Tuesday, May 24, 2016

LaGrange’s Civil War Monument – Part 1

LaGrange’s Soliders’ Monument circa 1953
Last week I wrote about Lionel Sheldon’s brick stable down in LaGrange. With Memorial Day coming up next week, it’s a good time to pay another visit to LaGrange, this time to take a look at its wonderful soldiers’ monument in the town square.

The article below about the monument ran in the Lorain Journal on May 7, 1967 – 49 years ago this month. It explains how the Civil War soldier atop the monument originally faced north, as well as revealing a little-known typographical error that once graced one of the monument’s stones.

Mrs. Albert Wilcox was interviewed for the article. She mentions her great grandfather, Charles Rounds, a native New Englander, walked from the East Coast all the way to LaGrange Township so that he could clear a plot for his new farm.

Tomorrow: Tarred and feathered

Monday, May 23, 2016

Avon Lake/Sheffield Lake G.A.R. Highway Rededication Ceremonies

The new G.A.R. Highway sign at the Avon Lake western border
(previously masked in my earlier post)
The weather cooperated nicely on Saturday morning for the ceremonies celebrating the rededication of U. S. Route 6 through our area as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway. The newly installed G.A.R. Highway signs were unveiled in official ceremonies in which Peter Hritsko of the James A. Garfield Camp No. 142, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War shared unveiling duties with the Mayors of Avon Lake and Sheffield Lake.

It’s important to remember that the designation of U.S. Route 6 as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway was first proposed in 1934. It took all fourteen U.S. 6 states a while to pass official legislation, with the formal, national coast-to-coast dedication taking place in May 1953.

Anyway, first up Saturday morning was the Avon Lake ceremony. Strangely, there were no representatives from the media there (unless you count one bumbling blogger who kept getting in the way).

Here are some of my shots from that ceremony, which featured some members of the organization dressed in Civil War costumes.

Peter Hritsko and Avon Lake Mayor Greg Zilka
About an hour later, the ceremony for Sheffield Lake’s rededication of its portion of the highway took place. Sheffield Lake now has three G.A.R. Highway signs: one at the eastern end of town, one at the western border and the one near the Boat Launch.
The ceremony was held at the new sign near the eastern border of Sheffield Lake, located just a few hundred feet from the 103rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry compound.
Here are some of my shots.
Peter Hritsko with Sheffield Lake Mayor Dennis Bring 
The Morning Journal has a nice article by Carol Harper about the new G.A.R. Highway signs that you can read here. It includes some video, and also identifies some of the people dressed in period costume shown in my photos.
There was also a ceremony for Bay Village on Saturday which I was unable to attend.
So now there is a brand new G.A.R. Highway sign just two hundred feet from my house (below).
And there is the newly installed sign at the eastern end of town, located approximately in the same spot where Sheffield Lake’s original G. A. R. Highway sign stood (and I first noticed back in the 1970s).
What more could a history lover and old road junkie ask for?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Mystery Sign

Alert motorists heading east on U. S. 6 out of Sheffield Lake recently may have noticed this mystery sign, which is located just inside the Avon Lake border near the entrance to the Aqua Marine Luxury Apartments.

Well, this Saturday morning it will be a mystery no longer. That’s because it will be unveiled as the latest Grand Army of the Republic Highway sign honoring the Union forces that served during the Civil War.

The sign’s dedication ceremony is scheduled – rain or shine – at 9:30 am. Its actually part of a three-city coordinated G.A.R. Highway effort. The same day, Sheffield Lake is having a ceremony at 11:00 am (at the same location), and Bay Village at 12:30 pm (at the Avon Lake/Bay Village border).

I’m pretty happy about it. If you had told me thirty years ago that this G.A. R. Highway sign revival was going to be taking place in Lorain County (and its neighboring counties), I never would have believed it.

Kudos once again to Peter Hritsko and the James A. Garfield Camp #142, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War for their fine effort in ensuring that those veterans and their contributions to this country are not forgotten.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Lionel Sheldon’s Brick Barn in LaGrange – Part 2

I didn’t have to drive down to LaGrange to see if Lionel Sheldon’s brick stable was still standing.

That’s because I was able to determine that the farm was still in the Thompkins family, and came up with an address. Consequently, I found the brick stable in a Bing Maps view (below). The farm is quite impressive.

I was also able to see the brick stable during my ‘drive’ along Rt. 303 via Google Maps (below).

Of course, I decided to drive down there anyway on Sunday to get a picture. Although it was sunny when I left my house in late morning, by the time I was out on Route 20 the sky was dark and it began to sleet.
I kept going, and the weather began to clear up as the brick stable slowly loomed into view from Nickel-Plate Diagonal Road (below).
From there it was only a few minutes before I got my shots from Route 303. The sky wasn’t the greatest, but I was just glad it wasn’t still snowing.
On the way home, I stopped for a photo of the Carlisle Township offices (below).

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Lionel Sheldon’s Brick Barn in LaGrange – Part 1

One thing that I’ve noticed when scrolling through Lorain Journal microfilm of the 1950s is the preponderance of articles about old landmarks.

This is great for me, because back then the Journal had both the journalistic and photographic resources to cover these stories well. I like to feature these stories on the blog, because much of the information is not easily available anywhere today.

One article that I’ve had for many years (and finally decided to type up) is the one below about a vintage barn (actually a stable) on Route 303 just west of LaGrange with historical significance. The article by James Howard appeared in the Lorain Journal on Thursday, May 5, 1955.

West of LaGrange
Imposing Barn Symbol of Dream That Failed
By James Howard

A two-story brick stable, one and a half miles west of LaGrange, stands today as a memory of an unfinished dream.

The building, its imposing lines in sharp contrast to the ordinary farm construction, was erected more than 100 years ago by Lionel Sheldon, former Lorain county lawyer who achieved national fame before his death.

On Rt. 303
The stable is located on a farm now owned by Harry Thompkins, on Rt. 303, and is one of the oldest landmarks of the area. Neighbors still talk today of the stir created when Sheldon built the stable and announced further plans to construct a house, barn and other buildings all of brick made from clay on the farm and personally shaped in Sheldon’s own kiln.

Ralph Sanders, old time resident of the LaGrange area, lives across the road from the Thompkins farm in a brick home built by his father and Sheldon from the same kiln used for the stable.

“I remember my father talking about Lionel,” says Sanders, “and how the Sheldon estate was going to be the best farm in this part of the state. He would have done it too, only he reached for higher things and made them.”

Fame Changed His Mind
The fame that changed Sheldon’s mind about creating a farm estate began when he became a lawyer.

He had lived in LaGrange since 1833, when his father, Allen, moved the family from Worcester, N. Y., and gradually acquired a 500 acre farm in the LaGrange area.

Lionel was admitted to the Elyria bar in 1851, the year of his father’s death. For the first few years of his law practice he lived in Elyria, but always spent summers on the farm and began his plans for the building program.

His first public office came in 1856 when he held the office of Lorain county probate judge for two years.

But it was the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 which brought about the great change in Sheldon’s life. He entered 2nd Ohio Cavalry as a captain and later became a major in the same regiment.

Met James Garfield
At the organization of the 42nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry he formed a lasting friendship with the colonel of the organization, James A. Garfield, later president of the United States. Sheldon became colonel and was a brigadier general before the close of the war.

After the war Sheldon resumed the practice of law in New Orleans, living through the exciting days of the reconstruction. His friendship with President Garfield helped him when he entered politics and was elected to Congress in 1868, 1870 and 1872. In 1878, he was one of the presidential electors of the state of Louisiana.

For the next 10 years, Sheldon’s career is unknown except he was known to have been legal counsel for the Texas and Pacific Railroad in 1887. To this day, his place of death and burial are unknown, due to incomplete records.

Throughout the years, Sheldon never forgot LaGrange and his deeds remain a pleasant memory to old time residents.

Donated To Church
Mrs. John King, who has compiled a personal history of the community tells of old Methodist church records mentioning Sheldon’s name. “I have seen the books where Lionel contributed $200 for the building of the church,” says Mrs. King, “and in those days, it was a lot of money.”

Today, Lionel Sheldon is not remembered in LaGrange for his national fame, but as a man who never completed his one personal dream. But his kindness and character had a far reaching effect, summed up perfectly by Mrs. Avery Wilcox, who at 96 is one of the oldest residents of LaGrange, and who remembers Lionel when she was a little girl.

“There is just one way to describe Lionel Sheldon,” says Mrs. Wilcox. “He was a real gentleman.”

Lionel Sheldon
(Courtesy Wikipedia)
Since the above 1955 Lorain Journal article, Lionel Sheldon’s date and location of death have apparently been documented, according to this Wiki article. He passed away on January 17, 1917 in Pasadena, California.

So is the brick stable still standing out there on Route 303? Did I end up driving through Sunday’s crummy and wacky weather to find out?

Come back here tomorrow for the answer!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Journal Moves to its New Plant – May 1955

The dark clouds this past Friday night cast an appropriate gloom
over the Morning Journal’s empty offices
It’s sad driving by the Morning Journal’s empty offices and plant down at the Devil’s Elbow and seeing the large AVAILABLE signs on the building. It really drives home the reality that the paper hasn’t been printed in Lorain for a long time, and that now you can’t even go to the local offices to place a classified ad.

Here’s the link to the paper’s April reporting of the building being officially available for sale or lease.

But back in May 1955, it was a different story; the future was bright for the Journal and newspapers in general. The paper was in the process of moving from its longtime home (since 1920) on Seventh Street to its brand new plant.

Here’s part of the front page of the last edition printed at the old plant – Saturday, May 7, 1955.

And here’s the front page of the first edition printed on the new presses the following Monday.
I’ve mentioned before how my grandfather worked at the Journal’s Seventh Street plant for years as a linotype operator and repairman. Grandpa had a nice short walk from his house on Sixth Street. He had already moved on to another job by the time the Journal made the move to its Broadway plant in 1955.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Mrs. David Beach’s Long Walk: From New York to Chicago Through Lorain – May 1912 – Part 3

New York Globe photo of Mrs. Beach dressed for rain
After its extensive coverage of Mrs. David Beach in its May 14, 1912 edition, the Lorain Times-Herald included one small update of her progress after leaving Lorain.

The front page of the May 15, 1912 newspaper noted that she had left Sandusky that morning on her way to Oak Harbor, and that “her route includes crossing a mile and a half over Baybridge.”

Mrs. Beach finished her long walk, arriving in Chicago on May 28, 1912. Her achievement appeared to be well-covered in newspapers across the country.

From the May 31, 1912 Fort Collins, Colorado Weekly Courier
From the May 28, 1912 Kingston, New York Daily Freeman
The Chicago Daily News Almanac and Yearbook for 1913 included a detailed listing of her journey (below).
It’s still quite an achievement more than a hundred years later, especially in view of the primitive road conditions at that time and her defiance of some generally accepted health principles (such as drinking no water at all on her journey).

Mrs. Beach later published a book about her walk, entitled My Walk From New York to Chicago.
I close out my look back at the remarkable Mrs. David Beach with the outspoken interview that she gave the Lorain Times-Herald reporters in her hotel room during her visit to Lorain. It appeared in that paper on May 14, 1912.
Yes, Ladies, You May Wear High Heels and Stays, But Don’t Eat Meat, Says Fair Walker
In her room at the Hotel Lorain last evening, Mrs. David Beach, of New York, author, musician, and now-famous woman walker, talked of her ideas concerning diet and health. Her maid busied herself about the room, preparing for the usual routine of massage and bathing that follows each day’s stint on the road. Mrs. Beach’s heavy walking shoes were unlaced and taken off.
She talked rapidly, but distinctly with just a trace of “Eastern” accent.
“This trip of mine,” she began, “is a bigger thing, a broader undertaking than a mere attempt to make a name for myself or to make money. I am doing this to educate the people to the right way of taking care of their bodes.
"Degeneration Threatens American”
“America needs a health awakening. The stomachs of Americans threaten to curse the degeneration of the nation, and all the doctors in the world won’t help America very much in making the radical change in the physical being of her citizens that is necessary to the nation’s welfare.
“Food of the wrong kind is the cause of all disease. You look skeptical, but that is true, nevertheless. I have studied the effects of food for nine years.
“The doctors do as well as they can. I wish to say nothing against them. As a whole, the medical profession is an honorable one. Every doctor I have ever known has been a conscientious worker in his profession. But while you are pinning your hope for health salvation upon the doctors, do not forget that America’s greatest cancer specialist died of cancer.
No Cancer in China
“In vegetarian countries cancer is unknown, as are nearly all the rest of the diseases common to meat-eating people. In China and Japan, where rice is the principal food of all the people, a case of cancer is never seen.
Here the reporter thought he saw a loop-hole. “How about leprosy in China and yellow fever and malaria in other vegetarian countries?” he asked.
“The climatic conditions are responsible,” was the answer. “China almost the home of leprosy, is an unsanitary country, poorly drained. Water undermines the ground throughout nearly the whole Chinese empire. The people know practically nothing of sanitation.
The Body Its Own Judge.
“If you doubt my word as to the strength-giving powers of a strictly vegetarian diet, write to the government food experts. They will tell you that grains, vegetables and fruits have more nourishment, weight for weight, than meats.
“People often ask me, ‘How shall I start? What shall I eat? I can only say that eating is a matter of temperament. Foods suited to the needs of one person are not suited to the needs of others – and I am talking strictly of the foods included in what is generally called the vegetarian diet. A family of three members may require three different kinds of vegetable foods. The individual himself is the best judge of what he needs. His own body will tell him if he is treating it right.
“Don’t overload the stomach with indigestible matter. That is the most important thing. A meal of roast beef, potatoes, pastry and coffee, contains almost no nourishment aside from that in the potato, and it takes a good stomach to assimilate that. The meat juices simply act as a stimulant, just as the coffee does.”

“The Hobble An Abomination.”
The reporter was getting anxious about a question he had in mind.

“What do you think of the women’s styles and mode of dressing?” he interposed.

Mrs. Beach’s answer came like a flash.

“The tight skirts–I mean the hobble kind–are an abomination. It is preposterous that the American women will tolerate them. They are absurd, both from the standpoint of beauty and utility.

“But I do believe that most women are better off with stays, if they are properly designed–sufficiently loose, and rather long in front. I wear them myself on the road.

“The American woman’s shoes are not as bad as her hobble skirts. I am not crank enough to say that a woman should wear low heels at all times. When one attends a society function, for instance, one must be properly booted to be well dressed. The ‘French’ heels, of course, are unthinkable at any times. For a dress shoe a woman may well wear a heel high enough to make her foot look shapely and trim, if it is broad enough at the base to support her ankle properly.

“Even on my tramp, I found that I could not do without heels on my shoes. The ones on my walking shoes are an inch high, and the full width of my foot."