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I remember growing up in the village of Byesville back in the 1990’s and everybody getting excited about the “Annual Jonathan Bye Days” festival. 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. 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 decided to take this project and do the research for you and I hope a few more knowledgeable members of the community will help me. Not only do I want to know, “Who is Jonathan Bye ?” I’d like to find someone that knows something about the railroad history in Cambridge and have them write an article about it’s hey day. I’d like to see a, “Top 10 torn or burnt down buildings” list and a, “Top 10 gone out-of-businesses of Cambridge.” I could do all this research myself, but it would take me forever, so I’m asking you–the community–to help me make this site as good as it can be for future generations. I’m open to any idea’s anyone wants to throw my way.
Which brings me to my next point, the reasons for this site. The morale towards the area is not so high, at least not from my experience. After some controversial “Top Ten” articles that have painted our county seat as a post-industrial ghetto, people have felt confirmed in talking badly of our home. One article places Cambridge and our next door neighbor Zanesville on the, “Top Ten Worst Places to Live in Ohio”; meaning–according to roadsnacks.com–our little region here makes up 20% of Ohio’s worst places to reside. Another website put Cambridge on their “Ten Most Dangerous Places in Ohio.” Unfortunately, I don’t believe a lot of people my age are real proud of their connection to Guernsey County. Actually, it’s too often the butt of the joke. Honestly, I have even been guilty of it myself. It is my hope to change this negative view of our home. I want to act as a neutralizer to these bad articles and give people something positive about their community to point at and say, “That’s where I am from and it’s a great place.”
You see nobody has ever educated my generation about what there is to be proud of in Guernsey County. Nobody told us about the fascinating people here before us, or that we were unique because we have a first generation American town. So how could we feel a sense of pride? All we have ever heard about is how the area has, “gone down the tubes.”So I have decided to build this site for a couple of reasons, the biggest of which is to boost that morale and pride of our citizenship. The truth is, it’s not the best of times in Guernsey County but I think history can make us forget about our problems for a little while. With history we can escape into our imagination and paint a picture of what used to be here.
History is an important tool to have while going through life. I know some people would debate that but I don’t believe it’s debatable. The Founders of the United States were learned in history and they used it to build the greatest nation the world has ever seen. History is the most under utilized tool in our society today. Dr. Phil says something like, “The best way to predict the future is too look at the relevant past.” When we put relevant history under a microscope we can better predict the future. With history we have an accurate tool that tells us consequences before we make the mistakes. Relevant history gives us an idea of what the future will hold when we are weighing important decisions in life. So, despite what scientists and mathematicians think; history is important.It is my mission to give the people of my community a little more relevant history to use in their day to day lives and even more history of which to be proud.
You see, unlike large cities who have their history all over the internet; small rural villages and towns do not have the luxury of easily accessible history. Nowadays if it isn’t on the internet, kids don’t give a hoot about it. It’s my hope that I may gain a few fans of history by making it more available to future generations while also enlightening the rest of us… Including myself. I have barely scratched the surface, I have to tell you I have been surprised at how much has been left behind to us in our libraries.
I am standing on the shoulders of giants in this field. There are more books on the history of Guernsey County than I expected I would find; one of which was written and published in 1911 by COL. Cyrus P.B. Sarchet, a man who’s grandparents were among the very first settlers here. I have found a book on Guernsey County’s African American history by Wayne L. Snider published in 1979, and published in 1943, “Stories of Guernsey County, Ohio” by William G.Wolfe is truly the holy grail on this topic as anyone who has done research on the history will tell you.
On top of the the Daily Jeffersonian, there are also numerous out-of-print newspapers from the small towns that make up our great county. When material is in the public domain I will scan and credit the source. If I feel I have an experience or idea that can add to a subject then I will write an article myself. I will often use my own photography and graphics and eventually I would like to add short video documentaries and interviews. If you’re curious or have a question in regards to any of this this feel free to ask me, you can add me on Facebook here or click the link at the bottom for other ways to contact me. Obviously, there is an enormous wealth of information and research to be done, and I for one am excited to know the information is out there for us to find and bring back to life! Let’s start off with, “Who was Jonathan Bye, really?”/“A Movement West: The Settling and Founding of Cambridge, Ohio” and “3 Year Old Girl Captured by Indians: the John Chapman Story.”
Please feel free to converse by making comments. Thank You.
I have reached out to the local Historical Society in regards to becoming a member and I believe that will happen soon enough. So with this website I’ll also try to provide you all with latest news and links regarding events connected to the history of Guernsey County. I have tried my best to be sure every category you see on the menu at the top of this page has some material on it, so feel free to navigate the page and find what interest you most. If you would like to know a little more about me you can click here to read my “about me.”