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1946 Seagrave Firetruck

The Ashland County Historical Society recently transferred the ownership of their 1946 Seagrave Firetruck to the Whitmore Car Museum in Ashland, Ohio.

The museum felt it was important to keep this piece of history in the Ashland Community where more people can see and enjoy it. The truck had been in an off-site storage area for more than six years because the museum did not have the facilities to store such a large item. They were thrilled when another museum in the same town expressed interest in restoring and maintaining the firetruck for the community.

Museums follow a protocol for deaccessioning artifacts. The first step involves contacting the original donor to see if they want the item back. The museum contacted the original private donor who permitted them to find a good home for the firetruck. The next step was to contact other museums where the firetruck would benefit their collection. The Whitmore Car Museum was the logical choice for housing this important Ashland artifact.

Meanwhile, the museum has just completed the Ashland County First Responders exhibit, and the restoration of the juvenile detention cells. These two important projects are a tribute to the brave people who have served Ashland County over the years.

The Ashland County Historical Society is a private 501 (c) (3) institution supported by memberships and donors. The museum had a small fund established for the care of the firetruck, that has been depleted due to maintenance, storage facility charges, and insurance coverages. The historical society has no plans to construct a building capable of storing the firetruck, and the ongoing costs do not support their current collection plans.

The decision to transfer the ownership of the firetruck was not taken lightly by the organization. The future costs of storage, maintenance, and insurance were considered and it was agreed that the Whitmore Car Museum was better equipped to handle the display of the artifact.

Acquisitions Corner

Did you know the museum is in possession of a very impressive paperweight collection? Many of our paperweights belonged to Helen Myers Miller (daughter of F.E. and Alavesta Myers, and wife of T.W. Miller), and were donated by her daughter, Mary Miller Johnson.

A paperweight is a small, solid object heavy enough to place on top of papers to keep them from blowing away.  They were first produced in about 1845 in France and were collected as works of fine art. The market developed because they were high quality, small, and moderately priced. They became a popular gift item to be given to family or loved ones. Paperweights became a vehicle for showcasing the cutting edge of glass working techniques. There are estimated to be only about 20,000 glass paperweights to survive to this day. A limited number of them are available for sale through specialty dealers. Due to their beauty and rarity, they are the most sought after works of 19th century glass.

Of all the glass arts, paperweights are considered the most challenging, and they truly represent the highest achievement in this medium.  Their precision and grace are evident as you hold one in your hand and admire the changing magnification within the dome.


Acquisitions Corner

Over 500 items were donated to the ACHS over the past year. This requires a lot of time and work from our staff to make sure everything is documented and stored correctly. Our curator, Wendy Brisbine, has been diligently working through our collection to answer three basic questions: “What is it?”, “Where is it?”, and “Is it Safe?”. In addition, we are hard at work getting all of the items in our collection entered into our computer system with all the relevant details, including donor, description, and photos.

Recently, Wendy was visited by Steven and Ellen (Schlingman) Hughes. They had both been doing some cleaning out and wanted to donate things belonging to their respective fathers – both veterans and long-time residents of Ashland County. Steven’s father, Paul V. Hughes, was a bomber pilot based in England during WWII. Steven has in his possession a pocket bible his father carried during the war. In the margins of the pages, Paul wrote a detailed account of the days he spent during the war and the 30 missions he flew. The last entry is dated June 6, 1944, when he bombed the Normandy coast just 10 minutes before the D-Day invasion. His last comment was, “What a day to finish”. Steven is not quite ready to give this treasure to the museum, but has allowed us to scan and transcribe it for our veterans file in the research library. He has donated several of his father’s medals, including a WWII Victory Medal and the American Campaign Medal, as well as insignia and paperwork relating to his father’s time in the service.

Ellen Hughes comes from a military family as well. Her father was Thomas E. Schlingman and he fought in the Korean War with the USMC. Her donation includes several mementos of her father’s time in the service, including a photograph scrapbook of Thomas and his war buddies. Included in the documents donated is a cardstock letter of appreciation from the President of Korea that was sent on the 50th anniversary of the end of the war to all who served. It is quite impressive.

We hope to incorporate some of these new items into our Veterans Exhibit in the Noonan House. Be sure to stop by and take a look!


105 West Main Street

We all know it now as the Uniontown Brewing Company, but Ashland citizens once knew the building at 105 West Main Street as the home of a few other very successful businesses over the years.

Thought to be originally built in 1850, the building was first owned by Dr. Joseph Sampsel and was a hotel known as the Sampsel House. The brick building was 50 feet by 70 feet and 3½ stories high. A fine balcony ran the whole length of the front across the second floor with smaller balconies in the center of the third and fourth floors. It also included an observatory that boasted an extensive view of Ashland and the nearby countryside.

The building was purchased in 1859 by William McNulty, a native of Franklin County, PA, from J. B. R. Sampsel and C. E. Sampsel. The purchase price was $13,325.22. McNulty turned the hotel into a first-class facility that had every comfort and convenience with a tavern and large stables in the rear. It was described as spacious and well-furnished inside. The hotel became a downtown hub of activity on Main Street and was well-known as one of the best hotels in this part of Ohio.

The stagecoach with its four horses visited Ashland a few times a week from the east and west. Once daily trips were established between Ashland and Mansfield, the stagecoach left the McNulty House at 6:30 each morning and returned from Mansfield in the evening. This was another reason it became a desirable place to stay. Politicians, lecturers, and entertainers often spent the night at the McNulty House until they moved on to their next meeting or performance.

There was a ballroom on the fourth floor of the hotel. Many events were held during the holiday season. Soldiers often danced there with their girls when home on furlough. The Ashland Cornet Band also played on the long, second-floor balcony on Saturday evenings.

On February 27, 1873, the McNulty House caught fire. Residents formed bucket brigades passing water from nearby cisterns and wells as the fire department got their hoses ready. The building suffered some damage but was saved from total destruction.

William McNulty died in 1890 shortly after he retired from his hotel business. George Hemingway purchased the building and renamed it the Hemingway. At the turn of the century, The Hemingway was well-known as a rooming house for unattached men. A travelers’ library was established, and a five-and-dime store was housed in a downstairs room.

In 1914, the building was purchased by George M. Gilbert, who moved his furniture and undertaking store from 14 Orange Street to the Main Street location. The famous balcony was determined to be unsafe and was removed as part of the remodeling project. Mr. Gilbert came to Ashland in 1886 from Lodi, Ohio, and established his furniture business into one of the largest household furnishing establishments in Ohio. In 1972, Gilbert’s celebrated its 100th anniversary and was still family-owned.

Many old furniture stores had a mortuary attached because they also made caskets. When Gilbert moved his business to Main Street, it included a funeral home with a seating capacity of 120 people. In 1939, the funeral home was relocated on Claremont Avenue in the former Maurice Semple home. It is now Wappner Funeral Home.

Amie Van Hove purchased Gilbert’s Furniture Company from the Gilbert family in 2005, but it closed in 2008 with the distinction of being Ashland’s oldest retail establishment.

In July 2016, Doug and Anna Reynolds purchased the building and renovated it, later opening it as what we know now as a successful microbrewery and restaurant, and a more modern-day hub of activity for downtown Ashland.

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Ashland Cemetery

Many locals routinely walk at the Ashland Cemetery, and it’s certainly an interesting place to take a stroll and educate yourself about local history. It’s also a great topic for students to write a report about and a wonderful location to play “I Spy,” so I won’t give up all the information we have about it at the Ashland County Historical Society!

Ashland Cemetery, located on West Main Street west of the downtown area, was dedicated in 1856 after the development of 10 acres and 53 square rods (about another 1/3 acre). The land was purchased from the estate of Alanson Andrews, father of Lorin Andrews. Lorin was the second child born in Ashland, then known as Uniontown. The purchase price for the cemetery land was $819.50. Lots were laid out and were available for purchase for $10 each.

The cemetery also has assigned street names according to a 1908 pictorial booklet published by the Ashland Cemetery Association, who oversees cemetery business. The street names were Cresant, Pleasant View, Fulton, Randolph, and Monument.

First burials in the cemetery included those from burial grounds belonging to the Hopewell (Presbyterian) Church. One was on Olivesburg Road and the other on Cottage Street at the current location of St. Edwards’s Catholic Church.

The sexton’s home, which still stands at the West Main Street gate, was built in 1890 at a cost of $1,235. Since the sexton needed a horse, a barn was added a year later at a cost of $234. Six years later, a sprinkling system was added at a cost of $418.

In 1898, $143 was spent to purchase official cemetery record books. The old wooden arch which initially covered the entrance was replaced in 1904 with Indiana limestone at a cost of $815. The limestone entryway is still in use today.

Older monuments are much more ornate than the ones used today. The Freer and Randolph family markers are excellent examples of the workmanship in the late 1800’s. The Jonas Freer monument is 16 feet tall and weighs 17,000 pounds. The base is made from American granite, the shaft of Scotch granite, and the statue of Hope in Italian marble.

The Jonas Freer monument stands 16 feet tall and weighs 17,000 pounds The Philip and Samantha Myers and Countryman family monuments are also impressive. They are made of Stoney Creek granite from Montana. The Myers’ column arrived on a railway car at the Erie Depot. The installation was difficult because it was 10 feet longer than expected. A blinding snowstorm also raged as the ball on top was finally completed. It is interesting to note that Philip Myers, co-founder of F.E. Myers & Bro. Co., is actually buried in the Lake View Cemetery on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland.

Another interesting marker belongs to the Saal family. The large monument marks the grave of Jacob Saal, a Civil War Veteran who died in 1906. Smaller stones for his other family members are in front. Jacob’s monument has a ball on top of it that actually moves. There is a surface hole in the solid stone ball that has rotated based on measurements taken from the hole to the base of the structure over the years. Some believe that melting ice somehow moves the ball, but in any case, it was recorded in Ripley’s “Believe it or Not.”

The Ashland Cemetery Association is still classified as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which is entirely self-funded through the money received from the sale of burial plots and continues to be financially sound. By law, the city of Ashland would have to take over if it cannot fund itself.

By 1909, the association had purchased 30 additional acres, and over the years, about 35 more acres have been added. According to former cemetery superintendent, George Hickman, in 1987, there were enough burial plots to last another 200 years. This statement still holds true today, according to Association President Jim Doyle who also stated, “Plans are now being created for future expansion of additional plots on cemetery association-owned land.”

Other current association members are Amy Clark, Vice-President; Tom Marquette, Treasurer; Marcy Doyle, Secretary; Joe Mason; and Bill Stepp. The cemetery currently employs a general superintendent and a general worker.

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