Celebrating local history

Osgood historical markers
to be dedicated at September festival

By Konnie McCollum
Contributing Writer

Osgood Historical Markers

Photo provided

Markers will interpret
James Harrison Cravens’
home and the O&M
Railroad in Ripley County.

(September 2006) – During the huge celebration planned for the Sesquicentennial anniversary in Osgood, Ind., on August 31-Sept. 4, two Indiana state historical markers will be dedicated in special ceremonies. Both markers have been set, but they will be unveiled at the ceremonies.
Right after the parade on Saturday, Sept. 2, between 12 a.m. and 1 p.m., the first ceremony to dedicate the historic marker at the Ohio and Mississippi (O&M) train site will take place on O&M Avenue, between Buckeye and Walnut Streets. The historical marker will commemorate the important role the O&M Railroad played in the development of the area.
Historian Diane Perrine Coon, of Louisville, Ky., said the O&M Railroad, which runs through the Indiana towns of Lawrenceburg, Aurora, Milan, Pierceville, Osgood, Holton, Dabney, Butlerville, North Vernon and Seymour, was the first direct link to connect the East Coast of the United States with East St. Louis, Ill.
The city of Cincinnati, OH., provided the financial support for the construction of the O&M Railroad in 1854. The railroad was built parallel to the Cincinnati and Whitewater Canal. Canals were being replaced by railroads by the 1950s, and the people of the city hoped that the new railroad would encourage economic growth in the area.
Upon completion of the track in 1857, residents of Cincinnati could travel from the Chesapeake Bay in the East to East St. Louis, Ill. The railroad enhanced the city’s economic markets, and eventually the O&M became part of the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) system.
In 1856, the railroad came through Osgood, which at that time was named Clay Town. The town was renamed Osgood after A.L. Osgood, the chief engineer in charge of the track construction in the area. Osgood enjoyed a major boom from 1947-1965, during the heyday of the railroad.

O&M Railroad

O&M Railroad

Coon said the O&M Railroad through Osgood also played an important part in the Underground Railroad movement in the area. Freedom seekers would travel along the tracks at night to get to Holton, a major Underground Railroad center. The freedom seekers knew that trains only traveled on the tracks during the day, so it was safer to travel along them than any of the roads leading to freedom.
Ripley County Historian Helen Einhaus said the second ceremony will take place shortly thereafter, at about 4 p.m., at the historic James Harrison Craven home site, located on Harlan Street and East Fairground Avenue. That site is about four to five blocks away from the O&M marker site.
James Harrison Craven was born in 1802 in Virginia and moved to Jefferson County, Ind., in 1829. He was admitted to the bar in 1823 and established a law office in Versailles in 1833.
Craven was a prominent anti-slavery politician in Indiana. He served four terms in the Indiana General Assembly and was elected as a Whig Party member to the United States Congress in 1841. He ran for Indiana governor in 1841 as a Free Soil Candidate, but lost.
A well-known debater, he opposed the extension of slavery. It was during his term in the U.S. Congress that his hatred for slavery grew. He became lifelong friends with John Quincy Adams and Joshua Giddings. He briefly served during the Civil War.
He moved to Osgood at some point before 1860 and built his home around 1865. He died in Osgood on Dec. 4, 1876. The marker at the Craven home site will commemorate the anti-slavery political achievements of the politician.
There will be local and state leaders to speak at the ceremonies, and representatives from the Indiana Historical Bureau will also be on hand. Coon will give a short speech on the history of the sites.

• For more information, contact Katherine Taul at the Ripley County Tourism Bureau at (812) 689-7431 or visit: www.ripleycountytourism.com.

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