A couple of weekends ago, Sally, Andy and I visited my mother in Brown County. We decided to take a jaunt around the area to visit a few of our favorite places, and hopefully, to find a few new points of interest.
Georgetown: A Beautiful Tomb
Our first stop was the Georgetown Cemetery, where we encountered this very interesting and elaborate crypt in a prominent location. The marble statue at the apex of the roof is still beautiful in spite of (or perhaps because of ) the patina she has acquired over the last 90 years.
Two women are interred here; their relationship to one another is not evident. Clearly, the older of the two women purchased the tomb, as it is her name that adorns the lintel over the door. The names of the occupants and their dates of birth and death are inscribed on tablets beside the steps up to the door. Who were they? If you know about Mary Shelton or Mary Cochran, please post a comment and enlighten us.
Incidentally, if you visit Georgetown, you should visit U.S. Grant’s boyhood home and the school he attended as a young man, both of which are open to the public.
Ripley: Home of Abolitionism in Ohio
After a hearty lunch at the Fireside Restaurant in Georgetown (highly recommended!) we headed down the road to Ripley, Ohio. Ripley was a very important town in the days prior to and during the Civil War; it was a hotbed of abolitionist activity, a major stop on the Underground Railroad, and the home of Rev. John Rankin. Rev. Rankin and his sons were conductors on the Underground Railroad, providing safe conduct to numerous fugitive slaves on their way to Canada and freedom. Harriet Beecher Stowe was highly influenced by Rankin’s anti-slavery activities. Sights not to be missed in Ripley include the Rankin House (check it out at http://ohsweb.ohiohistory.org/places/sw14/index.shtml), the monument to the first abolitionists in Ohio, and Freedom Landing (right below the monument).
The trip to Ripley is well worth the drive – while you’re there, stop at Rockin’ Robin’s for ice cream – it’s a 50’s style soda fountain with great atmosphere. Word of warning: the “single dip” ice cream cone is a LOT larger than you’d think!
Adams County Heritage Center and a Brush with My Ancestors
I have long known that my maternal grandfather’s ancestors were the first settlers of Adams County, Ohio. Two Ellison brothers made the journey down the Ohio River in 1790 along with seventeen other men and their families, all of whom had been offered property in return for settling at Massie’s Station, later called Manchester, Ohio. Manchester was the first white settlement in the Virginia Military District. Col. Daniel Collier, listed among the field officers of the 2nd Brigade, Ohio Militia in the War of 1812, was an early settler and leader of the community. His son-in-law, Andrew Ellison was my great-great-great-great-grandfather (assuming that I’ve correctly calculated the number of greats, that is). Andrew’s family owned a two-story log house on the ridge road (later called Vaughn’s Chapel Road) in Adam’s County built around 1803. Why did I tell that story? Well, for two reasons: first off, as a child, I played in that house, which was still standing on the original site right up until the late 1980’s, when it was sold, disassembled, moved to Loveland, Ohio and reassembled (or so I’m told – please contact me if you have info on this matter). My Aunt Hattie Osman lived there with a flock of turkeys, ducks, geese, and a few score of cats until her death. On the hill behind the house was the Ellison family cemetery where Andrew and many others are buried.
The second reason for this rambling account is that I recently paid a visit to the Adams County Heritage Center in West Union, Ohio to get a close look at great(x4)-grandpa Andrew’s rifle. It’s in a glass case, incorrectly labeled as a cap & ball “musket”. What it is, in fact, is an Ohio made half-stock hunting rifle (muskets are military firearms) of about .45 caliber with a beautiful curly maple stock and handmade iron furniture. It is a cap and ball firearm, and that fact is troublesome. You see, for Daniel Collier to have owned the rifle originally, it would have to have been built before percussion caps existed. It would have to have been constructed as a flintlock rifle, then converted to percussion at a later date. I’m not an expert, but such things did happen, so I’m assuming the rifle is authentic as represented. I hope anyone who has information on these items will contact me – it would be nice get the facts straight and save the information for posterity.
Since I’m also a bit of a fanatic about old bikes, I couldn’t help but notice a “Ben Hur” bicycle, circa 1890, stashed away in the back corner of the museum. It has pneumatic tires, long since collapsed and hardened, wooden rims, wooden fenders laced onto the frame with cotton cordage, wooden handlebars, and an amazingly intact leather saddle with a relief opening in the center. The relief opening looks exactly like those on modern “men-specific” saddles of today. If you like bikes, you should check out this unique example of late 19th century technology.
Outside the Heritage Center is a public area paved with bricks, some of which are dedicated to people who lived in the area, or have donated on their own behalf. One of these bricks is inscribed in memory of my grandmother and grandfather on my mother’s side.
It ‘s nice to see that so many former residents of Adams County are remembered here. Adams County Ohio is one of the most impoverished areas in the United States, with a per capita income of around $16,000. Those of us whose parents were born there would do well to go back once in a while and think about how hard they worked to help us get to where we are today.