HARDIN — Shelby County third-graders had the opportunity to do hands–on experiences regarding living the life of a pioneer in the 1820’s.
The Shelby County Bicentennial Committee, county educators, and the Shelby County Historical Society combined forces to organize a unique event for the students. The learning experience expanded their study of Ohio History. The students spent a day — May 7, 8 or 9 — at the site of the historic Wilson-Lenox house, the first brick house in Shelby County. It was built in 1816 and is located on Houston Road, one mile south of Hardin. The house has been restored by the Ditmer family back to this time period.
The 680 students plus their teachers and additional personnel were able to experience the many activities planned for them. There were many educational and historical stops on this day-long field trip for the students. Activities included touring the Wilson-Lenox house to see living and sleeping conditions in the 1820s, preparing corn bread on an open fire, learning about early agricultural practices, and viewing the pelts of wild animals that were hunted and trapped. There were also sessions on bartering, early communication, transportation, and law enforcement practices. A petting zoo with a donkey, chickens, goats, and pigs were also on site.
A special guest was engaged to present one of the sessions. Kay Dodge, a teacher and historian from Ekron, Kentucky, presented the bartering sessions for the students. Dodge has also given presentations on children’s toys from the 18th and 19th centuries, Victorian era clothing, and how the Civil War affected children in the North and South. Students were able to participate and experience how to barter for the goods they wanted or needed. Dodge gave a short lecture on the basics of a barter and trade society and how transactions in goods and services helped America expand and grow in a cashless society.
Carr’s Belgians and Carriage Services from Casstown provided a horse-drawn ride on a modified hay wagon for the students. Two Belgian horses pulled the wagon. The driver was Jimmy Carr, a multi-generation breeder and trainer of Belgians and other work horses. Carr’s grandfather, Raymond, had a herd of 94 horses. Today their herd is approximately 20 horses. Carr is frequently asked the question, “How did you learn to drive a team of horses?” He answers “When I was in my mother’s womb.”
Approximately 50 volunteers from the county, additional school personnel and Chairperson Tilda Phlipot, offered their time and expertise to make this a rewarding and educational experience for the students. The students got to bring home projects that were completed by them and additional mementoes to help them remember their time as a Shelby County pioneer.
The volunteers willing to give their time and expertise and their assigned work areas were Corn Shelling, Cecil Steele, Bob Shoffner and Mike Jones; Corn Grinding, Mark Schlagetter and Steve Egbert; Cornhusk Dolls, Lola Billiel, Cindy Garrett, Barb Kerr and Judy Thaman; Law Enforcement, Sheriff Deputy Brian Strunk; House Tour, Linda DeVelvis, Helen Ward, Ola Schafer and Mary Perry; Planting/Gardening/Wood Cutting, Jim Perry, Walt Grassbaugh, Roger Lenz and Sophie Hurley; Communication, Gary Bonifas, Jane Bailey, Cheryl Michael and Beth Bailey; Animal Care, Harry and Jan Noah; Petting Zoo, Rehfus Family; Spinning wool, Mary Ellen Egbert, Reanah Daniel and Pam Allen; Wool Carding, Carol Morelock, and Julie Gilardi; Trapping and Hunting, Blair Granger; Cooking, Doug Benson, Dusty Hickerson, Jane Jones, Doug Slagel, Chris and Dianne Wooddell; Bell Ringers, Sharon Mohrbacher and Becky Michael.
The sponsors for this event were the Sidney/Shelby Chamber of Commerce, Shelby County United Way, and Monarch Legacy Fund of the Shelby County Community Foundation.