Benjamin Baughman was born in Dover, Ohio, and grew up just outside of Bolivar, Ohio. A history nerd from a young age, Ben spent much of his youth reading encyclopedias and visiting nearby Fort Laurens and Zoar Village. After graduating from Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio, with a BA in History, Ben attended graduate school at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, earning an MA in Public History in 2003. While attending WSU, Ben served as an intern at the Nez Perce National Historical Park in Spalding, Idaho, and completed his thesis, in part, on the Nez Perce and the American Fur Trade.
Upon graduating, Ben began his public history career as an historic house manager for the Augusta Museum of History in Augusta, Georgia. Following that, Ben served several years as the curator of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame & Museum in Macon, Georgia, before being named the curator of the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History in Kennesaw, Georgia.
The Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History is home to the General locomotive, a 19th century steam engine with an interesting connection to Ohio history. Made famous due to its involvement in 1862’s “Great Locomotive Chase,” the General was captured by a group of Ohio soldiers who planned to sever the Confederate army by destroying the railroad tracks and telegraph lines between Atlanta, Georgia, and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Ultimately, their mission was unsuccessful and eight of the “raiders” were hanged for their actions; despite their failure, these brave Ohioans were the first to receive the newly created Medal of Honor.
Apropos to that, the Ohio History Connection has in its possession a model of the General carved by Ernest “Mooney” Warther, a skilled wood carver from Dover, Ohio. Created around 1915, the model depicts the famed steam locomotive along with its tender marked “W. & A.R.R” (Western & Atlantic Railroad), the rail line that operated the General during the Civil War. Born in 1855, Warther was a lifelong admirer of trains and carved dozens of historic steam engines throughout his career.
Ben is very excited to join the Ohio History Connection’s curatorial team and oversee the political, military, and civics collections. His research interests include presidential history, transportation history, and the history of social movements. He is thrilled to be back in the Buckeye State and looks forward to visiting all of the Ohio History Connection’s historic sites.