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Edison Community College...
Garst Museum... learning about my home
By Brittany Martino
November 2, 2011

Humanities 121, Edison Community College

 About this article… see editor’s note below 

One of my group projects that I attended was the Garst Museum. Living in Greenville my whole life, I have never been to the museum. I decided that this was a good time to take the opportunity to attend it. My group was doing the history after the 1900s, where I found good information about three important people. 

The first one was Zachary Lansdowne Lt. Cdr. USN. Zachary Lansdowne was born in Greenville, Ohio on December 1, 1888 at a family’s home at 338 East 3rd St. He left high school his senior year to join the US Naval Academy in 1905. He graduated from the academy in 1909 and began his Naval Career. He graduated as the 105th US Naval Aviator. The first US built dirigible was officially designated the ZR-1 and eventually became known as the Shenandoah. The lifting agent was to be nonflammable helium gas, unlike some of the other dirigibles in 1937. The Shenandoah was huge; 682 feet long, nearly 80 feet in diameter, it weighed 41 tons, cruised at 70 mph for 5000 miles, using five 300 hp Packard gas engines, and had 20 internal gas cells made from the intestines of 900,000 cattle. The construction cost of it was in excess of 3 million dollars, not including the cost of the 2.3 million cu. Ft. of required helium. The Shenandoah took the sky on September 4, 1923. On February 12, 1924, Lansdowne was given command due to being the most experienced US officer with actual LTA involvement. 

At 10 AM on Saturday, October 25, 1924 the Shenandoah hovered over his mother’s home on East 3rd St. while the commander talked briefly with his mother over a short wave radio. He dropped a message in a pouch which unfortunately landed on the neighbor’s roof. On September 3, 1925, about 5 AM, having just entered Ohio, the airship encountered an unavoidable storm. The Shenandoah was being whipped up and down and finally split apart, spilling out 2 crewmen to their deaths. The control car, with Lansdowne and 11 other crewmen inside broke loose and crashed to earth killing all 12. Several crew members, including Lansdowne were buried in Arlington National Cemetery. 

Another important person of the 1900s was Lowell Thomas – adventurer, explorer, world traveler, author, etc. He was probably best remembered as a radio news commentator whose crisp and authoritative voice was heard over the CBS Radio Network stations across the nation. Thomas was born April 6, 1892, in Woodington, Ohio, a small hamlet in Darke County. He graduated from the University of Northern Indiana at Valparaiso. He took a job as editor of a local daily newspaper where years before he had worked as a newsboy. He went on the Denver, Chicago and Princeton as a graduate student and instructor, while continuing his career as a journalist. When WWI came, he went overseas a correspondent with a camera crew to film the War. His unique adventures consisted of traveling with Lawrence in Arabia; hunting tigers with the Prince of Wales; dining with the Red leaders at the Kremlin; with cannibals in the wilds of New Guinea, and with pygmies in Africa; and flying in the Arctic and Antarctic. 

As a TV and Cinerama producer and author of some sixty books, he flew around the world over thirty times, with journeys to Nepal, Siberia, and forbidden Arabia, Afghanistan and Tibet. Lowell married Frances Ryan in 1917 and they had been married for 57 years when she died in 1975. They had one son, Lowell, Jr. On January 5, 1977, Mr. Thomas married Marianna Munn of Darke County, Ohio, and they made their home in Pawling, New York. Through his 88th year Lowell showed no signs of slowing down; he still pursued lecturing, traveling, writing and skiing. His last trip to Greenville was November 21, 1980, when he spoke to the local Business and Professional Women’s Club. Lowell Thomas died August 29, 1981. 

Phoebe Ann Moses, known more as Annie Oakley, was another piece of the 1900s that I found important. She was born August 13, 1860 on a small farm near Woodland in northern Darke County. In July of 1900 during a Wild West Show, Annie was presented with a loving cup which was inscribed “To Miss Annie Oakley, from her old home town friends, Greenville, Ohio July 25, 1900”, which became the center item on her future show posters. In 1901, at the age of 41, Annie was seriously injured in a head on train collision that caused her to leave the show; within 24 hours of the train wreck, her hair turned snow white. Annie and her husband Frank retired from the professional show arena in 1913. They continued shooting exhibitions and make charity appearances. Annie felt strongly that women should know how to shoot and offered to give lessons to those interested. She eventually melted down and sold most of her medals and trophies and donated the money to children’s homes in the Cincinnati area. During the final years Annie and Frank came back to Darke County often to visit family and friends. They moved back to Dayton, Ohio in 1925. 

Annie became very sick and needed help so she and Frank moved to Greenville. She died at the age of 66 on November 3, 1926 of pernicious anemia. Her body was cremated, and she had requested her ashes put in the loving cup that had been given to her earlier. Frank died 18 days later and both were buried on Thanksgiving Day in Brock Cemetery. Annie had written long before her death, “After traveling through 14 foreign countries and appearing before all the royalty and nobility, I have only one wish today. That is that when my eyes are closed in death, that they will bury me back in that quiet little farm land where I was born.” Her wish has been fulfilled. 

I learned a lot about my hometown Greenville by going to the Garst Museum. I would have thought someone would be a tour guide and explain most of the things when I was there so I mostly had to do my own research from the facts the museum had provided. I think that this museum relates to the study of humanities because of all the history and value that the museum has. It is filled with so many things such as, military, civil war, WWI & WWII, boy/girl scouts, Fort Greene Ville, Indians, Crossroads of Destiny, Anthony Wayne, Marco Polo, Americana, Kay Brown Gallery, old time Daily Advocate, history of horse races, etc. It was a good experience and I would definitely go again to learn more about the history of Greenville and many other things. 

Editor’s note: Last fall I taught “Art in the Humanities,” an introductory level course at the Edison Darke County Campus. Among the many projects the students addressed were different forms of art, from painting and television, to visits to DCCA events, Bears Mill, Garst Museum and Shawnee Prairie. The purpose was to discuss their evaluation of how the assignments related to “art” and/or the “humanities.” Some of the best reports will be presented, with the student’s permission, on County News Online. The opinions expressed in these reports have not been altered in any manner.

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