History of the Warren County Historical Society

  On March 12, 1900, after five years of gestation, the society was born at a gala reunion of the “Warren Centennial Celebration Association” held at Mr. A.J. Hazeltine’s country place in Pleasant Township. Forty-nine gaily-costumed ladies and gentlemen attended, and after a picnic supper, held their first meeting. The Honorable C.W. Stone was elected president, and the historical society became the official preserver of all things historical pertaining to Warren County. Along with Stone, the following were appointed officers: The Honorable L.D. Wetmore, Vice-President; C.D. Crandall, Secretary; and A.J. Hazeltine, Treasurer.

  Incorporated in 1902, the society still maintains its original purpose: “the preservation of all materials, books, maps, public documents, papers, reports, etc., pertaining to the history of Warren County and the promotion of study of local history, including its connection to our state, national and international heritage.” Implicit in the goals of the society was the procurement of suitable storage and display area for the collection of historical items and documents which was steadily growing.

  In 1915 an agreement between the society and the public library allowed use of a small area in the Struthers Library Building for storage of historical records. Then in 1917 the Warren Academy of Science agreed to joint use of its quarters on the second floor of the Struthers Building, and with the historical society, established the “Stone Historical Museum.” But this small area proved inadequate to house the burgeoning collection: so during the twenties every effort was made to generate the public support necessary to the society to purchase a suitable home. Although the “home” was not purchased at that time, a great deal of valuable work was accomplished by the inspired society members, including extensive genealogical research.

  With the Depression of the thirties and the subsequent cessation of many worthwhile projects, the historical society entered a period of dormancy. However, the Depression did generate the WPA, several groups of which were assigned to assemble original source material concerning the early history of this area. The work with military reports of the Revolution resulted in an enlightened view of the involvement of area residents, both white and Indian, including the famous Chief Cornplanter.

  During the early forties the State Historical Commission financed an archaeological survey of the upper Allegheny River. The resultant discovery of the Sugar Run mounds aroused an interest in local Indian lore and proved to be the impetus that awakened enthusiasm for the historical society as well. (One result was the election of new officers and board at the march 1942, annual meeting.) the annul Iroquoian Conference held at Allegheny State park attracted archaeologists and trained historians from all over the country.

  In 1952, the Warren County Commissioners voted to provide the society with office storage and display space in the court house; and they arranged to supply the society with funds, under public law, for furniture and for equipment to house records. This was indeed propitious: for shortly thereafter, the historical society was given a substantial collection of manuscripts, photographs, and newspapers from the Thomas Clemons home, and Warren’s oldest county manuscript, the John Daniels Ledger. This leather bound ledger, which dates back to 1795, contains the daily sales records of an early trading post in the Brokenstraw area: and it has provided valuable information on our earliest settlers, as well as on John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, on of the county’s first noteworthy visitors.

  In May of 1964, the Warren County Commissioners approved use by the society of the former courthouse annex, originally the Anna Struthers Wetmore home, as its headquarters. Today the house at 210 Fourth Avenue, is busting with activity in the business of preserving history.