Originally published in the book, “Stories of Guernsey County, Ohio” by William G. Wolfe in 1943.
Originally published in the book, “Stories of Guernsey County, Ohio” by William G. Wolfe in 1943.
Most citizens of Guernsey County are not aware of an epic event that happened right here during the Civil War. If this event had not happened at nearly the same time as the famous Battle of Gettysburg and the Battle of Vicksburg—both happened in July of 1863—certainly more of this story would be told to kids in history classes across the nation. However, the Battle of Gettysburg and Vicksburg are often placed on timelines and curriculums—rightfully—as the more important events to teach about when talking about the summer of 1863. Despite this, our ancestors here were certainly taught and aware of what’s known as “Morgan’s Raid.” According to William G. Wolfes book, Stories of Guernsey County, Ohio, which was published in 1943; older folks–during his lifetime–would still tell you when asked about their recollection of the Civil War, “I remember when Morgan went through.” Morgan’s Raid maybe considered by most historians as the most monumental thing to ever have happened in Guernsey County.
A Confederate General named John Hunt Morgan started a raid from Tennessee on June 11th, 1863 that ran through Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. The raid lasted until July 26th, covering 46 days total. After going through Kentucky Morgan decided to cross the Ohio River into Southern Indiana, and then go into Southern Ohio (both Union States), with 2,462 men under his command. When Mr. Morgan realized he had the attention of many Union officers, he tried to go back across the Ohio into West Virginia but by then the Union Troops had him blocked. Rather than wave the white flag and surrender, Mr. Morgan then decided to try and lose the Union Troops by continuing to head northeast. He hoped he could find a way back across the Ohio River somewhere. It was a “scorched earth” attack, as him and his soldiers plundered anything they came in contact with that would help them sustain themselves and burned anything they felt would help people attempting to stop them. They fought in a series of battles with Union supported militia’s and different Union regiments.
As he went through the different towns news traveled and gossip grew, Morgan and his men were taking necessary provisions from innocent citizens, but nothing nearly as viscous as the rumors conveyed. Morgan made it all the through Guernsey County starting at its most southern town of Cumberland and leaving at one of our most northern towns Symra.
A short battle ensued in Old Washington, where some men were killed, others surrendered and were arrested, and some, including Morgan, got away and continued onward. The “Battle of Washington” as it would come to be known was the closest the Union got to making Morgan surrender or defeating him before he was overtaken two days later. Some critics say had General Shackleford of the Union, been less naive and more aggressive, Morgan could have been made to surrender here, as on his way through he was once overtaken near Salt Fork, but then got away again. None-the-less his raid and subsequent battle to get through Guernsey County are directly responsible for injuring and fatiguing his raiders enough to make them give up in Columbiana County, Ohio where they finally surrendered just two days after the Battle of Washington.
By Thursday July 23rd, the day Morgan entered Guernsey County, the raid had been going along for 42 days, almost a month and a half. Many of the Confederate Raiders were said to have looked tired and wore down. In the morning around 9:00 a.m. the Raiders were running from Colonel R.W. McFarland’s advance around the borders of Guernsey, Morgan, Noble and Muskingum County. In between Muskingum County where the town of Zeno used to reside, and where Cumberland sits today in Guernsey County, lived a Cumberland grocer and harness maker named Theodore Frazee. Here we have a story that shows just how close Confederate strangers were to Union strangers, where an American brotherhood saves a man from falling victim to a nation at war with itself.
At 10:00 a.m. in the morning Mr. Frazee is approached by Cumberland doctor John McCall. McCall was traveling from Zeno–now what we call a ghost town–on his way back to Cumberland when he stopped to warn Mr. Frazee of the raiders coming their way. He rode by horse screaming “Morgan’s Coming! Morgan’s Coming!” One can think of Paul Revere almost a century before famously doing a very similar thing. Mr. Frazee—hearing the doctor’s warning—frantically got to work hiding his most prized horses so the Raiders could not find them. He left only his eldest horse Old Barney in plain sight for them to see and he went back to his porch to await their arrival. With the doctor and the horse seemingly oblivious, Old Barney was taken by his daughter and wife to the sheep barn where the raiders could not find him. Frazee certainly heard the raiders coming as the sound of hundreds of horse hooves chattered from a distance kicking up dust on the old road. When the starving men seen the grocery they immediately began jumping from their horses to grab what they wanted in the name of the Confederate States of America. Suddenly Morgan shouted at them, “Halt! The first man who enters that house without orders will be shot! And pay for anything you take in the store. (Horwitz 2001.)”
The men were certainly confused. What had changed since the last time they had come about a grocery store and were allowed to sack the place? Well, when Mr. Morgan arrived he looked upon Mr. Frazee sitting on his porch with his hand held in a way that only a fellow brother of the ancient Society of Freemasonry would recognize. In this moment Morgan chose to have mercy on his fellow American brother rather than allow his men to make a victim of him. Likewise, Mr. Frazee showed his humanity by having his family cook the best lunch possible for Morgan and his men, more or less cleaning them out of their food supply. According to his daughter’s diary, the men made off with Daddies good horses, while Old Barney was spared from the ladies having taken him to the sheep barn. So it is somewhat safe to say, when John H. Morgan and his raiders came upon Guernsey County, they were welcomed with open arms and sent on their way with new horses.
According to David Thompson, who did his senior seminar on Morgan’s Raid, and is a graduate of History from Muskingum University, as well as a productive member of the Guernsey County Historical Society, the site would have been one to behold,
“He left Kentucky with 2,462 men and officers. By the time he got to Guernsey County only about 600 remained. The rest having been killed, wounded or captured. Three were killed in the skirmish at Old Washington. All were cavalrymen and would have all been on horseback. They travelled quickly and pretty much lived off the land with no support structure. For example, they rode diagonally across Guernsey County from SW to NE and were in and out of the county in little more than 24 hours. They constantly stole horses to keep fresh rides. I do remember one account that said Morgan sometimes road in a buggy (Thompson 2016.)”
When Morgan entered the town of Cumberland it was somewhere around 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon on the 23rd of July. They approached a house that was well-known in the community as a landmark, called the Globe Home; the house was owned by Dr. Stone. Here General Morgan set up headquarters for a short time. Some ransacked the house for any food and supplies they could find, while others fell asleep in the many rooms the doctor had to offer. When they went for Dr. Stones horses the doctor pleaded with them to leave his most prized one. He told them a white-lie, he said he had a very-ill patient he needed to see. Dr. Stone offered the men $75 (about $1,460 dollars today) to keep the horse. The cash was taken and the horse was left. However, later that evening, a set of the raiders that were lagging behind, came along and took the horse while they plundered nearly all the general stores of the town. This left the Doctor without any money and no horse to see his supposed dying patient. Imagine the fear and helplessness the doctor must have felt to see hundreds raiders run off into the night on his horses with all of his savings. Before Morgan left Cumberland he forced a local man to accompany him as a guide to the next town.
From Cumberland the Raiders took a road northeast to Pt. Pleasant, a town known today as Pleasant City. When they arrived–now the evening of the day–they allowed their Cumberland guide to return home on his own horse. Again, Morgan’s overall goal was to eventually make it to the Ohio River near West Virginia where he must have thought he would have better success making it back to a southern state. In the meantime, he needed to feed and rest his tired and hungry men, so he kept a steady track headed northeast, choosing to pick up guides and drop them off once he had reached the next town at which he could use to revitalize his men. When he reached Point Pleasant, the owner and operator of the local Elks Hotel, Harrison Secrest, was picked up as his next guide. In route to Hartford (known today as Buffalo) and Senecaville, the Raiders come across a bridge. Knowing the local Union Army was in pursuit of them they attempted to tear down the bridge. Apparently feeling this to laborious a task they then chose to burn the bridge. Many of the raiders swam their horses across the creek. The Bridge was put out quickly by a group of local people following them. General Shackleford of the Union Army was getting closer to him with each passing hour.
Through the night a group of the raiders straggling behind the lead, stopped to search for fresh horses at a stable. While looking at a dark bay horse—a local family’s most cherished possession— they seen a man slumped over on a horse heading in their direction. After failing to respond to the Confederates calls, they shot the man off of the horse. Upon further inspection they found John Happs, a confederate soldier of their own. One man was ordered to get Happs medical treatment, he rode back to Point Pleasant looking for Dr. Teeter only to find the local doctor’s horse had been stolen (Horwitz 2001.) Teeter—a passionate Union man—was able to get there in time to dislodge the bullet before it killed the man, but Happs needed care his fellow rebels were not able to give and he died as a result. This an example of how deeply exhausted Morgan’s men were by the time they entered Guernsey County and of how the group were in constant search for horses with fresh legs. They continued their march through the night into the early morning through Buffalo and Senecaville, before reaching Campbell’s stations in Lore City on the morning of Friday July 24th, 1863.
Lore City has a very interesting story in the event known as Morgan’s Raid. There was no Lore City as we know it today, only a train depot called Campbell’s Station with a small collection of houses and citizens who the majority of which were likely local coal miners. The station carried anything a small town of the 1860’s might need, including a telegraph. When Morgan and his men went through here they caused more damage than any other place in the county. They burned a bridge that crossed Leatherwood Creek, they also burned three freight cars filled with tobacco. Because his son and namesake was a Lieutenant in the Union Calvary whom was also a successful raider himself, having plundered many Confederate strongholds in Kentucky and Tennessee; the owner of the tobacco, S.W. Fordyce, seen his warehouse and home burnt to the ground. Morgan’s men were aware of Mr. Fordyce’s son and his exploits, as some remarked while lighting the house on fire,
“We are only following Fordyce’s plan (Horwitz 2001.)”
While at Campbell’s Station, Morgan cleverly had one of his telegraphers send a message east to Barnesville inquiring about the defense set up between Lore City and Barnesville. Morgan’s plan from here was to start heading east towards the Ohio River, however, Provost Marshal McCartney more than likely supposing the telegraph coming from Morgan, sent word back that the area had more than enough soldiers there to protect it. This forced Morgan to head further north rather than east. On his way out he destroyed anything useful to the men trailing him under General Shackleford, including the telegraph lines (Wolfe 1943.) Morgan and his men continued on that morning growing yet even more tired and restless. They were headed towards what is today known as Old Washington where they would encounter General Shackleford for the first time.
About two hours after leaving Campbell’s Station in shambles the men arrived in Washington, Ohio. When entering the town from the South they come across the American Hotel at roughly 10:00 a.m. Exhausted from non-stop traveling and pillaging, Morgan gave orders to post men on each road traveling into the small town. The men were to swap out as they took turns using the towns resources to rejuvenate; his men took rest while the local housewives prepared them meals. The women had no choice as most of their men had taken off to fight in the war. This was a tedious mistake by Morgan. General Shackleford and accompanying Union forces were trailing him quickly and not far behind. Around Noon, Morgan made orders to leave, just shortly after Shackleford and his men had reached town where some of Morgan’s men remained.
At an outpost of the town one of the Confederate soldiers fired a shot to warn his fellow rebels of Shackleford’s presence. Morgan immediately rushed down the stairs of the American Hotel and out into the street. Some rebels ran to their horses and took off on Winchester Road going north, others stayed in the confusion. Shacklefords men started firing at the men from a distant hillside from the south facing north. The Confederates thus returned fired as they rode off on their horse’s. This exchange of gunfire in Guernsey County become known as the “Battle of Washington.” This conflict was further north than any other battle in the Civil War. Three Confederate soldiers were killed, several wounded, and eight were captured and taken to Cambridge where they were housed in the Guernsey County Jail.
Shackleford noted the pursuit and battle,
“With 500 men, on the morning of the 21st, we resumed the chase. Traveling day and night, we came up with the enemy on Friday Morning, the 24th, at Washington. Captain Ward, of the Third Kentucky Cavalry, with his own company and a detachment of the First Kentucky, under Adjutant Carpenter, had command of the advance. He drove in the rebel pickets, and, by a flank movement, drove the entire rebel force out of the town of Washington, killing and wounding several of the enemy. One mile east (north) of Washington the enemy made a stand, in a dense wood. We formed a line of battle, and soon drove him from his position. He fell back 2 miles, tore up a bridge over a rugged stream (Salt Fork), and took up his left flank, while a portion of the Fourteenth Illinois crossed the stream just above the bridge, and moved up the hill in the face of a heavy fire from the enemy, steadily they moved up and drove him before them. Late Friday evening he burned two bridges over Stillwater, causing considerable delay. We succeeded in crossing and pressed on all night (Jr 1998.)”
16 year old Elizabeth McCullin also documented the event with the most vivid of eyewitness accounts (Perkowski 2011,)
“We were all frightened … The townspeople hid their horses and buried their valuables, The town was almost defenseless, since most of their men had joined the Union and gone off to war. Capt. John Laughlin, who lives south of town, was home on furlough and advised the residents to offer no resistance. Nearly all the town gathered at the corner where the Campbell’s Station-Winchester Road crossed the pike.
“Riding two abreast, the rebels came up the road. Rev. Ferguson, our Presbyterian minister, stepped out in front and waved a white handkerchief. The rebels did not pass through as we had hoped, but dismounted and gathered along the street. They entered homes and ordered dinners to be prepared for them immediately. Morgan and his staff of 14 men went to the American Hotel, rebel guards were placed around the town … Anyone could come in, but nobody was permitted to go out.
“Morgan and his staff ordered dinner at the hotel and the Smiths called in some of us older girls to help prepare the meal. I waited on the table … His soldiers having eaten their dinner and fed their horses, were lying on the street from one end of town to the other … Suddenly a gun was fired by one of the rebel guards as a signal that Gen. Shackelford was near. The soldiers ran to the horses and headed toward the Winchester road (now Morgan’s Way). There were in (Old) Washington for two or three hours.
“We saw Shackelford’s army gathering on Cemetery Hill. They began firing at the Confederates, who, in turn, shot back. Above the noise of the battle we could hear voices from the Federal lines ordering women and children to run to cellars. I ran to one that was nearest, where 20 or 30 other persons had gathered. The shooting continued. The Union men were firing from the south, the Confederates from the north. We could hear the bullets whizzing over our heads, and the crash of broken glass. It was terrible.
To think we had living and breathing rebels that fought in a battle housed in Guernsey County and eight of them taken to Cambridge—our county seat—to face justice. When the men were interviewed by local law and Union officials: they gave up Morgan’s plan to cross back over to the Ohio River, they expressed how severely exhausted they had become with the raid, and they spoke of their strong inclination to return home. Morgan got away and Shackleford faced heavy criticism for his decision to fire at long distance rather than charge to the town. Many said if he had taken command and charged the town, Morgan would not have escaped and the raid would have come to an end right here in Guernsey County.
Morgan and the remainder of his men kept fleeing north towards Winterset. Shackleford caught up with him and overtook him at the Salt Fork Bridge. Morgan agreed to surrender but had no intention of actually doing it. Under the guise of a truce, Morgan had a conversation with Shackleford, all the while it was happening Morgan’s men were fleeing further north. At some point Shackleford turned his attention away from Morgan allowing him to flee as well. Again, Shackleford would be criticized for letting Morgan slip through his fingers, though, as people would find out later, he was not alone in having this happen. Shackleford gave critics reason to believe he was much more vanilla than the man he was charged with capturing. John Hunt Morgan gave critics reason to believe he could not be captured by anyone. The men left Guernsey County at the town of Symra near Londonberry. He entered Guernsey County at its most south eastern point and left Guernsey county at its most north eastern point, totaling a period of 24 hours.
Two days after fooling Shackleford and leaving Guernsey County with more than $40,000 in destruction, ($780,000 in today’s money according to measuringworth.com 2016.) Shackleford’s forces caught up with Morgan once more and finally got him to surrender where Salineville is today in Columbia County Ohio (Jeffersonian 1863.) He had just 335 of his men remaining from the 2,462 from which he started the raid (Jr 1998.) When captured these men were sent to several different prisons across the state. Morgan himself was sent to the state capital where he proved to be one of the greatest escape artist of the Civil War. In Columbus, he and six of his captains managed to climb the wall of the Ohio Penitentiary. Once out and free Morgan managed to gain plain clothes that allowed him to walk right into the Union Terminal in Cincinnati unnoticed. According to Morgan he had an interesting discussion with a Union Officer while in disguise after boarding the train. The Union Officer said to him as they passed a penitentiary,
“Over there is where Morgan is now spending his leisure time.” Morgan responded, “and he ought to be kept there until the end of the war (Wolfe 1943.)
Horwitz, Lester V. 2001. The Longest Raid of the Civil War: Little-Known & Untold Stories of Morgan’s Raid Into Kentucky, Indiana & Ohio. Cincinnati: Farmcourt Publishing.
Jeffersonian, The Daily. 1863. “Property Taken, Destroyed in County As Result of Raid Valued at $40.074.” July 30.
Jr, Russell H. Booth. 1998. A Brief History of Guernsey County, Ohio: Including the Morgan Raid Claims. Cambridge, Ohio: Gomber House Press.
measuringworth.com. 2016. measuringworth.com. July 16. Accessed July 16, 2016. https://www.measuringworth.com.
Perkowski, Judie. 2011. “The Daily Jeffersonian.” The Daily Jeffersonian. August 21. Accessed July 23, 2016. http://www.daily-jeff.com/community/2011/08/21/civil-war-arrives-in-guernsey-county-with-morgan-s-raid.
Thompson, David, interview by James Shively. 2016. How Morgan entered Guernsey County? (July).
Wolfe, William G. 1943. Stories of Guernsey County, Ohio. Kingsport Tennessee: Kingsport Press.
The railroad industry was very volatile. The truth is, too many of them were built, and this gave some people, most famously robber baron Jay Gould, an opportunity to make a living off of buying up small railroad companies, selling off their assets and then shutting them down. Railroads often changed names as they were bought and sold by numerous companies. This is why we refer to the same railroads with different names.
Let’s imagine a day without the interstate highway. Let’s imagine a day when Southgate Parkway is nothing more than wilderness with deer’s running about the weeds in open fields. Imagine when Wheeling Avenue is a dirt road; that get’s trampled on by horses as they carry behind them carriages of people. The sound of a freight train chugging and chooing as it carries on it a very important person.
The year is 1912 and people have started to gather near the old covered bridge at Union Station (more widely known today as Ameridial)—the old log bridge would not be replaced by a viaduct for another 12 years—people are awaiting the arrival of the beloved former President turned candidate Teddy Roosevelt. Excitement and anticipation fills the air, people are telling the terrible story of Mr. Roosevelt’s first appearance in Cambridge a decade earlier. “His face was terribly bruised” says one bystander. Another person agrees, “He was hardly recognizable.” Mr. Roosevelt appeared in Cambridge in 1902 shortly after an accident in New England. Another eyewitness complains of the speech, “One would think with the President coming to town, preparations would have been made better so that we could hear him speak.” On the first visit, steam engines at the station were so loud the President’s words were incomprehensible. It was so bad, the President become frustrated and left Guernsey County early to get ahead of schedule.
But here we are now ten years later, people are awaiting the arrival of the most famous man to set foot in Cambridge, again. They’re pouring out of the Depot Hotel and bar, many more coming down Wheeling Avenue all of them traveling over to the station to catch a glance at the head of the newly formed Bull Moose Party. It’s said some 6,000 people awaited his arrival and in the afternoon on May 20th, 1912 he appeared. This time the counties officials had done their due diligence by setting up an event at the courthouse where the former President could give a speech. Some 2,000 more people joined at the courthouse, for a total of 8,000 people gathering to hear Teddy. He started his speech with “Splendid, looks like victory!” he went on to make a persuasive argument to the counties republicans, convincing many of them—but not enough of them—to give him his vote over the current President and his protégé, William H. Taft. When the speech was finished Teddy went back down to the Union Station, hopped back on his train and continued north on the Pennsylvania Railroad.
The Central Ohio Railroad/The Baltimore & Ohio (B&O) Railroad
I tell you this story because I think it’s reflective of the history of the railroads and the train stations of our area. Rather than bore you with a bunch of historical facts I would much rather challenge your imagination. There were two important railroads that come through Cambridge of which all others branched off of at later dates. First the Central Ohio Railroad Company/B&O Railroad that went east and west, and secondly the Cleveland and Marietta Railroad/the Pennsylvania Railroad that went north and South. Both have interesting histories but in order to tell you that history, I need you to hop into our time machine once again and travel back another 60 years from 1912 to 1847, on this journey you’ll need to erase the Union Station and the Depot Hotel, you’ll have to erase many advancements and building brought on by the industrial revolution, and you have to imagine Cambridge, as not much more than a large collection of wood cabins, along with some taverns and civic buildings. On February 8th 1847, a special act by the Ohio Congress, gave authority to build a railroad from the Ohio River to Columbus, Ohio. The path was outlined roughly by the state and included naming Cambridge at the center of the project.
At this time the industrial revolution is in mid swing. Steam boats had made it quicker to travel across large bodies of water. Ports in New York City, collected products sent them up the Hudson Bay through the Erie Canal and onto the Great Lakes where they could be distributed to midwest urban centers like Buffalo, Cleveland, and Detroit. In response to the steam boat technology, cities that weren’t fortunate enough to have a body of water taking them into the west were getting crushed in the market and they decided to start investing in technology that would give them steam power over land. Thus the railroad was born. Initially the project in Ohio was headed by The Central Ohio Railroad Company. They were the ones that sold stock to have the railroad built and subsequently the route it would take. A short battle ensued in Guernsey of where the railroad would enter the County, however, a prominent Quaker from Millwood (Quaker City) named John Hall was able to make this battle a somewhat short one by pledging $23,000 to the project, $10,000 from his own pocket. So it was decided the train would enter the county at Quaker City, go through Cambridge, include a tunnel and exit in New Concord heading towards Zanesville. Though the project set out in 1847, the first passenger train to arrive in Cambridge was not until April 27th, 1854. The significance of the event can be found in the books History of Guernsey County by C.P.B. Sarchet, Stories of Guernsey County by William G. Wolfe, and the Guernsey Times: a predecessor of the Daily Jeffersonian. Most people were very excited to ride a train, others swore they would never ride such a dangerous monstrosity.
Sarchet says in his book:
“The arrival of the first regular passenger train over the road now known as the Baltimore & Ohio, from Columbus was on April 27th, 1854. It consisted of six coaches and it was welcomed right royally. The march from the station to the public square was a long, enthusiastic one, was under marshalship of Loll Lordon I. of land and an address was made by Hon. Nathan Evans. Military Companies from Columbus and Zanesville were present.”
Wolfe includes this excerpt from the Guernsey Times (on mobile devices use index finger and thumb to zoom):
The Cleveland and Marietta Railroad/Pennsylvania Railroad
I’m going to have to ask you to jump in that time machine once again. We have to take a ride pass the bloody Civil War, and pass Lincolns assassination to the era known as “Reconstruction.” Shortly after the war a wave of prosperity passed through the nation. Interest and enthusiasm rose in Guernsey County when a survey was taken for a railroad going north and south from Marietta to Cleveland by a former General named A.J. Warner. There was already a railroad from Marietta to Caldwell so it seemed and was a logical idea to continue that route up through Guernsey County. Once again the county had to raise money through selling stock. Meetings were scheduled at the courthouse to explain the potential investment. It’s said John H. Sarchet had a song he would sing when the town’s excitement turned to skepticism. The song was titled, “Buy Another Share or Two,” and he went about the old courthouse singing this to get people interested again. Just before the deadline the quota was met to build to the railroad.
Soon after the money was raised, a feud arose between the leaders of Cambridge and the leaders of Marietta. Leaders from both the communities understood the economical significance of the location of the machine shops. The machine shops meant jobs, and for local economies jobs meant money, a higher standard of living, and further community development. After the railroad was built, the machine shops would mean a servicing center in Cambridge for trains. Cambridge leaders took the initiative and called for a special election. The election was to entice voters into paying for a road from the proposed machine shops to the building sites of the railroad. The deal was that the road would be leased to the railroad company for free until the project was finished and begun seeing returns. This was ideal for the railroad company and so the shops were built in Cambridge.
Marietta officials were furious. They opened a case against Cambridge, claiming the special election was against the law. The case went all the way up to the Supreme Court of Ohio, they ruled in Marietta’s favor claiming the special election unconstitutional. However, since the shops were already built and the project already underway, Cambridge got to keep the machine shops and no other damages were awarded. Cambridge leaders must have toasted to this win in jest while the citizens did the same at the taverns across town. We have to be proud of not just the leaders who made this happen, but our ancestors who without the vote would not have been possible. And so the Marietta and Cleveland Railroad was built entering the county near Pleasant City and leaving the county pass Liberty City (later named Kimbolton.) In 1873 it was finished and celebrations again occurred as two engines were placed on the tracks. One named “Cambridge” and the other named “Liberty” commemorating the town’s most prominent in having the railroad built.
The Economic Significance of the Railroads
As I mentioned in the beginning of this history, the Central Ohio Railroad/the B&O Railroad and the C&M Railroad/Pennsylvania Railroad laid the foundation for smaller tracks to branch off of to our county’s smaller towns. They weren’t the only tracks laid in the county, they were just the first and all other tracks led back to them. Before the railroads came to Guernsey County our towns weren’t much more then small groups of cabins connected by paths through the wilderness. After the railroads were built, our towns become markets for industry. Byesville owes it’s existence to the coal industry, which depended on the railroad to export its product to bigger American metro’s like Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. The buildings that make up Byesville are there because there was a coal industry to attract workers, which ultimately made a village that needed stores, schools, and churches. While Cambridge was luckier in that it had a more developed community before, it wasn’t until after the railroads were put in that Cambridge generated enough wealth to become a classic Victorian era city. Company owners were wealthy enough to build “Boardwalk and Park Place” like mansions down 7th Street. From 1890 to 1910 Cambridge’s population increased by 177%, an unprecedented number in its history. There were more people living in the Cambridge City limits in 1910 then there were in 2010. Likewise there were more people living in Guernsey County as a whole in 1910 then what live here today.
The Train Station
Our ancestors failed to see the significance the Depot Hotel had to our history. Before it was a hotel and a bar called the “Bloody Bucket” or “Bucket of Blood” it was our area’s first train station. Think about how cool it would be to travel back to the 1800’s, where you would get off a train at the Depot, get a room for the night, and travel down stairs to the bar for a drink and bite to eat. The Depot fell into bad shape, gained a terrible reputation, and was torn down. Before that, it gained so much traffic as a train station a new station had to be built to take on that traffic. We’re lucky that station and its history are still available to us all to see with our eyes. However, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned. For years this building held the telemarketing company Ameridial. It’s now sitting doing nothing and it’s my fear eventually this building will see the same future as the Depot. It’s my fear it will be seen as a public or commercial scar instead of a gem and it will be sold off to a buyer that intends to tear it down and replace it with something new. This would be a tragic situation for our area and future generations. I don’t think I have ever seen a building more fit for a museum then this one. It is my hope that somehow people will begin to see the value of this property and the history behind it and something can be done to save it from the same fate as the “Bloody Bucket.”
For well over a century, from 1850 to 1961, the railroads and the local train station symbolized a connection to a much larger world. It was real proof to the citizens of this area; proof that they were a part of a society greater than their eyes could see from day to day. Real living and breathing Presidents came and gave speeches at the station. Many events started with people waiting for trains to come in with important people on them and followed with a trip to the town square. When the nation called and it was time to go to war, throughout many generations our citizens didn’t sit at the train station awaiting an important person; they were taking an important person to the station to send them off to defend America against the evils filling our world. When the war was over, once again the community paraded to the bottom of Wheeling Avenue to celebrate the return of their children. Some sat home to mourn a loss that would not show up there. In any case, the train station that sits at the bottom Wheeling Avenue was not only the heart of the city of Cambridge; it was the heart and soul of the entire county for many, many, generations and it saddens me to drive by today and see an empty post-industrial building with a for sale sign instead of something reflecting what it truly symbolizes.
I did my best to photo credit the correct people. If you feel you should be credited please feel free to contact me via Facebook.
I remember growing up in the small village of Byesville back in the 1990’s and everybody getting excited about the “Annual Jonathan Bye Days” festival. I was much like every kid in our small town of 2,000 people, with our one stop light. After driving my Mom crazy for $10, I can remember cutting through the wind on my bike to get to the park and then trying to decide what I was going do from there. I remember that hot–almost wet air– from the humidity we get in Ohio during the summer months combined with the smell of concession food stands permeating the wind as it passed through the basketball court. The more brave and wild kids, filled my ears with the sounds of pop snaps, as they ran about smashing box after box on the concrete. The sights of people walking with golf caps on backwards, over their sprayed red hair, wearing baggy Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren t-shirts with even more baggy JNCO jeans. A kaleidoscope of taste, sound and sights percolated through the fun: talent shows, basketball tournaments, Elvis impersonations, concerts, and skydivers.
I remember my stepdad commenting on the festival and how ridiculous he thought it had became, “Every year they try to do something bigger and better than the year before to get people to show up down there.” The gossip was rampant: “Who was boyfriend and girlfriend with who?”, “Why were those two headed off to the dugouts earlier?”, and “Why did so and so get into a fight with so and so?” We spent our days running out energy in as many different ways as we could find: I feel a bit tacky and even old for saying I remember when only rich people had cell phones. In Byesville nobody was really rich so there was not anyone walking around with a phone to their face. We were social animals not social media animals and because of it our lives were very animated. A story about a fight could start off with, “John” breaking, “Doe’s” jaw and by the time that same story made it’s way around the park, “Doe” broke “John’s” nose and now the police were looking for them both. In all this craziness, the question hardly even crossed my mind, “Who is this Jonathan Bye guy and why am I celebrating him?” After asking the question one time before and being told “Jonathan Bye was the founder of Byesville”, my curiosity was satisfied.
As I have gotten older and learned to love history, I still wonder, “Who was Jonathan Bye, really?” I get that he supposedly “found” Byesville, but beyond that I knew nothing. Despite being such an important person–we celebrate him over 150 years after he passed away–you cannot “Google” him and find a Wikipedia page. There is no photograph or painting of him anywhere. The village of Byesville has a festival every year to honor the man, but there is not a shred of information out there about him unless you are willing to dust off old books at the local library and research him. So I answer the question, who is Jonathan Bye?
The Times of Jonathan Bye the Traveler
Jonathan Bye was not the first settler in what is now known as Jackson Township. However, it can be said he was the first to settle in what is now Byesville, Ohio. Jonathan came to the area in 1820 from Pennsylvania. To put that into perspective, just 8 years before we were fighting the War of 1812 which produced a song that would have been sang in every smoky tavern across the land–including the ones in Cambridge–known as the Star Spangled Banner. In the 1820 election James Monroe was re-elected to his 2nd term. After 59 years on the throne the famous–or infamous depending on who you talked to–King George III (the king we fought against to gain Independence) passed away, ending the longest tenure as King in British history. Susan B. Anthony and William Tecumseh Sherman were born, we’re 15 years from having Morse Code and a practical form of photography. We’re 40 years before the Civil War. Here is Jonathan Bye, an ambitious young man traveling through the wilderness west for opportunity.
Jonathan Bye the Pioneer, Entrepreneur, and Civic Leader
A devoutly religious man, Jonathan was a Quaker like many pioneers of his time. He finds and settles on what is known as Wills Creek. He builds a cabin and being very ingenious and innovative he sets up a water-powered grist mill. The mill proves to be a profitable idea for the young man, as it allows him to grind grain into flour and sell it to the areas people. Now having some income Jonathan is filled with the spirit of an entrepreneur and decides to invest into a saw-mill that also proves to be a good investment. Now having much in surplus to sell he establishes a store and his little compound of businesses becomes known around the area as “Bye’s Mill.”
Having his businesses expand and with the area’s population growing, Jonathan Bye is ever imaginative. At the time having only horse and wagon on trails to get his products to market north in Cambridge and being surrounded by wilderness, he goes around to his nearest neighbors with pen and paper and gathers support for a road to be built from his mill to the City of Cambridge. In December of 1823 he travels to the county seat with signatures in hand and presents the petition to the Guernsey County Commissioners. Records at the commissioners office state the following:
“Jonathan Bye presented a petition for himself and sundry (many) citizens for a road from Bye’s Mill on Big Wills Creek, running the nearest and best way to Cambridge.”
In 1826, he repeats the process to have a road built in the other direction to Senecaville.
I think it’s quite obvious Jonathan was attempting to attract as many customers as the area could provide him while at the same time building an infrastructure of roads citizens needed and wanted at the time. Bye’s flour business flourished so much eventually he builds the “Maria Bye:” a large keel boat made to float his surplus in the shallow waters of Wills Creek. With this boat and eventually more he was able to ship his flour down the Ohio and subsequently Mississippi River. In 1832, he may have finally bit off a little more civic duty than he could chew when he led an unsuccessful movement petitioning the State of Ohio. He wanted them to dredge Wills Creek so that larger boats could navigate up and down his stream, the state apparently did not see the advantages that he did, as the project never manifest. Nevertheless, Jonathan was able to build a profitable efficient business and live a comfortable life through using his keel boats to send his manufactured products to the maximum amount of markets, while at the same time leading civic movements to develop the area.
Jonathan Bye the Abolitionist
It is somewhat common knowledge between those in the intelligence industry, that when a person of interest is hiding from those who are interested in finding them, they must have people rich with resources helping them move and survive in hiding. The reason it took the CIA so long to capture Bin Laden is that they never thought a supposed ally receiving aid from the United States would give him sanctuary. The government of Pakistan was Bin Laden’s largest resource. Likewise when trying to solve the mystery of Hitlers death, former CIA and Military guys, have formed a theory that Hitler escaped Germany through the sanctuary of Spain, and eventually made his way to a compound in the backwoods of South America. They believe he was able to do this through having the help and cover of loyal German business families whom had acquired loads of wealth and resources in Argentina. Not that I am comparing completely innocent slaves to the most evil men the planet has ever seen, that is absolutely not what I am doing. I am simply making the point that, fugitives need people of wealth, connections, and resources to stay hidden for extended periods of time.
Jonathan Bye spent his life acquiring wealth, making business connections, as well as acquiring and utilizing resources . As I said before, he was also a devoutly religious man. Quakers are famous for their principles. They were often criticized for refusing to fund wars. Being vehemently against violence and holding humanitarianism close to their hearts; Quakers were naturally and passionately against slavery. So with Jonathan having been a man of considerable means and relentlessly against slavery at his very core, he was the perfect kind of person to hide and move slaves in the 19th century. As a result he used and risked his home and businesses to become a conductor and set up a station on the famous Underground Railroad. When the slaves entered Guernsey County they would do so at one of its most southern borders in the village of Senecaville. Having made connections in Senecaville through civic leadership and business, Jonathan would accept the slaves from an Underground Railroad station there and move them to his home. Here he would provide them with beds, shelter, food, and clothes until it was time to move them further north where he would drop them off to Alexander McCracken or Samuel Craig, both station-masters in Cambridge.
It just fascinates me to think of the different scenarios:
I imagine it being a very cold fall evening at Bye’s Mill. You know where a lot of the leaves have changed colors, some are hanging onto their branches for dear life while piles of others are lying on the floor of the wilderness. I picture Jonathan on his horse pulling a wagon full of flour to Senecaville on the very road he led a movement to build. Puffs of smoke from the cold weather coming from his and his horse’s mouth’s. He has dressed the wagon for what looks like a typical business trip. When he gets to Senecaville he drops off the flour and at the same time picks up a slave man. He instructs him to hide between some large barrels that are stacked perfectly in the wagon to conceal the man’s presence. On his way back, he passes John Beymer, who is currently serving one of his eight years as Guernsey County Sheriff. With Jonathan being a respected, prominent member of the community, this conversation goes very smoothly, the Sheriff having no idea Bye has hidden a fugitive slave on his wagon. I imagine them getting back to Bye’s Mill in the darkness where Jonathan’s windows are lit up and smoke is coming from the chimney on the roof. The closer they get to the door, the more it smells like wood burning.
When they get inside candles light the rooms and a nice flame is going in the fire pit to warm the cabin. They sit to eat with Jonathan’s daughter Maria; conversation fills the room about the mans journey hitherto. I figure Jonathan has a hidden basement under his floor boards where a nice bed is awaiting the fugitive slave. They awake before the sun comes up, Jonathan has another load of flour on his keel boat waiting to take up Wills Creek to Cambridge. Jonathan has a discreet location at which to load the flour onto a wagon. When they arrive, Samuel Craig of Cambridge is waiting there for them. The fugitive is hidden once again on a wagon with the loaded flour until he reaches the home of Mr. Craig’s. Jonathan takes his keel boat back down Wills Creek to his home awaiting the next fugitive to come his way.
It is not known why but in the 1850’s Jonathan Bye sold off all his wealth and businesses and moved from Jackson Township to Sterling, Illinois. Unfortunately in Sterling he built another collection of Mills that were a financial failure for him. I would think him being in the latter years of his life, he might not have had the youth it would have taken to run a successful startup in those days. Some of his descendants are buried in Byesville.
Jonathan Bye spent the majority of his lifetime in our beloved area. He left such an impression and was liked by the people–so much–that when a small town was platted in 1856 near his old Mill they named the town “Byesville.” Jonathan never lived in Byesville when it was called Byesville; by this time he had moved on to Illinois. I’m sure when he passed away people must have felt he made a mistake leaving an area that had served him so well and eventually named a town for him for a place he did not succeed. This should not prevent us from celebrating an interesting an extraordinary life. Given his participation in the Underground Railroad, I think it is a great thing for the village to celebrate his life with an annual festival.
As you may or may not know after Guernsey County was settled by folks running a ferry over Wills Creek; the Beatty family bought the rights to the land surrounding Cambridge and then traveled here to take over the ferry business and map out a town. In 1803 when John Beatty came to Cambridge he brought with him a slave who had worked for him in Fredrick, Maryland named Tobey Beatty. As it turns out Tobey was somewhat lucky for his masters acquisition and emigration to this new land, which was in a free state. John granted his freedom as a result. My imagination fills with scenarios thinking of John Beatty breaking this news, “Well Tobey, I can’t keep you no more here in Ohio, you’re a free man now.” This being 1803 way before the Civil War or any major abolishment movements to free the slaves, Tobey must have felt something like a man walking out of jail today after being exonerated from death row. He must have been overwhelmed with happiness knowing–he and only he–would be in control of his own destiny. Unfortunately where and what Tobey did following this has been lost to history. We have no records of what he went on to do with his life.
Likewise another African American named Charles Mewson helped John Hall–a “prominent Quaker”–build a cabin east of what would become Quaker City. Charles would have also been a freeman as Quakers were categorically against slavery. This would have also been a site to behold. Charles and John chopping away at the trees, carrying, stacking, sawing, hammering away at the taboo’s of the time, sweating side by side working effortlessly on the frontier together. Charles destiny is also lost to history. What we can say without a doubt is that African Americans were here building Cambridge and the surrounding area as it was being founded and before Guernsey County was established in 1810. We’re talking about the presidential administrations of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and we have African Americans participating in building our communities.
In 1810 the area had grew enough in population to consider itself a county and because Ohio was a part of the Northwest Ordinance which said, “There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in said territory,” it was against the law to own slaves. This doesn’t mean slaves could run here and just be free, numerous different laws did things to try and prevent slaves from running here and people from protecting them. Despite this, brave Guernsey County residents established stations on the Underground Railroad and still many free blacks came and settled in the outliers of the county where they could find employment. They lived in rural areas like Spencer, Center, and Wills Township, including what’s now known as Four Mile Hill between Cambridge, Lore City, and Old Washington. As employment opportunities changed throughout the years many began moving in closer to the county seat of Cambridge. Farming was listed as the most common job of our early black settlers when the U.S. began asking for occupations on the 1850 census.
Cumberland would become home to many of these early settlers. I will leave you with a vibrant, vivid description of an African American family of Guernsey County provided by Mrs. May Belle Ransome that was published in a book called History of Early Cumberland by May Stranathan.
John, the oldest, lived on Water Street where he built a house. He was a tanner for many years, also a farmer, working for persons in Senecaville and Lore City. He had four children. The oldest, Charles, worked for the B. & O. Railroad for many years… Homer worked for the J.C. Bay Company and is an expert in fine woodwork. The only daughter Nellie, is married and lives in Pittsburgh. George Ransome, known as “Jeff,” and his wife Jennie were long residents of Cumberland. Jeff used to carry a little ladder and go from lamp post to lamp post and light the streets long before we had electricity.
All research credit belongs to the books “Guernsey County’s Black Pioneers, Patriots, and Persons” by Wayne L. Snider and “Stories of Guernsey County, Ohio” by William G. Wolfe.
Establishing Cambridge as a First Generation American Community
To start off, I think it’s an important side note for people to know before the founding and settling of this area by Americans; Indians occupied the region completely unharmed from the outside world (which I will get to eventually in another article) until 1669. Then the French Crown famously sent a man named Robert de La Salle from Canada to Louisiana, laying markers along all the rivers claiming everything as a part of Quebec. They claimed much more then he traveled, and thus the reason for us buying this later in the Louisiana Purchase. The British Crown fought for and won the Northwestern Territory after the French and Indian (7 years) War in 1764. Hunters, Soldiers marching through, and squatters, had been through what’s now Guernsey County following that and leading up to Zane’s Trace, but since there were no settlers, no border, and no name, we have almost no actual account of this occurring specifically by anyone, we only know from the evidence left behind by the travelers, found by the first settlers.
Northwest Ordinance and Zanes Trace
We are Americans not French, not British, so let’s move on to our good ole American story. When the War for Independence was over, one of the first objectives of the founding fathers was to “set those Indians straight” and expand west. This is something England refused to let them do as colonies because of the perceived cost of war and a fear of further upsetting Native Americans. So by the end of the war–Americans and immigrants alike–were itching to go out across the Appalachia Mountains into the Ohio Valley. In 1787 the “Northwest Ordinance” was the last action signed in New York by the old Continental Congress established under America’s first and rather ineffective constitution called the Articles of Confederation. This new ordinance let eager Americans go out into the frontier and start settling and platting towns. The Northwest Ordinance was signed into effect the same exact summer the Constitutional Convention was basically tearing up the Articles of Confederation and writing a new Constitution in Philadelphia. Actually some of the men whom signed the Ordinance thought it more important than the convention with which they were also delegated to attend. This new land decree was also a way–by issuing land grants–for the National Government to appease War Veterans whom were becoming increasingly upset with the fact that they were not paid what they were promised for risking their lives against the red coats.
The popular enactment opened up the land from the Ohio region to the Wisconsin. But… People found out pretty fast, crossing the mountains into the frontier was not as easy as they had thought up in their imagination. They simply could not get to that land quickly–unless by lakes or rivers–because no roads had been built, it was still all wilderness. Despite Native Americans still occupying the region, established trading sites alongside waterways become cities like Cleveland (est 1797) and Cincinnati (est 1798) overnight; all this happened almost as quickly as the ink was drying on the paper. Just prior to the signing of this long-awaited piece of paper, a man named Ebenezer Zane petitioned and was paid by the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation, to blaze a trail from Wheeling, Virginia to Maysville, Kentucky. The agreement gave him a significant amount of land next to the three major rivers on this trail: the Muskingum, Hocking and Scioto. Not so ironically, he then paid the family members that helped him blaze the trail by setting up ferries and taverns for them to collect tolls and other profits. They did just that and in the process established towns. Zane gave the town over the Muskingum River to his son-in-law John McIntire, and thus McIntire appropriately named the new town “Zanesville,” after the man who made it all possible.
Settling and Founding of Cambridge, Ohio
Old Ebeneezer forgot about our little muddy Wills Creek in his agreement with Congress, so when John noticed a ferry was needed here, it is believed he quickly wrote to his relations summoning them to come and join in this great enterprise. When George and Henry Beymer came following McIntire’s advice, I am sure they were not happy to find a guy named Ezra Graham had beat them to the punch. Ezra was living in a cabin by Wills Creek and was already collecting tolls for helping people cross the creek. Knowing there was more to this venture than just a ferry, the Beymer brothers and Graham came to an agreement to run the ferry and build a new tavern to go with it. This was designed so that people could stop and grab a bite to eat, get warm, or get some rest, before they crossed the creek and continued further into the wilderness. Graham was to collect the profits from the ferry and the tavern was to be run by the brothers.
Ezra Graham is considered by history as a “squatter” i.e. someone that occupied the land without owning it. Ezra eventually left Cambridge and the rest of his life is lost to history. The Beymer family can be considered the area’s first settlers as they would go on to keep the tavern and run the ferry. In 1801, the land was granted to Revolutionary War Veteran Zacchues Beatty; whom then gave parts of the land to his father and brother-in-law, Zaccheus Beatty and Zaccheus Biggs. Zaccheus Beatty was assigned the job of surveyor in Wheeling and thus informed the Beymer’s that his father would be coming from Virginia to run the place from here on out, and with no legal title the Beymers had no choice but to give up the ferry and the tavern they had labored over to build. When John Beatty showed up as Zaccheus said he would, in his party was a former slave named “Tobey Beatty.” In 1806, John Beatty and his son-in-law Jacob Gomber (whom bought Biggs land) laid the plat, and named their little collection of growing cabins “Cambridge, Ohio.” It is true they were amid a national movement of expanding settlers going west. A huge influx of government surveyors, passerby’s and yet more settlers came to this region following the Ordinance. Including the epic journey of the Sarchet family in 1806, who are credited with giving us the name of Guernsey County. This large movement west is why so many different family names are attributed to being Cambridge and Guernsey Counties “first settlers.”
I should also note that Guernsey County was not established until 1810 and since Cambridge predates the county, there is a distinct difference between Cambridge’s first settlers and Guernsey County’s first settlers. As for who the first settlers were and who founded and platted the town of Cambridge, I have tried my best to give you both. Which you choose to admire more is your own preference. Later Zanes Trace, the trail that made it all happen, would be expanded on and a larger road built over it and it become known as the “National Road.” It is a big reason for the founding of more inland rural settlements like our own. Wills Creek, Zanes Trace and the National Road are our claims to a rich history that goes back to the generation of the founding fathers.
(William G.Wolfe, “Stories of Guernsey County” 1943. PG. 29-30)
(William Snider, “Guernsey County’s Black Pioneers, Patriots, and Persons” 1979. PG 1)
The Founding Fathers and the Movement West
I don’t believe many people identify Ohio as the frontier but at one time we were the wild west, with “crazed” Indians and pioneers battling each other for land. Our neighbors the Virginians (West Virginians didn’t exist, they were still just Virginians) and the Pennsylvanians were both original 13 colonies and thus a part of the fight against England for Independence. Unlike most small inland counties throughout the United States, we are the direct result of America’s first major effort to build a road into the frontier. Our history goes back further than other inland rural counties because of our connection to this road. When it was announced as a part of the Northwest Ordinance that the land won in the Revolution was finally going to be open to settlers, and then subsequently a road built to get to it; many pioneers came rushing over the Appalachia Mountains in a huge movement to get to that land. Guernsey County was a part of that land and the people that settled it were a part of that movement.
Zane’s Trace, didn’t just give us a ferry that needed settlers to work, it gave us a road that traveled directly back to Maryland where a person or a companies goods could then hop on a boat down the Potomac River to Washington D.C. or other large commercial cities. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both are documented talking about the beauty of the American frontier. Washington’s brothers were a part of the Ohio Company of Virginia, which attempted to colonize the region for the British Crown. Washington, as a British Officer, was told to go push the French out of Western Pennsylvania and the Ohio Valley. Washington was unsuccessful and a “more experienced” General Braddock was killed trying to clean up Washington’s mess. This event led to the French and Indian War before the Revolution. Ben Franklin was also a part of multiple efforts to settle our region under a revitalized version of the Ohio Company called the Grand Ohio Company. After this plan collapsed and after the Revolution, Franklin privately expressed that he felt shorted, and under-appreciated by the Congress for his work in France when he said they could have granted him and his family a tract of the Ohio for his years of service. These ideas of settlement would not be realized until after the Revolutionary War and after Washington and Franklin both passed away. However, Jefferson and Madison certainly picked up the cause and made it happen. I find it very interesting that Ben Franklin and George Washington, both made political pushes for the land we live and drive on everyday.
Cambridge land is thought to have been settled by Graham and the Beymers as early as the administration of John Adams (1796-1800). Cambridge was officially founded and established under the Presidency of Thomas Jefferson in 1806: the author of the Declaration of Independence. It is kind of fitting our paper is the “Daily Jeffersonian” then isn’t it? Guernsey County was founded in 1810 under James Madison: “the Father of the Constitution.” While Guernsey Counties founding fathers were settling the area we all have come to know (they were of the same generation as the nations founding fathers as they fought for them in the War for Independence.) Madison was presiding over another military conflict–considered by many as a part of the Revolution–against England called the War of 1812. In 1813, the American Navy captured 6 vessels of the British Royal Navy on Lake Erie. Pretty crazy to think the red coats were attempting to invade northern Ohio, just 3 years after the establishment of Guernsey County. What’s even more crazy? You can go to “Founders Grave Yard” across from the old county jail, and you will find “War of 1812” and “War for Independence” flags next to those that fought those red coats, and you can also look at a huge monument dedicated to all the veterans a part of the Revolution which span’s some 50 years from the early protests in the 1760’s against taxes, to the end of the war of 1812 which was actually fought in 1813. I can honestly say before I had sought out this information, I had no idea Cambridge had soldiers buried on her land that fought under the command of General George Washington. I just didn’t think the town was that old. But I was wrong, it is that old, and these men and women were extremely proud of the beautiful Ohio land they had settled, the same beautiful land you and I take for granted everyday.
This is the kind of stuff I love. I love thinking of Guernsey County without all the buildings, roads, and highways we have grew all up with, thinking of it as nothing more than a vast wilderness of trails, with Indians fishing in Wills creek and hunting wild bears and whatever other creatures they could find wondering the land. I love thinking of the huge movement of people crossing the Appalachia Mountains in Pennsylvania and West Virginia as if it’s a horse and carriage race to find the best land. I love thinking of those people turning old Indian trails into small dirt roads that connect little collections of cabins some miles away. How cool would it be to take a machine back in time, and ride in a wagon pulled by horses from the cabins in Old Washington to the taverns in Cambridge, and then off to Bye’s Mill (Byesville) to talk to Jonathan Bye. From there he would point us to some cabins and good people to feed us in Senecaville, where when we were done there, the people would send us off to Pleasant Point (Pleasant City). What an experience it would be to know our way around this vast wilderness from our modern day experience, telling the people where the buildings and the schools would be built in the future.
We are connected to the founders and first settlers of Guernsey County–people we can all be proud of–because we walk the same land and breath the same air they once did. They are connected to the famous events we read about in history books because to them these were current events. Ebenezer Zane once stepped foot on our land blazing his trail, Zane was veteran of the War of Independence and one can only imagine the famous people he may have encountered on his trips to petition congress. We are also connected to the famous people in history by their visits to our land. We are connected to the famous movements in history because the men and women that walked our land were a part of and experienced those movements. This what I am trying to do, find the stories that connect us to the people and events of the history books, and find the great stories that make our history unique. I encourage anyone that is interesting in doing the same to help us out. 🙂
If you’re interested in writing and having an article published email me at JS066513@ohio.edu or friend me on Facebook. (J.c. Shively) and send me a message