Thursday, February 26, 2015

Lake County Mini-Profile -- The Mentor Miscellany Club

Lucretia R. Garfield (1832-1918), Virginia Small (1921-2013), Mabel Miller (1921-2014) and Marthajoy Waite (1937-2015) all share one thing in common.  They were past-presidents of the Mentor Miscellany Club.  Here is the story of the first woman's literary club in Lake County, a club that remains active to this date.

The story of Lucretia R. Garfield is fairly well-known.  Born in Garrettsville, Ohio in 1832, she met her future husband while he served as professor and president of The Western Reserve Eclectic College (Hiram College).  James A. Garfield left Hiram College to serve in the Civil War before embarking on a meteoric rise in political circles that led to his Presidency and tragic assasination in 1881.  Lucretia was a well educated woman and noted player in all circles of the day including her brief time in Washington D.C.  It was their time there that they attended literary socials together and discussed topics of the day among the Washington power players.

Upon her husband's death, the shy and reserved nature that Lucretia once possessed resumed upon her return to their beloved Lawnfield in Mentor,Ohio.  For the next 36 years she was a formidable women in history.  In 1898 she co-founded the Mentor Miscellany Club - a women's book club fashioned on her experiences in Washington socialite circles.  It was the first of its kind in the county and perhaps Ohio.  They met at members homes and discussed books or topics related to a yearlong theme, i.e., American History.

Lucretia moved to Pasadena, California in 1901 to avoid the winters of Ohio.  Her commitment to these book clubs continued through the remaining years of her life.  Lawnfield remained in the family possession into the 1930's.  Lucretia continued to be a juggernaut with the Parade of Roses, Democratic Party and other intellectual passions but the book club in Mentor always remained foremost in her legacy.  She visited the club as time allowed upon return visits to see her children and grandchildren - still prominent names in Mentor History.  More importantly her club has remained vibrant for 117 years now - a link to our past.

Monday, February 23, 2015

"Crunching the Numbers" -- Our County Numbers in the early years

Indeed numbers are important.  Ask any financial planner, certified public accountant or just remember the IRS tax day of April 15th each year.  Numbers are even more important to the preservation of county history and especially community history.  A connection with numbers can go far deeper than one ever imagined.  Let's crunch the numbers today in County #43 - Ohio's smallest county but perhaps largest when it comes to Ohio history.

1600's - Local Indian tribes populate the future Lake County in Eastlake, Grandon and other shoreline communities.
1750 - Charlton, French Trading Post is built on the mouth of the Chagrin River
1797 - Marsh Settlement established by Charles Parker in Mentor area.
1801 - Blooming Grove (Walworth) and Oak Openings (Paine) settlements appear.
1802 -  Settlements in Concord (Jordan) and Leroy(Clapp) follow.
1803 - New Market is laid out by A. Skinner and E. Paine
1803 - First Postal Service in county begins.
1804 - First school appears - A. Tappan is schoolmaster.
1808 - First settlement in Perry (Beebe)
1809 - Chapintown (Madison) settled.
1810 - Painesville Congregational Church -first ever in county
1812 - Grandon laid out (Fairport-1836, Fairport Harbor-1959)
1817 - A. Tarbelle settlement in Wickliffe.
1825 -  The opening of the Erie Canal allows for the establishment of the Grand River Lighthouse at Grandon (Fairport Harbor)
1828 - First boat building occurs on Dock Road
1829 - Mathews home is built by J. Goldsmith
1833 - Joseph Smith decrees a Mormon structure be built.  This building is the Kirtland Temple.
1834 - Willoughby Medical College established.
1840 -  Lake County is officially recognized by the State of Ohio and becomes county #43.
1841 - Vineyard House is constructed
1847 - Willoughby Female Seminary established - becomes Lake Erie College
1850 - Griffith disaster off Willobeach Park.
1852-  Coe &Wilkes in Painesville opens
1876 - James A. Garfield acquires the Dickey Farm on Mentor Avenue.
1890's - Gilded Age of Cleveland brings Storied Families and Millionaires Row to Wickliffe
1902 - Painesville becomes a city.
1906 - Mooreland Mansion
1909 - Andrews School is founded.
1912 - Fairgrounds on Mentor Avenue replaces original one on Bank Street in Painesville from 1800's.
1912 - Halle Summer Estate at Penitentiary Gulch begun.
1912 - Diamond Alkali begins its history
1913 - Holden Arboretum history unfolds.
1920's - Estates of Kirtland Hills arrives - Hanna and others
1924 - Mentor-on-the-Lake incorporated.
1926 - US Route 20 - 3365 miles of E-W coast-to-coast roadways established
1928 - Waite Hill Village incorporated.

We yearn in our real lives not to be considered "just a number." This is just the tip of the county iceberg when you begin to crunch numbers.  In time more posts will continue to crunch the numbers in Ohio's smallest county!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

"Reminisce" Part II

reminisce - verb
                definition - to indulge in an enjoyable collection of past events

Part II continues my journey along the roadways that dot our Lake County landscape.  I hope you will indulge me as I reflect back on some additional people and places from our past. Famous 'places' is the lead today.

June 24, 2013 entry -  Pheasant Run Airport in Leroy Township
A 2011 gift to past,present and future generations was shared on this date.  The vintage era airplane collection is open to the public and is home to many one of a kind aviation artifacts from the early 20th c.

January 24, 2011 entry  - Vineyard House
This 1841 stone home located at 9019 Kirtland-Chardon Road is the oldest on record.  Its history and current day use worhty of reading and visiting.

October 22, 2012 entry  - Girl in Blue / Eli Tarbell and the Medical College
The Twilight Zone dedicated an episode titled 'Last Stop Willoughby' to this county city.  The two stories featured here are part of the unique fabric that is Willoughby, Ohio -  haunted tales to this day.

January 9, 2012 entry  - Gildersleeve Mountain
Settled in 1808, this location is 18 miles from downtown.  If you are not interested in its history, the view alone is worthwhile.

February 3, 2014 entry  -  Wickliffe's Gilded Age Storied Families
Rockefeller, Coulby, Corrigan, Price, McKinney and other emerging industrialists had their estates along Euclid Avenue and Ridge Road in the 19-20th c.

June 2, 2012 entry  - Jonathon Goldsmith
His arrival in the early 1800's from the east was a pivotal moment in both county and Cleveland architectural history. The Grandon Lighthouse in Fairport Harbor, government buildings in Painesville and Geauga County as well as many homesteads including a few on Millionaire's Row are attributed to him.

December 10,2012 entry  -  Leonard C. Hanna Jr.
Travel along the back roads of Kirtland Hills and you will see the grounds of a genuine country village that arrived piece by piece from oversees and became the signature residence of a family and municipality.

Honorable Mention
February 24, 2014 entry - US. Route 20
July 28, 2011 entry  -  Havel's since 1936
August 25, 2011 entry  - The Original Face of Vine Street
February 17, 2011 entry  -  When It Rains It Pours

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Reminisce - Part 1

Local Lore has just recently passed three hundred entries.  When I started back in 2010 I thought this writing effort would be brief and allow me to explore some local history in our county.  When Local Lore hit 100 I realized unless you were counting pennies, one hundred of anything can be a significant accomplishment.  Now that 300 history stories have been told I would like to 'reminisce' - that is indulge in an enjoyable collection of past events.  These stories from our county's past are in no special order and span over five years at this point in time.  They are simply some of my favorite entries to date and interesting facts I learned along the roadways of our county.

October 13, 2011 entry   Ann C. Whitman - Confidential Secretary
Ann hailed from Perry,Ohio and served David Levy, founder of Sears-Roebuck, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and NY Governor Nelson Rockefeller before her passing in 1977.  Her life was the subject of a popular book in our time.

March 3, 2011 entry   'Coulallenby'
The story of Harry S. Coulby is directly linked to our Great Lakes shipping heritage and to the early beginnings of Wickliffe history.  His estate now serves as Wickliffe City Hall and is a tribute to our county's importance in 19th c. America.

August 22, 2013 entry    Robert 'Bobby' Manchester
Bobby Manchester and 19th c. Painesville history are intertwined.  His fourth of July fireworks shows and theatrical productions at the Utopia rivaled downtown Cleveland and Playhouse Square in its heyday.

November 5, 2012 entry   Prop Girl - Patricia J. Hange
Her story as a pioneering woman aviator is not to be forgotten and her place in history and museum Hall of Fame's worth viewing.

March 3, 2013 entry   Laura Mae Corrigan
In Cleveland's Gilded Age this tale from Millionnaire's Row, Lake County History and WWII intrigue is a must read.  Downton Abbey fans will see many parallels in her life story.

November 18, 2010 entry  Lot #32
The story of Brennan's Fish House and early Grand River are most interesting.

February 28, 2011 entry  Penny Players and the Rabbit Run Theater
Founded in 1946 as a barn theater, notable film stars Jessica Tandy, Jim Backus and Marge Redmond  performed there.  It still is a viable performing arts center to this day.

November 14,2011, October 15, 2012, November 3 and 13, 2014 entries   Lake Erie College
The college and campus serve as a blueprint for county history.

Honorable Mentions...
November 11, 2010 entry    Old Ohio Schools - Willoughby Union High School
March 28, 2011 entry          Evergreen Cemetery - A Walk thru Time
September 27, 2012 entry   Donald Blakeslee - Naval Aviator Legend
January 10, 2011 entry        Willowick - Eyewitness to History

Monday, February 2, 2015

Disney Legend -- Grace Bailey

Elizabeth Grace Randall was born January 1, 1904 in Willoughby, Ohio.  She attended the Cleveland School of Art in 1922.  These humble beginnings did not foreshadow the start of the 'fame' that awaited her just a mere decade from then.  Grace left her Lake County home and Cleveland area roots for New York.  She parlayed her art education into a job working for Max Fleischer.  Max Fleischer was the head of the Out of Inkwell series which featured Koko the Clown.  By 1930, Grace decided it was time to head to California and paint the next phase of her career.  After a brief time as a custom lampshader the year was 1932 and her career break was at hand.

Grace joined Walt Disney Studios in 1932 as a member of the Ink and Paint Studios.  Working under Disney's sister-in-law Hazel Sewell her career incrementally grew in stature.  In this era of celluloid animation, she worked with and alongside Walt and Roy Disney adding ink / color by hand to the 'cells' and animators original drawings.  Her real contribution to the Disney Studios came when she began to formulate the palette of colors for the paint department.  She created many of the colors we've come to know and expect in Disney films.

From 1954-72, Grace was head of the Disney Ink and Paint Studios.  A sampling of her numerous ink and color works may be known to you.  The films are Lady and the Tramp ('55), Sleeping Beauty ('59), 101 Dalmatians ('61) and The Jungle Book ('72).  Grace retired in 1972 and lived out the remainder of her years quietly until her passing in 1983.

Monday, January 12, 2015

New Year...New You

Every January people all around the world make New Year’s resolutions.  It is no surprise that these New Year’s resolutions are not always effective.  We make too many, or we don’t think them through or prepare for them very well.  They often don’t have roots.  As 2015 unfolds, I am here to share my annual ritual and wish.

Rituals make us mindful.  Every ritual-----graduations, birthdays, funerals, weddings, Christmas – has something to do with gratefulness.  As 2015 moves foward I am grateful for another year of good health, for my wife who is always my better half, and for being able to contribute something meaningful to my parks employment as well as lighthouse and other volunteer efforts.  This article is another ritual I am always quite happy to engage in.  Article writing seems to be going the way of typewriters, newspapers, hard- covered books, sit down dinners , LP records and other memories from my childhood.  However for a few minutes today I am able to share a few moments once again with you, and share a passion that I hold dear and one that has not been steam rolled by the passing of time.  That to which I speak is ‘Volunteerism.’  It is a ritual I have engaged in earnest since 1996 at the Fairport Harbor Lighthouse and Marine Museum, since 1997 with Spirit of America boating and since 2000 with Lake Metroparks.  These organizations and many others in Lake County count on volunteers to survive and make ends meet.  In Ohio one volunteer hour is valued at $18.  Imagine if your favorite non-profit museum or park property had to pay that price to remain open daily or share county history with visitors.  Imagine if the minimal admission price was doubled or tripled to cover actual costs of staffing and maintaining a site.  Volunteering is therefore one resolution that can become a ritual that not only is easy to maintain but is also intrinsically valuable.  It is a random act of kindness that is more valuable than a one- time donation.  Volunteer one hour and that gift of time helps to sustain the mission and purpose of your chosen organization.  The Fairport Harbor Historical Society maintains the local lighthouse.  Less than 20 volunteers donate 4000 hours annually to open and maintain the site to 5000 visitors in a season.  Volunteers lead hikes for Lake Metroparks, take program participants kayaking or powerboating or volunteer as elves for Country Lights.  Volunteers maintain an Indian Museum in Willoughby and man a welcome center in downtown Willoughby for visitors.  Each group welcomes help and would love to have ‘younger members’ join their efforts and share in their passions.  All skill sets are welcome and the older members of these groups would gladly mentor new members.  I am grateful that members of my chosen volunteer organizations shared their knowledge and skills with me.  They passed down what was handed down to them to me.  I can now do likewise.

As 2015 unfolds I urge you to check out the sites of the Historic Lake County Alliance for volunteer opportunities.  These sites plus Lake Metroparks are just a small sampling of a resolution and ritual that can be easily sustainable today, tomorrow and in the New Year’s to come.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Lake County in Review - Year 174 and counting...

Since late 2009 I have had the opportunity to work at, volunteer at or just simply visit many of our county’s iconic historical places.  Many are well known to local county residents.  Unfortunately many have been razed for what is termed ‘progress.’  Some garner specific visits from out-of-county travelers.  Others are stumbled upon randomly or often missed entirely as today’s streetscapes hide the past edifices from public eye.  Below are but ten of my favorites.  The list is totally incomplete and in no apparent order.  All though are worthy of a visit sometime as you travel the roads of Lake County in 2015.

#1.  The Aviation Museum in Leroy is home to one of the largest private collections in our country.  Many of our county’s lost airfields have been reported upon but the Pheasant Run Airport and Aviation Museum offers views of over 22 aircraft, some the only ones in existence.  The efforts of Gretchen Reed have resulted in a life estate with Lake Erie College (2010).
#2  Lantern Court in Kirtland.  Situated on the corner of the Holden Arboretum property, it was the residence of Warren H. and Maud Corning.  They purchased the land for their country estate in 1929 and built their residence circa 1930’s.  Acquired by the Holden Arboretum in 2007, the estate welcomes public visitation and is not to be missed.
#3.  Chapin Reservation/Gildersleeve Mountain/ Pine Lodge Ski Center is under the auspices of Lake Metroparks.  The scenic overlook located in Kirtland’s Chapin Forest      (Chillicothe Road entrance) offers a panoramic view of downtown Cleveland, Lake Erie and sites east and west.  Truly a four seasons visit is warranted.
#4.  Historic Marker #24-43 is located in Wickliffe.  Currently the site of Wickliffe City Hall, it was the former estate of Harry Coulby.  Coulby was the 19-20th century Great Lakes shipping magnate and his office now serves as the Mayor’s Office.  A visit to the estate will offer a glimpse into Cleveland’s Gilded Age and shipping history.
#5.  Since 1988, The Herb Society of America has been housed in the county’s oldest stone structure.  Located at 9019 Kirtland-Chardon Road in Kirtland the former Vineyard House of Henry Earl dates back to 1841. Visitors are always welcomed.
#6.  Each year one of the country’s largest free Nativity Displays is open to the public at Historic Kirtland.  This free holiday offering is but one highlight found at the site of historic marker #21-43.
#7.  The Fairport Harbor Lighthouse and Marine Museum is a unique experience open to the public from May-September.  However the outdoor exhibits – an 1843 US Navy Mast, an 1876 Lifesaving Car, a 1904 Oil House, Mormon Migration dedication rock and other artifacts can be viewed any day of the year.  Display boards tell the history of the UGRR, Mormon Migration and other maritime stories.
#8.  The Ohio Cottage in Madison Township has a long and storied history dating back to the early 1900’s.  Situated just off Rt. 84 it is a visit worth the trip.
#9.  The Mentor Fire Museum, Old Station #1 is located on the corner of Jackson Street and Mentor Avenue.  Manned by retired firefighters the site serves as a museum and educational classroom tracing the history of fire fighting equipment and service history in our county.
#10.  Currently situated on the campus of Lake Erie College in Painesville, the Mathews House ( historic marker #4-43) stands out among all of the county’s historic architectural homesteads. Adjacent to the home is College Hall dating back to 1857.  Two unique pieces of history on one campus setting make this a most see stop.
Just missing the cut are the local histories of The Mentor Knitting Works/Columbia Match site on Station Street in Mentor, Painesville Railroad Depot and the unique history of  US Rt.20.