Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Guernsey’

Discover Local History at Guernsey County Historical Museum

Guernsey County Historical Museum

Guernsey County Historical Museum

Located in the oldest frame house in Cambridge, the Guernsey County Historical Museum, expanding since 1963, presents a vast array of memorabilia from by-gone years. The new curator, Judy Clay, gave a very knowledgeable tour of the museum from top to bottom, and is constantly reorganizing displays.

Built in 1823, what is known as the McCracken – McFarland House sat on the corner of Steubenville Avenue and 8th Street.  Then in 1915, the house was moved down the block and turned on its foundation. The red stained glass in the front door is original, having been moved without damage.  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. Since the house is so old, you might think there would be spirits wandering its halls, but not so say those who work there. It is the quietest old house imaginable and nothing unusual happens there…at least not yet!

Bridge crossing Wills Creek

Bridge crossing Wills Creek – today replaced by the viaduct.

An interesting sidenote is that this house was actually part of the Underground Railroad and the McCracken family was active in helping the slaves move to safety. Today you will find a replica of the wooden, covered, two-lane bridge that crossed Wills Creek stored in the basement, where most likely slaves were hidden years ago.

At that time, homes had two sitting rooms.  One was for family use, while the other was a formal parlor used only when special guests arrived. A beautiful marbletop table that had belonged to the McFarland family has a place of honor in the formal parlor. Pieces of Cambridge Glass and Universal Pottery are scattered throughout the house, as these were two important means of earning a living during those early years in Guernsey County..

Guernsey County Hall of Fame Wall

Guernsey County Hall of Fame.

Ice Bicycle

Ice Bicycle

The beautiful family sitting room felt cozy in its time, as this was the first house in Cambridge to be heated with gas; however, candle light was still used for reading. 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.

The Tool Room contained an old mail cart and an ice bike. The mail cart was actually used by the Cambridge Post Office to pick up mail from the Cambridge Train Station. Among other items was a cigar press from the Quaker City Company that made cigars.

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 clothes finished off the top floor.

Old One-room school

Old One-room school

The One-Room School display contained traditional desks, teacher’s desk, blackboard, and some of those old books that were used long ago. On special occassions, retired teachers will describe basic lessons and activities in a one room school.

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.

Guernsey County Museum is located in Cambridge, Ohio near the crossroads of I-70 and I-77. The easiest route is from I-70, Exit 178, which is State Route 209 West. Follow 209 straight to the Court House. Make a left hand turn and a quick right turn on 8th Street right beside the Court House. After one block, make a right hand turn and a quick left turn on 8th Street again. The Museum is located just a few doors down on the right hand side at 218 N. 8th Street. 

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Following Morgan’s Raiders Trail 150 Years Later

Sketch of Brig Gen John Hunt Morgan

Sketch of Brig Gen John Hunt Morgan

During the Civil War, 150 years ago in July of 1863, Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan led a band of scoundrels, known as Morgan’s Raiders, through Ohio on a two week expedition consisting of many raids and robberies. Their purpose was to create terror and deviate the attention of the Union troops from Confederate forces.

The Ohio Historical Society has commemorated that John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail with 56 interpretive signs from Cincinnati to West Point in northeastern Ohio. Official dedication took place at the entry point into Ohio at Harrison in July of 2013, although planning has taken several years.

First Morgan's Trail sign in Guernsey County at Cumberland, Ohio

First Morgan’s Trail sign in Guernsey County at Cumberland, Ohio

Wanting to explore the local side of this route, my drive began in Cumberland, Ohio, which is the first place in Guernsey County, my home county, that Morgan’s Raiders appeared. Here in front of the old Cumberland High School is plaque #39, which begins the local trail of clever escapes by Morgan. Having invited themselves as dinner guests, Morgan’s men stole horses, cash, and even a guide before heading on to Point Pleasant (today’s Pleasant City).

Watch for signs like this to follow the trail easily.

Watch for signs like this to follow the trail easily. Former Pleasant City High School sits in the background.

Morgan’s Trail is well-marked with signs at frequent intervals so you can rest assured you are still on the correct route. Stories on the plaques tell about real events that happened near each marker and all contain a couple beautiful old pictures from Civil War days. Each sign also explains, in the lower left hand corner, the location of the next commemorative stop

At the corner of State Routes 313 and 285 in Senecaville, followers will find plaque #40. On July 24 at 3 am, Morgan’s men rode into the village boldly knocking on doors to find out local road information. Lucky for Morgan, Colonel William Wallace of the Ohio Infantry had received an erroneous report and hours earlier had moved from that very crossroads. Ever since the battle at Buffington Island, Brig. Gen. James Shackelford had been in hot pursuit of the Raiders and seemed to be closing the gap.

Interpretive sign #41 at Lore City trailhead.

Interpretive sign #41 at Lore City trailhead.

Campbell’s Station (today’s Lore City) had the most destruction of any place in Guernsey County with Shackelford being only seven miles behind. Located at the trailhead of the Guernsey Trail, #41 plaque area was the only one in Guernsey County that had been expanded with other information about the history of that area, as well as beautiful flowers.

At the edge of town on Old Mill Road, the battle at Washington (today’s Old Washington) is recognized. Sign #42 is near Cemetery Hill where Shackelford’s troops began firing on Morgan’s Raiders, who had spent the night in Washington. The officers had moved in, unwanted, to the American Hotel while others slept throughout the town, even in the streets. It came as a surprise that the plaque was not downtown with the 1927 monument to this skirmish.

Those four stops mark the route through Guernsey County, then the Trail guides you on toward Piedmont. By now you are beginning to get caught up in the thrill of the chase and to understand the lay of the territory they are crossing. Winding roads follow the Trail as best they possibly can, but Morgan’s Raiders attempted to travel through the woods quite often so the route is close, but can’t possibly be perfect.

Imagine the surprise and fear when up to 2000 Confederate soldiers arrived in one of these small towns along the way.  No wonder the unruly children were disciplined with the phrase: Morgan will get you!

Monument to honor Morgan's Raid erected by Carroll County Historical Society in 1868.

Monument to honor Morgan’s Raid erected by Carroll County Historical Society in 1868.

My original plan had been to follow Morgan’s Trail just through Guernsey County, but once caught up in following Morgan’s Raiders, it was impossible to stop before reaching the spot where Morgan was captured. Being led through Harrison, Monroe, Jefferson and Carroll counties, the posted signs by the Ohio Historical Society were  easy to follow.

With troop numbers diminishing at each spot, Morgan continued to use clever escape tactics as long as he could.  The Raiders might pretend to be Union soldiers, stir up dust to hide themselves, or give promises they could never fulfill.

The last few marked encounters led through rugged, gravel roads. As you slowed down on these rutted and often muddy roads, you could almost feel the weariness of the troops.

End of Trail near West Point, Ohio

End of Trail near West Point, Ohio

Finally, Morgan’s Trail, with plaque #56 entitled West End, came to an end in someone’s front yard where a monument had also been placed years ago. Morgan had tried his best to get back to cross the Ohio River and he was getting so close. Minutes later, I saw the beautiful Ohio River and felt a little sympathy for Morgan’s never reaching it.

The Heritage Trail from Cumberland to West End took Morgan’s Raiders four days from July 23 – July 26. By car, it took about eight and a half hours and I didn’t steal any horses, demand any dinners, or burn any buildings. They must have been worn out to have covered all that territory so quickly on horseback.

Even though he was captured for the moment, his cleverness helped him escape prison and travel unknowingly with a Union soldier on a train back home. Despite the chaos and destruction left behind, he taught the importance of never giving up in your quest to reach a goal.

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