52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, My Family Tree, Paternal Side

Week 48: Strength

Strength is such a valuable commodity. You need both physical and emotional strength to get by in today’s world. For the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks prompt of “strength” I’m going to discuss my great-great-grandmother, Mary Ann Ritchey.

Her Beginnings

Mary Ann Ritchey was born on 19 June 1851 in Rays Hill, Bedford County, Pennsylvania to Daniel Ritchey and Anna Cypher. She was the sixth of eleven children they had, with George being a well-known farmer in that end of Bedford County.

On 27 June 1872, Mary was united in marriage with George Washington Morgart in East Providence Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania. Like her father, George was a farmer and had already purchased the farm when his dad, Andrew Jackson Morgart, passed away on 19 August 1870. While George worked the land, Mary Ann kept house, raising their five children: Charles Jackson (born 1873, and my great-grandfather); Edward Daniel (born 1875); Anna Rebekah (born 1878); Stella Mary (born 1886); and Altie Pearl (born 1888).

The Loss of Loved Ones

Mary Ann’s strength came on 5 May 1895 when her husband of almost 23 years died. George had not been feeling well for a bit but was able to continue to work the farm despite his issues.

Everett Press, 10 May 1895 found on Newspapers.com

Losing your husband at any age has to be devastating but Mary Ann powered through. She had it a bit easier as three of her children were grown adults. However, this was not the last of her sorrow for the year 1895. Her youngest daughter, Altie Pearl died just a few months after her father.

Everett Press, 30 August 1895, Newspapers.com

And within 3 years her father would pass away at the age of 88 on 19 November 1898.

Her Strength

My great-great-grandmother suffered a great deal of loss in a very short period of time when she lost her husband, daughter, and father within three years.

On 16 February 1898 she did what women were supposed to do and married her neighbor, Bartley Hughes, and the properties were merged. (A side note, Bartley’s mother and George Washington Morgart’s grandmother were sisters, so in a way it was keeping the property within the family).

Her Death

Mary Ann Ritchey’s strength ran out on 14 August 1908 when she took her own life. Her death certificate was quoted as “Suicide by shooting in left breast with rifle – death was almost instant”.

Death Certificate of Mary Ann Ritchey as found on Ancestry.com

She was laid to rest next to her first husband, George Washington Morgart at Mount Zion Lutheran Church Cemetery. Her parents are buried there as well.

Photo of Mary Ann Ritchey’s headstone at Mount Zion Lutheran Church Cemetery. I took this photo on my research trip to Pennsylvania in July 2019

I have no proof but I always wondered if my great-great-grandmother suffered from depression after losing her husband and youngest child in less than 4 months. She had another daughter, Stella Mary that was born in 1886 and appears to have died just a year later. I have no true proof of how many total children she may have had, she did not answer that question on the 1900 census.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Maternal Side, My Family Tree, Paternal Side

Week 46: Birthdays

The theme for week 46 of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is Birthdays. And I am not sure what day of the year for sure has the most birthdays, but I know off the top of my head that April 2 is high on the list for my ancestors.

I have a total of 9 birthdays that appear on 2 April, the oldest being born in 1725 (my 7th-Great-Grandmother, Martha Shattuck) and the youngest being born in 1949, my Aunt Teri (which would be the 6th-Great-Granddaughter of Martha).

Here is my list of names, how they are related to me, and how old they would have been in 2021.

  • Martha Shattuck – 7th-Great-Grandmother – 296
  • Elizabeth Naill – Wife of 4th-Great-Granduncle – 222
  • Eliza Horton – 3rd-Great-Grandmother – 208
  • William Harrison Geer – 3rd-Great-Grandfather – 181
  • Arabelle Morgart – 2nd-Great-Grandaunt – 165
  • James Stevenson – 1st Cousin Twice Removed – 112
  • Anna Maria Morgart – Grandmother – 107
  • Willis Mellott – 3rd Cousin Once Removed – 84
  • Terry (Teri) Fairhurst – Aunt – 72

My software program that I used to track my genealogy has a calendar maker and in the beginning of this year I contemplated printing one out to honor my relatives. I was astounded when I saw I had so many events on 2 April that my Grandma wasn’t even listed in the primary box. At the time she was the second youngest to my aunt (I’ve since added Willis Mellott).

So funny how some dates have so many whereas I am the only person on my birthday so far (which makes me feel special).

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, My Family Tree, Paternal Side

Week 45: Stormy Weather

For week 45 of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, the theme is Stormy Weather, and I’m choosing to write about the the struggle my two paternal great-grandmothers, Bertha Childers and Margaret Dora Wise, endured when suddenly becoming widows.

Bertha Childers

When I think about rough time that my great-grandmother, Bertha Childers, must have faced when her husband, Andrew Jackson Blair, passed away on 16 November 1926.

As was written about here, my great-grandfather was killed instantly when a coal mine collapsed. But as horrible as his death was, I can only imagine what life must have been like for my great-grandmother, who was left a single mother of 4. Granted, Genevieve had just gotten married to Earl Vivian the week before Andrew passed, but Vada, Leroy, and Donald were still at home (Vada was 19, Genevieve 16, Leroy 14, and Donald 9).

I know from the 1930 census that Bertha was still a single mom of Donald, and the late 1920’s, early 1930’s was a tough time for a single mom (as it still is 90 years later).

Working for a Coal Company, more than likely Andrew and Bertha lived in a company home, he was paid with company money, where all purchases were from a company store, and when he died she probably lost everything.

I know in the late 1920’s my grandfather, Leroy, began working in the mines as well, but after having an accident in the same mine where his dad died, he found something else to do.

But I can’t imagine what life was like for my great-grandmother. Bertha had to have been devastated to lose the man she loved, her home, basically her life as she knew it. She did eventually re-marry William Chappell who was also a coal miner.

Bertha Childers and her dog Lulu Belle, 1943

Margaret Dora Wise

Life changed for my other great-grandmother on my dad’s side of the family when on 24 July 1917 Charles Jackson Morgart committed suicide leaving Margaret Dora Wise alone to care for 3-children ages 7, 6, and 3.

To my knowledge no one knows why Charles took his life. My mom had thought she had heard he was ill, but my dad heard that infidelity could have been involved (not on Charles’ part). But regardless of why, it had to be a huge shock to lose your husband, even if your situation wasn’t idyllic.

Unlike Bertha, Maggie Wise ended up getting married to Irie Earl Custer by 1920 (according to the 1920 Federal Census). Earl was a coal miner and she stayed married to him until he passed in 1949. They never had any children together.

Irie Earl Custer & Margaret Dora Wise 1939

Having younger children Maggie probably had to pick up the pieces more quickly in order to raise her kids. I know she ended up raising her children in the town of Saint Michael a stones throw from South Fork where coal mines were located (Saint Michael was built where the South Fork Hunting and Fishing Club was located before the huge Johnstown Flood of 1889).

I feel Maggie had the better end of things when she married Earl Custer. My Grandma (Anna Maria Morgart) always spoke quite highly of her Step-Daddy as he basically raised her (she was 3 when her dad died), and chose Earl to be my Dad’s middle name.

Both of my great-grandmother’s survived the hardships they faced, but both of their husband’s died so unexpectedly. It’s never easy to loose someone you care about, but having my own mother die out of the blue, I know how hard it can be when you don’t have the closure of saying goodbye, and even I love you one last time.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, My Family Tree, Paternal Side

Week 43: Shock

Have you ever found a shocking discovery while working on your family history? I have found a few with it literally being a shock when I discovered a distant cousin was electrocuted by the State of Ohio (see my tale of Ralph Reed here). I found out via DNA that the man listed on my grandmother’s birth certificate was not her dad (see that discovery here).

But I will never forget standing in the Bedford County Historical Society trying to obtain more information on my fifth-great-grandfather, Peter Morgart, who I discovered previously was at the Battle of Yorktown during the Revolutionary War, only to learn he was an antagonist of the Whiskey Rebellion and a reason President George Washington went to Bedford County, Pennsylvania to settle things within our very young country.

The Whiskey Rebellion

The Whiskey Rebellion was an “uprising of farmers and distillers in western Pennsylvania in protest of a whiskey tax that was enacted by the federal government“. In 1790 Alexander Hamilton pushed for the American government to take over all the debt each state sustained during the American Revolution. Though President Washington was against the tax in the beginning, after talking to local Virginians and Pennsylvanians, who seemed “enthusiastic”, he (Washington) took these positive declarations to Congress and the bill was passed in 1791.

Protests began immediately as the new tax was unfair to small producers. Where the larger distilleries paid a yearly tax at 6 cents per gallon, with even more tax breaks the more whiskey was produced, the smaller distillers paid 9 cents per gallon and had to pay with cash.

Initial protests were refusals to pay the tax, but then they began intimidating officials and violence broke out. For example, 11 September 1791 Robert Johnson from the excise office, went to collect the tax, he was surrounded by 11 men dressed as women where they stripped him naked, tar and feathered him, and stole his horse, leaving him alone in the forest. Mr. Johnson recognized 2 of the men and warrants were issued for their arrest. When John Connor went to take the arrest warrants to them, the same thing happened to him. They resigned after that.

In 1792 Washington tried to resolve things peacefully, but by 1794 actions began to get out of hand when a fire was set to the home of the regional tax collector, John Neville. President George Washington organized a militia and headed to western Pennsylvania. By the time he arrived the rebels had “dispursed” with 2 being found guilty of treason (they were both later pardoned by Washington).

Peter Morgart

My fifth-great-grandfather on my paternal grandmother’s side witnessed Cornwallis surrender his sword to George Washington at Yorktown. So that he was one of the many men refusing to pay the tax blew my mind. He paid his fine (to my relief) but it had me rather unsettled that my relative was one of the reasons my hero had to go to Bedford County.

I am not sure if Peter Morgart was a distiller himself but he did build the Morgart Tavern in the late 1700s. I’m sure being the owner of a tavern brought about it’s own sort of related payments to the whiskey tax.

The Tavern went on to be owned by my fourth-great-grandfather, Baltzer Morgart.

The Morgart Tavern and how it looked in July 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Maternal Side, My Family Tree, Paternal Side

Week 42: Sports

To my knowledge, sports is not a huge part of my family’s life. We love to spectate as my cousin loves OSU football, and my mom and I were/are big fans of football and baseball, my mom being a huge fan of the Cleveland Browns and the Cleveland Indians while I prefer the New York Football Giants and the New York Yankees. My mom liked the Ohio State University Buckeyes football as well. My husband is a devout follower of the Alabama Crimson Tide College football team. But if you haven’t guessed, we are watchers, not players.

As I mention in a previous post, my parents met in a bowling alley and they were on bowling leagues off and on throughout their married life. My mom’s siblings did as well. My maternal grandmother, Alberta Lou Fleming, was a bowler as well, belonging to bowling leagues for women with high averages.

Found in the Akron Beacon Journal on 9 December 1974 on Newspapers.com. My grandmother is noted under the bolded paragraph Other High Finishers…

The other sport my family was involved in is golf. My maternal grandfather, Harold Fairhurst, made part of his living as a golf pro (he was also a Mason). My uncles both play golf, my mom’s youngest brother just took his nephew (my cousin) to a golf outing that was a fundraiser for Huntington’s Disease. This same uncle’s daughter passed away last year from complications of Huntington’s.

My grandfather did achieve a hole in one at the now defunct Valley View Golf Course. My Aunt remembers that my grandfather won a years supply of free Pepsi for his achievement.

From the 17 September 1964 edition of the Akron Beacon Journal, found on Newspapers.com

On my dad’s side hunting is the sport of choice. I remember going to my Uncle Don’s house where he had a huge deer and turkey on display. I recently learned from my dad that his dad, Leroy Blair, only shot animals for food. When he could afford to purchase food at the grocery store, he no longer hunted. That explained why I have never had eaten deer (granted when my dad went deer hunting with friends we threatened to call him a “Bambi killer” so he probably opted not too).

Fishing is another sport we do. My mom took a big interest in it before she passed away but I have fished off and on my entire life, as my Daddy taught me when I was little. It was always a fun activity when we went camping as where I fished all the nearby campers would come out and watch me and applaud me as I ran up the hill to our campsite so my dad could take the fish off my hook. He is who I still go to now when I catch a fish (well, assuming he has gone with us).

Cynthia Anne Fairhurst with the fish she caught. For a lady who wasn’t into fishing most of her life, the last 5 years or so she truly enjoyed it.

Lastly, I enjoy hiking. I am lucky to live in an area that has a park system in place that provides a wide variety of leisure activities for everyone. Hiking, archery, kayaking, ice skating (oh, my mom did this when she was little at the Gorge Metro Park), camping, mountain biking, sledding, you get the idea. Each year I participate in the Fall Hiking Spree. Between September 1 and November 30 you complete 8 different hikes and you earn a shield (though the first year you earn a shield and a hiking stick). It’s a great activity to get me exercising. Below are photos from the hike I did last week at the beforementioned Gorge Metro Park, I finally got started… 1 down, 7 to go, and this year I’ll be earning my 10th shield. I’m rather proud of myself.

There are all kinds of ways to enjoy sports – both in watching and taking part. It’s all about finding what you like and doing it (or watching if that is the case).

Sports was the prompt for this week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks by Amy Johnson Crow. If you would like to participate in this writing challenge click here.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, My Family Tree

Week 39: Steps

Steps is this weeks theme for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Over the course of ones lifetime we take millions of steps that lead to significant places.

The most important step always seems to be the first one. I was lucky enough to have my dad at home when I took mine and he captured them in black and white film. (Pardon my photos, my mom placed them in a sticky back album and I took them with my phone as I have my dad’s scanner at my house).

I was able to witness my daughters as my dad had a doctors appointment and I watched her at work and she walked from a chair to me at my desk. So the Carriage House at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens will always hold a special place in my heart.

This is my personal photo of the Carriage House at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens. This was taken during the 2018 Deck the Hall! program. Just on the other side of the balcony was where my office/lobby was where my daughter took her first steps.

But think of all the places our feet take us too, our first day of school, our first day of college (I broke my foot that day), our first job, down the aisle to marry our sweetheart. And it’s not just our own journey that have contained so many steps… our ancestors probably took even more steps that we do as cars may not have been a part of their lives.

But in many ways the saying “the more things change, the more they stay the same” as we still have so many parallels with our ancestors. School. Marriage. Kids. It’s a circle of life that is beautiful and makes it all possible for us to be here.

But steps are vital to everything, between getting from Point A to Point B, to advancing from one stage to another (like school as we successfully pass each grade to go to the next). Sometimes it even gets you to see things in a different perspective.

My personal photo taken from atop the Marblehead Lighthouse on Lake Erie
52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Maternal Side, My Family Tree, Paternal Side

Week 38: Fun & Games

Fun and games is the topic for this week’s writing challenge for Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. I’ve been so busy and lately the prompts have gone more in depth than what I know about my relatives, so I’ll share what I know.

Anna Maria Morgart

My gosh I wish I didn’t have them so packed away as I would have dug out my Grandma’s porcelain dolls that are located in a box up in my attic. Her request when she was getting ready to pass was that I would get them as she knows I am the pack rat she is and I would take care of them. Knowing the dolls are over 100 years old has them wrapped up and tucked away in the space but my goal is to display them when I have the space up there to do them justice (and then I’ll add a photo to this post). My Grandma loved her dolls and took excellent care of them.

My Daddy

My dad’s big hobby growing up was reading. He read every chance he could, so much so that he often claims it was the reason that he spent many summers attending classes to make up for the assignments he didn’t do throughout the normal school year.

He also claims that he must have liked summer school as he may have changed his habits if he truly hated it.

When I called and asked him what his favorite book was he said he didn’t really have one from back then. His favorite books were history books that were 156 pages long published by Random House. The books featured stories about Guadalcanal, the Revolutionary War and Daniel Boone (to name a few). He said they were a good size, he normally read them in about a day, while he was in school.

My dad is pretty sure this was the first book he read. I found this at Thriftbooks.com

I know I have inherited my dad’s love of reading (however I read at home or during Study Hall). He still loves to read and is finishing up a trilogy on World War 2 that I purchased for him for Christmas, his Birthday and Father’s Day.

My Mommy

I can honestly say I don’t know what all my mom did for hobbies. She wasn’t a reader, that is for sure. I always remember her telling me stories of how the Gorge was her playground/ The Gorge is part of the Summit County MetroParks that people hike, ice skate, picnic, and fish at each year.

For example the photo of the pipe she claims she walked across. I find this hard to believe as she was afraid of heights. Like majorly afraid of heights. But maybe she was more daring as a kid/teenager.

The above photos were all taken by me – the top is looking down on the Falls that is about to be taken out and the originals restored. The rock formation is Mary Campbell Cave where Indians had apparently abducted a girl and that is where they held her, and lastly is the field where in the winter the skating rink is located. Weather hasn’t really allowed for any ice skating the last few years, but I know my mom and her siblings had wonderful memories there.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Maternal Side, My Family Tree

Week 37: On the Farm

To find a farmer to talk about is about as easy as finding a coal miner in my family, I have many in my tree on both my paternal and maternal sides. With this week’s theme being about life “on the farm” I’ve opted to swing over to my mother’s side of the family and discuss my great-great-grandfather, Arthur James Dunbar.

The Beginning

Arthur James Dunbar was born on 4 August 1869 in Independence, Allegany, New York to Delos Dunbar and Harriett Williams. Delos was also a farmer, both in Independence and in Genesee, Potter County, Pennsylvania which is where the family moved between 1875 and 1880.

According to the official website of Potter County, it’s primary industry in the 1800’s was lumber. Known for it’s white pines, hemlock and other hardwoods, lumber mills were developed near streams where the water could power the saws. In time towns were formed when churches and schools were built in these areas.

While doing searches on Delos Dunbar, Arthur’s father and my 3rd-great-grandfather, there were various small articles on him where he is either cutting wood for someone, or building a home for someone. So I’m guessing though noted as a farmer as well, he may have been more of a lumberman, or had tree farms.

Marriage & Family

On 2 January 1894 Arthur Dunbar married Mazie Lorenia Warner in Wellsville, Allegany, New York. They settled in Hebron Township in Potter County, and began their family on 17 March 1896 when their oldest daughter, Myrtle Iona Dunbar was born. Their next child was Merle Winfield Dunbar, born 10 July 1899 but died on 18 January 1900 of bronchitis. Ina May Dunbar came next being born on 18 April 1901. Their youngest was Mildred Laura Dunbar, born 15 March 1908, my great-grandmother.

Farming

On the 1900 and 1910 Federal Census’ Arthur (A.J.) Dunbar had an occupation of “Farmer”. He owned his property, paying on a mortgage and it lists the agricultural schedule that he was listed on for both population census, Farm Schedule 63 in 1900 and Farm Schedule 18 in 1910. Below is the 1910 Census where it shows that his occupation was “general farm”.

1910 Federal Census – as found on FamilySearch

Another clue that he was a farmer was the below newspaper clipping about a young cow he lost. The item below is more than likely is my great-great-grandfather as well as he was known as A.J. Dunbar in many documents.

The Potter Enterprise – 18 April 1901 – found at Newspapers.com

Death

Arthur James Dunbar passed away on 18 December 1912 of a combination of Heart Failure and Anterior Poliomyelitis.

Arthur Dunbar death certificate found on Ancestry

According to the FreeDictionary.com poliomyelitis, commonly known as just polio, is a “disease marked by the inflammation of nerve cells and brain stem and spinal cord”. It was highly contagious and most who caught it were between 6 months and 4 years old but adults did contract the disease. Paralysis in children were 1 in every 1000 cases, paralysis in adults was 1 in every 75 cases.

Taken from Wikipedia

When adults contracted the disease, it was often white, affluent men. Thankfully this has more or less been done away with by vaccine. I don’t have the tell-tale scar that my mom and sister have (I imagine my dad has it too) because by the time I needed my vaccines for school, it was no longer necessary.

My goal as I continue to do searches about my great-great-grandfather is to find out what kinds of things Arthur farmed, and if there is anything out there that could tell me what kind of person he was, as I am so fond of his wife, Mazie, I always just assume he must be pretty special, too.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Maternal Side, My Family Tree, Paternal Side

Week 36: Working

Since I spoke of my many coal mining ancestors in Week 30 with the Health topic, I have decided to expand on it with this week’s theme of working. Three of my 4 great-grandfathers worked in the coal mines. Two in Pennsylvania, the third in Ohio.

Andrew Jackson Blair

Born 17 April 1881 in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, Andrew Jackson Blair was born to another Andrew Jackson Blair and Susan Jane Foster. According to the 1900 Census, when Andrew was just 19 years old he was already working in the coal mines (and so was his 13 year old brother, William). His father was also a miner, having it noted as his profession in the 1880 census, as well as his profession in the death register when he passed away in 1899.

I won’t go into details about Andrew too much as I have written about it before (see here). He died when the mine he was in had falling rock and it crushed his chest, killing him instantly. He was 45.

Andrew Jackson Blair

Charles Jackson Morgart

Born 2 August 1873 in East Providence, Bedford County, Pennsylvania, Charles Jackson Morgart was born the oldest child of George Washington Morgart and Mary Ann Ritchey. Charles was originally a farmer but then became a coal miner. It’s odd, I can find him and my great-grandmother, Margaret Dora Wise, twice in the 1910 Census. When they were living in Bedford County he was a farmer, when he was found in Huntingdon County he was a coal miner. His death certificate also listed him as a coal miner. He did not die in the mines, but he committed suicide. It was not the first in his family as his mother had too.

Charles Jackson Morgart

James Fairhurst

Born 8 July 1890 in Leigh, Lancashire, England, James Fairhurst was already working in the coal mines in England in the 1911 census when he was still living at home with his parents, Thomas Fairhurst and Rachel Topping. He came to the United States in 1913 leaving behind his wife, Phoebe Boone (pregnant with their son, Wilfred) and his daughter, Elsie, to work with his brothers at Wolf Run, Jefferson County, Ohio. Phoebe came over with Elsie and Wilfred in January 1915. By June 1917 he had filed his declaration of intention to become a citizen of the United States, and by 14 May 1920 he was a naturalized citizen.

James occupation took a turn for the better. He opted to move to the rubber capital of the world in Akron, Ohio and began working for the various rubber companies, a much safer occupation compared to the work one did working in the coal mines.

Life in the Coal Mines

Working in the coal mines was a dangerous occupation. Most began working at a young age of 10 to 12 years old where you started out sorting out the coal from other rocks (sometimes elderly coal miners would do this too).

Underwood & Underwood. (ca. 1913) Boys picking slate in a great coal breaker, anthracite mines, Pa. Pennsylvania, ca. 1913. New York: Underwood & Underwood, publishers. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2007681337/.

As you got older, responsibility increased. The next position for a teen would be keeping the the tunnels lit at key spots in the mine. Miners did wear hats with lanterns attached to help them see what they were doing and where they were going, but there were still people sometimes positioned in key places so that danger could be avoided.

Other jobs within the mine would be pushing and pulling the carts throughout the very narrow tunnels and the actual mining of the coal. They spent 12 hours a day underground in the dark hunched over.

Collier, J., photographer. (1942) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania vicinity. Westland coal mine.
“Mantrip” going into a “drift mine”. Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Allegheny County United States, 1942. Nov. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2017841040/.

Company Towns

Those working in the coal mines were often paid in company money, renting company housing, and the stores you were able to shop in were also owned by the coal mining company as it was the only store that took the company money. It was very difficult to be able to move onto another company to make more because the coal companies more or less owned you.

Wolcott, M. P., photographer. (1938) Company houses, coal mining town, Caples, West Virginia
. United States Caples West Virginia, 1938. Sept. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2017752393/.

Working in the coal mines was a difficult job but was just one of many sacrifices the coal miner made to provide for their families. It was a hard job that had many health risks, but it was taken with the hope that the next generation would do better.

Wolcott, M. P., photographer. (1938) Coal miner waiting to go home, Caples, West Virginia. United States Caples West Virginia, 1938. Sept. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2017752675/.
52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Maternal Side, My Family Tree

Week 35: School

This week’s topic is “school” for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks and I am going to discuss my high school. Counting my own children, there have been 4 generations to attend Cuyahoga Falls High School beginning with my maternal grandmother, Alberta Lou Metzger. Her children attended, including my mother, my sister, myself and cousins, and now my kids.

Cuyahoga Falls High School

Cuyahoga Falls High School was built in 1922. The original building is still a part of the functioning school, often referred to as the old building (at least that’s what it was called when I was there). This part of the building is where your 100’s, 200’s, and 300’s are for classrooms. Back when I went it was foreign language, English Department and Math. Mix in the Old Gym and the Little Theater and this was the original building used for probably 30-plus years.

It’s a view of the Old Building from the football stands taken 2 September 2021 while my son had band practice, I thought the sky extra pretty.

Little Theater

The Little Theater was often where multiple classes went to view movies and such when I attended in the late-80’s, early-90’s. It was also where the Fall Play took place each year.

The primary highlight I remember from my mother was that is where she was when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. It was a moment she would never forget.

A cookie a classmate of mine made for our reunion. This was the logo that was on our gym clothes for years. Since the football team was going over footage I wasn’t able to take a photo of the Little Theater so this seemed a good spot for the cookie.

Old Gym

The Old Gym is where we would go when you were doing sports where 4-classes in the regular gym got to be too much (though it was common when I was in 10th grade to the mat room used for wrestling where my all girl gym class because of choir would play crab soccer – it’s amazing how that huge ball used for it would not mess up the big bangs that were essential for hairstyles during this time).

Recently I went on a tour of the high school for my 30th class reunion. The Little Gym was set up for batting practice for the baseball players. I found it a good use for this the space.

The New Building(s)

The new building was already a functioning part but still very new when my mom attended the high school in the 1960’s. It consists of the 400’s, 500’s, and 600’s. It included a bigger gymnasium (hence the “Old Gym”) and a state of the art auditorium, along with a music wing. It also houses a cafeteria, library, and the offices. Science classes are basically based in the 400’s, more history and classes like typing were held in the 500’s (I doubt they even have typing classes today). The 600’s is where the instrumental and vocal music programs are.

The present gym
One of my favorite spots in 10th grade. The end of the hallway in the 400’s, I always got to school early and a fellow classmate and I sat here and discussed “Days of Our Lives” and all sorts of things. I remember discussing Ted Bundy the day he was executed by the state of Florida with her too. She is one of the people I miss from school and she isn’t on social media.

I believe at sometime between the above buildings and 1980 is when the vocational wing was built. This homes the cosmetology, auto tech, and marketing career programs for junior and seniors. Kids from other schools participate as well as part of a six district program.

I enjoyed checking out this part of the vocational wing as my daughter is enrolled in the Auto Tech program

Class Legacies

Each graduating class from probably the 1980’s on leaves their mark by creating a piece of art that is displayed in the cafeteria. My sister’s class is below. I tried to find my class but after the horrible experience of Columbine in 1999 they covered my classes art up. The student who won the art contest wore a trench coat (that was his style) and had that as part of the tiger in our 1991 artwork, but that was considered a negative after Columbine. I found it sad when I found out after our tour that was why we couldn’t find it. I feel they could have asked said student to come in and try to fix it up a bit instead of painting over it.

The Future

So many memories at this school and soon it will be no more. The citizens of Cuyahoga Falls voted to build a new high school and middle school complex which means soon the school that I figured would stand forever will be torn down. I doubt my middle school will go, it was the newest of the buildings but would probably be turned into something else.

But the auditorium is what brings me so many tears. My choir concerts, my daughter’s choir concerts, my son’s band concerts. I know they need newer, and better to attract families with kids, but there is something to be said for the past.

I can say this much – I don’t know what all will be taken from the old building to the new building, but I do hope this cafeteria sign goes. It was hanging in the lunchroom when I went to school and we noticed it still hanging there on my 30th reunion tour. I just feel it should be moved to the next. And not a new copy, this same sign.

The Marching Band

Along with the school being 100 years old, the Marching Band is also celebrating it’s 100th anniversary this year as well. I am beyond proud that my son has become a part of this legacy. I never learned to play an instrument (though I’m teaching myself the piano presently). but he plays the trumpet.

So impressed with their talent and dedication through good times and bad (which would have been last year and coping with Covid challenges).

This photo was taken on 3 September 2021, the band was awesome and the football team won too!