Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Educators

School is back in session here in Medina County.  So let's take a look at a couple of Medina's well known teachers; Eliza Northrop and Ella Canavan.

Both of these ladies have elementary schools named after them. But their career paths were very different.

Eliza Northrop is known as the first teacher in Medina County. The school named after her is located on Reagan Parkway. She taught 23 students in 1817 in a "log meeting house".

Log meeting house similar to the one Eliza would have taught in.
The next year, she became the first bride in Medina County when she married Giles Barnes. As it was the first wedding, everyone was invited and everyone came. The partying when on "rather late", and people went home with bark torches to light their way. Some arrived home "snapped with wine".

Eliza Northrop Elementary School on East Reagan Parkway
Thus ended her career as a teacher. It was the custom at that time, reinforced by school boards, that a married woman could not hold a teaching position. She and Giles had seven children and Eliza died in Medina in 1863.

The NORTHROP family is an old Medina name that goes back to Connecticut.

Ella Canavan was born in Medina 1877 to Anthony and Hellen (Staid) Canavan. His parents were born and married in County Mayo, Ireland. Shortly after the couple married, they immigrated straight to Medina County. Ella's given name on her birth record is "Hellen" Canavan and she was born 4 November 1877 in Medina.  Her father, Anthony, was a section boss for the C.L. & W. railroad. The family lived at 514 West Liberty Street in Medina. He died in 1890 leaving his wife and 6 children to mourn him. In the 1880 Census, she is listed as "Helen" but by the 1900 Census, she is "Ella" and that is the name she was known by for the rest of her life.

"Miss Ella" Canavan with her students (1946 Medinian Yearbook)

After completing high school in Medina, Ella graduated from Oberlin College with a degree in teaching. She started a private kindergarten in 1900. For the next 45+ years, "Miss Ella" was a beloved teacher in the Medina School System. She resigned in 1945 but the outcry from past students and the superintendent of the schools, Mr. Spencer, dictated her return. She later resigned permanently in 1949.

"Miss Ella" passed away in 1964.

Ella Canavan Elementary School on Lawrence Street in Medina, was dedicated to Miss Ella in 1960.

Ella Canavan Elementary School

Two other schools in the Medina City School system are named after teachers: Sidney Fenn Elementary School and Claggett Middle School, named after Howard Claggett. But that is a subject for another blog.

Gloria Brown has just published a new book on the history of the Medina County Schools, titled, The Story of Medina's Schools. Read more about it in this Medina Post article: New Book Chronicles History of Medina Schools.  The Medina County District Libraries will soon have copies available to check out!

Pioneer History of Medina by N.B. Northrop (1861)
History of Medina by the Medina County Historical Society (1848)
Highlights of Medina  (1966)
Medina County Gazette
The Medina Post


Anonymous said...

Neat! Thanks for sharing!

Lynn said...

We have wonderful Teachers AND wonderful Librarians here in Medina County! Thank you for this post, Kathy Petras!

Kat said...

Thanks for the nice comment, Lynn!

Diana Budney said...

Awesome!!! Look forward to more articles!!!