WHEELING - Inece Ullom, 91, of Martins Ferry remembers sitting atop her father John P. Hores' shoulders during the original dedication of Wheeling's Mingo Indian statue in 1928.
"I remember seeing Indians. There were 15 or 20 of them all wearing headdresses," Ullom said, noting her family lived just a few yards away in a house on National Road. The house has since been torn down.
On Friday afternoon, Ullom was checking out the newly cleaned statue, located atop Wheeling Hill. The project was an effort of the Kiwanis Club of Wheeling. The club had the statue erected in 1928 and gave it to the city during a ceremony - the same one Ullom attended when she was 7 years old. The Kiwanis held a rededication ceremony Sept. 5 for the statue, but Ullom wasn't aware of the event until after it had already happened.
Photo by Shelley Hanson
Inece Ullom, 91, of Martins Ferry poses with the newly cleaned Mingo Indian statue in Wheeling. Ullom attended the original dedication ceremony for the statue in 1928 when she was 7 years old.
Ullom said she doesn't know if the Indians she saw as a child were actually with the Mingo or some other tribe. According to the Ohio Historical Society, the Mingo lived in this region, but in 1831 were forced by the federal government to sell their land and move to reservations out west.
"The chief handed my dad a pamphlet and said if he was ever in Oklahoma to 'stop by and see us,'" she said. "Then they took their headdresses off and put them in the back of a covered wagon and rode off on horses."
Ullom said there were just a few people at the original dedication, mostly from the neighborhood. National Road, she noted, is much the same as it was back then, but with a lot more traffic today. And the intersecting Stone Boulevard wasn't much of a street at all in 1928, she said.
She remembers it being more of a dirt road surrounded by grass, trees and with just two or three houses on it.
"Only the big kids played on it," Ullom said of the statue. "The little kids were kept in their yards and on their porches."
Ullom's son, Jim Ullom of Richmond, Ohio, believes his mother may be one of the last living witnesses of the original dedication. He noted he played on the statue as a child.
"I liked to swing from its arm," he said. "It was more of a jungle gym - we climbed on it constantly."
"And mommy never caught him," Inece Ullom quipped.
While leaning against the statue's base Friday, mother and son reminisced about the old days, including times when they picked wild blackberries in the nearby North Park area.
Jim Ullom said he would hike up the hill early in the morning and come back with two large buckets full of berries. His mother would make pies and jelly with the berries.
Inece Ullom said she was pleased to see how bright and clean the statue looks now. She said over the years people dressed the Mingo in a variety of outfits.
"Some lady's bra was on it one time," she said with a chuckle.
In 1983, a trio of men tried to steal the statue by cutting it off its base. After it was recovered by police and repaired by a welder, George S. Macek, the statue was dedicated for a second time.
The statue was cleaned and restored this time by Everett Carmichael of Glen Dale, thanks to the Kiwanis Club's $10,000 fundraising effort. The statue was originally manufactured by American Bronze of Chicago. In addition to many donations from the public, $5,000 was donated by the Elizabeth Stifel Kline Foundation, $1,000 from the city of Wheeling and $1,000 from the Ohio County Commission.