Saturday, August 31, 2013

at Gambier, OH

This little country church was constructed in 1862-63 during the country's convulsion of Civil War.  It was built just north of the then newly founded Kenyon College in Knox County, OH.

Some community folks of the time--evidently deficient in current events--feared it was a British fort being built "on the hill" to assist the Confederacy.

Turns out it was the innocent, spiritual growth of the community, whose new college was then regarded as a bastion of Lincoln supporters.

The chapel escaped the threat of demolition in 1972 when a restoration project began and has spanned some 40 years.  Today, while no longer serving as host of an active congregation, it continues to serve as a community center with events such as weddings, funerals and cultural performances.

Our enjoyable visit was the result of a recent search for and finding a geocache on the property's perimeter.  The interesting engraving in the smaller photo was on the sides of a post which evidently once supported a gate.

Later that same day we recorded a cache find in the Amity Cemetery which contains the grave of once, well-known TV celebrity Paul Lynde.

Lynde likely is best remembered for his long appearance on the show Hollywood Squares (1968-1981) where his quick wit was a staple of that program's popularity. Lynde was born in Mt. Vernon, OH.

In that same cemetery we encountered the gravestone of more fundamental design below.  It appeared to be simply two large rocks with a millstone attached on which were engraved the names of the decedents.

Note the date of birth of the Blairs; 1790.  That's a year during George Washington's first term of office as the country's first president.  Mr. Blair died just as the somewhat nearby Quarry Chapel was being completed.

Later that same day we concluded our caching by scoring a find with a level 5 of difficulty--the highest in the caching activity.  That one was near Brinkhaven, OH and required a very steep descent from an abandoned railroad grade then an immediate, challenging climb up an equally steep deposit of shale where we found the camouflaged cache container hidden in a crevasse in the rock formation.

With respect to Mr. Lynde and his achievements, experiences such as ours on that geocaching day are far more rewarding than being a couch potato and enduring today's version of TV "entertainment"...

...especially with our day's crowning moment being the sight of mother whitetail deer leading her fawn across a very pristine Kokosing River, sun dappled in the rural, afternoon's soft light.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Saturday's story will take you to an historic church near Kenyon College in Gambier, OH, and to the final resting place of a well-known, TV personality from the 1980s who was born in Mt. Vernon, OH.

In our geocaching hobby we routinely roam the state in search of these mostly delightful hides.  On the day of the above photo we were working in the very-rural area of Caledonia, OH.  We trundled down a country road, crossed a fairly modern bridge then made an immediate left turn onto the weed covered approach to this bridge of more antique leanings.

It announced our crossing with creaks and groans even though my gray Ford Fusion (just barely visible to the left of the 2 ton load limit sign) weighed less than that--I think.  After crossing the bridge our course took us along mowed grass for a couple of hundred yards between the woods on the left and a cultivated field to yet another country cemetery--one that a nearby neighbor later opined most local residents likely didn't even know existed.

We never know what is around the next corner in this nifty hobby which, itself, is an invigorating way to travel down life's path.  We hope you stay tuned.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Harley Hogs of course

Yup, you see the sign in the background.  That's where we spent a recent Saturday participating in my first-ever poker run--motorcycle style--then socializing the day away with a fine corn roast on the club's grounds.

It all started when Sue and I rode my Honda motorcycle to our square dance club's annual picnic and had a nice talk with Dick and Melisa Moyer (above right) fellow dancers who, up to that minute, had no idea of my interest in motorcycling.

A day or so later Dick was on the phone and inviting us to ride a poker run with his Mansfield club that Saturday.  I was flattered but reminded Dick I was new to the sport, had never ridden in a poker run and rode a Honda besides.

You have to understand, Harley-Davidson (Harleys) dominate the American cycling culture to the extent some of those riders disdainfully consider Hondas and other oriental motorcycles "rice burners".

I said, "Dick, let me get this straight; you want Sue and me to trundle into their nest out on Cookton-Grange Rd., with about three month's of cycling experience and ride 75 miles with those folks over an unfamiliar course and do it on a Honda?"

"You'll be fine," he assured me.  "Yeah," I muttered, feeling like a little-league baseball player about to try batting practice in Yankee Stadium.

Dick said his cousin, Aaron Beer, an experienced Moto-Guzi rider (a legendary Italian cycle), would be joining us and we could ride together.  "You mean I can follow you guys and try to avoid embarassing myself," I inquired.  "Absolutely," he assured me.

So, after registration that day, Dick and Melisa rumbled out of the club grounds on their Kawasaki Vulcan 900 cycle, followed immediately by cousin Aaron on his Moto-Guzi and suddenly it was our turn to roll.  I prayed silently we wouldn't tumble in the gravel of the club's driveway while we did an instant 90 degree turn onto the road's pavement and sputter-roared away from the starting grid.

I learned later 60 motorcycles were entered in the day's event.

We rolled east to a northerly turn on Rock Rd., then a north-westerly turn onto Highway 39 and somewhat promptly into Shelby traffic where Aaron got stymied behind some turning cars and I had no option but to slide into his place behind Dick and Melisa.

At the next opportunity I offered Aaron his starting slot but he said "stay there", you are doing just fine.  That was nice--but it put me in second place of a queue of motorcycles that began to form behind us as we sped along SR 96 to SR 603 where we whistled through Olivesburg then down into Mifflin where Dick promptly missed our course change onto the Lincoln Highway eastbound.

If you are following the story carefully you will realize, as I began to realize, I was now in the lead of a squadron of about 10 or so motorcycles and not the least bit sure where our next turn was.

I knew Sue still was behind me.  Everytime we hit a bump she squeezed me with her legs.  I began to think about getting her a seat belt.

Then I would check my mirror and as far as I could see on the hilly-curvy road there were motorcycle lights, lots of them.  I checked the other mirror.  Same thing.  Egad.  How did I get into this mess?

I had a copy of our scheduled route taped to my cycle's fuel tank, just like Dick showed me, but even when I could read the darn thing I didn't have the foggiest idea where the next turn was.  I lucked out on a couple of turns because their intersection was posted on an advance road sign.

That got me to a lucky right turn on SR 511 where I was intently watching for the next left turn because I thought they said it was obscured when discussing it in the pre-ride driver's meeting.

It was, and by the time I saw the sign I could only bump on my left turn signal and bang the brakes to show a stopping light warning while I sailed past that turn.  I finally managed to find a place to make a U turn and headed back...passing at least one other rider who had followed me and was doing his U turn in the clumsy fashion required by the anatomy of slow-moving cycles.

I was relieved when he didn't throw something at me.

Turning right on the correct course I soon noticed Dick, Melisa and Aaron waiting for us.  They had been far enough back to be able to get slowed down and make the correct turn.

My agony of leadership was over!

At least, with any luck, I would be able to follow Dick the rest of the way home as we rumbled into Loudonville.  The remainder of the ride was a piece of cake; a stop to get checked in at the Malabar Inn's, locally famous roadside spring house then a very dusty section of Hanley Rd., westbound from SR 13 where we had been warned road crews had done a tar and chip job just the day before and it was too late to change the ride's course.

Heading into the later afternoon sun it looked like riding in a storm on our dusty moon's surface.

That's Melissa, Dick and Sue in the lower photo with our bikes in the newly forming queue of parking at the motorcycle club so folks could make an orderly departure from the grounds when the yummy-corn roast party ended.

It had to be some reverse form of Murphy's Law when Sue's randomly drawn poker hand awarded her two pair; good enough for a dandy second place plaque in the passenger class of the day's event.

That's my smiling co-pilot heading back to her seat in the clubhouse while another award-winning rider takes stock of this very curious affair. 




Saturday, August 17, 2013

Ohio's Communal Experiment, 1817-1898

A motorcyclist trundles along Ohio route 212 and passes the yet-to-be restored Zoar Hotel (above) in this historic village located in northern Tuscarawas County while village staff member Bruce Barth (below), in period garb, tells tour visitors about the commune's reconstructed greenhouse .

Just 14 years after Ohio became a state about 200 German religious dissenters called the Society of Separatists of Zoar arrived in Ohio and formed one of the longest-running communes in the state's history.

They were escaping religious oppression from the Lutheran Church and were led by Joseph Bimeler, a pipemaker and teacher whose charismatic leadership carried the village through a number of crises.  They did not practice baptism or confirmation and did not celebrate religious holidays except the Sabbath.

The Zoarites had purchased 5,000 acres of land sight-unseen and used loans to pay for it.  They were due in 1830.  The Society struggled for many years to determine products and services they could produce in their village to pay off the loans.

After early failures of individual families to be able to raise sufficient crops to sustain themselves all money and other assets of the community were pooled and the commune was born.  Individual folks volunteered to work in the area of their personal skills.  Others reported for work each morning and were assigned tasks that would be helpful to the common good.

The community government was an elected board of trustees.  Men and women had equal rights.

They constructed a central garden with geometric precision occupying an entire square of their village centered around a now-huge Norway Spruce tree which symbolized eternal life, encircled by a hedge representing Heaven and twelve juniper trees representing the apostles, enclosed by a circular walkway.

The garden is immediately outside the greenhouse windows above.

A community kitchen was formed where folks ate in shifts.  There was a bakery and a cobbler's shop and a tin shop, a wagon shop and a blacksmith and a sewing house, a bakery and a school--each providing community services in return for labor provided by its members.

An early event critical to the success of the colony was the digging of the nearby Ohio and Erie Canal.

Ohio required some of the Zoarite land to be used as right-of-way and offered the village an opportunity to assist in digging the canal for money.  They accepted, and spent several years in the 1820s digging the canal enabling them to pay off their loans on time with money to spare.

The village spring house (above) circulated cold, spring water in channels surrounding the visitors keeping dairy products cool and available for dispersal to the town's residents.  Free, of course.

By the mid-1830s Zoar was virtually self-sustaining.  The farms produced more food than was needed and many products were sent to other towns for sale.  The foundry, for example, manufactured many goods including wood burning stoves for general sale--the principal source of heat for most buildings.

By 1852 the society's assets were valued at more than one million dollars.

Bimeler's death on August 31, 1853 led to a slow decline in the cohesion of the village.  Although the Zoarites lived and labored as a communal body, Bimeler had been the group’s spiritual leader and business administrator even before their arrival in America. His energy and foresight largely were responsible for Zoar’s success. After his death, the people’s initiative gradually declined.

The social and economic environment was changing as well, and this, too, had a major impact on the community. The coming of the railroad in the 1880s brought more of the outside world to Zoar, and the rise of mass-production industries made Zoar’s smaller businesses obsolete. With easier access to the outside world, younger members drifted away to make their fortunes, and religious orthodoxy decreased.

In 1898, with a growing number of Zoarites expressing their desire to disband and divide any remaining assets, the society was dissolved. Common property was divided among members, with each receiving about fifty acres and $200.

Zoar History

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Please stop by Saturday and Fogeyisms will take you on a visit to Zoar Village near Dover, Ohio, a commune of German religious separatists which flourished then dissolved in the 1800s.  Today, the
community, a mix of reconstructed buildings and others privately owned and occupied faces another threat of extinction--this time from a potential levy failure.

Bruce Barth (right) a Zoar staff member from Louisville, OH treated visitors to a marvelous guided tour recently, sharing vivid explanations of life in Ohio's frontier settlements as well as a chilling description of the threat to this historic village.

We hope you enjoy our story.  For a published story on the levy problem and its possible consequences click here. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013


Here is precisely the reason we occasionally read news of a child being killed when climbing on tombstones.  This horrible, potential tragedy (pictured above) is in the Mohicanville Cemetery of Ashland County Ohio.

We applaud the effort of township trustees there to bring this danger to the public's attention with their sign.

But, we also wonder why the legal response to such a grave danger seems to be merely a sign.

In the recent past we had tragedies with youngsters being trapped and suffocated inside often-abandoned refrigerators.  The legal remedy there was to require the removal of refrigerator doors before discarding them.

Certainly a similar solution can be found to fix this problem in our cemeteries.

*          *          *

Fogeyisms encountered this problem while geocaching with friends Mark and Nancy Meinzer.  Cemeteries are a popular place to hide geocaches.  They usually have ample parking, are places of quiet solitude and caches always are placed with the permission of cemetery authorities, virtually always away from grave sites.

Besides reflecting on the lives we read about on grave markers during our visits (as Nancy, Mark and Sue are doing in the lead photo) they can be breath-taking scenes as in the following, un-retouched photo taken that very same day.  In this case the cache was hidden in a hollow fence-post in a far, upper corner of Pioneer Cemetery overlooking a large dairy farm northeast of Loudonville.

Saturday, August 3, 2013


We rolled out of the Mansfield area on a recent Saturday morning enroute to our favorite, annual, western square dance wrapped nicely in a day's worth of geocaching along the way--both ways.

The dance was the Southern Ohio Round-Up in Jackson, OH--this year themed Christmas in July--with two of my favorite callers Homer Magnet and Jack Pladdys.  This dance, always a high-energy affair, had 12 squares of dancers on the floor to start and there were 12 squares dancing when it was over 2 1/2 hours later.

With 8 folks per square that's 96 dancers reacting almost instantly to any of some 100 maneuvers that can be called in the order selected by the caller.  It was especially challenging when we were dancing to Christmas music and seasonal terms were included as substitutes in the calls.  Pshew.

The "we" in this adventure were Mark and Nancy Meinzer and Sue Brooks.  It was exactly one year ago that day (July 21, 2012) that Mark and Nancy introduced Sue and me to geocaching.

As we wrapped-up that year over the weekend we would be adding eight new Ohio counties I have cached in and about 17 new caches bringing my total up to 1,133 total caches found.  That first year also included caching in 13 US states, a total of 45 Ohio counties and 11 counties in Florida.

My next goal is to cache in all of the remaining 88 Ohio counties.

One of the delightful parts of geocaching is you never know what you will see on your way to the next cache as in the lead photo above.  Mark is photographically enjoying the view of Lake Katherine in Jackson County where we found a cache near a small cemetery just a short walk behind him.

Another navigation technique we used while roaming the eight, southern Ohio counties mentioned was to put the car GPS on the "shortest distance" navigation mode.  This often will direct you along the back roads rather than the big highways favored in the "fastest" mode of your GPS.

As we roamed those eight counties caching in the very bottom of Ohio then back up US23 toward Columbus we were treated to an exquisite, visual visit to rural, Appalachian Ohio, much of the time in the vast area of the Wayne National Forest.

One of the treats we passed by between caches was the original Bob Evans Farm in Rio Grande, OH.  A relatively new feature of the farm is the Log Cabin Village, a collection of log buildings from around the area that have been reconstructed in the form of a small village, giving visitors a marvelous peek at the history of life in colonial Ohio.

 Sue and Nancy are starting their self-guided tour of the village (top) while Sue and the Meinzers finish their peek at the inside of the village school house.   "This two-story log cabin is probably one of the largest original log structures of its kind. It was built near Lowell, Ohio in 1860 and served as a schoolhouse until 1918. In 1986 Wayne Ingles donated the logs to the Farm and the cabin became part of the reconstructed Adamsville Village" at Bob Evans Farm.

Farm History