August 1, 2016 at 2:26 pm

Crossing the River Tour Features African American Story in Southeastern Ohio, Aug. 8-9

Mary Murray Rendville School in the early 1900s

Mary Murray Rendville School in the early 1900s

Crossing the River, a two-day guided bus tour featuring the storied history of African Americans in southeastern Ohio, is Aug. 8 and 9, beginning and ending each day at Burr Oak State Park Lodge in Morgan County near Glouster and traversing four counties in Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area.

The College of Arts & Sciences is co-sponsoring this event, and there is an Ohio University discount for the two-day tour (without lodging). The cost is $95 to OHIO students and faculty. (The regular price is $195.) The Coupon Code for Ohio University faculty and students is OHIO1804. Register online at Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area. The tour includes a stop at Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium hosted by African American Studies.

The coach tour will be narrated by an assembly of well-informed tour guides who will share their personal and family stories, including Malta native Denver Norman whose early ancestors’ remarkable story of  participation in the Revolutionary War and at Blennerhasset Island led him to be the first black Ohioan to be inducted into the Grand Army of the Republic. Rendville’s All American basketball player Jerry Jackson will share his story of leading Ohio University to the Elite Eight in the NCAA basketball tournament in 1964 defeating venerable Kentucky coach Adolf Rupp, who refused to play African American players. Nelsonville’s Ada Woodson Adams, the great-great-great-great granddaughter of Sally Hemings and President Thomas Jefferson will share her family’s story, which includes her husband Al Adam’s role as a journalist for the Chicago Tribune, the couple’s establishment of the African American Studies program at Ohio University, and her work to save the region’s history at the Multicultural Genealogical Center in Chesterhill. Dr. Anita Jackson will bring to life the story of successful early Zanesville businessman Nelson T. Gant at his historic home along the National Road. Wayne National Forest historian Ann Cramer will share the research she and the Lancaster Geneaological Society conducted that led to the rededication of the historic Payne Cemetery at the Hocking-Perry County line, home to a community of African American settlers established prior to the Civil War. In Athens, the historical role of Athens County in early access for blacks to educational  opportunities will feature early academies in Albany and Ohio University, as well as the story of the historic Berry Hotel.

The tour will take participants to historic sites from Athens to Zanesville, including: Payne Cemetery, an Athens neighborhood where Olivia Davidson lived and married Booker T. Washington in 1886 and lived along with other inspiring persons who broke the color line; Rendville, where nationally significant roles were played by African American coal miners as the nation’s early labor unions formed; a cave near Chesterhill where African American freedom seekers hid during the Underground Railroad era; a Quaker meeting house; and Ohio’s second capital at Zanesville, where abolitionists and pro-slavery forces battled across the banks of the Muskingum River.

Information and on-line registration, including reservations for lodging at Burr Oak Lodge is available at Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area. The event is sponsored by Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area and its Winding Road: Ohio’s Rising Appalachia initiative, which is gathering the natural, historical, artistic, local foods and educational assets of southeastern Ohio counties in the Hocking and Muskingum River Valleys. Tour support also is being provided by Ohio University’s African American Studies program, College of Arts & Sciences, and the Center for Campus and Community Engagement. Tour ticket discounts are available for Ohio University students and faculty by using the coupon code number OHIO1804.

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