Early Marietta: A blog by Dave Baker – local historian and Campus Martius & Ohio River Museum volunteer – that offers facts, photos, opinions, and commentary about life in the Marietta area over the years.

  • Oldest Oil Well in America?
    by David Baker on September 15, 2023 at 12:10 am

    Oldest oil well in the America? Texas, Oil City PA, Saudi Arabia (I know, it’s not in America)? But we think of places like these for oil firsts. Oil has been around for thousands of years, but only in the last 160 years have we been seeking it out through drilling. One of those oldest wells is within 25 miles of Marietta. The first Thorla […]

  • Rufus Putnam Ingenuity Ousts British from Boston
    by David Baker on July 30, 2023 at 6:30 pm

    Rufus Putnam is considered the founder of Marietta, Ohio. He had a distinguished Revolutionary War record. His specialty was fortifications. In early March, 1776, George Washington was planning a campaign to force the British army out of Boston. Rather than a risky frontal assault, he and his staff decided upon secretly fortifying Dorchester […]

  • John Miller and George Morgan White Eyes: Two men without a country
    by David Baker on July 20, 2023 at 2:54 pm

    John Miller was bound and left in camp by a Delaware Indian war party. The Delaware, with George Morgan White Eyes (“George”), were headed for Waterford to attack settlers at Fort Frye in March of 1791. John knew he had to escape and warn his friends at Waterford. He had lived with them in the summer of 1790, using his hunting skills to […]

  • Abner’s Rant
    by David Baker on April 17, 2023 at 2:14 pm

    The handwriting was elegant, as though written by a calligrapher. But the inscription dated January 1, 1812 was mottled, making much of it illegible. It came from a family bible1 belonging to early Marietta businessman Abner Lord. I stared at the image. What was the message and who wrote it?As I deciphered the words, strong emotions from over 200 […]

  • A Few Things I Learned About Johnny Appleseed
    by David Baker on January 23, 2023 at 11:49 pm

    The question caught me off guard. A lady passenger on the river cruise boat AMERICAN QUEEN asked me about Johnny Appleseed, the frontier-era itinerant apple tree planter. Had I researched him and his activity in Washington County, Ohio? No, I told her, believing that he spent no time here. She said emphatically that he and his family had close […]

  • The French Historical Plaque and Celoron Lead Plate
    by David Baker on September 3, 2022 at 11:39 am

     French Historical Plaque and Celoron Lead PlateBackground: The government of France donated a plaque now located at the intersection of Virginia and Gilman Streets in Marietta, Ohio, in appreciation of the Marietta College Ambulance Unit which served in France during World War I. The Ambulance Corps was organized at Marietta College early in […]

  • Becky Thatcher and the Dreamers
    by David Baker on August 18, 2022 at 12:39 am

    Becky Thatcher and the DreamersSounds like a Sixties rock and roll group. But we’re talking about the steamboat BECKY THATCHER and the dreamers who kept her active for over 80 years. Thirty of those years were in Marietta. She had two phases of her long (for a steamboat) life: the Public Servant and the Entertainer.Dreamer: one who has ideas or […]

  • The Bell
    by David Baker on July 7, 2022 at 1:52 pm

    The bell - if only it could talk. It hangs quietly at Campus Martius Museum in Marietta, Ohio, next to the Rufus Putnam House. I’ve passed it dozens of times giving tours of the house. A few visitors ask about it; most pass by unaware of its presence.Photo by authorStories have circulated about the bell and how it got here. Marie Antoinette, […]

  • Ohio Statehood: Spirited Debate and….Mob Violence
    by David Baker on June 6, 2022 at 11:17 am

    The path to Ohio statehood was marred by bitter politics and…..mob violence. Such were the passions inflamed by stark differences of political opinion. Civic leaders from Marietta and Washington County were in the thick of it.Discussion of statehood began in the late 1790’s. What is now Ohio was then part of the larger Northwest Territory […]

  • Future Ohio Governor Survives Indian Attack
    by David Baker on March 5, 2022 at 2:41 pm

    In June, 1792, future Governor of Ohio Return Jonathan Meigs, Jr. encountered a large snake as he was walking near Marietta. He shot it but didn’t reload his rifle - a careless oversight that nearly cost him his life. Meigs was twenty-something at the time, a Yale College graduate and lawyer who had followed his father to the new settlement at […]

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