Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Who Are They?

Clockwise from upper left: Pete Rademacker, Elsie Bennett Wilson
Sidney Fenn, Franklin Sylvester, Letha House, Amos I. Root,
Sadie Green, in the middle, Wilda Bell.

Can you match these well known Medina people (below on the left)  with the occupation or activity they are known for?

Hint: Only some of them have been profiled on this blog.

  1. William Batchelder
  2. Martin VanBuren Bates
  3. Sylvia Beach
  4. Wilda Bell
  5. Elsie Bennett-Wilson
  6. H.G. Blake
  7. John W. Brown
  8. Peter Cherry
  9. Sidney Fenn
  10. Rufus Ferris
  11. Michael Foreman
  12. William D. Frazier
  13. Sadie Green
  14. Letha House
  15. Sophia Huntington-Parker
  16. Amos Mears
  17. Ray Mellert
  18. Judge Albert Munson
  19. Pete Rademacher
  20. A.I Root
  21. Chuck Schodowski
  22. Frederick Streeter
  23. Franklin Sylvester
  24. Edith Thomas
  25. Mel Wiley
    a. Ohio Governor from Medina
    b. Chatham poet
    c. Medina historian & author
    d. A spiritualist
    e. An early Medina health nurse
    f. An Olympic gold medal boxer
    g. Beloved Cleveland TV person
    h. Missing Wadsworth girl
    i. Father of modern beekeeping
    j. Medina benefactress
    k. A giant among men
    l. NASA astronaut
    m. Ohio legislator for 40 years
    n. Paid for first Medina Library
    o. Started Old Phoenix Bank
    p. Local library promoter
    q. 1st Black woman on Medina City Council
    r. Pioneer & land-sales agent
    s. Missing Hinckley Policeman
    t. Medina Educator & Principal
    u. Businessman & cemetery sponsor
    v. Only man hung in Medina
    w. Historic marathon walker
    x. Founded the Pythian Sisters Home
    y. Businessman & sports booster

Stay tuned for the answers!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Medina Steak House as Stagecoach Stop?

Medina Steak House, 538 West Liberty St.,  circa 2011 from
The old Medina Steak House, now the Serenite Restaurant and Culinary Institute, has a long oral tradition, often repeated, that it started its existence as a stagecoach stop. Also home to the Medina Recovery Center, in the past the building has been used as "a restaurant, an inn, a hotel, a brothel, a bookie joint, grocery store and as a stage coach stop."(Medina Post 2015 article)

Now I don't expect to find it listed as either a brothel or a bookie joint in published records. Since both those activities are illegal, the owners or operators would have taken action to keep their businesses clandestine and out of print. But surely a stagecoach stop would be documented, wouldn't it?

Maybe not.

Where is it written that the building was a stagecoach stop?
  1.  A  Medina Sun Sentinel article published on 29 October 1981 about Medina Haunts, says "The building itself is filled with history, built about 1858 as a stagecoach stop then used as a train stopover..."
  2.  A 14 March 2015,  Medina Post article written by Kevin McManus says, "The building itself was reportedly built by Harrison G. Blake as a stagecoach stop in 1858."
But I could not find any documentation earlier than those two articles.

First of all, some history:

In the U.S. stagecoaches and or boats (including canals) were the main method of public transportation until the railroads came in. In most areas of Ohio, railroads were the norm by the 1850's and in 1854, Medina leaders tried to bring a railroad in. A group of investors formed the Cleveland, Medina and Tuscarawas Railroad and purchased the right-of-way from Grafton to Seville. They graded the route and then tried to raise the money to lay down the tracks. They failed. It would be almost another 20 years before a railroad came to Medina.

Colton's railroad & township map of the state of Ohio from 1854
The red outlined black tracks represent railroad tracks - all outside of Medina County's borders.

Detail from the 1857 map of Medina County. The red star is approximately the location of the old
Medina Steak House. Nothing is located there on this map. It is just part of C. Hubbard's property.
The chopped curved line from top to bottom that is to the left of the star is the railroad bed for the failed
Cleveland, Medina, Tuscarawas Railroad.
Using Bob Hyde's "Beyond the Storefronts" web site and  newspaper articles, the building can be tracked back in time through its various incarnations.

1968 picture of the old Steak House from Bob Hyde's
"Beyond the Storefronts" web site.
Neither the microfilm or the NewspaperArchive digital images were as
clear as this photo of a clipping from Bob's collection.

Medina County Gazette ad for the Medina Steak House.
23 May 1968, page 3.
An earlier incarnation of the steak house, as Roepers.
Medina Gazette 2 Nov., 1945 page 4

An ad from 14 May 1925 Medina Sentinel.
The property was known as the Miller House or the
Miller House Hotel from 1900 to the 1930's.
Undated and uncited picture of the old Steak House from when it
was the Miller House Hotel from  Bob Hyde's
"Beyond the Storefronts" web site.
From 1884 to 1900, the building was named the Germania House Hotel, John Gluntz proprieter.

Prior to that it was called the Palmer House Hotel.

Under Bob's Palmer House Hotel listing for 1873-1874 he says, "Palmer House Hotel became a stagecoach inn and stop as indicated by teeth marks on posts by wood eating horses called cribbers".  The building did not have to be a stagecoach stop for cribbing horses to gnaw at its hitching rails.

In May of 1872, H. G. Blake sold property to J.W. Palmer. Dr. Palmer and his son built the hotel.

By 1875, the hotel had changed hands and W.L. Stoaks was the new
owner. Medina Gazette 12 Nov., 1875, page 2.
Perhaps Dr. Palmer and his son should have
stayed in the patent medicine business?
Medina Gazette 3 May 1872, page 4.

What is known for certain?
  • As late as 1857 (map above) there was NOT a stage coach stop there. 
  • The building is one half a mile west of uptown Medina. Why build a stage stop so far from the main business area at that time?
  • The building that exists now at 538 West Liberty was built around 1872 by Dr. J.W. Palmer.
  • The new railroad opened in November of 1871. There would be no need of a stage coach after that.            
  • Was there a stagecoach stop there 1858-1871? It is still possible...
From the land and deed records available at, we learn that H.G. Blake bought and sold numerous properties from the 1850's through the 1870's. This indicates that he viewed land as investment opportunities.

Remember who owned the land according to the 1857 map above? C. Hubbard. In 1851, H.G. Blake bought 7 acres on the west side of Medina from Charles Hubbard and his wife. This was before the attempted railroad project of 1854. More land speculation? But why is C. Hubbard still listed as the owner in 1857?  An error in the map, like the railway bed line that is marked as a railroad line? He held onto the land until the 1870's, after the railroad came in. The value of the land would have greatly increased .

The two 19th century histories of Medina County, Pioneer History of Medina County (1861) and The History of Medina County and Ohio (1881) do not mention any stagecoach stop run by H.G. Blake. The coach lines mentioned that came through Medina are the Chidester House Hotel on the south side of the square and the American House Hotel on the north end of the square are both mentioned as stops at different times.

Browsing through the early newspaper from the 1850's and 1860's many advertisement for all sorts of services are found. Some of them promoting H.G. Blake's interests:

Medina County Gazette 26 May 1859, page 2.

Medina County Gazette 19 May 1859,page 2.
Medina County Gazette, 17 May 1872, page 1.
So clearly, Blake believed in advertising to promote his businesses. Why not promote a stage stop?

The answer might lie in this 1877 article criticizing the Palmer Hotel for selling liquor:

This wording seems to indicate that only land exchanged hands.
There was no building included, and no stagecoach stop.
Medina County Gazette 23 Feb., 1877, page 5

While this does not meet the standard of proof that there was never a stagecoach stop at that location, the lack of proof that there ever was one, does cast doubt on it.

What do you think?

  • Colton, G. Woolworth. Colton's railroad & township map of the state of Ohio, drawn by George W. Colton, engraved by J M. Atwood. New York, 1854. Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,
  • Geil, John F. Map of Medina Co., Ohio. Philada.: Matthews and Taintor Publishers, 1857. Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, .
  • Hyde, Robert, "Beyond the Storefronts", accessed online September 2019.
  • King, Joann, Medina County Coming of Age, 1810-1900, Angstrom Graphics, Cleveland, OH, 2016.
  • Medina County Gazette
    • "Blake, Booth, Tyler & Co., advertisement", 19 May 1959,page 2, Medina County Gazette microfilm at the Medina Library, accessed September 2019. 
    • "Dr. Palmer & Son, advertisement, 3 May 1872, page 4, Medina County Gazette microfilm at the Medina Library, accessed September 2019. 
    • "H. G. Blake, advertisement", 26 May 1859, page 2, Medina County Gazette microfilm at the Medina Library, accessed September 2019. 
    • "Old Miller House Hotel", 5 July 1968, page 7, NewspaperArchive, accessed online through Akron Library, September 2019.
    • 23 May 1968, page 3, NewspaperArchive, accessed online through Akron Library, September 2019.
    • "Local Items", 23 February 1877, page 5, NewspaperArchive, accessed online through Akron Library, September 2019.
    • "Palmer House, advertisement", 12 Nov., 1875, page 2,  NewspaperArchive, accessed online through Akron Library, September 2019.
    • "Phoenix Bank, advertisement", 17 May 1872, page 1, Medina County Gazette microfilm at the Medina Library, accessed September 2019. 
    • "Roepers Steak House, advertisement", 2 Nov., 1945, page 4, NewspaperArchive, accessed online through Akron Library, September 2019.
  • Medina County Sentinel
    • "The Miller House, advertisement" 11 June 1925, page 5, NewspaperArchive, accessed online through Akron Library, September 2019.
  • Medina Post
  • "Medina Steakhouse" on circa 18 March 2011, accessed online September 2019. 
  • Mershon, Peggy, "Stagecoaches Were A Familiar Sight", Mansfield News Journal  , accessed online September 2019.
  • Perrin, William Henry, History of Medina County and Ohio. Containing a History of the State of Ohio, From its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Baskin & Battey, Chicago, IL, 1881. Accessed on Internet Archive September 2019. 
  • "Record of deeds, 1818-1871; index to deeds, 1790-1923", Medina County Recorders Office, accessed online at September 2019.
  • Shapiro, Eleanor, ed., Historical Highlights of Medina, Meyers Lithographers, Medina, OH, 1966.
  • "Stagecoach Routes In Northern Ohio", Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, Case Western University, , accessed online September 2019.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

FAQ about

Guest Blogger: Lauren Kuntzman, MCDL Family History & Learning Center Manager


At Medina County District Library (MCDL) we offer access to Ancestry Library Edition (ALE). ALE can be used for free, by anyone visiting any of our library branches, to research their family history. You can read all about ALE in this blog post. We often get questions about how the subscription resource, compares to Ancestry Library Edition (ALE). For this month’s instructional blog post, I’ll try to answer a few of our most frequently-asked questions:
  1. How does Ancestry Library Edition differ from
  2. How do I search for and view records in
  3. What are some of the features of family trees in
  4. What are the subscription options for
  5. Do I need to subscribe to to research my family history?

1. How does Ancestry Library Edition differ from
Ancestry Library Edition (ALE) differs from in four specific ways: the quantity of records included, the interactive/personalized features, DNA, and resources for learning. Here are more details on these topics: Records
If you look in the “Card Catalog” for Ancestry Library Edition (ALE), you’ll find that it has 10,387 record collections. The “Card Catalog” in, on the other hand, reports that it has 32,684 record collections. According to ProQuest (the information content company that distributes ALE) when compared to, ALE does not have...
  • As many newspapers (and newspaper-related content, like obituaries)
  • As many family and local history books
  • As many passenger lists and immigration records
  • Freedman’s Bank Records
  • The “One World Tree” collection (note: this collection has been discontinued)
  • The “Biography & Genealogy Master Index” (a master index to Who’s Who in America? and similar publications)
Interactive/Personalized Features ALE doesn’t have three interactive features that are available to subscribers. These include: -- Message Boards - In ALE, “Message Boards” can be read, but not added to. With an subscription you can answer members’ questions, as well as post your own questions to the boards. This feature is less active than it once was, as Facebook and other social media platforms see more use today. -- Family Trees Hints - ALE offers no means of building a family tree online; this feature is reserved for individuals with an account. Users begin to build their tree by entering information about themselves, then details about their parents, their grandparents, and so on.
There are five hints for my 2xg-grandfather... I'll need
review those carefully, to make sure the hints are accurate.
Once these details are entered,’s servers begin automatically searching records to produce green leaf “hints.” Just remember -- these are only hints. Look at every document and evaluate them carefully! Another detail to remember --’s hint servers only search about 10% of their records… so the other 90% of the records need to be searched manually! -- Community - Since ALE isn’t an account tied to an individual, it doesn’t offer ways for users to collaborate with other users. This feature is available to subscribers. Under the “Help” menu, users can select the “Community” menu item. Among other features, this enables a subscriber to connect with researchers and search the user profiles. DNA Testing
A third category in which Ancestry Library Edition (ALE) differs from is in DNA. ALE has no connection to or option for DNA testing. (Note: While ALE doesn’t have an option for DNA testing, there are alternatives available including 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA, and MyHeritage.) If you buy a DNA test from, when you register your test, you’ll be prompted to create a free account. With a free account, you’ll be able to view your DNA test results, including your “Ethnicity Estimate” and your “DNA Matches.” With this free account, you can also do the following:
  • start building a family tree and get hints
  • use’s “ThruLines” ™ to get suggestions about which ancestors you and your DNA matches share (this feature requires having tree linked to your DNA results and is like a hint system for DNA results -- evaluate this information carefully, too!)
  • view’s “Card Catalog”
  • access, search, and view a few record collections that are free (like the 1880 and 1940 censuses)
  • access record collections that are made free for a brief period of time (example: Irish records were free to use during March)
The free account has limits though. With the exceptions of the free record collections mentioned above, you will not be able to view records in the database. Resources for Learning ALE and differ in how they teach users about family history research and using the database. In ALE the “Learning Center” and “Charts and Forms” are displayed prominently in the top menu. These resources include tips for research, maps, and blank copies of family group sheets, research logs, census records, and more., on the other hand, offers “Ancestry Academy” which includes webinars on various topics. The blank copies of charts and forms are available on, too, but they aren’t as prominently displayed -- or as easy to find. 2. How do I search for and view records in Searching for records in is exactly the same as searching for records in Ancestry Library Edition. My colleague Lisa has already written a great guide to this, which you can read here: Lisa’s blog post also contains excellent information about the interface for viewing records. The only real difference between ALE and, is that requires a paid subscription to view almost all content. Viewing records on Ancestry Library Edition is free when accessed at MCDL. 3. What are some of the features of family trees in Building a family tree on is fairly intuitive. Once you begin entering information on yourself and your family, within moments you’ll likely see “hints” appearing to direct you to records. Remember to search for more records directly through the search interface! Every individual in your tree will have a profile page with four tabs, including “LifeStory,” “Facts,” “Gallery,” and “Hints.” Since we’ve already addressed the hint system earlier in this blog post, here’s an overview of the other three tabs:

The “Facts” tab is the most important one (in my opinion). It is illustrated in the image above. In this tab you can view any records you’ve found and attached to the individual (whether generated by a hint, or one that you found through searching). These records are saved as “Sources.” You can also add non-Ancestry sources here manually, as well as hyperlinks to any page on the Internet. Information from the records will begin to generate a timeline of "Facts" about your ancestor’s life, as well as a list of family members, including parents, spouse(s), and children.
In the “Gallery” tab you can upload your own photographs, newspaper clippings, and other documents that aren’t available in As you may have noticed above, I added a photo of my 2xg-grandfather, Edward. This content then can easily be shared with “cousins” on The “LifeStory” tab is an automatically-generated biography of your ancestor. It includes facts about their life (created from records you find on and life events you add to the “Facts” tab) as well as maps and historical facts for context. As your tree grows, you’ll want to keep in mind your options for privacy. Information on living individuals is always hidden from anyone but a tree owner/creator, but you have three options for additional privacy, including making your tree...
  • public (allows all users to view your data on deceased individuals)
  • private and searchable (so users can see that your tree exists, but have to ask permission to view it)
  • private and not searchable (your tree is totally hidden)
You can invite other users to view your tree with various privileges (guest access, viewing living people, and/or editing rights). users can be invited to the tree, too, but they will have to create a free account; this free account works similarly to the ones created by AncestryDNA test participants. It’s important to remember, that if you stop subscribing to you won’t be able to access the tree you created there. Some software (like Family Tree Maker 2017 and RootsMagic) will enable you to sync and backup your tree onto your computer. At the very least, you’ll want to download and save a copy of your tree as a GEDCOM -- a computer file type specific to family trees. You can do so by clicking into your “tree settings” and selecting “export tree.”
And don’t forget, there are other options for creating online family trees. One alternative is FamilySearch, which allows users to collaboratively build online trees, with links to records and added photographs, for free. (Note: In a couple of months, our instructional blog post will focus on FamilySearch, so be sure to stop back and read more then!) 4. What are the subscription options for As I’ve discussed above, there are a few situations in which you can have a free account. These free accounts provide limited access to records and information on the website. Another option is the free 14-day trial, during which time you’ll have access to all of’s records. At the end of the trial period, you’ll have to decide to cancel your account or subscribe at one of their three levels. subscription levels differ in terms of record access:
  • “U.S. Discovery” gets you all of the U.S. records on
  • “World Explorer” gets you all U.S. records, plus’s international records
  • “All Access” includes all of’s U.S. and international records, as well as access to two other databases: Basic and
5. Do I need to subscribe to to research my family history? It depends on what your research goals are... If you’re researching Ohio ancestors and need Ohio records then an subscription may not be necessary. The records you can access through ALE (and FamilySearch) may be sufficient to help you solve your research problems. If you’re interested in DNA-testing -- and want to find biological relatives in the United States -- then it is important to consider that has the largest DNA data pool and gives you the best chance of finding the most matches. When you think about whether or not you want to subscribe to, consider if it is the right tool for the job you’re trying to complete. Hopefully, the information above will help you determine if is right for you -- or if an alternative like Ancestry Library Edition, FamilySearch, MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA or 23andMe is better-suited for your research needs. And, as always, if you have more questions about or researching your family history, please feel free to email the MCDL Genealogy Team at

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Howard Claggett

Photo provided courtesy ArtsyBee from

School has started up again and it is time to highlight another Medina educator.

Howard Claggett 1898-1986

Medina City residents and students are familiar with Claggett Middle School. But how many know anything about the man the school was named for??

The school's website has a brief one paragraph description of Howard Claggett's life:

Howard Claggett was born in 1898 in Newton
(sic), Ohio. He moved to Medina in 1928, after serving in WWI. Claggett served as a teacher, then assistant principal before becoming the principal of the new high school. Claggett also coached basketball, football and track. Later in life, Claggett would serve as a school board member as well. Mr. Claggett died in 1986.
Claggett Middle School
Photo by Kathy Petras
There is so much more to his story!

Howard Claggett was born into a farming family in Licking County, Ohio. He was the third child (out of five) born to Mivard and Hattie (Bibler) Claggett. Besides running the farm, his father boarded horses during the winter months.

Howard was a very able farmer according to a Johnstown Independent article in 1913. As a 15 year old, Howard was among 7 boys from Licking County who won a trip to Washington D.C. for their exceptional corn crop yields.

But it was in school that Howard excelled. He graduated top of his class of 100 students in 1917. He gave a commencement  address titled " The Need For Scientific Farming" and won praise for his delivery. As top student he also won a scholarship to Denison University.

It was 1917 and World War I was raging in Europe. The United States entered the war in April of that year. The U.S. government organized the Student Army Training Corps across college campuses to prepare young men for leadership roles in the military. Students were paid a monthly stipend, wore uniforms, drilled, and took classes in map making and war issues.

Howard Claggett joined in October of 1918. The War ended that November and Howard was "Honorably Discharged" in December without ever leaving campus. In Ohio Soldiers, Sailors and Marines, World War, 1917-18, he is listed as 10% disabled, but the disability is not described. 

1921 Denison University Yearbook
photo of Howard E. Claggett
Description of Howard from the 1921 Denison University Yearbook

Whatever the "disability" was, it did not affect Howard's ability to run track all four years at college!

1929 MHS Yearbook

"Mary" was Mary Hite who he married in May of 1923, after both of them had been teaching for several years; she in Findlay Ohio, and he in the local Newark schools. After their marriage they continued to live in the Newark area and are listed in the 1929 city directory. But he is also listed among the staff at Medina High School in 1929. By the 1930 Census, they are both listed as teachers in the Medina City Schools.
 Over the years, Howard was very involved in local clubs and organizations. In 1938, he was the principle speaker at the Alumni Association reunion. His style was deemed "inimitable" and he quipped that he was hired only "because the association either could not afford to pay a regular speaker or because nobody else would take the job."

He was also very involved in the local Courtney Lawrence American Legion Post and in 1939 was elected "Vice-Commander".
Claggett is listed as the high school
principal in this 1948 yearbook photo.

In October of 1939, the high school hosted a "kid party" and the most spectacular sight was "Faculty Member Howard Glaggett cavorting about in a kid outfit -- and lipstick!"  Oh, how I wish there was a a photo of that! 

In the 1940 census, both Claggetts are again listed as teachers; he as a math instructor and she as a elementary teacher - which explains why her photo is not in the high school yearbooks.

In 1948, Claggett took over being principal from Sydney Fenn who became the school superintendant. And when the new high school was built in 1956, Claggett was the principal.

Sidney Fenn standing in front of the new high school in the 1957
Medina High School Yearbook
When the school first opened their doors, much of the classroom equipment had not yet arrived and the teachers had to make-do for months.
November 1956. I imagine it was a cold blustery evening when Howard got a call from Eugene Haas, faculty member. "I can't get the safe open. You will have to come down to the school." Putting on his coat Howard trudged back to the school. Upon entering the building dozens of voices broke out into a chorus of "Happy Birthday to You"! His wife and all the faculty members had conspired to surprise him. Just a small measure of the esteem in which he was held.

Several years before he retired in 1962, this tribute appeared in the 1960 Medinian Yearbook.

In the 1950's and 60's Howard penned a column for The Medina Gazette called "On the Other Hand" by H.E.C. (his initials). It was well received and sometimes funny...

20 June 1968 Medina Gazette, page 2.
UNMOOTABLE? Love it! (BTW, it is not a word)

A very relaxed Howard Claggett appears in this 17 June 1971
Medina Gazette article about the concert in the square.
in 1972, The Kiwanis honored him for his forty years as an teacher and principal. They mentioned that he was the coach of the football, track, and girls basketball team and taught seven different classes!

When the new high school was built in 1974, the school building where he served as the first principal became the junior high and was named Claggett Junior High.

In May of 1983, the Chamber of Commerce elected him the Medina Hall of Fame, citing his work for the Medina County Fair Board, the Masonic Lodge, the Kiwanis, the State Highway patrol, the Medina City school board and as the Medina Village Clerk.

In Gloria Brown's book, The Story of Medina's Schools 1817-2017, she quotes Jeannette Neptune, who taught with Howard, as saying, "He had a very dry sense of humor. Sometimes he would say the most outrageous things. But he kept a straight face. His expression never changed so you couldn't be sure if he was joking or not."  And Robert Fenn remembered that as a student he could always turn to Claggett if something was bothering him. "He would pull out the chess board... It was his way of getting you to talk...".

Howard passed away in 1986 at the age of 87. He wife had died years before him. They never had any children of their own, but they each in their own way, impacted thousands of Medina school kids.

Thank you Howard and Mary!

This post is generating some very heart warming comments on Facebook. I am going to post them here so everyone can see. I will keep the posters' names anonymous:

  • Thank you for this as there is so much about the man I never knew. I was a student at MHS under Mr.Claggett from 58-61. He was always available and visible. The high school at that time was sophomore through seniors. The junior high at the present administration building was 7-9th grade. Loved my years as a Medina student. It was a progressive farm community.
  • One time I was having trouble with algebra. I don't know if my father contacted him (like he might have done) but Mr. Claggett invited me to his office to try to help my with my math. And I have a complimentary letter that he wrote to my parents about me.
  • The Claggetts lived two houses south of us on S. Broadway, directly across from Garfield School. What I remember most about them was Mr. Claggett’s calm demeanor (and bemused expression) as his wife railed on us for throwing sticks into the big tree in their front yard/tree lawn, trying to knock down buckeyes (actually horse chestnuts) before they fell on their own accord. I think she was afraid we’d damage her tree. 
  • Both were quite happy to let my brother and I, by ourselves, pick up the naturally fallen ones, I guess because we were their lneighbors. But when we had friends with us they occasionally chased the unfamiliar kids out of their yard, asking all of us to please stay off the lawn.. (I don’t know, but maybe Howard could have served as the prototype of the “get off my lawn” curmudgeon we all venerate today. That’s another way I remember him.)
    The Claggett’s tree was always a much better source for us young buckeye hoarders, as the other buckeye tree (another horse chestnut) in front of the Franklin Sylvester Library was too well known, and we always faced too much collector competition there.
    Mary also was known for her annual irate phone calls to my father, complaining that our cat was digging in her flowerbeds again, and using them for a litter box. I remember on at least one occasion dad took her a box of mothballs as a cat deterrent, but I have no idea if they actually worked there. (They did not work in the sand box my folks briefly had in our back yard for my brother and I to play in. That’s why the sand box’s existence was brief indeed! Maybe that’s why the cat again went back to “gifting” Mrs. Claggett...)
    Today, their house, our house, and the home owned by Thurston Berry between us, have all been interconnected by skybridges, and are used as law offices. They and the Nichols house on the north end, are the only homes left on both sides of the entire block, of the dozen family residences that once stood there, and that I can remember from my youth.
  • Mr. Claggett was always there for us. I also attended MHS from 58-61 and remember his open door policy. We also shared a birthdate so we made certain to give each other good wishes every year! Wonderful memories
  •  M/M Claggett always welcomed me to pick up Buckeys as I was doing my route. Remember the Berry's and some of the other neighbors. great people along that stretch. Even remember the house where the Nichols Building stands now. They had a slot mailbox in the door and the dog always ripped the paper to shreds when I pushed it through.
  • That was the high school when I graduated

  • "1921 Newark City Directory", U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011. Accessed on Ancestry Library Edition, 22 Aug 2019.
  • "1929 Newark City Directory", U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011. 
  • ArtsyBee, "Back To School"  from, accessed online 26 August, 2019,
  • Brown, Gloria, The Story of Medina's Schools 1817-2017  Medina City Schools Foundation, Medina, Ohio, 2017.
    • Year: 1900; Census Place: Newton, Licking, Ohio; Page: 8; Enumeration District: 0156; FHL microfilm: 1241293 Accessed on Ancestry Library Edition 22 Aug 2019.
    • Year: 1910; Census Place: Union, Licking, Ohio; Roll: T624_1203; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 0099; FHL microfilm: 1375216 Accessed on Ancestry Library Edition 22 Aug 2019. 
    • Year: 1920; Census Place: Newark Ward 4, Licking, Ohio; Roll: T625_1404; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 158. Accessed on Ancestry Library Edition 22 Aug 2019. 
    • Year: 1930; Census Place: Medina, Medina, Ohio; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0015; FHL microfilm: 2341582. Accessed on Ancestry Library Edition 22 Aug 2019.  
    • Year: 1940; Census Place: Medina, Medina, Ohio; Roll: m-t0627-03112; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 52-14. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.
      T627, 4,643 rolls. Accessed on Ancestry Library Edition on 22 Aug 2019.
  • "History of Claggett Middle School" Claggett Middle School Home Page,
  • "Illinois College in World War I, 1917-1918 - Student Army Training Corps" Illinois College. Accessed 22 August 2019,
    • Findlay Morning Republican:
      • "Mt. Blanchard News" Findlay Morning Republican, 22 May 1923, page 7. Accessed on NewspaperArchive on 22 August 2019. 
      • "Mt. Blanchard News", Findlay Morning Republican, 19 June 1924, page 5. Accessed on Newspaper Archive 22 August 2019.
    • Johnstown Independent:
      • "Seven Licking Boys in Corn Contest Win Free Trip to Washington", Johnstown Independent, 20 November 1913, page 7. Accessed on the Digital Archives of the Mary E. Babcock Library, 1
    • Medina County Gazette: 
      • "Concert Goer" Medina County Gazette, 17 June 1971, page 4. Accessed on Newspaper Archive 22 August 2019.
      • "Courtney Lawrence Post Elects New Officers", Medina County Gazette, 22 September 1939, page 1. Accessed on Newspaper Archive 22 August 2019.
      • "Educators, Cook, Columnists Honored by Medina Kiwanis", Medina County Gazette,  29 Sep 1972,page 3.
      • "Medina Isn't a Rural Town", Medina County Gazette,  31 October 1939, page 2. 
      • "Obituary Howard Claggett", Medina County Gazette, 14 Oct 1986, page A-2.
      • "Obituary Mary Claggett", Medina County Gazette, 7 Nov 1970, page 1.
      • "Proving That One School Teacher Can't Trust Another", Medina County Gazette,  30 Nov. 1956, page 1. Accessed on NewspaperArchive, 27 August 2019.
      • "The Question is Moot" On the Other Hand Column Medina County Gazette, 20 June 1968, page 2. 
      • "September 1956 a Date to Remember" Medina County Gazette 18 April 1974, page 2.
      • "Ryan Was Toastmaster", Medina County Gazette,  7 June 1938, page 1. Accessed on Newspaper Archive 22 August 2019.
    • Medina County Sentinel:
      • "Hall of Fame Third Chamber of Commerce Honors Will Go To Six Individuals, One Organization", Medina County Sentinel, 19 May 1983, page A9. From Medina LandMark Files, Book 40, pages 30-31.
    • Newark Advocate:
      • "Diplomas to 100 Graduates from the High School", Newark Advocate,  6 June 1917, page 6. Accessed on NewspaperArchive on 22 August 2019. 
  • "Ohio, County Births, 1841-2003," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 22 December 2016), Licking > Birth registers 1891-1901 vol 3 > image 36 of 227; county courthouses, Ohio. 
  • "Ohio Soldiers in WWI, 1917-1918" [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005. Original data: The Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the World War, 1917-18. Columbus, OH, USA: The F.J. Heer Printing Co., 1926. Accessed on Ancestry Library Edition, 22 Aug 2019.       
  • Shapiro, Eleanor Iler, ed. Historical Highlights of Medina,  Alfred Meyers Lithographers, Inc., Medina, Ohio, 1966.
  • "U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012"; School Name: Denison University; Year: 1921. Accessed on Ancestry Library Edition, 22 Aug 2019. 
  • "U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012"; School Name: Medina High School; Year: 1933. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Accessed on Ancestry Library Edition, 22 Aug 2019.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Ethics in Genealogy

This past Saturday, at the Akron Main Library, Judy Russell presented an all day seminar on Ethics in Genealogy.

Floating Suns sculpture by Don Drumm studios outside the auditorium
at the Main Branch of Akron Summit County Public Library.
Photo provided courtesy of the State Library of Ohio.

Ethics in genealogy is a almost unknown topic in the field, and it was reflected in the attendance numbers. Judy Russell is a nationally-known and top rated speaker in genealogy circles. Any time she speaks, all the seats are always filled.  Of the 400 available seats on Saturday, only 100 were filled. Weren't people interested?

Or perhaps, they just didn't understand exactly what ethics has to do with genealogy...

While I cannot and will not cover everything Judy talked about - besides trying to recreate 4 hours of lecture, it would by a copyright violation - I will share some of what I learned and some resolutions going forward.

Ethics in genealogy is the invisible underpinning that should be the bedrock of everything we do in genealogy and family history research.

First and foremost - DO NO HARM!*

Photo "Primum Non Nocere" provided courtesy of Wiki Commons.

All of the major professional genealogy groups have versions of their Code of Ethics, but it all boils down to the statement above.

If you need more detail, Judy Russell relates it to the rules we are learn in kindergarten:
  • Tell the truth - be honest
  • Play nice with others - courtesy
  • Don't tell tales out of school - respect confidentiality
These rules take many forms, but I will address the ones that I have personally struggled with:

Photo by geralt on pixabay (CC0)

Confidentiality - don't share the story if it isn't your story to tell. This is a hard one for most genealogists. We love to tell the stories. Especially the juicy ones. We love sharing our new discoveries. I have been guilty of violating this:
  • The marriage that took place years after the couple lived together and had children. While relating the story to one of my cousins, the adult child of the couple overheard. They had no idea that their parents weren't married at the time of their birth.
  • The first marriage of my great uncle. I told his adult child, who was from his second marriage,  who had only known their father as a young child, as he died young. I didn't hear from them for months.
Not only is the story not mine to tell. I didn't take into consideration the feelings of the living people who were effected by the information. While the information is true and factual, once it is divulged, you cannot control who learns about it and how it impacts them. 

Photo "Franklin-Benjamin" provided courtesy of
Wiki Commons.

Honesty - Sometimes, the truth destroys the family story, or can be uncomfortable in other ways, such as when we learn of ancestors who held slaves or committed other despicable acts. Sometimes, we have the uncomfortable job is setting the story straight. Our family oral history had several traditions that my research demolished.

  •  No, our 3 x great grandmother was not 3/4 Cherokee, despite the high cheekbones and dark complexion. The paper trail didn't prove it and now, extensive DNA testing of my siblings and various cousins proves there was NO Native American DNA passed down to any of us. DEMOLISHED family legend. At least our family story didn't say she was a "Cherokee Princess"...
  • Another great grandmother was supposed to be "Indian" based on her unusual surname, which proved to be Dutch, and the fact that dogs didn't like her. Her family line has been traced back to the state of Delaware in the 1700's. Family story DESTROYED!
  • My 2x great grandfather was NOT a nice man. He was married twice and had nearly 20 children with his two wives. But by one descendant's count he had over 40 children, 20 of them illegitimate. Not something to be proud of, but which definitely needs to be documented.
Photo provided from Max Pixel(CC0)

Courtesy - or "play nice with others". Judy gave examples of people taking "their" family information from public institutions, when clearly they need to be available to everyone. THAT I have never done. And it is also showing common courtesy to the clerks and volunteers that assist us in our ongoing quest. But I have my own examples of not playing nice with others:
  • I can be VERY impatient with people who are very new to family history research and who really don't know what they are doing. They don't want to put the work in to learn the process of researching and want it all to be laid out for them. Sometimes, genealogy is HARD. But that doesn't mean that I should dismiss their questions and assertions. I need to find a kinder and gentler way of steering them in the right direction. Luckily, I work with a great bunch of people who set a very good example for me.
  • Giving credit where credit is due. Whether it is citing my sources or making notations of who told me which family story, I can be a sloppy researcher. Even when I do cite my sources, as I try to for every blog, I can get sloppy about citation format and layout.  Another example of this is when I use photos from I cite the source, but do not credit the photographer. I will try to do better in the future.
  • Respecting copyrights. I have a very basic understanding of copyright law. But I have often "looked the other way" believing  much of my use of copyrighted material would fall under "fair use". Or that it would only be a problem if someone objected to my use of their material and for that they would have to have stumbled upon my work. I can do better than that.
Photo by Tumisu on pixabay (CC0)

DNA testing. I have "urged" my siblings to have their DNA tested and most of them have agreed. When DNA testing first became available to the average consumer, I assured my siblings that their information could never be used against them without a court order. All of that has changed in the last 18 months. Because of the use of third party web sites, like GedMatch, law enforcement has been able to use peoples' DNA results, that were submitted for genealogical purposes, to track down violent criminals. Without the use of subpoenas. While I believe that to be generally for the public good, it is a substantial change in policy from what I understood and what I communicated to my siblings. Basically, when they gave their consent and their DNA, it wasn't informed consent. I need to go to each of my siblings and inform them of this change and give them the option to withdraw their DNA samples and findings. And also to admit that I cannot say with certainty how their DNA might be used in the future. Besides impacting my siblings in ways we could not have anticipated, it could impact anyone genetically related to us.

So remember:

  • Play nicely with others.
  • Be honest. But never do, say or write something that will in any way hurt a living person.
  • Tell only the stories that are yours to tell.

*While the ancient Greek Hippocrates did not actually say "Do no harm" in his famous Hippocratic Oath, which some doctors are still asked to abide by upon graduation, he did say it in his work Of the Epidemics.