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

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!

Newark Earthworks Day, 2008

Yesterday, May 3, 2008, was Newark Earthworks Day. This annual event has been been in existence for several years, and this one was quite special.

The day started at the Reese Center at the Ohio State University – Newark campus with several panel discussions. I was a volunteer at the event, and worked the registration table most of the day. I was fortunate to be able to attend the second session of the day: “Cosmology of the Builders: Solar and Lunar Alignments.” On the panel were John Hancock (discussing the Octagon and Circle Mounds in Newark), Lionel Sims (discussing Stonehenge) and David Carrasco (discussing Teotihuacan.) It was an incredible session. My only regret is that they didn’t have more time. I wish, especially, that Lionel Sims would have had more time, as his proposal for what Stonehenge really marks was fascinating.

Mary Borgia’s 4th grade class from Miller Elementary School had displays featuring pre-historic sites from around the world. You could tell that the children put a lot of effort into their research and displays. Mary should be commended for her work with her classes over the years in helping the youth of Newark realize what an incredible treasure they have right in their backyard.

In the evening, the event moved to the museum at the Great Circle Mound. The museum was re-opened after having closed several years ago due to budget cuts. The Greater Licking County Convention and Visitors Bureau is now sharing the space with the museum. It appears to be a win-win for both the CVB and the Ohio Historical Society (which operates the museum and the Newark Earthworks.)

The end of the day was nothing short of spectacular. The Palabra del Niño Dios Teopi-Itzintecuhitl dancers performed Aztec prayer dances in the Great Circle Mound. There were several hundred people in attendance. (The picture at left gives you just a small idea of how many people were there.)

The dancers led us into the Great Circle, where they then went to the top of the mound in the center of the circle. The crowd formed a semi-circle around flowers that had been placed in front of the mound.

It started raining shortly after the dancers began. Many stayed for awhile, but as the rain came down harder and harder with no end in sight, many in crowd left. Finally, the sun did come back out — rewarding those of us who stayed with an incredible experience that we are not soon to forget.

The dancers braved the rain, never stopping or taking shelter. At one point, during an especially heavy downpour, the woman shown above did remove her headdress and put the feathers under a blanket for protection. She retrieved them after the sun came out.

It was an honor when the dancers invited the audience to join them. Many of us formed a circle around the dancers and tried our best to do the dances. It was incredible, though many of us (myself included) discovered just how out of shape we really are!

The Newark Earthworks is on the “short list” of sites to be added to the United Nations’ list of World Heritage Sites. It is expected to be added within the next seven years. When that happens, I expect not only many more events like the one yesterday, but also a fundamental change in how the Earthworks are managed.

Much more information about the Earthworks can be found at I’ve posted more pictures from Newark Earthworks Day 2008 on Flickr.