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Hearth Cooking and history in Marblehead

Georgette Machar cooking apple scones on the griddle on the fireplace hearth at the Keeper’s House. 

Nancy Dunham, Nel Adcock and Sharon Coder, guides at the museum and gift shop.

On Saturday's cool and quiet September morning the fire in fireplace at the Keeper's House near Marblehead warmed the  191 year old stone house and served to cook scones and bread, as in centuries past. The oldest surviving home in Ottawa County, the "Keeper's House was the home of the first three lighthouse keepers for Marblehead Light.

Keeper's House volunteer Ray Machar stoked the fire and gathered embers for the hearth cooking demonstrated by Ray's wife Georgette and Sue Lavoie. On the hearth griddle sizzled apple scones while the bread oven that is built into the fireplace warmed to get up to temperature for bread baking and the Dutch oven awaited cornbread batter.

When asked what interested him about hearth cooking, Machar said at first it was "a free meal" at a historical society meeting. Since that time, the Machars, Lavoie and other volunteers have learned more about hearth cooking and have compiled a cook book of authentic and tested recipes that can be used with a home fireplace or campfire.

Paul Moon, Ottawa County Historical Society President, told how the impressive fireplace in the Keeper's House was rebuilt from local limestone following the imprint of the original fireplace, that it was replicated as closely as possible.

At the adjacent museum and gift shop volunteers Nancy Dunham, Nel Adcock and Sharon Coder shared that books and CDs on the history of the Keeper's House, Ottawa County's role in the war of 1812, and the history of the county are available at the Ottawa County Historical Museum in Port Clinton. 

A new CD is available on The Skirmish on the Peninsula. “The War of 1812 has reminded us of the many local points of interest in our historic past. At Battlefield Park in Danbury Township, a monument stands that marks the burial spots of eight U.S. militiamen who died in 1812 on a march across the peninsula in search of food. When the local residents fled the area (believing war with Great Britain was close at hand) they left behind fields of unharvested crops. On the way to the Ramsdell Plantation (now East Harbor State Park) the militia were attacked by a group of Wyandotte Indians who were allies of the British. The skirmish that ensued was the first encounter in Ohio in the War of 1812,” said Nancy Dunham. 

Another new CD that is available is on the ship “The Success”, from a presentation by Richard Norgard to the Historical Society in 2012. The Success burned off the shore of Port Clinton on July 4th, 1946. The program traced the travels of a ship built in the South Pacific and passed along through owners in Europe and finally the United States, providing a history of empire and commercial enterprise in the past 200 years. 

Both DVDs, “The Success” and “The Skirmish on the Peninsula” have been prepared by Theo Dunham of Video Creations and are now available through The Ottawa County Historical Society for $15 each or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Several volumes of “The people of Ottawa County”, collections of oral history interviews, are also available at the Ottawa County Historical Museum or at www.thekeepershouse.org.

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