Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Marietta Ohio’

Ohio’s Historic Lafayette Hotel – A Haunting Experience

Ohio River at MariettaMay the ghosts be with you while you spend the day or night at the Lafayette Hotel in historic downtown Marietta, Ohio.  Visitors and employees anxiously report stories of paranormal activity in this grand hotel on the banks of the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers.

Back in 1882, river traffic was heavier than it is today. The Ohio River provided the freight and passenger routes for much of the eastern part of the United States. Of course, these riverboat travelers needed a place to get meals as well as a place to spend the night. Here at the meeting place of two major rivers, the Bellevue Hotel was built. This quite modern hotel, for the late 1800’s, had a fast running elevator taking guests to 55 rooms, five of which had baths. Rates at the Bellevue were $2.00 a night

lafayette hotel 013After a fire destroyed the Bellevue Hotel, another hotel was constructed on the original foundation. In 1918 the present triangular shaped Lafayette Hotel opened for business. The name was chosen to honor Marquis de Lafayette, French hero of the American Revolution, who was believed to be the first tourist to visit Marietta in 1825. There is even a plaque, near the hotel at the edge of the Ohio River, marking the spot where he came ashore.

A popular meeting room bears the name of Rufus Putnam, who many list as the founder of Ohio.  His leadership established Marietta as the first permanent United States settlement in the Northwest Territory.   In a letter sent to his former home, Rufus Putnam described the land along the Ohio River to his friend as: “a country of most pleasant climate and of the rarest beauty and enduring charm”.

Riverview LoungeThe Riverview Lounge is where the “Lady in White”  often appears hovering over the carpet, while she smoothly moves through the room. The bar happens to occupy the same area where the ladies’ dressing room was located  in the original hotel.

When selecting a room in Marietta’s only downtown hotel, you will probably be given a choice of view – either the Muskingum River or the Ohio River. Here the ghost of Mr. Durward Hoag, former owner of the hotel, watches over guests and staff from both directions. Sometimes guests feel an icy cold draft pass through their well heated room. Evidence of his presence appears in flashing light bulbs, rearranged papers, hidden objects,  and often merely a wisp of light. Maybe Mr. Hoag’s spirit is bored!

When speaking with recent visitors, footsteps were reported outside their door, but no one was in evidence. The elevator, carrying no passengers, left the floor a couple times during the evening and headed to the rooftop. Later that night when they were in bed, another couple felt someone jump in the center of the bed where they were resting. All guaranteed they had not visited the Riverview Lounge.

Gun RoomThe Gun Room is a popular place for lunch. The walls are adorned with photos of great majestic sternwheelers that traveled the Ohio River.  A display of antique long rifles contains one made by J.J. Henry that accompanied the Benedict Arnold expedition to Canada in 1775. Waitresses tell of coming in early to work and seeing a figure leaving the front section of the restaurant. Often the swinging doors to the kitchen open for no reason at all. Some feel that Mr. Hoag is checking on his staff.  On the plus side, these spirits are never harmful.

Enjoy the ambience of this richly historical Lafayette Hotel on the river sometime soon. They have been expecting you for nearly a hundred years!

The Lafayette Hotel is located  at 101 Front Street in Marietta, Ohio. Exit I-77 at Exit 1 and follow Route 7 South, which is also Pine Street.  At the third light, Pine Street continues straight and becomes Green Street. Continue on Green Street until you come to the hotel on the corner of Green Street and Front Street. Parking is available between the hotel and the Ohio River as well as on the other side of the hotel.

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Peaceful Chief John Logan Propelled to Revenge

Dressed in buckskin clothes, the appearance of Chief Logan transported the audience back to frontier times. Silver armbands, bracelets, a nose ring and earrings – one a cross- glittered in the sunlight as he took the stage at the Ohio Chautauqua during the 225th Anniversary of Marietta – The Crown Jewel of the Appalachians.   Tattoos also adorned his body with a tobacco leaf tattoo on his ear symbolizing “truthful hearing” while a red hawk on his head denoted his tribal connection.

John Logan began his life on the Susquehanna River and followed his father’s Jesuit teachings where John’s “sins were washed away”. Friendly with the white settlers, John was always a peacemaker for the Iroquois, who were usually called Mingos when settling in the Ohio Country, and John Logan is most often referred to as Chief of the Mingos. Perhaps his role as peacemaker gave him reason to learn eight different Indian dialects as well as English, French, Dutch and even Latin. However, Chief Logan could neither read nor write.

The Ohio Land Company kept expanding their boundaries to include more and more of the Indian lands. The Mingos ignored the marks of surveyors saying, “You can’t sell the wind in the sky or the water in the river.”

Along the Ohio River, settlers frequently met at the tavern for stories, nourishment and ale.  One evening, Logan’s camp along Yellow Creek, near present day Wellsville, Ohio, was invited by a nasty frontiersman, Jacob Greathouse, to a tavern across the Ohio River.  During the course of the evening, some of Logan’s family was shot and killed in an ugly massacre.  This changed Logan’s peaceful ways in a hurry.  In the words of Logan, “It made me want to raise my hatchet that had long been buried and color it with the blood of the English.” Sometime during this period, he walked away from the Christian teachings.

While he told the settlers of his anger, he also said the Indians were not all angry…just Logan, as they had killed his people.  Known as Logan’s Revenge, he vowed to take ten white man’s scalps for every Indian that had been murdered on the Ohio River that evening. Every time he took a scalp, he made a mark on his hatchet. According to Native American custom, he had a right to this retaliation.

Chief Logan refused to attend peace talks in 1774 at Camp Charlotte on the Scioto River, but issued his now famous speech, Logan’s Lament, under an elm tree. While the beautiful old elm no longer exists, the words of his speech can be found today engraved on his memorial at Logan Elm State Memorial near Circleville, Ohio. His speech concluded:

“Logan feels not fear. He would not turn on his heel to save his life for who is there left to mourn Logan? Not one.”

The remainder of his life was spent as a kind man who sold deer skins for a dollar each, so he could bury his sorrows in the taverns he visited.  In 1781, he was killed by his nephew, because John Logan was no longer considered an asset to his people. Today there is not a drop of Logan’s blood in any living creature.

Dan Cutler portrayed Chief Logan with ease as he has spent about a dozen years in that role in West Virginia as well as the Ohio Valley.  Frequently he also slips into the roles of The Cornstalk Warrior, Tecumseh and Simon Girty. Dan is currently active in a new outdoor drama, “Drums Along the Mohawk”, which will premier late this summer in New York.

2012 Ohio Chautauqua continues throughout the summer with week long performances and workshops in Gallipolis (July 17-21) and Warren (July 24-28). Hope you find time to join them and learn a little more about “When Ohio Was the Western Frontier”.

York, Slave of William Clark, Once Felt Freedom

Tracker… Negotiator…Ambassador…Doctor.  All these words were used at one time or another to describe York, Captain William Clark’s black manservant, who was part of the Lewis and Clark expedition to the Pacific Ocean and back to the East. York’s story was told under the red and white striped tent at the 2012 Chautauqua celebration in Marietta, Ohio on the campus of Marietta College. This year’s theme, “When Ohio Was the Western Frontier”, introduced characters that played a role in Ohio’s early history. York, being from Virginia, spent much time on and along the Ohio River.

As the first recorded black explorer, York created much excitement as he traveled across the Western frontier.  Due to his large size and black skin, his presence amazed and intrigued the Indians along the way. Thinking perhaps that he was painted black, at many stops the Indians would spit on their fingers and try to rub the black color from his skin. Indian tribes considered him a friend and referred to him as Big Medicine, since he frequently gave them liniments and herbs to heal their ailments. Some even called him Giant Medicine due to his size, and felt that his skin had sacred power.  This was a time in York’s life when he said, “How great it felt to be admired.  I felt ten feet tall.”

Because he enjoyed storytelling and drinking, York was very popular in taverns wherever he went. His speech was much like “the white man’s” since he had grown up in his master’s household. Never having been taught to read or write, he relied on his tall tales, some higher than the mountains, to entertain the explorers and those he met along the way. The Indian squaws favored him with special treatment, and he entertained the children with stories of being wild. His contribution as a peace maker with the Indians helped make the expedition more successful.

Life was not easy on the journey as they were often cold and hungry. They drank bear fat and even ate candles to survive. At times when food was scare, York was entrusted with a musket, something that never would have been permitted this slave while in Virginia. There were times when they were fortunate to encounter a herd of elk.  Then they ate elk, elk, and more elk all day long. If no other meat was available, they even ate their dogs and found them quite tasty. The children in the tent at Marietta that evening were quite concerned about the expedition eating dogs, and were assured it was only done during an emergency when no other food was available.

When they returned to the East, York reverted to his position as a manservant. He only wanted freedom to be with his wife but this was not to be. Instead he was flogged, even jailed and then hired out to a severe master where he was given spoiled food and further mistreated.

Even though York was married, he seldom saw his wife as she too was a slave. They lost contact completely when she was sent to Mississippi to work on a plantation. So even though he knew she was expecting their child, he never got to see the child or even know of its whereabouts. When he asked Captain Clark if he could be sold as a slave with his wife, Clark said it was out of the question. York said the most painful time he encountered in his life was saying goodbye to his wife.

What really happened to York? Some accounts say that he was eventually freed, but given the fact that he had no knowledge of business was not able to make his way in the world.  Other accounts say he was spotted later with the Crow Indians in the Rocky Mountains. Hope it was the later!

As York sat at the tavern on the Chautauqua stage, he said he was thankful for the Expedition as for a short time he knew what freedom felt like. There his color was not a curse but a blessing. His dream was to eventually go back to the Indians.  His presentation concluded with a toast to the Great Expedition, the beauty and majesty of our great nation, Captain Clark, the Indians, and Big Medicine.

Marvin Jefferson did a very believable portrayal of York. His background as an educator and historical scholar has given him incite into Civil Rights issues and he frequently portrays Martin Luther King, Jr and Paul Robeson in his stage performances.

2012 Ohio Chautauqua continues throughout the summer with week long performances and workshops in Urbana (June 26-30), Gallipolis (July 17-21) and Warren (July 24-28).  Hope you find time to join them and learn a little more about “When Ohio Was the Western Frontier”.

Margaret Blennerhassett Prosperity to Poverty

More is better! That was the feeling of Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett as they came to the United States from England in 1797. Their marriage was frowned upon by friends and family in England since Harman was Margaret’s uncle; therefore, their best chance at a happy life together would have to be in a far away country.  Having sold his castle in England, the Blennerhassetts arrived in the United States with lots and lots of money…$140,000! While this fortune seemed limitless at that time, the Blennerhassetts spent their fortune recklessly and unwisely, always wanting more.

The aristocratic Margaret Blennerhassett was the first historic character for  “When Ohio Was the Western Frontier”, the theme for  2012 Ohio Chautauqua in Marietta, Ohio on the campus of Marietta College.  She received a warm welcome as temperatures soared to near 100 in the red and white striped tent.

Margaret’s story continued with their search for a place to built their new home, and ultimate discovery of  a beautiful tree covered island in the middle of the Ohio River. Margaret thought this would be the perfect place for the elegant home she had in mind so they bought half of the island, approximately 180 acres, for $4500.

One corner of the island was cleared of the huge trees so the mansion would appear as a pearl against green velvet as the boats passed by on the Ohio River. Here they built a luxurious twelve room mansion that had thirty-six glass windows, something not common at that time of log cabins with tar paper windows. Two covered porticos flanked the main house leading to its two appendages: Harman’s office and the summer kitchen.

Not only was the house a beautiful spot but there were acres of gardens and a greenhouse where citrus fruits grew all winter long. There was even special shrubbery trimmed in the shape of the original thirteen colonies.  Margaret especially enjoyed riding her white horse, Robin, over the island appearing as an exotic bird in her scarlet riding cape and feathered hat. Yes, more was definitely better.

But their happy life was short-lived here on the spot they called Blennerhassett Island. Some compared it to the beautiful Garden of Eden, but both seemed to have a snake that spoiled their pleasure. This time it was a snake in the form of Aaron Burr that wanted something forbidden.

Margaret said that Aaron Burr was a genius who applied to college at the age of eleven and graduated from Princeton at an early age. Burr was a very handsome man who loved fine things especially when procured through other people’s money. After a tie in a presidential election between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, the recount made Jefferson the President, and the loser, Aaron Burr, the vice-president. Things did not start out on a good foot here, and Burr was more than a little dissatisfied.

In 1805, Burr visited Blennerhassett Island for dinner as he was curious about the eccentric foreigner … or perhaps he had heard of the money Blennerhassett had available to “invest” in his plans. Burr led them to believe that this was an easy way for them to increase their fortune.  These events took place at a time when the Blennerhassett funds were running low.

Margaret felt that Thomas Jefferson was the real serpent that crawled into their Garden of Eden in order to destroy them. There was a lot of animosity between Jefferson and Burr.  Margaret said that Jefferson was not the wonderful president that many thought he was.  She felt the Louisiana Purchase was illegal, and while considered an inventor said he only had invented two things: a wheel cypher secret decoder and a plow. Thomas Jefferson was said to even cut parts out of the Bible that he didn’t like or wish to follow in his life. It was quite obvious that Margaret did not have fond feelings for President Jefferson.

Jefferson tried to destroy Aaron Burr and by association, Harman Blennerhassett. He attempted to use his power to have Burr found guilty of treason.  However, Chief Justice John Marshall stood up to Jefferson, and the jury found Aaron Burr not guilty. Burr and Blennerhassett were both released from prison.

By this time, their house on the island had been looted with most of the fine things being carried off. The remainder of the items were sold at auction to pay off debts accumulated by the Blennerhassetts. In 1811, their beautiful mansion was burned to the ground. At this point, the Blennerhassett family fell into hardships and eventual poverty for the remainder of their lives.  Their hopes and dreams were shattered.

Debra Conner’s portrayal of Margaret Blennerhassett was outstanding. Debra actually spent much of her youth in the Marietta community and graduated from Marietta High School.  Often during the year, she presents similar programs to the area schools on both sides of the Ohio River as part of their Ohio or West Virginia history curriculum.

2012 Ohio Chautauqua continues throughout the summer with week long performances and workshops in Urbana (June 26-30), Gallipolis (July 17-21) and Warren (July 24-28).  Hope you find time to join them and learn a little more about “When Ohio Was the Western Frontier”.

Ghost Trek Stories in Hidden Marietta, Ohio

0oOOOoo! ooOOOoo! As the Ghost Lady leads a large group through downtown Marietta, Ohio, stories of ghosts are told on nearly every street. This is an old town with many restless spirits left over from the past.

Ghost Trek is a two hour walking tour of historic and haunted Marietta and begins along the Ohio River on aptly named Ohio Street.  Back in the early 1800s, this was the stopping off point for many riverboats.  So naturally a bar was one of the first establishments to serve the travelers.  The first bar to open ran out of whiskey in two hours and needless to say there were inebriated men walking the street 24/7, along with pick pockets and yes, ladies of the night.

The LaBelle Hotel was a popular House of Prostitution and the building is still in existence today, called the Levee House Cafe.  A story was told of a prominent businessman, who visited one of the young ladies frequently on the second floor. He attempted to keep this  a secret, but one evening his son followed him to the hotel with an axe.

The son watched as his father ascended the steps to the second floor and then waited until the light went out in one of the rooms.  Hastily, the son walked up to the second floor, opened the door, cut off his father’s head with the axe, and ran back down the steps to the street.  Guilty?  Not by the standards of those days! He was arrested but acquitted on the basis that he was defending his family honor.

Today the people who live in this building still hear the sounds of footsteps climbing up the stairs, a time of quiet, then footsteps running down the stairs again.  This is called residual haunting as the energy released in the environment during a traumatic event may  reappear as an echo of its original form.

On to the Lafayette Hotel where the third floor seems to have lots of unsettling paranormal activity. Built in 1918, every death that has occurred in this hotel has happened on the third floor.  Guests frequently complain of personal belongings being moved around.  One man commented, ” I am a science teacher. I don’t believe in any of this stuff”… until his belongings in his room got rearranged and some came up missing.

Fifty paintings of  artist James Weber (1888-1958) were brought to Sugden Book Store for an art show on the second floor. Melancholy Weber loved his art work, but was forced to run the family grocery store.  So he said that when he died he wanted all of his paintings burned.  But someone found fifty that were left behind!

After careful setup for the art show, the owners were very pleased with their findings. Next morning when they arrived to open the show, they found the table had been knocked over as well as the pictures.  On the desk was a real estate report – a deed from 1932 for James Weber’s art studio, right there on the second floor!

Restoration of the old Colony Cinema was seen firsthand as the group had special permission to enter the theater. Here, it is said, the ghost of the former owner, Mr. Shay,  travels via an underground passageway between the Colony Cinema and Mid Ohio Valley Players Theater across the street. Colony Cinema has been an important part of the Marietta community since 1919 when it was The Hippodrome Theater, the premiere showcase of Marietta and the surrounding area. Some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Boris Karloff, appeared on its stage.  Its gorgeous original asbestos fire curtain has been rediscovered and is being restored to be featured predominately in the restored Colony Cinema.

The last stop on the tour was at Tiber Way Grille, where people hear sobbing, crying, and have an edgy feeling.  They definitely feel it is haunted. Closer look at old lettering on the building perhaps gives a reason for this feeling.  It says: Chronic Diseases The Sanitorium. This twenty six room hospital was used for tuberculosis patients in the early 1900s as well as for those with extreme mental problems. Fittingly, next door was Doudna’s Funeral Services!

Nothing beats a haunted, moonlit night with ghosts of the past.

To arrive in Marietta, Ohio take Exit 1 off I 77 and head west on Route 7, Greene Street. Where the Muskingum River meets the Ohio River, you will find the old Lafayette Hotel, the starting point for the Ghost Trek. This walking tour is under the expert guidance of Lynne Sturtevant, founder of Hidden Marietta and author of several books of Marietta history.

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