ATHENS, Ohio (Oct. 5, 2006) -- The Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections in Ohio University's Alden Library now has on display the personal journal of Elijah Hatch, the famous Athens county pioneer and settler.
Hatch descendent Dorothy DeVitt, on behalf of her son and donor Donald DeVitt of Marblehead, Mass., presented this valuable manuscript in September.
"The (journal) has been sitting in a safety deposit box for years, and I believe it would be better if it was made available to others close to where it was written," DeVitt said.
Hatch was a miller, farmer, teacher and businessman who still found time to hold many different public offices. In his political life he refused to join either the Federalists or the Jeffersonians, taking the middle ground of an independent republican. Hatch was still popular enough to be elected or appointed as a representative in the Ohio House of Representatives, as a judge in the Common Pleas Court, as an Ohio University trustee, as a township trustee, as a township clerk and as a postmaster of Federalton, Ohio. He was the founder and a shareholder of the famous Coonskin Library as well, which was the first public library in the Northwest Territory. He was a founder and agent in 1828 for the County Agriculture Society, which held the first fair in southeastern Ohio.
Hatch's journal manuscripts describe traveling through the wilderness, his family ancestry, religion, philosophy, politics, education, the War of 1812 and sacrifices of public service.
Hatch was deeply committed to the American government ideal and wrote in one of his manuscripts, "Our liberties can only last while we remain virtuous, for when vice takes possession of the people liberty is sure to leave their borders."
The journal of Elijah Hatch is now an addition to the Hatch-Frost-Broadwell Family Collection in the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections.
The Robert E. and Jean R. Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections, on the fifth floor of Ohio University's Alden Library, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays during the academic quarters.
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