Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dandelion Drive

No, this blog is not about my front yard. (Though we are using fewer weed killers because
dandelions are among the first blossoms that bees visit every spring. Did you know that?)

On May 21st., the second annual Medina County History tour will be taking place. Last year's tour tried to fit in as many of the historical societies who wanted to participate. This year the council wanted to focus on a section of Medina County, like how the Fall Foliage Tour does.

And the focus will be on the city of Medina.

And the map:

And for more details check out their  - Facebook page

On the 20th, the Lodi Railroad Museum is having a work day to spruce up the museum. If you are interested in helping out contact:
Lodi Railroad Museum
By Phone:
Joanne Slorgie - (330) 948-2482
Paul Bayus - (330) 887-5325

It is a great weekend for historians in Medina!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


On Medina's northwest side is a nice park, Ray Mellert Park.  On North Huntington, it has been then for as long as we have lived in Medina, the late 1980's. Only recently did I begin to wonder who was Ray Mellert and why did Medina name a park after him?

Ray Mellert was a life-long Medina resident, born to George & Edith Mellert in 1919. He graduated from Medina High School in 1936.

Ray Mellert's Senior picture from the 1936 Medina High School Yearbook
From his nickname and his quote from the caption, and several other incidents listed in the yearbooks, Ray was a well-liked, happy fellow who enjoyed a good escapade.

U.S.S. Wyoming from 1944-45 (Wikipedia)
Ray joined the U.S. Navy even before World War II broke out. He served all his time aboard the U.S. S. Wyoming, a training ship based out of Chesapeake MD. The Wyoming was built as a battleship for WWI, but had been re-purposed as a training facility for anti-aircraft gunners. He was a supply officer.

After he returned from the service, Ray joined his dad at Free Oil. George Mellert was a founding member of the enterprise, and Ray took over the reins of the company in 1957 when his father died.

Medina Gazette 25 May 1956 p. 4.

Ray was a big supporter of youth sports and was instrumental in keeping youth baseball alive in Medina. He also supported wrestling, basketball and music programs at the high school. He didn't just write a check, he rolled up his sleeves and pitched in wherever it was needed.

He was a stellar boss. Several employees stated they "never worked for a better man." He insisted that all company outings include families, with wives and children taking part.

Ray also was very active in the community joining these civic groups:
Al Koran Shrine
  • 32 degree Masons of Cleveland
  • Medina Methodist Church
  • Medina Chamber of Commerce
  • F & A.M. Mason Lodge
  • Baseball Federation & Hot Stove Leagues of Medina
  • Medina Booster Club

Before & after pictures of Medina

When the Community Design Committee took issue with all the garish signs that populated downtown Medina in the 60's and 70's, Ray decided to take action. He tore down the offensive sign and put one up that fit the bill.

Medina Gazette 25 Feb 1971 p. 2
In the early 1970's, the city of Medina bought 15 acres of land from the Pythian Sisters for a new park on the city's northwest side. They applied for a Federal grant and hired a grant coordinator and architects.

Ray Mellert died suddenly in March of 1974, just weeks before the opening of the park.

Medina Gazette 18 Mar., 1974, p.1

Medina City council voted to name the park after him.

Medina Gazette, 31 May 1975 , p.1

When the park opened it had:
  • Two tennis courts
  • A handball court
  • A picnic pavilion
  • Playground equipment
  • Basketball court
  • Two ball fields
  • A large brick restroom
The park has since had its ups and downs, sometimes being associated with criminal activity.

But it has also been a setting for positive activity.

The above plaque recognizes the efforts of two neighborhood volunteers who strive for positive influence and mentoring.

So, now you know!

Oh, and I have just been reminded that the Ray Mellert Park is the site of a Pokemon Go Gym!

Medina High School Yearbook, 1936, from Ancestry Library Edition
Medina County Gazette
US Navy History

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Ohio Genealogical Conference 2017

The Ohio Genealogical Conference was 26-29 April at the Kalahari Resort outside of Sandusky, Ohio. While it is too late for you to attend this year's conference, there is always next year!

This is an incredible opportunity for genealogists to augment or refresh their research skills. The conference always includes nationally renowned speakers on a vast array of topics.

I attended one day of the three day event on Friday, the 28th. There are six sessions each day and the biggest problem is that there are so many really great programs, that it is nearly impossible to choose which one to go to. But choose we must.

Pictures and recordings are not allowed during the session but I did steal a couple of fuzzy opening screen shots.

1. The first session of the day started at 8 a.m.. Since I was attending for only a single day, that meant leaving Medina very early in the morning. I arrived at 7:45 and got my registration packet and made it with time to spare to listen to Peggy Clemens Lauritzen's presentation on West Virginia genealogy.
The statues in the corridors were adorable.

Peggy stressed the importance of knowing the historical timeline for Virginia and West Virginia's history. She also emphasized the importance of knowing the migration trails, so you can better understand WHY your ancestors moved into an area. She recommended the Wiki at to learn more about migration trails. That is available HERE. The third topic that Peggy spoke about was knowing the ethnic background of your ancestors. The English, Germans and Scots-Irish tended to settle in separate areas and followed different customs.

                ENGLISH               SCOTS-IRISH           GERMAN
Settled -  E. Shenandoah         W. Shenandoah             E. Shenandoah 
Religion - Anglican/Baptist     Presbyterians                Lutheran/Protestant
Built first - Church                     Tavern                          Barn   

Finally, Peggy talked about two important online resources when researching West Virginia ancestors:
West Virginia Archives and History

2. Chris Staats is  a well known speaker in the Ohio genealogy sphere, so I was really looking forward to his presentation on Blogging. He specifically covered blogging with WordPress. I don't use WordPress, so it was very informative to me. It seems like an easy and versatile software to use.

He was specifically talking about blogging on your family history. You can use a blog to get help with a research problem or to post about a solution to a problem. Some of the blogs that he recommends are Lisa Also's and Randy Seaver. He also mentioned several other  tricks, such as using for making graphics and using a chart generator from Kid Zone.

3.  The next session I attended was about tracking your ancestors who liked to move around a lot. Titled "Tracking Your Spinning Ancestors Without Getting Dizzy" by Tina Lyons.

Sometimes, your ancestors weren't really moving from place to place, but the county's, state's or country's borders changed around them. The research techniques to solve the issue is the same in either case.

4. This was my favorite session of the day! Using Social Media for genealogy. Amie Browser Tennant was an energetic and entertaining speaker. When you have hit a snag in your research, consider turning to social media for FREE HELP when the resources you need are too far away or you just don't know what is out there.

She covered Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

On Facebook, she recommends using the FB groups for the state or county where you're researching and for Special Interest Groups (SIG) like for DNA and genealogy. I immediately tried this on my smart phone and found a group for one of my surnames in southern Ohio, the TAGGs.

Twitter is text based and she recommended following relevant people, experts and groups. Each tweet is limited to 140 characters, so you quickly learn to be concise. I may tiptoe into these waters over the next several months.

Pinterest is driven by pictures whose captions are hyperlinks to more information. By "pining" the ones you like, Pinterest "learns" to feed you more of the same.

She would be a perfect speaker for here in Medina!

5. OneNote software comes with the Microsoft Office Suite. Kelli Bergheimer covered its features. Basically, OneNote is:

  • A Digital Notebook
  • Structured place for random notes & ideas
  • An area for collections
She prefers OneNote to Evernote because  your files are always under  your control. Evernote stores your information on the "cloud" which I think makes it more accessible.

If your favorite history book has been digitized and is available as a downloadable PDF, you can save it to OneNote and access it anywhere you can access your OneNote folders.

For genealogical purposes you can:
  • Track your DNA matches
  • Take notes
  • Keep track of cousins
  • Have folders for each surname where you store your research.
  • Save your lists of IDs and passwords for all your different digital accounts.
  • Can be password protected.

Adorable hippos
6.  Dr. Michael Lacopo covered researching your ancestors in Pennsylvania. He started by emphasizing following the Genealogical Proof Standard. He covered all the different resources:

  • Check out the Family Search Wiki on Pennsylvania
  • Church records, unlike other records, your ancestors didn't have to have money to go to church.
  • Tax Records - for anyone who lived in Pennsylvania after 1750
  • Court Records
    • Court of Common Pleas
    • Court of Quarter Sessions
    • Court of Oyer & Terminer
  • Business Records
  • ArchiveGrid - the new endeavor from the folks at WorldCat that describes and directs you to historical collections in archives around the world.

All in all, it was a very educational, exciting and exhausting day!

That evening, I was inducted into the First Families of Ohio lineage society.