Another Successful Year at the Appalachian Heritage Luncheon

Tuesday, December 12, dozens of heritage enthusiasts gathered in the atrium of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus to honor some shining examples of heritage preservation in Appalachian Ohio.

As attendees enjoyed a tasty catered lunch, host and director of the Southeast Ohio History Center Tom O’Grady discussed the origins of American heritage that trace their roots back to Ohio hill country. Early Native American mounds, the first organized settlement in Ohio, Marietta, and the first thoroughfare approved by the United States Congress, Zane’s Cross, which crosses the Muskingum and Hockhocking Rivers can all be found in Ohio’s hill country.

Tom OGrady

Tom O’Grady, President of Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area Board and emcee for the afternoon

He mentioned two of Ohio’s first libraries, the Belpre Library in Washington County, which was founded in 1795 and the Coonskin Library, which was founded when residents sold animal skins in order to pay for the books that filled the library’s shelves.

People and iron factories in Ohio’s hills were instrumental in many of America’s military battles and the coal mining in this region contributed to the growth of Ohio and the United States. Some people working to preserve the stories from this remarkable region were honored and told their success stories to visitors and several members of the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives.

For a full list of honorees view our earlier story about the Heritage Luncheon.

2017 Appalachian Luncheon Honorees

As a special treat, Southeast Ohio native, Randy Gleason, performed a song called Ohio, written specifically for the Heritage Luncheon by Jeremy Gibson with lyrics representing the heritage being preserved by this year’s honorees.

Randy Gleeson

Randy Gleason. Photo credits Devin Cain, Morgan County CVB

To learn more about how you can be involved in historic preservation, contact the organizations responsible for the planning of the Heritage Luncheon: Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage area or Heritage Ohio.


Some parts of Appalachian Ohio hold some fascinating chapters of American history, but local potter Maddy Fraioli is bringing a story that stretches south beyond the Mason-Dixon right back to Shawnee, Ohio.

Fraioli has been making pottery and stoneware in Muskingum County for years. With her husband, Howard Peller, she owned and operated Fioriware in Zanesville for than 20 years, but now works in Roseville, OH, producing high quality pieces of stoneware and tabletop accessories. One of the new editions to her body of work are several face jugs, which forge a connection to a lesser-known part of African American heritage.

The origin and use of face jugs by African Americans has been disputed, and there is no definitive proof that would disprove the many theories put forth by experts, enthusiasts, and historical researchers. Their varying facial expressions, colors, sizes and shapes only add to the intrigue of these detailed historical pieces.

Some historians believe that face jugs were used by slaves as everyday, utilitarian objects, mainly as water jugs which they brought out into the fields with them. Others have made connections between the face jugs and ceremonies performed by shamans in traditional African religions, particularly the use of an object called an Nkisi doll.

nkisi doll

A Nkisi doll. The hole in the center of the chest was filled with a powerful object or objects and then resealed with clay.

Experts say the shaman would fill the doll with powerful objects and seal them inside to contain the objects’ power. Some historians believe the face jugs were used in a similar way. A similar theory describes the face jugs as grave markers, used by slaves who otherwise would not be allowed to mark the graves of their loved ones with any headstone. The fearsome expressions on many of the face jugs, or “ugly jugs,” as some enthusiasts and researchers call them, have been explained as a method of scaring the devil away from a grave so the soul of the deceased would be free to go to heaven. Some experts have suggested that the jug which was carried during a person’s life, whether for water or some other purpose, would be the jug used to mark their grave.

Another theory suggests that the scary faces were meant to deter young children from drinking syrup or alcohol that might be stored in the jug. Whatever their origin and purpose, the jugs boast a unique, striking appearance and can teach us about the everyday lives and traditions of some of the earliest African people brought to America.

Some of Fraioli’s pieces also use a technique that was traditionally seen on some face jugs: wood ash glaze. The glaze is mixed with ash from burned wood before being poured over the finished jug. One the jug is fired in a kiln, the outside takes on a shiny, slightly rough texture.

Like those in Rendville, OH, the city that elected Isaiah Tuppins as the first African American mayor in the state of Ohio, Fraioli has used her work to preserve an important and interesting chapter of African American history right here in Southeast Ohio.

Fraioli’s face jugs, as well as other pieces, including bowls and mugs can be purchased at the Winding Road Marketplace at 117 W. Main Street, Shawnee, Ohio. Wood ash, as well as two other glaze colors are available. For more information call at 740-3942852


Wood ash glazed face jug. Made by Maddy Fraioli

For more information about a specific face jug that was discovered in Eastern Pennsylvania and for sources visit The story about face jugs begins at 18:50.

Face Jugs: A mystery of history

Head to Columbus for Appalachian Heritage Luncheon @ the Statehouse

Register now (click here) for Appalachian Heritage Luncheon at the Statehouse!

On Tuesday, December 12, Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area and Heritage Ohio will welcome honorees and guests to the Atrium at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus to celebrate and reflect on Appalachian heritage and history. The list of honorees includes historic preservation organizations, cultural groups, and individuals dedicated to preserving and showcasing various chapters of Appalachian Ohio history.

OHio statehouseBeginning at noon, the luncheon will feature success stories from the honorees before the award ceremonies, which will conclude at 1:30.

A new award will be introduced this year, recognizing individuals for outstanding citizenship.   It will be named after and given to Sam Jones, of Glouster in Athens County.  Sam is recognized for his work with youth in the Glouster Area at the historic Sam’s Gym, Ohio’s oldest boxing venue established in the 1930’s.  Sam’s brilliant support for his community includes diverting many Trimble Township youth from the streets of this Little Cities of Black Diamonds coal mining community and teaching them to believe in themselves, as well as raising thousands of dollars for textbook and supply purchases at Trimble Local Schools via his annual Boxing for Books matches.

Museums being honored at the event include the Welsh-American Heritage Museum, and the Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing, Ohio. Read more about the Welsh-American Museum and the history they have worked hard to preserve in the story on Page 2. Dr. John Maddox, the founder and curator of the Underground Railroad Museum, will be honored at the luncheon for his tireless work collecting the articles, memorabilia, and other publications that make up the museum’s collections.  His work in organizing the exhibits at the museum which tell what we know of slavery and the Underground Railroad in Ohio and explain the 1800s culture around them.

Another honoree that has preserved a chapter of the 1800s is the Historic Zoar Village. Established by German immigrants in 1817, the village thrived for more than 80 years and its current residents still live in some of its original buildings.

The New Straitsville History Group will also be honored at the Statehouse for their work preserving the abundant history of this coal mining community. Visitors to New Straitsville can see Robinson’s Cave,  the meeting place for the founders of the United Mine Workers saved by this organization, or visit their museum filled with local history artifacts collected by members.

Other honorees include Adena Health System, for their revitalization for the Carlisle Building in the heart of downtown Chillicothe and the Appalachia Ohio Alliance, which focuses on conservation and preservation of Ohio’s land resources.

Murphin Ridge Inn founder Mary Cosset will also be honored at the event and tell her success story about preserving a beautiful inn on 142 acres of farmland and opening it up for visitors who can also  get a taste of life among the  Amish who build furniture and sell baked items nearby..

Registration for the luncheon is $35. Ticketholders who arrive early can enjoy free tours of the Ohio Statehouse with architect Bob Loveridge and historian Nancy Recchie, which will begin at 10:30 am.

This event is sponsored by AEP Ohio, the Burr Oak Lodge & Conference Center, and the Hocking Valley Bank.  Register on-line by clicking here! See you in the capital city at the center on December 12th.Appalachain Success Stories @ Statehouse Luncheon

Recipients of the 2016 Statehouse Luncheon Awards

National Museum of Cambridge Glass (Guernsey County)
Edge of Appalachia (Adams County)
Nelson T Gant House (Muskingum County)
Trumpet in the Land (Tuscarawas County)
Yearly Quaker Meeting House (Jefferson County)
McArthur Spring Literary Festival (Vinton County)
Historic Roscoe Village (Coshocton County)
Buckeye Trail Association
(Perry County Headquarters/Trail Passes through Multiple Counties)
Fly Ferry (Monroe County)
Village Bakery (Athens County)
Sewah Studios (Washington County)


Winding Road Network Moving Forward

High Rock Adventures Pic

Steve Roley of High Rock Adventures in the Hocking Hills shared the story of his outdoor adventure business with fellow entrepreneurs at the Burr Oak Meet Up which was devoted to “building community around product and business development.”

Over 50 persons gathered at Burr Oak Lodge near Glouster for an “All-Sector Meet Up” in late October, meant to stimulate business and product development around The Winding Road: Ohio’s Rising Appalachia (a sub-region of Ohio’s Hill Country).  Organized by Winding Road stakeholders, Heritage Ohio and Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area, the event shared the entrepreneurial success stories in the outdoor adventure, guiding, local foods, destination tourism related businesses, heritage and arts sectors.  Morning break-outs focused on success stories, networking and product development within the various sectors which have been engaging in “meet-ups” during the past year.  After a lunch address by State Representative Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville), afternoon round tables connected participants with useful resources in a Winding Road Cafe setting where locally produced coffee, legal spirits and snacks were available to participants as they visited information tables and networked with experts and colleagues.  Among the resource persons available at the tables were representatives of financing, electronic media marketing, ticketing, and packaging of experiences.

The event was facilitated by Tracy Kunkler, of Circle Forward Consulting who is working with organizers of this collaborative network of stakeholders to establish a system for planning, decision making and governance.  Kunkler has a deep understanding of collaborative networks and how contemporary strategies are needed to make them successful.   winding-road-logo-ohios-rising-appalachia-no-catalog-textKunkler will be working with the coordinating group formed around the Winding Road network to help plan the next steps for initiative, including funding proposal development, interpretive guide training and creation of shared services.   Current strategies include growing, refining and marketing the brand, increasing experiential products and tourism-related businesses around authentic assets, and the growth of interpretive programs and guides.

OHCHA sees the future of it’s efforts, in part, being tied to helping networks and brands form that can produce an experiential economy around authentic assets in Appalachian Ohio.  These networks can be organized around geographic sub-regions, thematic trails and sector related experiences that can value and share the unique sense of place we experience in the hill country of Ohio.  For more information about our Winding Road effort and developing networks similar to this in our 31-county region, e-mail us at, or call 740-394-2852.  Our capacity to directly assist these networks is limited due to paid staff capacity, but stakeholders in the Winding Road region are abundant and many are willing to share ideas and strategies that might stimulate leadership around your ideas to organize an initiative and/or brand around a theme, or sub-region that highlights assets in our greater region.

Wayne National Forest Wants Your Input

The Athens Ranger District of Wayne National Forest is asking for public comments on plans to build 1.8 miles of trail directly connecting the village of Shawnee with the Buckeye Trail and North Country Trail, and to add 6.4 miles of new trail.

tecumseh lake

Tecumseh Lake, Shawnee, OH

The plans would add a short, accessible loop around Tecumseh Lake and a longer loop trail south of the lake. Those trails, totaling about 3 miles in length, are part of the effort to provide hiking opportunities at varying difficulty levels to serve community health.

Furthermore, the rerouting of the trail is intended to improve safety for hikers by moving trails off of roads and discouraging motor vehicle use on walking trails.

Changes to the Buckeye Trail are part of an ongoing initiative to make the trail more friendly and accessible to backpackers and thru-hikers from the local area and from afar.

For more information about the proposed trail changes, click here.

Public comments can be made to Dawn McCarthy at Wayne National Forest, 13700 U.S. Hwy 33, Nelsonville, Ohio by Friday, September 29, 2017, specifically stating that they are in reference to the scoping period for the Buckeye Trail/North Country Trail Project.

Individuals should submit comments with their full name, mailing address, email address, phone number, and a signature, or other verification of identity. They should directly relate to the proposed trail reroutes and should include supporting reasons.

Comments can also be given by phone at (740) 753-0101 during normal business hours (M-F, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) or submit comments electronically to: All comments given will be considered but will be more effective if submitted before September 29, 2017.

For more information about Wayne National Forest, click here.

Visit these websites to learn more about the Buckeye Trial and the North Country Trail.

Support Hill Country!


“Valuing our Story” With The Unveiling of Historic Marker Celebrating African American Heritage in Rendville.

Support Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area.  Join with us and add your voice to the growing community of dedicated people who value the region’s distinct history, culture, natural beauty, recreational opportunities and unique sense of place.

Annual (and lifetime) support categories include:

In addition to your annual support please consider becoming a 2017 Tour Sponsor.  Your donation will allow us to offer tour participation to members of the community that  might not otherwise be able to participate.  We reach out to the youth of our region to help educate and inspire them to become active with their cultural heritage

Donation categories include:

Your support gift entitles you to:

  • Subscription to Ohio Hill Country Voice – Our attractive newsletter
  • Reduced rates on selected events & tours
  • Discounts on OHCHA Merchandise at The Winding Road MarketPlace
  • Access to many experts on the Ohio Hill Country region
  • A part in preserving our heritage and building a sustainable community!

As a non-profit, we are dependent on your support to survive and grow. As a volunteer-run organization, we need your support to continue our work. Please join today!

Getting Younger! OHCHA Adds 3 New Board Members

Until recently nearly half of the OHCHA Governing Board has been with the organization since its formative years, bringing veteran wisdom to the table, but a yearning for new ideas from the Millennial generation.  Worry, no longer!  Three new talented board members have joined the effort since December, growing our governing body to 10 members, its largest size in over a decade.


Diana Marvel

They are Diana Marvel, who is the Assistant Director of the Center for Campus and Community Engagement at Ohio University. Marvel came to the region from Seattle as a graduate student and fell in love with the landscape and culture here and is a now an active citizen, involved in a variety of community activities in the Athens area.


Alicia Caton

She is joined by Alicia Caton of Shawnee, who actually lives in an apartment above OHCHA headquarters in the Historic District.  Alicia is a native of Lancaster, served as an Americorps member with OHCHA during the 2015-16 term, an avid backpacker and is employed as an Events Planner with The Inn at Cedar Falls in the Hocking Hills.


Evan Shaw

Meigs County native and film documentarian Evan Shaw rounds out the list of newcomers.  Shaw has created four documentaries on southeastern Ohio communities for WOUB Public Media at Ohio University and is an avid historian.  His filmmaking talents have also landed him with a steady second job with NFL Films, taking him around the country to professional football venues each weekend throughout the season!  We welcome these newcomers ranging in age from their late 20’s to late 30’s to our organization.  We fell younger already!

Winding Road Local Foods Sector Meetup!

Authentic local foods and spirits are a growing element of our region’s authentic culture.  The Local Foods Sector is one of six sectors* being promoted via OHCHA’s sector development work with the The Winding Road: Ohio’s Rising Appalachia Initiative which promotes experiential tourism development around unique assets in the Hocking and Muskingum River Valleys of southeastern Ohio.  Stakeholders in the Local Foods Sector will gather at Ohio Hill Country Headquarters in Shawnee on Thursday afternoon, March 7th from 3-5pm for a Sector Meetup! to discuss how they might collaborate with one another to create tourism products, build a supportive community and market their goods and experiences.  The conversational style gathering will provide opportunities for foodie folks from Athens to Zanesville and winding-road-logo-ohios-rising-appalachia-no-catalog-textbeyond to get know one another and make plans for the future.  Farmers and other food producers, restaurant owners, food entrepreneurs, policy makers and food vendors are encouraged to attend.  Persons wishing to attend the
Meetup! are asked to RSVP by dropping a line to or call us at 740-394-2852.  There is no charge for the event.  Locally produced snacks and legal beverages will be served.

*Heritage, Local Foods, Outdoor Recreation/Environmental Learning, The Arts, Education & Youth, Tourism Related Businesses.

Pictured Above: Local Food Producers Pork & Pickles at the Athens Farmers Market, Summe 2016

Inspiring Practices Recognized at Statehouse Luncheon

Over 100 citizens and Appalachian Ohio legislators gathered in the Ohio Statehouse Atrium in December for the 6th Annual Appalachian Heritage Luncheon sponsored by Ohio Hill Country Heritage Area and Heritage Ohio.  After being addressed by OHCHA President Tom O’Grady on the importance of protecting and developing the region’s authentic assets, OHCHA board member and Heritage Ohio Director Joyce Barrett conducted the awards ceremony.  Legislators introduced eleven “Appalachian Success Stories” from their district which were then shared by award recipients from businesses, organizations, historic and natural sites and local governments from around the region.  This event is a highlight of OHCHA’s year, and is consistent with our mission to “value the regions historical, natural, and cultural assets.”

This year’s recipients were:
National Museum of Cambridge Glass (Guernsey County)
Edge of Appalachia (Adams County)
Nelson T Gant House (Muskingum County)
Trumpet in the Land (Tuscarawas County)
Yearly Quaker Meeting House (Jefferson County)
McArthur Spring Literary Festival (Vinton County)
Historic Roscoe Village (Coshocton County)
Buckeye Trail Association
(Perry County Headquarters/Trail Passes through Multiple Counties)
Fly Ferry (Monroe County)
Village Bakery (Athens County)
Sewah Studios (Washington County)

Winding Road Meet Up January 18th

Join The Winding Road Initiative for a chance to make the region’s environment, economy and communities just a lil’ bit stronger, healthier, happier and more attractive at a Winding Road Outdoor Recreation/Environmental Learning Meet Up!   The Meet-Up will take place on Thursday afternoon, January 18th in Shawnee. We will gather from 3-5PM at the Winding Road MarketPlace/Ohio Hill Country Heritage Area headquarters at 117 West Main Street, just across the street from the Tecumseh Theater.   Locally sourced and complimentary snacks and microbrew will be available. Arrive early for a Pre-Meet Up Winter Hike on the Buckeye Trail departing at 1:30PM that afternoon from the Buckeye Trail Association headquarters at 127 West Main. Shawnee is located in the Wayne National Forest at the intersections of State Routes 93 & 155 in southern Perry County.   

Nonprofits such as Rural Action, Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area, Buckeye Trail Association and others are actively organizing efforts and sourcing funds to improve our ecotourism/geotourism infrastructure.  We need your participation to create synergy, collaboration, cooperation and ultimately success.  At the Meet-Up we will use a fast-paced conversational/survey format to:

  • Review existing assets/stakeholders identified for the outdoor/environmental sector and identify additional assets/stakeholders and missing/needed outdoor recreation products;
  • Review and plan shared marketing (catalog, web site, social media) activities of the Winding Road to date and make plans for the future;
  • Hear about a recently approved seed grant that will help us collaboratively look at/create a Co-Op for Interpretive Guides in the Winding Road region;
  • Review shared Winding Road training, technical assistance activities (NAI Guide Training, Stakeholder Gatherings, Sector meetings, study trips) to date, and make plans the future;
  • Identify targeted funding needs for ecotourism ventures of stakeholders, as well as for collaborative ventures in the form of grants, loans, earned income and investments;
  • Identify infrastructure needs to support growth (site development, tour transportation, lodging, marketing, way-finding signage, technology, etc.)
  • Identify and attract people/businesses to develop outdoor rec products and attracting the human resources needed to assist emerging ventures.
  • Identify opportunities for students to engage, learn and become our next generation of outdoor economy leaders.

So, come on over, take a hike, share a beer (or wine or coffee), conversation and ideas, and let’s figure out how we are going to incubate a collaborative, stewarded, and economically sustainable Outdoor Economy here in our own backyard.

Please drop us a line to RSVP at