Monday, October 10, 2016

Origins of the Crawford County Fair

Ohio race horses helped bring about the county fair
With the excitement of the Crawford County Fair fully behind us, it’s worth taking a belated look at the origins of the what arguably is the county’s largest and most popular annual event. This year’s fair, themed as a “Harvest of History,” celebrated its 71st year of operation but in actuality, the county’s fair—or fairs as it turns out—trace back much farther than this, and not without a little drama along the way either.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Shadows of the Past

On December 7, 2015, the Crawford County Historical Society took ownership of the James and Elizabeth Tarr Mansion, thus saving it from planned demolition. In that moment, thanks largely to the support of the community, the society took a major step towards both preserving our past and building a new future.

This gorgeous Italianate building, designed by Francis Marion Ellis and paid for with the Tarr Family's $2 million (over $35 million today) in revenue from the Oil Boom, was a testament to oil's influence in our region and the nation as a whole. The Tarrs were one of our country's first oil barons and their home of over 12,000 square feet will stand the test of time to become the self-sustaining Crawford County Historical Society's headquarters and history center!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Fire Rode the Flood: Disaster in the Oil Region

A boy sits among the debris in Titusville
For most of May and the early part of June in 1892, Northwestern Pennsylvania was soaked in a seemingly endless period of rain which culminated in four days of torrential downpours that devastated the entire region. This unprecedented act of nature wreaked havoc for area residents making roads and bridges impassable. In the early morning hours of June 5th, however, the situation turned catastrophic for those in Titusville and Oil City, and the aftermath would produce scenes reminiscent of the great tragedy in Johnstown just a few years earlier. The following dispatch filed on the 6th of June captures the highlights of this horrific event.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Eleanor Davies and Recollections of Life at the Baldwin-Reynolds House

The Baldwin-Reynolds visible from the pond in the spring months
Eleanor Davies is one of Meadville's oldest residents and was a personal friend of John and Katherine Reynolds. She was the speaker at the museum's 50th anniversary gala where she presented these remarks on the life of the last individuals to reside in the Baldwin-Reynolds House as a private home.

* * * 

In 1936 John Reynolds, then President of Merchants National Bank, had conducted a search for what was called a "cashier" of the bank. He located and hired John David Bainer of the National City Bank in Cleveland and a resident of Lakewood, Ohio. John and his lovely wife, Otelia, packed up and moved to Meadville where they were welcomed by Kathryn and John Reynolds and members of the bank board families.

In 1939 when I was living in Shaker Heights, [Ohio] and dating Joseph Bainer of Cleveland, I was invited to come to Meadville and meet his parents and his sister, Mary and niece, Nancy. I was 19 and we went to see Gone with the Wind.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

7 Peculiar Tales from Conneaut Lake

From a 1907 postcard, Conneaut Lake's main thoroughfare (Water Street) facing west. 
With summer now if full swing, many area residents and vacationers have already made their way to Conneaut Lake to enjoy the many activities the lake has to offer or to revisit the nostalgia and fun found at the park. The lake has been a drawing force for centuries, going back to its earliest inhabitants.

Over such a span of time, it should be of no surprise, then, that the lake would be the setting for an infinite number of stories across cultures, eras, and generations, the vast majority of which are never recorded. Those that have, however, then serve as the mechanism that provides context to our past. And while that context can be captured in many ways, there’s more than a handful that speaker to the quirky and peculiar moments of an era.

Here are seven from the early days of Conneaut Lake.