Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Archibald Willard & Wellington – Ohioana/Spring 1965

My post on July 4th featuring a photograph of Wellington’s monument in memory of its war veterans reminded me that I had this article in my files.

It’s from the Spring 1965 issue of Ohioana: Of Ohio and Ohioans, which was a nifty little quarterly publication produced by the Martha Kinney Cooper Ohioana Library Association. As its name implies, the booklet promoted and celebrated all things related to Ohio, including its history and culture. I have a few issues of the publication, which I picked up at a Friends of the Library book sale last year when the Lorain Public Library decided to unceremoniously dump its entire collection.

The Spring 1965 issue included two pages devoted to the various ways that Wellington had honored Archibald Willard, the painter of "Spirit of ’76,” including monuments and signs.

Note the photo of the monument honoring war veterans.
What interested me in the montage of photos was the small marker that was on State Route 58 in front of the American Legion Post in Wellington.
Along with the Uncle Sam mailbox, the American Legion marker was one of those Route 58 landmarks that I watched for whenever I went through Wellington.
The marker was there for decades. I even photographed it back in 2009 (below) when it wasn’t in the best of shape. By then, it was even missing the small Spirit of ’76 emblem.
Anyway, the marker's gone now.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Archibald Willard Lorain Journal Article – July 1926

Courtesy fineartamerica.com
Here’s another article about Archibald M. Willard, the man who painted “Spirit of ’76.” It appeared in the Lorain Journal on July 21, 1926. It’s from an interesting perspective because Willard had only passed away in 1918 – less than ten years earlier – and the iconic painting itself was only about 50 years old. (The date of its creation differs according to the source, but it was unveiled in 1876.)

Origin of Masterpiece Was
Drawn as Satire on
Fourth Celebration

(Special to The Journal)

WELLINGTON, July 21 – Achibald M. Willard, artist who produced the “Spirit of ’76,” was a Wellington circus-wagon painter in 1870 when he produced the famous master-piece.

Not only that, but he drew it as his idea of a satire on Fourth of July celebrations.

These statements may seem astounding to many of the art lovers who have always looked upon the “Spirit of ’76” with a sort of awe. Yet there are ample facts to back them up.

Willard, who later moved to Cleveland, was brought back to Wellington after his death, and his body is buried there.

Circus Wagon Displayer
Back in 1870 some of Willard’s work, as displayed on circus wagons, attracted the attention of J. F. Ryder, Cleveland art dealer, who contracted with him to paint some of the then popular chromos.

A little later Ryder suggested that there might be a good market for a painting called “Yankee Doodle,” that could be sold in connection with the then coming centennial celebration in Philadelphia.

Willard decided to add this one to this list.

Lorain-co Farmer Model
For the central character, the tall, white-haired drummer, he had his father, a retired Baptist minister, pose. Hugh Mosher, a Lorain-co farmer and fifer in the Civil War, was the model for the fife player.

Harry K. Devereux, son of Gen. J. H. Devereux, was the young drummer. Gen Devereux finally bought the picture and presented it to the Marblehead, Mass., town hall, where it now hangs.

Young Devereux, when the picture was painted was a student in Brooks Military school in Cleveland.

Displayed at Many Places
After its showing in Philadelphia, the picture was displayed in the Old South Church, Boston, the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, and in San Francisco.

The title “Yankee Doodle” was changed at the request of the Philadelphia centennial committee for fear it would offend a local character.

In 1911 the city of Cleveland paid Willard $3,000 for a replica of the famous picture which is now in the rotunda of the City Hall.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Happy Fourth of July!

What better image could there be to symbolize the country’s birthday in 1776 than the iconic composition created by Ohio’s own Archibald Willard, shown here on the war memorial that adorns Wellington’s park on Main Street?

It reminds us that if we remember the great individuals and high ideals that gave birth to our nation, we can rise above internal strife and past mistakes to stand united and overcome all challenges – and prevail as the greatest country on earth.

Here’s hoping you have a safe and happy July 4th.


The Lorain Journal published a nice story written by Virginia Willard about Archibald Willard and his Spirit of '76 painting back on July 4, 1966.

Painting Symbolizes Day
’Spirit of 76’ Still Lives
Staff Writer

WELLINGTON – Today is the Fourth of July, an American holiday, tradition and heritage.

Ask the man on the street what picture symbolizes the day.

CHANCES ARE he may not know the name but he will mention the two drummers and a fifer marching on a Battlefield of the Revolutionary War period.

The day and the painting have become so closely intertwined in the minds of Americans that the two are synonymous.

The painting is the famed “Spirit of ’76.” The name of the painter, Archibald M. Willard, is not as well known but the artist, were he alive today, would prefer it that way. The picture is more important than the painter.

WILLARD WAS BORN in Bedford, moved to Wellington as a youth, worked at the Tripp Carriage Works decorating wagons and moved to Cleveland after painting his first successful picture, Pluck No. 1.

It was here in Wellington at a Fourth of July parade almost a hundred years ago the the inspiration came to Willard for the painting of the Spirit. His inspiration was the Brighton fie and drum corps headed by fifer Hugh Mosher.

At the time he saw it more as a comic sketch, but as the idea slowly developed Willard became imbued, almost obsessed, by a more serious portrayal.

HE CALLED to Cleveland for his friend Hugh Mosher to pose as the fifer. He took his father, Rev. Sammuel Willard, as the central figure. It seemed particularly appropriate since his forebears had fought in the Revolutionary War. He selected young Harry Devereaux, then attending a military academy at Cleveland, as the drummer boy.

The completed painting was exhibited at the Philadelphia Centennial in 1876 and drew such attention that it was sent on a tour of the country at the close of the exposition.

The painting was later sold to young Devereaux’s father who bequeathed it to the city of Marblehead, Mass., where it can be seen today.

IT IS KNOWN that 14 other copies of the Spirit were painted by Willard, the last one being the large painting which now hangs in City Hall in Cleveland.

While Wellington has had no Fourth of July parades for many years, it has a parade on Memorial Day which has featured a living “Spirit of ’76” trio – H. B. McClaflin, True Fortney and Claude Smith.

For many years the trio appeared not only in Wellington but in Ohio and throughout the nation with the local American Legion post as the sponsor. The trio, whenever it appeared, won much acclaim. Fortney’s death last year broke up the famous trio.

SO IT WAS that an idea became a painting, the picture became flesh and returned to the village of its conception.

Willard died in his eighties at his Cleveland home in 1918. It was to Wellington that his body was brought for burial. His grave at Greenwood is green with ivy and he lies surrounded by members of his family.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Beulah Beach in the News – Part 2

Continuing with my potpourri of vintage Beulah Beach news clippings...

As the years went by, news articles about the annual convention at Beulah Beach of the Christian and Missionary Alliance began to include little capsule histories of the property.

This clipping from the July 26, 1941 Sandusky Register notes, “A banner year in attendance is expected at the 55th annual missionary convention and Bible conference of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, central district, at Beulah Beach, midway between Huron and Vermilion, from Aug. 1 to 10, and where such conferences have been held for the past 20 years.

“For 35 years, they were held at old Beulah Park, east of Cleveland, but larger and more suitable quarters were needed.”

It is interesting that the article points out, “All sessions of the conference will be open to the public and no charge is made for admission to the grounds.”
On my original post about Beulah Beach that consisted mainly of vintage postcards, Harrison Baumbaugh left a very informative comment about the history of the property and how it became a conference center and retreat. He noted that his mother’s step-father, Gottfried Nolte, owned a farm consisting of 90 acres on both sides of Lake Road that he sold to the Christian Missionary Alliance in 1921. Well, here is the clipping about Mr. Nolte’s passing that appeared in the Sandusky Register on May 11, 1942.
These articles that appeared in two Dayton newspapers in August 1945 reveal major post-war expansion plans for Beulah Beach, including the erection of a new hotel, construction of a larger tabernacle as well as 500 cabins.
Dayton Herald, August 25, 1945
Dayton Daily News, August 25, 1945
This article from the Sandusky Register of August 29, 1951 concerns some very unchristian behavior at Beulah Beach.
Here’s a fascinating article from the April 23, 1958 Sandusky Register. It’s about small, rural post offices and includes a look at the one at Beulah Beach. 
The article notes, “Mrs. Eleanor H. Smith, postmaster for the third-class office at Beulah Beach, has a room of her home partitioned off with an outside entrance. She has about 35 to 50 local box holders during the winter and from 75 to 200 at times during the summer.
“Mrs. Smith says her largest single “customer” is the Christian Missionary Alliance there, which sends tons of mail per year and sends a large volume of its material overseas. Overseas mail means more work for the postmaster because foreign regulations come into play on top of local regulations.
“The Beulah Beach office has five deliveries in and four out daily, all by truck routes from Elyria to Sandusky."
Newspaper publicity in the Sandusky Register for the summer convention in 1959 included a few photos, including one of the cabins.
Sandusky Register, July 24, 1959
Sandusky Register, August 8, 1959
The year 1962 was the Diamond Jubilee for the Christian and Missionary Alliance.
Sandusky Register, July 21, 1962
Sandusky Register, July 21, 1962
The Sandusky Register newspaper article of July 21, 1962 included a history of the organization’s conferences. It noted, “The first such conference was held in 1886 at Linwood Park, Vermilion.
“Property was later purchased just eight miles east of Cleveland’s public square, adjacent to Euclid Beach. The facilities, including a tabernacle that seated more than 2,500 persons, eventually proved inadequate.
“The present Beulah Beach property was purchased in 1921 and through the years has been developed as one of the best conference grounds in this part of the country.”

The year 1964 saw the usual newspaper mention of the annual summertime gathering in the Sandusky Register, as well as another interesting look at the Beulah Beach Post Office run by Postmistress Eleanor Smith – this time during the winter.
Sandusky Register, January 17, 1964
Sandusky Register, July 23, 1964
The final clipping is from the Sandusky Register of July 25, 1965.
Sandusky Register, July 24, 1965
The article notes, “A conference feature is to be a baptismal service in Lake Erie next Saturday.” (A Beulah Beach baptism in the lake was featured on a vintage postcard on my original post.)
“It is expected that the hotel, dormitory, and cabins, along with all the privately owned residences, will be filled to capacity. The attendance undoubtedly will exceed anything on record, numbering between four and five thousand people, the Rev. Mr. Clark stated. The public is invited at any time."

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Beulah Beach in the News – Part 1

My post on Beulah Beach from the middle of June contained very little information about its history. To rectify that, here are some various newspaper clippings from over the years that tell the story of its growth and development.

The earliest mention of Beulah Beach in available online newspapers dates back to the summer of 1921, when it was already a destination for fun, as well as Bible conferences.

Sandusky Star-Journal, July 15, 1921
Sandusky Star-Journal, August 17, 1921
That was also the summer when it was announced that the property was purchased by the Christian Missionary Alliance.
Sandusky Star-Journal, August 23, 1921
The article notes, “The association has erected a 100-room hotel at the beach but this year it was necessary to provide 100 tents to accommodate the overflow."
By the next year, it was common to see ads in the newspapers for the annual convention, as well as small personal ads announcing the attendance of some local citizens.
The News-Messenger, August 12, 1922
The News-Messenger, August 25, 1922
Here are the ads from the Fremont News-Messenger announcing the 1924, 1925 and 1926 conferences.
The News-Messenger, August 7, 1924
The News-Messenger, August 8, 1925
The News-Messenger, August 18, 1926
This article from the Akron Beacon Journal of August 9, 1928 notes the large amount of Akronites that would be attending the summer conference at Beulah Beach. “More than 100 tents have been erected at the beach to accommodate the visitors who will come from every section of the country,” the article observes.
Akron Beacon-Journal, August 9, 1928
This article from the News-Journal of June 8, 1929 provides a little background of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. It points out that the mission fields are in 25 different countries in all parts of the world, with more than 500 missionaries.
This article from the August 8, 1930 Sandusky Register reveals the activity schedule for the opening day of the annual conference.
Beulah Beach made the newspapers several times in the spring and summer of 1932, with articles about a March series of meetings, promotion of the summer meeting and even the selection of a Postmaster.
Sandusky Register, March 26, 1932
Sandusky Register, July 16, 1932
Greenville Daily Advocate, July 27, 1932
Sandusky Register, September 25, 1932
Cottages were mentioned in newspaper articles about the 1934 conference in both the Fremont News-Messenger and Sandusky Register. Both articles noted, “The majority of the guests will be housed in two fifty-room buildings, cottages, and tents rented by the association. Scores of others will bring their own camping equipment.”
Fremont News-Messenger, July 25, 1934
Sandusky Register, July 26, 1934
By 1940, the newspaper publicity for the annual Missionary Convention and Bible Conference included a well-written description of the grounds. An article in the July 29, 1940 News-Messenger noted, “Beulah Beach, which is becoming one of the nation’s leading camp grounds, is located four miles west of Vermilion and six miles east of Huron on Routes 6 and 2. Accommodations include rooms, cabins and camping privileges. Meals are served in a cafeteria, and a refreshment stand and grocery are located on the grounds.”
Fremont News-Messenger, July 29, 1940
Next: Into the 1940s, 50s and 60s

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Through the Eyes of the Press– Part 2 Now Available

Stop the presses – here’s an important announcement! Part 2 of Paula Shorf’s FREE book "BLACK RIVER CHARLESTON LORAIN – Through the Eyes of the Press" is now available.

Like Part 1, Part 2 includes colorful historical maps
created by Matthew Weisman
Actually, the presses were never rolling to begin with, since the book is only available as a downloadable PDF.

Back on this post, I posted the link where you could download Part 1, which covered the years 1818-1869. Well, Part 2 is now done, and covers the years 1870-1910. You can download it here.

BLACK RIVER CHARLESTON LORAIN – Through the Eyes of the Press is a collection of transcribed newspaper articles from Lorain’s early days. It sheds light on what life was like for the city’s earliest residents.

The book can be a valuable resource for anyone interested in local history, especially as it played out in the various newspapers. But remember – don’t look for it at your local bookstore (are there any?) because the book is only available for downloading.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Tornado Damaged Fifth and Hamilton – Then & Now

I thought I had done every possible "Then & Now" photo of homes damaged by the 1924 Lorain Tornado, but every so often I come up with another one.

The postcard view above is of West Fifth Street (east of Oberlin Avenue), looking towards Hamilton Avenue (barely visible at the far right of the photo).

And here’s the recent “now" view.

As a bonus, here’s a Google Maps street view circa July 2019 (below). Gee, those lawns look parched.

With so many of the homes in the 1924 view having been torn down, it’s not much of a Then & Now. It’s more of a lesson in how the tornado changed the look of Lorain’s streets forever by eliminating so many of what now be century homes. 
However, the one house in both views is the beautiful, historic one at 440 Hamilton (below). Here are two recent shots.
Local historian Loraine Ritchey has featured this home on her blog, noting that it was built for the well-known Wickens family of Lorain.

Monday, June 29, 2020

1924 Lorain Tornado Headlines in Other Cities

Yesterday was the 96th Anniversary of the 1924 Lorain Tornado.

It’s hard to believe that in only four years, a hundred years will have passed since the disaster that still defines the city.

My parents had told my siblings and me about the tornado when we were very young. Knowing that it had killed so many people, and done so much destruction in the city that we lived, caused me to worry every time there was a tornado watch in effect. My parents must have felt the same way, because we went down in the basement a few times when the sky looked particularly threatening.

Anyway, the infamous tornado has been discussed here on the blog many times.

I posted Jack LaVriha’s look back at the tornado from a 1958 perspective here; a view of the tornado from a 1969 perspective here; then-and-now photos of tornado-damaged houses and buildings hereherehere, here, here, here and here; vintage articles and postcards on the occasion of the 90th anniversary back in 2014 here; and actual front pages of the Lorain Times-Herald and Chronicle-Telegram here.

Just about the only thing I haven’t posted are front pages of how the tornado was covered in a few major newspapers – so that’s what I’m doing today.

Here’s the story as it appeared on the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer of Monday, June 30, 1924.

“Maimed, desperate, bruised almost senseless, Lorain, a city once of some 50,000 souls, is still trying to count its dead tonight,” the lead article notes.

“Lorain is in ruins. By day, workers attempt to clear away the wreckage. At night, the city is in darkness.

“Martial law has been declared and a thousand troops of the Ohio National Guard, Naval Reserves, the extra police from Cleveland, thirty miles to the east, and from Elyria, ten miles to the south, are keeping order.”

Over on the west coast, the Los Angeles Times took a more regional overview of the storms, including reports of the death toll in Pennsylvania, Iowa and Illinois.

Although the second page headline – “Ghouls Prowl Amid Corpses in City Stunned by Deadly Hurricane” – makes the disaster sound more like a zombie apocalypse, the paper’s coverage is still thorough and impressive.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Powdermaker Road

You can see Powdermaker/Chester Road just above the dotted line
of the proposed route for  I-90 in this 1960s-era map
While looking at old maps in preparation for yesterday’s post about Route 83, I happened to notice the name ‘Powdermaker Road’ for part of what we know today as Chester Road in Avon. It reminded me of something I read in the Chronicle-Telegram a few years ago that made me aware of how easy it is for local history to be forgotten.

The article was about how the planning of the new development along Chester Road was bringing to light some of the old legal descriptions of the properties. This resulted in the name ‘Powdermaker Road’ being discussed, and curiosity as to where the name came from.

What was somewhat surprising was that someone quoted in the article noted that the name came from the fact that back in the day when it was just a dirt road, it was often quite dry – and kicked up a lot of powder when traveled on.

While that may certainly be true, a look at some historic maps reveals that the name more likely came from the fact that the P. Powdermaker (also spelled ‘Poudermacher’) farm was located on today’s Chester Road a little east of the intersection with Moore Road.

Here’s part of an 1874 Avon Township map showing the Powdermaker property.

And here’s a portion of an 1896 Avon Township map.

On that same map you can see the beginning of the Powdermaker Ditch as it makes its march to the lake, just north of the Powdermaker property.

I understand that these various ditches (now referred to as creeks) were dug for drainage purposes.

By the time of the 1912 maps series, the Powdermaker name was no longer associated with the farm properties, and today Chester Road seems to be the name of the road from end to end.

A glance at a map, however, shows Powdermaker Creek (or Ditch) running parallel and just to the west of Moore Road. Where it crosses Pin Oak Parkway, there are still identifying signs.

Today, the Powdermaker name also lives on in the attractive Village at Powdermaker Creek residential development, which is adjacent to its namesake creek.