Ohio Historical Markers that may not be as well known
While traveling the roads of Washington County, it’s hard to miss those brown Ohio Historical Marker signs, telling a little of the area’s history to passersby.
But there are markers that may not be as familiar as those near popular sites such as the Lafayette Hotel and the Campus Martius Museum.
In the Beverly/Waterford area, there are markers for a riverboat explosion, water power on the river and a fort for settlers during the Indian War.
Sharon Farnsworth, president of the Lower Muskingum Historical Society, said some of these signs aren’t known because people can’t stop to read them.
“The critical thing is, there’s often not a place to pull over to park, so they aren’t read,” she said. “Oftentimes, we plant flashy flowers there, with the express purpose of them standing out.”
There is history all around the area that people are aware of, but not where it happened.
“With a lot of people, they’ve heard the stories, but they may not know where, or if, there’s a marker,” Farnsworth said.
She said she heard the story of the peninsula in Waterford and the story of the Buckeye Belle explosion, but wasn’t aware of any markers.
“In the (Oliver Tucker) Museum, we have some pieces from the Buckeye Belle explosion,” she said. “At the cemetery, there’s a flat tombstone with the whole story on it.”
Markers in the Beverly/Waterford area include:
∫ The Peninsula – Inscription: Waterford Township was organized in 1790. The “Donation Grant” of 1792 to Rufus Putnam stipulated the “Peninsula” was to be the community of Waterford. It was laid out in 3 acre lots, first owned by the Devol Family and later sold to Robert and Samuel Leget in 1829.
Location: intersection of Milner Road (Local Route 102) and Leget Street (Local Road T1150) on Milner Road.
∫ ‘Buckeye Belle’ Explosion – Inscription: On November 12, 1852, the riverboat Buckeye Belle exploded at this site. Twenty-four people died and a dozen were injured in the worst steamboat disaster on the Muskingum River. An eyewitness described the scene: “The bank of the canal was covered with dead and mutilated bodies and fragments of the boat and cargo.”
Boiler explosions were a hazard of steamboat travel. The safety record on the Muskingum River was good.
Located: at the intersection of Ohio 60 and Ohio Street.
Erected: 1997 by the Muskingum River Parkway and the Ohio Historical Society.
∫ Fort Frye – Inscription: About 600 feet south of this site and near the river stood Fort Frye occupied during the Indian War 1791-1795.
This fort protected the Waterford settlers during the period of the war. Waterford was founded by the Second Association of Settlers which expanded from the Ohio Company’s headquarters at Marietta.
The fort was named in honor of Lieutenant Joseph Frye, proponent and designer. The troops were commanded by Captain William Gray.
Located: on Ohio 60 in front of Beverly-Center Elementary School.
Erected: 1938 by members of the community.
∫ Water Power on the Muskingum River – Inscription: Luke Chute is the site of an early mill that harnessed river power. About 1815, Luke Emerson and Samuel White built a dam part way across the river. This created a rapid between the shore and the end of the dam, the chute. Here they constructed a mill to grind grain. The system of locks and dams built on the river from 1836 to 1841 not only made the Muskingum River navigable by steamboats, but also harnessed the power of the river. After 1841, at least one mill was located at most of the new dams. Water power encouraged industry in the Muskingum Valley.
Location: on Luke Chute Road south of Milner Road.
Erected: 1998 by The Muskingum River Parkway and The Ohio Historical Society.
∫ Round Bottom Schoolhouse: Settlement came to Round Bottom in early 1795 following the end of the Indians Wars in what would become Ohio (1791-1795). Pioneers Allen Devol, David Wilson, Nathaniel Cushing, Peter Shaw, and Andrew Story came down the Muskingum River to this rich and extensive alluvian shoreline where agriculture became a way of life for them and later settlers. They built the Round Bottom Schoolhouse in the fall of 1795 from bricks fired in nearby fields. The school is one of the oldest one-room brick schoolhouses in the state.
∫ Round Bottom Cemetery: Round Bottom Cemetery’s name is derived from the wide circle the Muskingum River makes around these bottomlands, It is the burial site of Round Bottom’s earliest pioneers–Benjamin Dana, Peter Shaw. David Wilson, Daniel Story, and Abel Sherman, who was killed by a Native American known as Silverheels at Sherman’s Run just north of Beverly. Veterans from all American wars through World War II are here as well as the ashes of Johnny Burrows, a baseball player who played in the National League.
Location: on Ohio 60 south of Coal Run Drive on the right.
Erected: Two-sided sign erected in 2002 by the Ohio Bicentennial Commission, the Longaberger Company, Waterford Township, and The Ohio Historical Society.
The newest historical sign was erected Saturday at the intersection of Ohio 555 and Two Mile Run Road in Cutler, established in 1857.
The two-sided sign was sponsored by the Cutler Heritage and Legacy Society and some two dozen residents attended its unveiling.
The sign was purchased some time ago, but because of COVID, its placement was postponed.
The inscription reads: The village of Cutler was first named “Harshaville” in honor of Dr. John M. Harsha, an early resident. It was later renamed “Cutler” for William P. Cutler, a founder of the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad. By 1857, the railroad went through Cutler.
Cutler was a busy center of commerce during the railroad years. Businesses included hotels; general drug and hardware stores; livery stables; a wagon maker and a flour mill. The railroad provided a means for farmers and businesses to ship agricultural goods, lumber, coal and stone to markets. The railroad remained an important part of life until it ceased operations in 1916. Tracks in the Cutler vicinity were removed the following year.
The Underground Railroad played an important role in the Cutler area. At Station #1, James and Margaret Smith gave aid and comfort to more than 150 escaped slaves. Many men of the Cutler area served the Union cause during the Civil War. A Grand Army of the Republic lodge was active for many years.
Cutler has a long history of multiracial residents, Esau Harris, born 1874, was a schoolteacher at Big Run and other schools for 42 years and served as a mail carrier. In 1913, Harris wrote in regards to the relationship between white and multiracial residents of Cutler: “It is 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.”
Markers in areas such as Barlow and Vincent; Matamoras, Newport and Wingett Run; Belpre; Marietta; and Lowell and Devola will be covered in future editions of the Marietta Times.
Michele Newbanks can be reached at email@example.com.