Delaware, birthplace of Rutherford B. Hayes, has had little to show visitors who come in search of connections to the president. Both of his homes have long since been demolished and except for the unassuming marker in front of the BP gas station on West William Street, there is no monument for him.
However, there is a rare collection of memorabilia connected to the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, which was anonymously donated to the Delaware County Historical Society, and it is available to the public for viewing.
Jeff Burnett, a political memorabilia collector and dealer from Ashland, Ohio, has specialized in White House Easter Eggs. He believes this collection is exceedingly rare and the only known collection to be on public display. Burnett added, “Delaware is fortunate to have obtained such a treasure.”
The collection includes 107 colorful wooden eggs and 43 glass eggs. Among other memorabilia donated are rare framed prints of Rutherford and Lucy Hayes from Harpers Weekly dated 1877. There is also a framed cabinet photo with an included autograph of the president.
The collection was donated in honor of President and Mrs. Hayes who started the White House Easter Egg Roll in 1878 for children who were no longer allowed access to the U.S. Capitol grounds. When the donor was asked why the collection was given to the Delaware County Historical Society instead of to the Hayes Museum in Fremont or to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., the donor said “For too long there has been little effort to promote Delaware as the birthplace of President Hayes. Perhaps this will spur others to donate items related to Delaware’s history.”
The collection is on permanent display at the Cryder Historical Center, 157 E. William St., Delaware, Wednesdays 10 a.m.– 5 p.m. (closed noon to 1 p.m.) and Sundays 2–5 p.m. For more information, email Info@DelawareOhioHistory.org or call 740-369-3831, extension 3.
The Delaware County Historical Society is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote, preserve and sustain interest in the history of Delaware County. The Barn at Stratford is operated by DCHS as an event venue for weddings, corporate meetings and other special occasions. To learn more, visit the venue and society web sites at barnatstratford.org and delawareohiohistory.org.