The Christmas Spirit During Wartime

The Christmas Truce of 1914 were widespread and unofficial ceasefires among the troops of the western front of WWI around Christmas time in 1914.

These truces happened in the infancy of the war (month five of a fifty-five month war). Before the Christmas Truce battle had gone into a lull as commanders on all sides reconsidered their tactics. The week before the 25th, British, French and German soldiers crossed the once deadly trenches to exchange Christmas greetings and talk.

On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, in some areas, men from all sides crossed the once-deadly no-man’s-land to mingle and exchange food and souvenirs.  The soldiers participated in joint burial ceremonies and prisoner swaps and some meetings even ended in caroling.

One of the most memorable images of the truce was a group of men playing soccer with each other. The peace was not complete, however, fighting continued in some areas while in others troops on both sides agreed to no more than arrangements to recover the bodies of fallen comrades.

Unfortunately, the following year the Christmas peace was not as nearly widespread. This was likely due to extreme orders on all sides against such truces and the devastating loses suffered by all sides.

While such truces existed outside of Christmas time they were never as widely participated in during a single period, making the Christmas Truce unique. And despite the fact that it did not involve any American or Ohioan troops this moment in history is a stark reminder of humanity’s ability to both show mercy in a time of giving even during such a violent and grim moment in our history.


A Brief History of Ohio’s Original Mental Health Facility

In Ohio’s early years it lacked a facility to treat those with mental illnesses. Unfortunately, anyone with mental illness who couldn’t be cared for at home were housed in local jails or in the Ohio Penitentiary, probably exacerbating their illness. Thankfully in 1835 the Ohio Lunatic Asylum was established through a bill passed by the Ohio General Assembly. This was the first state-supported hospital in Ohio. And was the first facility west of the Allegheny Mountains established to treat mental illness.

The asylum was built in the state capital of Columbus on a plot of 30 acres on East Broad Street. At the time it cost $61,000 to complete. In 1838 it opened and quickly became home to more than 100 patients.

The asylum was unique in that it did not turn away patients based on their family’s ability to pay for treatment and housing.  As other facilities were built throughout the state the facility renamed itself the Central Ohio Lunatic Asylum and for several years housed and treated more than three-hundred patients.

In November of 1868 the majority of the facility was destroyed by fire. Surviving patients were re-homed at the Ohio School for the Deaf but these patients were quickly sent home or to prisons.

The asylum was rebuilt on West Broad Street on 300 acres of land and was completed in 1877 (after seven years of construction). It cost 1.5 million dollars and was the largest structure in the US until the Pentagon was built in the 1940s.

The renamed Columbus Hospital for the Insane (eventually renamed to the kinder title of Columbus State Hospital in 1894) it followed the teachings of Thomas Kirkbride. By 1935 the hospital would be called home by almost 3,000 patients. The building had troubles with fluctuations in state funding and was demolished in the 1990’s to make space for office buildings.



Famous Female Athletes of Ohio

Ohio has its own special place in sports history–here are some brief highlights of just a few female Ohioans who made their name in sports.

From Loveland, Ohio: Maude Bechdolt Detro competed in the Summer Olympics, 1972, in archery. She came in 28th.

Grove City, Ohio: Ann Grossman was a nationally ranked tennis player at just the age of 9. In 1988, she qualified to play at the US Open (she was just 16) and went pro just two years later in 1988 (at the age of 18). In 1998 after an impressive career she retired.

60 Years before the WNBA would even exist, the girls of Elmore High School (1931) took home the Ottawa County Championship.

Commercial Point, Ohio: Sarah Fisher found herself the 3rd youngest driver and, overall, the youngest woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500 at the turn of the century in 2000. She also became the youngest woman to place, coming in at an impressive 3rd.

Formed in 1971 the Toledo Troopers formed to play in the Women’s Professional Football League. They went on to become one of the most-winning teams in all of professional football history.

These highlights capture just some of Ohio’s famous female athletes.

National Road and Zane Grey Museum

At the National Road and Zane Grey Museum you can learn about US 40 which is the old National Road once known as the Main Street of America. At the museum you can explore the Westerns and novels of famous Ohioan author Zane Grey (of Zanesville, Ohio) and see the artful pottery that this region of Ohio is famous for.

Learn about the history of the road from construction to transportation, wagons to cars and more. The exhibit demonstrates with period objects what is would have been to like to travel on the Main Street of America during the early 19th century to the mid 20th century. The 136 foot long exhibit is quite educational.

The Main Street of America was the busiest route west and traveled from Cumberland, Maryland to Vandalia, Illinois. Construction on the road began in 1806 and in the early 19th century was the only significant link between the coasts of America. This route, the brainchild of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson was the vein which fed crops and goods back and forth between East and West and aided greatly in immigration.

Mr. Zane Grey was born in Zanesville, Ohio in 1872. He authored over eighty books but is best known for his novels about the old West. Grey wrote sixty some Westerns, 9 novels about fishing, 3 books tracing the lineage and history of the Ohio Zanes, a biography of young George Washington and plenty of short stories—somewhat of a literary heavyweight. Zane’s novels remain popular in the present day. The museum has recreated the study in which Zane penned many of these work and includes many original manuscripts and personal items of Zane’s.


A Brief History of The Lafayette Hotel, Marietta OH

MSN recently rated the “most haunted” hotel in every state. So, what spooky spot did they pick for Ohio? The beautifully appointed Lafayette Hotel in Marietta, OH.

Those who believe the hotel to be haunted often say it is the old owner and that he likes to play tricks on guests by moving around items in their rooms, overturning their suit cases and emptying shampoo bottles.

Yet the real history of the hotel is far more fascinating. Marietta was established as the first permanent settlement in 1788. The hotel was named for the Marquis de Lafayette who was the French hero of the American Revolution who visited Marietta in 1825. Today locals still like to boast that Lafayette was the first tourist to visit Marietta. A plaque near the hotel marks where he came ashore.

Before the Lafayette Hotel was built stood the Bellevue Hotel, built in 1892. It had fifty-five steam heated rooms and was four stories tall. It also included a bar and call bell system in all rooms. Their marketing promised hot and cold baths and the rate was only about two dollars a night. The Bellevue was taken by fire in 1916, Lafayette guests can view pictures of the fire in Gunroom Restaurant.

A Marietta man rebuilt the hotel in 1918 and named it the Lafayette. Today the rooms still have many artifacts from the hotel’s past bringing together this wonderful story from Ohio history.