24 April 2021

RAPEA - Day 9 - Marietta OH - Part 1

When I was going to school History was a snooze fest for me. I could have given two figs about memorizing all those boring dates and events that took place in places I had never heard of by people who were long since turned to dust. But today history came alive for me thanks to the knowledge and eloquence of our gracious host I'll call Miz T who is MTC's lifelong friend.

We started our day with a tour of the Bridges of Washington County. Over 50 covered bridges were once scattered throughout Washington County. Today only nine remain as reminders of the ingenuity of the past. Today we saw three of the remaining bridges which are scattered along ST RT 26 and the Wayne National Forest Scenic By-Way: HILLS COVERED BRIDGE (also known as the Hildreth Covered Bridge c.1878), HUNE COVERED BRIDGE (c.1877) and the indomitable RINARD COVERED BRIDGE (c.1876). The original Rinard bridge was washed from its piers by floods in 1913 and 1938 but still remained intact to be placed back on its piers. It was destroyed in a flood on September 19, 2004, and was rebuilt and re-dedicated on October 21, 2006 with as many trusses and timbers as could be salvaged.

Next we visited a small country cemetery on her family's land. It was filled with many Union soldiers who died during the Civil War. I was happy to see each of the veteran's graves were marked by a small US Flag. While tiptoeing between the headstones we noticed the metal flag holders contained either the initials GAR or FCL. 

Of course I had no reception out in the boonies (Thanks T-Mobile!) so I made a note to look them up later and here's what I found out: 

Following the Civil War, a number of state and local organizations were formed for veterans to network and keep in touch with each other. Initially established for camaraderie, these groups later gained significant political power. The most influential organization between 1868 and 1908 was the Grand Army of the Republic.

Founded in 1866, the GAR was based on the principles of “Fraternity, Charity & Loyalty”. Fraternity represented the brotherhood of those who served together, Charity referred to the organization’s work to ensure the well-being of veterans, widows and children of veterans, and Loyalty to the Constitution and the American flag.

During its tenure, the GAR helped elect several United States presidents, from Ulysses S. Grant to William McKinley. The organization was also active in pension legislation and establishing retirement homes for soldiers. In fact, the GAR’s influence led to the creation of the Old Soldiers’ Homes of the late nineteenth century, which later evolved into the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

After the death of the organization’s last member, Albert Woolson, in 1956, the Grand Army of the Republic was formally dissolved. However, the principles on which it was founded still hold significance today.

Next on our tour was the Mound Cemetery which is an historic cemetery developed around the base of a prehistoric Adena burial mound known as the Great Mound or Conus. The city founders preserved the Great Mound from destruction by establishing the city cemetery around it in 1801.
The city of Marietta was developed in 1788 by pioneers from Massachusetts, soon after the American Revolutionary War and organization of the Northwest Territory. Many of the founders were officers of the Revolutionary War who had received federal land grants for military services. Among high-ranking officers buried at the cemetery are generals Rufus Putnam and Benjamin Tupper, who were founders of the Ohio Company of Associates; as well as Commodore Abraham Whipple and Colonel William Stacy. The cemetery has the highest number of burials of American Revolutionary War officers in the country.

Then it was on to the imposing Washington County Courthouse which has the most incredible grand staircase and unique floor tile design. At first I was like, "Whaaat?!" but then Miz T explained to me that the design was not reversed Swastikas but actually an Indian motif which you can read more about here. Throughout the second floor can be found old photographs of the courthouse and surrounding area after the flood of 1937 when a canoe was the most useful transportation available.


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