“Night at the Museum” approaching

There are many interesting characters from Washington County’s history that you may never hear about. The Castle Museum will open up Saturday evening to showcase a few of these people during the fifth annual “Night at the Museum.”

“It’s kind of a play on the movie’s ‘Night at the Museum,’ but instead of characters from America’s history, it’s condensed down to Washington County history,” said Kyle Yoho, museum education director.

He said there are seven time slots with 10 spots in each one. The tours start at 6:30 p.m. and run every 15 minutes.

“The last one leaves the carriage house at 8 p.m.,” he said.

He said the times were a little later this year as people seem to enjoy the later time slots better.

“We try to encourage them to buy through our website since the tours usually sell out,” he added. “It’s mariettacastle.org. Or they can also call in to get tickets at 740-373-4180.”

Every year there are new individuals for people to learn about as they tour The Castle. Yoho said it’s a group effort when the characters are chosen.

“We get feedback from the public,” Yoho explained. “We have a running list of people we find when we do research projects, just characters that might be interesting to portray.”

He said the historical figures are portrayed by the museum’s staff members and volunteers.

“Some are community members who have done historical research or might look like the historical figure,” he added.

This year’s characters include a former Castle owner, a World War I YMCA worker, a farmer carrying goods to New Orleans, and a riverboat card sharp.

Scott Britton, executive director at the museum, will be portraying George Hildreth Devol, who grew up on the family farm in Devola.

“He ran away at the age of 10 and started a wild and eventful life on the river, as well as the railroads,” Britton said. “He’s probably most famous as the author of ‘Forty Years a Gambler on the Mississippi.’ He’s arguably the most famous riverboat gambler in the history of the U.S. and he’s from our area.”

He said as Devol, he’ll talk about some of the terms that people have distorted over the years.

For instance, he made sure to note that Devol was a card sharp, not shark.

Card shark is a term for someone who spends a great deal of time playing cards. Card sharps are people who cheat at cards.

Britton said he’s seen Devol’s name in the past, but earlier this summer, he was researching for a Putnam Cemetery tour and found the name again.

“He was a gambler and not the most upright character in Washington County history, so his name doesn’t always come up,” he said. “People who like people with a more shady past may be more interested in my character.”

Britton adds that all of the characters portrayed are real people from Washington County history.

Yoho said in the past, characters such as Rufus Putnam and Ban Johnson, a baseball legend from Marietta College, have been portrayed.

“We’ve had Frances Dana Barker Gage, who worked toward women’s sufferage and was a temperance advocate,” Yoho said. “Another interesting character we’ve had was Mary Greene. She was one of the first female steamboat captains.”

Britton added that visitors to the museum get to learn a lot about some interesting history. They try to get a mix of recognized names and more obscure people from the county.

One of the characters this year is Ohio Sen. Theodore Davis, whose family owned The Castle from 1888 to 1974.

“He lived in the house from 1888 until his death in 1917. When he died, the house went to his wife and when she died, it went to their daughter and she lived there until 1974,” Yoho said.

A museum volunteer and new community worker from the tutoring department at Marietta College found one of the more unrecognizable names in her research.

“The portrayer is from out of the area and took her interest in World War I and the YMCA workers while in college and found one from Washington County who went over to France to help with the war,” Yoho said.

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.

If you go:

• What: Night at the Museum.

• When: Saturday starting at 6:30 p.m.

• Where: The Castle, 418 Fourth St., Marietta.

• Cost: $8 for adults; $5 for children ages 13 and under; Free for children under age 5.

•Tickets: Can be purchased online at mariettacastle.org or by calling 740-373-4180.

Source: The Castle.