Friday, July 5, 2013

Memorial for the Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve

From the preface of Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve*:

When, in August 1895, the women of Cleveland organized the celebration of the city's centennial year, local history was selected as a work.  Upon investigation, it was found that every county of the Reserve had its published history, including each of the townships therein, so that apparently everything worth mentioning had already been told. 

One thing noticed, however, was the prominence given to the biographies of men, with little or no mention of their wives, who, doubtless, had performed an equal though different part in the laying of the foundations of future civilization and prosperity.  In view of this, a letter was prepared asking for the histories of the pioneer women, to be written by their daughters and granddaughters.

And therefore , whatever may be noted as crude in style, defective in composition or lacking in taste, let it steadily be borne in mind that not one in twenty who performed the task had ever before written a line for publication.  This is stated not as an apology, but as an explanation.  All honor is due to every name following these sketches.

A postal card received by the editor will serve to indicate the difficulties under which many of the writers labored:  "I hope to forward my article by the 15th, for I expect from now on to devote all the time to it that I can spare from absolutely necessary duties.  But a family of six must eat, and I am cook.  There is a big house to keep in order, and I am housemaid.  But I shall leave every thing undone possible, devote myself to literary pursuits, and let the boys go ragged.  For the sake of my soul's repose I want to finish it, for when I have worked all the evening, I go to bed so excited that I can scarcely sleep, and the ghosts of bygone generations hold high carnival all night long in my dreams, and the next morning my head aches."

Excerpts from Pioneer Women of Richfield, Summit County 1800 - 1850
Chief Historian Mrs. Heman Oviatt, nee Susanna Sweet, 774 Fairmount St., Cleveland, chairman and historian Richfield Committee: Mrs. Mary Farnham Braddock, Mrs. Almoretta Bourne Garman, Mrs. Emma Hart Garget, Mrs. Clarissa Payne Kirby, Mrs. Harriet Palmer Mackey, Miss Charlotte Noble, Miss Julia Pope
The first woman of whom there is any mention in connection with Richfield is the wife of an inoffensive, friendly old Indian called Nicksaw, who was shot down in the presence of his squaw by one Williams, a white man who had followed them a long distance for the purpose.  The woman made her escape after hiding her papoose in a hollow log.  Returning the following day with help to bury her husband, she found her child in fine condition. 

In 1818, a church was organized under the trees in the open air.  Among the twelve charter members were 8 women, as follows:  Mrs. Isaac Welton, Hannah and Ann Welton, Mary Oviatt, Sarah Sturtevant, Lydia Carter and Martha Farnham.  [sic: there are only 7 names] 

Abiah Northrop - Mrs. Jonathan Sheldon - came with her husband and children in 1812 with oxen and wagon on the broad end of which was painted in large, distinct lettering, "Going to Ohio".  It is told of Mrs. Sheldon that she often quieted her restless babe by suspending it in her strong linen apron while spinning her stinted day's work of a certain number of skeins of wool yarn. 

Mrs. Lucy Sheldon Clark had a platform made to place beside the wheel to enable her young daughters to reach the spindle, and so do their part of this important branch of labor.  Her daughters also became experts at the braiding and plaiting of straw hats.

Mrs. Annie Benedict Crissy settled in the township in 1818, from Schoharle County, New York.  Upon going to the door one day to learn what was disturbing the pigs, she saw a very large bear carrying one of them away.  Mr. Crissy, most fortunately, had set his loaded gun just outside the door.  Mrs. Crissy discharged the piece with such unerring aim as to kill the trespassing visitor without harm to the pig.

Mrs. Barton Brown lived a kind of gypsy life for some years, camping out in the forest - moving from one spot to another to suit the convenience of her husband, who was a famous chopper and took jobs clearing the land. 

Mary Humphrey - Mrs. Salmon Oviatt - a woman of sterling worth, emigrated from Goshen, CT, in 1815 and settled near the center of the township.  During the first 28 years of her life on this extreme frontier, she became the mother of 14 children, most of whom married and made their homes near her.  In those early days, deer were so numerous that they sometimes came up with the cows to the stable.  There were also wolves, wildcats, bears, and occasionally the frightfully human call of a panther could be heard.

Mrs. Eliza Benedict Bigelow, from Schoharie County, New York, a sister to Mrs. Crissy, is said to have been an able and resolute woman.  She was returning from a visit to Mrs. Welton with a young son on the horse with her, when she was startled upon hearing the unmistakable cry of a panther which seemed to proceed from the direction she was following.  To deviate from her way was not to be thought of.  She instantly decided to frighten the creature by taxing her own vocal chords to their utmost.  This she did by frequent and resounding screams, at the same time waving her lighted lantern aloft and in this manner reached her home in safety.

Mrs. Sarah Baker Alger, the daughter of a New Haven merchant, married John Alger in 1788.  In 1818, Mr. Alger died and three years later, Mrs. Alger left Bethany, Genessee County, New York, with six children, making the journey in winter with two sleds drawn by oxen and bringing a sick son on a bed all the way.  They stopped with relatives near Cleveland for a few days, and these friends went with her to her destination, bringing with them axes to fell the trees and build a house for her.  In three days the home was ready, and she commenced her pioneer life with only 25 cents left of her money, which was spent for medicine for her sick boy.  Salt at this time was $6 per barrel.  Mrs. Alger's children dug ginseng in the surrounding wood, which, when dried, sold for 25 cents per pound.  With this they bought half a barrel of salt.  When the supply of flour failed, a meal or two could be furnished by shaving ears of corn with a carpenter's shave and boiled.  This was called "jointed corn".  At one time, Mrs. Alger was taken suddenly ill in the night.  The fire having gone out, her son went to the house of Mrs. Nathaniel Oviatt a mile away for a few live coals to start a fire.

Mrs. Elenor Coates Weld was the first hostess of a public house, her husband building and keeping it for a few years; he also did much to give Richfield a reputation for fine fruits of all kinds. 

The mother of Mrs. Richard Houck was sick at one time, having little or no relish for food.  She was visited by an Indian woman, who brought some savory cooked meat, which the sick woman ate with great relish.  After some questioning by the friends of Mrs. Houck, the squaw told them it was rattlesnake.

Mrs. Timothy Hall - Dolly Miles - was a natural nurse, at one time having access to some medical books, studied with such zeal and comprehension of the subject that she had not been long in this new country before there were so many demands upon her medical skill that she was obliged to provide herself with a horse and saddle for her own special use.  Many of the first generations in Richfield made their advent into this world with her skillful assistance.  She was not like the lilies of the field that toil not, neither did they spin, for she did both, early and late.  The last of the bed linen made by her hands she sent to the Sanitary Commission for use in the hospitals during the first year of the late war.

Mrs. Amanda Barnes Hart, a true hardworking pioneer, wove one thousand yards of carpet after she reached the age of 72 years. 
Mrs. Sarah Hart, her daughter, was a successful teacher for 30 years, always boarding around, spending a stated number of nights in each family.  In the winter, she sometimes waded through drifts of snow as high as the wayside fences, lighting the schoolhouse fire with benumbed fingers and cheerfully doing each day's duty as it came to her, even to the walk with her family of three miles to church on Sunday.

Mrs. Emily Oviatt Farnham, wife of Everett Farnham, spent her whole life in Richfield.  She was a woman of unusual mental ability and deft of hand, not only faithful in all her home relations, but a warm and forgiving friend.

Jane Kettle, Mrs. Drayton Curtis, came in 1829.  Having outlived all who were near her in relationship excepting a grandchild, she lives almost alone with her flowers, which she tenderly cares for summer and winter.  Her personality seems to be in some way merged into these constant companions.

There being no stated minister in the early days of the church, the people met in town council and elected Mr. Elijah Ellsworth to lead in meetings.  As he was somewhat addicted to swearing, he agreed to abandon the practice so long as he held this office.  The concientious discharge of his duties gave him a claim on the affections of the people, and he was subsequently elected train band captain and finally rose to the part of colonel.  His esteemable wife, Clarissa Oviatt, became mistress of one of the earliest of the pretentious homes, which contained a large hall - a favorite place for gatherings of a social nature.  Dr. Wheeler, who was at that time a bachelor and a member of Mrs. Ellsworth's household, kept his primitive laboratory in a cupboard by the side of the chimney-piece.  During a social function, a rather conspicuous bottle of antimonial wine, an active emetic, was taken from its place and secretly passed among a few of the liveliest of the young men; the doctor, seemingly oblivious of what was going on, was not unmindful of results.  It became known the following day, that several very limp young men were unusually silent whenever the party was alluded to.

*Memorial to the Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve (published by the Women's Department of the Cleveland Centennial Commission, 1896)
Multiple authors.
Mrs. Gertrude Van Rensselaer Wickham ( 1844 - 1929? ), editor.
According to Shirley M. De Boer CG, " This work was originally printed in five parts, each for sale for forty cents. Reprinted as books, Parts 1 & 2 made up Vol. 1 in 1896; Parts 3 & 4 contained in Vol. 2 were published in 1897; and Part 5 & the Name Index finished the series in Vol. 3 in 1924."

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Take Action for the Present Day

Access your inner "Nancy Drew" and help solve some mysteries:

The reason for the long list of names after the "how we got our camp " snippet is because if these were the people who cared about Girl Scouting in 1937, their grandchildren are alive today & may possibly care about helping.

If they are alive, they can be found. If any of them are interested in their family histories, they may have letters, pictures, memories of their own relating to Crowell Hilaka or Girl Scouting in general that Grandma & Grampa told them about on holidays. They may have passed on their Girl Scouting heritage.

So if anyone feels like investigating anyone of these names and trying to track down the decsendants or get more information, and even ask for a donation to keep the camps open, go for it!

Of course, the extra challenge in tracking womens' history is that the ladies used their husbands' names. and if they married or re- married after this time frame, they got different names! but hey, that just makes the puzzle more interesting!

What I do know:

Kirby had 3 children with his first wife. They never lived at the camp - there are grandchildren around, but they do not have any attachment to the camp. Kirby and his second wife did not have any children.

Julia & Benedict Crowell had two children: the son never married. I have very little info on Florence, their daughter & have never found out if she & her husband had any kids. Julia's maiden name was Cobb - her dad's first name was leonard - the family made their money in pharmecuticals.

POTENTIAL LEADS: Mr. and Mrs. Warner Seely were both VERY involved & their grandchildren, if any, may be good sources

I had not realized until piecing together the conncetion between early GS & the natural history museum - they may have something in their archives.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The January Saturday Excursion

Today we went around to talk to the neighbors ! It was a lot of fun - makes me think we should have set this up as an event years ago!

First, we went to the King's Forest Development off Broadview Rd. These are the houses that you can see off to the right when driving down the camp driveway. The neighborhood was really quiet: some houses have driveways unplowed, unshoveled, un-tread marked, unfootprinted. We figured those to be the snowbirds who have migrated to warmer climes for the winter.

For most of the houses, we just looped our fliers near ( but not in) the mailboxes. For houses with yards actually adjoining camp property, we knocked on doors , introduced ourselves, gave them a heads up and an opportunity to help. It was all very friendly and we got lots of interest. I think the neighbors were just glad to get some information.

We ran into a geographic puzzle: the northmost cul-de-sac was on the same latitude with Gund Hall and and the pack out building. Yet we know that houses are visible from the road by Coach House and along Last Chance Loop Trail. I had left my map at home and was standing ont the corner of the entrance trying to puzzle it out from memory when Lucy suggested we get back in the car and ride farther north on Broadview looking for any streets that could possibly connect. Excellent plan. The nearest left turn we could make was onto Newton, and off that was a small street with the name of King's Creek. This turned out to be also be a development, altho a small one. With verrrrrrrrry fancy houses. Most of these people turned out to be home, and they definetely wanted to talk with us! We even got invited inside for house tours, hot chocolate, and more extensive conversations! These neighbors want to know when our next meeting is. They are all about supprting the effort to keep the area rural!

Since we don't really have any meetings planned, we told them about the camp history presentation at RHS on Feb 9. I don't plan to spend a lot of time on the current situation, but I'll be happy to answer questions afterwards.

I was fairly irritated that the developer seems to have named our creek to support his fiefdom. "King's Creek," my foot! That is NOT the official name of the creek. Kathleen Bradly had once suggested that we come up with a name, and when we get our camp back, I think we should. Perhaps when the creek passes under the fence it should undergo a sex change and be known as "Queen's Creek". From here I set off on an imaginary naming trip: Maybe it could be called "Queen of the Forest Creek" , or QoF - for short. that could be appropriate, because to "quaff" is to drink. Except I don't want kids thinking they could drink the water. It replenishes the forest tho. A good name. Or maybe since this is about the girls it could be called Princess Creek - but does that sound too prissy? Maybe we should see if Princess Kate wants to buy the camp since she is now a girl guide volunteer- or does England have coed "scouts " ? Not sure. At this point in my daydreaming, I was driving slow and I came back to reality to notice a police van right behind me. He pulled alongside and asked if he could help ---- in a tone that suggested I better not be planning any mischief. So I told him that yes, he could help --- and launched into my spiel about the camps. After a lenthy chat, he drove off with a stack of our fliers to take back to the Richfield police station.

We continued up Newton Rd, drove through Rising Valley park, came out on Oviatt. We distributed fliers there & in Secluded Highlands development off Oviatt -- but we didn't knock on any doors because they won't be as immediatly affected by a possible sale of camp.

Mission complete, we de-briefed at McD's. Generally things are looking good. There are so many untapped resources. If the council office could accept some of these offers of help, we could all be the so much better for it. I would love if the money raised could go toward repairs & improvements instead of legal fees. Speaking of which - the total donated so far is $19, 900.00

Friday, November 25, 2011

Testimonials For the Camp

One emotional & one practical testimonial for the Cleveland Girl Scout camp, circa 1937 - still strangely relevant today

Abbie Graham, author of "Ladies in Revolt"

"I approve of the sort of campaign you are running in behalf of camping. I might buy a square inch of the proposed acreage..... one that would give footing for the young eyes to discover the excellence of an adolescent moon. Or I might purchase an apple tree whereof some incipient Eve might eat and awaken to a knowledge of her own stupendous importance. Or I could use words to seek to arouse potential contributors to realize the unusual opportunities which the Girl Scouts are now offering Clevelanders".

Junior League bulletin

"Safety Director [Elliot] Ness and his crime prevention bureau were troubled by the reports of juvenile delinquency in a city district. THey sent out an SOS to the Girl Scouts to organize troops in the district. Modern law enforcement officers realize that what the juvenile gang spirit requires is direction into constructive channels.

But to cope with city streets, the Scouts must have camps where girls can learn the way of simple, adventurous activity out-of-doors during the adolescent years. Harold L. Madison, chairman of the camp planning committee for Cleveland Girl Scout Council, says: " If the children of a large city are to build healthy bodies, wholesome minds, and appreciative souls, the camp becomes a nessessity. It is the one organized channel available to large numbers of children"

Now, after years of searching, the Girl Scouts have found what Mr. Madison characterizes as "the most desirable campsite within a hundred miles of Cleveland". Their necessity is urgent is urgent since the present site is woefully inadequate.

The proposed site covers 243 acres at West Richfield, southwest of Brecksville. It is 22 miles equidistant from the Public Square, Lakewood, and Cleveland Heights, and its well-constructed dam provides it with two lakes. It is not raw land but is already equipped with buildings remarkably equipped with buildings remarkably appropriate to the uses of the Scouts; a lodge for eating and recreation, a mill house for crafts, an 11 room heated house for winter weekends and a boat house.

The Scouts ask us to consider these facts:

1. Permanent possession of this site witll make it possible to train 1400 more girls each year and to take care of younger girls.

2. The new camp will be open 52 weeks in the year.

3. Present facilities make it impossible for all the agencies for girls to serve more than 10 per cent of the girls in Cuyahoga county.

4. Cleveland is the only city in the region that does not have its own Girl Scout camp.

5. Figures from Akron, Dayton, Cincinnati, Toledo, and Columbus show that the cost of the camp and its nessessary equipment is less than those cities have had to pay for a similar set up.

The goal for the Camp Fund Campaign is $60,000; part for the land purchase, the balance for the necessary remodeling, the erection of tents and other necessities to operate the camp on a year-around basis. Mr. Warner Seely is chairman of the campaign: Mrs. Benedict Crowell , vice chairman.

Since the soliciting organization is not a large one, Interested Junior League members will be doing their Scout-leader friends a very great favor if they don't wait to be called on, but step right up with their contributions.

Who Donated Camp Crowell/Hilaka?

With the revelelation that Mr. Guy Renkert's family had donated the land for Great Trail Camp and was still keeping an eye on making sure it was used properly, lots of people have been asking "who donated the land for Crowell Hilaka? " Here is the answer:

Instead of getting a land donation and then deciding to put a camp on it, the Cleveland Girl Scout Council was looking for a place that they could turn into a camp. The main qualification was that it have a lake large enough for swimming and boating.

One description of the camp search said that real estate agents kept showing them abandoned farms with creeks that " could easily be dammed up to create a lake" and that they were all getting tired of crawling underneath barbed wire fences.

When they found the Kirby property in 1936, they were thrilled. Two lakes, a boat house, dining hall, main house ( to be used for camp staff and adult trainings) and the farm buildings. Plus the mill was so pretty it would inspire arts & crafts.

The property was valued at $85,500.00 Kirby said he would take $48,500.00 for it because of it was for the Girl Scouts. The committee figured that they needed to raise $60,000.00 because in addition to buying the property, they would need to set up campsites and outfit the dining hall.

They decided that Eleanor Garfield would start by heading up the "special gifts" division of the fund-raising campaign. ( I think this means asking the wealthier citizens for large contributions. As the wife of a US president's grandson, she probably had the society connections needed to pull that off. ) There was a Scout family division and a Public division. They planned with the media to get continuous coverage of the campaign which would run from February 9 to February 26 (1937) . They got endorsements from a star-studded list of respected pillars of the community*. They developed a brochure explaining why the Girl Scouts needed the camp and why the place they had chosen was so perfect.

The official campaign kicked off with a dinner and entertainment at the University Club of Cleveland. Mr. Kirby attended, as did Mrs. Benedict ( Julia) Crowell. Girls enacted a "pantomime" called "Camping through the Calendar" . Following the event, newspapers and community bulletins kept up a steady stream of reports on how much money had been collected and encouraging people to give more.

5,050 individuals donated toward the purchase of the camp. Amounts ranged from 10 cents to 10 thousand dollars.

Donations came from "every corner of Cuyahoga County". The youngest donor was seven years old.

At the time, there were 3,626 Girl Scouts in the Cleveland Council.

So the answer to the question of "who donated the camp?" would be "the people of Cuyahoga County."

Endorsements for purchase of a camp for Cleveland GS Council 1936 / 37 came from

Eleanor Rooseveldt
Lou Henry Hoover
Elliot Ness
Junior Leauge of Cleveland
Charles H. Lake
Mrs. R.N. Rutledge
Mr. & Mrs. Max Hellman
Rabbi Abba H. Silver
Dr. A Caswell Ellis
Mrs. F.W. Reindel
Mrs. E.L. Shupe
Paul Bellamy
Mrs. Robert H. Jamison
Mrs. Frank L. Session
Fred Ramnsey
A.G. Knebel
Edward D. Lynde
Rabbi B.R. Bricker

The camp planning committee was headed by Harold L. Madison, director of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Mary Colley, age 15, was selected as the "representative Girl Scout" pictured on the campaign flier.

Opening Banquet
Mrs. Carlton W. Bonfils was chairman of banquet arrangements
Mrs. Alexander C. Robinson was program chairman, assisted by:
Mrs. John A. Kiggen Jr. ( publicity chair)
Mrs. Stanlee Orr ( chairman of hosteses)
Mrs. Fred Harroff
Mrs. J. Jones Hudson
Mrs. E.A. Fisher
Mrs. George Jones
Mrs. Normal Siegel
Mrs. W.A. Roberts
Mrs. F.O. Fleming
Mrs. Howard Dingle
Mrs. Edwin Parkhurst

Proffessor Henry Miller Busch of Cleveland College was the keynote speaker

GS Troop 89 (captained by Mrs. Clifford Jorns) and GS troop 120 ( captained by Mrs. William C. Russell) took part in the " Camping Around the Calendar" skit.

Girls Jo Anne Galberach, Elizabeth Izant, and Peggy Camplejohn were pictured in the Plain Dealer laying logs on a pretend fire in the skit

Mrs. Clifford E. Jorns - author of skit lyrics
additional entertainment by radio stars Delma Lee and the Kay sisters
a motion picture by Mrs. Warner Seely of the new campsite was shown

According to the Cleveland NEWS, the following accepted invitations to sit at the speakers' table:

Mayor & Mrs. Harold H. Burton
Mr. & Mrs. Edward D. Lynde
Mr. & Mrs Hal Griswold
Mr. & Mrs. James R. Garfield
Mr. Harold Madison
Mr. George Green

Banquet attendees pictured in the Cleveland Press report:
J.B. Kirby
Mrs. Benedict Crowell
Menry M. Busch
Mrs. Henry Friede
Mrs. Hal Griswold
Harold L. Madison
Miss Grace Courtade
Miss Mary Driver
Miss Fay Stein
Miss Jean Warwick
Mrs. Stanlee Bates
Warner Seely
Mrs C Bonfils
George E Greer
Mrs Rudold Garfield
Mrs B.F. Quate
Miss Ann Wright
Stanlee T. Bates

support also came from
Mrs. Cleaveland Cross

From the Financial Report of the Capitol Account Drive. Cleveland GS Council February 26, 1938
Campaign Executive Commitee
Mrs. Henry Friede , Comissioner
Mr. Warner Seely, General Campaign Chairman
Mrs. Rudolf [Eleanor] Garfield, Special Gifts Chairman
Mrs. B.F. McQuate, Public Division Chairman
Mrs. Clifford Jorns, Scout Division Chairman
Mr. James B. Garfield, Treasurer

Camp Construction Committee
Mr. Morris A. Black, Chairman
Mr. Alexander Robinson, III
Mr. W.F. Schickler
Mr. E.A.Fisher
Mr. Gilbert R. Osterland
Mr. James B. Kirby
Mr. Henry Friede
Dr. R.W. Markwith
Mr. Harold Madison
Mr. John Homer Kapp

Special mention was made to Glidden & Co., The Electrical League, The Ohio Edison Co., Walsh & Co., and the newspapers for their invaluable publicity

The estate of Mr. & Mrs. James B. Kirby became the property of the Cleveland Girl Scout Council on April 7, 1937

The deed for the property was formally presented at the dedication ceremonies held at the camp on June 20, 1937. ON this date the camp was named in honor of Mrs. Benedict Crowell. Garfield Lodge was dedicated August 9th. Kirby house was dedicated on August 17th.

403 different girls between the ages of 7 and 18 attended the first summer camp sessions. From September 1, 1937 to February 26 when the first financial report on the camp was written, the camp was in "constant use" . 16 troops comprised of 252 girls camped on the weekends, 260 girls were served during 3 snow days. 8 conferences and training courses served 238 adults

Cleveland GS council -1937
Miss Anne Wright, Director [ CEO ]
[ the following are what today we would call the board officers ]
Mrs. Henry [Linnea] Friede, Commissioner
Mrs. B.F. McQuate, first deputy commissioner
Mrs. Stanlee T. [Margaret] Bates second deputy commissioner
Miss Grace Cody , third deputy commissioner
Mrs. Morris A. Black, corresponding secretary
Mrs. John H. Kapp, recording secretary
Mrs. John Pavlik, treasurer
Mrs. Bennett Chappele, of Middleton, OH; regional chairman

information for this history snippet comes from the 1938 CGSC report / 39 clippings provided by Farnham Publicity Service 1937 /
courtsy, archives of the GSNEO history committee

For newspaper articles and other information about the campaign to raise money to buy Camp Julia/Crowell, click here.  But be warned:  This is a 46-megabyte file, and it's going to take a long time to download.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Sapsford Farm and the Determined Children

The Sapsford farm was located somewhere around the middle of camp.  The remains of the farmhouse are up near the stables.  If you were driving in from the stable entrance on Oviatt Rd., just past the barn, on the left side, is a clump of trees and bushes that obscure the old foundations.  The Kirbys bought the Sapsford place to add to their estate - so it was included in the parcel sold to the Cleveland Girl Scouts in 1937.
I was googling around & found this reference  which looks to be a collection of oral history   - Lynn


The Sapsford family farm was on Oviatt Rd. in Richfield Twp. Summit Co. They raised their children, Chalice, Blanche, Clyde, Ray and Ruth during the Depression. Quietly, some people called the children crazy. More openly they were known as “determined”. Many stories are still remembered of their many escapades. 

 Just to the west of their farm, on Rt. 303, is West Hill. It’s one of the longest, steepest hills in northern Ohio. Back then there were a number of flat areas carved into the hill so that the horses pulling wagons up the hill could stop and rest without the wagon pulling on them. One day, the brothers decided it would be a good idea to “sled” the hill. They took one of the farms’ buggy running gears that had no seat or shafts and tied a rope to the front wheels to steer with. One of the brothers sat on the frame and the other pushed the buggy off. As it went screaming down the hill, it hit the “flats”, launched into the air and kept flying on down the hill. By the time the buggy and brother reached the bottom, they were completely out of control, missed the bridge over the river and landed in the water. It was a wonder he wasn’t killed.    

In that same river there was a place to ford. The family had a horse who was trouble so when they hitched it up to a buggy, they kept the check rein tight so the horse couldn’t lower it’s head. One time the children went out for a drive. They crossed the river and the horse was thirsty. The children forgot to loosen the rein and the horse couldn’t reach the water so it simply lay down in the shafts, turned the buggy over, and got a drink. It took a lot of work to unhitch, right the buggy and pull it from the ford.     

One of the kids was out riding a horse one time. But the saddle girth wasn’t fastened tight enough. Slowly the saddle started to slide around the side of the horse, with the child in it. An upside down ride was inevitable. Grandma was watching but couldn’t do a thing about it. She just turned away and walked into the house saying, “Those kids are going to kill themselves one day.”

 Another time. the boys dad told the boys to go get the horses in from the back field. Many hours later, dad had to go get the boys and horses. Ray and Clyde had taken a bottle of hootch (probably gotten from Sam Nemer) and were passed out in the field. Severe consequences awaited them.   Of course, the boys weren’t the only ones to get a nip. One time Ruth got into the hard cider. For years after the family kidded her about the time Ruth kept telling everyone she heard the canaries singing.

 When the girls made up their minds to to something, they did it. Growing up in the Depression, there was no money to go to town. The girls wanted to visit Akron so they simply got up early, walked the 18 miles, saw the sights, did a little shopping, and walked home. Never thought a thing of it.  Years later one of the sisters got a job at a tractor repair shop in Richfield. This wasn’t really considered ladies work, but that never stopped her.Unfortunately it didn’t go so well for her. She was out mowing with a tractor to see if it was fixed. She backed up under a tree, hit a branch and broke her neck. She died shortly after.

 As the “kids” grew older they continued their “determined” ways. When Ray was older, he walked out on the back porch one morning. A skunk was there to greet him. Well, he wasn’t going to have that, so he kicked the skunk off the porch. His family had to bury all the clothes he was wearing and it was quite awhile before the porch was put to full use again.

Ray also had a small cannon he liked to shoot off on special occasions. But one day it seemed like a good idea to just let fly with it loaded with gravel. -You know, just to see what it would do. Unfortunately, all the dish towels had just been hung out on the clothes line to dry. That was the day the towels became holey.      
Chalice later lived “in town” near Richfield Center. She wanted to build a garage, but her husband didn’t want to help, so Chalice made all her own cement blocks and built the garage herself. She used the outhouse behind the house until her passing in the mid 1980’s.                                

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Landscape Forensics

A collection of vintage photos of Camp Crowell/Hilaka, provided by council historian Sunny Baddour, is now on line at .  In reply to the announcement of this link on the Friends of Crowell/Hilaka mailing list, Kathleen Bradley wrote:

"I notice the trees on the dam got quite big in some years- not allowed anymore of course for safety reasons. The lake seems much lower in many of the pictures, too.  Most of the girls in the photos seemed older.  Do you think they were all campers or were some counselors?"

Lynn replies:

I don't know - that's part of the fun of looking at these- the more you look, the more you notice, and then the more you question.   It's like working a puzzle!  

I showed the series of Kirby House gardens to a friend who is very familiar with the camp.   After he stared at them a while, and flipping back & forth between them,  he pointed out that the one with the woman standing on the right was taken much later than the other three.  

How can he tell?   There is a small room added onto the back of Kirby House that isn't in the other,  and that reeds have grown up in the middle of the pond.

   Does this make a difference to anything?  Probably not --- but the act of figuring it out  - that's fun!   And I bet this kind of landscape forensics would be intersting to girls  if presented correctly. MOst of the time when I camped there with troops we were so busy with  our planned activities,  the kapers, the sight-seeing to obvious places, that we never thought to look.   But I bet there is a tremendous amount of history / mystery there, Mostly on the south,  but probably some lurking in the woods of the north.
      This spring,  Suzanne Czaplicki found and pointed out the remnants of garden architecure behind North House:  If you stand at the fire circle with the porch to your right, there is an almost hidden path on the left that goes down to the water.   A small creek feeds into the lake .    there are stone foundations on either side of the creek: there had been a bridge there at one time.   It must have been mostly decorative -- You can hop over the creek - but imagine the elegant & myserious Mrs. Neal strolling along this garden path.    I keep thinking that there had to be a boat landing around there somewhere.
      Suzanne also noticed that upstream of the creek is a bridge that is still there!    It goes over a culvert & connects North House lawn with the back of Spiff's Garden.  I have been told that the site of Spiff's Garden was, at one time, a clay tennis court.  The owner builder of Amity was the son of the owner/ builder of NOrth.  If so -the tennis court was right in the middle for both sets of families to use. Makes sense - as does the size & shape of the Garden.

     My current lanscape archeology pursuit concerns the possible existence of an ice house on the south side.   ONe of the things in the GSNEO history committee archives was a report that a girl wrote about the camp that meantioned an ice house. It's also on a map.  I can't remember if the girl drew the map or if the map was separate.   Anyway.  Both seem to indicate that the Nature Hut that hangs off the side f the hill was it.   Which can't be right.   
    First,  for those not familiar with an ice house  It's where people got blocks of ice in summer before freezers were invented.   It got filled during the winter when slabs of ice would be cut from a nearby pond.   The sides of the ice house were heavily insulated.  As layers of ice were stored,  layers on more insulating material ( like sawdust) would be packed around them. and between the layers.
    OK, so we got the pond.    We know that Kirby had electricty early on,  but the rest of Richfield did not. Kirby did not need the income from an ice business, but it might have been something he worked out with a neighbor. ( He also didn't need the income from a farm, but he had one anyway).  However : Ice is Heavy.   No one is going to haul it up a hill.  Also , the way the Nature hut hangs off the side ofthe hill, it is hardly insulated.  
    But -   just below the nature hut is a garage. The garage is set back INTO the hill and is on a level withthe road which runs right alongside the pond.    PLus, if you look at pictures of Kirby house, you can see that there used to be a garage underneath the back porch kinda by the giant oak tree.  You can look at the pattern of the brickwork and see that the original garage door opening was bricked in ( just like the one at Coach House).  
    THEORY ( ok, really hypothesis)   The original garage was the garage; and the current garage was originally an ice house.   This still does not explain the nature hut.  Laura G says she was told it was a house for a worker.   Couldn't have been Kirby's main farme manager, because that person lived in the Oviatt Farm house.   But it was something before it was a nature hut.  It's sitting there right in the middle of one of those vintage pictures.  Hmmmmmmmmmmmm..................