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Newport Bicentennial



Display commemorates rural township’s history

            Newport – This rural township in eastern Washington County has a fascinating history during the past 200 years, and Eileen Thomas wants people to know it.

            Thomas, 62, along with five friends has created the Newport Bicentennial Station in a former hair dresser’s shop.

            The three-room display of historical photos, household items, toys, news articles, letters , books, and memorabilia is open daily next to Oopsa Daisy Florist on Ohio 7 just south of the bridge to St. Marys, W.Va.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 6 p.m. Sundays. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. The Newport Volunteer Fire Department’s heritage committee also sells coverlets with historical images for $40, bicentennial T-shirts at $10 and Thomas’ book “Footprints of Newport Township” for $20.

The display was developed by Thomas, Trudy Thomas, Theresa Griffin, Rema Robbins and Alice Greene for township’s July 4th Celebration.

“We had such a large crowd. People didn’t have time to see everything.” Eileen Thomas says about the display, originally set up under two funeral canopies.

That led to the idea of setting up the display more permanently in a building in a complex owned by Sandra Binegar. Although the tree rooms are filled with the variety of items, the display keeps growing.

“People come to visit and then they go home and bring more things back in here.” Eileen Thomas Says.

John Thomas Jr. of Bear Run is one of those. He visited Wednesday and brought along a notebook full of photographs and other information about the township.

Since retiring form the construction industry because of arthritis, John Thomas, 62, has continued work started by a now deceased sister researching the Thomas family history. His computer data base not includes 4,000 Thomases who lived in the area.

The huge family tree may seem farfetched until Eileen Thomas and John Thomas explain that Daniel Thomas Sr. had 11 Children and his son Daniel Thomas Jr. had 19.

The Newport history display will remain open so long as there is interest Trudy Thomas says.

Eileen Thomas developed her interest in Newport Township history when her son. [Perry, sic] now 42, was trying to research his community for an Eagle Scout badge more that 25 years ago, but couldn’t find anything.

Today, she can tell visitors about ehf our generations of doctors starting with Dr. George W. Gale, about Dr. John Ward’s salve jar or about the historic sternwheeler Delta Queen’s Newport Connection.

She also proudly points out the little red toy tin stove she played with as a girl and Binegar’s wooden toy rolling pin.

“I love this photo.” Eileen Thomas says, pointing to a large gathering in 1908 around a horse-pulled, hand made, merry-go-around in the center of festivities on the Greenwood Farm overlooking the community.

“All activities in the old days were up at the Greenwood Farm.”