Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Arctic Explorer

The Register-Leader, November 13, 1916

Sunday's Columbus Dispatch carries an excellent likeness of Frederick W. Maurer, Marietta College student and lone American survivor of the Stefansson expedition. 

In connection with the photograph, the Dispatch says:

"Frederick W. Maurer, scientist and arctic explorer, only American survivor of the Stefansson Arctic expedition, has given up bucking the Arctic ice for the equally hazardous task of "bucking the line" at Marietta College, Marietta, Ohio. Maurer was among the promising candidates who reported to Coach Drumm at training camp this fall. With a year of experience, it is believed that Maurer will become a valuable member of the Buckeye eleven."

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Colored Settlements in Washington County

The Register-Leader, October 7, 1913

To the Editor of the Register-Leader:

Dear Sir - Being called to Cutler last year to deliver the Memorial Day address, I was deeply interested to find certain racial conditions whose like I had never seen before. Side by side with an excellent class of white citizens there were an almost equal number of self-respecting, well-dressed, intelligent colored citizens who seemed to be received on terms of social equality by the white people, at least as far as they would have been received had they possessed the same personal qualities without their dark complexion. 

Of the excellent band which furnished music for the occasion, the leader and ten of the fifteen players were negroes. An elderly colored gentleman was called upon for a brief address, which he made admirably. I found that he had been a teacher for more than a generation, now retired in good circumstances upon his farm. In conversation he was of quiet voice and thoughtful, interesting speech, and he evidently had the deep respect of all.  One or two colored people sang in the choir, and in a general conversation with a group of men at the railway station it was a negro who made off hand, the remark showing widest information. 

A tall, young colored man, Mr. Esau Harris, a highly respected teacher in that district, agreed, at my request, to furnish me some account of the origin of these interesting settlements of his people.  He has just done so, and I am sure many of your readers will be glad of this interesting and important piece of history.

Very truly yours,
Augustine S. Carman.
Cutler, O., Oct. 1, 1913.

S. Carman, Marietta, Ohio.

My Dear Sir - As you know, some time ago I promised you I would write you a short sketch concerning the history of the colored population in the west end of Washington county. I will begin by saying that the history of the different settlements is much the same. Some of the settlers were slaves that had been set free by their Virginia and West Virginia masters and emigrated to Ohio. Some were free colored persons who lived in the hills of West Virginia and came also to Ohio. It is a fact that the freeborn persons and those who had been slaves were somewhat antagonistic to each other at first. In all probability this was caused by the conditions that they had been subject to while still in West Virginia.

The free persons, by having their liberty and the freedom of their hills, had come to look down upon their less fortunate brethren who were slaves.  The free persons always pointed with pride to the fact that some of their ancestors had fought under General George Washington and that none of them or their ancestors were slaves. Now this may seem strange, nevertheless they spoke the truth, for although they were of mixed blood and undoubtedly were part negro, they were free and their slave ancestry was so far removed that the fact had been forgotten.

They had mixed with Indians and after the war of the Revolution, two or three British soldiers had settled and married among them, so as a natural consequence they had come to consider themselves as something distinct and apart from the slaves around them. And this is what caused the slow fusion of the two factions after emigrating to Ohio.

A case worthy of attention among the "Hill People" concerning the uncertainty of their ancestry was brought by one of them who presented himself at an election in West Virginia for the purpose of voting. He was refused and brought suit in court. He won his case, as the only ancestor of his whose blood could be proven was an Englishman by birth and a naturalized citizen of the United States. Always after this he voted and was "white." His brothers and sisters were "colored."  He also emigrated to Ohio and was known as colored, but a brother of his was pressed into a white regiment during the Civil War, regardless of his protests.

The colored population today that is here are descendants of former slaves and those "Hill People" that I have above mentioned. And the spirit of independence that you see manifested today is no more noticeable than that which marked the demeanor of the early pioneers. Indeed, I do not believe that the colored people here are as assertive as their ancestors were. I do not believe that they would now willingly violate a law, no difference how unjust, but all of those early settlers were active workers for the "Underground Railroad," and most of them would not have hesitated to sacrifice a slave hunter's life had they thought it necessary for their or a slave's safety.  As an example, two slave owners barely escaped being burned to death in a tobacco drying house two miles west of Cutler. While they were searching above, the entrance was fired below, and they only escaped by breaking through the roof. One of them was injured by a fall in reaching the ground. 

The colored people were aided and abetted in their violation of the fugitive slave law by most of their white neighbors. The most noted family of white people who were active in running slaves through to Canada were emigrants from Ireland. Their home was an underground railway station through which scores of slaves passed to liberty. They were the family of smith and were the ancestors of several prominent persons of that name now living in Washington county. Another prominent underground worker was one William Heald, who was daring as well as active, he having on occasions taken slaves in broad daylight.

The early pioneers were by family names as follows:  Carr, Cook, Cousins, Dalton, Dickinson, Evans, Field, Kennedy, Sawyer, Simpson, Singer, Tate, Male, Norris, Tucker, Wilkinson, Still, Harris, Ramsey, Goins.  There are possibly other names that I cannot recall at the present time. The first settlement was to the south of what is now Cutler village. The families were Cook, Dalton, Kennedy, Tucker and others.

The second settlement was west and southwest from Cutler, in fact making two settlements, although they were settled about the same time. Probably persons coming at the same time would settle at different points.

Now there was a reason for these colored persons settling here; the reason was this:  Douglas Putnam owned or controlled large tracts of land at this place and he was always a firm friend to the colored people.  He was willing to and did sell land to every colored man that applied to him. His terms were always liberal and he was just in all his dealings with them, and for two generations Douglas Putnam's name was a familiar one among the colored people of the west end of Washington county. 

The early colored pioneer were mostly farmers, although some were mechanics. The Simpson family were noted for their skill in wagon building. They were a family of carpenters, generally speaking, but building wagons was their specialty. The Carrs were also carpenters. Aside from a few blacksmiths and shoemakers, the balance of the men were farmers. If they did not own farms of their own, they either rented or worked for others (generally white people) as farm hands.

There were some champion workers among them whose ability to accomplish a large amount of work in one day has been recounted by the people up to the present day. A prominent name among them was Azariah Norman, who was noted for his great strength and his ability to cut as much wheat with a cradle in one day as two men could bind up. I was told personally by an old gentleman, James King by name, that he always bound as much wheat as any man could cut until he bound after Mr. Norman. Mr. King was the father of C. C. King, lately of this county, now of Oklahoma. In those days they put one dozen sheaves together for a shock. Mr. King said Norman could cut 160 shocks from sunrise to sunset. 

It seems that the farm hands of that day were quite willing to work a full day. Another man, Edmund Coursey, was a noted corn cutter. There was a settlement of Friends (Quakers) near, that always made it a point, if possible, to have "Ed" cut corn for them, and so great was his prowess in cutting and shocking that they were quite willing to pay him one-third more per day than anyone else, either colored or white.

Thus you see, even in this early day the white and colored people here were beginning to understand one another and to have a mutual understanding as to their relations toward each other.  When the whites hired colored men to work for them, they never objected to eating at the same table with them and worked side by side as if they had both belonged to the same race. By so doing the whites showed by their actions that they respected the colored people and in turn they were respected and loved by the colored people, and be it said to the everlasting credit of both, as two different races they have never had any trouble.  While both races have had trouble among themselves, the two races have always had peace between themselves.

While the Civil War was in progress the enlistment among the colored people was as large in proportion to numbers as among the whites. Some few colored men were enlisted in white regiments at the early stage of the war. The balance enlisted in colored regiments later in the struggle.  Edmund Coursey, whom I have before mentioned, died in the service; also Azariah Norman received wounds from which he never fully recovered, dying soon after his term of enlistment had expired after the close of the war. There were several who left for the front who never came back, among them being an uncle of mine. 

This, I believe, is as near the history of our people here as I can give. The older generations are all gone. The only one now left is Thomas Still, living near Vincent, Ohio. He is now eighty-seven years of age and a veteran of the Civil War. He could have furnished you with more of our history than I can, but I have been unable to see him in regards to it. I thank you for your kindly interest in my people very much and only wish that others of your race felt the same toward us, then I am sure we would be rid of the vexing Race Problem. Trusting this may prove satisfactory, I am as ever,

Yours truly,
Esau Harris.
Cutler, O.
 

 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Putnam House

The Marietta Times, September 28, 1865

Last week, happening to be over in Harmar, we took a look at the Putnam House. We thought that, when built, it must have been a pretty commodious tavern for a village such as Harmar was, twenty-five years ago. On inquiry, we learned that it was erected in 1838, by a man named Brooks; that it was opened early in 1840 with a grand ball; and that it was then so out of proportion to the travel and business of this part of the country, that it presently went by the popular name of "Brooks' Folly."

Brooks was, in those times, a prominent merchant. He took sundry contracts for building locks on the Muskingum improvement, lost heavily, got embarrassed, went to Texas, and came to his death by a fall from his horse. When his Ohio business was settled up, his affairs were found in a perfectly solvent condition.

For years after his death, the big tavern he built met with indifferent success.  The M. & C. Railroad once leased the house for three years - kept it open one year, and closed for the balance of the time. Afterward, Dr. Seth Hart bought it. He kept tavern for awhile, and last winter sold it to J. A. Freeborn. Under his management, the Putnam House is getting to be pretty well known by the travelling public,and what is better, it is of "that good fame, without which glory's but an idle song."

The Marietta Times, September 28, 1865

Since Mr. Freeborn took possession in January last, he has been fixing up the property in diverse ways, and he intends to carry forward his improvements until the Putnam House shall be one of the best hotels of its class in all the West.  We noticed that his register showed a very fair list of travelers from day to day.  Mr. Freeborn tries to deserve success, and we are sure he will get it. We want just such men in all branches of business.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Harmar Legislation

Marietta Gazette, April 21, 1837

This best of all towns of ours used to be divided by the Muskingum and, as every one knows, that portion which lay west of the river went by the name of Point Harmar.  Well, after jogging along together some thirty odd years, sometimes wrangling a little and sometimes harmonizing, as married folks will occasionally, Mrs. Harmar took it into her head to set up for herself, thinking she was big enough to go alone.  We of the two eastern wards said to her, stay or go as suits you best, and luck to you anyhow.

Whereupon, off went bill for a new charter for the Town of Harmar, and it was passed by the Legislature before half those who were to be governed by it knew that it existed, even in embryo. This caused a deal of staring on both sides of the Muskingum. Those on the east side gathered together to concoct a new charter for themselves, for in lopping off Mrs. Harmar the Legislature had so maimed the old one that it could work no longer. So the people of the east made out a project in town meeting as best suited them. And then came a most admirable display of nice legislation.

The Town of Marietta is the best of all Towns, but it was laid out as no other town ever was. The streets are almost outrageously spacious. This may be well enough, as it may keep quarrelsome people, if we should ever come to have any, at a good distance apart. But the city squares are more outrageously spacious still, so that it is quite a journey to go round one - something not far from half a mile. We asked leave to cut them up with new streets, &c., which was granted. There were streets and alleys in wrong places.  We wanted the privilege of taking worse grounds and giving better and more of it. There are also several bits of streets which lead nowhere and are of no public use. We asked leave to vacate them, disposing of the grounds for the use of the Town, providing that every man owning an adjoining lot should consent, and two-thirds of our Council would vote for it.  Moreover, there were two short streets very much wanted for the use of the Town for which substitutes could be procured, as was believed, which would better accommodate all concerned. We asked leave to vacate unnecessary streets, &c., with the consent, as we have said of all the adjoining lot holders. And what did we get? Why, leave to vacate with the consent of the owners of all the lots in town, of two thirds the voters in town meeting, and two thirds the Town council! Now to get the consent of all the lot owners would be as impossible as to get our late Legislature to have attended to their proper business.

The Bill for Marietta Charter was forwarded, as was supposed, early enough to have it passed so that the annual election might take place on the first Monday in March; but to provide against failure in that respect, a clause was inserted, empowering the Mayor, whose office was not to be vacated till his successor should be appointed, to notify an election. This was not observed by our lynx-eyed legislators, who were so careful to guard the interest of uninterested lot holders in unnecessary streets. So they made a special act to confine our first election to a special day.

So much for Marietta. Now for Sister Harmar

When the first incorporation of Harmar was bolted on the citizens, they took it in ill part and gathered together and rejected it almost unanimously; made out and forwarded a new bill, which after a long time was passed. Whereupon, our friends of Harmar wrote to Columbus for a certified copy, and there came a copy, not of the last act, but of the first act for the first incorporation which had been repealed; all duly certified!  On a fresh order, however, the existing law was forwarded after the time specified in it for holding the first election. So the matter is up for the present. The time pointed out by the citizens of Harmar for holding their elections was the first Monday in March. But as the bill slept too long for that, they altered it to the second Monday in April - and it came to hand on the third Monday. But another item of nice legislation herein occurs. The Town Council were to be elected on the second Monday in April, and in the month of March were to choose the town officers.

One more item.  It was intended the Town of Harmar should be bounded on the east by the Muskingum River, and the west by certain lots. By some lapse the boundaries stand as follows:  "All that part of the Township of Marietta which lies on the west side of Muskingum river, which lies east of 252-acre lot No. 35, and of the 108-acre lot No. 22, and the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers."

 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Painting by Marietta Artist Given High Praise

Marietta Daily Times, January 4, 1917

Friends of August J. Weber, Marietta boy doing art work in Cincinnati, will be interested in the following clipping reproduced from "The Week in Art Circles" column of the Cincinnati Enquirer. It related to an over-mantle allegorical decoration, conceived and painted by Mr. Weber.  It was exhibited in the Queen City, and is to be shown in New York:

"Miss Elizabeth Fangmeyer pays August J. Weber the following charming tribute: 'Does the Princess live here? I paused and gazed at that creation of color.  Could any ordinary mortal have portrayed this airy bubble of fairyland upon a square of canvas? Was it true that a human hand had tinted those garden walls that brilliant sapphire hue and built that pearly crystal palace in the distance? To me this was art. Not alone the art of the brush and palette, but also a truer and nobler art, a vivid idealistic fancy that only a master might possess.'"