Beverly, Waterford celebrate history

BEVERLY – Marietta and Belpre are not the only local settlements that get to celebrate a birthday in April.

On April 20, 1779, a group of 19 men from the Second Association traveled up the Muskingum, landed at a little creek called Tuttle’s Run, and founded the areas that would become Beverly and Waterford, said Phillip Crane, a trustee for the Lower Muskingum Historical Society.

The group was sent out just more than a year after the men of the Ohio Company of Associates landed in Marietta to secure the site for the Wolf Creek Mill and to acquire more land, said Crane.

“The Ohio Company was a business venture to sell land and make money. The story is the Marietta people were watching all these boatloads of people pass on their way to Kentucky where you could get more land for cheaper,” said Crane.

In order to compete, the Ohio Company offered free land to those adventurous enough to branch out and secure more land for the company to sell, he said.

In early April, the First Association traveled down the Ohio to settle Belpre. A couple weeks later the Second Association arrived at present day Beverly and spread out into what is now Waterford, forming the third permanent settlement in the Northwest Territory, said Crane.

The Second Association was comprised of 39 men, 19 of which came first during a scouting mission. Those 39 men were rewarded for their pilgrimage with 100 acres of land each in the new settlement, he said.

Among those original settlers was Lt. Joseph Frye, designer and namesake of Fort Frye, which protected the settlers during the Indian Wars in the 1790s.

According to “History of Marietta and Washington County, Ohio and Representative Citizens” published in 1902, Beverly settlers faired better than their Belpre counterparts in the first year, in that they had a fair crop of corn in the fall of 1789.

To celebrate the 224th anniversary of the founding of Beverly and Waterford, the Lower Muskingum Historical Society gave guided tours of the Oliver Tucker Museum on Friday and will continue tours today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., said Crane.

Museum volunteer Margie Cunningham cheerily pointed out some of the museum’s unique historical offerings Friday.

“Did you see that coat in there? It belonged to Wild Buffalo Bill!” she exclaimed.

William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody, who had relatives in the Beverly area, allegedly gave his buffalo skin coat to a local dentist, Dr. Armstrong, in exchange for Armstrong fixing his toothache while he was in town, she said.

The coat is on loan to the museum from the Irbin family, said Crane.

The museum contains the camera of one of the area’s earlier photographers who famously photographed many of the existing images of the Great 1913 Flood, a valve from wreckage of the USS Shenandoah, and the sword of Beverly resident Richard Nixon that was sunk on the USS West Virginia during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Nixon survived the attack, and his sword was later retrieved from the wreckage and returned to him, said Crane.

Visitors will want to see the oldest completely hand hewn log house residence in the state of Ohio, said Cunningham.

“(Crane) and his class took it apart and numbered the entire thing piece by piece to reassemble it here,” said Cunningham.

The cabin was on a farm outside Waterford in 1974 when Crane offered to move it to the museum to be restored and preserved, he said.

The Oliver Tucker Museum is at the corner of Park and Fifth streets in Beverly.