Birthday bells will be ringing Sunday in Beverly and Waterford as the communities celebrate their 225th birthday, and plans for more celebrations throughout the year are under way.
Sunday marks the anniversary of the landing of the Second Association-19 men who set out from Marietta to start a community along the Muskingum River.
Because the April 20 anniversary falls on Easter this year, the official birthday will be celebrated subtly, said Sue Trotter, a member of the Lower Muskingum Historical Society and chairwoman of the 225 Year Celebration Committee.
Waterford siblings Reese Lang, left, and Maycee Lang, play at Dodge Park in Beverly in July. Local residents say the easy-going, friendly community vibe is one of the many reasons they love living in the Beverly and Waterford area. The communities celebrate their 225th birthday Sunday.
Times file photo
"On Sunday at 9 (a.m.), all the churches that have bells are going to ring the bells 19 times in honor of the 19 settlers that came...to start the settlement," explained Trotter.
The settlers were branching out from Marietta, looking for a good place to harness power of the local waterways, said Phillip Crane, researcher for the Lower Muskingum Historical Society.
"One of the reasons they came up here was to find a good site to build a mill," he said.
The area was settled by 19 scouts from the Second Association who traveled up the Muskingum River and landed near present day Beverly on April 20, 1779.
The original settlers each received 100 acres of land as payment for securing the area for the Ohio Company to start a mill and to acquire more land to sell.
The area was the third permanent settlement in the Northwest Territory, behind Marietta and Belpre.
On the 225th anniversary of Beverly and Waterford on Sunday, area churches will be ringing their bells 19 times in honor of the original scouts.
A driving tour of the area was put together by area historian Phillip Crane in honor of the birthday and can be found in today's special section of The Marietta Times
They found it in the rapids of Wolf Creek and built the first land-operated mill in the Northwest Territory there.
The site of Wolf Creek Mill is one of the many stops on an area driving tour that Crane has created to highlight some of the area's historic people and places in honor of the area's birthday.
Crane's Mid-Lower Muskingum Historic Tour is included in today's special section of The Marietta Times and provides directions to and histories of several locations between Stockport and Lowell, said Crane.
Later in the year, the historical society also plans to hold a historical artifact program in the Fifth Street Church of Christ, said Trotter.
The historical society is hoping the event, slated for July 4, will be a bit like a show and tell of all the interesting historical items residents have.
"We want people to look through their pictures, find old postcards, old items they might want to bring and share," said Trotter.
For residents not comfortable bringing items, the historical items is happy to come and photograph or scan them, she said.
The event is an opportunity for the community to do something it is known for-connecting with one another.
Many area residents cited that tight-knit nature of the community as one of the reasons they are happy to call it home.
"I like the small town atmosphere where I know everybody and everybody knows me. That's how you develop a community atmosphere," said Village of Beverly Councilman Jim Ullman, 58.
Though not a Waterford native, that small community feel is one of the reasons Waterford High School teacher Tom Simms has been happy to call the area home for the past 33 years.
"You get to see the kids grow up and succeed and have their families. Where if you live in the big city, you just lose them," said Simms, 55.
Steve Wainwright, 63, who lives in Waterford and owns Wainwright Jewelers in Beverly, has some deep ties to the community.
All four of Wainwright's grandparents lived in the area and his maternal grandfather served as the president of the Waterford Commercial and Savings Bank in the 1950s and 1960s, he said.
"I've just grown old with the community. It's just a safe, great, wonderful community we live in," said Wainwright.
The area is also a good place to have a business. People try to shop local and appreciate the fact that they do not have to travel for Marietta for most things, he added.
"It's a rural community where you have a lot of conveniences in town and out of town. You're close to nature, and you're close to people also," said Ullman.