tall. You might see a man with a top hat or a lady with her parasol dressed in the fashion of the 1800s, watching the topiary boats on the pond.

Topiary Bronze

This bronze plaque is situated at the artist’s viewpoint, “As He Saw It.”

   Visit the spot called “As He Saw It” for the exact location of the scene Seurat saw as he was painting it. There is a bronze plaque at this spot so you can compare the topiary to the painting. It’s a quiet place in the middle of the city where you can leisurely wander through the garden and become part of the painting or sit and relax in its tranquil setting.

Topiary - View of painter

This view matches the actual Seurat painting completed in topiaries.

   This garden has been showcased around the world in magazines, periodicals, books, and documentaries. Articles have been found in Life, National Geographic, and The Wall Street Journal.

Topiary - Lady with Monkey and Umbrella

This lady with her monkey is very popular with the children.

   The Topiary Garden Park, situated on seven acres, is open daily from dawn till dusk, and admission is free! Metered parking is just outside the fence. While the Topiary Park is only a couple of acres, the remainder of the area has many scattered picnic tables and benches where families gather.

   A Sunday afternoon spent at Topiary Garden Park is just as relaxing as a visit to The Island of La Grande Jatte. Enjoy the beauty of nature in downtown Columbus.

Topiary Park is located at 480 E. Town Street in downtown Columbus, Ohio. There are parking meters just outside the main gate,

Ohio Sunday Springtime Drive

Sunday drives have been part of our family tradition since I was a child. Dad always loved to travel those back country roads to see what we could see. Today this gypsy is trying to carry on that tradition as often as possible.

Spring Salt Fork Lake 2   On a recent Sunday afternoon, my car headed out to one of my favorite spots for thinking and dreaming at Salt Fork Lake Dam. From there, it was a matter of luck where the next stops might be. Ride along and see what interesting places appeared along the way.

Spring Hillside   Along the way the trees were finally getting their leaves in that beautiful spring green with some colorful redbuds thrown into the mix to add a little color.

  Spring Plainfield flags     The small town of Plainfield made my heart swell as their main street was lined with the US flag. Houses and businesses all along the street had a flag in their front yard to show their support of our country.

Spring depot   Coming into Coshocton, I spotted an old depot no longer in use but a great reminder of how railroads were an important part of our past.

Spring Roscoe   A drive through Roscoe Village always gives pleasure. Today there were a few people out walking but not much traffic. The little shops along the way looked like they were lonesome for customers.

Spring Clary Gardens   Nearby Clary Gardens has not only a flower garden, but a hillside amphitheater for entertainment and weddings. There is also a lovely Quilt Barn on the premises.

Spring Basket   Down the road at Dresden, you can witness the largest basket in the world. This delightful, small town continues to make handwoven baskets at Dresden & Co.

Spring Whit's   Coming through Zanesville, a Whit’s custard ice cream cone called to me. The flavor of the month was Almond Joy, a delicious treat.

   Hope you enjoyed the ride!

Saving History in Old Ohio Barns

Repairing or restoring an old barn that no longer serves its purpose has been taking place around Ohio with increased frequency. People feel these buildings instill that pioneer spirit and are worth saving.

Cowden Barn

Morrison-Cowden Barn (1869) Pigeon Gap Road

   In Guernsey County, Bill and Sue Cowden decided to renovate an old barn that carried fond memories for many of the neighbors and their children. This barn was originally on the 500 acre Morrison farm and used for horses for many years.

   The Morrison family came to Guernsey County from Ireland in 1855 and Sam purchased a farm on the east side of Pigeon Gap Road. His son, George acquired land on the other side which spanned Coshocton Road, now Route 209.

   It was George’s son, W.C., who is most remembered in the area. He grew record-setting crops of wheat, had an emergency airstrip on the farm, and entertained frequently. Morrison School received its name from W.C., who lived until 1953. Upon his death, his entire estate of 3.2 million dollars was left to Guernsey County charities.

Barn Cornerstone

The barn cornerstone clearly shows the date of construction of 1869.

   When you realize the Morrison barn was built originally in 1869 – only four years after the Civil War, you can understand the desire to put it back to some useful purpose. Bill realized the barn was either going to have to be repaired or torn down. “When the doors no longer open, latches no longer work, and the floor is unsafe because the roof leaks, you have to make a decision.”

Doorway to home

A workman repairs the doorway with the Cowdens’ home in the background.

Getting walls ready

The new walls were being prepared on the ground.

   Some things had to be changed. Big posts by the door had rotted so needed to be replaced. Sadly, the slate roof had so many pieces missing that it received a metal roof. New siding had been put on previously, but now they covered that with metal siding as well.

Barn framing

Inside framing using wooden pegs was still in great original condition.

   Outside the barn looks like a new barn, but inside you can still easily see its history pouring out through all that old timber framing. The amazing craftsmanship of our ancestors without all the tools of today makes it extra special. These barns were built by hand and often in six to eight months. Inside the barn looks pretty much as it did back in 1869. The hand construction used to build the barn can clearly be seen in the rafters. All the beams are wood pegged, no nails were used.

Lift again

A lift was used to atttach new siding to the barn.

   Today, Bill and Sue use this barn for hay and machinery storage. Over the years they have raised chickens and even pigs in the lower level. They are pleased to have been able to preserve this historic barn.

   Three other barns were found that have been treasured by their owners and repaired when needed.

Schumaker Old Barn

Schumaker Barn (1887) West Lafayette

   In nearby Newcomerstown, the Schumakers barn (1887) still has its original slate roof with the date written on it. Their farm has been in the family for over 200 years so Jim and Wendy Schumaker keep striving to make their farm a showplace for others to enjoy through their produce stand and a fall adventure of Pumpkin Patch & Farm Experience to interest children in farming.

Wilson Wells Barn 2

Wilson – Wells Bar (1932) Mantua Road

   Another was built by Carl Wilson (1932) during the Depression. He had purchased the supplies for the barn, but the banks closed before construction began. The contractor asked if he could keep his men working with Carl’s promise to make payment when the banks opened again. Both men fulfilled their promises. Today that barn has been extensively repaired and is owned by Jim and Dot Wells.

Bennett Smith Barn

Bennett-Smith Barn (1960) Pigeon Gap Road

   Across the road from the Cowden farm is the Bennett dairy barn (1960) that was built on the farm of the father, Sam Morrison. Today that barn has been repaired by owners Pete and Martha Smith after a tornado damaged part of the barn heavily back in 1993.

   Many people tend to feel that when something no longer fulfills its original purpose that it should be forgotten because repair takes time, money, and energy. Sue doesn’t agree, “Then you lose a bit of history and the wonderful work that went into it long ago.”

   Enjoy a ride through the country and pay special attention to the barns. You’ll find many large modern barns, those ready to fall down, and some that have been saved as part of our agricultural heritage.

   If you have a wonderful old barn, house, or building on your property that can be repaired, perhaps you will consider preserving it for future generations.

If we don’t care about our past, we cannot hope for the future.

~Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

National Coal Company Located in Dogtown in 1906

Miners crossed this old wooden bridge to work at  Minnehaha Coal Mine.

Workers used this old wooden bridge to cross from Buckeyeville to work in the Minnehaha coal mine.

Minnehaha isn’t a name most of us associate with the coal mines of Guernsey County. But the truth of the matter is there was a mine by that name back in 1906 located near what is today called Buckeyeville, or more commonly Dogtown.

     National Coal Company from Cleveland had heard of the success of the Byesville coal mines. They decided to purchase hundreds of acres and lease even more west of Byesville in an area that had no name. Their first concern was the lack of a railroad to the area.

Children - Main Street looking east

This group of children in Buckeyeville appears to be happy and they look neat and clean.

     So the company paid Pennsylvania Railroad to install a track from Byesville to the new mine. This included building three bridges to cross Chapman Run. National Coal Company felt that the Pennsylvania Railroad was charging them too much by increasing the number of crossties that were actually laid.

     They sent out a man to count the crossties. The man started the five-mile walk counting each crosstie but stumbled and lost count along the way. Not wanting to start over, he returned to National Coal Company telling them that Pennsylvania Railroad had actually laid more crossties than they were paid for. His secret was not known for sixty years.

     Once the railroad was completed, they began bringing all the new equipment into the site including a steel tipple, generators, a coal cutter, coal cars, and an electric locomotive. A wide slope opened down to the coal seam at Minnehaha.

Water tubs for 10 boilers. Need lots of water

These water tubs supplied ten boilers, which needed plenty of water to operate.

     When that mine opened in 1906, it was a very busy place. There were four boilers that made steam to turn two generators which created 250 watts of power. This was not to be used by the homes but to run the coal cutting machines and electric locomotives. The town nearby would not receive electricity until the 1930s long after the mine was closed.

rear of store in Buckeyeville

Children stand at the rear of the company store in Buckeyeville.

     Shortly after 1910, they began building houses in what is today Buckeyeville. By the time the mine closed, there were approximately forty houses in Buckeyeville as well as a company store, church, and school. There was no electricity or running water in the houses and rent was due the first of each month. The company store did have electricity!

Ad for Coal

This 1914 ad listed coal prices by the ton for retail rates. Check out their phone numbers!

     With a coal seam seven-foot deep in places, at its peak, 320 miners and 80 day workers worked the mine. During a good year, 500,000 tons of coal would be mined at Minnehaha in spite of the fact that in the summer months miners worked only a few days a week.

shop locomotive - ash and supplies to boiler room

This shop locomotive carried ash and supplies to the mine. Notice the electric wires.

     National Coal Company now had three mines in the area – Minnehaha, Little Kate Number Two, and Harryette. To provide electricity to all three mines they built the largest power plant in Guernsey County with ten boilers at Minnehaha.

     Eventually, there were nine mines open along the railroad to Byesville. These nine produced a daily output of 100 railroad cars of coal. These cars held between 50 and 75 tons each. Train crews said they were working “the Dogtown switch.” Why was it called Dogtown?

Kids parade on Main St. 19l17

These children of miners are having a parade in 1917.

     Beside the deep mines, there was a vein of coal that was not nearly as deep. Families sometimes dug into the hillsides in what was called a “scratch back mine” to get coal for their own use. Imagine working in the mine all day and then going home to dig your own coal out of the hillside.

     When they tried to pull this out of the hillside in small carts there wasn’t much room. It was found that dogs could do this task quite well so families raised dogs for work in the mines. Most of the time these dogs ran loose along the railroad tracks which is why the train crews named it Dogtown. Somehow the name stuck and many people still call it Dogtown today.

Union Hall Local #63 (1912) - Rev. Nathan Cramblett held church services

Rev. Nathan Cramblett held church services for miners in the Union Hall of Local #63.

     There was never a doctor in this area so injuries were not properly treated. Ten men died in Minnehaha. But that doesn’t account for the fact that many had injuries that maimed them for life. Fingers, hands, and feet were lost, broken bones ruined many miners’ backs, and black lung became a curse for most who labored in the mines. This was the most dangerous job in the world.

     Coal miners worked hard as they had to load all of the coal by hand using a pick and shovel. They had no vacations and were paid by the ton of clean coal that was loaded. Coal miners always worked on a buddy system for safety reasons. So that meant that when a ton of coal was loaded, that fifty cents had to be split between them. In reality, that meant twenty-five cents for each ton loaded. All of this for a two weeks pay of $15 or $16.

Blacksmith Shop

This blacksmith shop stood near the main road down to the mine.

     All of their supplies had to be purchased at the company store, which was one of the first things they built. Hard to realize that the miners had to purchase their own tools, props, and wedges.

     If you have heard stories of why this mine was called Minnehaha, please let me know. The name seems a bit of a mystery although it is a Dakota Indian name. Its Indian meaning translates as “rapid water” or “waterfall.” There was no rapid water or waterfall within thirty miles of the mine location.

1934 photo of Buckeyeville. Old wood bridge miners would use to go home from work.

This is a 1934 picture of Buckeyeville after the mine was closed. The bridge to work can still be seen.

     Minnehaha was shut down in 1928 after much of the coal was removed. The company found that they could find cheaper labor in Kentucky or West Virginia so when their lease was up, they moved to another coal mining area. While miners here were receiving fifty cents a ton for coal at that time, the miners in the other states were willing to work for about half that amount.

Dogtown Today

Today, Buckeyeville still exists as a small, friendly, unincorporated village.

     Never again would trains remove coal from a town that we now know as Buckeyeville or “Dogtown.”

Thanks to Dave Adair for providing information and pictures for this article.

Impressive Flag Show By Vane Scott in Sarasota, Florida

Vane at Patriot Plaza

Vane Scott had an attentive crowd at Patriot Plaza in Sarasota, Florida.

This concert was presented before the recent social distancing was put in place.

     The 2,800-seat outdoor amphitheater at Patriot Plaza in Sarasota, Florida was recently filled to capacity for Vane Scott’s presentation of “The Many Faces of Old Glory.” The event was sponsored by the Sarasota Military Officers Foundation so American patriots could learn more about the history of the flag of the United States.

Vane - The Pops Orchestra of Bradenton and Sarasota (2)

The Pops Orchestra of Bradenton and Sarasota provided background music.

     This was a repeat performance for Vane Scott as he had previously performed there in 2015 with the backing of the Pops Orchestra of Bradenton and Sarasota, who again provided background music for this year’s flag show. When someone is asked back for a repeat performance, it’s obvious that the show has been appreciated.

vanes-dad-with-flags

Surrounded by the many flags used in the performance, Vane’s dad started this flag show.

     Vane credits his dad with starting the flag show back in 1975. Of course, Vane went along to many of those shows and his passion for the story grew. His dad encouraged Vane to learn the story of the flag and they even practiced at the kitchen table when his father became ill.

    Soon afterward, he decided to carry on the family tradition.“I needed to tell Dad’s story.” Vane would tell you today, “Dad’s with me every time I do his show. It’s been nine years since he passed away. I miss him terribly.”

Vane Show Crowd

A capacity crowd filled the stadium to hear the history of our flag.

     When he was introduced, he told the crowd, “I’m from Newcomerstown, Ohio along with a couple of famous people you might remember. The baseball pitcher, Cy Young, grew up in our area and Ohio State’s football coach, Woody Hayes went to school there.”

     He then delighted the crowd of Floridians, many with Ohio roots, by raising his arms and saying, “O-H”. To which nearly 2000 voices responded, “I-O.” The evening was off to a great start!

Vane - Many Faces of Old Glory

Vane tells the story as he shares the Bennington Flag from the American Revolution.

     “The Many Faces of Old Glory” contains the story of the many steps taken before we arrived at the United States flag we know today. Vane has over twenty different flags that help him tell the story. Some are odd, strange and downright crazy looking so there is humor laced with the history to make the show entertaining as well as informative.

Vane and Miss Tampa

Miss Tampa Lauren Nielsen provided patriotic vocal selections.

     Vane was honored and pleased to have Miss Tampa Lauren Nielsen as his backup singer. She sang “The Star Spangled Banner” as well as “God Bless America.” Vane remarked, “She has an amazing voice and range. She hit those high notes perfectly.”

     He still uses the same flags his father left folded up nine years ago. His goal is to help others understand the country’s rich heritage and give us a reason for being proud of our country.

Vane Scott

Vane is always ready to tell “The Many Faces of Old Glory”.

     While Vane is back home now, he’s always willing to present his flag show when the opportunity presents itself. Perhaps when things settle down in our country, your group might like to contact Vane Scott for a performance of “The Many Faces of Old Glory.”

    Contact Vane at 740-498-8803 or email him at vanescott@yahoo.com. Visit his website at www.ManyFacesofOldGlory.com

      Vane always reminds the crowd, “We may be born in America, but to be an American is quite another thing.”

National Road S-Bridges Preserved

Middlebourne Bridge 1903

Salt Fork Creek S-Bridge 1903

     Follow the trail those early pioneers took from the Ohio River to beyond New Concord and visit four S-Bridges and two stone bridges along Route 40. While you can no longer drive on any of these S-Bridges, you can walk on their bricks and think back to the difficult times those early pioneers must have faced as they headed to Ohio and westward.

S Brick Road and Stone Walls

Brick road and stone walls at Peter’s Creek

     “The Main Street of America” began as a dirt road. Next, they tried logs and many called it a Corduroy Road, but it was very rough. Crushed stone was added called macadam and finally, much of it was paved with bricks.

S Bridge diorama in Zane Grey Museum

National Road bridge diorama at National Road/Zane Grey Museum 

      The National Road was one of the first paved roads across the state of Ohio. While it began in Cumberland, Maryland in 1817, it wasn’t until 1825 that the road was built across Ohio until it reached Vandalia, Illinois in 1838. Stagecoaches and Conestoga wagons were the two most common ways of travel, but many rode horseback or walked.

     There are many reasons people say they built the S shape. Some claim it was to stop runaway horses, to go around trees or even that the builders were inebriated. The reason was simply an engineering decision.

   

S Bridge sign at Middlebourne

1938 sign on Salt Fork Creek Bridge: In memory of the pioneer who built this “S” bridge.

    Where the road crossed a creek at an angle, a stone arch bridge was built at right angles to the streamflow. “S” shaped walls of cut stone were then built to direct traffic around the jog and back into line with the road on the other side. It also made work easier for the workers as they worked from each side of the creek. The brick roadway made the bridge extra durable.

     Here is a short description of the location of each of those S-Bridges and stone bridges along the National Road in the order of their appearance from east to west.

S Blaine Hill and Viaduct

Blaine Hill S-Bridge and Viaduct

     Blaine Hill S-Bridge – Crossing Wheeling Creek near Blaine, Ohio, its three stone arches span approximately 345 feet, the longest crossing of any bridge at that time with a 6.3% grade. This eased the climb out of the valley and was a marvel of engineering. All the original precisely cut stones are there today.

S Salt Fork

Salt Fork Creek S-Bridge

     Salt Fork S-Bridge – Just east of Old Washington, you can find a well-preserved S-Bridge, which was near the town of Easton. The bridge is built of randomly laid stone giving it a road width of 26 feet. It was closed as recently as 2013.

S Bridge Cooks Run

Cooks Run Stone Bridge

     Cooks Run Stone Bridge – Only remnants remain of this abandoned stone bridge. When a new bridge was built over Cooks Run, the remains of the old bridge were left underneath. It can be seen about 500 feet off Route 40 about 2 miles east of Cambridge on the north side of the road.

Crooked Creek Stone Bridge

Crooked Creek Stone Bridge

     Crooked Creek Stone Bridge – On Manila Road, you can still drive over this Crooked Creek bridge. This is south of Route 40 on the other side of the railroad tracks across from the patrol barracks. While the entrance to the bridge has a large curve, the bridge itself is not s-shaped.

S Peters Creek

Peter’s Creek S-Bridge

      Peter’s Creek S-Bridge- This is one of those bridges that many of us pass quite often on the north side of Route 40 near Pike School at Peter’s Creek Road. There is a small park area to have a picnic or just relax.

S New Concord

Fox Run S-Bridge

     Fox Run S-Bridge – On the west side of New Concord, this bridge has been restored and a small area made into a parking and picnic area. My sons fondly remember going here with their grandfather to enjoy an ice cream treat from the New Concord ice cream stand.

DSC04532

Historic signs can be found at the S-Bridges.

     Four of these bridges have been found worthy of restoration to preserve the history of our ancestors while others have disappeared. This road was the only link between the east coast and the western frontier during the 19th century. There were four tollhouses in Guernsey County to help with the great expense of building this highway. Congress spent almost $7 million building this 620-mile road.

     In 1832 a sample of tolls was listed as:

Score of sheep or hogs……$.05

Score of cattle……………….$.10

Horse and rider………………$.04

Sulky drawn by one horse.$.08

Chariot or coach…………….$ .12 1/2

S Wheeling Creek

Blaine S-Bridge over Wheeling Creek

     Take a historic ride along Route 40 in Ohio starting at Blaine, where you can see the history of the developing highway that Abraham Lincoln traveled on trips from Illinois to Washington, D.C. Beside the Blaine S-Bridge is the BlaineViaduct which was built when the S-Bridge could no longer handle all the auto traffic. Just a short distance to the south you will find today’s I-70. From the S-Bridge, you can clearly see the three generations of our national highway system.

     Move on to Old Washington and end east of New Concord to view the route of those early pioneers. Imagine the wagons loaded with goods and crops as they traveled the Old National Trail. Perhaps you would have enjoyed being on the road at that time or maybe you would prefer the comfort of today’s travel.

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