Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘freedom’

Old Stone Academy Opens Underground Railroad Exhibit

Freedom.

Its importance isn’t usually discovered until it is taken away.

Stone - Old Stone Academy

Stone Academy provided a place for Anti-Slavery meetings as well as the Underground Railroad.

Perhaps you have felt like running away from a bad situation. That’s how most of the slaves felt in their quest for freedom. The Underground Railroad helped them succeed in finding this special liberation.

   Even before the time of the Civil War, Anti-Slavery organizations were very active. A center of activity in Ohio was the Old Stone Academy in Putnam on the Muskingum River.

Stone - drive with timeline

The drive to the house has a timeline from the settling of John McIntyre in Zanesville until the end of the Civil War.

   While the Stone Academy served as a station on the Underground Railroad in the 1830s, that wasn’t the reason it was built back in 1809. The oldest building in Muskingum County was designed to be the new state capitol building. It was built by Dr. Increase Mathews, Levi Whipple and Ebenezer Buckingham.

   However, across the river in Zanesville, then a separate community, John McIntire and others constructed a building for that same purpose. Zanesville did serve as the capital of Ohio from 1810 to 1812.

Stone Anti-Slavery

“Coming to Blows” by Adam Chandler depicts the pro-slavery mob outside Stone Academy during an anti-slavery lecture.  Theodore Weld said, “Mob came, broke the windows and doors, tore off the gate and attacked me when I came out with clubs and stones…”

   The Stone Academy became a school and had public offices for several years. It was the center of abolitionist activity in Putnam with the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society holding state conventions there in 1835 and 1839. Both years, mobs of pro-slavery disrupted their meetings threatening to burn all of Putnam. The people of Putnam were very unpopular with their neighbors across the river in Zanesville.

Stone Notice to Slaves

This notice was posted as a warning to fugitive slaves.

   These abolitionists were mainly from New England and had a very strong religious background that made most of them desire to have equal rights for all. However, there was a section of this group that proposed sending the blacks back to Africa in the 1830s.

   The Stone Academy has been accepted by the National Park Service as part of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. There is a new Ohio historical marker at the Stone Academy.

Stone - Putnam Presbyterian Church

The Putnam Presbyterian Church served as a meeting place for Anti-Slavery meetings.

   Nearby the Putnam Presbyterian Church held many anti-slavery meetings. Their pastor was the brother of Harriette Beecher Stowe. One of their popular speakers was Frederick Douglass, an African American orator who spoke of slavery issues across the state.

   A story was published about Douglass in “The Anti-Slavery Bugle”, which told of his purchasing a ride from Columbus to Putnam to speak at the Presbyterian Church. Douglass paid $3 in order to ride inside the stagecoach that day, but when they saw he was an African American, he was not permitted to ride. He took the case to court and won an out of court settlement for $15.

Stone - Increase Mathews House

Increase Mathews House was another stop on the Underground Railroad in Putnam.

   The slaves who came through this direction were understandably not very trusting of the station masters. These brave souls took a lot of chances during their flight. They wanted above all else to be free.

   Nelson Gant was one of those freed blacks who settled in Muskingum County. He had to raise money to purchase his wife’s freedom as she was still a slave in Virginia. Gant became one of the wealthiest men in the county with a successful produce business, which originated that famous cantaloupe, the Dresden Melon. He worked hard and transported slaves in his wagons.

Stone - Jim Geyer director

Museum director, Jim Geyer, told many interesting stories of the early days of the Stone Academy.

   In speaking with Jim Geyer, museum director, he tells of interesting programs they are developing to attract more people to the museum and the area. There are several UGRR stops involved in the area, not just the Stone Academy.

   Jim and other volunteers are reaching out to the community with a power point presentation suitable for schools, civic groups or retirement communities. He serves as a step-on guide for bus groups that come to the area. They are taken to various places in the Putnam Historic District that have a part in the UGRR story. At present, they have six sites locally that were part of that UGRR. These were called “safe houses”.

Stone - Lett Settlement

Lett Settlement, located where the Wilds is today, was composed of “free people of color”.

   Soon they are planning to add another interesting spot to their tours – The Wilds! There the Lett Settlement consisted of a group of “free people of color” who later assisted the fleeing slaves.

   Since the Stone Academy has been filled with so much activity over the years, it is no surprise that paranormal activity is frequently observed in the house and in the area. They have one special program called “History, Mystery, and Unsettled Spirits” that speaks of this phenomenon as well as some folklore. Ghost tours are conducted and paranormal investigations continue.

   Henry Howell managed the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society and gave fiery speeches. The residents across the river were not happy with his speeches and came to burn his house down. Howell escaped but his dog was left behind. They found the dog later hung in the back yard. Claims are made that the spirit of the dog can still be heard barking today.

Stone UGRR safe homes

A wall display tells of the ‘safe homes’ for the Underground Railroad.

   One problem they have at the Stone Academy is limited floor space and they have been discouraged from attaching pictures and displays to the walls. There are few artifacts here but much information in the form of charts and pictures. Due to the limited space, exhibits in the hallways are frequently changed.

Stone dolls

These dolls were made by an anti-slavery advocate with a duplicate set being given to Queen Victoria.

   The best part of the tour are the stories told by volunteers, who are very knowledgeable about its history.

Stone closet hideaway

This closet held a trap door that led to the basement where a slave could hide.

   The building served as a station for the Underground Railroad. A popular feature is a hidden trap door under the staircase that led to the crawl space under the building where the runaway slaves hid.

Stone - found under stairs

These articles were found under the stairs of the trap door.

  In the 1870s, Stone Academy became the private residence of Elizabeth Robbins, well-known actress, activist and writer. Today it is home to the display of the UGRR directed by Muskingum County History and located in the Putnam Historic District.

   Freedom remains an important element of our lives today. May we remain a nation where our freedom of choice is never extinguished.

The Old Stone Academy is located in Zanesville, Ohio. From I-70, take Exit 155 to Underwood Street.  Best to use your GPS to 115 Jefferson Street, which is across the Muskingum River using the 6th Street Bridge. There is an easy access parking lot beside the Stone Academy.

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Commander Jim Gibson Inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame

Jim Honor Guard 5The bugle sounds as Commander Jim Gibson leads the Honor Guard standing at attention across from the courthouse. They are honoring the veterans of all wars as they give a three-gun rifle salute and Jim plays “Taps”.

   Jim has been watching parades in downtown Cambridge since he was six years old when he went to a Veterans Day Parade with his dad, a Navy veteran. In fifth grade, he began playing the trumpet, an instrument always used during the parade ceremonies. The Navy and trumpet together have played a large role in Jim’s present-day life.

Jim Playing Bugle

Jim’s bugle sounds “Taps” in honor of all Veterans.

   When the National Anthem would play while Jim watched as a youngster, the veterans would all stand and render a salute or place their hand over their heart. Some had tears in their eyes. They all had the same look even though they were different ages and different branches of the service, but Jim didn’t understand why.

   Brought up in a family interested in history, their vacations were to historic spots with stops for fun along the way. They visited places like Gettysburg, Washington D.C. and Williamsburg. Jim developed a love for his country and when he was a senior turned down an opportunity to attend Ohio State to join the Navy. He felt he had to enlist.

Jim Gibson Armed Forces Day 2014

Jim wears his Navy uniform for Armed Services Day.

   A veteran of the United States Navy, Jim served in Vietnam. After electronics training as an Aviation Ordnanceman, Jim served two years with VA42 at Oceana Naval Air Station and then was transferred to VA196 at Whidbey Island, Washington.

Jim Gibson On board USS Enterprise July 1971

USS Enterprise served as Jim’s home for several months in 1971.

   The squadron deployed aboard the Enterprise and sailed to Vietnam. One of the assignments was to prevent the enemy from bringing in needed supplies to South Viet Nam. This was not an easy task as they worked eighteen hours a day loading 500# bombs and other ordnance by hand. One plane could carry 28 bombs, and the squadron launched four aircraft every one and one-half hours.

   Jim wouldn’t change any part of his life. His experiences have led him to do the things he does today. His time now appears to be spent in three different directions: veterans, church, and music.

Jim Gibson Veterans Day Program North Elementary 2015

He frequently presents programs to area schools – here at North Elementary.

   He has been a member of the Veterans Council since 2002 and is a life member of Cambridge VFW Post 2901. Jim serves as commander of the Guernsey County Veterans Council. In addition to the primary purpose of providing Military Funeral Honors for Veterans of Guernsey County, they do programs for schools, communities and organizations throughout the area.

   Through his leadership, two ceremonies occur at home football games in Cambridge. Before the game, there’s always a special flag raising. After the game, a Retreat Ceremony features the senior band members with a trumpet playing “Retreat”. Schools all around take notice of this memorable addition to the game ceremony.

Jim Honor Guard

The honor guard stood at attention during the Memorial Day service at Cambridge Courthouse.

   A special part of his life, now that he is retired from GTE/Verizon, comes through providing Funeral Honors for departed veterans. This began in December 2002, when he was asked to play “Taps” for a military funeral. The day was one of sleet and freezing rain, and Jim began to wonder what he had gotten himself into.

   Then he looked at the veterans of all ages in attendance. They stood at attention with ice forming on their sleeves and rifles, but still had that special look in their eyes. Jim knew then, this was something he wanted to participate in. Now he goes to approximately 100 military funerals a year all over the area.

   Christ United Methodist Church plays an important part in his life. There he serves as trustee, teaches an adult Sunday School class, and plays trumpet in their Praise Band. He also conducts a worship service twice a month at Cardinal Place.

Cambridge H S Jazz Band

Jim directs the Cambridge High School Alumni Jazz Band at many area functions, including the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival.

   Everyone in the community recognizes Jim’s musical talent. Under his direction since 1996, the Cambridge High School Alumni Jazz Band performs annually at the Salt Fork Festival and many other venues.

Jim Muskingum Valley Symphonic Winds

Muskingum Valley Symphonic Winds performs several times a year in Muskingum University’s Brown Chapel.

   While Jim and his wife, Trudy, have played in many area bands and orchestras, their favorite right now is the Muskingum Valley Symphonic Winds.

Jim Symphonic Winds

Jim plays trumpet in the Muskingum Valley Symphonic Winds.

   The Navy has become a family tradition as Jim’s son and daughter-in-law are currently serving, and his two step-sons have served in the Navy. Their grandfathers were also Navy veterans. What a grand tradition!

   This veteran’s advice would be, “Find enjoyment in what you are doing. Cherish every experience.” He encourages young people to enjoy music, something they can enjoy the rest of their life.

   By serving in the Navy, now Jim understands that special look in the eyes of the veterans. “It’s a look of pride and a look of love; pride in knowing that by serving they’ve made a difference, and a look of love for their Country and their fellow man.”

   Please remember to honor the veterans you know for their service to our country to protect our freedoms. Thanks to all of our servicemen.

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