By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Madison County’s first white settler, Jonathan Alder, was born 240 years ago. In recognition of his birthday, the Madison County Historical Society annually hosts Alder Day, a free event open to the public. This year’s Alder Day is set for 1 to 5 p.m. Sept. 15.
Volunteers dress in pioneer costumes and demonstrate crafts from the period, including basket making, broom making, dulcimer music, butter churning, chair caning, blacksmithing and rope making. New to the demonstrations this year is a display of dream catchers and items made from gourds.
Also new this year are performances by Steve Ball, a musician from Hilliard who specializes in performing and telling Civil War era songs and stories.
“He’s very entertaining, very good,” said Dorothy Richmond, museum director.
Food will be part of the fun, as well, as the Wilson Family of London serves up pulled pork and brisket sandwiches and John Miller of Plain City sells ice cream.
Alder Day takes place at the Madison County Historical Society Museum, located at 260 E. High St. in London. Parking is available on First Street. For more information, call (740) 852-2977.
A bit about Jonathan Alder
Born in 1773, Jonathan Alder was 7 years old when he was captured by a Native American war party in Virginia. He was taken to a Mingo village north of the Mad River in Ohio, where an Indian family adopted him.
He remained with the Indians until the 1795 Treaty of Greenville ended the Indian Wars in the Ohio Country. Alder then married an Indian woman named Barshaw and settled as a farmer in Pleasant Valley, what is now Jerome Township north of Plain City. After the couple’s two children died in infancy, they decided it was a sign from the Great Spirit that they weren’t meant to be together.
In 1805, Alder traveled to Virginia where he was reunited with his biological mother and siblings. He returned to Ohio with his new wife, Mary Blont, and built a cabin along Big Darby Creek in Pleasant Valley. He and Mary had 12 children. During the War of 1812, Alder served as captain of a company of 70 men formed in Plain City. After the war, he lived out his life as a farmer.
Alder died in 1849 and is buried at Foster Chapel Cemetery along Plain City-Georgesville Road between Plain City and West Jefferson. His cabin is preserved on the Madison County Historical Society’s museum grounds in London.