The Oxford Museum Association is tireless in its quest to preserve history in and around Hueston Woods State Park. The Museum Association operates the park's pioneer farm, and brings history to life with programs and special events that provide modern day park visitors with delightfully old-fashioned experiences.
The heart of the pioneer farm is the historic Doty Homestead, at the center of the former Doty Settlement. At one time, this bustling little hamlet featured a church and cemetery, a one-room school, a blacksmith shop, a furniture shop, a distillery, and a creek side sawmill and fuling mill, where homespun cloth was prepared to make fabric for clothing and home goods. Although the settlement was named after the Doty family, the area was first claimed by Joseph Morris in the early 1830s.
Joseph Morris and his family weathered their first few seasons in rural Oxford Township in a crude dugout, until Morris completed the sturdy two-story brick home that still stands today. After moving in, Morris made a comfortable living selling his homemade whiskey in Cincinnati, and returning home with a cart full of groceries to sell in the town of Oxford, five miles down the road. A few years later, thought, Morris lost his fortune in the Panic of 1827. He was compelled to sell his home and farm, which were eventually purchased by his brother-in-law, Samuel Doty. Generations of the Doty family remained at the farm for more than 50 years.
The pioneer farm became part of Hueston Woods in the 1950s. Initially, the old brick home served as the park office and the nearby barn provided a roomy outbuilding for park equipment. Meanwhile, history buffs in nearby Oxford were establishing the Oxford Museum Association to protect the area's considerable historic treasures. By 1959, the park staff had settled into a new office, and the Museum Association had stepped up to lease the pioneer farm from the park and open it to the public as a museum and interpretive center.
In early years, apple butter making demonstrations were held occasionally at the pioneer farm as part of the Museum Association's mission to foster awareness and appreciation of the 19th century rural and small town life. The events were so popular that a new tradition, the annual Apple Butter Festival, was initiated in 1965. The following summer, the annual Arts & Crafts Show got its start.
In 1980, the pioneer farm experienced a setback when the original barn and the artifacts inside it were lost to fire. Fortunately, there was a 1840s-vintage barn available at Sycamore State Park, west of Dayton. With help and expertise from the Museum Association, professional barn restorers, and community volunteers, the state park staff carefully disassembled the Sycamore barn and reconstructed it on the Hueston woods pioneer farm site.
Another fascinating piece of history near the pioneer farm, the old Doty Settlement cemetery, was revived in 2004. The tombstones, many of which date back to the 1850s, had toppled, and the woods had encroached on the burial plots over time. The Museum Association and the Oxford Township Trustees teamed up to undertake the ambitious project to restore the cemetery to its original beauty and dignity.
The most recent addition to the pioneer farm ties the rural farmstead to the nearby town of Oxford, literally and symbolically. In late 2007, the entire community rallied to rescue a charming late 1800s-era house slated for demolition to make way for a new apartment building. From 1890 until 1962, the pretty Italianate building dubbed the "Township House" had served as a local government meeting space and the township clerk's office. For the following 45 years, the building housed a variety of small businesses until investors acquired the site for the apartment project.
The new owners recognized the significance of the building, and they offered to help the Museum Association relocate the old Township House to a suitable spot at the pioneer farm. On a snowy December day, the house was lifted onto a trailer and paraded through town to its new home in the countryside, followed by a procession of volunteers and curious onlookers. Today, the Township House serves as a museum featuring artifacts and exhibits of Oxford Township's past, as well as Hueston Woods State Park history.
Thanks to Oxford Museum Association's hard working and dedicated guardians of the past, the Hueston Woods pioneer farm will remain a vibrant monument to Ohio's heritage far into the future.
6929 Brown Road
Oxford Museum Association
For more information call 1.513.523.8005.