In our almost 45 years of marriage, my wife has been the impetus for much of our travels. Thanks to the large Slaughter family reunion typically scheduled for the third weekend of June in even-numbered years, my wife and I have spent time with her family in Galveston, Texas, Estes Park, Colorado, Hot Springs, Arkansas, San Antonio, Texas, Olympia, Washington, and many other places I likely would have never otherwise visited.

When my oldest granddaughter was awarded a full ride to Yale, we had an excuse to visit New England for the first time.

COVID-19 forced the postponement of the Slaughter Family reunion planned for Lafayette, Louisiana, in June, and we hope to have it at the same site next year.  Surely by then we will be able to travel more freely.

However, because my wife has inherited her unelected job as Slaughter family historian from her late mother, we don’t always wait until the next reunion to get together with people on her family tree. Such was the case Tuesday, when my wife drove and I rode shotgun to Marietta, Ohio, to have lunch with a couple from my wife’s father’s side of her family.

The trip enabled me to erase Marietta from my personal bucket list where it had been since I took Ohio history as a seventh-grader in 1961. While young students in Kentucky were learning about the exploits of Daniel Boone, those of us born in Ohio learned about Simon Kenton who chose to explore and settle on the north side of the Ohio River while Boone stayed on the south side.

Because Marietta is the oldest settlement in the Northwest Territory, I have long wanted to visit it because it is part of my family’s history, although there is no solid evidence that a Cannon or a Barnes had ever lived in the community.

I was so excited about our visit to Marietta that I dreamed about it Monday night. In my dream we dined on venison, rabbit and other wild game that pioneers had killed. When we were offered French food, I was disappointed.

In truth, we did enjoy an excellent meal in a 200-year old home, but I don’t think french fries qualify as French cooking. After lunch, we drove around to see The Mound, which is the highest Indian burial mound I had ever seen. It dominates the cemetery where it is located.

I knew that Marietta was named in honor of Marie Antoinette and I assumed it was named by French fur traders who settled in the area before the French and Indian War, but that’s not true. Marietta and Gallipolis were named by the early settlers as a tribute to France’s help in winning our war role of Independence, Live and learn.

We drove to Marietta by taking U.S. 52 and Ohio 7 along the Ohio River. That took us through Gallipolis, where I worked at the daily newspaper as an intern during the summer after graduating from Morehead State University in 2970 and on weekends and vacations while working on my master’s degree from Ohio University. Ahh, memories.

A quicker way to drive to Marietta may be to get on Interstate 77 in Charleston and take it directly to Marietta, Since we were in no hurry, following the river stuck both of us as more fun.   

Going to Marietta still is on my bucket list. There still is a lot to see there.

Reach JOHN CANNON at johnboycannon@gmail.com.

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