2016 Jane Cowan – “Chesterhill” Chesterhill OVERVIEW OF PHOTO ESSAY “CHESTERHILL”: This photo essay is a work in progress, a developing collection of vignettes depicting life in Chesterhill, a small rural village of 285 people perched on a hilltop in South East Ohio. This is a loose-knit Appalachian community encompassing an older generation who’ve lived here all their lives as well as couples who’ve come seeking a country lifestyle, Amish farmers and young families who’re defying the economics to raise children here. CAPTION FOR THIS PHOTO: A red barn offers a patch of color in an otherwise muted landscape after the heaviest snowfall of the winter on January 23, 2016 in Chesterhill. The barn provides shelter to cattle owned by one of the many Amish farmers in the area. Claude Janes and his son Colin feed calves born during a snowstorm in Chesterhill before dawn on January 27, 2016. Chesterhill’s school was demolished years ago and it’s still a sad point for residents, who say its loss has torn the heart out of the community and nothing has filled the void. Now children board buses in the morning and return in the afternoon. “We’re basically a retirement home,” is how one resident puts it. With few jobs and next to no facilities to support young families, those that do exist here seem to defy the trend. Richard Wetzel has been the mayor of Chesterhill since 1983. A composer and a hymnologist with a PhD in musicology, he likes to host gatherings at his house where he is frequently found on the piano. Richard is accompanied here by banjo player and fellow Chesterhill resident John Saunders. The afternoon sunlight catches the worn backs of the seats in the Union Hall Theater on Chesterhill’s main street on February 5, 2016. Built in 1908, the oldest residents still remember when there were multiple shows a night here. The theater closed entirely in the seventies though since restored, it is rarely used. With 325 seats, its capacity is now more than the town’s population and organizers say only a tiny core of Chesterhillians have shown interest in supporting the arts. Volunteer firefighters gather for a training drill on February 15, 2016. Almost every firefighter was born and has lived all their lives in Chesterhill. Mostly they attend to car accidents on the many miles of winding roads that lace through Morgan County. Rick Seiter on January 29, 2016 on the property he and his wife Vickie bought in Chesterhill as a place to rehabilitate horses rescued from mistreatment or slaughter and to run equine-assisted therapy sessions. Rick, who has travelled internationally tuning musical instruments for a living, says he’ll be spending the rest of his life here. Mom Ashley Cunningham oversees the morning chaos as her three daughters crowd into the bathroom on Wednesday February 24, 2016. With her husband away working for 6 weeks at a time, Ashley operates like a single parent much of the time. Couples dance during a slow song at a karaoke party in Chesterhill on Saturday February 20, 2016. The dance floor is a boarded over indoor swimming pool, the floor dusted with glitter from past celebrations. Dusk in the village of Chesterhill, Ohio on February 3, 2016.