Live the History!
Salem, Ohio was founded by Zadok Street, a clockmaker from New Jersey, and John Straughan (pronounced Strawn), a Pennsylvania potter, on April 30, 1806. The city was named after Salem, NJ, the city Zadok Street left to come to Ohio. The word 'Salem' comes from the word 'Jerusalem' which means 'city of peace' and many of the early townspeople belonged to the Religious Society of Friends, known as the Quakers. Salem was incorporated in 1830.
Most of the first settlers were members of the religious Society of Friends. The quality of their religion and morality contributed to their prosperity and good name. They were hard, honest workers who gave their children careful moral training and the best education. Their stand against slavery and intemperance have tended to humanity and sobriety. Since quiet and good order were the rule, Salem became a desirable place to live.
Salem was a major hub in the American Underground Railroad and was the headquarters for the Ohio American Anti-Slavery Society, later known as the Western Anti-Slavery Society that published THE ANTI-SLAVERY BUGLE. These papers were printed in Salem and are available for research at the Salem Historical Society.
In April 1850, Salem hosted the first Women's Rights Convention in Ohio, the second such convention in the United States.
Over its history, Salem, advantageously located between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, thrived on an industrial-based economy. The completion of the railroad from Pittsburgh through Salem and Alliance then to Cleveland in the mid 1800s significantly advanced Salem's prosperity. Crude material could be shipped from any point, and manufactured articles could easily find the best paying market. For several decades, the largest corporations located in Salem included American Standard, Eljer, Mullins Manufacturing, Deming Pump, and Salem China.
The Salem Historical Society was formed in 1947, with Roy W. Harris as president.
In December, 1971, W. Ray Pearce donated the first museum, Pearce Building, at 208 South Broadway Avenue in memory of his wife, Elizabeth. The corner brick building, Schell Building, was purchased in 1974 and the two were then connected. In 1979 a meeting room was added in the back of the Schell Building with a grant from the Salem Community Foundation. Included behind the Schell building is a garage that we put to good use.
Freedom Hall was built in 1987 as a replica of Liberty Hall, a carpenter shop once used by abolitionists to have secret meetings in an upstairs room above the shop.
The Dale Shaffer Research Library, was the dream of Dale Shaffer, noted Salem historian and author. He helped to plan the design and then left his entire estate to the Historical Society to ensure its construction. It was dedicated August 7, 2012.
In 2019, a storage and garden shed was added to blend in with Freedom Hall.
In 2021, Salem Historical Society purchased a new building on the northeast corner of Broadway and Franklin. This building will be used for storage and activities.
Horses drink from water fountain on South Broadway and East Pershing
Electric trolley waiting for passengers in front of the Pioneer block on Lincoln Avenue at State Street.