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Fulton County Historical Society Prepares Civil War Commemoration



Fulton County Historical Society will take part in Ohio’s commemoration of the Civil War with its own program, “Hell & The Homefront: Civil War through Fulton County Eyes.”

John Swearingen, Jr., director of the historical society and the society’s scholar, said the program is a five-year project, including exhibits and education programs.

The society received a $1,500 grant from the Ohio Humanities Council for future contribution to the state commemoration.

Swearingen said the Fulton County project will compare what was going on at the home front, versus what was happening on the battlefi elds.

There were quite a few units from Fulton County taking part in the war. Some guarded Confederate prisoners on Johnson’s Island, in Sandusky Bay. Other men from Fulton County were prisoners at the South’s infamous Andersonville Prison.

Swearingen said while battles raged in the south and east, Fulton County was having its own conflicts. He specifically pointed to the battle over moving the county seat from Ottokee to Wauseon or Delta. At one point, the county courthouse mysteriously caught fire.

Swearingen said the Historical Society has letters and diaries from the time period.

“The pioneers first settled the county in the 1830s. It was their kids who were going off to war. The letters are very heartfelt,” he said.

Artifacts

Swearingen said he has been “playing the museum game,” going through the society’s Fulton County His- torical Museum collection.

“I keep finding things, things we had that we didn’t realize were from that time period.”

Many of the artifacts were sorted and stored by categories rather than time periods.

“Clothing was with clothing, and the guns are all together on one rack,” he said.

For example, the museum has a bullet mold, used to hand-cast bullets, that could be from the Civil War period.

Experts from a Civil War reenactors group will examine the mold, Swearingen said.

The society also is seeking artifacts that may be in the hands of county families that could be displayed.

To that end, Swearingen said the society is “working on improving the security cameras, the alarm system, air conditioning, and climate control, so people will feel safe when they allow us to borrow their artifacts.”

Museum

To display the artifacts, Swearingen said he’s planning to clear two rooms, the parlor and kitchen, which haven’t been changed since 1959.

Diaries and items from 1861 will be displayed during 2011; items from 1862 will be displayed in 2012, etc.

Part of the Hell & Homefront project will include presentations at county libraries, including Archbold.


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