Category Archives: Cleveland and Ohio history

Scotland tales

As far back as I can remember, when growing up in a small mid-century home on the Southeast side of Cleveland, Ohio, there was this map at the end of our bedroom hallway.

It was actually pretty huge, about 2-1/2 feet wide by 3 feet tall, taking up most of the end of a hall lined with doors leading into the family bedrooms. So I saw it often, every single day of my formative years. I tell you what, without a clue what it was, that image captured my imagination. Does it, or does it not, resemble a witch with her skirts swirling around her?

When I grew older, my father impressed on me that it was there because it held family significance, it being the clan map of Scotland. “We’re Mackintoshes,” he used to say. “Touch not the cat bot a glove.” Apparently, Dad was quoting the motto on the Mackintosh crest, but again, for my young American English brain, life was full of mysteries. (It means, before you pick up a wild or feral cat, be sure to protect yourself with safety gloves.) The war cry of the clan was “Loch Moigh,” referring to their homeland in the Inverness region.

Today, after not a little effort and many hours of travel, I find myself ensconced very nearby Loch Moigh, just north of Loch Ness (Loch means Lake) at Moniack Mhor Writing Centre. While I’m feeling a bit jet-lagged, I’m oh so excited to have returned. As in, returned to Inverness-shire since a short visit here with Dave in 2015, and as in, returned to Inverness-Shire after my ancestors left this homeland for good circa 1803.

On the map, the Mackintosh clan laid claim to the upper shoulders of the witch, just beneath her head. Where all the muscular tension resides, come to think of it. The territory of the former site of the fateful 1746 Battle of Culloden.

I’m close, but I’ve actually missed the mark slightly. Judging by my rough calculation on the map above, Moniack Mhor is located in Fraser clan territory. Oh aye, now I’ve put my foot in it. But from what I understand, by the late 18th century, the clans weren’t warring so much with each other as they were struggling to survive under the “galling yoke” of England.

Or so first person accounts say, of those who emigrated in a last-ditch effort to escape the “galling yoke.” I’m looking forward to finding what I can about the Daniel Mackintoshes (McIntoshes) before they emigrated. They didn’t depart alone. Their exodus included the Roses, the McBains, the MacGillvrays, and others. A whole fistful of disaffected Highland Presbyterian Gaels, right at the scruff of things, it would appear.

So, after five days at this Tutored Fiction Retreat with Paul Murray, Amanda Smyth, and Jane Harris, my aim is to dig deeper and find out more.

Cleveland and Cuyahoga County Genealogy resources

Recently, I bumped into the website Cleveland and its Neighborhoods, which has a wealth of “History, Genealogy, and Other Peripheral Subjects pertaining to Cleveland, Ohio” compiled by Laura Hine. It’s an incredibly comprehensive resource, one that didn’t readily pop up during my novel research, so I thought I’d give it a shout out here.

cleve neighbors

At the bottom of the “Cleveland and Its Neighborhoods” home page is another link to Hine’s sister site: “just about everything that you need to know about doing genealogy research in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County.” Tips and go-to topics include: Births, Deaths, Suburbs that maintain their own Birth and Death Certificates, Obituaries, Funeral Homes, Marriages, Cemeteries, Catholic Church records, Useful Cuyahoga County Websites, Other Cuyahoga County Genealogy Collections, Property Deeds – Recorder’s Office, Cuyahoga County Audito, Courts in Cuyahoga County, Cuyahoga County Probate Court Estate Case Files – Index and Images, Cuyahoga County Naturalization Records, Census, City Directories, Maps and Atlases, Military, Newspapers, Schools, Taxes and Voter Information.

Salivating yet? Access this info by clicking here: Frequently Asked Questions For Genealogy Research in Cuyahoga County

Thanks, Laura–you’re officially my Cuyahoga County genealogy maven!

Historic Zoar Village

What a beautiful Saturday for opening day of the season at Historic Zoar Village.

I enjoyed talking at the Old Schoolhouse, and lunch at the Canal Tavern where John Elsass showed us a cellar to rival the cellars of southwest Germany.

For a few moments I was able to visit with Scott, the blacksmith who gives demonstrations and teaches classes at the operating coal forge.

image

If you’re ever in the neighborhood — off I-77 just South of Canton — I highly recommend a visit.

First stops in Cleveland, WRHS and Loganberry Books

If you’re ever in Cleveland, don’t miss Loganberry Books. I found a treasure there (as I always do): Ohio Builds a Nation, a 298-page compendium of notable persons, places, and pioneer trivia in Ohio.

Friends John and Harriet took me there, and also to the Western Reserve Historical Museum. Somehow in visits past, I’d missed the original oil paintings on the walls. Here are just a couple.

The Cleveland Grays on Public Square, Northwest Quadrant
1839, by Joseph Parker
image
According to the interpretive sign, this is the earliest surviving oil painting of Public Square. It shows the parade of the volunteer militia the Grays, formed in 1837, as they marched in honor of their 2nd anniversary. The church pictured is the original Old North Presbyterian Church.
and
An Evening at the Ark
1835, by Julius Gollmann
image
The Arkites were an all-male club “of congenial spirits who met to discuss natural science, or play whist or chess, or talk sports.” Apparently their one-story meeting room, in a building where the Federal Building stands today, became so cluttered with specimens of flora and fauna that it resembled Noah’s Ark, hence their name. The painter is a German immigrant who was emulating the German genre of the day, the effort to portray everyday subjects as realistically and candidly as possible.

In Berlin, I found another example of this genre tradition from around the same time period.

Hasenclever’s “The Reading Room” at Berlin’s Bodemuseum

More evidence of the German influence in Cleveland of the mid-1800s. Not that I was looking for it or anything.

Cleveland and the automobile

jubilee 1902I have a copy of the compendious Jubilee Edition of the Cleveland Wächter und Anzeiger 1902 — a 50th anniversary edition of items published in the Cleveland German newspaper of that name. Since the Jubilee edition was written in German, it languished in relative obscurity for almost 100 years, until an English translation appeared in the year 2000, a publication of Cleveland’s Western Reserve Historical Society. I am forever indebted to WRHS for this translation. I turned to it countless times during my research for The Last of the Blacksmiths.

Chock full of information about German immigrants to Cleveland (until the year 1902), the compilation of German newspaper items includes a brief write-up on the then-fledgling automobile industry.

The first American vehicle was manufactured in Cleveland” the heading on p. 98 proclaims. (In reality, this turns out to be incorrect. According to an interpretive display at the Western Reserve Historical Society Crawford Auto Aviation Collection, the Duryea, “built by brothers Charles F. and J. Frank. Duryea, is often credited as being the first American automobile making its public appearance in 1893 in Springfield, Massachusetts.”)

car winton touring circa 1904 smAnyhow, the Jubilee goes on, “Alexander Winton, the pioneer of the industry in America, was the first manufacturer of this sort of machine.” A Scottish immigrant who originally made bicycles, Winton sold 100 of these one-cylinder gas-powered vehicles in 1898.

[Pictured left: a Winton Buggy circa 1899. This and all photos below were taken during my visit to the Crawford Auto Aviation Collection at the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, Ohio.]

car white motor 1902 sm“The steam motor is manufactured by the White Sewing Machine Company, which has given up the manufacture of bicycles and produced an automobile powered by a combination of gasoline and steam. The machine has won all competitions it has entered.” —Jubilee, p.98

[Pictured left: a 1902 White Motor Car]

The White Sewing Machine Company of Cleveland was a successful business founded by Thomas White. However, White’s sons had their eyes on the young automobile industry. They convinced their father to allow them to begin producing autos. … Relying on the innovative “semi-flash boiler” developed by Rollin White, the company became successful with steam-powered vehicles. White steamers were the best on the market in the days when it was still not standard for autos to be powered by internal combustion engines. White steamers raced and set speed records. When Theodore Roosevelt took the wheel of a White steamer, he became the first U.S. president to drive an automobile. — Interpretive display at Western Reserve Historical Society Crawford Auto Aviation Collection, Cleveland Ohio

car baker electric 1904 sm“The electric automobile manufactured by the Baker Motor Vehicle Company, enjoys a positive reputation. This sort of vehicle is not suited for long trips, but rather for use in the city or in the suburbs.”
–excerpt of an interpretive display at Crawford Auto Aviation Collection
[Pictured right: a 1904 Baker Electric]

car rauch 1916


Another electric auto maker in Cleveland was the Rauch & Lang electric. Why wouldn’t the German newspaper be touting a German automaker? Because the first Rauch & Lang vehicle would not come out until 1905.

[Pictured left: a 1916 Rauch & Lang.]


Just a few years beyond 1902, automobiles would quickly blossom from their horse-drawn buggy origins to sleek, luxurious rides. Below are more examples from the tremendous exhibit at the Crawford Auto Aviation Collection in Cleveland.

car white model D 1904 sm

The White Motor Company Model D from 1904

car baker electric 1913 sm

This Baker electric model is from 1913, a time when gasoline-powered vehicles were finally beginning to dominate the automobile market.

car studebaker garford 1907

A 1907 Studebaker-Garford, built in Elyria, Ohio, most popular with women drivers. (The Studebaker Company was located in South Bend, Indiana, but contracted out the production of automobiles in this era.)

car owen magnetic 1916

A 1916 Owen Magnetic. Baker attempted to combine the smooth electric ride and power of gasoline in this car. Just a year before, Baker Electric had merged companies with Rauch & Lang and the R.M. Owen company as well.

A new day in history

Once upon a time, before I really started researching 19th century history, I lumped the entire 19th century into the Victorian era, all about propriety and manners, dominated by “prudish, hypocritical, stuffy, [and] narrow-minded” cultural attitudes (Murfin and Ray 496).

While two-thirds of the 19th century did fall within Queen Victoria’s reign in England (1837-1901), I now know the Victorian America preoccupation involved mainly New England and the Deep South. Most American citizens weren’t about establishing high society. They were on the move, focused on settling lands to the West while ridding the continent of native peoples, on inventions and technological break-throughs that would bring the industrial age to stay.

But at the beginning of the 19th century, the wild experiment called a republican government had just begun. With the signing of the U.S. Constitution into law (the 13th colony, Rhode Island, did so in 1790) the United States of America had embarked on something optimistic, risky, and unprecedented  — constitutional rule and a representative government. No sure thing. Many doubted this new republic would succeed. People just couldn’t be trusted to rule themselves.

It seems to me we’ve come to overlook those times, that heady spirit of freedom to make a new day in history. Recently, I came across this sense of freshness and challenge in an ad in the 1837-1838 Directory of Cleveland and Ohio City that renewed my appreciation for those times.

Cleveland Liberalist advertisement in 1837-1838 city directory

Civil War POWs

In the current July/August “Echoes,” published by the Ohio Historical Society, I was delighted to find a piece about the Union Army POW camp Johnson’s Island (located in Sandusky Bay just to the south of Lake Erie).

I don’t remember how I happened on the existence of the Johnson’s Island camp in my research for The Last of the Blacksmiths, but I remember thinking how spotty the information seemed. Now, the “Echoes” magazine notes, there’s a new exhibit called “Privy to History” about the Johnson’s Island Civil War Prison at the Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio, an exhibit that will run through January of 2015. The exhibit is funded by the Sidney Frohman Foundation and the Friends & Descendants of Johnson’s Island Civil War Prison. For details, go here.

A terrific on-line resource is the Johnson’s Island Preservation Society. Hover over the drop-down tab for History & POWs, for the submenu “Pleasure Resort Era.” Excuse me, Pleasure Resort Era? Yup.

The first Johnson’s Island Pleasure Resort Company leased about twenty acres of land in 1894. The resort was in business from July of 1894 to September of 1897, when operations were discontinued. In 1904, a new group purchased the stock and lease rights of the resort and retained its name. The resort was then operated for four years until it, too, was sold to a different owner, the Cedar Point Pleasure Resort Company.

johnsons island postcard

Cedar Point Pleasure Resort Company?!?! When I saw this, I was astounded and horrified. I’d gone to Cedar Point Amusement Park many times as a kid. Had they really built it on top of a POW Camp?! The answer, thank goodness, is a resounding NO. Cedar Point is across the bay. The “Pleasure Resort Era” on Johnson’s Island was short-lived, closing down once and for all in 1908. The full write-up is found here.

Another on-line resource for Johnson’s Island is found at Ohio History Central.

Guessing right

“You might want to look through Dad’s stuff, the boxes in the spare room,” my brother Craig said to me over the phone. I was visiting his house in Cincinnati in early May. He had left for work earlier that morning. “I’m not sure what’s in there.”

The rest of the afternoon found me sitting on the floor of my brother’s living room, pictures and documents spread around me, as I took photo after photo of family genealogy documents, histories, and old photographs.

The material I’d pulled out of storage had been sorted into 9 x 12 manila envelopes. The outsides were labelled with names — PATTERSON — HOPPENSACK — MCINTOSH — GRESSLE — but I soon discovered the contents did not match the labels. In my dad’s dotage (he passed away in 2009), I remembered how he used to mix everything up. I had a clear vision of him sitting in his assisted living room, through a drugged haze of Parkinson’s, anti-depressants, and other meds, attempting to compose his “autobiography.” These materials had no doubt been spilled across his coffee table to jog his memory, then stuffed back in confused disarray.

It amazed me that I had none of this stuff when I was writing my novel The Last of the Blacksmiths. I had letters, tin-types and other photos, a family tree, plenty of other paraphernalia, but this material I had not seen.

One document in particular took my breath away: an 1858 confirmation certificate for “Elisabeth Crolli,” Michael Harm’s future wife.

elizabeth crolly confirmation zum schifflein christi

 

I had guessed Elizabeth Crolly was religious. Here was impressive evidence — from a church I’d guessed her family had attended — Zum Schifflein Christi (The Little Boat of Christ) German Church in Cleveland, Ohio. Somehow, through DNA? or instinct?, I’d also guessed my great-great grandmother was very devoted to her faith. Now, I beheld the evidence of her confirmation, carefully pasted to a stiff backing and preserved, a message to descendants five generations later regarding what this German American held dear.

Rauch & Lang electric cars

At my launch event for The Last of the Blacksmiths, during the question and answer period my friend Larry raised his hand.

“Was Rauch a real person in history?” he asked.

Yes! Charles Rauch was a real person, a contemporary of Michael Harm in Cleveland in the 19th century who built fine carriages, ice wagons and buggies. Of course, my book being historical fiction, I surmised his personality, likes and dislikes, but the real historic Charles Rauch, son of Jacob, did gravitate toward factory-style manufacture of carriage-making. The Rauch & Lang factory took up several blocks on Pearl Road on Cleveland’s west side. At the start of the 20th century, he stayed on the cutting edge of vehicle manufacture with the production of a state-of-the-art electric automobile. Like the fine carriages, the Rauch & Lang electric cars were popular with Cleveland’s wealthier, Millionaire’s Row set.

Rauch & Lang electric carAt a recent visit to the Western Reserve Historical Society’s Crawford Auto Aviation Collection, I was delighted to find this example, circa 1916, of a Rauch & Lang electric car.

The trailer

My nephew Nicholas Gebben put together an awesome book trailer for me. I hope you like it:

The Last of the Blacksmiths trailer