Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Ohio Historical Society’

Newark Earthworks Connection to Ancient Civilizations

An eight foot wall and 5 foot deep ditch created the Great Circle.

An eight foot wall and 5 foot deep ditch surround the Great Circle.

“Walk with me. We lived here long ago. Large ceremonies with many people were held here.” This was the feeling that permeated the atmosphere while walking over and around the large mounds called Newark Earthworks built by the Hopewell culture at Newark, Ohio. There are three sections to these earthworks: The Great Circle, The Octagon, and The Wright Earthworks, which were not visited on this road trip.

Surrounded by fields of wild strawberries and gigantic trees, these mounds take your mind and spirit back many years to somewhere between 100 BC and 500 AD. The Great Circle, representing the circle of life, is located in Heath and has eight foot high walls, which surround a five feet deep moat. In the center of the Great Circle are some smaller mounds, one called the Eagle Mound, which covers the remains of an old ceremonial longhouse of the Hopewells.

The only known artifact could have been the form of a shaman.

An ancient artifact from these mounds could have been the form of a shaman.

An ancient artifact that is known to have come from these mounds is a small stone sculpture. No one is certain whether it is a person, who was a hero in one of their stories, or perhaps a spiritual being. Some even think it could be a shaman wearing bear regalia. Many, however, also believe the Holy Stones were truly from the mound as well, while some feel they are not authentic. These Holy Stones can be viewed in Coshocton at the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum.

During the 1850s, the Great Circle provided a home for the Licking County Fairgrounds. Later use varied from horse racing track to military drill field. The Ohio National Guard has held encampments at this location.

Mound opening leads to the informative Welcome Center.

Mound opening leads to the informative Welcome Center.

The Welcome Center contains an excellent interactive video that takes you on an exploration of the largest geometric earthworks in the world from the comfort of an air-conditioned area. Guides there provide answers to most of your questions as they are very well informed.

Archaeological surveys report that the Newark Earthworks were connected to the Hopewell Culture Historical National Park in Chillicothe, Ohio by a hand built road. The road was sixty miles long and ten feet wide and paved with crushed shells. Called the Great Hopewell Road, today hiking groups still walk that pathway every year.

Moundbuilders Country Club leases the Octagon Mound.

Moundbuilders Country Club leases the Octagon Mound.

On to the Octagon Earthworks! Something seems amiss here as these are located on a golf course, or a golf course is located on them. Yes, signs guide you to the Moundbuilders Country Club, where visitors are not permitted on the mounds as they might interrupt someone’s golf game. There is an observation platform so you can see the general outline of the mounds, but walking must follow a strict schedule around golf events. The Country Club keeps the Octagon beautifully maintained and provides time each year, for those interested, to actually walk where the ancients walked.

These are by no means small formations as the Great Circle contains 40 acres, while the Octagon surrounds 80. The video at the Welcome Center proclaimed the Newark Mounds as the largest geometric complex in the world…four square miles total.

Octagon Mound can be seen from the Observation Deck.

Octagon Mound. part of the golf course, can be seen from the Observation Deck.

However, just standing at their edge gave a feeling of connection to those ancient people. Researchers believe the earthworks were used for ancient burial places, ceremonies and astronomical viewings, especially the lunar solstices.

Many of the mounds at this complex have been destroyed as it lies within the cities of Newark and Heath. Over the years farming, construction of roads, and development of the city, have changed the face of the earth. But parts of the original complex are being preserved by the Ohio Historical Society with help from Moundbuilders Country Club.

There are usually about three or four days a year that you can freely walk these historic mounds without playing a round of golf. Make plans to visit during the Octagon Mound’s next Open House, which is October 11, 2015. You will enjoy the connection!

Newark Mound Earthworks can be found just off I-70 east of Columbus, Ohio at Exit 129. Take Route 79 to Health to stop first at the Welcome Center at 455 Hebron Road, Heath.



Zoar Village Garden’s Symbolic Design

Day Lilies greet visitors to the Zoar Gardens.

Day Lilies greet visitors at Zoar Garden.

Summer time and the flowers are blooming! The beautiful garden at Zoar Village seems most spectacular during the month of July. An entire block of vegetable and flower beds will have you wanting to find a seat and enjoy the scenery, or casually stroll down the pathways.

Long ago this garden began as a place for the communal village to grow their vegetables as well as brighten their life with flowers. Who tended those early gardens at Zoar? School boys and elderly men received this assignment as the female occupants all had household chores that must be done daily, while the men were either working the fields or building the Ohio and Erie Canal.

The center of the block garden has a special spiritual significance.

The center of the block garden has a special spiritual significance.

The spectacular Zoar Garden symbolized New Jerusalem to those German Separatists in the early 1800s. At its center stands a tall, slightly bent, Norway spruce, which represents Jesus. Surrounding the tall pine, twelve smaller junipers depict the twelve disciples.

These in turn are circled by an arbor vitae hedge, indicating heaven. Paths in the garden are proclaimed as pathways to paradise showing that no matter what path you take, if you look to Christ, you will be led to heaven.These people had strong religious beliefs now that they were free to worship as they pleased in the United States.

During the winter months, the greenhouse is filled with tropical plants.

The Gardener’s House had a conveniently attached greenhouse.

At the north end of the garden stands the Gardener’s House, which served as residence for gardener, Simon Beuter, and his family back in 1835. Shortly thereafter, a greenhouse, or hothouse, was added. Since they grew oranges, lemons and other fruit in the middle of winter in the greenhouse, it was also called the Orangerie.

Tropical plants were stored in the greenhouse during the winter months.

Tropical plants were stored in the greenhouse during the winter months.

Hothouses were unheard of in Ohio at this time. The tropical fruit trees were kept outside in large wooden tubs in the summer, but could easily be moved into the greenhouse during the cold winter months. After the Ohio and Erie Canal was built, wealthy Clevelanders would send their plants during winter to Zoar to be kept in the greenhouse, because of its unique underground heating system.

A vegetable garden would naturally have been part of the Zoarites Garden.

A vegetable garden would naturally have been part of the Zoarites’ Garden.

Research shows the Separatists frequently used many home remedies for ailments so grew medicinal types of herbs in their communal garden. They also grew fresh fruits and vegetables to provide strawberries and cabbages for the Zoar Hotel, where President William McKinley often dined on a Sunday afternoon.

Charming flower boxes on local fences added to the beauty of the village.

Charming flower boxes on local fences add to the beauty of the village.

Along the streets of town, many residents have beautiful flower gardens of their own. Baskets of flowers grace fences, and bushes bloom with beauty. There is much to see and do throughout the village with costumed guides telling about life there long ago.

While in the area take a stroll through Zoar Wetlands Arboretum or find the Trailhead nearby for the one-hundred mile long Towpath Trail of the old Ohio and Erie Canal.

Plan a visit to delightful Zoar Village on the banks of the Tuscarawas River where a guide remarked, “You could live your whole life here and never need cash. They believed cash was corrupting. It turns out they were right.”

Zoar Village can be reached just three miles off I-77 at Exit 93 between Dover and Canton, Ohio. 

Dr Balthasar – Medicine Man Miracle Medicine for Man or Beast

Dr. Balthasar, Medicine Man

Dr. Balthasar, Medicine Man

“Try a bottle of Elexir!”

Dr. Balthasar, Medicine Man, campaigned for everyone’s good health as he presented his wares from town to town. The sign he displayed proclaimed: Miracle Medicine for Man or Beast formulated from an ancient Tibetan recipe. Quite frequently he was referred to as  “a snake-oil salesman”, proclaiming this miracle tonic would cure a great variety of ailments.

The character of Dr. Thelonious Balthasar was created by Mike Follin, an education interpreter with the Ohio Historical Society. He thought this would be a good way to educate folks about life and medical treatment during the 19th century. Before each performance, Mike tells the audience a little about life on the frontier, where the visit of a traveling salesman was great entertainment. Then he transforms into frontier Dr. Balthasar, Medicine Man.

Most people appeared at his shows for two reasons: medication and entertainment. Word would spread from house to house when the doctor’s wagon was seen.This slippery snake oil salesman provided gossip and national news, as well as entertainment that cheered the crowd. As he traveled the countryside selling his famous Elexir, one of Dr. Balthasar’s favorite places to stop and tell his tales was in Michigan. There he said the folks were the most gullible and sales were high.

Remains of victim who exploded after refusing treatment

Remains of victim who exploded after refusing treatment

The good doctor, in his rapid fire patter, demonstrated what happened to those who refused his services. A young man who was very ill  boldly told the doctor, “I don’t need your medicine.”  Six months later that same man came back to another Medicine Show and said that perhaps he should have taken the tonic as the pain became worse and worse. Before the doctor could give him the Elexir, the man exploded. Parts of his body went everywhere and had to be scraped up so the Medicine Man could save them in jars, thus demonstrating the importance of taking his tonic. Perhaps it would keep someone else from having the same fate. You can even see an eyeball peeking through one of the jars.

Skeleton, who did not heed the doctor's warning

Skeleton, who did not heed the doctor’s warning

This skeleton was all that was left of another of his patients who had faded away to nothing because they refused to take his medical advice. “If he had purchased this Elixir for only $2, that man might have been cured of his consumption and still be here today.”

” Some of you see men who have had their hair fall out, just like the stars fall from the sky. Why does a man’s hair on the top of his head fall out? Why doesn’t he lose his whiskers? I tell you, he outgrows his hair because he has too much knowledge.”

Dr. Balthasar’s Miracle Medicine was the answer to all health problems.  A free gift was usually promised – free advice. “I stand behind every bottle that I sell of this latest in medical potions,”  were his words of assurance. However, the Medicine Man would usually leave town before customers had a chance to demand a refund. His treatment was very effective, unlike the practicing physician, who told patients to come back in two weeks.  “When you buy my medicine,” explained Dr. Balthasar, “you will never see me again.”

When the government decided they needed to regulate the sale of medications, the Medicine Man was basically put out of business. Patenting medicine made it necessary to list all the ingredients on the bottle. Thus began the time of medicine sales to further pharmaceutical agencies; unfortunately, home remedies were no longer acceptable.

What were the contents of Dr. Balthasar’s famous Elixir? 150-200 proof alcohol, otherwise known as “white lightning”. It certainly made people feel better for a while and forget their problems.

As he closed the show, Dr. Balthasar held up a bottle of his Miracle Medicine proclaiming, “This is the answer to a long and healthy life. I’ll also give you a bit of free advice. Stay away from two types of people: politicians and traveling medicine men.”

Dr. Balthasar, Medicine Man, recently appeared in Cambridge, Ohio as part of their Dickens Victorian Village presentation. Where will he stop next?

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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