Last week-end we took a drive down to Holmes County. John wanted to show me a little town ,tucked into the hills, which had been founded by French pioneers in the early 1800s. It's a tiny place, a village really, but with three churches. The one he wanted me to see is a stone Catholic Church built by French missionaries. It's a small, beautiful building, set on an immaculate grassy knoll. The churchyard gravestones are engraved with a number of French names.
There are quite a few houses in this village and two other gleaming white wooden churches. There is no commercial center in this place, and it has a Brigadoonish air about it. The town is called Glenmont, and it is very much off the beaten path. It became notorious during the Civil War, when, after the passage of the Conscription Act, enacted because not enough men were volunteering for the Army, 400 men from the area refused to participate. Federal troops rallied to force the draft, and there was a skirmish near Glenmont, resulting in the arrest of three of the refuseniks, descendants of the early French settlers. The site of the tussle is called Fort Fizzle, which describes the futile rebellious fray. Only one man was jailed, but he was pardoned by President Lincoln. So this is Glenmont's claim to fame. I can't imagine that there were ever 400 men in this hilly area 150 years ago.
Another small town we stopped in was Killbuck, which is surrounded by the Killbuck Marsh. I used to drive by this town off Rte. 62, south of Millersburg, the county seat of Holmes County. While this county is home to one of the largest Amish populations in the U.S. of A., there are not so many in this area. Kill buck got its name from some legend about someone killing a large buck in the swamp (marsh) back in the early days. That's really clever, no? It's not so isolated as Glenmont, and even has a formerly empty building fitted out as an auditorium for local entertainment, including a screen to show movies via a DVD player once a month.
The only thing open when we were there was the Killbuck museum, so we decided to check it out. It's in a storefront, a large space that could have bee a hardware store. It had a very large collection of miscellaneous artifacts, consisting of a lot of rocks and an enormous collection of stuffed birds, hundreds and hundreds of species of same: hawks, eagles, herons, owls of every kind, tiny birds, medium birds. All of these birds were incredibly old and covered with sooty dust. The volunteer at the front desk told us they had been donated by a kindly benefactor, (who was probably relieved to find some place to dump them.) Some little girl visitors admitted to being spooked by the many dozens of owls, staring out of their glass cases with their huge owly eyes. It was a very large museum for such a small town, and I was impressed, but wished someone could clean all those dirty stuffed birds. I expect they would probably disintegrate if touched.
We had dinner at the restored Millersburg Hotel, which seemed to be the place for families to bring geezers for their birthdays, since we could overhear a number of creaky voices askingp the waitresses to "guess how old I am" followed by the waitresses being very tactful and tip conscious in their responses.
It was a nice excursion and the skies were absolutely gorgeous above the hills and valleys of one of Ohio's most lovely areas. It was the kind of day I dream about in February, and is payback for going through the kind of winter we had this year.