Toledo ushered in the third century of Ohio's statehood with a party last night at the Main Toledo-Lucas County Public Library in downtown Toledo.
About 200 people in jeans to cocktail dresses swayed to dance music from The Kirbys band, nibbled on meatballs and finger sandwiches, and explored the historic artifacts scattered throughout the library's display cases.
“We wanted to give those people who couldn't make it down to Chillicothe a chance to celebrate here,” said John Birmingham, a member of the Toledo-area bicentennial committee.
Partygoers passed the Lucas County bicentennial bell as they entered, and many lingered at a nearby display showing photographs of bicentennial barns around the state.
On the third floor, visitors saw artifacts from Ohio history in The Blade Rare Book Room of the local history and genealogy department. The library will rotate materials in the bicentennial exhibit for the next two months.
“There are some very interesting maps of early Ohio,” Jim Marshall, the department manager, said.
In addition to maps, the rare book room contains a letter signed by General Mad Anthony Wayne in 1795 and a letter from Thomas Jefferson. An old Toledo library guest book has the signature of Harry Truman from 1959. He signed it: “Harry Truman, retired farmer.”
An exhibit on the first floor about baseball in Toledo includes a home run ball hit by Babe Ruth at the former Swayne Field. It was signed by Ruth, Hank Aaron, Lou Gehrig, and Mickey Mantle.
“I've been to thousands of baseball card shows, and you'll never see something like that anywhere,” Chris Kozak, a library spokesman, said.
Lucas County Commissioner Maggie Thurber and Toledo city Councilman Frank Szollosi welcomed guests to the celebration. Ms. Thurber gave a brief account of the Toledo War, a border dispute between Michigan and Ohio in 1835.
Ohio and Michigan troops clashed during a one-day skirmish. Stories of the Toledo War claim the only casualty was a mule.
A year after the conflict, the U.S. Congress proposed a compromise. Ohio received a contested strip of land 70 miles long and 7 miles wide, which included the port city of Toledo. Michigan took over the Upper Peninsula.
A group of local residents, led by the Theatric Organization of Metropolitan Toledo, is planning to perform an original musical in July based on the Toledo War.
“It's just perfect for a musical comedy,” said Kevin Fifer, managing director of the theatric organization. “It was either the most bungled war in history or a masterful piece of diplomacy.”
At last night's soiree, guests heard a song from the musical that described a settler's love for Toledo.
Posters around the building listed other upcoming bicentennial events, and a slide show in the atrium promoted the Tall Ships event in July.
“Our main purpose was to raise awareness,” Mr. Birmingham said. “We wanted to give people a chance to highlight their events.”
Guests bid at a silent auction to support the Ohio Bicentennial Commission and perused booths with bicentennial souvenirs for sale.