STEUBENVILLE -What has the Jefferson County Historical Association been up to since last September and why should people care about who forgotten patriot Arthur St. Clair was were the main topics broached when the association held its annual dinner meeting Tuesday at the Steubenville Country Club.
Judy Brancazio, association president, told a small but attentive audience the association started the year "on a joyous note," with the reinstatement of its 501(c)(3) status after months of "filings and phone calls and a check to the federal government," and that spring brought something new and well received to the museum - a Dean Martin room.
Boxes after boxes of Martin memorabilia arrived at the museum, Brancazio said, as the association accepted items from an anonymous donor who had been a collector of all things Dino since his teens. The donations fueled the need for a room and sparked a hit with summer visitors - attracting nearly 400 who came just during one weekend in June when several city celebrations were under way.
PRESENT FOCUS ON PAST —Judy Brancazio, left, president of the Jefferson County Historical Association, and Charlie Green, second vice president, chatted with guest speaker R.W. “Dick” Phillips of St. Clairsville Tuesday during the association’s annual dinner at the Steubenville Country Club.
"It was awesome, incredible," Brancazio said, noting first-time local visitors come to the museum always express surprise at its existence.
The museum has received many donations of items during the past year, including a book about Steubenville native Edwin M. Stanton, which was written by his sister.
Brancazio said the association will be looking for ways to raise money "to keep us going" and to contemplate fundraisers. Ideas would be appreciated, she said.
As Brancazio acknowledged those who serve on the association's board of directors, she also called for a moment of silence in memory of board members Bill Croskey and Bill Alexander.
Brancazio introduced the guest speaker, R.W. "Dick" Phillips of St. Clairsville, a Cleveland native who headed public relations in Cleveland and Phoenix before settling in the Belmont County community so he and his wife, Mary, could be closer to their children and grandchildren.
In his retirement, Phillips became interested in Ohio Valley history, discovering people knew very little, if anything, about their town's namesake.
St. Clair served for 14 years as the first governor of the Northwest Territory, which today includes Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and part of Minnesota. Before that, he served as a major general in the Revolutionary War and as the congressional delegate from Pennsylvania in 1785-86.
St. Clair presided over the 1878 Congress' passage of the Northwest Ordinance and initiated the constitutional convention in Philadelphia. That convention drafted the U.S. Constitution. He also founded Ohio's first nine counties - giving Jefferson County its name - and its territorial court system from 1788 to 1802. During that time he also governed a territory the size of the original 13 colonies.
Phillips explained St. Clair, who was born in Scotland, came to North America as a British officer and helped drive the French and Indians from Canada in the Seven Years War. He joined America's cause for freedom, accepting a commission as colonel in the Continental Army, according to Phillips, and would go on to raise an army to assist Gen. George Washington, who had lost many battles in New Jersey. Washington promoted St. Clair to major general for his exemplary service in the victories at Trenton and Princeton.
St. Clair was known for his honesty and integrity and died in poverty in 1881 in Greensburg, Pa.
Over the past several years, Phillips has been working on a book that heads to the publisher's today. Its title is "Arthur St. Clair: The Invisible Patriot."