Stories and oral histories will be narrated by descendants of those who witnessed the historic event first-hand –
By Patricia Beech –
It’s been 153 years since General John Hunt Morgan and his band of 2,400 Confederate raiders crossed the Ohio River, and traveling east, swept through 24 Ohio counties destroying property, stealing livestock, and terrorizing citizens before being routed by Union forces at Buffington Island in Columbiana County on July 26, 1863.
Now, an hour-long documentary, Raiders on the Ohio, will detail Morgan’s two-week-long campaign of terror through a collection of stories and oral histories narrated by the descendants of those who witnessed the historic event first-hand.
Raiders on the Ohio project director, Scott Dockus, has partnered with the Buffington Island Battlefield Preservation Foundation to launch a fund raising campaign for the purpose of gathering these stories and oral histories from the descendants involved with or impacted by Morgan’s Raid.
According to David L. Mowery, author and foundation Chair, “This is a much needed project to help us raise the awareness of this historic event and preserve Ohio’s largest battlefield – Buffington Island.”
Over the next four months a series of Town Halls will be held in 10 Ohio counties to gather the stories and raise funding for the documentary. The first will be held in Adams County on June 24 at 7 p.m. at the First State Bank in Winchester. The Brown County event will follow on June 25 at 7 p.m. at the Mary P. Shelton Library in Georgetown. Anyone with a story to tell or anyone interested in learning more about Morgan’s Raid is welcome to attend.
On Friday, June 3, Commissioner Paul Worley, Tom Cross – Director of the Traveler & Visitors Bureau (TVB), Dean Bailey – President of the Adams County Historical Society (ACHS), Ralph Alexander and Linda Worley, both of the ACHS met with Dockus and his team, (Ning-Kuang Chuang from the Kent State Tourism Bureau, historian Larry Strayer, and fundraising organizer Becky Stephens) to discuss plans for the Town Hall meeting.
In addition to gathering stories and oral histories, the Town Halls will include a presentations from author David L. Mowery and historian, Larry Strayer. A collection of Civil War artifacts will be on display, and reenactment participants will appear in period clothes.
Each event will also include book signings from David L. Mowery, auction items of select artifacts and local donations, such as Bed and Breakfasts, tickets to tourist attractions, pies and baked goods, and a raffle for a set of David’s books.
Assisting Dockus is Becky Stephens, who is working with the meeting sites, county commissioners, travel bureau’s, and historical societies to organize and promote their specific event. One of Becky’s objectives is to manage the fund-raising activities for the project and the town hall events; Stephens states, “I love fund-raising, especially when it involves something I believe in. The history behind Morgan’s Raid comes with so many wonderful personal stories and so many stories yet to be heard. To gather these stories and help preserve our heritage is an honor.”
In addition to heritage preservation, Dockus says, “Heritage preservation is our primary objective, but we want to go a step further. One of our goals within each county and Ohio’s Appalachia is to positively impact economic development through tourism. With Becky’s assistance and through the promotion of each town hall event, we are working with each county to promote its own heritage, local attractions, entertainment, and restaurants. We are promoting not only Morgan’s Raid and the Buffington Island Battlefield, but participating counties, Ohio, and Ohio’s Appalachia as well.”
In addition to holding the Town Halls the Buffington Island Battlefield Preservation Foundation is sponsoring a 24-county traveling tour following Morgan’s original trail through Ohio.
The Buffington Island Battlefield Preservation Foundation is asking those joining the tour to give a tax-deductible donation of $250, $500, or $1,000, or an in-kind donation of a product or service that can be auctioned during a town hall event. In-kind donations are also tax-deductible. Financial contributions will aid in the preservation of the Buffington Island Battlefield, and in the gathering of stories and oral histories, as well as support the initial production of the documentary.
The project is expected to significantly increase tourism in participating counties. An increasingly important element of tourism and economic development strategy for many rural communities is making money from the appeal of landscapes, rural environments, and local heritage. As rural areas seek to benefit from tourism dollars, newly developed areas face strong competition from already established destination areas. A key process to a newly defined destination area is the formulation of a strong stakeholder alliance that consists of small business owners, individuals, and state and county governments. Those involved with Raiders on the Ohio believe in these alliances; therefore, we have extended this alliance to include Kent State University, with student internships, local heritage organizations, and tourism destinations. (From Raiders on the Ohio Press Release).
To learn more about this project and the complete schedule of town hall meetings, or to get involved and to donate, go to www.raidersontheohio.com.