Judy Wuerstl, tour guide at the Daniel Gebhart Tavern Museum in Miamisburg, Ohio, has an uncanny knack of knowing when to talk about the fascinating artifacts on display and when to wait quietly while visitors discover items they want to know more about. Nestled beside the tranquil Miami River, the tavern is a large, fully restored log structure. It even has its original stairway, with deep depressions worn in the treads from many years of foot traffic.
|The Daniel Gebhart Tavern in Miamisburg, Ohio|
When my dear friend and co-author Eleanor Y. Stewart and I visited the tavern, Judy entertained our many questions and listened intently to our observations. Our visit took place on a perfect day with summer breezes wafting through the windows from the river. We could readily imagine the boatmen from the river and from the canal stopping at the tavern in the early 1800s.
|Judy Werstl, Heritage Village Coordinator|
Among the numerous displays is a coverlet with the year 1835 embroidered in the design. In that year, Mark Twain (his real name: Samuel Langhorne Clemens) was born in the now-inactive town of Florida, Missouri, thirty-nine miles from Hannibal, where his family moved when Sam was four years of age. In the same year, Obed Hussey tested the first successful reaper in Springfield Township of Hamilton County, Ohio.
|Interior of Daniel Gebhart Tavern with Eleanor Y. Stewart|
The tavern may predate 1811, the year when its license was approved in Dayton. A scant sixteen years earlier, the Treaty of Greenville was secured, ending Indian resistance in the Northwest Territory. Members of the Miami tribe continued to live on the west side of the Miami River for some time after the treaty was signed.
|Upstairs at Daniel Gebhart Tavern|
The tavern stands where it was built—that is to say that it has not been moved to the location, known today as Heritage Village. On the same grounds stands the Jacob Kercher Pioneer Home, which has been moved not far from where it originally stood. The home is another log structure, but it boasted lap siding and interior walls of plaster. The first floor replicates a nineteenth-century schoolroom, and the upper story features a children’s museum.
|Model Log Cabin, Upstairs in Jacob Kercher Pioneer Home|
The Miamisburg Historical Society deserves tremendous credit for rescuing and restoring such significant buildings, and the community shares the credit for donations of time, displays, and monetary gifts.
|General Store and Old Log Post Office in Franklin, Ohio|
Just to the south of Miamisburg in the town of Franklin stands another important log structure, the Old Log Post Office, or Log Cabin Post Office, which also served as a general store that was established in 1802 by John Noble Cumming Schenck. When Eleanor and I visited the post office, we were pleased to meet Harriet E. Foley, author of several books on the history of the area. Several years ago, she graciously helped me to research my article on the 1913 flood. Volunteer guide Mary Nenninger gave Eleanor and me the background on the two-story building, which we then toured.
|The Great Miami River Side of the Old Log Post Office|
Fresh air wafted through the open windows as we examined the structure, which gives visitors insights into life within log cabins long ago. We recommend that readers time their visits so that both the Daniel Gebhart Tavern and the Old Log Post Office can be toured on the same day.
|Dear Friend and Co-Author Eleanor Y. Stewart Seated Near Historic Post Office|