Northwest Ohio is home to the only Union Army Civil War prison specifically designed to house captured Confederate officers.
Johnson's Island Civil War Prison, located near Marblehead, continues to reveal tantalizing details about the war and the men who served on both sides.
The Hayes Presidential Center’s latest exhibit – “Privy to History: Civil War Prison Life Unearthed” – shares information learned from archaeological exploration of the prison site.
The exhibit, funded by the Sidney Frohman Foundation and the Friends & Descendants of Johnson’s Island Civil War Prison, opened May 1 and continues through Jan. 4, 2015.
“Privy to History: Civil War Prison Life Unearthed” advances the history of Johnson’s Island with facts uncovered since the 1965 publication of “Rebels on Lake Erie” – the seminal history of the prison written by Charles E. Frohman.
Through a collaboration with David R. Bush, Ph.D. of Heidelberg University’s Center for Historic & Military Archaeology, a display of numerous artifacts recovered from the site during excavations of the prison latrines are included in the exhibit.
Personal stories of prisoners and guards gleaned from diaries and letters enhance the understanding of prison life, the war, and how the two were inter-related. A visual timeline chronicles the prison’s creation, the arrival and treatment of prisoners, and diversions POWs employed during their imprisonment, including jewelry making, theatrical productions, and photography.
An episode of the History Channel’s “History Detectives” is included in the exhibit. It explores the amazing story of a particular Confederate officer who fashioned a camera from tin cans in order to take photographs of his fellow prisoners.
Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $7.50 for adults, $6.50 for seniors age 60 and older and $3 for children ages 6-12.
For more information on the exhibit or a calendar of year-round special events, call 800-998-PRES. The Hayes Presidential Center website www.rbhayes.org also has updates concerning events.
The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center is located at the corner of Hayes and Buckland avenues.
A prisoner-made map of the Johnson’s Island Civil War Prison and several artifacts unearthed there are among the artifacts presented at the Hayes Museum’s new exhibit, “Privy to History: Civil War Prison Life Unearthed.” (Photo courtesy of the Hayes Presidential Center)