Christmas At Haslett House

There’s a restoration project underway at a historic home in Wellston, Ohio. The owners have moved mountains bringing this gorgeous old house back from the brink. I got to see inside yesterday as they have been opening it for tours during the holidays.

A man named Charles Haslett had the home built and his family moved in around Christmas in 1909. The home cost about $8,000 to build – well over a million dollars in modern money.

The property was originally an 800 acre farm. Tunnels were built from the home to the barns and one still exists. A small ballroom graces the third floor and all of the rooms have large windows and beautiful woodwork.

Haslett was a local politician and the youngest person to ever be Jackson County Commissioner. He ran for state office, operated a highly successful dairy, owned coal mines and had a number of other business interests. To say he was a hard worker is an understatement.

Here’s the entrance to the tunnel that runs from the home to the carriage house. Imagine being able to get from the house to the carriage without going into the cold!

As part of the tour, they sat our group of 47 participants in the newly restored carriage house, fed us refreshments and told us stories. We learned about the house, the Haslett family and the restoration. We also saw pictures and learned about the golden age of mining in Wellston and nearby Coalton.

In case you don’t know, Wellston was home to one of the finest veins of coal you’ll find anywhere. There was great wealth there and abundant opportunities to be entertained, to shop and to drink.

Mr. Haslett operated a race track very close to his home, a popular destination for harness racing enthusiasts from far and wide. When he grew tired of operating the track, he donated the land to create permanent county fairgrounds.

Countless people have benefited from his generosity and business acumen, particularly the generations of kids who have been involved in 4H.

One of Mr Haslett’s daughters inherited the home after his death by suicide in 1939. She eventually sold everything by auction before the property changed hands a number of times.

The home was vacant for a decade or more, left vulnerable to vandals, homeless people and drug deals. At one point, someone pulled up with a truck and carried out doors, stained glass windows and other architectural pieces. They even used chainsaws to remove priceless pocket doors.

I was indignant at the very idea.

The new owners have done beautiful work breathing new life into the place when many others might have jumped ship. They shared pre-renovation pictures and it’s practically unrecognizable. The floors are especially gorgeous.

I really liked the areas with personal touches, things that belonged to the original owners.

It’s so well done, especially given that this is a family working together rather than an organization that might have more volunteers or access to grant funding. Our tour guide was the owners’ daughters. She’s a local teacher who has been doing the research into the home, property and the place in this world occupied by Mr Haslett and his family. She has clearly done her homework and gave a fun tour.

She said they will have more work done in time for the Christmas tour next year. I will absolutely go back. Admission was free but they were accepting donations for the Wellston High School Band.

I’ll share a few more pictures in the Make the Journey Fun Facebook page so be sure to check over there for more.


This weekend really didn’t go as planned. We had a cold snap last week and the sun went into hiding until Monday morning. It rained part of the time and threatened to rain the rest.

Perhaps that’s why we appreciated Monday so much. It was a gorgeous day with a nice breeze and pleasant temperature. I fled to my favorite walking path for a stroll. This is where I go for exercise and for my own mental health as it’s a terrific place to think or just soak in the beauty.

Afterward, I took a drive to see a covered bridge that I’ll tell you about tomorrow. For now, here’s a picture.

On the way home, I pulled over to snap a photo of the Wellston Rotary Club’s Field of Heroes.

Small towns really are the best.

We don’t always have to go far to find things that make us happy. Sometimes a stroll through the neighborhood or a drive with the windows down is enough to recharge our weary minds.

When I came home, I felt so good that it didn’t seem a chore to finish the laundry and cook some food for the week. If only all Mondays could be like this!

Happiness Is…

Happiness is when your parents read your blog and give you something that brings back good memories. They saw the post about bulk candy at Fout’s Store and, while that store is long gone, they knew someplace else to go.

They went to Newman’s Grocery in Wellston, a family owned store that’s been in business since 1929. My folks were excited to present me with two small brown paper sacks of candy – chocolate covered peanuts and little chocolate stars!

They’re certainly not on the vegan diet but I do not care. I’ll ration and savor them and appreciate the fact I’m revisiting my childhood each time I open one of those little bags.

Good things really do come in small packages!

Losing A Local Tradition

The Kroger store in a neighboring town is closing after 52 years in business. While it’s not the nicest store you’ll ever see, many of us have been going there for as long as we can remember.

When I was small, my mother would put me in her shopping cart and go straight to the Little Golden Book display. I would choose a book to look at while she shopped, never fussing or demanding things – just happily “reading” my book while waiting to go home and read it together.

I had quite the collection of these classic storybooks, thanks to this routine, and quickly developed a love for reading and collecting!

This store is important to Wellston and I imagine that a lot of folks will find life more difficult when it’s gone. If you’re older or have mobility issues, navigating superstores like Walmart or even the larger grocery stores is exhausting.

The footprint of this store is quite small and just the right size for those who struggle in the big ones.

It hasn’t been remodeled in years and little has changed here. The Little Golden Book display is gone and so is the bottle return (bonus points if you remember returning your glass bottles to the store!) but it’s otherwise very similar to the store of my childhood.

There’s also no self checkout to take the place of the friendly cashiers and baggers. That may be the part I will miss the most – the people and the unwavering personal service they provide.

I’m sure the Kroger Company considered this location a nuisance because they really couldn’t adapt this location to their clicklist/self checkout model of discouraging customers to come in and shop.

Just the same, I’m sad to see it go.

What stores do you miss from your childhood?