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.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Marching Home: Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War

Military history is fascinating! At least it is when you have relatives that actually fought the battles, marched those trails, and suffered those privations. 

As I have been working a lot on my ancestors who served in the U.S. Civil War, I thought I had a decent idea of what those men endured. Until I read this book:
Marching Home: Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War  by Brian Matthew Jordan.

This book blows away old misconceptions and tells what it was truly like for the soldiers trying to return to civilian life. 

No one at the time understood what they had gone through and most didn’t want to believe just how horrible it was. 

The soldiers themselves had very mixed feelings, impatient to get home to loved ones but unsure of how to return to civilian life without their army comrades. 

And when it came time to ask the government to take care of their bodies & minds that were mangled by the war, they met resistance & disbelief every step of the way. 

Some parallels are drawn between the vets of 150 years ago and today’s veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Your mind will draw many more comparisons. Heavily recommended for anyone interested in U.S. military history, the Civil War, or how the US treats its veterans.

Reserve a copy here:

Thursday, May 7, 2015

1940's House of the Future

Typical Lustron Home
World War II was over. All the GIs were returning home. They wanted jobs, families and HOMES of their own. But there aren't enough houses to fill the need. What America did have was a surplus of steel that had been put aside for the war effort.

 An entrepreneur dreamed of putting these things together and in 1948 they started production of the ceramic-coated steel, pre-fab houses at the Lustron  factory in Columbus, Ohio.

These Plain Dealer  pages from27 June 2004 detail some of the special features and challenges of living in a Lustron Home.

Steel walls make hanging things easy, with
 just a few magnets

Most of these homes have since been re-sided and have lost the unique rectangular-siding appearance. The company only lasted a couple of years and went bankrupt in 1950.

Medina Gazette 16 Augutst 1949 p. 2

A gentleman involved in the assembly locally said 8 of these homes were built in Medina.

Only 3 are now known, two of which have been re-sided.
Medina Gazeette 8 Nov. 1949

The Ohio History Connection has been highlighting this little known part of the post war era in their publications and in their exhibits in Columbus.

If you are adventurous, travel down West Park Boulevard in Medina and see if you can find any of the Lustron homes there!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Lock-In Wrap Up

We had a very nice time at the Lock-In on Friday. We had 28 people attending, and one service dog.  Good doggie!
Photos courtesy of Keith on Facebook

Photos courtesy of Keith on Facebook

Besides the fantastic $35 gift certificates from Family Tree DNA that arrived via overnight express, we also had some nifty gift cards courtesy of the Medina County Genealogical Society.  Thank YOU so much!!  We had 23 other door prizes that were quickly snapped up during the intermission at 8 p.m., leaving one lonely participant empty handed. But Liz came to the rescue and found her a nice door prize also.

We learned how useful  DNA testing can be, depending on what you are looking for. And Lisa did a great job covering the web site. I use this site daily, but still I learned quite a few new tricks.

Kudos also go out to Lisa for being SO-O-O adaptable with the technological glitches. First, our DNA presenter's laptop refused to work. Lisa quickly set him up to use her laptop. Luckily he did have his presentation on an USB drive. Good to go! Then after the intermission, Lisa's laptop decided to do over 100 updates, even though she has it programmed to do updates at 3 a.m. SHEESH! But again, being very adaptable, Lisa quickly moved her program into the computer lab. What a trooper!

Lisa and I looked at our files and realized that this was our 13th Lock-in and we are in our 7th year of offering them. Truly, it does not seem to be that long ago!

We hand out surveys at every lock-in asking for ideas of what programs to offer in the future. We really depend on these surveys to give us ideas. Some of the more popular requests were for  topics that we have offered in the past, including German Research, Medina County Research or Computers and Genealogy, all of which we have offered in the last 3 years. Thank you to everyone who filled out the survey. And THANK YOU for your input.

For the September 18th Genealogy Lock-In, we hope to offer sessions on Researching Your Polish Ancestry and Writing Your Family History.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Yes, I am SHOUTING! Because thanks to the generosity of the folks at Family Tree DNA we have two $35 certificates toward DNA testing to give away as door prizes at tonight's Genealogy Lock-In! 


And we still have spots available if you want to come in for a chance to win one of the certificates or any of the other nifty door prizes we will be giving away! 

Oh, you can learn about genealogy research too!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

DNA Testing: Hype or Help?

Have you ever wondered if  DNA testing is the answer to all of your genealogical prayers?

DNA Testing: Hype or Help?  is one of the educational sessions at this Friday's Genealogy Lock-In at the Medina Library.

Popular TV crime shows and genealogy programs all tout the miracles that DNA testing can accomplish.

But what is the reality??

Richard Spector of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Cleveland will  teach us the finer points of DNA testing for genealogical research.
  • What are the realistic expectations? 
  • What can you learn? 
  • What isn't possible with DNA testing? 
  • Which companies offer which DNA tests?
Several years ago, I received a DNA test as a Christmas gift. I can't tell you how thrilled I was! 

Yep! That's me!!
My daughters had given me National Geographic's DNA test called Geno 2.0. This test reveals your DEEP ancestry. As in Neanderthal. Which I have 1.8% Neanderthal DNA, just slightly lower than the average of 2% for people of European descent. (I LOVE telling people I am 1.8 percent Neanderthal! Most people just nod their heads. As in "That explains so much!") With this test, you learn how your ancient ancestors came out of Africa and traveled across the Middle East and Europe, eventually covering the whole planet. Fascinating stuff.  

But not very useful for genealogy research.

So I had my results transferred to FamilyTree DNA. And while it was also very interesting and has helped me to connect with distant cousins, none of my brick walls have come tumbling down. But I just did learn the name of my 4th great grandmother on my Dad's side. I wasn't looking for her name just yet. But that still counts as a breakthrough, right??

But I am not sure I am getting everything out of my tests as I should, and I am hoping for some guidance from Friday's class.Want to join me, Lisa and Liz at the Lock-In??  Call 330-722-4257 to register. Or register online at: 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Have you seen this???

HUGE u-shaped iron embedded in the sidewalk on Smith Road
When walking around Medina, have you seen this in the sidewalk on Smith Road, right next to Castle Noel's parking lot??
Have you wondered what it was and why it was there?
Did you wonder if it was some kind of utility marking?
Or some relic from the Civil War?
Or did you wonder if it was a giant horseshoe and just HOW BIG was that horse??

Did you know there is another one in town? Do you know where this one can be found?

I have to admit, I wondered about this curiosity a lot on my lunch time walks around downtown/uptown Medina.  Until last fall when I went on the South Court Historic Neighborhood Tour. 

If you haven't ever taken any of the historic home  tours in Medina I can highly recommend them. We toured around 15 homes in the neighborhoods south of Route 42. They covered a range of architectural styles and decades. One of the last homes we toured was this one:

514 South Broadway
I have always admired the house for its cheery seasonal decorations along the picket fence.

The owners of the house are very enthusiastic keepers of the history of their home. It was built by Jabez Holben  in  1884.

Jabez lived from 1852 until 1933. He doesn't show up in the county histories, but by tracking him in the U.S. Federal Censuses from 1870 through 1930, we see that his occupation is listed as....


His blacksmith shop was located on Smith Road and the horseshoe embedded in the sidewalk there marks where his shop once stood. The other one is placed in the sidewalk in front of the house he built.

Jabez' obituary states that he was "known by thousands" in Medina.

P.S. Bob Hyde grew up in the area of the Holben House and tells me that Jabez Holben built at least 5 houses in the area of South Broadway and Wadsworth Road.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Locked Up!!

Medina Library Staff, Lisa Rienerth & Kathy Petras

Or Locked-In?

Please join Medina Library staff and members of the Medina County Genealogical Society for a Genealogy Lock-In on April 24th from 6:30-10:30 p.m.  Two educational opportunities will be offered:

DNA Tests- Hype or Help?

and - Best FREE genealogy site

As always, help will be available for personal genealogy research.

Refreshments & Door Prizes will be provided.

Register online at:​ 
or by calling 330-722-4257

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

New Year's Resolution Update

How is your genealogy New Year's Resolution going??  I hope it is going as well as mine.

If you don't remember what my resolution was, you can read about it here:

So, I organized, cited & numbered all of my documents, filled out the application to be a member of the Civil War Families of Gallia County, Ohio and sent it all in. And waited...
And then, I received an email from Henny Evans saying I have been accepted!! YAHOO!! I have been invited to attend the Lineage Banquet on October 11th!! I am very excited about this as my father's family has extensive roots in Gallia County.

Lineage Society Application, Part Two:
Apply for the Society of Civil War Families of Ohio -- the application is nearly identical, but their criteria for acceptance is more stringent. I am a little nervous about this one.

A nice aspect of both of these lineage groups is that I can add additional ancestors at no additional cost!

Closed during renovation
Columbus Metropolitan Library - Main Library
As of Monday, April 13, the building will be closed to the public.
On April 20, our Local History &  Genealogy division will open in the old Whitehall Branch at 4371 E. Broad St. while Main Library is being renovated. Once the renovation is complete, the division will return to Main Library. In the meantime, you can email our Local History & Genealogy staff at
Full services at Main Library will be back and better than ever once the transformation is complete in August 2016.

Cuyahoga County Archives
The Cuyahoga County Archives will be moving during the months of June, July and August of this year.  Therefore the Archives will be closed.    If you happen to be working with a researcher/patron who needs to go there they need to do it before June or they will have to wait. This information is not yet on their website: 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Elsie Bennett Wilson

Elsie Bennett Wilson

Elsie Bennett was born in the 1890’s in Medina to THE Bennett family. You know the ones that Bennett Lumber was named after.  Coming from a family of doers and achievers, Elsie did not let her gender hold her back in a day when women were considered “the weaker sex”.  She attended Mather College in Cleveland. She actively campaigned for women’s right to vote, believing it was important to maintain her dignity and femininity while doing so. She was a popular speaker on the Suffragette circuit. After passage of the 19th Amendment, she joined the League of Women Voters and became active in the Republican Party.  She served as a delegate to the 1932 Republican National Convention.

In 1925, she became a member of the board of trustees for the Franklin Sylvester Library and served until 1975. For those who aren’t “in the know”, the Franklin Sylvester Library is now known as the Medina Library. When the library expanded in 1975, the new addition was known as the Elsie Bennett Wilson Wing.  Her portrait hung in that wing until the library underwent renovation and expansion in 2006.

She also was a member of the Ohio Library Trustees Association and served as the group’s president from 1939 to 1947. In 1947 she was appointed to the State Library Board and served on that board until 1968. She was the first Hall of Fame Trustee inductee honored by the Ohio Library Council in 1970 and she has been inducted into the Medina City Schools Hall of Fame. She passed away in 1975.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sadie Green

Sadie Green – the Person


     Sadie Green was a pioneer woman in many ways.  When other women her age were getting married, having children and keeping house, Sadie decided to pursue a career in nursing.  When World War I broke out, Sadie Green was among the nurses who reported for duty as a Reserve Army Nurse and nursed soldiers back to health in England and France.  
      After the war, Sadie became Medina County’s third health nurse and she served in that capacity until 1935.  She is often mistakenly cited as Medina's First Health nurse, but there were two before her: Miss Constance Hanna, also a World War I nurse, served from May of 1920 through June of 1922, and Miss Musse served from December of 1922 until Sadie Green took over in November of 1924. As the County Health Nurse, Sadie checked the school children for tonsillitis, bad teeth and lice.  She would drive ill children home from school and even found foster homes for children that needed them.  She would visit area jails and nurse inmates. 
    For all of her pioneering accomplishments, Sadie was not a woman’s libber.  She once said, “I remember when women got the vote.  They were going to clean up politics and all they did was dirty up themselves.”
   After leaving the Medina County Health Department, Sadie worked at hospitals in Akron and Columbus before “retiring” to the Veteran’s Hospital in Dayton, Ohio.  There she continued to take care of “her boys” and painted. Sadie died in 1986 at the age of 101.

P.S. Sorry there wasn't a post last week. I was wrestling with bronchitis. I finally have it pinned to the mat...

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Women's Clubs

March is Women's History Month and we are going to look at some specialized resources for researching our female ancestors, starting with Women's Clubs.

Women had been meeting in groups in churches from the earliest moments our country’s history.  But it wasn’t until after the Civil War that the women’s club movement as a non-secular entity really expanded.  
The Civil War forced women to become involved outside the home.  Women had to take care of the home front, manage the farms, run the shops, roll bandages, care for the wounded, raise money for uniforms and supplies, and other patriotic activities.  Indeed, it was a woman’s duty to participate in these activities.  Once the war was over, women wanted to continue meeting and improving their communities and their minds, as they had during the war.  
But men were not so accommodating.  Women interested in pursuing literary or educational opportunities often were discouraged. Women were not welcomed in most colleges and universities.
When Jennie June, editor of Demorest’s Illustrated Monthly (a women’s fashion magazine that carried household hints) attempted to attend a Press Club dinner in honor of Charles Dickens, she was discouraged by the men of the club.  Even after Horace Greeley refused to preside over the dinner unless the ladies were allowed in, the best the club would offer is to let some of the women attend if they sat behind a curtain!

Perhaps the first women’s group, the Sorosis Club, was formed in New York City in 1868 as a direct result of this snubbing.  The club’s purpose was “to teach women to think for themselves and get their opinions first hand, not so much because it is their right as because it is their duty.” The club objective was “to promote agreeable and useful relations among women of literary and artistic tastes…entirely independent of sectionalism or partisanship.”
The women’s club movement gained momentum as word spread through family contacts and visits.  As the movement became more popular, newspaper editorials vilified the women as self-indulgent and neglectful of their domestic responsibilities for meeting for an hour once a month outside the home.
Because men’s club rooms and public meeting places were not available to the women, they met in each other’s homes.  This necessitated that the groups remained small, 10-12 women at the most. While the groups were known by many different names, what they had in common was the kinds of activities they participated in: self improvement through educational programs, service to the community, and activities related to women’s work.  Often these goals were couched in the notion that better educated mothers made for better educated and more responsible future citizens. 
Not to be overlooked was the social component in these clubs.  They afforded women who often worked in isolation in the home or on the family farms an opportunity to meet and socialize with other women with similar interests. 
Some groups used guest speakers to fill their programs.  But most clubs insisted that the members research and present their own programs.  This practice improved their members’ skills as speakers and educators.  For many women, their participation in a women’s club was their only experience in public speaking.  Occasionally, a group would designate a teacher or librarian to critique each speaker’s performance. This was not a popular practice! 
Eva Johnson

Miss Johnson was the librarian at the Medina Library from 1887 to 1927.  This made her a natural choice to be the club’s “critic.”  It was the critic’s job to point out any errors in facts or pronunciation in a member’s presentation of a topic.  It was often an unpopular position to hold.  Miss Johnson died after a car accident in 1940 at the age of  86.  She was a member of the Medina Sorosis as well as the Medina Co-Workers Club.  Mrs. Lila Thayer, also of the Club, was her sister.

The clubs took their missions very seriously.  Women could not bring their sewing or knitting to club meetings.  The time was to be exclusively devoted to listening, learning and talking.  Members were not allowed to miss their turn as speaker without a doctor’s note!  But the domestic home front was not to be neglected.  Many clubs only met from September through June, so the women could be home during the summer school recess. One local club fined their members $2 if they served dinner late on club meeting days!
Afternoon Club from 2 May 1969 Medina Gazette

In 1898, the Afternoon Club of Medina  was formed.  It is believed to be the oldest woman’s club in the county.  Just a year later, 1899, the Medina Coterie was formed.  Both of these clubs are still active and thriving.

The Montville Co-Workers Women’s Club was one of thousands of such clubs across the country.  Formed in 1922, it started with 24 members.  The Montville Club paid dues to County and State organizations. Although the records do not name these regional groups the state group was likely the Ohio Federation of Women’s Clubs and the county group was called the County Federation of Farm Women’s Clubs.  In 1965, the Montville Club ceased to exist due to “lack of interest.” 

Montville Co-Workers Club, a Farm-women's Club of Medina County, Ohio lists all the members of the club throughout its existence, in whose home they met and what the monthly programs were about.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Wilda Bell Howard

Wilda Bell Howard 
Wilda Bell Howard was a remarkable woman who contributed much to the City of Medina, the Second Baptist Church, and Medina's Black community.

Learn more about this incredible woman by clicking on the following links:

A Medina Post YouTube video:

Her listing on that includes her obituary:

A Medina Gazette article with many charming photographs:

Do you have any memories of Wilda Bell that you would like to share?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Genealogist is NOT In!

There will not be a genealogist in on Tuesday February 24th because of staff meetings at another location. Check back with us in March!!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Julia Williams

Julia Williams
Circa 1846-1937

The Works Progress Administration did many incredible things to provide work during the Great Depression. One of the projects was to document the lives of the African Americans who were born into slavery. On 10th of June 1937, Forest Lees interviewed Julia Williams who lived in Wadsworth.

Julia (MACK) Williams was born into slavery around 1846 near Richmond, Virginia. After the Civil War and Emancipation, Julia reunited with the rest of her family. She married Richard Williams in the south around 1868.

In 1876, the Wadsworth area experienced a series of coal  mine strikes. To break the strike, the owners imported hundreds of African Americans from Virginia. Among them was Richard Williams. When the miners discovered what the owners had done, they threatened retaliation on the strike breakers. The mine owners built blockades and dormitories for the imported workers. Some of the workers, fearing for their lives, returned to the south. Others, like Richard, sent for their families and put down roots in the area.

The Williams family were founding members of the First Baptist Church in Wadsworth.* The census tells us that neither Richard of Julia could read or write. They had a large family. Richard worked in the mines for many years before becoming a laborer for the Wadsworth Streets Department. He died 19 February 1915.

It was fortunate that the WPA workers interviewed Julia, as she died just six months later:

Medina County Gazette  3 December 1937 page 6.

Julia tells about her life as a slave in this interview:,+Julia)) 

*Wadsworth Center to City Eleanor Iler Schapiro, editor. 1938.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Joseph Reno

As a rule, it can be difficult to trace the lives of African Americans in the 19th Century. But there are exceptions. Here is one from Medina's History:

Joseph Reno
Joseph Reno was born in Champaign County, Ohio circa 1812 to Francis & Rachel (Magee) Reno. He married Anna King in Springfield, Clark County, Ohio on 11 Aug. 1830 and moved to Medina by 1840.

In the 1840 census for Medina, Ohio, Joseph Reno's household includes 2 Black people: a male, 24-35 years old, most likely Joseph and one female, aged 10-24 years old, probably Anna.

In the 1850 Census, Joseph is entered as a Mulatto; age 36, born in Ohio; Occupation, barber; personal property valued at $1600; Rhoda, aged 34; born in Ohio; race not indicated, and Abram Reno, aged 27, listed as mulatto; barber; $800 in personal property.

In the May 22, 1855 Medina County Gazette: "J.H. Maxell and Alex McClure have purchased the space next to the Exchange Buildings formerly occupied by Jo. Reno, and intend to erect a splendid store, three stories high, immediately."

For the 1860 census in Medina County, Joseph is listed as 45 years old (no race indicated). He is a barber, with property valued at $1500. "Roda" is age 43.

Joseph's mother, Rachel (Magee) Reno, died in Medina on 22 May 1864 at his home.

In the History of Medina County and Ohio (1881) on page 248:
      "At another time a larceny had been committed in Medina, and Joseph Reno, a colored man, had ferreted out the thief and arrested him, and fearing that he might not be allowed to testify on account of his color, so induced the criminal to confess in the presence of a white witness as to effect his conviction. Reno was offered as a witness and the State offered to show he was more than half white, but Judge Dean would not hear any such proof and decided that, by "inspection" Reno was a "negro" and refused to allow him to testify. At that time, by the laws of Ohio "negroes and mulattoes" were not competent witnesses where a white man was a party."

In a March 1870 Gazette -- "Joe" Reno an old colored man at the American House, known to all the world and the rest of mankind as just the best fellow in the world to have around a hotel, and whose jovial countenance is never invisible, though under a cloud, celebrated the adoption of the 15th Amendment by taking a trip to Cleveland, stopping with his old friend Terrell of the Forest City House. We trust he had a pleasant visit."   Terrell was a previous manager of the American House.

And just a month later, also in the Gazette:
"At the election in this village last Monday, Mr. Joseph Reno - everybody knows "Joe" - cast his first vote. Sixty years old, and a taxpayer for may years, he now comes into the exercise of a right which all men are bound to respect. It is needless to say that Joseph voted a straight Republican ticket."  During this time period, the Republican party, the party of Abraham Lincoln, was considered favorably by the African American Community.

For the 1870 Medina County Census, Joseph was listed as a Mulatto, but now his occupation was listed as "Domestic Servant". In the house with him, is Hannah, aged 40 with Personal Property worth $4380. Also listed is May, aged 15, Mulatto, Mandy age 9, Mulatto and Elena, age 1, Mulatto. 

The relationship between Joseph and the people he lived with is never defined. His wife, Anna, never shows up by name in the census records with him. Joseph Reno is not listed in the index for marriage or divorce records for this time period.

The next time we see Joseph's name in the newspaper is 28 June 1872:

Erastus Hitchcock and another youth were firing a pistol across from the American House. Joseph confronted the young men about their reckless behavior as they were disturbing the peace and upsetting a sick child. They refused. Joseph then struck Hitchcock with a broom handle that he used as a cane. Erastus fired at Joe, but missed. But the second shot didn't miss.

Joseph was able to dictate his statement, before he died:

In a time period when minorities and women were largely ignored in the local press, The Medina Gazette dedicated 4 paragraphs to Joe's obituary on July 5th:

We are still searching for where Joseph Reno was buried.

1875 Medina Gazette: "Erastus Hitchcock, who was sentenced to the Penitentiary for six years for shooting Joe REno, was pardoned last week."

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, we will be focusing on African American Genealogy Sources and Medina County African Americans of Note.

The following resources are offering free access to these African American genealogical sources for the month of February:
Black History Collection - Free Access

Fold3 is offering free access to:

  • "Colored" Troop Service Records
  • Court Slave Records
  • Amistad Records
  • Slave Registry
  • Anti-Slavery Records
Ohio Memory

The Ohio History Connection is offering free access to their Siebert Collection:
For those who don't know, Prof. Wilbur H. Siebert spent a large portion of his life documenting the Underground Railroad system in Ohio and was the foremost expert on the subject.

Mapping The Freedmen's Bureau

Mapping the Freedmens Bureau gives advice on how to search the Freedmens Bureau for information on African Americans in the years right after the Civil War.

Ancestry has launched an African American Research Center and access is free for this month:

Just a reminder that you don't have to have African American ancestry to benefit from these records, Aboltionists, UGRR stops and bankers names also show up in these records.

Happy Researching!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sleigh Ride Follow-Up

On Dec. 16th, I posted about the Great Sleigh Ride of 1856, in which Medina County was declared the winner  and won a banner. Years later, the banner "disappeared." Some additional information has been discovered about the fate of the banner.

A 1964 Daily Leader Post article said that the banner was turned over to Summit County Board of Agriculture at the Centennial 4th of July Celebration in 1876. That story does not give a reason why Medina surrendered the flag to Summit County. However, a history of the Medina County Fair, tells a slightly different story.

In 1878, the Medina Fair moved from a smaller site to its present location between Lafayette and Smith Roads in Medina. One of the prizes given out at the fair that year was the Sleigh Banner, which was to go to the county that could bring the largest delegation to the Medina Fair. Summit County won and their Board of Agriculture took home the banner.

Summit County Fair Board, the descendant organization of the Summit County Board of Agriculture, is looking for anyone who knows what happened to the banner. Have you seen it??

A very entertaining account of the sleigh riding competitions of the winter of 1855-56, can be found on pages 75-85 of Those Were The Days by Charles Asa Post. Published in 1935, the main text is about the sleigh races that were routinely held on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland from the 1870s through 1910. But this one chapter is about the earlier competition.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Genealogy Television

The last 5 years has produced a boon in genealogy television shows.

Lisa Kudrow brought the British show  (WDYTYA) to the U.S. in 2010 and even after changing networks, that show is still going strong. I do love this show and its emphasis on documentation. I have issues with its heavy reliance on using, one of the sponsors of the shows. Also, jet-setting off to Europe to do research isn't available to most of us, and really isn't necessary to research your immigrant ancestors.  That scenario could be intimidating to a new genealogist. WDYTYA? will start airing new episodes on February 24th.

Another British import, Genealogy Roadshow, building on the popularity of Antiques Roadshow, as well as WDYTYA? and Finding Your Roots,  first went on the air in 2013. They try to cover a number of guests in a short period of time. I often feel there is more to the story that I am missing. It airs on Tuesday nights and is in the middle of its 2015 episodes.

Henry Louis Gates Jr., after hosting the HUGELY popular African American Lives and Faces of America, started hosting  Finding Your Roots in 2012. I love the scholarly air Professor Gates brings to the show. Also, the show doesn't try to pretend that the guest is doing any of the research themselves. And he brings genealogy DNA into the search.  It airs September- November.

All of these shows touch and educate me with every episode and I try not to miss a single one!

But not all genealogy shows find their audience. Thanks to streaming TV, and DVDs these now defunct shows are still available:

The Canadian show, Ancestors in the Attic only lasted its initial season in 2007. Flavored more like tabloid TV than a serious show, it promises to dig up the family secrets, find the dirt, and reveal if your ancestors were sinners or saints, royals or rogues. If you want to get a sample of the cheesy host, YouTube the episode on Sheila Nageira Pike.   I can see why it didn't last.

HBO's Family Tree, starring Chris Dowd, premiered and tanked in 2013. Being a fan of Chris Dowd, I had high hopes for Family Tree and ordered in the DVD set. Billed as a "mockumentary" the show was a parody of the other popular genealogy shows, particularly WDYTYA? It wasn't quite as funny as I hoped and I can only recommend it if you are a fan of Dowd.

Episodes of Who Do You Think You Are? Finding Your Roots, African American Lives, and Faces of America are available through the library.