Cumberland Times-News

February 10, 2013

Ridgeley woman is state History Hero

Margaret Ott instrumental in saving log tavern

Elaine Blaisdell
Cumberland Times-News

— RIDGELEY, W.Va. — Margaret Ott of Ridgeley will be recognized as one of the 2013 West Virginia History Heroes during a West Virginia History Day at the Legislature program in Charleston.

Ott was nominated by the Mineral County Historical Society.

The award gives state-level recognition for dedicated service on behalf of an organization’s programs or for a recent significant contribution to state and local history through research, interpretation, publication or preservation, stated Jo-seph Geiger Jr., director of the West Virginia Archives and History, in a news release. The award is a one-time only recognition.

“This comes as a surprise to me,” said Ott. “I am very honored that it was given to me but I think there a lot of people that are more deserving than I am.”

Ott, along with her late husband, Joe, was one of the charter members of the 1998 Frankfort District Historical Society, which was formed exclusively to save the circa 1790 log Stewart’s Tavern in Short Gap, ac-cording to Frank Roleff, president of the Mineral County Historical Society.

“The tavern was in jeopardy of being lost to the community and being torn down and moved out of the state,” said Roleff.

Roleff said that Ott was instrumental in raising money for the project by selling baked goods and hoagies, allowing the tavern to be dismantled and moved across the road from its orignal site.

An avid baker, Ott once commented that she had helped to save the building with one baked pie after another, according to the news release. Ott also played a role in the effort to have Stewart’s Tavern placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.

Also to be recognized is Barbara Gunderman Town-send of Springfield, who is a former regent of Fort Ashby Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution nominated by the chapter. Townsend, who is a museum curator/event coordinator, led the campaign for restoration and historic preservation of the 1755 log structure, Ashby’s Fort Mu-seum, according to the news release.

Through Townsend’s ef-forts the chimney was restored, lights were up-graded, and a new roof and gutter system were in-stalled.

Ott and Townsend are among a group of 48 people who will be recognized during a History Day program and ceremony to be held at the Culture Center on the Capitol Complex in Charles-ton.

History Day at the Legislature was started by the West Virginia Archives and History Commission in 1997.

The History Heroes program will begin at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 21 in the state theater at the Culture Center and will conclude before 11 a.m. so that History Heroes can go to the House of Delegates gallery, where it is anticipated they will be recognized during the floor session.

Gary Clites Sr. of Carpendale was a 2012 History Hero nominated by the Mineral County Historical Society for his book “Ridgeley and Carpendale, West Virginia from 1750: A History.”

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at