Dr. John S. Mattox of Flushing, Ohio.
Dr. Mattox served in the US Air Force from 1959 to 1965. He attended Houston Tillitson College in Austin, TX where he majored in Sociology and Psychology. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service Degree from Ohio University. Dr. Mattox is a member of the National Park Service-National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program, the Ohio Museum Society, the Ohio History Connection, the Smithsonian Institution, the Ohio Civil War Roundtable and numerous other organizations and committees.
He is married to his wife Rosalind with two children (John Jr. & Suzanne) and four grandchildren.
Dr. John S. Mattox is the Founder and Curator of the Underground Railroad Museum located at 121 High Street, Flushing, Ohio. Dr. Mattox is a local historian with an extensive collection of books, other publications and artifacts that he has combined and put on display at the Underground Railroad Museum.
As Curator, Dr. Mattox shares his knowledge of the Underground Railroad and the thousands of slaves that escaped the brutal effects of slavery in the South. Dr. Mattox states that by sharing his heritage with other people, we will learn what we have in common and be able to strengthen our network of understanding. This, in turn, will stimulate our youth to greater interest and comprehension of this aspect of American history.
Dr. Mattox wants to preserve and support our culture and community by contributing to a better quality of life in the 21st century. According to Dr. Mattox, the establishment of the Underground Railroad Museum will allow us to exchange ideas and experiences that will enlighten and inform others about the religious leaders (Abolitionists) and their condemnation of slavery.
In January 2016, Dr. Mattox signed a letter of intent to purchase the Benjamin Lundy House, which is located in St. Clairsville, Ohio. Benjamin Lundy resided in this home and while there, established the Union Humane Society, the first organization dedicated to the abolition of slavery west of the Appalachian Mountains. Shortly thereafter, he began publishing the anti-slavery papers, for which he became known. Dr. John Mattox is determined to keep the Underground Railroad Museum and the Benjamin Lundy House joined together so as to enlighten the community as to the historical significance of the Abolitionist Movement and the Underground Railroad in bringing about the end of slavery in America.
Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis visited the Ohio University Eastern Campus on Wednesday, Aug. 2, touring the Great Western Schoolhouse, attending a luncheon with select students, and meeting with staff. Nellis, who began his duties as OU's 21st president June 12, has been touring all of the regional campuses in an effort to interact with as many of the university's staff and students as possible.
Dr. John Mattox, founder and curator of the Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing, Ohio and local historian, hosted the tour of the schoolhouse for Nellis and others including OUE Dean Paul Abraham and Executive Dean for Regional Campuses Bill Willan.
"It's a wonderful, historical place to stay in this area," Mattox said. He thanked the Belmont County Tourism Council for grants that helped to fund renovations and improvements at the school house. "We have to thank them for preserving the history of Belmont County and making sure that the museums, the school and other attractions can operate here," Mattox said. He said new Executive dvx Director Barb Ballint was doing a fantastic job and credited Eugene Householder for heading the council for 35 years.
Mattox said the Great Western Schoolhouse was the only one-room schoolhouse remaining in Belmont County. Also known as "the 1870 schoolhouse", it is a one-room facility located west of the Ohio University Eastern Campus' main driveway and is listed on the National Registry for Historic Places. Over 300 children visit the 1870 schoolhouse each spring and take part in spelling and arithmetic exercises using old-fashioned slates and slate-writers.
The Great Western School House was closed in 1952 and by 1976, the empty building was in dire need of repair. With permission from Ohio University, the National Trail Chapter of Questers headed a restoration project. The wooden students' seats were donated by a local school. The flag hanging above the chalkboard is actually the flag that one of the former students kept as memorabilia when the schoolhouse closed in 1952. It was donated back to the schoolhouse in 1976 at the completion of the restoration.
"This was great," Nellis said of the tour. "It's wonderful that we have the preservation of something as important as this as part of our history, not only for this region, but for our nation. When you think of all of our forefathers and mothers whom experienced their education in rooms such as this across the country, it's truly foundational."
Nellis said the school house represented the evolution of education. "The great value of OUE is the small class sizes," he said. "OUE is an important part of our overall system."
Nellis said his tour has included visits to the Ironton, Lancaster, Zanesville, Southern, Pickerington, Chillicothe, and Beaver Creek campuses and the university's medical colleges in Dublin and Cleveland. "We really are Ohio University in the sense of the breadth of that. So it's important."
"We have the term Ohio for Ohio and that represents our mission, not just in Athens or the regional campuses, but across the state," said Abrahams.
"Education, economic development, quality of life, those are all important themes. I really want to hear people's voices before I finalize my plan for the university and this (tour) is specific to my vision," Nellis said. "I do want to elevate the national view of Ohio University. It's recognized nationally as a very, very strong university. I'd like to continue to elevate it to greater levels of visibility."
Nellis's past higher education experience includes serving as the 16th president of Texas Tech University, president of the University of Idaho, provost and senior vice president of Kansas State University and dean of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at West Virginia University.
FLUSHING — The Underground Railroad Museum is a storehouse of history, but curator John Mattox aims to connect young people with the past and relate to their present issues, particularly the temptation of drugs, with a new series of presentations.
Mattox said he has given past presentations for Olney Friends School in Barnesville and East Richland Friends School, located west of St. Clairsville. This past Friday, he spoke with high school students from Union Local School District’s after-school program.
“We are commemorating the past and moving forward,” Mattox said. “What we are really trying to do is dig into these young people’s minds by coming into the museum and speaking about the amount of time they have left to get their act together, because with the great impact of drugs in this area, we want to give them information that would be necessary to be successful in life.”
Mattox noted that during his service on the re-entry committee of Belmont Correctional Institution, the board of directors of the Sargus Juvenile Center and his presentations at the Eastern Ohio Correction Center, he has seen drug use as the common factor in crime.
“I see these problems from being on the board at Sargus, when these young kids are by the courts mandated to go to Sargus, then I see them when they’re grownups at the Belmont Correctional Institution,” Mattox said.
“What I want to do is stop the trend toward these institutions before I find it’s too late,” he said. “I know they have problems getting instruction from home because both parents are working, and then you can’t blame the schools because the problem has probably ingested into their system, but when you go and visit grandmother, and she has all these pills in the restroom, they take them. Then they’re involved and they end up in this bad situation.”
Mattox noted that open dialogue is a key component of the presentations.
“When these groups come, I tell my story, and I get the young people involved, because I want them to ask the questions that they don’t have the opportunity to ask,” he said, adding that students are encouraged to engage. “We allow the young people to participate in the conversation — give them a chance to ask questions about different things that they have no knowledge of.”
He also spoke about the various temptations young people must face.
“I think it’s a great shame that the pharmaceutical industry allows these pills to be ingested by our young future citizens,” he said. “Young children being encouraged by people bringing their ideas and their low common denominator into our area.”
Mattox added that destructive pursuits can seem rewarding in the short term.
“When they see young people in big, fine automobiles, dressed in fancy clothes, they want to be like them,” Mattox said of the teens. “They go to the malls and they see people wearing clothes that they want, to be fashion-minded. Then they’ll see strangers riding in large cars with license plates out of counties that aren’t local.”
Mattox commended the alertness of local law enforcement and the likelihood that participants in drug-related activities will be caught.
“If you tell people someone is always watching, then they need to be careful with their actions,” he said, adding that the museum could be another resource in the fight against the drug epidemic. “The Underground Railroad wants to be a bridge to sustain their belief that America has more to offer to them than ingesting these pharmaceuticals.”
Mattox also pointed to the importance of making young people aware of alternatives that create a connection with the community.
“The most important thing to get them involved with is volunteerism. If you can just get them to volunteer into community activities, it will change their whole outlook on life,” he said.
He also hopes to continue to connect young people with mentors and encourage success through education.
“They need mentors. They need people who have had the experience, and I have had the experience, and I just want to give back to the community,” he said. “These young people can be a part of the future of America. The good part.”
Mattox added that an understanding of history also encourages thinking in the long term. He asks the students to consider the future: When they seek employment, an employer will takes into account whether an applicant has a clean background or a record of drug use.
“You can do anything you want if you have the qualifications and the desire and the passion,” he concluded.
T-L photo/ROBERT A. DEFRANK John Mattox, curator of the Underground Railroad Museum, speaks to St. Clairsville City Council regarding the planned grant application for the purchase and improvement of the Benjamin Lundy House in the city.
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The city government is supporting a local effort to improve a major historic site. 2/12/2017 St. C supports Lundy House purchase | News, Sports, Jobs - The Times Leader http://www.timesleaderonline.com/news/local-news/2017/01/st-c-supports-lundy-house-purchase/ 2/3 During last week’s meeting, council voted to support a grant request from the Underground Railroad Museum for the purchase and improvement of the former Benjamin Lundy House in the city. “The Underground Railroad Museum desires to purchase and develop a park and garden in the rear areas. It’s one of the few rear areas behind Main Street that has remained unchanged over the years, and we desire to develop that area and to use the home as part of our museum program,” said Michael McCormick, museum foundation board member. “What we plan to do is put in period and native plants in the rear and to landscape it.” Since proposed planting would be in the rear, it will not be necessary to submit proposals to the planning and zoning board. He added that the museum is applying for a Clean Ohio Grant through the Ohio Public Works Commission and the support of the city will be valuable in helping to obtain the funding. “It’s very important for us to acquire the support of our political subdivisions that are immediately above us, the city of St. Clairsville and the county commissioners,” he said. The Belmont County Board of Commissioners provided a letter of support for the project on Wednesday. John Mattox, curator, said this will be another step in bringing the historical significance of abolitionism and the movement of the Underground Railroad together for the public. “This is a desire to make sure that this history is never forgotten. It’s American history,” he said. “What we want to do is for the city of St. Clairsville to have this for eternity, for the young children, for the old people. … We desire to leave this for the community, and by bringing these two entities together, I think you can see personally from what you know about history how important it would be for the educational community and the community at large.” Council members commended Mattox and the museum board for their work in preserving these pieces of history. “I think it would be a nice improvement for our community,” said council President Jim Wiesgerber. “Dr. Mattox, you put your life into this and I certainly, as an individual, appreciate what you’ve done.” The Lundy House is set for use as a satellite of the Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing.
by Kate Davison | Monday, January 9th 2017
Belmont County leaders are generating support for a local effort working to improve a major historic site along National Road. Nearly one year ago, Dr. John Mattox and attorney Michael McCormick first embarked on a mission to acquire the former St. Clairsville home of abolitionist Benjamin Lundy (WTOV).
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A local man dedicated to preserving our past and educating our youth for the future is now listed among the ranks of Ohio’s Veterans Hall of Fame. John S. Mattox is best known as the founder and curator of the Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing. His efforts on behalf of others, however, have impacted many lives in other ways over the years. As a member and officer of A Special Wish Foundation, Mattox has helped numerous children with life-threatening illnesses achieve their dreams. From special trips for families to the perfect bedroom or bathroom to accommodate a child’s specific needs, Mattox has spearheaded a number of important projects for the organization. In his role with the Campus Coordinating Council at Ohio University Eastern, Mattox also seeks to provide opportunities for greater communication and understanding between community residents and the university. OUE bestowed an honorary doctorate of public service on Mattox in 2008. Last week, Mattox was recognized for his service once again. This time, though, he was honored for service of another sort –the time he spent in the U.S. Air Force and his community impact following his discharge. Mattox, 81, is a military veteran who continued his service with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7342 and American Legion Post 366 in Flushing. He attended the Ohio Peace Officers Basic Training Course and volunteers as a special deputy sheriff. He also serves numerous civic organizations, both locally and nationally. “John shall join presidents, astronauts and celebrities as a member of the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame,” pointed out local attorney Michael McCormick, a friend of Mattox and a member of the UGRR Museum board of directors. “He will join local celebrities Clark Gable and General George Armstrong Custer as a member. Actor Paul Newman is also a member.” Many of Ohio’s veterans generously and continually give to their local communities, the state of Ohio and the nation after honorably serving in the military, according to the Ohio Veterans HOF. The mission of the hall –the first state-recognized hall of fame in America — is to honor them for their outstanding contributions to society. Inductees are honored during a Hall of Fame ceremony every year in November. Last week, Mattox was inducted along with other members of the hall’s Class of 2016. The Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame has inducted more than 400 veterans since 1992. An executive committee, made up of representatives from Ohio’s veterans organizations, selects up to 20 inductees from applications received. “I’m honored,” Mattox said following his induction. “This is an acknowledgement I thought only celebrities got.” Mattox credited former Belmont County sheriff Dick Stobbs – a member of the hall himself – and some former Tuskegee Airmen for nominating him for the recognition. He said they had visited the UGRR Museum and thought this recognition would be appropriate. “Sometimes things happen and you really don’t know why,” Mattox said, adding that he dedicated the honor in memory of his late wife, Rosalind. “I dedicated it to that lovely wife of mine, and I just wish she could have been there.” Mattox, who served four years in the Air Force during the Korean conflict but did not spend time in Korea, said there is something in his blood that makes him want to leave knowledge to the next generation, and that is why he operates the museum that he founded with “Rozz.” “I could not do this alone,” he added. “It is only with the community’s help that I have attained these things. I offer my thanks and allegiance to community of the Upper Ohio Valley.” He also expressed his love for the United States. “Those who do not like America can leave,” he said. “I will be here when they get back.” The Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame is not a military hall of fame. Instead, it recognizes those who honorably served in the military and continued to serve and inspire throughout their lives after discharge. Members of the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame are honored in a permanent display on the second floor of the Riffe Center in downtown Columbus.
T-L Photo/JANELL HUNTER - Underground Railroad Museum Founder/Curator John S. Mattox receives a $1,500 donation from St. Clairsville Sam’s Club General Manager Cat Litchko through the Sam’s Club Community Grant Program.
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Sam’s Club General Manager Cat Litchko said she and her associates care about the local community and want to enrich residents’ knowledge of history.
On Tuesday, Litchko donated $1,500 of a $10,000 Wal-Mart company charity fund to a cause that is near and dear to her heart, the Underground Railroad Museum of Flushing and its acquisition of the Benjamin Lundy House in St. Clairsville.
John Mattox, URRM curator and founder, received the donation and expressed his heartfelt gratitude for the grant.
“The reason I am so excited about what the Wal-Mart Foundation does is that they give back to the community. By giving back to the community they are showing that where they buy or sell, they participate. I think that when you have an organization like Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club, and they have been doing what they have been doing for years, I think the public needs to know,” said Mattox.
Litchko said she and Sam’s Club have donated to the URRM and partnered many times with Mattox in the past.
“This is something that I do on a yearly basis. I work very closely with Dr. Mattox in understanding what hidden treasures we have in this area, the rich history of this area.
The more we know about the history here, the more we can understand one another, and the better place and community we can be,” said Litchko.
Litchko said she is passionate about funding the URRM because many lessons the museum holds are not taught in local schools.
“Just about every university, college, high school and grade school has been to the museum,” said Mattox.
The money for the grant comes from the Sam’s Club Community Grant Program, part of the Wal-Mart Foundation, and can be applied for online.
“At the local level, Sam’s Club facilities are encouraged to support nonprofits or other causes important to their community, provided they fall within one of the Wal-Mart Foundation’s focus areas: Opportunity, Sustainability and Community,” the Wal-Mart Foundation website states.
The URRM is a nonprofit organization that operates solely on donations. Mattox said he works hard to provide such a professional presentation that people would be embarrassed to leave the museum without leaving a donation.
“We do the same thing in the Upper Ohio Valley that they do at the museums in D.C. and Cincinnati, and we want to make sure that people don’t have to travel hundreds of miles to find out what’s in their own backyard. We do the same thing, just on a smaller scale. If I was to take federal funding, I would have to charge a fee, and we don’t sell our culture,”Mattox added.
Many other community organizations have been helped through Wal-Mart Foundation grant and charity programs as well. Litchko said she and her Sam’s Club associates volunteer together and donate to causes including food pantries and the local Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. They also partner in education with Wheeling Middle School and stuff hundreds of stockings at Christmas time to send to soldiers serving overseas, as well as many other causes.
“I try to help out as much as possible from a community standpoint. I really think it’s something that Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club are not recognized for, nor is it talked about so people know. I’ve made a lot of progress in the community because I help out quite a bit,”said Litchko.
Eastern Ohio has a valuable resource available in Flushing that serves as a window to our past, shedding light on a troubled time in American history.
Situated along High Street in a former bank building is the Underground Railroad Museum. Curator John Mattox founded the institution with his late wife, Rosalind, several years ago. Since then, he has worked hard not only to collect items and artifacts of the slave era, but he has sought creative ways to fund the facility so that it will be available to teach future generations important lessons about who we are, where we came from and where we are going.
This week, a local business again pledged its support to the museum and donated money to help fund its operations. Sam’s Club General Manager Cat Litchko said she and her store associates care about the local community and want to help enrich residents’ knowledge of our history.
Sam’s Club donated $1,500 from a $10,000 Wal-Mart company charity fund to the museum on Tuesday. Not only will that money help with museum operations, but it may help Mattox to fund the purchase of another site in Belmont County.
Mattox and the museum are working to buy the former home of early Quaker abolitionist Benjamin Lundy. Located on Main Street in St. Clairsville, the building dates back to the early 19th century and is the site where Lundy started an organization dedicated to eliminating slavery in the United States.
The museum is a nonprofit organization that operates solely on donations, so every gift like the one from Sam’s Club this week is key to its continued operations.
Mattox said the museum does the same thing that larger facilities in Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati do with the help of federal funding.
“We want to make sure that people don’t have to travel hundreds of miles to find out what’s in their own backyard,” he said.
Mattox chooses not to accept federal funds because he would then be required to charge a fee.
“We don’t sell our culture,” he added.
We applaud Sam’s Club for supporting the museum and urge anyone who values local history to follow suit. Donate to the museum if you can afford to, or contact Mattox to learn about other ways you could help.
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register
ST. CLAIRSVILLE - The Eastern Ohio Alumni Chapter of Ohio University has named John S. Mattox as the 2016 Austin C. Furbee Award honoree, in recognition of his dedication and contribution to Ohio University and the community. A dinner was held in his honor on Wednesday at Belmont Hills Country Club in St. Clairsville. Ohio University Eastern Campus Dean Paul Abraham introduced Mattox at the event.
"Dr. Mattox clearly exemplifies the intent of the Austin C. Furbee Award," said Abraham. "He is most deserving of an honor that seeks to recognize an individual for his steadfast and impactful service to our campus and the community."
Known for his affable personality, Mattox is a longtime member of the Ohio University Eastern Campus Coordinating Council, co-chair of the university's African American Cultural Committee, and has been a vital contributor to the Department of African American Studies' African American Presence in the Ohio River Valley research project. The grant-funded multimedia project documented the contributions of people of color to the history and development of Appalachia. He also funds an annual non-restricted $500 scholarship to the Eastern Campus.
A native of Raleigh, N.C., and a U.S. Air Force veteran, Mattox has been active in dozens of local and national organizations since moving to his late wife, Rosalind's, hometown of Flushing in 1973.
In fact, the Underground Railroad Museum shares its building with A Special Wish Foundation, an organization for which Mattox serves as national chairman and National Board of Governors member.
Accolades are nothing new for Mattox, a retired insurance agent. In 2008, he was presented with an honorary doctorate of public service from Ohio University. He has also received the Belmont County Tourism Person of the Year recognition, the West Virginia Education Association's Effie Mayhan Brown Award, and the Community Builder Awards from the cities of Steubenville and Flushing.
Mattox has served as the local president of A Special Wish Foundation, and chairman of the national board of A Special Wish Foundation. He is also a board member for various companies and organizations, including the Ohio University Eastern Regional Coordinating Council, Harrison County Hospital, Belmont County Correctional Institution Community Board, Sargus Juvenile Center, and Bank One in Wheeling.
Mattox is best known for his work with the Underground Railroad Museum, which displays more than 30,000 items related to the Underground Railroad and slavery region. He is currently spearheading the inaugural Juneteenth Celebration in the region, as well as in the state of Ohio. Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. A Juneteenth Celebration event will be held June 17 at Ohio University's Eastern Campus to benefit the Benjamin Lundy Home in St. Clairsville and the Union Humane Society. The theme for the event will be Rozz's Garden, in honor of John's late wife.
Despite his remarkable accomplishments, Mattox is most proud of his family life. He was married for 50 years to the late Rosalind L. Stewart-Mattox. They established a lifetime of roots and memories in Flushing, where they raised two children, John R. Mattox (now 41), and Suzanne Evans (now 40). Today, John R. (Jennifer) and Suzanne (James Evans) are married and have two children each, making John S. a grandfather four times over.
"I am overwhelmed to have been selected by the Eastern Ohio Alumni Chapter as the Austin C. Furbee recipient," said Mattox. "I never expected to be on this list, and this will take a long time to soak in. I am especially proud of the bond that I have formed over the years with Ohio University Eastern because it is such a special place, providing much-needed access to high quality, affordable higher education to citizens of the Ohio Valley for the last 60 years."
Mattox continued, "Life is the ultimate learning experience, and one of the lessons that I have learned is that I didn't get here on my own. I have been blessed to have been supported and pointed in the right direction countless times by my wife, Roz, and other members of my family. It is in this spirit that I am committed to giving back and trying to make a difference for Ohio University Eastern and the greater community. Thank you, Roz, for 50 wonderful years and a lifetime of memories. It is my privilege to accept this award in your name here tonight."
Austin C. Furbee, for whom the award is named, played a key role in the formation of the Ohio University Eastern Campus. While serving as a Belmont County commissioner, Furbee realized that there were limited opportunities for higher education in the Ohio Valley. As a result, he became instrumental in the commission's acquisition of the former Belmont County Experimental Station farmland, which was to become a regional campus of Ohio University.
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