By Mike Ullery
This past week, the Piqua Area Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours was held at the John Johnston Farm & Indian Agency.
Hite and his wonderful staff were gracious hosts. Along with the
expected mingling, sharing of business ideas and catching up with
friends, was the opportunity for everyone in attendance to board the
General Harrison and take an evening ride on the restored section of the
Anyone who knows Andy is aware that history lessons lurk
around every corner. On a personal note, that is one of the things that I
enjoy about visiting the Johnston Farm. I rarely leave the site without
gaining at least one new bit of knowledge about the history of our neck
of the woods. Our evening on the General Harrison was no different.
number of things come to my mind after our boat ride. First, is a fact
that Andy pointed out to his audience. That fact is, the average figure
for dollars spent, per person, per day, for a family visiting one of our
historic sites is $80. Think about it. If a family of four spends the
day at the Johnston Farm, $320.00 has come to our community. And that is
just the average. Those are dollars spent in our restaurants, motels
That fact alone makes it common sense for all of us to support our local historic sites.
thing that comes to mind is, I wonder how many of you really know and
understand the significance of the historic places that are right on our
own doorstep? I know that some will say that they don’t care. I truly
feel sorry for them.
Anyone who knows me, knows that aviation is a
passion of mine. While it is true that Wilber and Orville Wright made
their first flight in North Carolina. Most of the research was done in
Dayton and their flying machine was refined and perfected at Huffman
Prairie, now a part of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
about that. Wilber and Orville were not fictional characters
now-consigned to our history books. The brothers were real people who
literally made history, right here in our area. You can walk on that
same ground. It is just a short drive.
The same goes for our John
Johnston Farm. The grounds were the site of Pickawillany, an English
trading post that earned a significant place in the history of the
territory, and the history of our country. We have all read about the
War of 1812 and the Hundred Year War between England and France. People
and places right in our backyard played important roles in those events,
and consequently, the shaping of the United States of America.
fall will mark the 150th anniversary of the forming of the 110th Ohio
Volunteer Infantry. They were soldiers, most from right here in the
Piqua area, who marched off to fight in some of the most definitive
battles of the Civil War.
Those soldiers mustered and trained on
Col. John Johnston’s property. In other words, on the grounds of the
current John Johnston Farm & Indian Agency. I went out to the farm
about a week ago and spent some time, just looking over the land, much
of it now growing soy beans or alfalfa for hay. I cannot look at that
ground without visualizing the young men who, though probably scared to
death, yet filled with a spirit of excitement for the unknown adventure
ahead of them, learned the intricacies of becoming a soldier.
has only to turn around to look at the Johnston farm house, then still
the home of Johnston family members, and realize those young recruits
saw that exact same home as they trained and drilled, and lived in
tents, in the Johnston’s front yard.
Even if you do not realize
it, it may have been one of your family members training for battle on
those grounds. It may be that one of your ancestors first came to the
Piqua area by way of a trip to Pickawillany or Fort Greenville.
are staying closer to home these days as long-distance vacations are
even more costly. I can’t think of a better time to visit some of those
places that played important and historic roles in the building our our
nation — right here in our own back yard.
It will be a fun
experience for the entire family. Just remember to be very careful — you
may just learn something along the way.