For our Thanksgiving weekend field trip, we went Over the River and Through the Wood, not to Grandfather’s House, but to another house we’ve been wanting to see for a while — the McCook House in Carrollton, Ohio.
Our sleigh was originally bound for Lake County, but we modified our plans because of the “white and drifted snow” expected there. Instead, we enjoyed a scenic drive through Ohio’s Amish country. It was a perfect opportunity to start listening to favorite holiday albums like Andre Rieu’s Home for the Holidays, Michael Bublé’s Christmas, the Good Lovelies’ Under the Mistletoe and Celtic Woman’s A Christmas Celebration.
What we saw en route to Carroll County was just as delightful as our destination. We took heart in an “It’s Not Our Fault” roadside sign made by someone else who’s still in a funk over the events of that November Tuesday. Spotting several alpaca farms reminded me of the friend that I made in Josiah Blackmore, the former Capital University president who raised 17 alpacas on his Blacklick farm after his retirement (Click here to read my 2003 Business First article about him). And we saw the best alliterative name ever on a sign advertising the services of Allstate insurance agent Tom Turnipseed.
When we arrived in Carrollton, it was easy to spot the McCook House. Located on the southwest corner of Carrollton’s public square, the house was built in 1837 by Major Daniel McCook. Daniel and his nine sons, together with the five sons of his brother, Dr. John McCook of Steubenville, earned this brood the title of the “Fighting McCooks” because of their military contributions, especially during the Civil War. Daniel was mortally wounded while defending the Ohio border against General John Morgan at Buffington Island. Of his sons, Latimer was a surgeon with the 31st regiment of Illinois volunteers who was wounded twice himself. George, an Ohio University graduate, was an early regimental commander who later became Attorney General of the State of Ohio, the law partner of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, and the Democratic candidate for governor of Ohio in 1871. John, who was educated at the United States Naval Academy, became a midshipman on the United States frigate “Delaware” and died at sea in 1842. Lawyer Robert commanded a brigade, was severely wounded in battle and was murdered by guerillas near New Market, Alabama. Alexander, who attended West Point with Jefferson Davis, commanded the 20th Corps. Daniel Jr. was mortally wounded at Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia. Edwin, also a Naval Academy graduate, served under Generals Grant and Sherman. Charles, a freshman at Kenyon College, volunteered as a soldier of the Second Ohio Infantry and was killed in the Battle of Bull Run. John, also a Kenyon student, was seriously wounded in Virginia.
Their cousins earned equally outstanding records of service. Edward captured Confederates behind the lines during Sherman’s march to the sea and later became governor of the Colorado territory. Anson served with distinction in three battles and two campaigns. Henry was a chaplain who later wrote several natural history books about his study of ants and spiders. Roderick accepted the surrender of a Confederate regiment. John answered the call of duty when he was only 18 years old and later became a minister and a professor of modern languages at Trinity College.
Daniel, his wife Martha, and their family (which also included three daughters) lived in the house until 1848. The State of Ohio acquired the house in 1941. Today, it is operated by the Carroll County Historical Society and the Ohio Historical Society. A $625,000 restoration project for the home was completed in May 2011. According to an article in the May 2011 issue of Echoes, the Ohio Historical Society’s membership newsletter, workers stabilized and reinforced the house, rebuilt part of the east wall, patched plaster, repaired windows, weatherized the hand-seamed tin roof and repainted the interior in period colors, among other things.
Our tour began in Daniel’s law office, where we admired some of the family’s books and possessions. Here, you can also purchase stone-ground flours and cornmeal made at the Algonquin Mill, located just a few miles up the road at Petersburg.
In the dining room, we learned about each of the McCook brothers through informative displays of Civil War uniforms and swords, a cannonball-studded tree trunk from a Civil War battlefield, and the Carroll County Genealogy Library’s Christmas tree, cleverly decorated with ornaments made from photographs of the McCook sons.
After stepping outside from the kitchen to admire the home’s extensive two-story gallery porch, we walked through the elegant entrance hall …
… and into the parlor, where we saw some of the McCooks’ 250 pieces of monogrammed china and their Reed & Barton flatware dating from 1853.
When we spotted a vintage bottle of Merthiolate, Grandma’s cure-all, we exclaimed, “Heavenly days, what next!”
The McCook House and its 18 decorated Christmas trees are on view this coming weekend, but then the house will close until it reopens next spring. To learn more about this family, read The Fighting McCooks by Charles and Barbara Whalen.