Tuscarawas County Patriot Rally

The T-county patriot rally is a wonderful event for kids, families, and teachers.  A multitude of museums set up tables and dress up in costume to bring history to life for visitors.  Each year has a different theme – which in turn creates a fresh challenge each year as you can’t simply come as yourself and show off your museum.  This year, each museum was to have a person dressed as an historical person from Tuscarawas County. At first, I cringed, after all, our museum is in Copley and we usually dress up as staff in green or blue t-shirts and sometimes someone gets to be a dinosaur… but that would not work for this event.  Would it be possible to discover an historical creation geologist from Tuscarawas County?  I knew of the Moravians and a little bit about the Zoarites, but not much else.  After much searching, I discovered what I thought would be the perfect match, sort of.  One of our museum tour guides, Christian, was chosen to play August Burkhardt, a Zoarite from 1898.  He was not a geologist though, so there was still a lot of work to do to create a story that would work for this presentation.  After all, August was a weaver.  Becky and I dressed as friends of his who had come to visit him. Museum supporter Stevie P. offered to make us costumes.  Becky set about making one of our props and I ran to gather fossils to bring.

At the mall, everyone was bustling to get ready for the onslaught of over 500 children and their families who were expected to visit that day.  I had previously given Christian and Becky lots of reading homework to help set the stage for our talk, and Becky had found additional articles to help us out, but each of us would need to be able to meld our presentation together “off the cuff”.  The only rule I set for us was that every child who came to visit must learn at least ONE thing.  They were not to be given a prize and stamp on their scavenger hunt card until that happened.  This meant that each visitor would hear our story and see and touch what we had brought to share.

I decided I was Miss Cindy, August Burkhardt’s friend from France, where I had read La création et ses Mystères Dévoilés, a work written by Antonio Snider Pellegrini in 1859, which described a world with one large land mass torn apart into separate continents by a great catastrophe, the flood of Noah.  I was so excited to share this book with my friend August, who I know would appreciate Mr. Pellegrini’s thoughts, as August was a Christian Separatist and knew of the flood of Noah.  I referenced a painting of the ark done by Quaker Edward Hicks in 1846 which we brought and set up on an easel.  I then explained how the Quakers had loaned the Separatists the money they needed to buy the land for Zoar.  I then told of the stories that August had shared with me; how his parents and/or grandparents helped dig the Ohio canal to earn money to pay back the Quakers.  When digging a canal you can find all sorts of wonderful treasures.  I then showed visitors samples of snail fossils, brachiopods, clams, flint and coal as well as other fossils I have found in Tuscarawas County.  In showing flint and an arrowhead on loan to the museum from Kevin S., I shared how a gentleman from Newcomerstown in the late 1800s had found a paleo point similar in fashion to one found across the ocean in France!  I also explained how coal was made of piles of plants that had the water squished out of them like the burnt rice I brought from my kitchen. Of course, all of these dead buried creatures were buried in the great flood of Noah!   I then shared the strangest find of all….

Sometimes when digging basements or the canal, people would wind up breaking open a rock that contained a frog or toad in a stupor!  These curiosities are called “torbid toads”.  The toads would be in a small cavity in the rock that just fit their body. They had been there since the rock was first formed!  When exposed to the air they often came back to life and have been reported to live for a few hours or even a few days.  There are over 200 stories of entombed animals from places like New York and Europe.  I shared a drawing made at the time of the toads emerging, and the maps showing where they were found – a picture of one that is still on display in the museum of London.

After sharing this story as fast as possible, I asked each visitor one question about my talk and if they could answer, they received a stamp.  Christian, alias August, did a wonderful job of really emphasizing how the flood of Noah was responsible for burying so many creatures all over the world and how the fossils from one continent matched those across the ocean.  Miss Becky gave even deeper details on the torbid toads as she used her prop – a hand made cement rock with a hole just right for a toad.

We talked continuously from 10 am until 4pm, all three of us at the same time to different people who came up to the table, though we would take turns slipping away to drink some water so we could still talk.  I am so glad we had people listen to our stories.  I am sure they will remember at least one small piece of what we had to say and hopefully they will begin to wonder about it all and put the pieces together.  Several adults hesitantly asked us how “Noah’s ark could be reconciled with 2 million year old rocks”, or “when did dinosaurs fit in?” and we were happy to share all we knew.  Miss Becky was especially adept at reciting facts about rocks tested with different dating methods and the failure of the geological column.  I learned that others feel intimidated by all the arguing going on in our culture and they were very happy to find a safe place to share their trust in a Creator who did not start off by “making people out of monkeys.”  There were many other great encounters that day.  I look forward to seeing those who planned on coming up to the museum to visit us.  Perhaps we will have to wear our costumes so they will recognize us!

I also want to thank God for orchestrating a few things…. The Noah’s ark print first given to me about 6 years ago by Sean and Stephanie S. before they left for Honduras, Tirzah J. for giving the print to the museum so it was fresh in my mind and for loaning us a cap for Christian’s costume, the field trip by creation geologist Jim Whittaker to a Tuscarawas coal strip mine over ten years ago where I was able to gather coal samples from Tusc County, the gentleman from Massillon who gave us the huge lycopod root fossil when digging his septic, the Lyons family who gave us modern day lycopods from their property to press, the unnamed benefactors who passed along to us giant snail fossils to share (they were a perfect match for the Tusc county ones), Answers in Genesis for passing along a mysterious artifact along to us that has drill holes in it from early man, the great weather for loading and unloading, and all the friendly people from the Dennison Depot who helped us get set up. You can see some of the photos from this event on our Facebook page.

Written by Cindy Julius

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About Akron Fossils & Science Center

Akron Fossils & Science Center features hands-on tours and science activities that put knowledge directly in your hands. Our exhibits display many fossils from Ohio and around the world. In addition to our guided tours, we offer a wide variety of enriching science programs, all hands-on and designed to make science and learning fun and meaningful. We also look forward to having you enjoy our 2 1/2 acre outdoor adventure park called Truassic Park. Our park features a 9-hole mini golf course, giant slide, and 200 FT ZIP- LINE! At Akron Fossils & Science Center, participants and visitors become more than observers; they become researchers, experimenters, and even educators. Our exhibits and programs let you experience science first-hand and encourage understanding and deep, critical thought. A trip to Akron Fossils & Science Center provides more than something to do for one day; it ignites a passion for learning and exploration that lasts a lifetime.