By Haylee Pence
PIQUA – The Johnston Farm and Indian Agency held its annual “Family Days” event from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 11, and Sunday, June 12. Children and adults had the opportunity to explore and learn about the Native American History, John Johnston and his way of life, and the canal’s history.
At the event, families and individuals could participate in a tour of the Johnston Home, which was recently renovated to return the structure to its original conditions. The cost of the renovation was $285,460 and involved renovations to the staircase, doors, painting, flooring, and other design features to reflect how the Johnston family utilized their spaces in their home.
Multiple buildings are available for viewing at the farm, including the 1828 Cider House, the 1815 Springhouse, and the 1808 Double Pen Barn. Each structure served a different purpose for the Johnston Family. The 1828 Cider House was used to process the apples the family harvested to create cider, apple cider vinegar, and other products. The current structure is a recreation of the original structure.
The 1815 Springhouse was where the family gathered their water. The upper level of the building was used for textile production and allowed a place to sleep for the hired help. The bottom level of the building holds the spring the family gathered their water from along with additional rooms for bathing and lye soap production.
The 1808 Double Pen Barn was built to house the farming equipment and various farm animals the family kept. It eventually became a storage facility as the area became the Piqua Indian Agency.
The Johnston Farm and Indian Agency also has the Johnston Farm Museum that showcases the history of the land and the history from the Native Americans in that area. New additions are currently being added, and there is construction along the outside of the building. One of the exhibits features three individuals around a Native American campsite that shows the attire and tools that were typically used during that time period.
One of the most interactive activities available is riding the General Harrison Canal Boat. The 70-foot long canal boat is a replica of the original General Harrison Canal Boat and is drawn by a pair of mules along a walkway next to the canal. Jim Vetter is the canal boat captain and dresses in traditional costume from that time period. Vetter provides a history of the canal boat and the canal itself during the half-hour ride.
Vetter commented, “This weekend has been busier, and we’ve had more people visiting the farm and learning the incredible history of John Johnston and the Canal, which is great.”
The Johnston Farm and Indian Agency is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday until the end of August when the summer hours end. Admission for adults is $10 and children 6-12 are $5 and children under 5 are free. For more information, call the Johnston Farm and Indian Agency at 937-773-2522.