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.

Famous Ohioans: Hallie Quinn Brown

Hallie Quinn Brown was born in 1850 in Pittsburgh, PA. Brown’s parents were former slaves. The family moved to Canada first before settling in Wilberforce, OH. Here Brown would attend Wilberforce College. She received a degree in 1873. Brown would go on to teach at Allen University and even serve as Dean for the University. She would become Dean of Women at Tuskegee Institute. Brown eventually comes back to Ohio where she taught in the Dayton public school system.

Brown had a long-time interest in public speaking. In 1895 she would address a large audience at the Women’s Christian Temperance Union Conference in London. Serving as one of the US representatives in 1899 she spoke at the International Congress of Women in London, UK. Brown also had the honor of speaking before Queen Victoria.

Brown became involved in the suffrage campaign for women’s right to vote. Not slowing down, Brown helped organize the Colored Women’s League in Washington, D.C.. This organization would ally with others to become the National Association of Colored Women. Brown would become president of NACW and in the last year of her position spoke at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, OH.

Hallie Q. Brown wrote and published several notable books. The most well know was her Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction. In which Brown documented the lives of African American women of the time. She died in Wilberforce, Ohio in 1949.

Harriet Taylor Upton, Famous Ohio Suffragette

Harriet Taylor was born in Ravenna, Ohio in 1853, daughter of Judge Ezra Taylor. In 1880, Upton’s father was elected to Congress to succeeding President Garfield as he left the position. In Washington DC where she moved with her father Upton would meet Susan B. Anthony and other members of the suffrage movement.

Once back in Ohio, Upton became an essential organizer and the first president of the Suffrage Association of Warren. Her family had moved to Warren previous to her father’s appointment to Congress.

In 1894 became the treasurer of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. This was the leading national organization for women’s suffrage. Upton brought that organization’s headquarters to Warren for about seven years between 1903-10.

Upton saw the passing of the 19th amendment. Afterwards she was elected Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Republican National Convention. In 1924 she tried running for Congress but did not win the campaign. Upton had some success as a politician by being elected to the Warren Board of Elections.
Upton and her husband lost their wealth during the Great Depression. Unfortunately, Upton spent her final days in poverty in California. Harriet Taylor Upton died in 1945 at 91 years of age.

Today, Upton’s legacy is upheld at the Harriet Taylor Upton House in Warren, OH. It is registered as a National Historical Landmark and was saved from destruction by local activists who also worked with a lawyer from California to have her cremains moved to her Warren home instead of a pauper’s grave.

An Ohio Town Too Tiny for Maps

There is a town in Ohio that is so small it often does not appear on maps. Gist Settlement in Penn Township, Highland County Ohio is the name of the town too small for maps. This tiny town was established by a group of freed slaves during the 1820’s.

Yet the town is named after Englishman, Samuel Gist from Gloucester County, England. Gist was very wealthy owning not only land in England, but the Southern U.S. as well. While historians believe Gist probably never visited the U.S. his success was due in part to the work of slaves on his plantations.

Gist made many addendums to his will before he died. The final version called for his slaves in America to be freed one year after his death. Gist also set his will up so that everything he owned in the U.S. would be sold. The profits were to create a trust to care for his freed slaves.

After Gist’s passing his last wishes began to be executed. Executors searched for land on which the freed slaves could settle. The executors found several plots in Ohio. A portion of the freed people came to Highland County and the future Gist Settlement.

The Gist Settlement is still there today and still ignored by maps. The population has shrunk from the estimated 900-some freed people who settled Gist.

Learn About Ohio’s History at Johnston Farm and Indian Agency

Ohio’s history can be explored at many locations around the state, but there may be no other place like the Johnston Farm—here one can explore thousands of years of Ohio history in one place. The location includes ancient mounds built by native Ohioans who knew the land by a different name. The 250 acre site also includes John Johnston’s farm.

There is restored home and several outbuildings that can be toured where you’ll about life in Ohio around 1829. There is also a museum dedicated to the Eastern Woodland Native Americans who lived in the area. You can also take a mule-drawn canal boat ride along a restored section of the historic canal.

For the small settlement of Piqua the Johnston Farm & Indian Agency was the life center of activity. John Johnston settled his here with his family in 1811. He was and Indian Agent but well respected by both the Native Americans and his peers.

Johnston performed Washington’s eulogy, was friends with William Henry Harrison and served as a canal commissioner for some time. He also served as president of philosophical and historical societies in Ohio. He also found the time and energy to help found Kenyon College and serve on Miami University’s board of trustees and was a member of the board at the famous military academy of West Point.