Wednesday, March 14, 2012

When "Auntie" Ferguson's Cabin Came Down

I'm always on the lookout for more information about "Auntie" Ferguson. Here's an article that ran in the May 13, 1904 Lorain Times-Herald – about a month after she passed away.

It's the poignant story about the demolition of her cabin.


Old Cabin of Auntie Ferguson, Which Was Last Relic of Old Days Near Steel Plant, Has Been Torn Down.

An old landmark that for the last eight or nine years was all that was left of the old times has at last been destroyed to give way to railroads and the steel making industry. The old log cabin that for so many years sheltered the gray head of Auntie Ferguson, was torn down this morning and all that remains is several piles of weather beaten lumber. Its disappearance is like the departure of a good friend.

True to the promise of the officials who first had the work of building of the Johnson Steel Works the shanty was not torn down until after the death of the late "Auntie." She asked that she be allowed to occupy the house until her death and no other than Tom Johnson himself assured her that she would not be disturbed. Little by little the great white fence has been moved to within a stone's throw of the cabin and railroad switches and tracks had been built around the house. Two of the tracks passed within a dozen feet of it, but it was never disturbed while the old lady was alive. Now that she has passed the promise no longer holds good.

The cabin stood just east of the gas works on Dexter street and was a landmark that was known for miles around. The old colored lady brought up part of her family in the cabin. With it goes all things that call to memory the old Globeville road and the picturesque scenery on the banks of the river which it paralleled. These last have been covered with slag from the blast furnaces and anything that is romantic the vicinity has had to give way to unbeautiful ore piles, railroad tracks, and ore loading machinery.


The article helps to pinpoint exactly where "Auntie" Ferguson's cabin was located. Since the cabin was east of the gas works, and "railroad switches and tracks had been built around the house," it's probably safe to say that it is roughly in the location below on this 1909 map.

I ran this by local historian and archivist Dennis Lamont just to make sure. He agreed with the location, noting that it's on "the last level ground before the ravine."

Tomorrow: Another "Auntie" sighting – from 1939. Plus: the Birth of the Steel Mill!


Drew Penfield said...

Auntie Ferguson really must have been a well known character around town as the articles said. Her passing and the removal of her cabin seem to have been big local news. And then, sadly, she became a forgotten piece of history. It's great that you're helping to put her back into Lorain's history.

jack said...

any idea where she was buried

Dan Brady said...

That's a good question. Neither of her obituaries mentioned a cemetery. Since she she seems to have been so well known as Drew pointed out, maybe a nice plot was donated. I think there's some published listings associated with some the various local cemeteries... guess I'd better take a look! Great suggestion!

Drew Penfield said...

I agree with Jack, it would be very interesting to know where she was buried. I did some searching online last night but didn't come up with anything. What listings for local cemeteries are available online are very much incomplete. It may actually require a trip to cemeteries to look through their directories, but I do hope you're able to find it.