Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Historic Homes of Medina

The John Smart House, home to the Medina County Historical Society

The Medina Library has some wonderful resources for researching your home's history, particularly if it is an older home in the downtown Medina area.

First, there is the Historical Home Research brochure, that is available on the library's web site and HERE and I blogged about it HERE.

Then there is Bob Hyde's wonderful web site that was in The Medina Gazette last week - READ THE ARTICLE  HERE.   I blogged about that HERE. (Bob has changed the name of the site since I posted about it.)

But you know that not everything is available online, right? Right?

In 1979,  MCRPC registered a number of area homes on the Ohio Historic Inventory. It is a one volume binder with indexing by address and the home's name. Houses had to NOT had significant rennovations to qualify and the information is limited.

 A sample sheet from the Ohio Historic Inventory:


For the last 30+ years, the Medina Library has collected newspaper articles on local history topics. One of those topics is historic homes in Medina County, with much of the focus being Medina City. These articles are now compiled in two volume (soon to be four) binders in the Franklin Sylvester Room.

The articles are indexed by address and the name of the house. 85 different homes are covered including:
  • Burnham House which currently houses The Corkscrew Saloon
  • The Farmer's Exchange which is currently closed. Developers are looking at options.
  • The Gingerbread House in Weymouth
  • Hershey's Barbershop off the Square in Medina
  • The King-Phillips-Deibel House on North Broadway in Medina. This house was moved from its location on the southeast corner of the Square to North Broadway so the Franklin Sylvester Library could be built.
  • Lustron Homes - post WWII pre-fab houses built aroun 1948.
  • McDowell-Phillips House at the end of Washington Street in Medina
  • Octagon House
  • Quonset Hut
  • John Smart House
  • Victorian Village
  • York School

The "Blue" Phillips house was one of the homes that were
part of Victorian Village on East Washington. The homes are
all gone now, removed for the Medina Library Expansion
The Phillips house was dismantled and moved across
 country to the San Francisco are and rebuilt.

The Gingerbread House in Weymouth.
It is often the focus of historic home tours
 in Weymmouth
The King-Deibel-Phillips House on North Broadway. It was
moved from the corner of East Washington and South Broadway
for the construction of the original 1907 Library building.
McDowell-Phillips house at the end of Washington Street
in Medina. 

Information is as simple as a single article about an Historic Home Tour or many articles covering multiple decades. 

Is your historic home included?

Maybe. Maybe not. Visit the Franklin Sylvester Room at the Medina Library and browse through the binders

But the library will welcome copies of any information you have gathered to be added to our files!

Flyer from Akron Summit County Public Library

Akron Summit County Library is offering a wonderful program "Church and State: Genealogy Research in Religious and Government Records" on April lst. If you have never attended one of Akron's all-day program, I can highly recommend them. I would go to this one, but I have a conflicting engagement. I.E. - I have to work that day! Sign up information is HERE.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

History of the Medina Library

Library Timeline - Medina County has a long and proud library tradition.
Miss Eva Johnson
an early librarian
  • 1878 A Medina Circulating Library Association was formed. Members paid dues and then were able to check out books.
  • 1885 The Librarian (who was also the treasurer) was paid $20 a year.
  • 1890 Mr. W. H. Albro provided a reading room rent free to be used as the library.
  • 1899 the Officers of the Association vote to incorporate 
  • 1899 the Medina Library Association incorporates
  • 1899 A small building on the north side of the square is bought to house the library
  • 1900 the Library moves to a room rented from Judge Barnard in the Barnard Block
  • Librarian, Miss Eva Johnson reports an average of 27 visitors a day. 
  • 1903 Purchased the mortgage on Brown Studio property.
  • 1904 Librarian’s salary increased to $3 a week and the library is to be open 1:30-5 p.m.
  • 1904 Franklin Sylvester proposes to give $10,000 for a public library building and asks the trustees to make it free public library.

    Franklin Sylvester benefactor to
    the Medina Library.
  • 1904 Board of Cemetery Trustees gives $5,000 to the Medina Village Council for the purchase of a lot on which to build a library. 
  • 1905 A lot on the southeast corner of the square is purchased. The Deibel house is moved to its new location on North Broadway.  

    An early architectural drawing of the Medina Library
  • 1906 Franklin Sylvester gives another $1000 to the construction of the building.

  • The adult reading room at the Medina Library circa 1915
  • 1907 Franklin Sylvester died in May, never seeing the completed building.

  • 1907 Dedication of the new library held on August 30, 1907
  • 1908 Property of the old Medina Library Association is transferred to the Franklin Sylvester Library  

    The finished library in 1908
  • 1925 The first professional librarian, Miss Irene Hess, was hired.
  • 1928 Arrowhead collection is put on display by the Medina Historical Society
  • 1933 Became a county wide (excluding Wadsworth because it already had a library) library and extended borrowing privileges to all of Medina County Residents. 
  • 1934 Summer Reading program for children initiated  
    1948 Summer Reading Club in front of the Medina Library.
  • 1935 Children are allowed to take out books overnight
  • 1942 Victory book campaign collects over 2,030 books for service men.  
  • 1942 Mrs. Elsie Bennett Wilson was elected president of the Ohio Library Trustees Association 
  • 1945 Due to gasoline rationing, tire conservation and wartime restrictions on travel, the library offers to mail books to patrons
  • 1948 Bookmobile was purchased.  
Bookmobile from the 1940's
  • 1960 Lodi Community Library opened in the Lodi Advertiser’s office
  • 1961 Brunswick Community Library opened
  • 1961 Seville Community Library opened, built with local donations by local hands
  • 1965 Hinckley Community Library opened in the town hall
  • 1965 Brunswick Library moves to the Brunswick Shopping Center
  • 1965 Lodi library moved into the American Legion Building 
  • 1972 a 5 year building levy was passed to expand the Franklin Sylvester Library
  • 1974 Hinckley Library moves into the old Stouffer house on Route 303
  • 1976 the Elsie Bennett Wilson addition is opened, doubling the size of the library. She was on the State Library Board of Trustees. 
    Elsie Bennett Wilson - Medina Library
    Board of Trustees
  • 1977 The Lodi Library moves into old Funeral Home on Wooster St.
  • 1980 Brunswick Library moves into new facility on Center Road by the Brunswick High School.
  • 1982 the library system voted to change from a school district to a county system and became the Medina County District Library January 25 1982.
  • 1982 Bookmobile service was suspended when last bookmobile became inoperable.
  • 1983 Hinckley Township Trustees buy the Stouffer building from SOHIO for $45,000 (location of the Hinckley Library.)
  • 1985 Seville Library receives trust from Irene Welday to make an addition.
  • 1987 The first operating levy passes allowing for the operating expenses and the purchase of a new bookmobile. More staff was hired and hours are expanded.
  • 1989 Medina County District Library joined the ClevNet consortium and computerized its holdings
  • 1990 the Law & Commerce (Nichols) Building behind the library is purchased allowing the administrative staff to move into that space
  • 1991 Bookmobile service reinstated.
  • 1992 a second operating levy passes allowing for expansion of library hours and services
  • 1996 Internet access is offered to patrons and the Library web site debuted
  • 1997 10 year operating levy renewed
  • 1998 Medina County District Library wins the Library of the Year Award
    Library Journal 15 June 1998
  • 2003 Mrs. Evelyn Steingass Riggs donates 5.4 acres near the Buckeye High School to the library
  • 2003 building levy was passed in November allowing for expansion of the Medina & Brunswick Branches, whole new Lodi and Hinckley/Highland branches and a brand new branch near the Buckeye school system (thanks to the donation of the land) 
  • 2004 The Lodi and Buckeye branches break ground April 20.
  • 2005 New, larger bookmobile hits the road in September.
  • 2005 The new Buckeye Library opens
  • 2006 The new Lodi Library opens
  • 2007 Renovated Brunswick and Seville Libraries re-open
  • 2007 100th Anniversary of the Medina Franklin Sylvester Library
  • 2007 10 year operating levy renewed.
  • 2008 January 12, the expanded and renovated Medina Library reopened. 
  • 2008 - The new Highland Library opened in March.
  • 2009 - State of Ohio reduced funding to all public libraries in Ohio. MCDL instituted layoffs and cutbacks in hours and services to accommodate the reduction in funding. Fees were instituted for ILL and genealogy requests. Free copies from the computers were reduced from 10 per day to 5.
  • 2009 - MCDL started offering ebooks.
  • 2010-2016 - Over the next several years, some of the state funding was restored, allowing for restoration of hours and some services. 
  • 2017 - Today the library offers many types of emedia: ebooks, e-audio books, magazines, music, and movies accounting for nearly 15% of materials checked-out.

  • Miss Merva Andrews -1891
  • Eva Johnson 1891-1925
  • Irene Hess 1925-1926
  • Kathryn Wilder 1926-1928
  • Edna Eckert 1928-1930
  • Elizabeth Urch (Kraver) 1930-1935
  • Eleanor Brandt 1935 -1943
  • Elizabeth Kraver 1943-1946
  • Cicely Hinton 1946
  • Acting Librarian - Olive Meyer 1946-1947
  • Celeste Whitwell 1947
  • Virginia Wood 1948-1952
  • Elizabeth Kraver 1953-1974
  • Ron Tollafield 1974-1985 (Last who served as director and also worked as a librarian with the public.) (Anne Mathews, Librarian retired 1981 (Deb Ludwig hired, she left in 1989))
  • Bob Smith 1985-1998 (First to be hired as Director only)
  • Interim Director- Mike Harris 1999
  • Barbara Webb 1999-2002
  • Interim Director– Christine Gramm 2002
  • Mike Harris 2002-2007
  • Carole Kowell 2008-20??

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Did you know that Corned Beef and Cabbage is an American dish?

The Corned Beef and Cabbage meal that most Americans eat to
celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

In Ireland, beef was way too expensive for the average family. So they ate a lot of pork and particularly liked "rashers" of bacon. When the Irish immigrants arrived in the U.S., they found that even bacon was beyond their budget. But they could afford the cheap cut of beef brisket, along with the root vegetables and cabbages which would be available at the markets in March. And that is how Corned Beef and Cabbage became a uniquely Irish-American dish.

Medina has a long but sketchy history of Irish immigrants coming into the county. Medina never had a large influx of Irish immigrants at any one time.

Chart showing number of Medina County residents who were born in Ireland. 
As the chart shows there was a higher number of Irish born residents in 1850, shortly after the Irish Potato Famine that starved a million of their countrymen and sent a million more to the shores of America. Medina County history books often contain the phrase, "born in Ireland" and "descended from Ireland". Miss Ella Canavan was a daughter of immigrants from County Mayo, Ireland.

And today, we are all a "liitle bit Irish" on St. Patrick's Day

And me?  I am at least 1/64th Irish from my 4X Great Grandmother, Fair Sabra Connolly.

Growing up in north central Ohio, we had a tradition of pinching anyone who didn't wear green on St. Patrick's Day. Did any of you have that tradition or another one that you would like to share?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Hiram Bronson

Hiram Bronson

Medina County Gazette 31 March 1892, page 4.

Hiram Bronson was born 1802 in Connecticut and he came to Medina with his family when he was still a boy. It was said that he drove the first cattle to market from Medina Township.

In the mid 1820's he was a deputy sheriff. In 1828 he married Mary Ann Stevens. And then he became the Medina County Sheriff from 1828 to 1830.

Then he moved to Richfield Township (which at that time was part of Medina County) in 1830 and lived there until 1842 and operated a mercantile store. Then he moved back to Medina and opened his store at the northwest corner of Court Street and West Liberty.

He was initiated as in the first degree of Masonry on 7 July 1823. He served as high priest seven times.

Also during that time period he was the Brigade Inspector for the State militia from 1825- 1833.

Around 1840, he built "Rose Cottage" on the northwest corner of West Liberty and North Elmwood. The cottage was later moved to 131 North Elmwood, where the current parking lot for the Medina Municipal Court is.

The Rose Cottage built by Hiram in the 1840's.

Oil painting of the Rose Cottage purportedly done by Mrs. Bronson. At the Medina County Historical Society.

On the old lot, Hiram built a three story brick house. In 1906 this brick home was torn down by a contractor.

A rendering of Hiram's brick house that appears in the 1874
Combination Atlas of Medina County

He was elected Judge in 1854.

Around this time he was one of the proponents of a railroad connecting Medina to a main line in Grafton. The endeavor floundered for years but was finally completed in 1871. This effort was a financial loss for Hiram.

He retired from his mercantile store in 1861.

But in 1865 he was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives and he served until 1869.

Interestingly, he does not have a biographical sketch in the 1881  History of Medina County and Ohio, which is unusual for such a prominent citizen.

In 1884 he donated the stained glass window over the alter at St.Paul's Episcopal Church in memory of his brother Noah, Noah's wife, Betsey, and their children, Sherman, Rebecca and Lavenia.

Hiram died in March of 1892 at his daughter's house in St. Louis, Missouri. He was nearly 90 years old. His obituary reflected the respect in which he was held.

The Medina County Gazette
31 March 1892, page 4.

Bronson Street on the northeast quadrant of Medina is named for Hiram.

Hiram accomplished plenty in his own right to merit his remembrance in Medina County. But he also had some rather illustrious relatives.

Several newspaper articles from the early 1900's mention a connection between the Alcott family in Medina and the Alcott family of Connecticut.

The Medina County Sentinel 19 November 1915, page 1.

The Medina Sentinel 16 August, 1923, page 1.

The Medina County Gazette,  29 April, 1926, page 1.

But other articles more contemporary to his lifetime say that A. Bronson Alcott visited with Hiram Bronson. A quick search for the ancestry of these gentlemen show that A. Bronson Alcott and Hiram Bronson were first cousins.

The Medina County Gazette 14 Dec 1877, page 4

The Medina County Gazette 14 November 1878, page 7

And in case you are wondering, yes, A. Bronson Alcott was the father of Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, Little Men, and Jo's Boys. A. Bronson and Hiram were first cousins. Which would make Hiram Bronson a first cousin once removed of the famous authoress.

I could not find any articles that stated that Louisa ever accompanied her father on his visits to Medina, and it seems strange that the earliest articles don't mention her visits. And her father frequently went on speaking tours on his own.

But still...

WikiMedia Commons

Web sites:
Beyond the Storefronts
Discover Medina
Lost Medina
WikiMedia Commons
World Connect Project

Combination Atlas of Medina County  (1874)
History of Medina County and Ohio (1881)
Historical Highlights of Medina (1948)
Images of America Medina by Gloria Brown

Medina County Gazette
     17 March 1974
     31 March 1892
     29 April 1926.
     14 Dec 1877
Medina County Sentinel
      19 November 1915
      16 August, 1923

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

LIBRARIES and Genealogical Research

It will be no surprise to you that I LOVE libraries. Besides being a voracious reader, I have always turned to books when learning something new. Which is what I did when I started my family research all those years ago.

The small library in Caledonia, OH where I first caught
the reading bug.

And despite what you might have heard, libraries are alive and well and still a great place to start your genealogical research.

Libraries have local history materials specific to their area, basic genealogy resources, and genealogy databases that can be expensive to subscribe to privately. They also often offer genealogy classes along with the many other classes. And more and more, they are digitizing materials to make them even more accessible. 

AND, they have wonderful staff members just waiting to help you!  

Myself and Lisa Rienerth, Genealogy Specialists at the Medina Library.

Here are some helpful tips for getting the most out of genealogical research in libraries:

·        Employees of libraries are there to help you use the library’s resources, NOT to do your research for you.
·        Familiarize yourself with the library; its physical set-up, bathroom facilities, location of copiers and prices for copies, their policies, hours and restrictions. This information usually can be found on the library's web site. If it isn't, call and ask before you drive.
·        Just because something is in print, or on the Internet does not mean it is true! 
·        DO read "how to" books and learn the basics of genealogy research.
·        DO your homework before you go to the library. Fill out those pedigree charts and decide which person you're going to work on today.
·        DO have a specific goal in mind. Very specific, as in ONE piece of information on ONE individual who lived in ONE specific place at ONE specific time. 
·        DO bring your own pencils, paper, paper clips, change for the copiers and other supplies.
·        DO check the library's online catalog to know what resources to expect.
·        DO ask how to use the microfilm reader if you've never used it before.
·        DO thank the librarian for his/her help.
·        DON'T bring children with you when you research genealogy; they'll be bored and the other patrons may want to harm them. (This may apply to reluctant, take-along spouses, too.)
·        DON'T ask the librarian "Where's the book on my genealogy?" Chances are very good there's no such thing.
·        DON'T think you can do all your relatives in one day.
·        DON'T ask the librarian, "Can you make a copy of my genealogy for me?"
·        DON'T complain (if you're from out of town) because the library doesn't have "everything they have at home" or "everything they have in Salt Lake City." No library has unlimited funds.
·        DON'T put the books and microfilm away.

Types of Resources Available

General Reference contains genealogy “how-to” books, historical maps, guides on how to use the library and how to use the computers.

Indexes – many useful sources have been indexed and can point the way to the next step in your research.

Family Histories – While the chance of finding your own family in a printed family history is slim, if you do find your family, it can greatly assist your own research.  Use published family histories to provide direction for your own research. But remember that they can contain errors.  Often libraries have an index to all the family histories they own.

Regional Collections cover specific geographic areas, like a particular state county, or region.  Think "northeast Ohio".

Local Histories – can contain information on the formation and immigration into the area.  Often contain biographical sketches of early pioneers or leaders. Maps and atlases can help you locate your ancestors’ properties and learn who their neighbors were.

Military section lists all the different wars in which America has been involved.  Often, the indexes to the pension records are in this area.

Newspapers – Besides obituaries, birth and marriage notices, early papers often recount the social life of local inhabitants. Legal notices and real estate sales are reported in the paper.  It can be a time consuming but very rewarding search.

Magazines and newsletters – There are several national genealogical magazines, such as Ancestry and Your Genealogy. They contain excellent articles on the techniques and sources used in genealogy.  Nearly every genealogical or historical society published a newsletter which can contain local government records or family histories. PERSI is the most complete index to all of these newsletters and magazines.  It is produced by the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne Indiana

Databases - Most libraries subscribe to several genealogy databases, the most common ones being Ancestry Library Edition (the library version of, Heritage Quest, Newspaper Archives and Fold3.

Types of Libraries and Archives

Public Libraries – Small local libraries are good sources for general genealogy information and for local community history.  Larger public libraries can have quite extensive genealogy collections.  Even if your local public library does not have what you need, they may be able to obtain it for you through interlibrary loan (ILL.)  Most local history materials do not circulate and therefore aren’t available for ILL.  But if the book is indexed and if specific surnames are needed, most libraries will photocopy the necessary information.

Entrance to the Genealogy Center at Allen County Public Library.
Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana is a prime example of a public library with an outstanding genealogy collection. It holds massive collections of censuses, city directories, family, state, county and town histories, passenger lists and one of the most complete collections of genealogical periodicals in the country.  Their staff has indexed these genealogical periodicals in the Periodical Source Index or PERSI.

Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah
Family History Library and Family History Centers – Because of their belief in the eternal nature of families, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has gathered genealogical records from all over the world to assist members in identifying their ancestors.  The main repository of these records is the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The library’s collection contains microfilm, microfiche, books, serials and periodicals. Many of their microfilmed records result from their program of identifying and microfilming records of genealogical interest from all over the world.  Their Family History Centers provide local access to most of these materials through an interlibrary loan service.  You can search their records at their web site:

Historical and Genealogical Society Libraries – Local historical and genealogical societies can have very fine collections relating to their community.  State historical societies will have collections covering the entire state.  Some regional historical societies have national reputations for their excellence, i.e. New England Historic Genealogical Society , the Western Reserve Historical Society and the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR.) 

The Ohio Genealogical Society Library in Bellville, Ohio.

Resources at the Ohio Genealogical Society

The DAR Library is one of the nation's premier genealogical research centers. In late 1998 the Library's book collection numbered some 150,000 volumes with approximately 5,000 new titles added to the Library each year.

State Archives and Libraries – Each state maintains a library or archive that houses the records that pertain to the state and its government. These holdings may include state censuses, state military, naturalization or passenger records. The material varies greatly from state to state. You can find which ones have a web site by consulting:

Library of Congress – The Library of Congress has one of
the world's premier collections of U.S. and foreign genealogical
and local historical publications. The Library is rich in collections of manuscripts, microfilms, newspapers, photographs, maps, and published material.

The Library of Congress

National Archives – The National Archives is the repository of textual and microfilm records relating to genealogy, census, Revolutionary and Civil War Pensions, American Indians, pre-World War II military, the District of Columbia, the Federal courts, and Congress. The National Archives has 16 regional facilities that house the complete federal census and any unique records for the geographical area it serves. 

Have you been using libraries to their full potential??
Your library card- the passport to a wonderful world of genealogy research.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Medina's Governor

John W. Brown

The Ohio State House
Governor Portraits
HAH! Did you know that Medina had a resident who served as Governor of the State of Ohio?

John William Brown was born in Athens, Ohio on 28 December 1913 to James A. and Daisy (FOSTER) Brown. His father was born in Scotland, immigrating to America in 1890 and becoming a naturalized citizen in 1918.

In the 1920 census, the family was still living in Athens, Ohio and James was working as a traveling salesman. By 1930,the family  had moved to Lancaster, Fairfield County, Ohio. But by 1940, James is no longer listed with the family. John and his mother are still in Fairfield County, and he is working as a theater manager. Shortly after that, John attended the patrol training school in Columbus. By November of 1941 he was hired as the sixth State Highway Patrolman for Medina County.

As a young bachelor in a new town, John Brown made the local news, evoking either Don Juan or Don Knotts (as Barney Fife).

In January of 1942, this amusing tale casts John as an aspiring, if bumbling, Don Juan:

The Medina Gazette, 6 January 1942, page 2.

The "affair" with the young lady from Cleveland must have gone nowhere, because three short months later, Patrolman Brown was getting married...

The Medina Gazette  7  April 1942, page 3.

To a nurse from Lodi, named Velma Hovatter.

Next, in a tale that could have been taken from an episode of Mayberry R.F.D., Mr. Brown is again in the papers...

The Medina Gazette 7 July 1942, page 2.

In August of 1942, Patrolman Brown became Boatswain's Mate Brown when he joined the Coast Guard:

The Medina County Gazette, 18 August 1942 page 1.
Sometime during the next year, John and his first wife, Velma divorced. John married Violet Helman on 3 May 1943 in Florida.

After the war, John returned to Medina and opened an appliance store.

In 1949, he declared his candidacy for Mayor of Medina:

The Medina Gazette 14 January 1949,page 1.
John W. Brown served as Medina's mayor from 1950-1953.

In 1953, he was elected Lieutenant Governor of the State of Ohio, under Governor Frank Lausch. When Lausch was elected to the U.S. Senate, he resigned as governor. Brown became governor on 3 January 1957 and served through 14 January, when the in-coming Governor, C. William O'Neill, took office.

He served as Governor for 11 days. But they were a very busy 11 days. He:

  • Moved into the "old" Governor's mansion.
  • He moved into the Governor's office
  • He replaced the portraits of Democratic governors in the office with Republican governors.
  • He called the "lame-duck" cabinet together and assured them their jobs were safe.
  • He called a joint session of the General Assembly together and delivered a State of the State address.
  • He tried to settle a telephone strike in Portsmouth.
  • Began proceedings to appoint a Lieutenant Governor.
  • Insisted that he be paid the Governor's salary for his 11 days in office.
  • Commuted the sentences of five convicted murderers.
He went on to serve three more terms as Ohio's Lieutenant Governor under Governors Rhodes and Gilligan. He also was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1959-1960 and a member of the Ohio Senate 1963-1975.

His 1993 obituary from the Medina Gazette chronicles his many, many accomplishments:

Medina Gazette 30 Oct 1993, page A-2

Brown lived the last years of his life in Medina, so it is fitting that Medina is his final resting place.

Tombstone photo from Spring Grove Cemetery on provided by Mark Pawelczak
So, now you know...

Ohio Politics edited by Alexander P. Lamis, Mary Anne Sharkey, available on Google Books
Ancestry Library Edition, available through MCDL
The Medina County Gazette:
       30 October, 1993, page A 2
       6 January 1942, page 2.
       7 July 1942, page 2.
       30 Oct 1993, page A-2