PREBLE CO HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Dedicated to preserving and protecting Preble County heritage, artifacts, memories, and ideas.
The Preble County Historical Society - where an exciting past is your future. This non-profit organization was organized in 1971 and just celebrated 50 years with the mission to preserve and promote Preble County history for all generations. The center is a 255-acre farmstead located at 7693 Swartsel Road in Eaton Ohio (off Ohio 122 South). The property includes an 1860’s original farmhouse, an 1813 Log Home, a Bank Barn, an 1855 Smokehouse, a Large Exhibit Hall full of collections from all around Preble County.
Recently the society built a brand-new outdoor education and events center, to host educational groups, schools, homeschool clubs, scouting activities, small weddings, and other programs. You will also find 5 hiking trails on the property full of exploration, native plants, bridges, and a historic creek that runs through. You can also find a large outdoor amphitheater for concerts, theatre productions, dance recitals, and more. If you would like to schedule your group, small or large, please contact us to book your program. We have 10 incredible educational programs to choose from in 2022! From Pioneer Living to Beekeeping. The possibilities are endless. Our park is OPEN 7 days a week from dawn until dusk. Exhibit Tours can be pre-scheduled.
PREBLE COUNTY GENEALOGY ROOM
Visitors from around the world have unlocked family histories at the Preble County Room. Staff and volunteers have spent countless hours compiling and organizing historic public records, family histories, and military histories from the Preble County area, as well as collecting history books from every corner of the state of Ohio.
When your search takes you out of the state, the Preble County Room has access to national resources, including Ancestry.com, Heritage Quest, and many others.
If you can’t make the trip to the Preble County Room, call or email for professional research assistance.
Join the hundreds of local, national, and international visitors to the Preble County Room for your research.
Fort St. Clair
Preble County Park District
Fort St. Clair is located in Eaton, Ohio at 135 Camden Rd, Eaton, OH 45320. The fort was a regular and militia troops fort under General James Wilkinson, who built the supply post and defensive fortification in March 1792 in preparation for General “Mad Anthony” Wayne’s campaign against the Indians of the Northwest Territory, following disastrous expeditions in 1790 and 1791. Built near a “fine spring gushing out of the bank,” the 120-foot square palisade fort had a four-sided bastion at each corner. Future U.S. president William Henry Harrison served in the detachment that built the fort. On November 6, 1792, Miami Chief Little Turtle and approximately 200 warriors attacked a force of Kentucky militia under Major John Adair camped outside the fort. Six Kentuckians and an unknown number of Indians died in the skirmish. The fallen soldiers were buried fifty paces west of the fort, beneath, the “Whispering Oak.”
In 1921, the first Preble County Historical Society (1921-1935) was organized to plan a park at the site of Fort Saint Clair, to reclaim historical lands, and offer a chance to the young people of Preble County to acquaint them with early local history. A monument was erected at the site of the old fort bearing a bronze tablet, commemorating the historic battle on the 130th anniversary on November 6, 1922. In 1923, the State of Ohio, in cooperation with the Society, established Fort St. Clair State Memorial on 77 acres which included the original site of the fort. In 1933, 12 additional acres were acquired by the Society and deeded to the state.
The additional acreage, on the park’s westside, makes up the nature preserve which is forested by large beech, sugar maple and slippery elm trees with a profusion of wood undergrowth and woodland flowers. The historical area lies to the south. The major point of historical significance is the site of the fort.
To the west of the fort site is a small fenced enclosure, in which are the graves of the six men who fell in the battle on November 6, 1792. A large white oak tree stands by the graveyard and legend has it that when the wind rustles through the leaves of the tree, one can hear the story of the events that it witnessed. The tree, called “The Whispering Oak,” was designated a Bicentennial Tree by the National Arborists Association and the International Society of Arboriculture in February 1976.
The recreation area lies in the northern section, separated from the historical area by Garrison Branch creek and a steep bank. Shelter houses, picnic tables, playground equipment, and restrooms are available in the area.
In 1992, The Ohio Historical Society deeded Fort Saint Clair Park to the City of Eaton and, thus, it is no longer a state memorial. The park is situated on Eaton’s west side at the intersection of SR 122 and 355. It is open April-October during daylight hours. Picnic Shelters can be reserved for use by calling the City of Eaton office: 937-456-4125.
The Whispering Christmas Committee decorates the park with over two million holiday lights. The park is open December 1-31 from 6-10 pm each day for viewing the beautiful light spectacular. There is no admission charge, donations are welcome.
The Preble County Park District was established in 2003 and has a mission to create, preserve, protect, and manage a system of parks, nature preserves, green spaces, and outdoor facilities to be held in public ownership with a focus on local, natural, historical, and cultural resources maintained for the leisure use and enjoyment
of present and future generations.
The Allen and Adaline Garber Nature Center is Preble County’s first county park. The land was donated to the county by former county resident Kenneth Garber to preserve the land as a nature conservancy in honor of his grandparents, Allen and Adaline Garber. The Preble County Park District developed and maintains the Nature Center which consists of 100 acres of mixed agricultural and wooded areas. Revenue from the agricultural products is used to defray the expenses of maintaining the property, which also includes a 12-room Garber farm house dating from 1870.
The Garber Forest at the rear of the property provides 33 acres for hiking,nature observation and education. A mile-long loop trail and some shorter trails traverse the forest. A handicapped accessible boardwalk travels 400 feet from the rear parking lot to a viewing platform/picnic table at the Old Oak Tree, a 200 year old bur oak. The Eloo is our environmentally friendly, handicapped accessible restroom. Near the rear parking lot is the Sandpiper Wetland which was created October 2008. Ducks, herons, frogs, deer, raccoons, dragon flies, other insects, and even cattails have found the wetland.
The nature center also features a Picnic Pavilion with handicapped accessible picnic tables and the restored Garber farm house where the Park District maintains its office. The Garber farm house renovation was a joint restoration project between The Preble County Historical Society and the Preble County Park District. The Garber family collections displayed in the house are owned by both entities. In the future, the PCPD plans to develop the property known as ‘Devil’s Backbone’ near Camden into its second park location.