POMEROY — Grace Episcopal Church’s pews were filled Friday, though not with parishioners. The large crowd gathered to hear Shannon Scott’s lecture on Pomeroy’s First Ward, a critical area for African-American history in southern Ohio.
Friday’s presentation focused on three black men who shaped early Pomeroy, which had a sizable black population through the end of the Civil War.
“I wanted to introduce these people that had been so successful in the nineteenth century, in a time they had to overcome so much,” Scott said. “The things they made their way through just to be smart, just to educate their fellow man.”
Scott read passages from the History of the Jones Family, and excerpts from a variety of poems and speeches crafted by the lecture subjects — John L. Jones, James McHenry Jones, James Edwin Campbell. The men were educators, authors, poets, and strong community pillars during their life, “from time where it was dangerous to have an education,” described Scott.
Scott fielded audience questions for the final 15 minutes, both on the lecture material and his continuing research into African American history in southern Ohio.
Pulling from large stack of notes, Scott emphasized how the mens’ cultural and institutional achievements deserved recognition in the area’s history, and that these important men “came from right here…yes it’s African American history, but it’s our history.”
As a vice president of the Meigs County Historical Society (MCHS), Scott said he hopes to expand the lecture series. While Scott is currently a history student at the University of Rio Grande, he conducts virtually all his research as a volunteer.
Often the research has a very local character: Scott happened upon a first edition History of the Jones Family while helping a family friend clean out an attic.
An audience member explained during the Q & A “this one hour talk is a project three years in the making,” and said Scott is one of only a handful of experts in the Unites States on the subject matter.
Worship leader Michael Struble liaisoned with Scott and the MCHS on behalf of Grace Episcopal, and said the Church was thrilled to host.
“It’s great,” Struble said of the event. “We love to get people in here. We like to share history, we love to be a part. It’s all our history.”
Michael Hart is a freelance writer for The Daily Sentinel.