By: Andrew Preston
On September 1, 1715, Jean-Baptiste Massillon delivered a heart-stopping eulogy for the late king of France, Louis XIV. He began with a simple declaration: “God alone is great my brethren.” Legend has it that as these words echoed through the basilica of Saint Denis, Massillon’s audience jumped to their feet in disbelief. The sheer audacity of a preacher who would diminish the king’s majesty at his own funeral compelled their unanimous rise. Or so the story goes. Such a man had risen from mediocre beginnings in France’s Provence region to become a preacher of wide renown at the turn of the eighteenth century. Two years after his famous funeral oration, Massillon was made the Bishop of Clermont. He was esteemed for his style, which was both eloquent and rational, and his delivery, which stirred the soul and “spoke to the heart.” Not one to pull his punches, Massillon’s sermons mainly dealt with issues of personal morality and social responsibility. Yet the preacher’s rhetorical genius and humble manner often enabled him to convey his piquant messages in ways that moved his listeners deeply without offending them.
It is a curious matter of fact that on another continent about a century after his death Massillon’s name would come to signify a burgeoning canal town in Northeast Ohio. Continue reading
By: John Henris
In the fall of 1878 John Kemery appropriated a portable steam sawmill to cut wood on the western uplands of the Cuyahoga Valley midway between the growing manufacturing cities of Akron and Cleveland, Ohio. Kemery was not a lumberman but a farmer by occupation who formed a corporation with the Bombgardner brothers, John and Israel, for the cutting of timber. Though farmers traditionally cut woodlots for supplemental income, the work of these three Richfield Township men struck a discordant tone. By 1879 the farm woodlots of large sections of the Cuyahoga Valley were disappearing as the pasturelands of the factory dairy system expanded in equal measure. The woodland they cut on this day was not theirs but consisted of fifty-five acres belonging to a Richfield Township dairy farmer named E.D. Hancock. The contract for the cutting of Hart’s woodlot originated with a third party, Ellis and Mack. Even the agricultural seasons were turned upside down, for farmers usually worked their woodlands during the winter months following fall harvests in September and October. John Kemery, it appeared, appropriated new technologies for the reduction of local woodlands in ways that increasingly distanced him from more traditional perceptions of land stewardship, sustainability, and the natural cadences of rural labor.
The experience of John Kemery similarly speaks to discordant themes in the narratives of both the history of conservation and the history of the Western Reserve. Recent environmental histories such as Robert McCullough’s The Landscape of Community and Richard Judd’s Common Lands, Common People place farmers and their rural communities at the forefront of the emergent conservation movement within nineteenth-century New England. Similarly, Robert Wheeler in “The Literature of the Western Reserve” has pointed out that a new generation of scholarship has revealed the complex cultural, political, and economic differences hidden beneath the cultural ties between New Connecticut and New England. Still, for many writers, the pastoral middle ground of the nineteenth-century Western Reserve validates an environmental and cultural homogeneity with New England. The meandering valley of the lower Cuyahoga, for example, was a mosaic of dairy farms, village commons, and patchwork woodlots by which the region might just as easily have been mistaken for the upper reaches of the Connecticut River. This study examines the confluence between agriculture, technology, and timber speculation in the Cuyahoga Valley and elucidates why farmers within the Western Reserve largely abandoned an ethic of woodland stewardship even as the state of Ohio was influential in the forestry movement and as their New England brethren were at the forefront of woodland conservation during the last decades of the nineteenth century. Continue reading
By: Stuart A. Stiffler
The founding and evolution of numerous stock and subscription libraries on the Nineteenth Century Connecticut Western Reserve in Ohio, draws attention to the contributing role of these earnest enterprises in the transplantation of New England culture onto the Ohio frontier. At a minimum the collections, supplying representative instructional and general literature, supported social mobility and provided educational opportunity and diversion to isolated farms and towns. At least since de Tocqueville’s observations in the 1830s, it has been perceived that when, in the absence of governmental initiatives, a pressing public need should surface, there often followed a compensatory version of American voluntarism. Yet as transitional institutions the social libraries, unlike the common schools and churches, have attracted limited notice in scholarship on the Western Reserve and deserve to be more clearly situated in the Reserve’s nascent cultural life. Continue reading
By: Charles Mastran
To the degree in which it can be determined at the present time, no formal archaeological field study has been conducted on any architectural remains still in extant within the domain of northeastern Ohio’s Sandy and Beaver Canal Company Line corridor, notably within Columbiana County. In summer, 2005, this contingency prompted archaeologists from Youngstown State University, accompanied by volunteers, to execute a first time field assessment and architectural description upon two free standing, quadratic ashlar stone lineaments known locally as Lock 24. The lock, presently under private ownership, and heavily cannibalized, is situated within the limits of Elkton, Ohio, a small locality residing in what was the twenty-seven mile long Eastern Division of the Sandy and Beaver Line, an affiliate of the Ohio and Erie Canal. The examination led to a plethora of Nineteenth Century architectural detail surrounding the remains of Lock 24, a generic reminder of the Ohio canal era. Indeed, through the agency of three specialized contractors, Lock 24, comprised of composite materials, was created as a fully-operational guard lock while under the jurisdiction of head engineer, William Minor Roberts in 1846. For clarity in presentation, a photographic figure and map display will best describe Lock 24, and thus contribute to the further understanding of an otherwise broad and well-known period in Ohio history and that history’s place within a local community. Continue reading
By: Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr.
In the spring of 1938, Ohio Republicans were well aware of the erosion of support among the African-American population for the “Party of Lincoln.” Between 1932 and 1936, black voters had transferred their allegiance en masse to the Democratic Party. Although most African Americans had remained with Hoover and the Grand Old Party (GOP) in 1932, a massive electoral “realignment” began with the 1934 mid-term congressional races. The 2.4 million blacks who had migrated to northern cities were no longer willing to accept their lot as second-class citizens. New Deal programs politicized black voters across the nation; numerous measures that augmented black incomes, increased literacy rates and education levels, and engaged citizens in community activities also mobilized African Americans for the Democratic Party. While black political organizing became commonplace in the cities of the industrial North and Midwest, urban blacks in the Upper South likewise registered and voted in increasingly large numbers. For the first time in 1934, a majority of black Americans voted for Democratic candidates. Continue reading
By: Carl Becker and Robert Thobaben
He was but five feet, two or three inches tall and weighed only 125 to 130 pounds. He had poor hearing and poor eyesight. Bespectacled, he was timid in appearance. He dropped out of high school after his junior year; his grades sprinkled with F’s, and took employment as a menial laborer. Seemingly, he hardly had the right stuff, physically or mentally, for becoming a hero in combat. Yet Rodger Young proved his mettle on a South Pacific island during World War II and, for a while, was more than an unsung hero, his name on the lips of thousands of Americans as a synonym for bravery. Continue reading
By: John T. Nelson
Contending that women have been marginalized in the historical record investigating immigration, historians Donna Gabaccia and Suzanne Sinke have addressed this bias in the scholarly literature. Scholars Sydney Stahl Weinberg, Maxine S. Seller, and Susan Jacoby have called for changes in the study of immigration by integrating the female view into this important field of United States history. They assert that social history will be incomplete until the historiography includes both genders in a uniform study. This paper will argue that Lucy Markerly, an English woman immigrant, provides a case study to examine questions and issues faced by women immigrants. As a widow who outlived two husbands, this educated woman’s life and writing, speak to the motivations behind immigration in the 1830s. The research will assess her actions, as well as the economic, political, and spiritual beliefs revealed in her journal, poetry, and family library. Continue reading
By: Kenneth J. Bindas & Molly Merryman
Former educator and long-time Warren-area resident Cliff Johnson looked relaxed and comfortable sitting for his interview. When asked what he remembered best about the 1950s and early 1960s in the small northeast Ohio city of Warren, he talked about the separateness that permeated his world and his discomfort with this invisibility: “I personally would rather have someone call me a bunch of dirty names and at least acknowledge me as a person than to act as if I wasn’t even there.” Being invisible for Johnson was “probably the worst thing to ever do to a human being.”
Historians studying the United States after 1945 have begun to investigate the
effect and pervasiveness of the Civil Rights movement on a local, less visible level.
How did ordinary Americans, particularly outside the South, act and react to the social and legal revolutions that swept the country through 1965? The people from Warren, Ohio, offer an interesting case study through which we can begin to provide insight into the complexities of this question. Continue reading
By: Amanda Epperson
In the name of God Amen. I Alexander McIntosh of the County of Columbiana in the State of Ohio a farmer, being sick and weak in body, but of sound mind memory and understanding (blessed be to God for the same) do make and publish this my last will and testament in manner and form following, to wit. Principally and first of all I commend my immortal soul into the hands of God who gave it, and my body to the earth to be buried in a decent and Christian like manner at the discretion of my executors hereinafter named. And as to such worldly estate as it hath pleased God to bless me with in this life I give and dispose of in following manner to wit. . .
With these, or similar, words, thousands of people have made decisions regarding the distribution of their worldly goods and at the same time unknowingly created an amazingly rich resource for historians. Continue reading
By: Adam Criblez
“I am sure the Americans can fix nothing without a drink. If you meet, you drink; if you part, you drink; if you make acquaintance, you drink; if you close a bargain, you drink; they quarrel in their drink, and they make it up with a drink. They drink because it is hot; they drink because it is cold. If successful in election, they drink and rejoice; if not, they drink and swear; they begin to drink early in the morning, they leave off late at night; they commence it early in life, and they continue it, until they soon drop into the grave. To use their expression, they way they drink, is ‘quite a caution.’ As for water, what the man said, when asked to belong to the Temperance Society, appears to be the general opinion: “It’s very good for navigation” — Frederick Marryat
In 1776, American colonists revolted against perceived inequities unjustly thrust upon them by a tyrannical English monarchy. After defeating the colonial power, Americans faced a new, perhaps more daunting, task; creating a new form of government based on tenants of freedom and a vague ideal known as republicanism. With limited precedent from which to draw, Americans heatedly debated what it meant to be an American citizen, what true virtue and republicanism stood for, and how this fledgling nation should be run. From the very beginning, this public discourse and private conversation poured forth from one of the nation’s most important centers for the dissemination of information; the rural tavern.
Within the tavern, men carried out the traditions of the revolution. They discussed American politics, drank American beverages, and escaped their defined roles in society through the close, if often forced, intimacy of the early nineteenth century tavern. It was in these walls that settlers discussed what it meant to be American and parlayed words into action. Continue reading