Local landmark receives plaque

THERE’S something new for something old in Colerain Township.

A plaque has been erected to emphasize the importance of a building which had its start in the early 1800s in the township.

The plaque includes information about the Concord Hicksite Friends Meeting House, noting it is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

Roberta Mitchell, treasurer for the meeting house organization, reports 34 letters have been mailed to persons whose roots trace back to the Concord Quakers, and these have gone to various states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, South Carolina, Texas and Maine.

“I wanted people to know we have achieved (the historic designation),” said Mitchell. “I’m so glad we’re that far along.”

In 2009, Mitchell was informed the meeting house had been selected for the National Register.

Known as the first Quaker meeting in the Northwest Territory and in Ohio, the Concord Meeting was established in the early 1800s. A meeting house wasn’t available so the Quakers in that area had their first meetings for worship in the woods near the present building, and logs were used for seating.

Fire destroyed the first meeting house, a log structure, and it was replaced in 1815 by the present brick building. In 1898, the meeting house reduced in size and, with the exception of the later removal of a porch, assumed its current appearance. The building continued in use until 1919.

The walnut benches in the meeting house are original, and they were made prior to 1850 with no nails used in them.

In 1874, the Concord Monthly Meeting was one of the earliest Hicksite meetings in Ohio to merge men’s and women’s business meeting.

Near the meeting house is a cemetery, and it includes the grave of Josiah Fox, who was naval architect during the administrations of George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

Not only was Fox the principal designer for the USS Constitution, better known as “Old Ironsides,” but he also helped to design the USS Constellation, USS United States and several other warships for the fledgling nation.

The naval architect also was alive during one of the nation’s largest earthquakes.

Last week’s earthquake in the Richmond, Va., area didn’t begin to compare with one on which Fox reported in a letter to his sister in England from his home in Wheeling in February 1812.

Fox, who later moved to the Colerain area, told of his family being alarmed on Dec. 16, 1811, “by a violent shock of an earthquake which rocked the house considerably. I thought it proper to call up all the family and prepare them against any accident.

“From the cracking noise of the roof, doors, windows and bed stands I expected great damage would ensue. The shock lasted (a) full 15 minutes. Since then we have scarcely a day or night with experiencing one or more in an equal or less degree. The surface of the pools show us that the earth has not been quiet since that period.”

That December 1811 quake, which centered near the New Madrid (Mo.) Seismic Zone in 1811-12, is among the top largest U.S. earthquakes, and aftershocks strong enough to be felt occurred through 1817.

Fox’s accomplishments as a naval architect are enumerated at his grave near the meeting house.

The meeting house is open only by appointment, and anyone wishing to make appointment or to use the facilities for a gathering, such as a picnic, meeting or reunion, is call Mitchell, (740) 635-2255.

Mitchell reported in her letter that the property is checked on and maintained all the time. “The grass is mowed, slates that fall off the roof are replaced, and any other repairs are made that are needed. Two coats of silicone were applied to the bricks to help preserve them.”

The shutters, which had been in bad shape, were removed, and Mitchell recently was informed by David Lash, trustee, about progress on replacing them.

While reporting on the work, Mitchell reported, “This has all been made possible by the generous support of friends, family and the Belmont County Tourism grants received each year.”

Anyone wishing to donate for the meeting house upkeep may sent checks made out to the Concord Meeting House to Mitchell at Box 53, Colerain, Ohio 43916, or to Lash, Box 296, also at Colerain.

Mitchell said the letters showing a photo of new plaque went to those whose families were affiliated with the meeting house and to “people interested in things we need to save.”

Pokas can be reached at bettypokas@yahoo.com.