Volunteers to clean Johnson’s Island

History buffs, community leaders, preservationists and students from Heidelberg University are to take part in the 18th annual Park Day at Johnson’s Island.

The group of volunteers is to team up with the Civil War Trust, History and Take Pride in America to help clean up the Johnson’s Island Civil War Military Prison Site beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Park Day began in 1996. Saturday, volunteers across the country are to clean and restore more than 98 historic sites.

David Bush, professor of anthropology at Heidelberg and director of the Center for Historic & Military Archaeology, is to lead the Heidelberg group.

Bush said he takes students to the Johnson’s Island site to excavate and discover artifacts.

“It is good to visit a site like this and learn that part of history,” Bush said. “As a prison, it does not associate with fond memories, but people are able to learn how people had dealt with prisoners of war.”

Heidelberg students who are to help with the effort are Leeora Mohler, Brandon Herrmann, Crystal Betts, Mary Covel, Felicia Konrad and Alyssa Myerly.

“Park Day is important because it allows people the chance to help protect a site that is in constant danger of being overrun by nature and surrounding housing,” Herrmann, an anthropology major from Heidelberg, said. “It is a chance to give back to the memory of those that fought in the Civil War and to honor their memories.”

Herrmann, of Waterville, plans to attend graduate school to study maritime archaeology after graduating from Heidelberg.

“Having sites like Johnson’s Island allows students to experience hands-on learning,” Herrmann said. “It allows any student the ability to learn about American history and study something other than their major.”

In addition to the clean-up, Bush said the Friends and Descendants of Johnson’s Island are to receive the 2014 Ohio Civil War 150 Heritage Award.

Bush said the award recognizes the organization raising funds to purchase 17 acres of the Civil War prison site, supporting archaeological activities and reintroducing the prison to the public.

“This is the ninth year we have participated in Park Day at this site,” Bush said. “It is a day of work, but we have all enjoyed it and try to provide information (about the site) to the public.”

Volunteers still are needed. Work to be done includes clearing wood debris from over the winter and development of trails, Bush said.

Participants are to dress for the weather and bring work gloves. Those who register and volunteer are to receive a T-shirt.

To register, email David Bush at or call (419) 448-2327.