52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, My Family Tree

“Beginnings”

The Week 1 theme of Amy Johnson Crow’s series “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” is “Beginnings” and all my beginnings lead to one place, Akron, Ohio.

Actually, if I wanted to be precise my beginnings would be linked to Falls Rec, the bowling alley where my parents first met. My dad was bowling one night on a league I believe for Ohio Edison and my mother tended bar. According to her, some guys wanted to introduce her to their friend, Bob, and she was excited as Bob was really good looking, but they brought my dad over instead (your laugh here to her funny tale).

I like to think it was a good thing, but then I’m a little biased.

But this meeting would never have happened had my grandparents, Leroy Blair and Anna Maria Morgart, not moved to Akron in the 1950s. The same can be said of my immigrant great-grandparents James Fairhurst and Phoebe Boone, who came to the United States from Leigh, England in 1913 (James) and 1915 (Phoebe). They originally resided in Amsterdam, Ohio but then moved to Akron by 1930. Lastly, if my great-great-grandmother, Mazie Lorenia Warner, hadn’t moved here in 1916 with her second husband, Samuel Randol with her 2 daughters, all of the pieces to my DNA make-up would not have come together.

Why Akron?

Akron, Ohio was the happening place to be in the early 1900’s. “Between 1910 and 1920 the city’s population tripled to more than 200,000” (britannica.com). This was the time when Akron became known as the Rubber Capital of the World because all three big rubber companies had their headquarters here: Firestone, General Tire, and Goodyear (Goodyear still does).

Many of my Fairhurst relatives (my great-grandfather James, and 2 of his sons, Wilfred and Edwin) all worked for the rubber companies at various times. My grandfather, Harold, worked partly in construction and partly as a golf pro.

When Samuel Randol located to Akron with his family, he worked at the Swinehart Tire & Rubber Company. Here he met the last part of my family, my great-great-grandfather, Clyde Geer (and the Geers have been settled in Akron since Summit County was formed on March 3, 1840, with Clyde’s dad, William Harrison Geer being born on April 2, 1840, just 1 month later).

Leroy Blair originally moved from Pennsylvania to Indiana as he had an apprenticeship to learn the sheet metal trade. He moved from Gary, Indiana to Akron, Ohio in the early 1950s.

When I look at how all the pieces of the puzzle at one point lived all over the world, it’s amazing that my parents even met. The son of 2 English immigrants somehow met up with the daughter of an administrative professional/stenographer and a dad who we thought was one person, only to be another (the wonders of DNA) to have 5 kids, with the oldest meeting the only son of a sheet metal worker and his housekeeper wife.

Wow. Just wow. And in a bowling alley of all places.

Falls Rec

Falls Rec was torn down in the mid-1990s and where it stood is now the parking lot of a Sheraton Hotel in downtown Cuyahoga Falls (the suburb of Akron where I was raised). I remember bowling there once when I was little. I believe my sister did join a kids league (I wasn’t much of a bowler).

My grandparents bowled there, my mom worked there, I believe most of her siblings bowled or worked there as well. It held quite the memories for my family.

Photo by Stephen Fairhurst, this was one of about 4 dozen of these glasses that he had. You earned it for bowling above a 620 Series at Falls Rec in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

More About Akron

I’m lucky that Akron had it’s hey day when it did because without it, I most likely wouldn’t be here. Akron isn’t just known for the rubber companies, it has been voted an All-American City four times (1980, 1981, 1995, and 2008) and has a nationally recognized library (the Akron-Summit County Library – which has lots of great genealogy information in their Special Collections department), it’s home to the Akron Art Museum, the Akron Rubberducks (the AA minor league baseball team to the still presently called Cleveland Indians), and the home of Purell (which has been super important during this Covid-19 filled year).

The University of Akron, which is widely known for its polymer research (which goes hand in hand with the rubber companies), and an outstanding Law School. On a related note, for years their football team played in the “Rubber Bowl” which was built as a Works Progress Administration project to put people to work in the late 1930s. The football team moved to their new stadium in Downtown Akron, in the heart of the University at Infocision Stadium in 2008. It was home to more than just football games, as countless concerts took place there as well. Demolition began in 2018, but only part of it has been razed as the other parts could cause structural issues with the roadways surrounding it and Derby Downs.

This photo was in a Twitter feed from the University of Akron from 2018

Which brings me to one of the most famous events in Akron is the annual Soap Box Derby , with motorless go-carts that of specific requirements and has been held yearly since 1933. Youths compete in their hometowns and move along until they come to Akron for the national championship. Competitors and their families come from all over to participate. I remember one year when I took summer courses for my degree while attending the University of Akron, as the dorms were used for their overnight accommodations, and it blew me away when I saw just how many children and teens participated in this event in my hometown.

I remember my mom telling me when she was a teenager going to a Soap Box Derby parade and in 1963 Rock Hudson was a celebrity attending, and she was able to touch his hand as he drove by in a car and that was one of the highlights of her life, as he was one of the few actors my mother thought to be dreamy.

This photo of Rock Hudson at the Soap Box Derby in 1963 was taken from a Pinterest “pin” by Mary Ann Myers

Blimps

Going hand in hand with Akron and Goodyear, I would be remissed if I didn’t discuss the Goodyear Blimp. The blimps were originally created at the blimp hangar in the middle of Akron. I remember my mom telling me that the hanger was so big it actually would rain inside.

Well, it’s been a while since they’ve built blimps at the original hangar, as they now are built at the Wingfoot Lake hangar in Suffield. In 2006, my parents, sister and brother-in-law attended the launch of the Spirit of Innovation in 2006.

A digital scrapbooking layout that was done by my sister, Kellie Blair, of my mother and daughter. I just love the look of wonder in my daughter’s eyes.

Goodyear has always been a huge supporter of a variety of hobbies in our area, the Lighter Than Air Society being one of them. And it’s funny, I’ve grown up with blimps roaming the skies all my life and to this day when I hear that engine I run to see it. Though the new blimps, Wingfoot 1, 2, and 3 are all very quiet so you don’t hear them from within my house anymore.

A photo of one of the Blimps a block from my house as I sat in my car at a red light. No matter how old I get they always make me smile.

Other Popular Places

I’m sure there is a lot of Akron I have missed, but before I forget here are 2 of my favorite places: the Akron Zoo and where I use to work, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, which is the 65-room Tudor Revival home that F.A. Seiberling (co-founder of Goodyear with his brother, C.W.) and his wife Gertrude began building in 1912 and moved into in 1915. I think my favorite part of the house is how they had an architect (Charles Schneider) that designed the house and a landscape architect (Warren Manning) that made the gardens be extensions of the rooms. For example the Breakfast Room is designed in the colors of blue and yellow (Goodyear’s colors) and the garden that was around it was made up of blue and yellow flowers. It is now a historic estate that people can tour the house and grounds, along with various special events they have throughout the year.

Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens on 22 Dec 2018 during their Deck the Hall! program.

As for the Akron Zoo, my daughter can not get enough of it, even as a teenager and more often than not we have a membership.

My son and daughter from 2019, he tried to look as miserable as possible in most every picture we took of him that day while my daughter is as happy as can be.

Summit MetroParks

I can’t believe I almost forgot one of my favorite features of where I live – the Summit Metroparks. I’ve been told by many fellow classmates that this is the one feature of our area that is so often overlooked and the most missed once people move onto other areas of the country.

The Summit MetroParks is a non-profit organization that cares for a 16 parks compiled of 14,000 acres with a variety of things to do in them like hiking, ice skating, soccer, baseball, archery, biking, paddling, kayaking, fishing, swimming and more.

For 57 years the MetroParks has hosted the Fall Hiking Spree. It’s funny as I originally tried to complete this when I was in 10th grade. I was in Enriched Biology and the main thing that separated us from the regular class were projects that were due each grading period. The first was easy, participate in the Fall Hiking Spree. 6 Hikes was an A, 5 a B, and so on. I did 6 with my dad. We found group hikes that were led by Naturalists and advertised each week in the Akron Beacon Journal and that’s where we went, so we not only learned about the natural surroundings but any history tidbits that were involved as well. To earn your hiking stick and shield, you complete 8 hikes, and my dad and I had every intention to do them, but it’s Ohio, and the weather turned cold and wet and we never did. Fast forward 24 years and I’m 39 years old and I put earning said shield and stick on my bucket list of things to do before turning 40. I was so happy the day I earned it with my friend, Pam. I’ve continued to do the hiking spree each year since having earned 9 total shields (but there are people who have hiked every year).

The below photo is the 2020 Shield on the left and a photo of my stick from 2019. Normally they have volunteers who will put the shield on for you but with Covid this year, they did not have this service. Bets on how long it takes my husband to get the shield on? It’s already January and it’s not done.

Writing this has been very therapeutic since being a girl who has wanted to move to New York City for over half her life, I realize just how lucky I am to be born and more or less raised in this wonderful area. It is the place where I have to begin my genealogical journey as it’s where I was born, my husband and children were born here, my mom, and her mom (my dad was born in Indiana). From there I spread to Pennsylvania on every front but the Fairhurst’s, which is England.

If you are interested in taking part in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge please click here for more information. Come back next week as I tackle week #2!

Genealogy

Goals

Until I read a post on the Chiddicks Family Tree blog, I never really thought about having goals for my genealogical journey. Halfway through 2020 I saw his 6 month review of the progress he was making and I realized I needed to do that for my own accountability.

#1 Cleaning Up My Personal Tree

I already mentioned how I am focusing my time going through my software program and add all applicable citations, add the many documents I’ve saved on folders in the cloud where most of my information is, and get those included in my software. I’m hoping by working on everything and analyzing what I have, I might stand a better chance of breaking down some of my brick walls.

Below are my present statistics from my software – I’m not worried about the number of individuals and families but would be happy to have more citations than people by the end of the year. I’m horrible about putting people in with the thought I’ll get to the other stuff “later”.

#2 Getting Out of my Comfort Zone

I am determined to learn more about my family and their environments by reading about the areas where they lived, and who knows, possibly learning more about them. I am so reliant of going to Ancestry or FamilySearch and plopping the names in the search boxes and discovering seeing the same search results for the same people and never really obtaining new information. I guess a better title of this paragraph is “finding patience” as I learn to manually hunt for things in collections that have yet to be transcribed so finding the information will bring me that much more satisfaction.

#3 Being a Better Blogger

I need to learn to be better and sharing my finds and the stories. I say this as I have finally given out my website out to family members and so now that I know they are reading, they may get a kick out of reading stories about their family members.

Part of this objective will be covered as I am going to do my darndest to achieve all 52 weeks of Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors and in 52 Weeks challenge that she hosts. I’ve already got this week’s written – I just need to tweak it a bit with a few more photos and it will be ready. I’m so thankful she gave us 10 days to do the first so I can begin to focus on what I’m going to write for week 2.

But in the end the purpose of my blog was to share what I know about my family and by discussing how I found out something may help someone else find their long lost family member, and that’s the whole reason. Not to mention I hope that maybe my stories are as interesting as the other blogs I read.

#4 Get a Handle on Scanning Photographs

I’ve learned scanning is not as easy as it looks. Sure, you lay your photographs on the glass of the scanner but it’s so much more than that. It’s identifying the people in the photo, where it may have been taken and the worst part… when it was taken. If it’s not listed on the back of the photo you really have to do some thinking! (Or a lot of asking! I don’t know where I would be without my dad, my aunt and my uncle (and my other uncle that my aunt asks as I don’t think I have my other uncle’s phone number, but I doubt he would want me to bug him about such things).

This is SJ Randol Store, not sure of the year but the only city directory with this store listed in it was the 1924 edition, so this is in the range of 1923-1925, it was located on Howard Street in Akron, Ohio (I pass it every day on my drive to work, or at least where it stood, there is just a brick wall now). The mystery is the 2 ladies. The store was owned by Samuel Randol and his wife, Mazie Warner (my 2nd-great-grandmother), the woman on the left looks like Mazie’s sister, Cymanthia, but she passed in 1925 in California, so could it be her other sister, Janette? (Not 100% sure what Janette looked like but she was in Ohio by this time and did not pass until 1930).

Looking Ahead

I am excited about this new year and what awaits me and my family’s history. May this be my most successful year yet! (And I hope Paul doesn’t mind my stealing a bit of his inspiration!)

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Week #29 – Newsworthy

I haven’t participated in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks as there have been a lot of 1-word prompts that for some reason or another have not inspired me (I think a lot of it has to do with returning to work after lockdown).

But this week I have something for Amy Johnson Crow’s wonderful writing challenge, as I have found lots of newspaper articles about my relatives that really fill in the “dash” between the years of our ancestors lives.

Mazie Warner Dunbar

After posting my story about my great-great-grandmother, Mazie Lorena Warner, I discovered an interesting article about her. Oddly enough, she and my Aunt Myrtle were both charged with assault on my great-great-great-grandfather, Delos Dunbar (Mazie’s father-in-law).

The Potter Enterprise, Thursday, June 6, 1912

No one was more disappointed than me that the Clerk of Courts in Potter County found nothing on this for me in the records. I may go about it again, as I believe she looked up Delos Dunbar and not so much Mazie (cases were found about his son, Delos Dunbar, Jr and not the elder Delos Dunbar).

A week later the following story ran.

The Potter Enterprise, Thursday, June 13, 1912

Since discovering this I’ve often wondered if Delos said something about his son, Arthur, Mazie’s husband. In December 9112, Arthur died of Polio. I’ve often wondered if maybe his father didn’t understand the debilitating nature of his disease. To me it’s the only thing that makes sense on why 2-ladies would beat up and elderly gentleman.

Have you found any interesting articles that you were surprised made the newspaper with your family? Comment below or share with Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks!