Recollection: The pillar was the founding family of the museum in Lima

Every spring, peasant plows turned over the warm soils of western Ohio, held banquets for birds, and often showed fragments of the lives of people who had previously walked in the fields. It caught the interest of the young James Pillar.

Like many young people in the late 19th century, the pillars were “bitten by Indian insects,” Frank G. Love wrote in the history of Allen County in 1976. “For some reason, he learned that county peasants frequently submitted Indian relics as they cultivated and turned the earth, and this little information ignited the imagination of young people, and finally. Has become the seed of today (Historical in Allen County) Society has grown.

“Jimmy was an Indian nut,” Love writes. The collection grew and filled with boxes and baskets, shelves and cupboards, not to mention the main topic of conversation, the glory of Jim’s life and his enthusiasm. “

Fortunately, Love added, “He later found Ella, a girl who shares his life with his passion.”

The pillars of James and Ella have a major impact on the formation and growth of the Allen County Historical Society.

James Pillars was born on November 4, 1856 in Lima as the eldest son of Isaiah and Susan Fickel Pillars. Isaiah Pillars was a former county prosecutor, state council member, and Ohio Attorney General from 1878 to 1880. Except for the time spent at school, James Pilers spent his entire life in Lima. He was a county surveyor, a city technician, and a lieutenant at the surveying station.

Ella Little was born in Green County the day after Christmas 1856. She was the daughter of Rev. James Little and his wife. In 1869, the Little family moved to Westminster, where Rev. Little served as Pastor at the Methodist Episcopal Church. After spending a couple of years in Westminster, the family returned to southern Ohio and returned to Lima around 1879. Rev. Little died in Lima in March 1881, and his wife died in December 1894.

In September 1883, James Pillars was the event described at the Lima Democratic Times, 637W. I married Ella Little at my father’s house on Market Street.

“After a graceful meal following the ceremony and congratulations, the happy pair invited all the friends in attendance to a new cottage on Spring Street (just behind Isaia Pillars’ house) until midnight. The reception was held. The cottage was completed from top to bottom by the bridesmaids and provided with a complete grocery store ready to be drawn to breakfast the next morning. “

James Pillars’ profession was civil engineering, but his profession was to collect Native American artifacts.

At the Allen County Fair, written by the Lima Daily Times in September 1890, “The relics and antiques of the county surveyor’s pillars at the southern end of the Fine Art Hall are one of the most interesting exhibits on the premises.” ..

Meanwhile, emotions “crystallized in support of the local historic community,” Lasler wrote. “Things were focused on 1908, and the name of James Pillars is always associated with the organization. The story of the organization of the Historical Society and the construction of the Allen County Memorial is inextricably linked. It is nearing completion. When it was, it provided a permanent shelter for society. “

The “moving spirits” that influenced the organization of historical society were HD Campbell, Ezekiel Owen, and Grant M. Sprague. These met at the Lima Club, where the Argonne Hotel was located, in December 1908, according to Rusler. I’m standing now. The plan was to call a stakeholder follow-up meeting. A charter was ordered and another meeting was scheduled for January 1909.

At the meeting on January 15, 1909, 10 councilors were appointed, including Campbell, Owen and Sprague. Five days later, at a subsequent meeting, Theodore D. Rob was appointed President, Vice President Campbell, Secretary JW Lutz, and Treasurer George Felts.

“When it came to choosing a curator, everyone had only one name, James Pillars, in their minds,” Lasler added.

According to Rab, all members of the group showed a keen interest in native relics and relics, but “James Pillars was probably a hub centered around other members.”

However, his tenure as a curator lasted only about five and a half years. On June 29, 1914, Lima Times-Democrat reported: He was suffering from valvular heart disease. “

Historical society did not have to look far for his successor.

“Mrs. James Pillars was elected secretary to replace John Rats, who left the city, and became a curator, the place her husband owned before his death,” Lima Morning said. The Star and Republican Bulletin reported on January 13, 1915.

“Under her leadership, the items that enter society have been carefully cataloged,” Lima News wrote in a 2006 article. “Her handwriting with Victorian prosperity labeled all donated items, and it was Ella who was believed to have kept the donation legal. She was $ 100. We had to reduce the initial rule that anyone who donates to can display whatever they want in a social office. “

According to the newspaper, it now includes everything from lice that temporarily lived in donors during World War I to fruitcakes for weddings.

Ella Pillars’ work drew attention from the Times Democrat. In November 1919, those interested in studying “rare exhibitions” pointed out that “because there is a valuable museum in the house” there is no need to visit a large museum. The newspaper added that the room on the second floor of the memorial was “in charge of Mrs. Ella Pillars” and contained many Native American relics donated by her deceased husband.

“She worked for over 23 years in a small museum on the second floor of the Memorial Hall,” the news wrote in March 2001. Only at the end of her career did she receive a scholarship for her efforts. “

The end came in October 1937, when she resigned.

“In the years she has served, she has been able to tell thousands of people everything she wants to know about the unusual exhibition on the second floor of the Memorial Hall,” the news said in 1937. I wrote it on October 3rd. .. Some feel that the pillars need to be built by the Allen County Historical Society to build new fireproof buildings to maintain its unique collection of pioneer days, growing from childhood to the present. “

The current museum building on Market Street, the cornerstone of the new building, was built in June 1954.

Ella Pillars, 84, died on July 11, 1942 at Elderly Housing with Care in Cincinnati. In Cincinnati, I moved right after I resigned from the museum. She is buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery next to her husband.

The Elapiras, shown here in 1933, spent more than 23 years as a curator at the Allen County Historical Society Museum on the second floor of the Allen County Memorial Hall. She replaced her late husband, James, who was the first curator.

Contact Greg Hoersten at

Recollection: The pillar was the founding family of the museum in Lima

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