Jun 16, 2013

Darke County’s “Best kept secret”

Allen Hauberg
GREENVILLE – “Many have said it’s the best kept secret in Darke County.”

Allen Hauberg, “docent” for Greenville’s Garst Museum, noted the museum houses some 300,000 items of interest in about 35,000 square feet.

“There are six major venues and three minor ones,” he said.

The majors: The Crossroads to Destiny, Annie Oakley, Lowell Thomas, Military (Keepers of Freedom), Village Shops Displays and the Pioneer Artifacts Displays. The minors: Zachary Lansdowne, a collection of Currier and Ives original issues and a display of Americana room settings.

In addition, Hauberg said the museum is the home of the Darke County Genealogical Society which actively maintains records on some 10,000 family names that played a part in Darke County history.

“We also maintain the house where Lowell Thomas was born. It was relocated from Woodington to museum grounds several years ago,” he added. “And we operate a gift shop with many interesting items.”

Hauberg made his presentation at a Greenville of Kiwanis meeting on June 5. While much of his presentation was on historical trivia, he gave Kiwanians an overview of the museum and the information it can provide to the community.

He said that Annie Oakley, for instance, seldom went further west than the Mississippi River or further east than Western and Central Europe, but she is better known than Greenville’s television newscaster and world traveler Lowell Thomas. He attributed that primarily to Irving Berlin’s 1946 stage play of “Annie Get Your Gun.”

Hauberg talked about the Medal of Honor, noting that in the Military wing Darke County had three, the most recent being Douglas Dickey who was killed in Vietnam.

He told Kiwanians that when the Medal of Honor was started in the Civil War, circumstances were far looser than now. Many were handed out just to get soldiers to re-enlist. In 1917 they were reviewed and purged with recipients being asked to return the medals.

“One, the lone woman, was Mary E. Walker, who heroically attended the wounded and dying under fire. She absolutely refused to return her medal and in defiance wore it every single day until she died at 86 in 1919.”

Her award was restored by President Carter.

A favorite area of Hauberg’s is the Treaty of GreeneVille, a part of the Crossroads to Destiny.

“My interest in the Treaty spurred me to become a docent for that area. In a regular scheduled tour, time constraints allow me a good 12-15 minutes to tell about 200 to 300 years of history.”

Hauberg told the group that Fort GreeneVille, which was built in 1793, was the largest fort ever built in the United States. It encompassed 52 acres and included eight of today’s city blocks: Broadway to Chestnut St. and West Water to Fourth St. It was built to house 5,000 troops.

“There are lots of claims from other communities over their forts being the largest,” he added, “but you can take all the forts on the western frontier – Hamilton, Wayne, Jefferson, St. Clair, Defiance and Recovery – and they would fit inside Fort GreeneVille.”

Hauberg said the fort didn’t last long… “about three years, much like the treaty line.” He added that in his opinion the entire Treaty of GreeneVille, while achieving its objective in settling the Indians, was negotiated in bad faith.

“I stress in my presentations, especially to the kids on the school tours, that this land was Indian land long before the white man came. If ever there was a case to be made for genocide or ethnic cleansing the American Indians would be right up front.”

Trivia… Who was the first president of the United States? Then… which president signed the official papers making Ohio the 17th state of the union in 1803?

Think you know? Find out next week.


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