Preparing for the Emancipation Celebration


RIO GRANDE — Dr. John Mattox, curator of the Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing, will serve as this year’s keynote speaker at the Emancipation Celebration weekend in Rio Grande on Sept. 17 at 2 p.m.

The event will include many family-friendly and educational activities held at Bob Evans Farm, Sept. 16-17.

Mattox served in the US Air Force from 1959 to 1965. He attended Houston Tillitson College in Austin, Texas, where he majored in sociology and psychology. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service Degree from Ohio University. Mattox is a member of the National Park Service-National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program, the Ohio Museum Society, the Ohio History Connection, the Smithsonian Institution, the Ohio Civil War Roundtable and numerous other organizations and committees.

He is married to his wife Rosalind with two children (John Jr. and Suzanne) and four grandchildren.

Mattox is the founder and curator of the Underground Railroad Museum located at 121 High Street, Flushing, Ohio. Mattox is a local historian with an extensive collection of books, other publications and artifacts that he has combined and put on display at the Underground Railroad Museum.

As curator, Mattox shares his knowledge of the Underground Railroad and the thousands of slaves that escaped the brutal effects of slavery in the south. Mattox states that by sharing his heritage with other people, they will learn what they have in common and be able to strengthen their network of understanding. This, in turn, it will stimulate youth to greater interest and comprehension of this aspect of American history.

Mattox wants to preserve and support culture and community by contributing to a better quality of life in the 21st century. According to Mattox, the establishment of the Underground Railroad Museum will allow for the exchange of ideas and experiences that will enlighten and inform others about the religious leaders (abolitionists) and their condemnation of slavery.

In January 2016, Mattox signed a letter of intent to purchase the Benjamin Lundy House, which is located in St. Clairsville. Benjamin Lundy resided in this home and while there, established the Union Humane Society, the first organization dedicated to the abolition of slavery west of the Appalachian Mountains. Shortly thereafter, he began publishing the anti-slavery papers, for which he became known.Mattox is determined to keep the Underground Railroad Museum and the Benjamin Lundy House joined together so as to enlighten the community as to the historical significance of the Abolitionist Movement and the Underground Railroad in bringing about the end of slavery in America.

Emancipation Celebration Weekend Schedule

On Sept. 16 at the Bob Evans Farm, an opening ceremony for the Emancipation Celebration will be held at 10 a.m. Free carriage and pony rides are anticipated to be held along with a barnyard express, birthday chronicles and voter registration. Bossard Library staff will also be on hand.

The raising of the American Flag will be led by Bill Jackson and Civil War Troop reenactors. Musical selections will be played by the River Valley High School Band. The Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Gallia Sub-District Youth. Andy Gilmore will welcome comers and Minister Marlin Griffin will lead the event’s invocation. Jeannie Williams will lead the Negro Anthem. Holzer Health Fair announcements will follow along with announcements for the birthday chronicles. At 10:30 a.m., kids fun day begins. Special music will be played by Steve Ball, a Civil War musician.

COSI on Wheels is anticipated to be on the grounds with a program at 1 p.m. and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium will hold a program on the main stage at 3 p.m.

At 2 p.m. Glenn Miller will recognize and welcome state, local and national dignitaries. Miller will recognize a past president. Gallia Sheriff Matt Champlin will address the crowd. Special music will be supplied by Character Karaoke. Michael Crutcher and Gerald Payne will portray Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. A scholarship presentation will be led by Arthur Clark and finally an offering, a puppet show and closing remarks.

On Sept. 17, a 10 a.m. worship service will be held. Miller will welcome those attending and musical selections will be held by a combined church choir. A devotional will be held and then an introduction of the preacher Rev. Dr. Gene Armstrong who will lead the sermon.

The 2 p.m. afternoon program will have special remarks by Gilmore, recognition of area dignitaries and the Emancipation Celebration Committee. Area historian Elaine Armstrong will introduce the keynote speaker, Dr. John Mattox, curator of the Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing.

Musical selections will be led by the Geiger family and special remarks will be made by University of Rio Grande President Dr. Michelle Johnston. Closing remarks will be made by Gilmore.

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Dr. John Mattox serves as the curator of the Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing.
http://www.mydailyregister.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/08/web1_11680.18781.jpgDr. John Mattox serves as the curator of the Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing. Courtesy photo

Former Ohio University President Roderick McDavis served as the 2016 Emancipation Celebration keynote speaker.
http://www.mydailyregister.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/08/web1_DSC_0492.jpgFormer Ohio University President Roderick McDavis served as the 2016 Emancipation Celebration keynote speaker. File photos

Gallipolis City Commission and Gallia County Commissioners show support for the Emancipation Celebration Weekend held at Bob Evans Farms. From bottom to right are Gallipolis City Commission vice-president Tony Gallagher, Gallia Emancipation Celebration Day Committee representative Andy Gilmore, fellow representative Glenn Miller, Gallia County Commission
http://www.mydailyregister.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/08/web1_Emancipation.jpgGallipolis City Commission and Gallia County Commissioners show support for the Emancipation Celebration Weekend held at Bob Evans Farms. From bottom to right are Gallipolis City Commission vice-president Tony Gallagher, Gallia Emancipation Celebration Day Committee representative Andy Gilmore, fellow representative Glenn Miller, Gallia County Commission File photos

Emancipation Celebration volunteers work year round to promote and educate the public in regard to the Emancipation Celebration Weekend.
http://www.mydailyregister.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/08/web1_Expo.jpgEmancipation Celebration volunteers work year round to promote and educate the public in regard to the Emancipation Celebration Weekend. File photos

Jackie Joyner-Kersee spent plenty of time after her keynote address chatting with the crowd and taking questions at the Emancipation Celebration in 2015.
http://www.mydailyregister.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/08/web1_IMG_3751-1-.jpgJackie Joyner-Kersee spent plenty of time after her keynote address chatting with the crowd and taking questions at the Emancipation Celebration in 2015. File photos

This year’s Gallia County Emancipation Scholarship awardees are pictured from left to right, Grant Gilmore, who will be attending Miami University to study history, Bryson Payne who will be attending Shawnee State University to study business administration and Scott Hughes, who will be attending the University of Rio Grande with an undetermined field of study. Not pictured are Garrett Rogers who will be attending Hocking College to study forestry, Justyce Stout who will be attending Shawnee State University to study photography and Jayanna Armstrong who will be attending the University of Rio Grande to study social services.
http://www.mydailyregister.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/08/web1_IMG_7581.jpgThis year’s Gallia County Emancipation Scholarship awardees are pictured from left to right, Grant Gilmore, who will be attending Miami University to study history, Bryson Payne who will be attending Shawnee State University to study business administration and Scott Hughes, who will be attending the University of Rio Grande with an undetermined field of study. Not pictured are Garrett Rogers who will be attending Hocking College to study forestry, Justyce Stout who will be attending Shawnee State University to study photography and Jayanna Armstrong who will be attending the University of Rio Grande to study social services. File photos
Museum curator to serve as keynote speaker

Staff Report