The Belmont County Heritage Museum opened for the 2021 season on April 6 and it was a busy six months! Events included a Second Saturday Speaker Series, the Ohio Pioneers Exhibit that included three speakers, a fundraising event with artist Dr. Robert Kroeger at the Shaeffer Campbell covered bridge, a screening of the award-winning documentary Indians, Outlaws, Marshals & the Hangin’ Judge, and concluded with Cookies with Santa after the St. Clairsville Tree Lighting. You can watch video recordings of the speakers at the museum on our Facebook page.
Beginning in May, the museum hosted monthly speakers in conjunction with the St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Second Saturdays. Speakers and their topics covered many aspects of Belmont County history.
In May, Dave Adair presented a program about the importance of the B & O Railroad in Holloway.
In June, members of the Great Stone Viaduct Historical Education Society presented the history of this iconic landmark and gave a preview of the 150th Celebration of the Viaduct that was held in July. At this event, the museum also hosted the Ohio Valley Photography Club and photographer Joe Lovell with a display of photographs in front of the museum.
In July, Laura Bates, creator of the Hopalong Cassidy Museum and Festival in Cambridge, highlighted the life and career of Hendrysburg’s native movie star, William Boyd.
In August, Kristina Estle, curator of the Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing, presented the stops of the UGRR in Belmont County.
In September, living history reenactor Chris Hart presented: "I am not a Hero" in which he portrayed Michael Benfante, an ordinary guy who happened to be working on the 81st floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 when his life was changed forever. Belmont County Commissioner J.P Dutton also spoke about his experience working in the nation’s capital on September 11.
In October, Tracy Johnston and Tamara Hess of Belmont County Spirit Seekers, a paranormal investigating team from St. Clairsville with 15 years of experience, presented some of the findings of their investigations at various locations. Following their well-attended presentation, people had the opportunity to see some of the equipment that they use and try it for themselves.
From Sept. 30-Oct. 30, the museum hosted the Ohio Pioneers traveling exhibit from Marietta College’s Legacy Library. Inspired by the book, The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West by Pulitzer Prize winning author David McCullough, the display featured original artwork, rare book, and key historical documents that focus on the initial expansion of the country from the original states into the “old Northwest”.
As part of the exhibit, the museum hosted three historical presentations.
On Oct. 6, Tom Thomas of the Martins Ferry Historical Society and the Sedgwick House Museum gave a colorful portrayal of pioneer Ebenezer Martin.
On Oct. 28, Alan Fitzpatrick, author of six books about local Native American history, discussed his latest book The Untold Story of Isaac Zane. It is the third book in a trilogy written about the little-known history of white captives taken prisoner by Native Americans during the frontier wars of the latter part of the 18th century. His books and artwork were available for purchase after the presentation.
The Ohio Pioneers exhibit concluded on Oct. 30 with a continuation of Kristina Estle’s previous presentation on the known Underground Railroad stops in Belmont County and the stories of the men and women who were conductors and agents.
On October 10, the museum participated in Belmont County Tourism’s annual Rubberneck Tour. At the historic and beautiful Shaefer Campbell covered bridge on the campus of Ohio University Eastern the museum hosted author and artist Dr. Robert Kroeger who did a live painting of the bridge. Copies of his book, Historic Barns of Ohio, were available for purchase and the painting was raffled, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the museum's future programs.
On November 10, 2021, Ohio University Eastern Theatre and the Belmont County Heritage Museum presented two screenings of the award-winning documentary Indians, Outlaws, Marshals & the Hangin’ Judge about Belmont County native, Isaac C. Parker. A production of the David and Barbara Pryor Center for Oral and Visual History and the University of Arkansas School of Journalism and Strategic Media, the film presents a story set in the late 19th century, with topics that resonate today: racial bias, gun violence, Indian affairs and accusations of police brutality. It's the colorful story of Indian removal, crime, capital punishment and an infamous federal judge who sentenced scores of felons to "hang by the neck until you are dead." Each screening included an introduction by Emmy-award winning director Professor Larry Foley and a Q & A session.
Before closing for the season, the museum hosted Santa Claus following the St. Clairsville Christmas Tree Lighting. Chik-fil-A St. Clairsville provided the milk and cookies, handed out by special cow "elves". Children had the opportunity to tell Santa their Christmas wishes and parents had the perfect Christmas photo op.