Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fall Genealogy Lock-In

Genealogy Lock -In

September 18

6:30-10:30 p.m.

Call 330-722-4257  to register

Join us as the  Medina Library offers an after-hours Genealogy Lock-In, a night where library staff & resources are dedicated to helping you research your family.  Refreshments, door prizes and LOTS of learning opportunities!

This September we will be exploring:
   1.   Slovak Genealogical Research     &
   2.  Writing Your Family History

As more and more people delve into their family history, Lisa and I have been getting many requests for help with Eastern European ancestry. So we will be offering instruction on different ethnicities starting with Slovak genealogy with John Sabol.

Also, many people are overwhelmed at the thought of writing a book about their family history. They don't have to be! In the second session you will learn how You CAN Write Your Family History!

Cosponsored with Medina County Genealogical Society.

Click here to register.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Family Time

Not my family!
Family reunions are a great source of family time. Not associated with holidays or weddings, birthdays or funerals, they provide a more relaxed atmosphere to enjoy your extended family and get the real dirt! I mean... informally interview your relatives.

My family attends two family reunions each summer, the Masons and the Youngs. (I just know that you are s-o-o jealous that I get to research such illustrious, ah-hem, common names.) I love these reunions for a number of reasons:

  1. Seeing relatives that I never get to see otherwise. Many of my Young cousins come from out-of-state for the reunion. Years could go by between visits with them. Some of the older relatives aren't getting around very well anymore and don't go to other family functions. But their children make sure they get to the reunions.
  2. Meeting the "new" relatives. Whether by birth or marriage, every family adds new members all the time. It is nice to have a face to go with the name and dates in my family history database.
  3. Sharing the family stories. You get cousin Danny together with Uncle Charlie and they still come up with stories that I have never heard before!
  4. Good food, mostly cooked from scratch. There was that one year that everyone, me included, stopped at KFC on the way to the reunion...
  5. Fun time! Both reunions have auctions and play Bingo to raise money to fund next year's reunion. Mind you, we are not talking cruise ship or destination family reunions. We need to raise just enough money to pay for the shelter at the local park and maybe for the paper plates and plastic forks.  But we have fun with it. Like when cousin Rosie got into a bidding war with my brother Darrell, who is bald and notoriously cheap. Then she dropped out leaving him holding a gift bag full of shampoo!
There are also some things that I don't like about family reunions: 

  1. Weather that doesn't cooperate. This year, the park where the Mason reunion is held was under water just a week before the reunion. And it rained the day of the reunion. We've had to wear hooded sweatshirts during the Young reunion in August!
Yeh, it is pretty much just the weather.

So how do you make the most of your family reunion?
  1. Bring a camera. Or camera phone. But TAKE PICTURES. At the Young family reunion we take family group shots. These are great for getting all the little ones running around associated with the correct parents etc. I am making flash cards next year with people's faces and names on them! One year, we had a contest to see who could identify the most people in the reunion group photo from the year before! I didn't win...
  2. Videotape family members telling stories. The camera phone is perfect for this. Many people become self-conscious when you start video taping them. But you can record people with your phone without them noticing. (It isn't creepy stalkerish at all. I don't care what my daughters say!)
  3. Bring note paper to take notes. Being the genealogy geek that I am, I also bring family group and ancestor charts to fill out.
  4. Bring a reunion scrapbook. People love looking at photos of past reunions. It is particularly touching to see the photos of the family members who have died. I also have a scrapbook of the military history of my family. I get yelled at if I forget to bring it.
  5. Be prepared to share what you know about the family. Share photos. Share the history. A couple of years ago, I printed up a small booklet that told about the Young family history. I kept it short and hopefully funny. I still hear from cousins about it. Sometimes, corrections, but mostly its, "I didn't know that!"
  6. HAVE FUN! That way, you and everyone else will want to come back!
Do you have any family reunion stories you would like to share?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Nature vs. Nurture

To request this book, click on the title,
above right.

My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: a Black Woman Discovers Her Family's Nazi Past  by Jennifer Teege.

At the age of 38, Jennifer Teege discovered that her grandfather was the commandant of the Polish concentration camp depicted in the movie, Schindler's List. She struggles to deal with the knowledge that her grandfather perpetrated genocide and that her loving grandmother was a complicit witness to the horrors of the Holocaust.

Adopted at a young age, Jennifer was ignorant of her German family's role in World War II. After her discovery, she tracks down her birth mother to discuss the past. After her discussion with her mother and after much research, she realizes that all the children of the Nazis are stuck in the past, either trying to glorify, exonerate, or vilify their fathers' roles in the atrocities. Some go so far as to choose sterilization so that they won't pass on the "monster"gene. Jennifer feels this is wrong. This faulty thinking perpetuates the Nazi tenant that our genes determine our lives.

This dichotomy is something that all genealogists struggle with on a much smaller scale. We love researching our ancestors; uncovering, and sometimes, glorifying their lives. But how much does our genetic heritage effect our daily lives?  

Do the achievements, failures or horrors that our ancestors accomplished confer any special glow or tarnish to us, their descendants?

One of my ancestors, Samuel Tanner, was a West Virginia pioneer, pushing into uninhabited (by Europeans) territory, living in a cave with his family and earning his living by scouting for the government and hunting. His grandson, James Tanner, worked for the railroad and moved every two years. His grandson, my grandfather, John Mason was a long-distance trucker, crisscrossing the country with his loads. He also moved frequently. My sister is also a wanderer, preferring to move and change jobs frequently. Through genealogical research we have discovered a fifth cousin once removed who also exhibits this restless tendency. 

Is this a gene at work? Or is it merely an inclination that any individual might succumb to? Is it only seen as a family trait because of knowledge of the family history?

Personally, I have decided that there are family inclinations that are passed down from generation to generation, just as a recipe is passed down. But it is not predetermined by our genes.

After all, as Dumbledore tells Harry Potter...

"It is the choices we make, Harry, that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities."

As for Jennifer Teege, what does she decide? You'll have to read the book to find out!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Pet Peeves

What would a blog be, if the blogger didn't occasionally gripe about their pet peeves?

Okay, maybe it would be a happier blog. But what if the griping could improve your research experience??  That would make it worth it, right?

So take a look at the following list of genealogy librarian's pet peeves and make sure you NEVER commit any of these blunders!

Genealogy Librarian's Pet Peeves

  • Misspelling G-E-N-E-A-L-O-G-Y. It is not geneology or geneaology. It is genealogy. If you are going to do it, learn how to spell it. Or use "family history research" instead.
  • While we are on spelling... C-E-M-E-T-E-R-Y not cemetary. I have to admit that I used to misspell this one regularly until a friend kindly corrected me. Thank-you Anne!
  • Advertisements to buy your family crest or your family history.  A family doesn't have a crest.
    Not meant to be representative
     of  fake family crests.
    An individual is granted the right to use a crest. It may or may not be inherited. The purchased family histories usually consist of a phone directory of everyone with your surname and some generic history.
  • The myth: Our name was changed at Ellis Island. No. It wasn't. Immigrants had papers from their home country that they carried with them. Ellis Island had interpreters. Think about it. The place was full of people who spoke foreign languages, some of whom also spoke English. However, many immigrants chose to change their name later, to blend in and be more "American."
  • "It has to be online!"People who believe the Internet has all the family history information they need. Even when the archive's web site says you have to visit the building or tells how to order the paper copy. I have had members argue with me on this one. 
  • People who want "everything on my Smith family". Really? You want everything on the Smith family? Are you willing to pay for that? A proper request  identifies a specific family, time period, and place. Example: Jeremiah Smith who lived from 1840-1898 in Litchfield, Medina County, Ohio.
  • People who don't understand that not everything is digitized. Digitization costs time and money, both of which are in short supply in libraries. Yes, we would love to digitize our local paper and yearbooks. But we don't have the time or money.
  • People who believe everything they find online is true. Or even everything in print is true. Caveat Emptor! Just like everything else in life, you have to look at genealogy information with a critical eye. Evaluate the source.
  • No, the library does not have your house history or house blueprints on file.
  • Online genealogy without any source citation. Some of my favorite web sites have this problem. Someone posts the wrong information. It gets picked up and repeated by everyone else. Yet no one knows how it got started, because it wasn't cited.
  • I won't name any names, but I detest big commercial genealogy databases that talk individuals into voluntarily uploading all their genealogy data and then that same company selling subscriptions to that information. 
  • People who fervently believe they are related to someone famous or have Native American ancestry and resist all factual information that doesn't agree with their illusion.
  • People who won't ask for help when it is obvious that they need it. Here some one needed help with our microfilm machine. Now there is a roll of microfilm with a jagged edge somewhere in the 1000s of rolls of film that the library owns. 

Ok. I will step off of my soap box now...

Friday, July 31, 2015

Coming Soon to a Library Shelf Near You!

Beginner's Guide to Online Genealogy by
Michael Dunn - 929.1028 DUN

New books soon will be on the shelves at the Medina Library!

I LOVE it when we get new genealogy books. They don't always get the attention they deserve, so why not highlight a couple of them?

A Beginner's Guide to Online Genealogy by Michael Dunn is a very thorough beginner's guide. But it does have some issues:
  • It is very dry reading, just like a textbook. It has no illustrations to break up the text and illuminate the information.
  • It could be overwhelming to a lot of beginners.
  • Some of the information is already incorrect. (Dated information on FamilySearch.org )
  • The warning about critically evaluating online information and the abundance of "shoddy" family trees is only listed on page 221 in the Afterword. It should have been in the introduction. Imagine getting that far in the book and with your research only to realize you may have been misled!!
Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com by
Nancy Hendrickson - 929.1028

The second book is Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com  by Nancy Henrickson. This also seems to be a very complete, useful book. It is readable and does have pictures to break up the text and illustration the information presented. And on page 15, it has a list of genealogical myths that caution you to not be taken in. It has very good reviews on Amazon.com and several of the review that even experienced Ancestry users can learn something from this book.

If either of these books appeal to you, just click on the blue, underlined title and you will be redirected to the library catalog where you can place a hold for it!


Monday, July 27, 2015

The Genealogist Will NOT be in!

The Genealogist will NOT be in, tomorrow, Tuesday the 28th of July.

Lisa Rienerth and I will be going to the Cleveland Public Library to tour their Digital Hub facility in preparation for Medina County District Library's launch into digitization of some of our unique resources.

We will be back next week, August 4 from 1-3 p.m.

And as always, feel free to sign up for a Genealogy One-on-One appointment with either Lisa or myself. You can do that by calling 330-722-4257 and talking to any of our very friendly reference staff.

This form is to be filled out by Reference Staff only.
To make an appointment, call 330-722-4257.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Lineage Society Update

I got in! My application to The Society of Civil War Families of Ohio was accepted!

Next April, in Mason, Ohio, I will attend the Ohio Genealogical Society (OGS) Conference and The Society of Civil War Families of Ohio banquet and receive my certificate and my pin!

You might remember that I was a little nervous about this application, as OGS is known for its stringent lineage society application process.

I covered the application process in two earlier blog posts:
Now, my dilemma is... Do I apply for First Families of Ohio?

First Families of Ohio pin.
Isn't it pretty!?!

The application would be nearly identical. I would just have to prove one generation past my Civil War ancestor and prove that his father was in Ohio before 1820. This gets a little trickier, because of the lack of birth and death certificates in this time period. I will have to rely on wills/estate records and land records to prove First Families eligibility. But I am so close!!

If you still don't understand why anyone would want to apply to a lineage society, or have questions about how to go about it, the Medina County Genealogical Society has a very nice article about it in their latest newsletter:

Do any of these statements reflect your genealogy research:
 My parents and/or grandparents and/or ancestors lived in Ohio before 1914.
 My great grandfather or great uncle served in the Civil War and lived in Ohio.  I learned that my family once lived in
Medina County.
 Whenever I tell my family about these ancestors that I have found, they politely smile, nod their heads and change the subject.
For once it would be nice to have someone tell me “Congratulations” with regards to my research and place on “A+” on the papers I would show them!!”
If you have answered “Yes” to any of these statements, you should consider submitting your research to a lineage society. When your papers are accepted, your work is acknowledged as meeting genealogy standards. Your ancestors are remembered
forever in the collection of the lineage society. Fellow genealogists are acknowledging your accomplishments and publish this in their publications.
Still, you may hesitate to take the time to follow through on this effort. For most people, they are intimidated by the application process. The purpose of this article is to advise our membership that lineage support will be available before and after all future chapter meetings. Board members have lineage experience with Ohio Genealogical Society, our own chapter lineage society, as well as Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and Sons of the American Revolution (SAR.) The members will be happy to answer your questions, review paperwork suggest areas of research and/or share our previous applications. We hope to show you that the process to honor your ancestors in a lineage society is very rewarding and not as difficult as you think.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Military Records

The Medina County Genealogical Society's July meeting included a class on military records. It reminded me that military records are some of my favorite records to research. The documentation of an individual's life when it is intersecting with big historical events is intoxicating!

There are two major types of military records: service records document the day-to-day records of an individual's service; and pension records, which document the benefits a person takes advantage of after their service has ended.

These types of records produce very different information that a genealogist would be interested in. The service record will tell where the person served and in what capacity, at what rank, if he/she had any awards or medals, what training was received and their medical records. It generally does not have any information about family members or the military members movements after they left the service. That is where the pension records come in. I LOVE pension records!

The National Archives has a very complete page about US military records and how to order them: 

If your ancestor's service was for the Confederacy or for a state militia, the records will be held at the state level, not by the federal government. Foreign military service records are generally available from the foreign government.

So, how do you know if a relative ever served in the military?
My Great Great Grandfather, James Tanner on
the right. He is in a Civil War Navy Captain's
uniform. His son, George Tanner is in his World
War I US Army uniform.
·        Family stories and traditions
·        Photographs
·        Published histories
·        Cemetery markers
·        Biographies
·        Age at the time of major conflicts 
·        Census records that have military service information:
           1910 asked men if they were a veteran of the Civil War
           1890 Census had special schedules that lists Union Civil War veterans or their surviving spouses.
          1840 Census lists Revolutionary War pensioners, or their widows, on the second page.

So what kind of genealogical information have I uncovered in military records??

My Revolutionary War Ancestor, Christian Young, in his pension application, reveals all the different places he served and the battles he participated in. He also mentions that he helped build the cheval de frise (barrier made of spiked posts) across the Hudson River that was supposed to keep the British from sailing up the Hudson from New York City, which they occupied. This was while he was stationed at Fort Montgomery. He goes on to tell how he and others from the fort escaped when the British over ran the fort. They crawled through the trees and rocks to a ship waiting just off shore.

In James Tanner's (pictured above) pension records, I discovered that his rank was never higher than Common Seaman, despite the stories he told his grandchildren and the photo he posed for with his son. I also discovered why it was so difficult to pin him down in the census records. He moved every 18 months. I later learned from a cousin that he worked for the railroad and that was why he moved so often. His record also revealed what ships -- actually,boats, river boats, he served on.
The Grampus

These are the two ships James Tanner served on. The Grampus was a training ship.

The Peosta was a steamboat outfitted as a gun boat. It patrolled the Tennessee River.
The Peosta

James McComas' pension record revealed that his wife, my 4X great aunt, Mary Ann, died of typhus, a disease quite probably brought home from the returning Civil War Soldiers. (I thought it likely that she died of exhaustion after giving birth to 11 children in less than 20 years!) 

Later in James' record, Mary Ann's brother, James Tagg, my 3X great grandfather, served as a notary, taking James McComas' statement for his pension record. After several pages of recording the statement, fatigue must have set in. The nearly 70 year old slipped into the English accent of his youth by writing "he as ad"  when he clearly meant "he has had"!  

That kind of personal detail you can't find in many records!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I seek dead people!

No, I am not a vampire hunter! ALL genealogists seek dead people! Once we move past researching our living relatives, it is all we do.

As genealogists, we are trained to work from the most recent events to the furthest past. So when we learn the name of a new ancestor or relative, what we are looking for first is the death record. 

One of the quickest ways to track down an ancestor's death date is to search for their tombstone on one of the online cemetery sites. There are three main ones:
  1. Interment.net
  2. BillionGraves
  3. Find A Grave
1. Interment.net Interment.net is a publisher of cemetery transcriptions for use by genealogists and local historians. Visitors use this site to help locate burials of family & friends, trace family history and learn something about cemeteries in general. 

2. Billion Graves Their goal is to preserve precious records found in cemeteries throughout the world. Using modern technology, they capture images of headstones with their GPS locations so users worldwide can access those records anywhere.

3. Find A Grave  Find a Grave's mission is to find, record and present final disposition information from around the world as a virtual cemetery experience.  

Each of the sites provide pictures and ways for volunteers to participate. You can narrow your search by location, first names, dates of death, etc.

My favorite is Find A Grave. It has a cleaner look with less advertisement. Plus, more volunteers work for Find A Grave resulting in many more search returns. For example, search for the surname JOHNSON on each of the sites. Interment returns 6,100 hits, BillionGraves, returns 94,000 and Findagrave finds 190,250 JOHNSON graves!

The draw back to these sites is that they mostly cover deaths that have occurred in the last 150-200 years. If the cemetery or the tombstone no  longer exists, they will not cover them.

If you are looking for a veteran that was buried in one of the US Veteran's cemeteries, you will want to check out the Department of Veterans Affairs Gravesite Locator.

For other cemetery transcriptions, remember to search the county's USGenWeb site for cemetery listings.

Now get out there and dig up some dead relatives!

But not literally...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Cite Your Sources!

We have all done it. We are rushing to leave the courthouse or library before the doors lock and we quickly make a copy of that last record, thinking " I will remember later where I got this." 

BUT WE DON'T REMEMBER! Then later, maybe years later, we pull that piece of paper out of our files and wonder, "Where did I get that??"

Recently, I have been helping a lady who is applying for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution -DAR. She has been researching her family for years! So why does she need my help? She is trying to retrace her research because she didn't cite her sources! So now she brings us a piece of paper and asks "Where did I get this?" Mostly, we have been able to find the copy in the library's resources. But now always. I am sure some of her research came from elsewhere.

So, when we relocate her original source, we put the citation on the back of the copy, in pencil.  So what information goes into a genealogy source citation? The minimum information should be:
  • The name of the resource. Its title. What it is called. Iinclude page number, volumes, publisher, & publication date. Examples:
    • Tombstone Inscriptions from the Cemeteries of Medina County, Medina County Genealogical Society. 1983.
    • Marriage Records of Medina County 1818-1965 (microfilm), include the volume and page number. If the film is numbered, you include that information.
  • The repository where you found the item. Examples:
    • Medina County District Library
    • www.ancestry.com (online database)
    • Medina County Court House
  • The url of any online resource.
  • The date you found the item.
So save yourself some headaches and put the citation on any item as soon as you discover it.

Sources for more information:

  • Cite Your Sources by Richard S. Lackey. 1980. This is the primer that emphasized source citation. Too old now to be useful now (no Internet back then), it still needs to be acknowledged.
  • Evidence! Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian by Elizabeth Shown Mills. Her first book on genealogy citations was published in 1997. It does not include the comprehensive listings for online resources that her later book does. At 124 pages, it is also less intimidating.
  • Evidence Explained Citing Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace By Elizabeth Shown Mills is THE book on how to city any genealogy source you might use for your genealogy research. It is now on its 3rd edition and at over 800 pages, can seem intimidating. But if you want to know how to cite your Great Aunt Martha's wedding dress that has been passed down to you, this is the book!
  • Cyndi's List from the Grande Dame of online genealogy, she includes multiple links to online information for citing your genealogical resources. 
  • Dear Myrtle and if you want an alternative to Evidence Explained, or if you like stirring up controversy, this popular blogger has links to other citation styles.
These books are available for use inside the Franklin Sylvester Room
at the Medina Library

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dorothy Morris 1928-2015

Dorothy Morris in the Franklin Sylvester Library
Room at the Medina Library in January 2008.
Dorothy Morris was a great lady!

And now she is gone.

She would argue about her greatness, in her own very laid back, self effacing way.

She came to the Medina Library around 1990 to volunteer on the Medina Gazette obituary project. That meant slogging through reel after reel of the old newspapers, scouring the pages for death notices, obituaries and probate listing for the library's obituary index. When Dorothy first started work on this project, she also had to type up the data found on 3"X5" cards. REALLY! That was how it was done in those days.

In 1996, Dorothy came to me and explained that there was no more room in the card index drawers for any more 3"X5" cards. She volunteered to "clean it up" by consolidating multiple cards for the same person. That would be only a temporary solution. So the card files had to computerized. That entailed typing the data for each card into a computer database. Always up for the challenge, Dorothy gamely took on the project. And there were TENS OF THOUSANDS of those 3"X5" cards!

March 14 2006 Medina Gazette article where Dorothy was
interviewed about her work on the Medina Library's
obituary project.

Dorothy was quiet. And so I got to know her slowly. She was a retired librarian from NASA. Brilliant! She had been in the US Marines. She was on their women's marksmanship's team. She was active in the Sharon Township Historical Society and published three books on the early days of Sharon. She was intrigued with the early baseball teams and researched them diligently. She was a member of the Medina County Genealogical Society. These little snippets about her life we slowly teased out of her.

But as I read her obituary, I realized there was so much more that I needed to learn about Dorothy. I did not know that she could read FIVE languages! I did not know that she played the snare drum or played basketball on the Women Marine Corps Reserve basketball team!

When Dorothy's sister Marilyn became ill, Dorothy couldn't come in to volunteer at the library as much. She needed to take care of Marilyn. Then Marilyn passed away and Dorothy had to settle the estate.That was in 2009. While I believe Dorothy always intended to come back and volunteer with us again, she didn't make it in. After that, I only saw her occasionally, at a Genealogy Society meeting or at the annual Medina County Women of the Military luncheon.

And now she is gone.

Medina Library staff remember Dorothy:

Dorothy always had a pleasant smile with a  quiet manner.  When one would converse with her, she always had something profound to say.  Dorothy felt like staff because she was always here volunteering and having her here felt good. It was an honor knowing Dorothy and having her being part of my day. - Renee

I am so grateful that I was able to attend the calling hours and memorial service for Dorothy. Family from both sides of the country, Medina County Women of the Military, old school friends and neighbors gathered to share time together celebrating this modest, many-faceted and talented lady who had the special gift of always putting others first.
Her canvas snare drum, in mint condition, was on display as were lucite-encased sharpshooter medals. Wonderful family photos were side-by-side with notebooks of photographs and letters from her decades in the NASA libraries. A poster with Big Bird (yes, that Big Bird) commemorated her award as a Big Birder for having recorded 426 different birds on 426 consecutive days! Tongue in cheek? Apparently, because family and friends enjoyed telling of her impish sense of humor.
Education was of paramount importance to her. In grade school, she made certain her younger sisters, Marilyn and Mary, got up on time to eat breakfast and get to school on time, which to Dorothy meant early. Dorothy, herself, stood to eat to be certain the whole morning kept moving. She was a hard-working student. Top grades were expected and received.
However, as mentioned earlier, there was that impish sense of humor.  One of her seventh grade classmates shared a story. It seems that a spelling test included the word “mayonnaise”. Dorothy, the perfectionist student, whispered to her friend, “I’ll just put salad dressing.” Do you suppose she really did?
There was a letter written decades ago by the head librarian at the Kennedy Space Center. He had heard of Dot Morris of Lewis Research but did not get to meet her until one early morning in a Washington, D.C. motel where they shared coffee before the bus picked them up to take them to their conference. He then wrote that meeting her and spending a bit of time meant more to him than the whole rest of the conference.
Those of us who were fortunate to know her as she worked so diligently in the library’s local history room can, along with her family and friends, treasure her memory. And remember her grin and her impish sense of humor! Thank you, Dorothy. - Elizabeth Nelson

Comments from the Facebook posting:
Medina Gazette 18 June 2015 page A-6

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Cannon on the Square

Generations of Medina's children have clambered over the cannon in the Public Square. Fess up! Either you or your kids are guilty of this desecration!

Have you ever wondered where the gun came from and how it ended up in the park?

If you have, the different plaques on the gun probably just confused you even more.

This plaque is underneath the back of the gun. The green patina of the aged metal is beautiful. However, everything on this plaque is wrong for the gun that sits above it.

This is the manufacturer's plaque. It tells us that the gun is a 57 mm carriage gun that was produced by International Harvester in Chicago in 1945. Now painted over, originally this label would have been black and silver.

This plaque is under the barrel of the gun. Accurate in all that it does say. It is what it doesn't say that I find puzzling.

When was it placed in the square? Where was it before it came to Medina? Why did it come to Medina? Who was involved?

And where do you go when you have these kinds of questions?  You go to the library!

Which is just what a library member did earlier this week. He came to me, asking these very questions. And I started pulling out resource after resource with no success. He had already been to the Medina County Historical Society, but no luck there. His next stop was going to be Post 202 of the American Legion.

But as often happens, I was left wondering, so I continued to dig. After all, another library member could come by any day with the same questions.

And look what I found!
Medina Gazette September 23, 1947, page 8.
This article explains that Charles Lawrence & Ralph Waite of American Legion Post 202 lobbied to get a "memento" of World War II to replace the gun from World War I that used to sit on the cement base. Being frugal Medinians, there was no need to pay for a new base when there was already a perfectly good base going unused. And the article tells that the gun had been at the Erie proving grounds before coming to Medina. The date of the article, 1947 tells us when the gun was moved.

In later articles found online, Ralph Waite says that originally there were three guns that came to Medina. http://medinagazette.northcoastnow.com/2010/06/12/big-gun-goes-away/ 
  1. The one on Public Square.
  2. One in front of the VFW Hall on North Broadway
  3. One in front of the VFW on Pearl Road, north of Medina.
So the next time someone asks me about the cannon on the square...

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Amos Carlton Mears

The Plain Dealer 2 Sep. 1962

 “We’re turning cow pastures & cornfields into factories.” So said Amos Mears in a 1961 Cleveland Plain Dealer article.

Amos was born Amos Carlton Mears in November 1902 to James & Ethel Mears in Kansas. He was one of 13 children born to salesman father and homemaker mother. From 1905 through the 1920 Censuses he is living with his parents. He has not been located in the 1930 census. By the 1940 Census, Amos is married with one child and living in Georgia. But by 1943, he was in Cleveland, Ohio where he built a number of businesses.

Mears moved to Medina in the 1950’s after retiring from his successful businesses in Cleveland. He bought a farm and started raising cattle. But that life must have been too quiet for him. Or maybe Medina was too quiet. In the 1950’s, Medina was languishing with no industry.

Mears became very involved in the economic development in the city of Medina and turned things around.  He served on a number of Medina organizations, including the Medina Area Chamber of Commerce, Area Development Committee, Medina Rotary Club, was the director of Old Phoenix National Bank, and was on the Board of Trustees of the Medina Community Hospital. 

He created the Medina Corp. to develop Industrial Real Estate.  By 1962, 13 new industries had moved to Medina and Mears expected to have another 50 in 5 years.

Among Mears accomplishments:
  • Medical Arts Building on East Washington 
  • 500 acre Industrial park in the southwest part of the city
  •  The Professional Building on West Washington 

For the rest of his life, Amos Mears maintained his interest in Medina County, summering here until his death in 1990.

What would Medina be like without a progressive thinking man like Amos?

Edward Mears 

Edward Mears, his son, developed the Rustic Hills Country Club and homes on the farm his father bought when he first came to Medina. He also built the Granger Lakes Condominiums in Granger Township. 

Edward, left his entire estate to The Friends of the Cemetery, a non-profit group dedicated to preserving and improving Spring Grove Cemetery. They are in the planning states of building the Amos C. Mears Memorial Building at Spring Grove and are funding a documentary on the life of Amos Carlton Mears.

Mears family stone at Spring Grove Cemetery
From www.findagrave.com 

A thank-you goes out to John Gill who acquainted me with Amos Mears.

Thanks John!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Genealogist is IN!

Every Tuesday afternoon, one of the Medina Library's staff genealogists assist members with their local history and genealogical research. The NEW hours starting this June are 1- 3 p.m. every Tuesday.

Lisa and I really enjoy helping library members with their questions. We get just as excited as the researchers when we discover new ancestors and often continue looking even after the member has left.

The questions we get from the public challenge us in ways our own research doesn't. For example, most of my family has lived in Ohio for the last 6 generations. So I know a lot about Ohio records and resources. So when someone asks for help with their Polish ancestors or their Michigan relatives, it makes us s-t-r-e-t-c-h as researchers. It makes us better researchers.

I have helped a member track down the descendants of man whose naturalization and marriage records she had inherited from a relative. The man was not her relative, but she desperately wanted to get the documents back into the hands of his people.

One of the most rewarding was when I was able to use a combination of death records and the process of elimination to find the maternal grandparents for an 80 year old woman. Her mother was orphaned as an infant and no one could tell her anything about them.

So come visit us some Tuesday afternoon and s-t-r-e-t-c-h along with us!

If you can't make it to the library on Tuesday afternoons, we also offer Genealogy One-on-One. Call the Medina Reference desk and set up an appointment to meet with us for an hour at a time that is convenient to you!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Discover Medina

Medina Historical

Have you seen this site?  http://discovermedina.org/  

Created by Shannon Conley's history classes at the Medina High School, this mobile app puts a lot of Medina's history right at your fingertips, literally. Just tap your smart phone or mobile device and away you go!

Every spring, Ms. Conley tasks her students to a historical research project and add it to the app. Focusing on the people, buildings, institutions and places of Medina County, the following are just a few of its offerings:

  • Ralph Waite
  • Dan's Dogs
  • Letha House
  • Spring Grove Cemetery
  • St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church
  • Austin Badger
  • The Farmer's Exchange
  • Rufus Ferris
  • The Medina Square with links to the Medina Court House, Cool Beans Cafe, Ormandy's Trains
  • Ella Canavan

The Smucker Building on Public Squareby Owen Ferris 

You can search the site from a box at the top of the page, or just browse the links on the map of Medina. Zoom the map in or out to see more selections.

While assisting the students with their research can be challenging, I always look forward to seeing what they have produced. 

Each topic includes a history, pictures and often, audio  or video snippets too! The app is available at the iOS App Store or at Google Play

Let me know which is your favorite topic!


The students came into the library for several weeks working on their projects. We were happy to help them, but sometimes were overwhelmed by the number of students coming in and the more intense research they were doing.  But, as you can see below, they appreciated our efforts!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Who am I?

  • Although I have been dead for almost 100  years, my name is still very well known throughout Medina County.
  • During the 1870 fire, I lost $4,200 in property, when my jewelry store caught fire.
  • I loved to ride bicycles. I would ride as much as 70 miles in one day.
  • I owned the first automobile in the city of Medina.
  • My first job was as a traveling showman, exhibiting the wonders of electricity.
  • I used a windmill in my backyard to power my printing press.
  • I was a school teacher for a short time.
  • I was president of the Board of Education for a number of years.
  • I was a member of the Anti-Saloon League.
  • I corresponded with Helen Keller.
  • The afternoon of my funeral, all of the businesses in Medina closed down. The schools were dismissed early.
  • I am included in a new book by best selling author, David McCullough.
  • The company I founded still ships its products around the world.
  • I wrote the first account of the Wright Brothers successfully flying their airplane. The world did not believe me!

Who am I?

Please send your answer in the comments section below. Comments and the answer will be posted in 2 days.