Museum magnifies local history

Kyle Reynolds and Kyle Reynolds

The Wood County Historical Center and Museum has been teaching the community about the rich traditions and the people of the county since it opened in 1975.

The museum is located at 13660 County Home Road, and its property spans over 50 acres.

The building the museum is housed in operated as the Wood County Infirmary from 1869 to 1971. It was known as ‘The Home’ and it served as a residence for the poor, sick, elderly, orphaned and mentally ill of Wood County.

The Lunatic Asylum was opened on the property in 1885. It served as an institution for the violently insane. People can go into the asylum and see the rooms the patients lived in and read newspaper articles about patients who escaped the premises.

The asylum was not in operation for a long time, because once state mental institutions started opening up, many of the county mental institutions shut down, according to Heather Sloan, volunteer coordinator for the museum.

The infirmary closed in 1971 because it was viewed as a fire hazard and because it was not handicap accessible.

County residents wanted something to go into the historical place.

‘The citizens wanted to save the home, and since there was no museum in Wood County, they wanted the home to become a museum,’ said museum curator Randy Brown.

The museum has more than 30 exhibit rooms, showcasing exhibits like the Great Black Swamp, Native Americans in Wood County, the military and politics.

Lilly Sonner, a resident of Oklahoma visiting the museum, enjoyed the exhibit exploring the Great Black Swamp.

‘I thought it was really interesting,’ Sonner said. ‘I didn’t know this area used to be swampland.’

Sloan said the rooms on the Native American history in the county are one of the favorites with guests.

‘There are all kinds of adornments such as beadwork, and there is buffalo and bear fur on display, which all the kids like to touch when we have schools come in,’ Sloan said.

The Adena Indians introduced farming to the region by growing pumpkins, corn, squash and other crops.

Another room showcases politics. Artifacts in that room include memorabilia from when Ronald Reagan visited the University for a discussion on world affairs in 1984.

One recent exhibit discusses and contains artifacts about Carl Bach, the second and last man hanged in Wood County.

Bach was imprisoned for 40 days starting on July 21, 1881, for threatening to kill his wife, Mary Bach.

He was ordered not to see Mary, but after his release in October, he went to clean Mary’s items out of their cabin. She screamed at him and he attacked her with a knife while their children were in the room.

During the attack, Mary’s fingers were cut off, and they are now in a jar in the museum.