The Logan County Historical Society has a long history. Our records show a historical society was organized in 1930 with O. K. Reames as its President. This group died out (perhaps due to the Great Depression), and in December, 1935, was reorganized, again with Mr. Reames as its president. The Society has minutes from a 1940 meeting of this group plus a treasurer's book from 1941 signed by F. M. Henry, treasurer. Sometime after this, the Society's records show no activity... perhaps World War II caused this group to die-out again.
In December, 1945, another group met at the Sloan Library in Zanesfield and reorganized as the Logan Archaeological and Historical Society, and again it elected O. K. Reames as its president. In May, 1946, the group incorporated under the laws of the State of Ohio and this group exists today under the name of the Logan County Historical Society.
The charter members of this reorganized society were O. K. Reames, Herman C. Marmon, Paul Orsborn, Jesse E. Bookwalter, J. Phillip Gordan, W. E. Tharp, Rev. Guy W. Furbay, R. H. Dunaway, Elmer O. Heath, Mr. and Mrs. D. A. Liggitt, Mr. and Mrs. Dow Aikin, Robert J. Notestine Jr., G. V. Hull, Earl F. Jamison, Donald Baugher, Donald E. Geist, W. K. Park, Guy H. Inskeep, L. F. Zell, Raymond LeVan, Stanton A. Saltz, A. F. Schmidt, C. N. Corbett, George W. Ansley, Ralph Graham, Fred W. Carter, Harold C. Smith, Augustus Kaylor, Robert B. Cook Sr., Philip Martin, Emma Martin, W. E. Harris, Mrs. Aaron S. Watkins, K. J. Steiner, Asa Van Vooris, Rev. J. H. T. Gordan, A. T. Bray, Rev. John Clark Williams, and Clair A. Inskeep. Of these charter members, only Robert Notestine is still living.
The Society met in various locations and had exhibits at the Sloan Library. It began marking historic spots in the county with bronze plates on boulders or by roadside markers. By 1957, twenty-seven of these had been erected. As the collection grew under the direction of Curator Rev. Guy Furbay, it was decided to lease space in the county seat, and in 1961 a storefront on the southeast corner of East Columbus Avenue and Opera Street was leased. This had been the location of the City Market Grocery Store and later became the home of Notestine’s Floor Covering. Now it is the site of the Logan County Court House Annex.
This location was a good one for the Society but the lease soon expired. In 1962, the Society moved to the old Cox Grocery Store at 400 Linden St. In 1971, the Society moved its growing collection to its first real home when it purchased the old South-West or McBeth Elementary School located on the southwest corner of Seymour and West Chillicothe Streets for $17,500 from the First Church of God. (The school had been named for prominent citizens Mr. and Mrs. Newton McBeth.) The rooms, stage, etc., provided for much more display space, but it has been said that some historical exhibits from the Sloan Library came up missing from this site.
The McBeth School served the Society well, but in the 1980s the Orr Mansion at 521 E. Columbus Ave. with its attached Latham's Nursing Home became available. After great effort, the $50,000 purchase price was raised in 1988 with the City Council donating $25,000 from the William Kauffman Fund. The McBeth School was sold to W. R. Arnold for $38,000 and it was re-modeled into apartments. After many, many hours of cleaning and remodeling, the museum opened at its new location in 1989. However, there was still much work to be done, and a community development block grant through the Logan County Commissioners was obtained to provide for work on the mansion and its portico.
Also in 1988, word came from California that the estate of Mary J. Handy would leave $225,000 to the museum for remodeling, etc. Her ancestors were the Fultz-Overshiner families, old-time residents of the county. Great disappointments were to come, however, and the Society only received $47,314 from this estate, which was a most welcome gift for a Society that depended on donations and special fund drives. Many others have donated monies to the Society through their estates, and in 1995 the Society established a special foundation to receive these funds.
Since 1989, the Society has grown and prospered as a volunteer organization, helped with funds from many people including the City of Bellefontaine, the villages, the townships, and on a regular basis, the Logan County Commissioners.
The Society continued to grow, and the need for increased and stable funding became apparent. Therefore, the Society turned to the voters of the county for help by asking for a small operating levy. After several tries, a .15 mill levy was passed in 1995, which brings some $90,000 into the Society each year for a period of five years. Thus, Logan County became one of only two counties in the state to support a county historical society with tax levy monies. Also in 1995, the tile roof at the Orr Mansion was repaired at the cost of some $90,000 with about $69,000 being raised from donations of foundations, governments, and private individuals.
As we look back on our last fifty years as a corporation, we commend those who have given so much to our Society and to the history of our county.
Below is a listing of the Presidents of our Society since we were incorporated. By recognizing them, we also recognize all who helped them make a glorious past for us by laying a great foundation for a wonderful future!
1945-1947- O.K. Reames
1948-1950- Herman C. Marmon
1951- Elmer O. Heath
1952- O.K. Reames
1953-1955- Elmer O. Heath
1956-1961- Wayne Wickerham
1962- Willis H. Liggitt
1963-1985- Daniel E. Gilbert
1986-1989- Herald Luzader
1990-1992- Charles DeMarsh
1993-1995- Phyllis Braden
1996-1998- Ronald E. Stewart
1999-2001- David Wagner
2002-2004- Bonnie Hansen
2005-2007- Charles DeMarsh
2008-2010- Karen Beasley
2011-2013- David Wagner
2014-2016- Dan Bratka
2017- 2019- Brian Baker
2020-to present- Brian Harmon
Note: The Logan County Historical Society is generously supported by a Logan County tax levy.