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. 
  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

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!