A lawyer and judge with a keen sense of history is certainly a fitting description of the late Judge Charlton Myers. Born in 1910 in neighboring Seneca County, Myers attended school in Bucyrus but lived most of his adult life – more than 50 years — in the northern Marion County village of Morral.
After graduating from Miami University and the Ohio Northern University College of Law in the 1930s, Myers started his law career in Highland County, becoming a probate judge at a mere 26 years of age. He moved to Marion in 1945 and resumed his law practice in partnership with law school friend, Walter Moore.
Over the next 20+ years, he would serve as president of the Marion County Bar Association, be elected municipal judge (1973-1980), rise to president of the Ohio State Board of Education, and serve on the Morral Village Board of Education; but, his passion for history would ensure he left his mark on Marion County.
He was the first president of the Marion County Historical Society (MCHS), organizing the first meeting in 1969 at the Women’s Club Home. As the fledgling organization lacked a permanent home, Myers utilized community resources, holding the group’s first program meetings in the auditorium of Ohio State Marion.
In 1960-61, Myers presided as the chairman and sole member over the weekly meetings of the Salt Rock Township Historical and Marching Society, a mythical local historical society. The meetings were broadcast on WMRN and were the basis of a book written by the judge in the early 1990s. This earned him the title “The Sage of Salt Rock.”
Riding the coattails of the successful radio programs, Myers taught adult education classes on Marion County history at Harding High School and his students became the founding members of the Marion County Historical Society. Myers served on the MCHS Board for 26 years and he was instrumental in purchasing the old U.S. Post Office building at the corner of Church and State streets in 1989 to create a permanent home for the Historical Society.
Now known as Heritage Hall, the building houses the Society’s extensive collection of Marion memorabilia and artifacts, including the Wyandot Popcorn Museum. According to MCHS director Brandi Wilson, Marion’s Historical Society has grown into one of Ohio’s most successful local history organizations, with more than 500 members and year-round events. Some of the most popular are reenactments designed to bring history to life and include A Night at Heritage Hall, Time Traveller’s Faire, Dinner with the Presidents, and First Ladies Luncheon (coming up in August).
MCHS’s newest initiative, Marion Voices, is a new community-collaborative, county-wide oral history project dedicated to documenting, amplifying and listening to stories of life, place, and work in Marion County, from the 1970s to the present. The Society is particularly interested in gathering and exhibiting stories of how everyday Marion residents from under-served communities have navigated the economic, environmental and community changes of the last four decades.
“Marion Voices will help connect Marion with local history efforts across the county,” said Wilson. She describes Myers as Marion’s most notable, unofficial historian and credits him with creating the Society which this year marks its 50th anniversary.
Heritage Hall is also the home of the Marion County Hall of Fame. Since the creation of the Hall in 1988, 23 individuals have been chosen as members, ranging from Marion founder Eber Baker to entrepreneur and philanthropist George H. Alber. What all members have in common, besides being deceased, is that they “have brought fame and honor to Marion County by their personal accomplishments.”
Prior to his passing in 1998, Judge Myers and his family donated five acres near Killdeer Plains to the Marion County Park District. The property, known as Myers Woods, is one of five parks maintained by the District. Other properties include the Marion Tallgrass Trail, Terradise Nature Preserve, Greenspur, and the Caledonia Nature Preserve.
Myers is one of the honorees at the upcoming 2019 Celebrate Marion Gala hosted by Marion Community Foundation. This is the third annual event, which is a major fund raiser for the MarionMade! community pride program. Myers is one of 22 honorees and he will be noted in the “People from Our Past” segment, alongside John Garnes Sr. and Dr. Frederick C. Smith. Tickets for the June 1 event are available at the Marion Palace Theatre. Additional information may be found on marionmade.org.