No Need to Duck — It’s a Golf-free Day at the Octagon

Sunday, October 19 from 1:00-5:00 is Open House at the Octagon at the Newark Earthworks. This is one of only four (count ’em: four) days per year when the public has full access to these incredible structures. The golfers will not be on the course, so no need to listen for calls of “Fore!” 

The weather should be great, so come on out and see this fantastic monument and observatory built by the Hopewell culture.

Octagon Mound, Newark, Ohio

Funding for Presidential Records

This news release was passed my way this morning. I’m always encouraged when governments fund preservation of historical records.

On September 26, the U.S. Senate passed the Presidential Historical Records Preservation Act, sponsored by Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) and Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), to ensure that grant funding is available to preserve the documents of presidents who served before President Herbert Hoover.

The House of Representatives approved its version of the bill, sponsored by U.S. Reps. Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Tom Davis (R-Va.), on September 27. It now goes to President Bush to be signed into law.

Through the Presidential Library Act of 1955, the National Archives and Records Administration manages and maintains 12 presidential libraries, from presidents Hoover to Clinton. These facilities are privately constructed and deeded to the federal government, and house official records and papers of those former presidents.

But the documents of pre-Hoover presidents, who have no libraries of their own, also deserve careful historical preservation. Due to the geographic distribution of those papers, it is unlikely that a single library dedicated to such conservation will ever be built.

This legislation provides modest grants on a competitive, discretionary basis to worthwhile nonprofits and state or local governments willing to engage in such preservation efforts, and will ensure public access to preserved records. Grant recipients must provide a 100-percent match to all federal government monies, and the archivist of the United States, charged with safeguarding historical documents, will decide which records are appropriate for preservation.

The New Historical Scholarship

For a long time now, it has been said that historians do not value genealogy, choosing instead to focus on the “big picture” while considering the lives of everyday people unimportant to their studies at hand. Ever since returning to school (and, in fact, since I heard Dr. James Madison speak at the 2005 Midwestern Roots conference), I have not believed that to be the case. All of my history professors have had positive reactions to my being a genealogist. In fact, I am now a student assistant for one of my professors because of my experience as a genealogist.

Last night in my reading for one of my classes, I found the following quote about the new historical scholarship. From the essay “The Changing Face of Reformation History” by Andrew Pettegree in The Reformation World (Andrew Pettegree, ed. New York: Routledge, 2000):

It is perhaps here that the new trends in historical scholarship have impacted most profoundly (and not simply in the field of Reformation studies). It is now accepted that it is possible to write the history of ordinary people; indeed, no presentation of the past is real without such an attempt.

Some historians may not see the value of tracing a lineage, but they have recognized that the study of ordinary people — which is what we as genealogists/family historians do — is vital to historical scholarship.

So Many Records… So Little Time

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that I’m behind in posting Tombstone Tuesdays. In fact, I’m behind in posting darn near anything!

The problem has not been a lack of things to write about. On the contrary — I have LOTS of things to write about. The problem is time and the lack thereof. As I have mused to my friends and colleagues, it is an unfortunate truth that labors of love are often pushed aside by labors of “gotta do.”

Don’t get me wrong — I love my day jobs. I truly enjoy preparing materials for the websites I work on. I’ve had the pleasure and the privilege of working on some very interesting projects. But as I’ve discovered as I’ve delved more deeply into various records, websites and blogs, there are more records and resources available than any of us could hope to cover completely in our lifetimes.

That thought could be rather depressing. I’m trying instead to think of it as a challenge and a comfort. It is a challenge to get through as many meaningful, interesting resources as possible. It is also a comfort to know that we as researchers will never be bored.

Tombstone Tuesday: Chief Black Hoof

Chief Black Hoof Tombstone/Monument, St. John's, Ohio.

Chief Black Hoof Tombstone/Monument, St. John's, Ohio.

This week’s Tombstone Tuesday features a tombstone (or, more properly, a cenotaph) of a man you’ve probably never heard of who was part of a story that you’ve likely heard only one side of.

If I were to ask you to name a chief of the Shawnee during the early 1800s, I’m guessing most of you would respond with “Tecumseh.” While Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa (The Prophet) are the most well-known Shawnee leaders, they were not the only ones. One of the other chiefs was Catahecassa — Black Hoof.

Black Hoof led a group of Shawnee in northwest Ohio and northeast Indiana that did not agree with Tecumseh’s idea of a pan- Native American alliance. Perhaps because Black Hoof was older and had dealt directly with the whites for a longer time than Tecumseh, he believed that fighting the Americans would be futile. He had fought against the colonists during the Revolutionary War and there is conjecture that he was present at Harmar’s Defeat in 1790. What may have turned the tide in Black Hoof’s mind was witnessing the 1794 Battle of Fallen Timbers, in which the Shawnee and other tribes were defeated by troops led by General “Mad” Anthony Wayne.

While Tecumseh and The Prophet denounced the white man’s influence and promoted a return to “traditional” Native American ways, Black Hoof reached the conclusion that the only way for the Shawnee in Ohio to survive was to adapt and become farmers like their white neighbors. He travelled to Washington in 1807 to urge the government to provide assistance toward that goal. The government authorized William Kirk to help them establish a farm near Wapakoneta.

The Wapakoneta farm was a great success. They had over 500 acres in crops and a sawmill and gristmill under construction. The residents of Dayton sent the War Department a letter praising the Shawnee for protecting them against other tribes.

Alas, the prosperity was short-lived. Through a series of bureaucratic blunders (namely, Kirk not filing all of the required reports) and some rumors placed by William Wells, the Indian Agent at Fort Wayne, Secretary of War Henry Dearborn ended the funding for the project.

After the Battle of Tippecanoe, the powder keg of white/Indian relations finally exploded. The War of 1812 saw Tecumseh and his followers siding with the British; Black Hoof and his followers tried to either side with the Americans or at least stay neutral.

With the British defeat, the War Department changed its method of procuring land from the Native Americans in the north. Rather than gaining land through treaties, it would be done by removal. Black Hoof tried for as long as possible to keep his band of 300 Shawnee in northwest Ohio, but the Indian Removal Act of 1830 was the death knell. Even though they could show that they were good farmers and that their children attended the Society of Friends School for the Shawnee and even though they had the support of Secretary of War Lewis Cass, it was to no avail.

The removal process (which began with a dubiously negotiated treaty in 1831) ended in the Shawnee removal to Kansas in 1832. Black Hoof stayed in Wapakoneta and died there just three months after his people moved west.

Black Hoof is buried near St. John’s Ohio. His monument shown here is located in Black Hoof Memorial Park/St. John’s Cemetery at the intersection of U.S. Route 33 and Ohio State Route 65.

Waxing Nostalgic and a Seriously Cool Bag

What do we think about the past? That might seem like an odd question for genealogists, but I think it is one worth exploring.

Slane & Johnson Texaco -- "You can trust your car to the man who wears the star."

Slane & Johnson Texaco — “You can trust your car to the man who wears the star.”

Recently, I’ve become rather fascinated with old signs. Whether neon, electric, or vacu-formed, they seem in stark contrast to today’s polished, glossy, designed-by-the-marketing-department signs. Some sign aficionados say that the old signs herald back to a simpler, more innocent time. I don’t think that’s necessarily the case, but I do think it is a time we tend to gloss over.

What Is “The Past”?

“The past,” for many of us, is something before 1900. Yes, we’ve interviewed our living ancestors and we’ve driven past the house where Mom or Dad grew up — but there is so much more. What about the grocery stores, hardware stores, and service stations where they went about their daily business? What about the movie theaters, restaurants, and bowling alleys where they spent some leisure time?

So much of what they and we grew up with is disappearing. Think about your own hometown and how many landmarks of your youth are now the site of a Walgreens.

(I’m kicking myself for not having a picture of the Kahiki, a Polynesian-style restaurant on the east side of Columbus, complete with tiki torches, palm trees, and flaming statues that flanked the front door. It was torn down a few years ago for a Kroger store. “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot…”)

I suppose it is a relative thing, but I feel a bit sad that our children often don’t have the unique places that we had. There was only one Rubino’s Pizza and it was “ours,” including the too-tall counter and the pinball machine in the back. Somehow, meeting the gang at Starbucks loses something. Yes, they hopefully will still make great memories there, but there won’t be that “special-ness” about the place. Walk into one Starbucks and you’ve pretty much walked into them all.

What Will We Remember?

"A Granville Tradition" (and was a good place to eat!)

Evergreen Restaurant: “A Granville Tradition” (and was a good place to eat!)

Some of my relatives have asked “Why would you want to hear about that” when I’ve asked them about their youth. They can’t imagine that something so common-place, so ordinary to them would be of interest to anyone else. I fear the same thing is happening with the commonplace, ordinary things of our own more recent past.

So how does the seriously cool bag fit in? I recently purchased a new bag with Route 66 icons on it — the Route 66 sign, classic cars, vintage hotel signs, and roadside attractions. While standing in line at the post office this week, I was tapped on the shoulder by a kind-looking woman, easily in her 80s. “Oh, honey, I love your bag! Is it new?” I told her it was, that I had purchased it just the weekend before. With a gleam in her eye, she said, “Oh how that brings back some memories.”

I doubt she would have said that if I had a Starbucks bag.

How About You?

Is there a place that is special to your past that has been paved over? Is there a place that you’re glad is still standing? Tell us about it!


Second Capitol of Ohio historical marker

Second Capitol of Ohio historical marker

I hit a Waymarking milestone today — my 100th approved Waymark! The honor (such as it is) goes to Second Capitol of Ohio in the Ohio Historical Markers category.

This marker (#7-60) is in front of the Muskingum County Courthouse at 401 Main Street, Zanesville. The marker reads:

(side A)  In 1809 the citizens of Zanesville erected a building on this site which served as the capitol of Ohio from October 1, 1810, until May 1, 1812. The 9th and 10th sessions of the Ohio General Assembly met here before returning to Chillicothe in May 1812. The building was then used as the Muskingum County Courthouse until the present courthouse was built in 1874. The 1809 date stone from the old building was incorporated into the new building and may be seen over the front steps.

(side B)  In 1809 both Zanesville and Putnam (then a separate town across the Muskingum River) vied to become the capital city of Ohio. Zanesville erected a new county courthouse and Putnam erected a new school building – both towns hoping that the state legislature would find their building suitable for the state house. When the legislature settled on Zanesville, the Putnam building, known as the Stone Academy, was used as a school and as a meeting place. The Ohio Anti-Slavery Convention was held there in 1835.

I knew I was getting close to #100, so I was careful what categories I was submitting to. I didn’t want #100 to be something like McDonalds or Walmart! (I haven’t posted to either of those categories, though I suppose I will break down and do one of each someday, just to fill in the grid.)

Look for more Waymarking information soon on my blog!

More military resources

From the latest issue of Genealogy Gems, published by the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne:

In the “Our Military Heritage” portion of are the following new resources:

Civil War:
Abstract of General Orders and Proceedings of the 26th Annual Encampment, Department of New York, G.A.R. [Grand Army of the Republic]

Indian Wars:
The Black Hawk War, Including a Review of Black Hawk’s Life

Revolutionary War:
Revolutionary War Veterans Buried in Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio

World War I:
With a Field Ambulance at Ypres, Being Letters Written March 7 – August 15, 1915 by William Boyd

World War II:
The World War II Letters of Maxwell P. Smith

Directories, Yearbooks, and Other General Works:
Names of Invalid Pensioners of the United States Who Have Been Admitted to the Rolls Since March 3, 1849

[NOTE: You can subscribe to “Genealogy Gems,” the free monthly ezine published by the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library by going to and filling out the subscription form at the bottom of the page.]

Celebrating Ohio’s Bicentennial

After reading the title of this post, those of you familiar with Ohio history might be thinking, “Amy, you’re 5 years too late.” Yes, I know that Ohio’s Bicentennial was March 1, 2003. However, I just wanted to explain the new picture at the top of the blog.

One of the ways that Ohio celebrated its Bicentennial was to paint at least one barn in each county with the Ohio Bicentennial logo. The one shown at the top is the one in New Albany, Franklin County. It is visible from the west-bound lanes of State Route 161 just east of Kitzmiller Road. I took the photo last summer from the old Dublin-Granville Road.

Like many people, I had the goal of photographing each of the barns in all 88 counties. Unfortunately, it’s not going to happen, as some have already been torn down. (The one in Hocking County, for example, was torn down in 2004.) Many of the remaining barns are fading. They are still neat to find.

Update: Thanks to Chelsea at for letting me know the Hocking County barn was replaced! (I really need to get out more!)

The website has a section devoted to the Bicentennial Barns, including photos and exact locations of almost all of them.

Action needed on Preserving the American Historical Record act

From the Records Preservation and Access Committee website:

Congressmen Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Chris Cannon (R-UT) have issued a “dear colleagues” letter to the members of the House of Representatives, inviting them to sign on as original sponsors to the “Preserving the American Historical Record” (PAHR) bill.

PAHR proposed to increase federal support for state and local archival records held by government agencies, historical societies, libraries, and related organizations. This initiative would establish a program of formula-based grants to states for re-grants and statewide services to support preservations and use of historical records. The program, to be administered by the National Archives, will provide a total of $50 million per year nationwide. Each state would receive a portion of these funds for redistribution to organizations within its borders. This program would be in addition to the existing national grants program within the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

How can you help?

Contact your Representative in Congress and urge them to sign on as an original sponsor of PAHR. Write a few sentences telling him or her how PAHR would help his or her constituents — you! (Tell them how vital it is to have records preserved and available to the public.) Also, spread the word about this action alert!

Time is critical. Deadline for action is Saturday, May 10.

Faxing your Representative is the preferred method of communication. The Humanities Advocacy Network maintains a website with all of the contact information for legislators:

Further information about PAHR, including the bill, background information, and the amount of funding for each state can be found at: