Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Roscoe Village’

Historic Roscoe Village – America’s Canal Town

We Bring History to Life

Roscoe Visitor Center

Roscoe Village Visitors Center is the perfect place to begin your tour.

Welcome to yesterday! Life 200 years ago was quite different from what we experience today. While we can’t turn the clocks back to that era, we can visit Roscoe Village in Coshocton to catch a glimpse of life on the Ohio and Erie Canal during that time.

Roscoe Oldest House

Weaver Daniel Boyd, his wife, and four children lived in the oldest house in the village from 1825-1835.

   Back in 1816, James Calder laid out the port town that was to become Roscoe. He followed a hunch that farmers would rather do business at Calder’s General Store along the Muskingum River than pay twenty-five cents to take the ferryboat to Coshocton.

   He named the town Caldersburgh, but it was later renamed Roscoe, in honor of William Roscoe, an English historian and leading abolitionist. Roscoe never visited America and probably never knew he had a town named after him.

Roscoe Ohio Erie Canal

Enjoy a smooth horse-drawn canal boat ride on the Ohio-Erie Canal.

   When the Ohio and Erie Canal was constructed in the 1820s, business in the village expanded and the golden age of Roscoe began. The first canal boat, the Monticello, landed at Roscoe on August 21, 1830. Roscoe was one of the largest wheat ports along the 350-mile canal that went from Lake Erie to the Ohio River.

Roscoe weaver

Rami demonstrated weaving techniques on her 200- year-old American Barn Loom.

   Roscoe thrived until the 1860s when the canals gave way to railroads. The canal boats continued to operate on a smaller scale until the disastrous flood of 1913, which swept away the port of Roscoe.

Roscoe One Room School

Natalie, the schoolmarm, told about teaching in a one-room school.

   Today the restored Roscoe Village is a reminder of Ohio’s canal era thanks to the dedication of prominent Coshocton industrialist, Edward Montgomery and his wife, Frances. A painting, “Canal Days”, which depicts the Roscoe area and can still be seen in the Chase Bank building at 120 S. Fourth Street, captured the imagination of the Montgomerys.

Roscoe Toll House

The Toll House is the restored home of James Welsh, toll collector on the canal.

   Their role began back in 1961 when they purchased the 1840 Toll House and decided to create “a living museum” on the banks of the Muskingum River. They endeavored to revive, restore and reclaim the then-burgeoning port town to a time when the Ohio and Erie Canal bustled with boats and barges.

Roscoe Dr. Dee

Dr. Dee in Dr. Johnson’s Office explained the tonsil guillotine.

   When you visit Roscoe Village today, you can stroll through the gardens, visit their many historic buildings, and take a horse-drawn canal boat ride on a portion of that old Ohio and Erie Canal. You’ll feel like you’re living a chapter of American history.

Roscoe Hotel

The Roscoe Hotel was a canal era hotel used as a stagecoach stop.

   Begin your tour at the Visitors’ Center where you can view a film, “Ditches of Destiny”, which describes those early days on the Ohio and Erie Canal. Then take a self-guided tour of the village to see costumed interpreters in historic buildings describing what life was like in those old canal days. Stop at the restored 19th-century buildings, which house The Famous Shops of Roscoe Village. Most businesses are open seven days a week throughout the year.

Roscoe Johnson Humrickhouse Museum

Learn more local history at the Johnson-Humerickhouse Museum. Yes, that’s Bigfoot in the shadows.

   Don’t forget to visit the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum where you will learn interesting facts about Ohio history. Here displays tell you stories of the American Indians, Ohio artifacts, and Decorative Arts. There’s also a wonderful collection of East Asian artifacts that were collected by the owner.

Roscoe Blacksmith

Carl, the village smithy, made leaf hooks as a blacksmith demonstration.

   Stroll through the Gardens that Frances Montgomery lovingly left for visitors to enjoy. Meander down its paths to see the beautiful blossoms and herbs that have been popular for ages. Beauty blooms in the gardens every season of the year.

   A ride down the Ohio and Erie Canal is the smoothest ride you can imagine drawn by two strong horses on the towpath. You’ll hear stories of how people traveled the canal in those early days. Some are quite unusual and exciting.

Roscoe Doctor's house and office

Stroll the streets of this quiet village any time of the year.

   Stop by Roscoe Village this summer and join in their 45th Anniversary. We need to remember the history of our area and how those early settlers developed a foundation for the world we live in today.

   Perhaps Captain P. R. Nye, who operated a canal boat at Roscoe’s Lock Twenty-Seven, says it best: “The Silver Ribbon – the Ohio Canal – was the best of life a man ever had.”

Historic Roscoe Village is located at 600 N Whitewoman Street in Coshocton, Ohio. From I-77, take exit 65, which is US-36 W. Follow 35 West to Whitewoman Street approximately 18 miles. It will be on the right-hand side of the road.


Chris Hart Performs One-Man Shows That Receive Rousing Reviews

Chris Hart

Chris Hart delights audiences with his repertoire of stories.

One-man performances require much research and attention to detail. Chris Hart has this down to a science. Not only does Chris do extensive research, but he writes all of the programs himself. This makes it easier for him during performances, as he is the only one who knows if he strayed from the original script.

Christopher Hart, museum curator and living historian at Roscoe Village, hales from the country in Tuscarawas County these days, even though born in Cambridge. Living on Steubenville Avenue for the first few years of his life, Chris indicated that he was a “good kid”, always a bit shy.

That shyness continued through school at Newcomerstown High School, where Chris didn’t participate in high school performances. Yet he loved going to the theater and watching.

sherlock (2)

Involved in Sherlock Holmes performances, Chris often portrays Sherlock’s sidekick, John Watson.

So where did the idea for one-man shows first appear? A few years after he married his supporting wife, Suzie, they visited a restored village in Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia. There, a man dressed in full costume told a living history story of a Confederate soldier, who never went home. Chris told Suzie, “That would be the ideal job. Fun!” The seed was planted.

Ohio Northern had become his college of choice to study in their pharamaceutical department. For many years, Chris played the real life role of pharmacist all over Tuscarawas County, but has since retired.

Now he had extra time. One day he noticed an ad for a person to portray a village doctor in Roscoe Village. Four people applied and took turns being doctor throughout the season. This was the first real person he had even done, but that was only the beginning.

Chris Hart

Captain Reynolds tells tales of life of the Ohio-Erie Canal.

A Canal Boat Captain on the Ohio-Erie Canal, which ran close to Roscoe Village, was the first character he fully developed himself. He became Captain Reynolds, who in his travels meets a photographer, snake charmer and even a witch.

While Chris began his one-man, first-person performance days at Roscoe Village, it didn’t take long for listeners to know they had a talented storyteller on their hands. He doesn’t just tell a story, he becomes the character in dress, voice, and emotion.

Queen Victoria and Chris Hart

During Dickens Victorian Village season, Chris performed “Audience with the Queen” with Queen Victoria.

His characters usually are drawn from famous historic events, but he doesn’t portray the main character. He finds it much more interesting to portray someone in the background of the event as he sees it through their eyes. Plus, everyone knows what Charles Dickens looked like, but nobody knows much about his close friend, James Fields.

The only famous person he has done is Neil Armstrong giving a press release twenty years after his walk on the moon. So far he has developed nearly forty different characters, and the list continues to grow.

Main Street Bar

Chris greets visitors to Olde Main Street at the original walnut bar from Sam Douglass Saloon in Newcomerstown.

He jokingly says his ideas come from the committee in his head. He takes ideas he personally likes and finds a character to fulfill that role, or he does a request for an organization. It usually takes about two to three months to research and write one of his performances. His best writing time happens at 5:00 in the morning.

Every story has three basic elements to reach the audience. It needs a little humor, the listener needs to feel a tug of emotion, and there’s usually a twist of some kind that makes the story surprising.

Titanic 001

This is a copy of the original boarding pass used for the Titanic.

His most popular show right now features “The Survivor of the Titanic”, where he portrays Peter Daley a first class passenger on the ship. Peter remembers that fateful day when the Titanic went down and how he survived.

Another favorite, “Shepherd’s Journey”, came to him while he was driving his car. A shepherd at the Nativity moves with Jesus through several major events in his life, culminating at the crucifixion and resurrection. This is a popular religious performance from Christmas through Easter.

Prof. Chris Hart

Chris prepares for another pharmaceutical lecture at Belmont Tech.

Even though Chris enjoys his work on stage, he now also teaches pharmaceutical classes at seven different colleges. His favorite class is at the University of Findlay, where he teaches the History of Pharmacy. As you might imagine his classes are fun as well as educational, since he often appears in costume to make the lesson real.

After seeing his schedule, it’s obvious that Chris makes good use of his time with little to spare. When he does have extra time, reading and hiking at Salt Fork provide relaxation. Mt. Everest tops the list of places Chris would like to visit. It’s the tallest mountain in the world with many stories to tell.

Chris a Salt Fork Festival.

At the Salt Fork Festival, Chris told the story, “Paws for the Cause”, about a Civil War soldier and his dog.

Throughout the year, Chris can be found throughout the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee entertaining audiences with his tales of years gone by. His most recent addition tells the story of a 9/11 survivor, “I’m Not a Hero”. Be sure to catch one or more of his one-man shows sometime soon. You’ll be a fan.

This season, 2017, he will be doing a new story for Friends of the Library during Dickens Victorian Village season. This time he takes on the role of Peter Cratchit, Scrooge’s office clerk, in a performance called “My, How Christmas Has Changed”.

When this fantastic storyteller stops to ponder, it’s not uncommon to hear him say, “That reminds me of another story.” Chris Hart brings history to life!

If you would like to contact Chris for a show at your event, phone him at 740–408-4608. You might find him at Olde Main Street in Newcomerstown or follow him on Facebook at Christopher Hart: History Comes to Life. Schedule ahead!



Unique Collections Fill Historic Roscoe Village Museum

Johnson-Humerickhouse Museum

Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum in Roscoe Village, Coshocton, Ohio

Sometimes when visiting a place time after time, you miss a treasure right in its midst. Such was the case with Coshocton’s Roscoe Village, a favorite spot for festivals over the years. However, there at its edge, a beautiful brick structure, The Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum, overflows with unusual historic exhibits.

This actually had its start back in the mid-1800’s when two brothers, John and David Johnson, spent their childhood in Coshocton. In later years, these brothers traveled the world collecting artifacts from all the places they visited.

Indian woven artifacts and Kachina dolls

Indian woven artifacts and Kachina dolls

In 1931, the Johnson brothers gave 15,000 collected objects to their hometown with the stipulation that a museum would be established to honor their parents, Joseph Johnson and Mary Susan Humrickhouse. Thus, the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum became a reality and has since added collections of other local residents. Displays frequently change because the museum has more artifacts than can be displayed at one time.

Two floors contain four main areas to explore: Native American, Ohio History, Coshocton Area Memorabilia, and The Asian Room. Each holds objects that are certain to lead you to recall memories of the past and even create a puzzle or two in your mind.

American Indian artifacts display natives’ skills at pottery, beadwork and basket weaving. These outstanding collections show not only local Native American handiwork but that of Indians throughout the United States. A large collection of kachina dolls, who hold a spiritual essence to the Indian tribes, and items used by the medicine men are a couple of the noteworthy displays.

Chinese royalty collar with silk kimona and pottery in the background

Chinese royalty collar with Ch’ing silk theatrical robe and pottery in the background

An Asian Room contains both Japanese and Chinese treasures. A Japanese warrior in full dress protects that section of the room, while Buddha statues and kimonas express the Chinese traditions. A beautiful jeweled collar worn by a member of the Imperial Court contains over a hundred embellishments.

Controversial Newark Holy Stones

Controversial Newark Holy Stones

The Newark Holy Stones present a controversial subject as these objects were found in 1860 while excavating a mound in Newark, Ohio. The largest stone, the Decalogue Stone, appears to have Hebrew writing around its edges. Many link it to the Hopewell Indian culture, which existed there between 100 BC and 500 AD, while others are skeptical as to its origin.

Early pioneer cabin in Coshocton area

Early pioneer cabin in Coshocton area

Much of the Historic Ohio Display has been donated by great-grandchildren of Nicholas Miller and Mary Darling, early Ohio pioneers. Nicholas came to the Coshocton area in 1802 with $36 and two axes. That first winter, Nicholas made his home in a cave with his dog. Then in 1806, the Darling family migrated to Ohio from Viriginia. 18 year-old Mary drove her family’s four-horse team pulling a covered wagon containing eleven brothers and sisters to settle in the Coshocton area.

Nicolas’ trade as surveyor provided him opportunity to purchase prime land with money that he earned. Therefore, when he married Mary Darling, they settled in the Coshocton area. Today a replica of the cave he slept in provides children a place to hide and pretend. Beside it, a cabin has been reconstructed similar to the one where Nicholas and Mary lived to raise their family.

As you can tell, there are displays here for various interests, and at a low admission price. Throughout the year, various speakers and workshops provide a variety of subjects for area residents. Visit this treasure filled museum that isn’t far from home. While you are there, step back in time and stroll the brick streets of historic Roscoe Village.

Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum is located in  Roscoe Village near the south end at 300 N Whitewoman Street, Coshocton, Ohio.  From Ohio 83, exit onto North Whitewoman Street and follow it through Roscoe Village. The museum will be at the south end on the left hand side.


Calliope and Monkey Organ Sounds Fill the Air

“The Happiest Music on Earth”  rang out through the streets of Roscoe Village. Strolling down the street, it seemed a carnival like atmosphere but the instruments used were exquisite. The Mid-American Chapter of the Musical Box Society brought about thirty varied automatic and mechanical instruments for the enjoyment of everyone who visited. Some were small hand-cranked music boxes, while others were large trailer size.

A larger music box called “Ruth Organ” was open on both sides, as were many, so you could see the inner workings as well. This was a German made calliope, owned by an enthusiast from Indiana, with carousel horses peeking out at the sides. There was an interesting sign on the open back side, which said Achtung (Attention in German).  Below was a humorous verse using a German like twist and it ended like this: “Relaxen and listenin to die gekneekicken und fusstampen musik.”

One of my favorites was a small monkey organ, or hurdy gurdy,  hand turned by a happy lady in a flowered hat.  Music was fed through the monkey organ on a paper-feed much like the old player pianos, but on a smaller scale.  She kindly gave me a chance to try my hand at being a monkey organ grinder by turning the handle at just the right speed for that particular song, Walkin’ Happy. Still makes me smile!

Many of the participants here at Roscoe Village were planning to attend many more Musical Box Festivals throughout the summer.  Next stop for some was New York or the Monkey Organ Rally in Indiana, and many of them had plans for the the 62nd Annual Meeting in Washington D C this year in August.

Visiting Roscoe Village was Myron Duffield, “The Calliope King of the World.”  Myron performed to a crowd standing in the street from his red circus wagon organ that he built himself.  His plan is to play at every surviving calliope event in the world. This is like a trip back to childhood for him as he grew up hearing the calliopes on the Mississippi riverboats.

Catching my eye at one end of the street, “Rolling Thunder” was one of the larger calliopes there.  It was built in Antwerp, Belgium and across the front it said: “Not Your Father’s Organ”.  In the center there were three accordians, where the bellows moved as well as the keys playing the lively carousel sounds. All of them seemed to have drums as part of their inner workings.

Apparently the music was enjoyed as several people were dancing in the street. Well, that is except for one lady, who told me upon arrival, “Get your aspirin handy.”   Music was loud but entertaining, and definitely “Fusstampin.”

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