52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Week #4: Education

For this week I am going to talk about my favorite teacher for the Education theme. His name was Leon Muster, and he was my 7th Grade Geography/Ohio History teacher.

Taken from the 1985-1986 Roberts Warriors Yearbook from Roberts Middle School in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

The odd thing about Mr. Muster Muster was that people either loved him or hated him. My sister’s friend HATED him with such a passion because she thought he was so mean. When I came home going on and on about what a wonderful teacher he was, my parents were quite confused. How could this be the same person? I think the same all the time.

Mr. Muster made history class fun. He always had us playing games in teams or other fun ways to help us learn whether it was in the Geography portion of the class (which was the first 2/3’s of the year) or Ohio History (the last 1/3 of the year).

An example of this “fun” was how he brought in a canon he called “Old Betsy” after the canon that played a key role in the War of 1812 at Fort Stephenson. The canon shot caps and he would often “shoot it” in class to keep us on our toes. One day I decided to bring in a canon of my own, as I had one amongst my dad’s toys at my Grandma’s house. Mr. Muster was quite surprised, and I told him my canon’s name was “Victory” as it was embossed on the side of the small metal canon. So he decided to find out what his canon said in the same spot, only to find it just said “Made in Taiwan”.

In the Geography portion of class, we had an Africa test. We all pulled a number out of a hat and it corresponded with a test. The test consisted of going up to a large map of Africa and pointing out places of interest. The key was to be prepared for anything. There was 1 really easy test, and 1 really hard test, and everything else was just a mix of everything. I don’t remember my number but I know I had the easiest test. My places to point out were: the Nile River, Zaire, Egypt, the Sahara Desert, and South Africa, the five most obvious things on the map in 1985-86. I always felt bad as my friend, Pam, had the hardest test. As time went on I always wondered if I truly picked the easy test at random, or if Mr. Muster gave me the easy test.

Going back to Ohio History, we had a project we had to complete on the Ohio Canals. I left my textbook at school when I needed to finish it up. I lucked out that my parents took my sister and I to Gnadenhuten and Schoenbrunn that weekend and I was able to convince my dad in buying me a pamphlet on canals which helped me finish my project and get it turned in on time. I remember confessing my luck to Mr. Muster and he smiled. Ingenuity at it’s best. I still have that pamphlet somewhere.

Mr. Muster would often tease my aforementioned friend because she was Polish. He was too, and they’d go at it. Where Pam enjoyed the challenge, her younger sister disliked Mr. Muster. Funny how people are different.

When I took the final exam for Ohio History I was curious what my grade was. Mr. Muster’s son graduated from high school that year which was the same year as my sister. Their graduation was at the Richfield Coliseum and somehow I found Mr. Muster and asked him what my grade was. I missed 4, still an A but I wanted perfection (I think I wanted him to be as proud of me as my parents). He was also impressed I found him amongst a huge crowd in an even bigger venue (it is where the Cleveland Cavaliers used to play).

I went back and visited Mr. Muster throughout 8th grade and would do my best to visit every month or so when I went to high school. He always remembered me and loved that I was so fascinated with history.

Leon Muster passed away in 2009. Along with being a teacher he helped coach the football and wrestling teams and was a postal worker in the summer.

He refused to sign my yearbook in 7th grade but I convinced him to sign it in 8th grade. He wrote exactly what I said… “I don’t care, whatever you want to write just something. Remember me. L. Muster”. He added the “remember me” part.

Photo of Mr. Muster’s signing of my 8th grade yearbook.

I wonder if he ever thought 37 years later a student would write a blog post about him. I’d say he is definitely remembered (and I even found his spot at the Oakwood Cemetery next to the high school this past summer, then oddly found myself saying hello when I’d take a walk while my son practiced each Thursday evening at Marching Band practice).

He was a one-of-a-kind teacher whom I’ll never forget.

12 Ancestors in 12 Months, Maternal Side

Month 4: Check It Out

I have to laugh even now that I have completed half of the local cemeteries that I need to visit. I laugh because it was 3 years ago this week I packed up my husband and a few belongings and we headed 4 hours away to Pennsylvania to do a cemetery hop, some research at the Bedford County Historical Society, and went to the Courthouse to view probate records and deeds of the ancestors on my paternal side.

What is comical is that I haven’t accomplished any of those things for my ancestors who lived here in Akron, Ohio. So, this past Saturday I began by visiting 2 of 5 local cemeteries where my ancestors are buried. I flew solo this time as my husband was assisting with parking for the Bridgestone Seniors Golf Tournament at Firestone Country Club. I can admit I truly missed the second set of eyes. It began getting a little toasty so I stopped, knowing that I can finish up at a later time because that’s what happens when you are visiting cemeteries close to home. The urgency is not there because who knows when you will return (which has been the case for me and Pennsylvania during this time of Covid).

Chestnut Hill Memorial Park

My first stop of the day was Chestnut Hill Memorial Park where my maternal granduncles were both buried. Edwin Fairhurst was killed in Saigon during World War II while his older brother, Wilfred, died in 1956. Wilfred also fought in World War II for the Marines and was in Saigon when his brother, who was in the Army, was killed.

Oakwood Cemetery

Oakwood Cemetery was literally the cemetery about 5 minutes (driving) from where I grew up. I passed it every day on my drive to Cuyahoga Falls High School as Oakwood Drive was the street both my dad and neighbor took to take me to school for all 4 years. The interesting part was that my great-grandparents, James Fairhurst and Phoebe Boone Fairhurst were buried not far from the fence that I drove next to every day. They were who I searched for first as I entered the larger than it seems cemetery in the middle of the suburban city of Cuyahoga Falls.

The Fairhurst’s

It was interesting. I wasn’t sure how to react to their gravestone. As I felt so sad for the death of their sons (Wilfred and Edwin were their children), it was more complicated for them. My grandfather, their youngest son, was never a very nice person. He was physically abusive to his wives and children. As I’ve picked up stories about James and Phoebe, all those stories aren’t very promising either. Maybe I’m mistaken to blame his cruelty on them, but sometimes things just start and never end. I believe this is why I’ve never been big on trying to find out more about this branch of my family. Granted, it takes me to England right away as both James and Phoebe came here in the early 20th century, but it’s hard to get excited for people who you hear of just not being nice.

The Dailey’s

The next stop in my cemetery adventure was looking for the headstone of Andrew Dailey and Maria Munson Dailey, who I am pretty sure are my 4th-great-grandparents on my maternal grandmother’s side of the family.

I haven’t really learned a whole lot about Andrew Dailey and Maria Munson. This is one of those things I plan on delving into as I settle back down into focusing on my research. I know Andrew was born in this area back in 1814 so he has been a settler here in this area for a very long time. Researching here in Ohio will be a change of pace, as I am so use to Pennsylvania.

The gravestone was very worn and if there were words are the other sides they were completely washed away. Andrew passed away in 1886, Maria in 1898.

Albert Nank

I opted to include Albert William Nank as I knew he was buried in Oakwood Cemetery. Albert is the man named on my maternal grandmother’s birth certificate as her father, but to my knowledge I have not discovered any DNA evidence from when I took my test 3 years ago to support that. That’s why I have the Dailey’s above, they are branched off of who I think is really her father’s family.

But I began looking for my 7th-grade-teacher’s final resting place and I remembered that Albert was not buried far from him. He was still my great-grandmother’s second husband so I guess he deserves to be memorialized as well, even if he wasn’t very nice either. I think he knew he wasn’t her dad but must have thought it wasn’t his place to say so.

I know I’m probably not suppose too, but I do wish I could take a weed whacker to his headstone so you can see it in its entirety again.

Mr. Muster

This last one is not a relative of mine, but rather my favorite teacher. I had Mr. Muster for a combination of geography and Ohio History in 7th grade at Roberts Middle School. He was a teacher that you either loved or hated, there was seldom an in-between. My sister did not have Mr. Muster but her good friend did. Heidi told horror stories about how mean Mr. Muster was. She was heavy-set and apparently he gave her a hard time about that. I found this odd as he himself was heavy-set. And he smoked a pipe. We had B lunch so our class went a half hour, we had lunch, and then we had another half hour, and I always remember the smell of his pipe when we returned to class.

I don’t remember much about the geography portions of class except the Africa test. It was a map test and you went up and pulled a slip of paper from a hat and you selected which test you would take. You then went up in front of the entire class and had to point out where things were. I lucked out and pulled the easiest one – so I had to point out the Nile River, Egypt, South Africa, and Zaire… all the really big and easy things to find. My friend Pam ended up selecting the most difficult test…. I don’t even remember what was on it but I was prepared and wish I could have helped her.

Ohio History was the fun part of class. I love history. And there was a cannon that was famous in Ohio named Old Betsy (gosh, I can’t remember why?) and Mr. Muster had a cannon that he claimed was a replica and he began shooting it in class with caps (like what was used in cap guns). I had a similar cannon at my grandma’s so I brought it in one day and fired back. He asked me if my cannon had a name, I said yes, Victory. So he then went on to inspect his own cannon, all we could find was “Made in Taiwan”.

Mr. Muster’s son was also in the same grade as my sister, so I hunted him down at graduation that night to discover how I did on my final exam. I’d missed 2. But that I found him was quite a feat as the Richfield Colosseum was huge (it no longer exists) and my sister had a very large class (but not as big as my mom’s).

I went back and visited Mr. Muster often as I went to high school. It’s amazing how teacher’s really have that impact on you. I had a few in high school and my favorite English teacher is someone I am friends with on Facebook (he taught my all-time favorite class – Enriched World Literature – it’s where I began my love of classical music).

Old Betsy

I just Googled “Old Betsy Cannon” and it was used at Fort Stephenson during the War of 1812. It was the only cannon the fort had so Major George Croghan decided to move it around the fort to make it appear that they had more fire power than they did. In the end 150 British and Native Americans were killed and the United States only lost 1 soldier. You can learn more here.

I found this photo of Old Betsy at Ohio Memory.