Friday, April 16, 2010

History Day Project - Individual Website made by Ruolin Yang

National History Day in Ohio is an exciting co-curricular program for students in grades 4-5 and 6-12. Each year, students conduct research based on the annual theme and create historical papers, original performances, media documentaries, creative exhibits and imaginative websites as a result of their research.  More than just one day, History Day is a program that allows students to do independent research and create a project that has a life outside the program. Students choose a topic related to the annual theme and can create a paper, exhibit, documentary, performance or website.

For this week's post we'd like to share with you one local student's project.  Ruolin Yang chose to do her History Day project on transportation, featuring America's canals and locks.  She met with Andy Hite, site manager of the Johnston Farm and Indian Agency, and toured some of Miami County's remaining canal sites in preparation for creating her imaginative website.  We'd like to thank Ruolin and her family for sharing the site with us - and now with you.

You can view Ruolin's project, Canals and Locks - What America Has Forgotten, at

Please add a comment and let us know what you think and we will pass it along to Ruolin.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Dickens of a good time was had by all!

Just as Charles Dickens did when he met John Johnston in 1842, Roger Jerome and his masterful performance have come and gone in the space of two days. 

April 08th, 2010 saw the public premiere of Dickens in Ohio.  The event was held in the William McKinley Domed Ballroom at the Fort Piqua Plaza in Piqua OH.  For the nearly one hundred and fifty guests in attendance, the event kicked off at 7:30 with a plate of period correct desserts and a cup of lemon shrub, and concluded with Roger Jerome's performance.  In between there was time to mingle with costumed interpreters and volunteers (only a few guests were startled by the Indians!), to take a look at the 1840s exhibits (including a local collection of dageurreotypes, and artifacts kindly supplied by the Piqua Public Library), and to make a purchase at the PHA Friends Council table.  Items for sale to support the site included hand-woven scarfs and sashes, ornaments and Cat's Meow representations of the site, as well as the first in a series of historical novels chronicling the Johnstons' lives - In the Midst of Danger. 

The program, which began at 7:30, was introduced by James Oda, director of the Piqua Public Library.  He was followed by Burt Logan, the new executive director and CEO of the Ohio Historical Society.  Mr. Logan was in attendance not only to see Charles Dickens, but to announce the Piqua Historical Area's new name.  Designation of an OHS site has only been changed two times in the Society's history.  In order to reflect better the aim and purpose of the Piqua Historical Area, and to come more in line with the name most familiar to the public, the site's new designation is: Johnston Farm and Indian Agency, with the added identifying tag of 'Native American, Frontier and Canal History'. 

As Andy said, 'Johnston Farm' is what the public calls the site already.

With this event, the Johnston Farm and Indian Agency looks forward to an exciting 2010 season.  Watch the blog for news and events, as well as updates on local construction and more.


William Bernard Johnston - The Merchant 1824-1890

William Bernard Johnston, the fourth son of John Johnston, is a bit of a mystery.  Though there are more images of William (as an older man) than of any of the other boys, there are very few written references to him. William was born on January 22, 1824 at Upper Piqua, OH and seems to have followed the path of several of the other boys - schooled at home and an Ohio college, and then sent out to learn about buying and selling; finally, to establish his own business. He is listed in the 1880 census as a 'fine European merchant'.  His business location was Cincinnati, first in a store with his brother James known as Johnston Brothers, and then, later, on his own. The location of Johnston Brothers was Pearl Street.  Pearl Street Market, founded in 1816, was the oldest public market in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Market occupied the middle of Pearl Street between Broadway and Sycamore. The market was later torn down to make way for Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium.

William married Josephine Brownell at Piqua, OH, Nov. 20, 1866. They had two children, Cornelia and William Jr. Neither child married.  William Jr. and Cornelia lived with their mother until her death, and after that, with their maternal aunt. 

William Bernard Johnston died November 17, 1890 in Cincinnati, OH at the age of 66.

Letter to Julia, Mary, Rosanna, Rachel, Rebecca, John, Catherine, and William Johnston at Upper Piqua Columbus January 22, 1833from John Johnston, at Columbus, OH
In answer to William’s letter, I am glad you all go to school, and that you are learning. At the time you wrote it was a very cold day here as it was with you. The weather is now warm again. I want you to learn to ride Charley so that you might go errands to the Post Office, etc.

John Johnston to AR Johnston January 1840
Your brother William at Columbus was quite well, growing tall* as yourself and Stephen. He is a boy of fine habits and temper and gives great satisfaction to his principals. (*author’s note: AR Johnston was over 6’ tall)

John Jones to AR Robinson Oct. 3 1843 Cincinnati
William is getting along very well in Rushville, IN. He is a remarkably fine young man. I like him much.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Two days and counting...

..until Charles Dickens makes his appearance in Piqua, OH!  You still have time to join the well over one hundred people attending this unique event.  Call the site at 937-773-2522 or 1-800-752-2619 (toll free) to make your reservation.  Come enjoy an evening of shrub, music, and masterful entertainment.  Tickets cost $25 and include Roger Jerome's performance as Charles Dickens, beverages, and dessert, as well as an evening spent in the splendor of Piqua's newly renovated and restored William McKinley Domed Ballroom in the Fort Piqua Plaza.