Horn steps back in time to manage McCook House Civil War Museum

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Kathy Horn, new McCook House manager, poses in an upstairs room at the Public Square museum with the Lincoln chair. She is in a Victorian dress with a handmade crocheted snood, which women wore covering their hair during that time period and a broach from the McCook House collection.

Memorial Day weekend opening planned

By Leigh Ann Rutledge

Associate Editor

The “Home of the Fighting McCooks” is opening Memorial Day weekend for the season under the guidance of a new manager.

The Carroll County Historical Society (CCHS), which operates the McCook House Civil War Museum in Carrollton, appointed Kathy Horn as the manager. She replaces Shirley Anderson, who retired in December 2019. (Due to COVID-19, the McCook House was closed for the 2020 season).

Horn has always been a “hands-on” person when it comes to learning. Her husband, John, loves antiques and passed the love on to Kathy. They attended auctions and began collecting.

Joining forces with local antique dealer, Randy Gifford, she operated the Welsh Horn in Carrollton for 11 years.

At the Welsh Horn, one side was dedicated to Gifford’s antiques and the other side, Horn offered art, penny candy, crafts, candles and other items. The section provided the ambiance of an old fashioned community.

After the closing of the Welsh Horn, she was the activities director at  Carroll Golden Age Retreat for 11 years, until recently retiring.

Living in a small town, Horn ran into CCHS President Jen Cramer, who asked Horn if she would be interested in the manager position.

“I always admired Martha (Jones) and Shirley,” stated Horn. “It was a great honor to be asked to step into their shoes.”

Martha Jones, along with Anderson and Mary McConnell, all served over 20 years as manager of the McCook House.

Laughing Horn said, “John said, ‘I can see it coming, you’re going to get all involved’.”

Eager to learn, Horn has learned various crafts and taken lessons on basket weaving and chair caning. She has been demonstrating chair caning at the Algonquin Mill Festival for the past 15 years.

The McCook House has been open for public viewing since 1952. The large brick home was built on the southwest corner of Public Square around 1837. Major Dan McCook and his family resided there until 1848. The state of Ohio acquired the home in November 1941 and dedicated it Oct. 10, 1947, as a memorial to the gallant “Fighting McCooks.” The family was named the “Fighting McCooks” due to their participation in the United States armed services, especially during the Civil War. Three McCook brothers, Dan, John and George, and their 15 sons served in the armed services. All but one of the sons served during the Civil War; one died at sea in 1842.

Horn was cleaning the home and familiarizing herself with the home and the items on display. Anderson created a video tutorial that Horn is also studying.

“I’ve learned the McCook’s were the  family who produced the most soldiers in the United States and the McCook House is the only Civil War museum in Ohio,” Horn stated. “Plus, there are 12 oil paintings that were donated on display throughout the house.”

Horn is particularly enthralled with a chair displayed in an upstairs room.

It is a chair President Abraham Lincoln used while in the White House. The chair was authenticated by an historian at the Lincoln Museum and eventually found its way to the McCook House. In a strange twist, John T. Ford, owner of Ford’s Theatre where President Lincoln was assassinated, once owned the chair.

Horn has been networking to find out how to keep things authentic while making needed repairs. While cleaning, she has found some items she would like to display and plans to make a few changes.

One change involves when the museum will be open. It will be open to the public Fridays and Saturdays from May 28 through Oct. 10 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and two weekends at Christmas. The McCook House will be closed on Sunday, except when Horn has special events. Most will be held outside in the backyard/patio area.

She is also planning different displays beginning with a patriotic theme for the opening. Each display will be on view around three months.

Special activities planned include:

June 13 – Spinners and weavers demonstration from 1-4 p.m. along with a make and take Kumichimo craft for children and adults. (Extra kits will be $6.) Rain date is June 20.

July 3 – Abraham Lincoln impersonator, Gerald Payn, will speak on Gettysburg at 11 a.m. and answer questions from the gazebo on Public Square with open picnicking and music.

July 18 – Croquet lawn game from 2-3 p.m. Rain date is July 25.

Aug. 15 – Horseshoe Tournament from 2-3 p.m. Rain date Aug. 22.

Sept. 12 – Ice Cream Social with Chef Eric from 2-3 p.m. Rain date Sept. 19.

Nov. 27 – Unveiling of Trees from 6-8 p.m.

Nov. 27 – Christmas Concert with Horn and Tim Tilmant at 7 p.m.

As Horn prepares for the opening, she purchased a Victorian costume dress made of taffeta and crocheted a snood, which was worn over women’s hair during the McCook era.

“This is a museum, but I want to talk about it as a house, to personalize it for guests,” Horn said.

The McCook House is located at the top of Public Square in Carrollton. For additional information, visit carrollcountyhistoricalsociety.com.

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