Ashtabula County Historical Society (ACHS) was founded in 1838 with a mission of preserving and honoring the history of Ashtabula County. Today, the society manages three museum properties that celebrate three central tenants of our county: equality, tenacity, and ingenuity. In 1950, the society acquired its first museum: the Joshua Giddings Law Office, originally constructed in 1823. Joshua Giddings, representative to the U.S. House of Representatives, famously defended the mutiny of the enslaved peoples aboard the ship Creole on the floor of the Congress, an act for which he was eventually censured.
The society would later acquire two additional properties: The Jennie Munger Gregory Memorial Museum–the first frame structure built along the Ashtabula County shores of Lake Erie–in the early 1960s and the Blakeslee Log Cabin–one of the earliest remaining log structures in the Western Reserve–in the 1980s. All three properties offer educational programming, tours, and collections showcasing the history of Ashtabula County.
Ashtabula County was the first county formed from the Western Reserve and is a predominantly rural county home to 97,000 residents. The Munger museum demonstrates the long history of tourism as an economic driver in the region, while the Blakeslee showcases the agricultural history of the area. Joshua Giddings’ law office speaks to the history of the county as a primary route along the Underground Railroad and home to many anti-slavery activists. In service of the current residents, ACHS does not charge high admission rates to its museums and strives to operate free and low-cost education programs to ensure that all residents may enjoy these important properties. ACHS also offers services in research and certification of century homes and homesites, as well as access to a historical research library at the Munger.
An eleven-member board of trustees acts as steward of the three museums and the society’s artifact and records collections. The all-volunteer board is comprised of local historians, business owners, and educators who share the common belief that Ashtabula County history is important not just to local residents, but also to understanding the stories of Ohio and the United States of America.