September 27, 2014 – Meeting

“Statues on the Hill” presented by Aaron Keirns

President Betty Meier introduced the speaker, Chesterville native Aaron Keirns, who presented the program “Statues on the Hill” which he illustrated with a power point presentation.

Originally located in Muskingum County, the statues were carved over a forty-year period from native sandstone by Daniel Brice Baughman who erected them on the rocky hilltop where he grew up. The 62-acre Baughman Park included ten large statues of presidents and soldiers and numerous other carvings of animals and other figures. In the 1920s and 30s, the park was a popular picnic spot.

Dave Longaberger purchased the property near his Dresden Homestead with the intention of restoring the park and making it a visitor attraction, but he died before this was accomplished. The wooded land was then sold to a logging company which harvested many of the trees before again selling it. Though Keirns and others lobbied for the park’s preservation, in 2008 the statues were sold at auction bringing a total of $547,000. A few were purchased by the new landowner and remain on the hill, but Keirns feels the dismantling of Baughman Park was a tragic loss to Muskingum County, the state and the nation. He considered the park the “Mount Rushmore” of folk art. Keirns had copies of his books for sale including “Statues on the Hill,” Black Hand Gorge” and Ohio’s Airship Disaster.”

President Meier reported that she had attended the opera program at Owens Station and there was a full house. She thanked the members who staffed the Society’s display at the fair during Senior Citizens’ Day: Peggy Morgan, Fritz, Janet and Phylis Miller.

Wilma Lepore reported on the Society’s Facebook page and said it can be viewed even though one is not a member. Betty commented that Wilma is developing a Facebook ad for the multi-county history book, of which 90 copies remain.