Home of John Dana, Belpre OH. Photo from Dickinson, A History of Belpre, Washington County, Ohio, 1920.
I've been looking for a picture of this home for years and just found it. It gave me a shock and chills because I am sure this is the house I lived in when I was in the first or second grade. It had a huge potato field and a large strawberry field. It also had tons of apple and cherry trees lining the drive to the rear of the house where there were two entries.
There were many unique aspects of the house; you could pull levers on book cases and fireplace mantels that allowed you to climb narrow stairs to upper level rooms. It had gas lights that had been converted to electricity but didn't always work well. The hallway from the front door was huge in width and height and had a remarkable staircase that faced you when entering the home.
But...among the most unique items were the wheels in the attic and in the lower basement where people walked around in circles pushing handles on the wheels. The wood floor in the attic and the dirt floor in the basement were beveled from the foot traffic around the wheels.
If you noticed, I said "lower" basement. The basement had two levels. The lower level also had a iron gate on the right hand wall when you entered the room that opened into a tunnel that went beneath the field and road in the front of the house. As far as it could be traversed it led either to the Ohio river or the island. It was flooded so we never discovered the location of the other end. I was told it led to the island and people, stores and munitions were brought through to the house. I do not know this to be a fact. I do know that the tunnel was very creepy because it was pitch dark with all the vines and the smell. But I loved it just the same.
There were also gated cells in the upper level of the basement and other amazing items were the initials of Jean Laffite and his wife etched into a window with their rings by them when they married at the house. I was told too, that Arron Burr used the house during his attempt to form a coup to over-through our new government. Someone else etched their names into the windows too but I cannot recall the names.
I can go on and on and will share more if you wish. Some of what I will share with you from my experiences is very hard to believe.
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