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.

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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

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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 PBS.org. The story about face jugs begins at 18:50.

Face Jugs: A mystery of history

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.

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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: comments-eastern-wayne-athens@fs.fed.us. 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.