Marietta’s turning 225

The 225th birthday of Marietta may not be celebrated with as much fanfare as the 98th, but there will be plenty of opportunities in the days ahead to honor and learn about the first settlement in the Northwest Territory.

As it has for the last five years, the anniversary of the founding of the Pioneer City on April 7 – and Belpre on April 9 – will be marked during a series of history and genealogy-themed events comprising “14 Days with the Pioneers and Patriots of Washington County.” New exhibits will be on display at the Campus Martius Museum, authors and local historians will offer presentations and numerous people will be clad in historical garb.

It’s an extensive schedule but different from the all-day festivities recorded in an 1886 edition of The Marietta Register-Leader, said Gretchen Otto, second vice president of the Washington County Historical Society.

“The celebration of Marietta’s birthday was treated like a holiday,” she said. “There was a parade. … There were bells and whistles. There were speakers in Muskingum Park.”

But Otto doesn’t think the change means Marietta’s history isn’t still appreciated.

“I think we find other ways to celebrate Marietta,” she said, pointing to events like the Sternwheel and Sweet Corn festivals and the efforts of groups like ReStore Marietta and the Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Some of those events draw on the history of the area, and activities like those being offered over the next two weeks also draw people in, said Jean Yost, president of the Washington County Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, one of the groups organizing the festivities.

“We’ve had real good turnout to the events over the years,” he said. “We have a lady coming from Florida (this year) whose husband, Ed Pugh, was one of the people on the 1937-38 trek from Ipswich, (Mass.), to Marietta.”

That journey recreated the original one made in 1787. The landing will be staged again on Sunday, with local historian Bill Reynolds portraying Col. Rufus Putnam, one of Marietta’s founding fathers.

Yost said the origins of Marietta matter far beyond the city limits.

“The founding of Marietta was the first stage of implementation of the Northwest Ordinance,” he said. “It preceded the Constitution by two months. It set the standard for how new states would be admitted to the union … prohibited slavery … essentially set aside ground for religion and education.”

Campus Martius, the fort that is the namesake of the museum that now sits on its grounds at Second and Washington streets in Marietta “was home of the governor, (Arthur) St. Clair, the supreme court and the laws of Ohio,” Yost said. “The laws that preceded the establishment of the state were written here in Marietta.”

The week’s activities will involve local historians – like Jeff Spear’s presentation Friday at the Ohio River Museum on the history of a family tied to the W.P. Snyder Jr. docked there and Louise Zimmer’s talk on Marietta’s early days at the local Daughters of the American Revolution luncheon Saturday – and local residents, including the students of Harmar Elementary School ringing the bell at the Henry Fearing House Museum on Friday, an opportunity that will be afforded to the public on Sunday. But people from outside the area will also share their perspective as well.

Author James Williams will debut his new book, “Blazes, Posts and Stones” on Saturday at Campus Martius Museum. The book deals with the history of surveying in Ohio, but will appeal to people beyond that subject, Yost said.

“He’ll talk to you about the man that was there surveying and a little bit about his background,” he said. “He’s winding into his (story) not only the history of the surveying of Ohio, but he’s telling you about these characters.”


Some highlights of the “14 Days with the Patriots and Pioneers of Washington County” program. A complete listing can be found at

  • Friday – Harmar Elementary School’s annual bell ringing at the Fearing House Museum to celebrate Marietta’s birthday; Marietta Chapter Sons of the American Revolution will present “Fort Harmar 1785 and Marietta and Northwest Territory 1788” at the school.
  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday – The Marietta Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution library, 507 Eighth St., will be open for researching your patriot ancestor; no charge.
  • Noon to 1 p.m. Friday – Jeff Spear, president of the Sons & Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen, will speak at the Ohio River Museum, 601 Front St., Marietta, about “The Ritts’ W.P. Snyder Jr. Legacy” and walk through the exhibit. The program is free; discounted admission for tour of the museum will be offered.
  • 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday – Tours of the Ohio Company House constructed in 1788 and the Gen. Rufus Putnam House, part of the original fortress of Campus Martius, will be featured at the Campus Martius Museum. Regular admission fees apply.
  • 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday – Author James Williams will premiere his new book “Blazes, Posts and Stones,” starting at 9:30 in the Ohio Company Land Office at Campus Martius, followed by a seminar, “Indian War 1790-1795: The Life and Death Struggle for the Northwest Territory,” from 10 to 11:30. Reenactors of the Geographer’s Department of General Washington’s Army will be featured throughout the day. Admission free for Friends of the Museums members.
  • 1 p.m. Saturday – George Washington (Chuck Bell) at Campus Martius. The program is free.
  • 2:30 p.m. Saturday – Presentation by local historian Louise Zimmer following the 225th Birthday Luncheon at American Legion Post 64, Eighth and Wooster streets, Marietta. Presentation open to the public.
  • 10 to 11 a.m. Sunday – “225th Anniversary Church Service” at First Congregational Church, 318 Front St., Marietta. The service will provide history and details of the early church and its teaching. The community and guests in colonial period clothing are welcome.
  • Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday – Tours of the Ohio River Museum, 601 Front St., Marietta; regular admission fee. From 2 to 5, Sons of the American Revolution members in period clothing will be at the 1788 Flatboat Replica for a program.
  • Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday – Campus Martius open; regular admission fee, half price for reenactors in period clothing.
  • 12:30 to 1 p.m. Sunday – Bell ringing of the carillon will be performed with various patriotic tunes at First Congregational Church. Guests are invited to climb the steps into the bell tower to watch or assist Nancy Riley, past regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution, as she operates the wooden levers to engage the chimes.
  • 1 to 1:40 p.m. Sunday – 225th Landing of the First 48 Pioneers at the Start Westward Monument, Muskingum Park. Rufus Putnam (Bill Reynolds), dignitaries and historians will address the assembled. In case of rain, the program will be held at First Congregational Church.
  • 1:40 to 2 p.m., Sunday – Procession from the Start Westward Monument to Campus Martius and the Ohio River Museum. Reenactors will lead the parade, with townsfolk and guests.
  • 2 p.m. Sunday – “Marietta in Memory, History and Imagination,” presented by Andrew Cayton at Campus Martius. A distinguished professor of history at Miami University, his talk will focus on the personal and professional regarding the legacy of Marietta’s founders.
  • 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday – Annual Marietta birthday bell ringing and tours at the Fearing House Museum, 131 Gilman Ave., Marietta.
  • 5:30 p.m. Sunday – Annual Pioneer Day Dinner, sponsored by the Washington County Historical Society, Lafayette Hotel, 101 Front St., Marietta. Speaker Dave McKain will present “Women of Henderson Hall.” Reception, 5:30 to 6:30; dinner, 6:30; program, 7:30. Cost is $25; call 373-1788 or 373-0359 for reservations.

Source: Washington County SAR.