In the 1930s-40s, a couple groups of interested people led by O.K. Reames of Zanesfield attempted to organize a historical society. However, neither group lasted long. Then in December of 1945, another group met at the Sloan Library in Zanesfield and reorganized as the Logan County Archaeological and Historical Society. O.K. Reames was elected 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 Society met in various locations and had exhibits at the Sloan Library. It began marking historic sites in the County with bronze plates on boulders or by roadside markers. By 1957, twenty-seven of these had been erected. By 1961, the collection of artifacts had grown under the direction of volunteer curator Rev. Guy Furbay, and it was decided to lease space in a storefront on the southeast corner of East Columbus Avenue and Opera Street. 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. The Society moved its growing collection to its first real home in 1971, 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. The rooms, stage, etc., provided for much more display space.
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.
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 5-year 0.15 mill operating levy was passed in 1995. Thus, Logan County became one of only a few counties in the State to support a county historical society with tax levy monies. The levy allowed the Historical Society to hire its first professional curator/director and an administrative assistant. The levy, now 0.25 mills, has passed five more times. The Society/History Center have continued to grow and add staff over the years. In 2014, the Transportation Museum (attached to the Logan County Museum and Orr Mansion) opened, after receiving a grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation and donations from Honda of America, TRC, AcuSport, Citizens Federal, ISS America, and many other local businesses, organizations, and individuals. Through this wonderful support from the community and the dedication of our volunteers, the Logan County Historical Society/Logan County History Center has become one of the more respected museums in the State.
HISTORY CENTER ARCHIVES
Logan County Historical Society Archives
The Logan County Historical Society Archives houses local newspapers from 1830-1960, files on area businesses and organizations, schools, Logan County villages, Indian and pioneer history, railroad history, and Indian Lake history; maps, Logan County histories, etc.
Donna Spencer Photo Archives
The Photo Archives contains the photo collection of the Logan County Historical Society; many of the photos and negatives are from the Hadley Studios of Bellefontaine. The Society has also received the negative collection from Lee Woodruff Photography and Benedetti Photography. Both collections include many portraits.
The Archives, located on the second floor of the Transportation Museum, are open to the public for research on Wednesdays and Fridays from 1-4 and other times by appointment.
The mission of the society is to educate the members and the public about their families and the county. You'll be amazed at the history in your own family!
The library features probate records 1818-1959; court records, civil and state 1818-1950; census records 1850-1880 and 1930 & 1940. Newspaper abstracts from 1829 (Bellefontaine's first newspaper) to 1905 (these are not all-inclusive), birth and death index 1868-1999, completed family histories, surname files that include obituaries, and cemetery books. The Genealogical Society is located on the second floor of the Transportation Museum.