I Found It In the Archives Finalist: Kory de Oliveira

Kory de Oliveira
My paternal grandma loved to share detailed stories of her childhood in Nelsonville, Ohio, and her paternal grandmother, Jane Hemsley Bateman. She described how she could escape the struggles of life during the Depression and a house full of siblings when she crossed the street to her Grandma Bateman’s house. They were close. My grandma knew that Grandma Bateman had been raised by her aunt and uncle, although Grandma never really knew why that was. With my curiosity piqued, I needed to explore Jane Hemsley Bateman’s past and why she may not have divulged many details about her own childhood. I wanted to do that for my grandma.

Jane Hemsley was born in County Durham, England, to a coal mining family. Jane, her parents, paternal grandmother, and father’s sister’s family crossed the pond when she was very young and landed in Meigs County, Ohio, by 1870 . She lost her mother and grandmother shortly thereafter. Ten years later Jane was living with her aunt, but her father, Robert Hemsley, was to be found elsewhere- the Ohio Penitentiary . Grandma was thoroughly amused by this revelation and I knew I had to get acquainted with some skeletons in the closet. I spent several hours in the Microfilm Room at the Ohio History Connection scanning for Robert’s admission entry to the Pen, hoping it would contain a description of his physical characteristics, and possibly something more. No such luck. With a whole decade of prisoner entries to sift through I eventually had to throw in the towel and leave it for another day.

After a few more years of fervent online research, I learned that Robert Hemsley was decreed a 2nd degree murder conviction in February 1874 for fatally stabbing his neighbor (during a drunken brawl) who had had “illegal relations” with his new wife . Armed with a more precise timeline, I ventured back to the OHC Microfilm Room and discovered that Robert’s April 1874 Ohio Penitentiary admission entry included a physical description! There was my skeleton: my 3rd great-grandfather was a 5 feet 4½ inch “hard drinker” with grey eyes and a heavy brow, a thick nose and short mouth, thin brown hair, teeth that were in poor condition, and a defective right middle finger, but yet was somehow stout and well built. Several scars on his face and arms were noted, presumably from a tough life of coal mining and drunken brawls. Sadly, it was too late to relay those details to Grandma but I’m sure she would be thoroughly amused.

Kory de Oliveira



“Canadian Passenger Lists,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 15 March 2014), manifest, S. S. Belgian, October 1865, penned p. 1, line 31, Anne Hemsley, age 2. Jane was listed by her middle name on the passenger list.

1870 U. S. census, Meigs County, Ohio, population schedule, Syracuse Post Office, p. 26 (penned), dwelling 167, family 198, Robert Hemsley; NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1242.

1880 U. S. census, Columbus, Ohio, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 40, p. 72 (penned), block 72, inmate 17, Ohio Penitentiary; NARA microfilm publication number T9, roll 1017. For dwelling and family, block and inmate have been substituted, respectively.

Robert Hemsley, “Neighboring Counties, Meigs,” The Athens (Ohio) Messenger, 25 January 1883, p. 1, col. 5; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 15 March 2014), The Athens Messenger (Athens, Ohio).

Robert Hemsley, Register of Convicts no. 9872, admission 3 Apr 1874, pp. 36-39 (penned), Ohio Penitentiary, Columbus, Ohio; Ohio History Connection Archives, Columbus, Ohio, microfilm role uncited, accessed 4 Apr 2014.

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I Found It in the Archives Finalist: Marty Davis Cottrill

Touching the Past

Marty Davis Cottrill
While researching my Beers ancestors who had helped establish North Columbus, I found a book about the Bull Family, who had lived near David and Elizabeth Schlegel Beers. The book featured sketches of several circuit riders who had served the congregation of Clinton Chapel, where my ancestors attended. (The book was Early Clintonville and Grove City and the Bull and Smith Families, by Nancy J. Pendleton, 1997.)

One circuit rider, Uriah Heath, reportedly served Clinton Chapel in 1838-39 and again 1848. I knew my ancestors Solomon (David’s son) and Eliza Pennington Beers had joined a Sunday school class there in 1839. The Pendleton book indicated that Uriah Heath knew the Bull family well. Did he know my Beers ancestors, too? The book also reported that Uriah Heath kept a diary—and that this diary was at the Ohio Historical Society Archives!

I set aside an afternoon to visit the OHS Archives, hoping the diary was still available. What would it be like, I wondered, to hold this volume that was 160 years old? Before I knew it, the archivist delivered the old book to me at one of the tables set aside for viewing such works. I put on the gloves I was given and turned the pages carefully, intent on finding a date that brought Uriah Heath into contact with my ancestors. The information I had for Solomon’s wife Eliza Pennington Beers showed that she had died at age 38 in 1848, possibly of cholera. (It was a hard life; three of her five children preceded her in death.)

I scanned the pages for July 1848, the month that Eliza had died—and was rewarded with Uriah Heath’s handwritten account of his visit to the Beers family the day after Eliza had died:

“July 21 1848 . . . Mrs. Beers was lying dead, having departed at ten o’clock last night. The family feel desolate and much afflicted. May the dispensation of the Providence of God be sanctified to the good of the survivors.”

I was mesmerized by this journal entry by a caring person who had seen and talked with the family of Solomon and Eliza Beers. I spent two hours with that diary and deeply appreciate the chance to “touch” my ancestors’ lives through the words of the pastor who visited them at a crucial time. Thank you, OHS Archives!

Marty Davis Cottrill


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Exhibit Tours with Curators Coming in July

On your next visit to the Ohio History Center you can tour current exhibits with our curators.

July 12 tour Faces of Appalachia: Photographs by Albert Ewing

What was it like to wonder the back roads taking photographs? Join Lisa Wood, curator for visual resources, to learn more about the life    and work of traveling Appalachian photographer Albert Ewing.

July 19 tour Follow the Flag

Their regiment’s flags were extremely important to soldiers during the Civil War. Join senior object curator Cliff Eckle to find out how flags were used and how Ohio’s delicate Civil War flags are preserved.

July 26 tour Going, Going, Gone? Endangered and Extinct Species

Our newest exhibit Going, Going, Gone? is open! Join natural history curator David Dyer for an in-depth tour to learn more about endangered and extinct species in Ohio and other places.

If you want to participate in a curator led tour:

Day and Time: Saturdays in July at 2:00 PM

Location: Ohio History Center at I-71 and 17th Ave.

Cost: Free with Museum Admission

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Frequently Asked History Collections Questions

Here at the Ohio History Connection, History Curators are often asked similar questions from the public. We have put together a list of our most frequently asked questions to help explain what we do.

Americorps members help rehouse and organize our hat collection.

Americorps members help rehouse and organize our hat collection.

What is a collection?

A collection is a group of objects that help serve a museum’s mission. The mission of the Ohio History Connection is to help people connect with Ohio’s past in order to understand the present and create a better future. In order to serve this mission, we have divided our three dimension objects into three collections: history, archaeology, and natural history.

What do you collect?

Anything related to Ohio History! We collect anything from hair pins to airplanes; we look for objects that will help visitors connect with Ohio’s history.

Are there things you don’t collect?

Much thought and research goes into each donation offer. As stewards, we have to think about space and preservation of our collection. In the History Collection, we sometimes have to turn down objects based on condition, duplication in the collection, or lack of provenance. Provenance is the history behind an object; without knowing the object’s history, it can sometimes lose its importance.

How do you research an object?

We research an object in a variety of ways. We usually start with the provenance of an object and try to research more about the people associated with object and the historical context the object was used in. We use books and primary sources from the Ohio History Connection Research Library; we also communicate with other museums that have similar objects.

I came to the History Center a few years ago and saw an object that I was interested in. Why isn’t it on exhibit anymore?

H 52949 was recently taken off exhibit after being displayed at the History Center for years. Alan Canfora was wearing this jacket on May 4, 1970, when he was struck by a bullet fired by an Ohio National Guardsman on the campus of Kent State University. To prevent light damage, we have taken it off the   exhibit floor, but researchers still have access to it in our collections facility.

H 52949 was recently taken off exhibit after being displayed at the History Center for years. Alan Canfora was wearing this jacket on May 4, 1970, when he was struck by a bullet fired by an Ohio National Guardsman on the campus of Kent State University. To prevent light damage, we have taken it off the exhibit floor, but researchers still have access to it in our collections facility.

We often rotate objects on exhibit for a number of reasons; usually it is to help protect an object from light and environment damage. We also change out objects if we get a better example of that object or just for something new for visitors to see.

What happens if I want to donate an object?

First contact the history department through this form. A curator will be in touch to find out more information about the object you wish to donate. If the object is a good fit for the collection, a formal report is made to the Collections Management Team (CMT), a committee made up of curators across all disciplines, who votes on if it should be accepted or not into the collection.

History objects are stored in the Society’s collections facility.  They are available to researchers by appointment; exhibited at the Ohio History Center and the Society’s 58 sites statewide; and loaned to other museums.

Can you appraise something for me?

Ethical and legal reasons prevent Ohio History Connection staff from appraising artworks. The Smithsonian Conservation Institute has put together a list of resources for artifact appraisal.

What does it mean when an object is “loaned”?

Recently, the Historical Aircraft Squadron borrowed our Culver Cadet airplane for an exhibit at their museum.

Recently, the Historical Aircraft Squadron borrowed our Culver Cadet airplane for an exhibit at their museum.

Often when museums are putting together exhibitions, they look to other collections to see if there are objects they can borrow to help tell the story in their exhibition. Museums love to collaborate through this processing of loaning objects; its win-win, as new audiences can see objects they might not normally have the opportunity to see. As a great example of this, recently our Lilly Martin Spencer painting, “Shake Hands?” was loaned to the Art Institute of Chicago for their exhibition, Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture, and Cuisine. As part of the exhibition, Chef Meg Galus of the restaurant NoMI saw the piece and was inspired by it. She likely would never have seen this piece if it had not been loaned.

What is the weirdest thing in your collection?

We have a number of unusual objects in our collection. One of my favorite objects is a ring made from bone (H 70407). During the Civil War, Sergeant Peter Heckert, of Company F, 120th Ohio Volunteer Infantry regiment had to have his left leg amputated at Jackson,

H 70407, a ring made from

H 70407, a ring made from Sergeant Peter Heckert’s amputated left leg.

Mississippi July 11, 1863. Heckert asked the doctor to save his bone; Heckert made the ring from his own bone and wore it!

What do curators do on a daily basis?

Every day is different for curators! We generally process collections, research potential donation offers, work with researchers, plan and chose objects for exhibitions, oversee the care of our collection, take objects out for loans, and work with sites around the state. Sometimes we even get to be on TV to talk about our collection! Of course we also write blog posts and answer questions from readers.

History Curator, Cliff Eckle, films a segment about our Civil War battle flag collection.

History Curator, Cliff Eckle, films a segment about our Civil War battle flag collection.

How do I become a curator?

There is not one singular path to become a curator. This is what makes our field so interesting and diverse! Some curators have come from history backgrounds; others have come from art, design, education, business, or even the science field. I received my M.A. in History Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program and interned in a variety of museums in curatorial and digital collections. The key to a career in the museum field is experience! Start volunteering or interning with a museum.



What other questions do you have for the History Curators at the Ohio History Connection?

Emily Lang, History Curator

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Countdown to the Moon Landing: 2 Weeks

Today’s moon landing artifact is a hand-knitted sweater (H 63071).  This bright blue sweater is ribbed at the waist, neck, and cuffs.  The body of the sweater is purled with an image of a white rocket and yellow moon and stars on the chest.  The words “Apollo 11” and “USA” have been sewn onto the rocket in grey yarn.H63071

Guinness World Record Holder Gwen Matthewman of Featherstone, Yorkshire, England, knitted this sweater in July 1969, for Neil Armstrong.  Her own original design, Matthewman produced this rocket sweater from 40 ounces of wool in six hours.  Read more about her and the creation of this sweater in the August 13, 1969, edition of The Australian Women’s Weekly here.

Matthewman sent the sweater to NASA at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, TX (now the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center).  Dr. Robert Gilruth, Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center, forwarded the sweater on to Janet Armstrong to give to her husband, Neil.  NASA officials thanked Matthewman for her gift and promised that Armstrong would wear the rocket sweater for pictures.

H63214_view 1Strangely enough, this is not the only sweater in the Ohio History Connection created to commemorate the moon landing. H 63214 is a white child’s sweater knitted with Armstrong’s famous words, “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” The creation of these sweaters indicates the cultural extent the moon landing had on the public internationally.

Check back next week for the fifth moon landing artifact as we get closer to the 45th Anniversary of the First Moon Landing, happening on July 20th.


Caitlin Smith, History Collections Intern

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Countdown to the Moon Landing: Three Weeks

This week’s featured moon landing object is a souvenir created in the success of the landing of the Apollo 11 mission (catalog number H 72774.002).  This “moon money” was “legal tender on the moon” until January 1975.  Worth 25 cents on the moon, the front of the moon money depicts the three Apollo 11 astronauts as well as the Apollo 11 patch designed H 72774.001by one of the crew members, Michael Collins.  The back of the moon money commemorates the “First Man on the Moon – July 20, 1969” and identifies the distributor of this commemorative currency as Tom Ringler Enterprises of Columbus, OH.

“Moon money” is one of the many types of commemorative currency produced in the United States following the first successful moon landing in 1969.  Currency ranges from paper or wooden money to legal U.S. tender in the form of coins.  One of the most common examples of currency related to the landing is a 1969 U.S. penny, counter stamped with an image of the moon landing next to Abraham Lincoln’s head.  Coins like these provide insight into the importance of the 1969 moon landing to the American people and the commercialization of this event.

Neil Armstrong coming back to his hometown in Wapakoneta, Ohio after NASA mission Gemini 8. Received at Lima, Ohio airport by mother Viola Armstrong and Ohio Governor James A. Rhodes.

Neil Armstrong coming back to his hometown in Wapakoneta, Ohio after NASA mission Gemini 8. Received at Lima, Ohio airport by mother Viola Armstrong and Ohio Governor James A. Rhodes.

Check back next Tuesday for the fourth artifact in our Countdown to the Moon Landing!

Caitlin Smith, History Collections Intern

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Call for 1950s Collections

1950s: Building the American Dream has been on exhibit for a whole year now! In case you have not seen the exhibit yet, visitors are encouraged to experience the 1950s through the eyes of a family living in central Ohio with a hands-on, walk through of their Lustron home. Visitors can explore the nooks and crannies, cupboards and drawers of the family’s real, full-size Lustron house, built right inside the Ohio History Center!


From VFM 4107 AV

Many of the objects in the house have been deeply loved by visitors and now need replacing. We are asking for your help for this list of specific needs to engage visitors and help teach the public about the 1950s. We are looking for the following items from the 1950s:

- Clothing in good condition including:

- Women’s dresses, shoes (keds, loafers, etc), pedal pushers, and women’s foundation garments such as a bullet or circle-stitch bra and bullet pads.

-Men’s pants, swim trunks,  and shoes.

-Boy’s clothing and shoes.

-Paint by Number paintings


-A sewing machine

-Canning supplies

- Bonnet hair dryer


If you are interested in donating, please send your name, contact information, and pictures of the objects to collections@ohiohistory.org

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