Harriett (Hattie) Morgan Stout (1842-1928)
William Cochran Stout (1845-1910) Married 1871
The bright lemony yellow strips stand out in a sea of burgundy brocade, chocolate velvet, pale sheer lawn, moss-green taffeta and the other muted shades– geometric scraps arranged to save and show off a family history.
Showing the family heirloom to my husband, I pointed to this ribbon, one of two used by my great-great-grandmother Emeline Cochran Stout in her crazy quilt.
My mother, Harriette Anderson Kaser, had told me that the ribbons belonged to my great-grandfather “Doc” Stout (1845-1910). I thought I was going to be writing about one person in this week’s 52 Ancestors entry, but instead there are two.
Since I knew that “Doc” Stout had helped raise money to build his church (the Church of Christ in Killbuck, Ohio) I jumped to the conclusion that he was on some kind of fund raising committee for Holmes County. But the date didn’t seem right. The ribbon says 1888. Holmes County was founded in 1825, not 1788, There was not even a state of Ohio until 1803. So what was this committee all about?
I went to one of my favorite places on Facebook, the page staffed by the Holmes County Library, called Our Town: A Holmes County, Ohio Local History Project. They had recently announced that they were compiling a list of events that took place in Holmes County, using the local newspapers from as far back as the 1800’s. I posted the ribbon and asked if they had information.
Within hours, they had supplied photos, articles and some surprises.
Ah-ha! This was a woman‘s committee, and men were an afterthought. So perhaps the reason there are TWO ribbons in the Emeline crazy quilt, is that my great-grandmother Hattie Morgan Stout (1842-1928) was on the original committee, and great-grandfather Doc Stout was a johnny-come-lately.
Furthermore, we learn from the newspaper article that the Holmes County exhibit was part of a State Exposition. But what was being exhibited? Another newspaper article made that clearer.
The second article, again from the Holmes County Farmer, says that the Centennial Loan would open on July 25 and continue for a week. All articles had to be in Columbus by August 8. Then we learn that “by Monday evening” people had loaned more than 50 items, including a Bible over 200 years old. The committee wanted “modern, new , pretty and interesting” things as well as antiques. The committee also needed potted ferns. Because heaven knows you could not do anything fancy in the 1880’s without a bunch of potted ferns!
The Holmes County Exhibit would include a demonstration of spinning, for which the committee needed certain items, and someone would demonstrate making silk. Entertainment and activities for children were all part of what you would get for your admission price of five cents. I was thrilled to think that my great-grandmother was right there helping make those decisions, and then visiting with friends to solicit “loans.”
But if it is not the centennial of Holmes County, and not the centennial of Ohio, whose birthday was it? Another reference from the Holmes County library reveals that Holmes County was part of a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the first community in Ohio, Marietta, a town on the Ohio River.
This was fascinating, and since my family was involved on the committee, I assume that they contributed something. I wonder if it was an antique, or something modern and interesting? Fortunately, I found out at least part of that answer. Read on.
In August, 1888, The Holmes County Farmer ran a sort of review of the event held at the County Court House in Millersburg. “…one might well imagine that Cinderella’s godmother had been there with her fairy wand, so great had been the transformation wrought in the last week.” Don’t you love the understated way newspaper reporters wrote in the late 1800’s?
- On the north you could see items as old as 500 years old, “old, quaint, dainty, pretty, beautiful”.
- A large room had been divided into a hall, bedroom and parlor, each furnished with all sorts of beautiful household items.
- The next room featured a dinning (sic) room with complete table setting.
- Across from that modern dining room another was set up as it would have been 100 years previously, and a horticulture exhibit.
- To the left of the dining room was an exhibit of old fashioned costumes.
- Ahead in the newspaper’s tour, another room representing art and industry was so overwhelming the reporter gives up “…there is so much and so great a variety, we cannot hope to describe it. It must be seen to be appreciated.”
- Then there was a pioneer room with old-time things.
- In Agriculture Hall, the large stage was “most tastefully draped with American flags and buckeye branches.” This stage held entertainment in the evening by musical groups and “the broom brigade”–synchronized marchers.
- During the day ladies demonstrated “shutch, hackle, card and spin” flax and wool.
In fact, the layout and the items on display make me think of the Smithsonian Institution’s original building (built just thirty years earlier).
I have gone into some detail here to impress upon you what a BIG DEAL the Holmes County Loan was. The County’s population at that time was just shy of 21,000, so a huge percentage of families must have contributed hundreds of items to “the Loan.”
The enormous Ohio Centennial Exposition in Columbus included a Civil War encampment of 100,000 veterans and 150,000 of their wives, children and friends, all camped out in the state capitol, which at that time had a population of only 120,000.
The bright yellow ribbons, beside the green pieces of great-grandma Hattie’s wedding dress, must have brought a flood of memories to the Killbuck couple– former school teacher Hattie Morgan Stout and her husband Doctor William Cochran Stout.
The dates on the ribbons in the crazy quilt told me exactly what my great-grandmother and great-grandfather were doing in the summer of 1888. From the newspaper articles and history book, I can see what a large undertaking they were part of. And what a thrilling project it was.
Like all research, it brought new information and understanding, but also raised more questions. What items did my family loan? Did they get them back? [NOTE: I later learned about at least one set of items that Hattie Stout specified were “not to go to Columbus. See the beautiful heirlooms here.]
Did Hattie and Doc, and maybe even Emeline and my 7-year old grandmother and her siblings travel to Columbus for the state exhibition? And by the way,I learned that hackle is a kind of comb, but what is the meaning of “schutch” in spinning? Or is it a typo? If you know, please leave a comment below.
Information about the Holmes County Loan Committee and the Ohio Centennial Exposition celebrating the founding of Marietta Ohio, came from the Holmes County Library’s Facebook page, referenced and linked above.
The Holmes County Farmer newspaper articles and the postcard both came from that same Facebook page. Other information came from “Columbus 1860 to 1910,” by Richard E. Barrett
The ribbon pictured at the top is part of a crazy quilt and the photographs of the Stouts are in the author’s possession.
This has been a weekly post in the 52 Ancestors/52 Weeks Project started by Amy Johnson Crow at “No Story too Small.” Check out her weekly recap showing the list of participants for some ripping good stories.