Wednesday, August 30, 2017


The Medina Library will be hosting 3 separate genealogy and local history events this fall.

First will be the Genealogy Lock-in on Friday, September 22. For those who have never been to a Lock-In, it is an after-hours event where we explore methods of genealogical research. Members of the Medina County Genealogical Society and Library staff members are also on hand to help you with your research. Light refreshments and DOOR PRIZES are provided. The Lock-In runs from 6:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.

John Sabol 

John Sabol, author and  a North East Ohio expert on eastern European genealogy, will be discussing how to Untangle Your Family Roots.

Learn about the 1940 and other U.S. Census
records at the Genealogy Lock-In on 22 September.
Later that evening,  I will be offering a session on how to get the most out of searching U.S. Census Records.

You can sign up for the Lock-In at this link.  Remember, the Lock-in is on 22 September.

Then on 21 October, I will be teaching a class on Ancestry Library Edition in the Library's Computer Lab. Seating for this class is limited so sign up early. Learn how to optimize your searches on the library subscription version of the most popular genealogy database ANCESTRY.

On 31 October, join Lisa Rienerth to learn how to research your home's history and previous owners and find out Who is Haunting Your House? Local author, Michelle Belanger, will be on hand to discuss paranormal activity in your home.

Sign up for these events at this link.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Main Street U.S.A.

Last week, the Gazette ran an article on the upcoming Medina Bicentennial that talks about a movie made in Medina during World War II.  Bicentennial Article

Every couple of years, the Medina Library receives a request for "Hometown U.S.A., you know, the movie that was made back in the 40's."

The movie depicts a fictional lawyer writing a letter to a nephew serving overseas in World War II. The lawyer describes a typical day in Medina and manages to cover all the local industries, shops and some well-known Medina characters, all to encourage the unnamed nephew to settle in Medina when he returns from the war. Pathfinder Magazine  sponsored the movie and it was produced by Pathe Studios.

And yes, the Medina Library has that movie. But the DVD case, and the movie title, as seen below, is Main St. U.S.A.

Main St. U.S.A.  or is it Hometown, U.S.A.

It premiered in Medina on April 10-11, 1945 at the old Medina Theater that was just recently demolished.

And here is were the confusion comes in.

Because the newspaper ads printed at that time and even the actor/lawyer in the film refers to "Hometown, U.S.A."

This promo appeared in the April 6, 1945 Medina Gazette.
This article appeared in the April 10th Medina Gazette, 
the day of the opening. It also refers to the movie as
"Hometown, U.S.A."

Even the marque at the theater entrance calls it "Hometown, U.S.A."

Photo taken from Bob Hyde's web site:
BUT, the opening credits from the movie itself, as shown in the first image above, was "Main St. U.S.A."

Did the movie going public of Medina feel confused or deceived by the title switch? Certainly such a momentous event would be chronicled in the local papers!  Except....

President Roosevelt died the very next day. The Gazette has always been a newspaper with
strong Republican leanings, so this graphic was all that appeared in their pages.
The very next day, President Roosevelt died.

So a big follow up to the premiere did not show up in either The Gazette or The Sentinel.

Bob Hyde, a Medina native, avid historian, and creator of the Medina History web site Medina Square, was just a youngster and remembers everyone was very excited by the movie. And he remembers it was called "Hometown, U.S.A.".

But why the confusion? Why did everyone call it, and remember it as "Hometown, U.S.A" when it is titled and labeled, "Main Street USA"?

World War II, though winding down in Europe, was still very much in the local papers.

The Army was still recruiting women for the
Women's Army Corps

So there wasn't a lot of local coverage after the movie premiered.

A June 5th Medina Gazette article reported that 500 booklets of "familiar" Medina scenes titled "Hometown, U.S.A."  were printed and available from the Medina Chamber of Commerce. Has anyone ever seen a copy of that brochure?

To confuse matters even further, in 1990, the Medina Area Chamber of Commerce produced an 11 minute video that contained a lot of boosterisms for Medina. If you want a laugh, view it just to see the fluffy hairstyles and fashions of the time. And it was called "America's Home Town, Medina, Ohio".

1990's "America's Home Town" movie produced by the Medina Area Chamber of Commerce

If anyone has any answers to this puzzle, please share your information, because ---



Tom Hilberg of the Medina County Historical Society brought in a copy of the brochure that was released after the movie. And look what it is titled!!

Also, on Facebook, Jay Summers had this comment to add:
Jay Summers I'd surmise the confusion comes from the Marketing Campaign and Editorial Choices didn't match up. Which is fairly typical in Film Production. The Marketing and Advertising folks don't talk w/ the Producers & Editors. Quite often titles are changed prior to release. I'd guess, the Producers in California and Marketers in Ohio, didn't talk. Had planned on "Hometown USA", marketed it as such, then the Producers changed the title to utilize it elsewhere. Most films go through several title changes before release.

LikeShow more reactions · Reply · 2 · August 23 at 11:47am

Thanks for the insight into film marketing, Jay!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

School Days

School is starting up again in Medina in just a few short weeks. Now is a good time for a look back at some of the old school buildings of Medina County...

These post cards were given to the Medina Library by Jean Cooper, a long-time teacher in the Medina City Schools.

The Lincoln High School, built in 1872. It used to sit where Broadway and Smith Roads meet in Medina.
The building was torn down circa 1950 to make way for an expansion of the Garfield school.

This post card is also identified as the High School, but the door and windows do not match.
This is most likely the Disciple Church. Perhaps it is the High School in the background?
The first "primary" school in Medina City. It stood where the County Administration Building now stands.

The Garfield School was built in 1912. . It is now an elementary school. The old High School Building can be seen in the background.

Built in 1924 to replace the old high school, this building now serves as the Medina County Administration Building.

Once the new high school was built in 1924, the old Lincoln High School then housed the primary grades and the Garfield School held the "upper grades" perhaps what we would call the middle school grades?

Another view of the school that is now the Administration Building. 

The next new high school built for Medina students was the current Claggett Middle School Building. It opened in 1956.

Now Claggett Middle School, this building opened in 1956 as the new Medina High School.

An early Wadsworth High School

Hopefully you have enjoyed this tour of old Medina school buildings.

If you would like more information, please consult these resources:

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Sophia Huntington Parker - Pythian Sisters Home

Last month the Pythian Sisters home was demolished. 

Demolition of the former Pythian Sisters Home on North Huntington.
Medina County Gazette 6 July 2017.

The building existed for over 100 years. Below is a history.

Sophia Huntington Parker

As you can see from her photo, Sophia Huntington Parker was a formidable woman.

She was born around 1840, daughter of Peter HUNTINGTON (1808-1889) and Jane (SIMMONS) HUNTINGTON (1809-1878). She was one of five siblings:
  • Jane 1836-1869
  • Levi 1838-1838
  • Sophia 1840-1903
  • Lucretia 1844-1872
  • Eliza M. 1847-1874

Otis Thompson 1867-1898
Medina Gazette 8 Sep. 1898 p. 4.
You will notice from the above list, that by the time Sophia's mother died in 1878, Sophia was the only survivor of her parent's children. Not only did Sophia take over the care of the house and her father, she became the mother to her sister Jane's two boys, Edward Thompson (1863-1886) and Otis Thompson (1867-1898).                                                                                          Jane had married P.H. Thompson, who was an itinerant optometrist. Edward died at the ate of 24 in the Newburg Hospital outside of Cleveland. Otis volunteered to serve in the Army during the Spanish American War. He survived Cuba, only to die of malaria and dysentery upon his return at Long Island, New York.

Sophia's father, Peter,  had bought 96 acres of farmland on the northwest edge of the city of Medina in 1834. Huntington Street is undoubtedly named after the family and the farm.

Sophia married William Parker when she was 44 years old, a spinster according to the times. I wonder if it was a contentious marriage because in her father's will, he gave her the use and income of his estate, "as long as she remained the wife of William Parker or lives with him as his wife, but if she should cease to live with him as his wife or he should decease before she does then I give her said estate absolutely and unconditionally."

Medina County Ohio Wills, Court of Common Pleas, Vol G, 1887-1890, page 408.

Or perhaps Peter just didn't want William Parker to profit from his marriage to Sophia. In any case, William Parker died in 1899.

When Sophia died in December of 1903, it was discovered that her own will was quite long and detailed, covering 17 pages of "closely written pages." The newspaper claimed that she would have made a fine lawyer. It's recap of her will covered six full columns! Item 8 provided for the organization of an "Old Ladies' Home" which would be names "The Sophia Huntington Parker Home."

Medina Sentinel 25 December 1903,page 1.
The time limit almost ran out on the proviso of the will, but eventually the Pythian Sisters stepped in and organized the home.

In 1914, the cornerstone was laid.

And in 1918, they held the grand opening with over 2000 people coming for the festivities and to gawk.

It was quite the show place and citizens of Medina would bring out-of-town visitors by just to look at the grand building.

Here, the home is featured on a post card

   The Pythian Sisters  held their annual meetings at the home for years.

Around 30 women made the home their home in their final years. As it was a Pythian Sisters home, the women were members of the group and would have to turn over all their worldly possessions to gain entrance. 

Originally, the surrounding farmland and cows made the home self-sustaining. Eventually, that stopped. Over the years, additions and improvements were made.

In 1978, the home was the first stop on Medina's Fall Foliage Tour.

Medina County Gazette 10 October 1978.

Eventually, the home also accepted elderly men within its walls.

I remember when library staff would offer programs at the home. 

The doors of the home closed permanently in 2000. 

In 2008, the building was auctioned off for $715,000. There was talk of offices going into the space but that never happened.  A church used the building for a few years. In 2011, Medina City Council debated buying it.  And in 2013 it was used in the filming of the horror movie Fear Clinic.

But that all came to an end this month when the walls came tumbling down.

      Lindsay Smith, Eric Rapenchuk, “Pythian Sisters,” Discover Medina, accessed July 20, 2017,
Historical Highlights of Medina
History of Medina County and Ohio
Medina County Gazette
Medina County Sentinel