One of the things that I love most about living here in the Mid Ohio Valley is that there is almost always something going on. There are events to relax, have a drink, to unwind and even to learn. As tempting as it was to rock out at the Marie Antoinette Ball, held at the Betsey Mills Club this past weekend, I had to choose something that would get me home early, for my beauty sleep of course. I’m sure Marie understood. So what did I do? Well, I accepted an invitation to the Castle, where I met Betsey Mills, of course. We had a wonderful chat about her family, her passion for helping people, and her dedication to providing a place for the women of Marietta to gather. In fact, upon my arrival at the Castle, I was surprised to find a number of important people in attendance, and all ready to give the rest of us a glimpse into their lives.
The first person I met during my evening was Dudley Woodbridge Jr, a local merchant who ran a local shop with his father, also called Dudley Woodbridge. The mercantile business that the Woodbridges ran was considered the first store in the Northwest Territory. Mr. Woodbridge spoke about his dealings with another early resident of Marietta, Nathanial Clark and his business making and selling pottery. Many of Clark’s castoff pieces have been found on the grounds of the Castle, as that is where his home and workshop were prior to the construction of the building we recognize today.
After chatting with Mr Woodbridge for a bit, my group and I moved into the parlor to speak to Mrs. Betsey Mills herself. She spoke fondly of her family, and even though she had no biological children, she was a great mother figure to the people of Marietta. What would later become known as the Betsey Mills Club downtown began as the Girl’s Monday Club, where she hosted classes in sewing, art and whatever else was needed to teach the young ladies of the town. In addition, Betsey spent a great deal of time in her own kitchen, making lunch for the children attending schools nearby.
From there we met Mr. John Slocomb the architect behind the design and construction of the Castle. He was eager to share the details of the gothic revival style that he utilized in building the Castle, as well as various other buildings in Marietta. He also let us in on the budget secrets of a house that detailed for its time period.
I also had the pleasure of meeting, in spirit, Missionary William Ambrose Shedd. Shedd was part of a missionary family and served in Persia around the time of the first World War. Though his unwavering faith is what led him to Persia, his responsibility to the people is what drove him to work for the US Consul to try to save as many as he could. Sadly, Shedd did not make it to safety with the rest of the group he was leading, as he succumbed to cholera prior to reaching their destination.
Also in attendance was Mrs. Jessie Davis Lindsay, who lived more than eighty years of her life in the beautiful home. Mrs. Lindsay was active with the Marietta Chapter of the American Red Cross, teaching first aid, and organizing sewing parties to create and package much needed supplies to send overseas to the soldiers fighting in the Great World War.. Mrs. Lindsay was the last resident to live in the Castle. Her family owned the home from 1888 until her death in 1974, just shy of her 100th birthday.
The last person of note that I met that evening was Constable Harry Dyar, a former National Guardsman during World War I. It was a fascinating conversation to hear about Dyar’s travels, but I must admit I was a little nervous too. You see, Constable Dyar was known around Marietta as a premier prohibition officer. Now I am not saying I have frequented any of those places, but sometimes the nightlife can get a little rowdy, especially when it is held underground.
It was an amazing evening of entertainment and education put on by the Castle staff. Each historic figure was researched and performed as eloquently as to be expected from the people who are passionate about this town and dedicated to preserving its history. Dudley Woodbridge Jr was portrayed by Castle archeologist Wes Clarke, Betsey Mills was brought to life by Barb Moberg, who is a descendent of Betsey’s family, John Slocomb was portrayed by local architectural designer Nick Arnold, William Shedd was resurrected by Executive Director Scott Britton, Jessie Davis Lindsay was very much alive in Jane Young, and the Education Director for the Castle, Kyle Yoho, did much justice to the character and memory of Constable Harry Dyar.
This was the second annual event like for the Castle, and I cannot wait to see who comes to visit next year. Until then, we will just have to attend one of the many other events the staff work tirelessly to put on throughout the year!