History

Looted artifacts are making their way home to Turkey

By JAN LARSON  McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The 2,000-year-old artifacts looted from Turkey and sold to BGSU are being carefully packed up for their trip home. Officials from BGSU and Turkey shared the stage Tuesday morning to talk about how history is being righted with the return of the ancient art. “It is clear today that the best place for these is in the Republic of Turkey,” BGSU President Rodney Rogers said. The Turkish officials were grateful. “I know BGSU could have prolonged this process if they wanted to,” said Umut Acar, consul general for Turkey. The story of the mosaics is part history, part mystery. Dr. Stephanie Langin-Hooper, one of the people who solved the mystery of the mosaics, pieced together their story. About 2,000 years ago, a Roman family built a home in the area of Zeugma on the banks of the Euphrates River, said Langin-Hooper. They had a luxurious dining room floor created with custom mosaics of handcut stone and glass. The mosaics were a “marvel of artistic creation,” with intricate images of Bacchus the God of wine, theater masks and exotic birds. “Fast forward to the early 1960s,” Langin-Hooper said. “Zeugma and all of its glorious villas had long since fallen into ruin and been buried by the sands of time.” The artifacts were lost – except to looters, who were interested in profits not preserving art. Using crude methods, like pickaxes and sledgehammers, the looters removed at least 12 of the mosaic images and smuggled them out of Turkey. They were shipped halfway across the world. They ended up in an antiquities gallery in New York City, where they were fraudulently labeled with the provenance of a legal excavation in Antioch. It was there that BGSU officials spotted them and legally purchased them for $35,000. When the mosaics made a re-debut in 2011 at the newly constructed Wolfe Center for the Performing Arts at BGSU, a new professor on campus – Langin-Hooper – started researching the artifacts. She was assisted by Professor Rebecca Molholt of Brown University. “Together we began to suspect the truth,” said Langin-Hooper, who is now at Southern Methodist University in Texas. The mosaics were not artifacts delicately removed and sold with legitimate documentation – but rather art that had been illegally looted and smuggled out of Turkey. It has been seven years since the discovery. “Today is a triumph,” Langin-Hooper…

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Time capsule mystery solved

Chris Gajewicz, of the BG Parks and Recreation Department, has ferreted out the information on the mysterious time capsule found in City Park. He reports Facebook: “I have the answer. It was buried for the 150th anniversary of the founding of BG in 1983 with Lyle Fletcher officiating.” We knew long-time Bowling Green history expert Lyle Fletcher had to be involved.


Help sought solving time capsule mystery in City Park

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is being asked to help solve the puzzle of a mystery time capsule buried in City Park. (See update.) The time capsule, covered in concrete with a rock on top, has been there long enough to have been forgotten. It has gone basically unnoticed for years – except by the person mowing around it. But earlier this week when city park staff and the architects for the new City Park building walked around the site for the new structure, they happened upon the mystery memorial. “Somebody told me at some point that it was a time capsule,” Natural Resources Coordinator for BG Parks Chris Gajewicz said. The engraving in the concrete has a date, though the year is particularly difficult to read. The date appears to be Oct. 2, but the year could be 1958 or 1969 – or anything in between. “It’s so worn, it’s really hard to tell,” Gajewicz said. “It’s one of those institutionalized knowledge things that’s gone,” Gajewicz said. The mystery time capsule would be allowed to rest there undisturbed, except that it is sitting in the footprint of the new City Park building being constructed next year. Kristin Otley, director of the Bowling Green City Parks and Recreation Department, is confident the city will be able to solve the mystery. She suspects the time capsule is referenced somewhere in old park board minutes. “There may be records. We just haven’t dug them up – pun intended,” Otley said. The new building in City Park will take the place of the existing Veterans Building, Girl Scout Building, and the Depot. It has necessitated the moving or replacing of some memorial trees. But so far, the time capsule under the rock is the only unknown in the construction footprint. “It’s the only mystery,” Otley said. Seeing that Oct. 2 is the anniversary of the time capsule burial – though the year is unknown – Otley said that date might be a good time to unearth the capsule and see what’s inside. Gajewicz has posted a photo of the time capsule site on Facebook in hopes of jogging some memories of longtime townies. So far, the responses have been more humorous than helpful. “That’s just before I was born. Maybe it was to commemorate me,” one person posted. Another predicted that unearthing the site would not reveal a…


Historic farm to be jammin’ and cookin’ again soon

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Carter Historic Farm will soon be cookin’ again. The historic farm, which is part of the Wood County Park District, is making its transition to being a working farm. That covers everything from the crops grown in the fields to the foods cooked up in the kitchen. “We’re going from a petting zoo to an actual working farm,” Jeff Baney, assistant director of the Wood County Park District said Tuesday during a meeting of the park board. “Nothing out there is static,” Baney said. Which means equipment like the antique tractors actually have to work the fields. The chickens, goats and farm cats serve a purpose. It’s hoped they will be joined by sheep, cattle and eventually horses. Visitors to the farm, on Carter Road north of Bowling Green, will be able to experience a day in the life of a depression era farm. “At the end of the day, the biggest thing a farm did was put food on the table,” Baney said. But there’s a glitch in that plan. The circa 1930 oven in the farmhouse kitchen has outlived its usefulness. The oven overheats, refuses to shut off, and even turns on all by itself. That poses a problem, since a lot of cooking programs at the historic farm require an oven, according to Corinne Gordon, historic farm specialist with the park district. So on Tuesday, the board heard a request to replace the old oven with a new oven that is designed to look like a 1925 oven. The oven would cost $5,399. “It’s a very specialized piece of equipment,” Baney said. But the oven is essential to programming at the farm, which offers educational programs on “farm to table” canning, using herbs from the garden, pickling and jam making. “For the women of the house, a good portion of the day would be in that kitchen,” Gordon explained to the board. But board president Denny Parish had other concerns. The price tag of more than $5,000 was “a hard swallow,” he said. “I know how this will look to many members of the public,” he said, fearing that citizens may view this as irresponsible spending after the recent passage of the park district levy. “I’m not sure right now that I can support this.” Parish asked if other options had been considered – like buying an actual 1920s-era…


Mayor tries to resurrect historic preservation efforts

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is revisiting history – trying to resurrect efforts to create a Historic Preservation Commission. Mayor Dick Edwards reintroduced plans for a commission which would “preserve, promote, encourage and support the maintenance, use and reuse of historic buildings in the city.” In other words, it would help property owners who want to preserve historic structures. The proposal for such a commission was first brought up in 2009, then became part of earnest discussions in 2013. Efforts died in 2015 after some citizens interpreted the city’s preservation efforts as government telling them what to do with their properties. At that time, Edwards tried to explain that the commission was to help – not give orders. “It’s not threatening, it’s not dictating to people, it’s not putting the heavy hand of government on neighborhoods,” he said. “It was misconstrued and misinterpreted by some individuals.” Nevertheless, suspicions about the motivation for the historic preservation commission killed the effort. But at Tuesday’s city council meeting, the mayor reintroduced the concept. “There was some misunderstanding about what it is,” Edwards said of the commission. And he would like to try again. “This is so successful in so many other communities,” he said. More than 70 cities and political bodies in Ohio are working with the state to address historic preservation. Cities like Toledo, Akron and Tiffin are taking advantage of preservation tax credits to rebuild central city business districts and enhance property values in historic neighborhoods, Edwards said. “I’d like to think that the program can help sustain the life of neighborhoods and make it a more attractive place to live.” One of the first steps will be to create a five-member historic preservation commission. The group, appointed by the mayor, will include one member from each of the four wards and one from the downtown business district. Edwards said he is looking for recommendations. The purpose of the commission is to foster civic beauty, stabilize and increase property values, strengthen the local economy, maintain and enhance the distinctive character, safeguard the city’s heritage, and facilitate reinvestment and revitalization through historic preservation. The commission would have the authority to assist with historic preservation efforts through building inventories, public education, tourism and establishing community partnerships. The formation of such a commission has been supported by several city planning documents including the housing section and the future land…


Living History paints a diverse portrait of post-WWI normalcy

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News After the armistice that ended World War I American longed to return to normalcy. What did normalcy look like in Wood County? Maybe, being a member of the Bachelor’s Girl Club. Maybe playing in a church band, or a kazoo orchestra. Maybe helping couples get quickie marriages. Maybe helping a neighboring farmer from losing his place. Or maybe putting an ax to kegs of illegal booze. Those were some of the ways local residents responded to the time between the end of the war to end all wars and the beginning of World War II. Eight actors depicted these real life characters Sunday in Bowling Green’s Oak Grove Cemetery in the Living History presentation. This was the 15th such event presented by the Wood County Historical Society. And as has been the case in the past several years, the presentation took its theme from the current exhibit at the Historical Museum, “The Return to Normalcy: A Life of Leisure in Wood County.” Through the stories of seven individuals and one married couple, those in attendance, many with family ties to the honorees, got an intimate look at a time 90 years ago. While each story was unique, certain themes ran through the stories – people who lost spouses didn’t stay unmarried for long, church life was central to most of the stories, and several of the women loved their gardens. One of those was Lizzie Fuller, portrayed by Stephanie Truman, who found flowers were an expression of God’s creation. “I loved getting my hands dirty.” She was a deeply religious woman at a time when women were expected to be “quiet and raise virtuous children.” There were limits though. She live in Grand Rapids, which had a reputation as a wild canal town, where men would carouse in local speakeasies. That included not just those who came to town as workers on the canal but also local men, and even young women. So one night, a group of women from the Women’s Christian Temperance Society, dressed as men invaded these speakeasies with axes and attacked the containers of liquor. Fuller was coy as to whether she was one of those attacking the speakeasy, but it seemed clear she was. But she had to admit that this action may have a cautionary message to some local men, the establishments were open the night after the…


Living history – Kazoos, ‘marriage mill’ and speakeasy raids

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   During Prohibition, Lizzie Fuller led raids on local speakeasies. During the Great Depression, Wallace Kramp and his farmer friends started the local “penny auctions” to save neighboring farms after foreclosures. And Georgia Sargent Waugh led the Kitchen Kazoo Orchestra of a local homemakers group. Their stories and more will be part of the 15th annual Wood County Living History Day on Sunday, Aug. 26, at 2 p.m., in Oak Grove Cemetery in Bowling Green. Local residents will portray citizens interred in Wood County cemeteries or those who had an impact on Wood County’s leisure time of the 1920s and 1930s. The citizens selected this year were chosen to coincide with the “leisure time” exhibit at the Wood County Historical Center & Museum, “The Return to Normalcy: A Life of Leisure in Wood County.” The annual Living History Day draws a crowd to the cemetery because it gives a glimpse into everyday people who lived in Wood County, said Kelli Kling, director of the Wood County Historical Center. “I think it’s popular because the people being portrayed are real people,” Kling said. “It’s not necessarily the celebrities. It’s people just like us, who made an impact on Wood County.” This year’s portrayals include people with intriguing hobbies or occupations. For example, Georgia Waugh and her kazoo orchestra. “That’s such an unusual thing,” Kling said. “There will actually be a performance at the event.” Also portrayed will be Paul Fuller, who had a role in the Bowling Green “marriage mill.” “Bowling Green was an area where a lot of people passed through to get married,” Kling said. “There was a bit of a competition going on” to see who could marry the most couples. Then there’s Lizzie Fuller, who grew up in a strict Christian household in Grand Rapids, where travelers frequented on the canal boats. She was a member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, which considered alcohol an evil. So she led raids on speakeasies, where alcohol was sold on the sly during Prohibition. “She felt it was her duty to protest against them,” Kling said. Following is a list of all the people being portrayed, as well as the people taking on their roles for the Living History Day event. “I love the fact that they’re all being portrayed by local folks,” Kling said. Raymond George (1889 – 1930) – Conductor of…