Ohio Chautauqua Returns to Lakewood in 2013

The big red-striped tent of Ohio Chautauqua will return to Lakewood Park in June 2013. The five days of programs from June 25-29 will feature five historical figures from the period when Ohio was the Western Frontier of the growing United States. The Lakewood Historical Society is excited to bring this living history program back to Lakewood. As before, all programs are free and open to the public.

Fittingly for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie, one of the characters for the 2013 program is Oliver Hazard Perry. Perry was the Commander of the American forces on the Great Lakes.  His victory over the British near Put-In-Bay on September 10, 1813 was a turning point in the War of 1812.  With Perry’s victory, the United States gained control of the Great Lakes, which meant the British forces in Canada could not reliably supply their troops in the field.  This shifted the balance of power on that front of the struggle. This enabled the United States’ victory at the Battle of the Thames that ended the fighting on the northern frontier.  Everyone will want to hear Perry’s tales of the birth of the United States Navy, the challenges he faced outfitting the fleet and recruiting and training the crew, to say nothing of the danger (and luck) of the great battle.

Young and old will also recognize the name Johnny Appleseed. John Chapman, who is better recognized by the name Johnny Appleseed, had already started planting nurseries of apple trees before his wanderings brought him to Ohio. Johnny brought apple trees to many parts of Ohio as well as Pennsylvania, Indiana and Illinois. Johnny did not settle down and tend the trees he planted, but moved on to plant more trees, leaving the young nurseries of apple trees in the care of the local settlers. Even during his lifetime Johnny was a well-known and well-loved figure because of his kindness and caring. His great respect for all living things made him an early conservationist.   

Like other settlers, many of the Indians on the Ohio Frontier were not native to Ohio but had come from the East. Chief John Logan’s family was Cayuga Indian and his father was a leader of the Iroquois Confederacy in New York State. Members of the tribe that moved west into what became Ohio were called Mingos. Logan came to prominence when he went to war to avenge the death of close family members murdered on Yellow Creek. Relations between the Indians and the settlers on the frontier are not a pleasant part of the history of Ohio, but it is an important part of the story to have a complete understanding of life at that time. Chief Logan will share his perspective and the story of his family and their struggles on the Ohio frontier.

York was the slave and manservant of William Clark, the leader of the Lewis & Clark expedition. York started his life in Virginia, and while Clark was in Kentucky recruiting volunteers to join the Corps of Discovery, York honed his wilderness skills. During the expedition York earned the respect of the other members of the Corps for his abilities as a hunter and scout. York was a full member of the expedition and worked alongside the others to survive and enable them to return with a record of the historic journey. He was also the only African-American on the expedition. While the Indians along the route had – for the most part – seen white men before, few had seen a black man. York will have stories of his amazing travels to share and will have a very personal perspective about the freedom of the frontier.

 Margaret Blennerhasset came to Ohio from even farther away than the others portrayed in the program. She and her husband, Harman, immigrated to the United States from England and, hearing of the beautiful countryside to the west,  travelled  through Fort Duquesne (now  Pittsburgh) and came to Fort Harman (now Marietta). The couple purchased Backus Island, now known as Blennerhasset Island. They cleared the land, established a farm, orchards, and gardens, and built a mansion in the wilderness.  Margaret’s generous and gracious hospitality was well known to travelers. One of the visitors to the mansion was Aaron Burr, the former Vice President who had just lost the presidency to Thomas Jefferson. Margaret’s husband supported Burr’s efforts to equip and recruit an armed force to capture Mexico for the United States. Maybe Margaret will enlighten us whether Harman knew that Burr’s plans were not sanctioned by the government. The unraveling of Aaron Burr’s schemes changed the course of the Blennerhasset fortunes.  Margaret and Harman relocated, first to Louisiana and later to Upper Canada, and then back to England.  Margaret’s tales of her life as the hostess of the frontier in the crossroads of Ohio and her side of the Aaron Burr story will be spellbinding.

Each evening’s performance during Ohio Chautauqua is preceded by a musical program from 6 to 6:50 p.m. The time period is about 1760-1812. Open musical auditions will held at Trinity Lutheran Church, 16400 Detroit Ave., in Lakewood, on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. and on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, from 1 to 4 p.m.  Period-specific music is required for the event in June but you may audition with any song/music. An audition form must be completed and turned in prior to auditioning (see below; fill it out and bring it with you). Auditions will be first-come-first-serve and you must remain at Trinity until your audition is completed. Performers are responsible for their own equipment and set up. There will be a piano and accompanist available. Performers will be notified via email of the outcome of their audition no later than Feb. 15, 2013.

Those who enjoyed Ohio Chautauqua in 2011, when the Historical Society brought the event to Lakewood for the first time, will remember that the evening presentations by each of these characters will be in the big tent. Our site in Lakewood Park is thanks to the support and assistance of the City of Lakewood. Each scholar/actor will also present a program for young audiences each morning that the tent is in the Park. The Beck Center is again partnering with the Historical Society to host the daytime programs for younger audiences. The five scholars/actors will also present a lecture program each afternoon at the Lakewood Public Library during their stay in Lakewood. The Lakewood City Schools are also supporting the event as the music programs each evening under the tent will feature local students. Other community organizations, including the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce, will be supporting the event. hose interested in sponsoring part of the program, fundraising in support of the Lakewood event, or in participating in some way should contact the Lakewood Historical Society. 

Presentations in character make history come alive. The Lakewood Historical Society is delighted to make this available right here in Lakewood. Anyone who wants to help support the Lakewood Historical Society, and to defray part of the cost of bringing this event back to Lakewood, can do so at www.lakewoodhistory.org. “Ohio Chautauqua” is sponsored and presented by the Ohio Humanities Council http://www.ohiohumanities.org/ohio-chautauqua.html.

If you have any question, please call the Lakewood Historical Society at 216.221.7343 or email director@lakewoodhistory.org and someone from the Ohio Chautauqua Music Committee will get back to you.

Audition Form


Name of Performer or Group_____________________________________________________________


Who is the contact person for this performer or group?

Name____________________________________   Cell phone______________________________

Email ____________________________________


Other members in the group (please include name/contact phone/email – attach separate sheet if necessary:






Instrumental _______ (yes or no. if yes, what instrument, please?) _____________________________

Vocal              _______ (yes or no)

Both                _______ (yes or no)


Name of audition piece (you must provide 2 copies of sheet music and lyrics)



Ohio Chautauqua 2013 will be held at Lakewood Park for 5 consecutive evenings beginning Tuesday, June 25, 2013 through Saturday, June 29, 2013. Please note, all performers are required to check in with the Music Committee at the tent in Lakewood Park no later than 30 minutes prior to performance time. Please rank your performance preference evenings below (1 = most preferred, 5 = least preferred).

Tuesday, June 25th                                        _____

Wednesday, June 26th                            _____

Thursday, June 27th                                     _____

Friday, June 28th                                              _____

Saturday, June 29th                         ___


Is there any evening you are not able to perform? ___________________________________________


You agree to accept the time slot assigned ____________________ (please initial here).



If you are a minor, this form must be signed by the performer and a parent or legal guardian.


_______________________________                                                             ___________________

Performer                                                                                                           Date



_______________________________                                                             ___________________

Parent or Legal Guardian, if minor                                                           Date


Martha Neff

By John Pyke, Lakewood Historical Society Board of Trustee member

Read More on Historical
Volume 8, Issue 22, Posted 1:55 PM, 11.01.2012