Finding the French Connection: Elizabeth Duncan and the Naming of Massillon, Ohio

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.”[1. I am grateful to the Massillon Public Library and Stark County Library Genealogy Department for their superb assistance and willingness to suffer my questions and requests. The Massillon Museum and its supporters funded and guided the research that I conducted for this essay, which is an adaptation of a work for a book scheduled to be published in June 2013 by the museum. I owe them a particular debt of gratitude. Elizabeth Mancke at the University of Akron and Thomas Blantz at the University of Notre Dame gave me thoughtful and gracious feedback. So too did Jacci Welling, Jay Case, Greg Miller, and Scott Waalkes at Malone University. For the quotation, see “Literary Intelligence of Europe,” Star (London, England) Issue 187 (6 December 1788).] 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.[2. I am indebted to Katina Hazimihalis and her biography on Jean-Baptiste Massillon (soon to be published by the Massillon Museum) for the information presented in the preceding paragraph. Few substantial biographies of Massillon exist in English. For a short yet serviceable encyclopedia entry on his life and work, see “Massillon, Jean Baptiste,” New Catholic Encyclopedia 2nd ed., ed. Bernard L. Marthaler, et al. (Farmington Hills, MI: Thompson Gale, 2003), 9:313-314.]

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.[3. The founders of this town were the first (though not the only) Americans to choose “Massillon” as their town name. A few decades later, settlers in Iowa allegedly copied this name from their Ohio counterparts.] Continue reading Finding the French Connection: Elizabeth Duncan and the Naming of Massillon, Ohio

Farmers, Woodland, Conservation Consciousness: The Lower Cuyahoga River Watershed, Ohio, 1865-1885

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.[1. The Summit County Beacon (Akron), 30 October 1878.]

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.[2. For woodland and conservation consciousness during the nineteenth-century change see, Robert McCullough, The Landscape of Community: A History of Communal Forests in New England, (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1995); Richard Judd, Common Lands, Common People: The Origins of Conservation in Northern New England, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997). For forests and the Holland Land Purchase of Western New York see, Charles Brooks, “Overrun With Bushes: Frontier Land Development and the Forest History of the Holland Purchase, 1800-1850,” Forest & Conservation History 39 (January 1995): 17-18, 21-22; Charles Brooks, Frontier Settlement and Market Revolution: The Holland Land Purchase (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996), 14 -17, 50-53; For woodland in nineteenth-century Ohio see, Michael Williams, Americans and Their Forests: A Historical Geography, (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 361-368. For the historiography of the Connecticut Western Reserve see, Robert Wheeler, “The Literature of the Western Reserve,” Ohio History 100 (Summer – Autumn 1991): 101 – 128.] Continue reading Farmers, Woodland, Conservation Consciousness: The Lower Cuyahoga River Watershed, Ohio, 1865-1885

Small Settlement Ohio Social Libraries on the Connecticut Western Reserve,1800-1900

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.[1. “Americans of all ages, all conditions, all minds constantly unite, Nor only do they have commercial and industrial associations, but they have a thousand other kinds…Americans use associations…to distribute books…” Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, translated, edited and with an introduction by Harvey C. Mansfield and Delba Winthrop (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2003), 89; David L. Sills, “Voluntary Associations–Sociological Aspects,” in Sills and Robert King Merton, eds., The International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (New York: Macmillan and Free Press, 1991), 16:372-374; for background on the Western Reserve and social libraries: Robert C. Wheeler, “The Literature of the Western Reserve,” Ohio History 100 (1991), 101-128; Kenneth Lottich, “The Western Reserve and the Frontier Thesis,” Ohio History 7 (1971), 45-50; Robert A. Gross and Mary Kelley, eds., A History of the Book in America: An Extensive Republic, Print Society and Culture in the New Nation, 1790-1840 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010); L.K. Yankaskas, “Borrowing Culture: Social Libraries and American Civic Life, 1731-1854,” (PhD diss., Brandeis University, 1995); Jesse Shera, Foundations of the Public Library movement in New England, 1790-1855 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), 226-230; L.K.M. Rosenberry, The Expansion of New England (New York: Octagon, 1965), 178-194; A.O. Craven, Sources of Culture in the Middle West (New York: D. Appleton-Century, 1934), 39-71; Johann N. Neehm, “Creating Social Capital in the Early Republic: the View From Connecticut,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 34:4 (Spring 2009), 471-495.] Continue reading Small Settlement Ohio Social Libraries on the Connecticut Western Reserve,1800-1900

An Archaeo-Architectural Examination of Lock 24, Elkton, Ohio

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 An Archaeo-Architectural Examination of Lock 24, Elkton, Ohio

Text and Context in Ohio’s 1938 Senate Campaign: Race, Republican Party Ideology, and Robert A. Taft’s Firestone Memorial Oration

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.[1. The author wishes to thank Kenneth J. Bindas for his numerous suggestions for improving the argument and Austin McCoy for his insights into American race relations provided during the Spring Semester 2009 Research Seminar at Kent State University as this work neared completion.  Elizabeth M. Smith-Pryor’s extensive comments on an earlier and much longer assessment of Senator Taft’s views on race were absolutely crucial to this more modest project. Mary Ann Heiss scrutinized the manuscript with her keen editorial eye, made several suggestions to strengthen the conclusion, and improved the work immeasurably.
Harvard Sitkoff, A New Deal for Blacks: The Emergence of Civil Rights as a National Issue (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), 84-89.] Continue reading Text and Context in Ohio’s 1938 Senate Campaign: Race, Republican Party Ideology, and Robert A. Taft’s Firestone Memorial Oration

“Shines the Name, Rodger Young”

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 “Shines the Name, Rodger Young”

Lucy Markerly: A Case Study of an Englishwoman’s Immigration to the Western Reserve in the 1830s

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.[1. Donna Gabaccia, “Immigrant Women: Nowhere at Home?,” Journal of American Ethnic History 10 (Summer 1991): 61-87.; Suzanne Sinke, “A Historiography of Immigrant Women in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries,” Ethnic Forum9 (1989): 122-145.; Sydney Stahl Weinberg, “The Treatment of Women in Immigration History: A Call for Change,” Journal of American Ethnic History, vol. 11, no. 4, (Summer 1992): 25-67.; Maxine S. Seller, “Beyond the Stereotype: A New Look at the Immigrant Woman, 1880-1924,” The Journal of Ethnic Studies 3 (Spring 1975): 59-70.; Susan Jacoby, “World of Our Mothers: Immigrant Women, Immigrant Daughter,” Present Tense 6 (Spring 1979): 48-51.] 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.[2. See Appendix A for examples of Lucy Markerly’s verse.] Continue reading Lucy Markerly: A Case Study of an Englishwoman’s Immigration to the Western Reserve in the 1830s

Out of the Shadows: Informal Segregation in Warren, Ohio, 1954-1964

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.”[1. Clifford Johnson, interviewed by Laurie Dangerfield, October 2002, Documenting Justice DVD, produced by Molly Merryman and Kenneth J. Bindas, 2002. Hereafter DJ. These interviews were part of a community history project discussed in the text and involved the digital video interviewing of 14 people.]

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 Out of the Shadows: Informal Segregation in Warren, Ohio, 1954-1964

“I Devise and Bequeath”: Property and Inheritance among the Scottish Highlanders in Scotch Settlement, Columbiana County, Ohio

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. . .[1. Columbiana County Probate Court, Estate Records, 1803-1900 (Salt Lake City: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1996), Microfilm, vol. 4, pp. 32-34.]

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 “I Devise and Bequeath”: Property and Inheritance among the Scottish Highlanders in Scotch Settlement, Columbiana County, Ohio

Tavernocracy: Tavern Culture in Ohio’s Western Reserve

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[1. Frederick Marryat, A Diary in America With Remarks on Its Institutions (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1962), 389.]

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.[2. Throughout this work I will interchangeably use the terms ‘tavern’, ‘bar’, ‘ordinary’ and ‘public house’. I avoid using the terms ‘saloon’ and ‘hotel’ because they elicit decidedly post-bellum connotations.]

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 Tavernocracy: Tavern Culture in Ohio’s Western Reserve