All 17 rooms at the oldest frame home in Cambridge have been tastefully decorated with a touch of the Christmas season. The Guernsey County Museum enjoys having people stop by to wander through its vast collection. Curator Judy Clay will escort visitors through each decorated room and explain the history of many of the artifacts that are left on display for the holidays.
The museum, the former McCracken-McFarland home, was moved down North Eighth Street, a half block from the corner, to its current location in 1915. Outside the house, the yard has some interesting features. There is a 4′ tall National Trail mileage marker, and the original steps from the 1823 house.
Many of the older generation from the area will remember Mrs. McFarland, a Brown High School English teacher, and Mr. McFarland, the banker who always wore a carnation in his buttonhole.
Recent additions to the museum include a room from a one-room schoolhouse showing desks and books used at that time. At the back of the room stands the pot-bellied stove, which appeared in some form in every one-room school to keep the room somewhat warm on cold winter days. On special occasions, retired teachers will describe the lessons and activities that happened in a classroom where one teacher taught all eight grades.
Another added attraction is an entrance way to a coal mine. In the early 1900s throughout Guernsey County, over 5,000 people were employed in the mines. Here, Dave Adair, local historian, explains to groups the life of a coal miner and at this time of year presents “A Coal Miner’s Christmas”, telling how they celebrated Christmas with very little money. Most gifts were handmade or perhaps purchased at the company store – an orange or walnuts were special treats.
The home has been expanded and updated through the years without destroying its 19th Century charm. Many remember the time when homes had two sitting rooms – one for the family and the other to use only for special guests. While this was the first house in the area to have gas heat, they still read by candle light. Throughout the museum, you will see beautiful pieces of Cambridge Glass and Universal Pottery, as these two companies provided an important means of earning a living during the early years of Guernsey County.
The walls in the hallway are covered with pictures of people who have made a difference in the area…the Guernsey County Hall of Fame. These community leaders have all contributed something special to make this world a better place.
Every room upstairs had a special theme. The Military Room contained items from Civil War days to WWII. A small sewing room held a spinning wheel and a weasel, which when it got filled with thread – went pop! That was the basis of the song, “Pop Goes the Weasel”. A dentist’s office, Dickens’ room, and rooms packed with antique ladies’ clothing finished off the top floor. The waistline on some of those dresses seems unbelievably small.
Bountiful treasures reside inside this old frame house. Perhaps you would like to roam the halls and revive some old memories. If you have any pieces of history you would care to share, please contact the museum. Every small town should take pride in having a special place to keep the history of their area alive for future generations.
Holiday hours for the Guernsey County Museum are Tuesday and Thursday 4:00 – 8:00, and Saturday from 10:00 -8:00. Admission is $5 per person. Come explore some old memories of days gone by.
The Guernsey County Museum is located at 218 N Eighth Street off Steubenville Avenue in Cambridge, Ohio. It’s on the street directly behind the courthouse.