Pike Heritage

I am not a native of Pike County, Ohio. In fact, my first few years here were very tough and I hated living here. I was a small kid for my age. I had a huge chip on my shoulder–being from the big city of Columbus and all. It took a long time to make any friends at all.

After a while I learned to be a county boy. By the time I hit high school not only did I have great friends, but I had also fallen in love with the countryside. Woods, creeks and meadows became favorite haunts. When I moved to the Chicago area I really missed Pike County.

I few years ago was offered the opportunity to become a trustee on the Pike Heritage Foundation’s Board of Trustees, the group that runs the Pike Heritage Museum. History has always fascinated me. I leapt at the chance, and it has been very rewarding. Take yesterday for example. I was working at the museum (the board members take turns running the museum during the hours it is open) and a mother and daughter came in. The mother was attending college and needed to do some research and get pictures of artifacts for a project that was due soon. The daughter obviously did not want to be there. She puttered around a bit, sighing. Then she saw our tombstone and asked me if it was real.

Our tombstone. It is a real tombstone dating back to the cholera epidemic that hit Pike County back in the 1850s. Two young sisters died about two weeks apart and shared the tombstone. Years later the graveyard (on prime downtown Waverly real estate) was sold and the grave sites were moved. The family relocated the sisters to a Ross County graveyard but left the old tombstone behind. Being a fine piece of white granite it was used as the top step for the back door of a local business. Last year, about one hundred years later, another museum board member was helping to replace those very same stairs, and discovered the tombstone.

I related this story to the daughter, and watched as her attitude changed. Instead of seeing a building filled with musty old junk, suddenly she was seeing fascinating artifacts, each with a story to tell. I bet she has already told her friends about it.

My love of outdoors continues to grow. The history of this area is fascinating, even if parts of it are nothing to be proud of. I was not born here, but I claim Pike County as my heritage.

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