Chauquatua at Ruggles Beach

chautauqua-assemblyOn this date in 1907, The Norwalk Daily Reflector reported exciting news: a Chauquatua Assembly was to be established at Ruggles Beach.

What is Chauquatua? And where is Ruggles Beach, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

The first Chauquatua Assembly was established in 1874 at Lake Chauquatua in New York by a Methodist minister. It grew over the years, and by 1907, had assemblies all about the country, and traveling assemblies that visited towns on a circuit. These assemblies featured religious and secular lectures, musical programs, and other wholesome entertainment.

I have not found any records of an assembly being

Oak Bluff c. 1911, 1912 (Susan Orsini)

The cottage on Lake Erie where Harriott Wickham spent her summers while in Norwalk High School

actually established at Ruggles Beach in 1907, but I do know that Chautauqua programs were presented during the summer from a couple 1908 diary entries by Harriott Wickham (my grandmother and member of the Norwalk High School Class of 1907). As I discussed in Summer in the Firelands on September 1 last year, Harriott and most of her classmates spent their summers on the shores of Lake Erie. Here is what she wrote about the Chatautauqua program that summer of 1908.

Wednesday, July 29, – We finally got up our nerve and went over to Chautauqua tonight for the first time. It was a sort of recital of “Madame Butterfly” by a woman in Japanese costume, and was very good. After that they had moving pictures which were not only very poor, but were also disgusting.  After the show, we all went over to the hall and danced for awhile.

ruggle-beach-dance-pavilion-the-grove

Dance Pavilion at Ruggles Beach

Thursday, July 30, – Dreadfully hot! We stayed at home and read most all day. When we went in bathing that Jerpe fellow and another had a log out there trying to dive off of it. We joined them, and so I suppose we have got acquainted with him at last. We went over to Chautauqua again in the evening, but didn’t enjoy it much. I don’t care much for lectures anyway and this was a particularly tiresome one. We went over to the hall afterwards, but there wasn’t much doing, so we came on home.

It seems Harriott was more interested in spending her summer at the beach swimming and dancing, instead of listening to lectures and or watching other “wholesome” entertainment.

There are a few Chautauqua Assemblies still operating today: for instance in Boulder, Colorado and at Lake Chautauqua. Another assembly is located at Lakeside, Ohio, and Harriott and some of her friends visited there later in the summer of 1908. In a later post, we’ll see what she had to say about in her diary about that visit to Lakeside.

 

Source: “Chautauqua Assembly,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, March 7, 1907, page 1, column 8.

Please like this post and let me know what you think in the comments. Thank you.

 

Benedict Genealogy

platt-benedict-masonic

Platt Benedict in Masonic Garb

My last blog post featured a recent article in the Norwalk Reflector by Norwalk author and historian Henry Timman about  Platt Benedict and the founding of Norwalk in 1817. Platt and his wife Sally and their descendants were prominent in the community and the region for the next hundred years. Their story is told in the Sufferers’ Land series of posts on this site.

The current series of posts on this site are about Platt and Sally’s great-great granddaughter, Harriott Wickham, and her schoolmates in the Norwalk High School Class of 1907. We know all about Harriott’s heritage, but what about her great-grandfather’s?

Platt Benedict came from a long line of Benedicts in America. His forefather, Thomas Benedict (1617-1689) arrived in Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1637. Today, his descendants in this country number in the tens of thousands.

As is common with most families of Colonial settlers, descendants of Thomas Benedict have published various genealogies over the years. The most recent addition to this collection is on-line as the Benedict Generations Wiki. If your heritage includes Benedicts, I encourage you to check it out. I am confident you will find it well worth your time.

 

 

Norwalk Reflector Today

The Norwalk Daily Reflector has been a major resource for the stories I’ve posted to this site, especially since I began covering the Norwalk High School Class of 1907. But did you know that that newspaper, founded in 1830, is still published today as the Norwalk Reflector? That’s 187 years! 20 years longer than The New York Times, and 46 years longer than the Washington Post!

norwalk-reflectorThe Norwalk Reflector today still reports on international, national, and local news of the day, as it did in 1907 and throughout its long history. But that’s not all. In his weekly column “Just Like Old Times” author and local historian Henry Timman spins tales of Norwalk in days gone by.

An email from my sister yesterday reminded me of Mr. Timman’s column. She sent me a link to his latest column (thanks, Laura), “Home of Norwalk’s First Settlers Burns Down,” a report on the founding of Norwalk in 1817 by Platt and Sally Benedict. (In 2008, I posted about this very incident on this site in “A Home in the Wilderness.”).

Henry Timman is a talented and entertaining author, writing in the Literary Non-Fiction genre that I have tried–with limited success, I’m afraid–to emulate in this blog. His latest article does not disappoint. Please check it out.

 

Ending the Season With a Loss

norwalk-lost-both-games-3-1-1907One-hundred and ten years ago today, both the boys and the girls basketball teams at Norwalk High School suffered losses in the last extramural game of the 1906-07 season. But they were close games, according to The Norwalk Daily Reflector and The Norwalk Evening Herald. What else would they say?

The boys played Fremont in what for that time was a high scoring game: the final being 34-30. Fremont, according to The Norwalk Evening Herald, claimed to have the best high school basketball team “between Cleveland and Toledo.” Knowing you lost to the best might have taken away some of the sting–but it was still a loss.

old-norwalk-high-school0001

“Old” Norwalk High School

In a rematch on their home court against their nemesis from Clyde, the girls team once again lost a close one, this time 13 to 10. After the game, the Norwalk High School Athletic Association hosted the visitor at a reception where “sandwiches, fruit, cake and chocolate were served.” Unlike the previous meeting at Clyde, no there was no dancing.

Although there would be no more games against other high schools for the season, basketball was not over for Norwalk High School. Inter-mural Championship games were scheduled for later in the month. I’ll post about those at the appropriate time.

But next, we’ll resume our series about the girls basketball coach Minnie Cleghorn, and the “Athletic Girl” movement of the time.

 

Sources:

“High School Teams Beaten,” The Norwalk Evening Herald, 3/2/07, page 4, column 4.

“Norwalk Lost Both Games,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, March 2, 1907, page 3, column 3.

Fire! – A Baby Saves the Day

I’m back to perusing the Norwalk newspapers of one hundred-ten years ago. Today, an article in The Norwalk Daily Reflector issue for Wednesday, February 27 caught my eye. It had nothing to do with the Norwalk High School Class of 1907, but instead about a fire in nearby Lorain, Ohio.

Last month, I posted about house fires in Olena Township, near Norwalk, and in Toledo. Both were started by careless smoking, the former was a close-call, the latter fatal. I don’t know the cause of the fire in Lorain that is the subject of today’s post, but I do know that it was another close call–really close!

family-saved-by-the-babyAt 1:30 a.m. the previous morning, Mrs. E. Gordon (no first name, of course) and her two babies were sleeping in their cottage at 332 West 5th Street (near the present-day post office). No mention of the whereabouts of Mr. Godon.

Mrs. Gordon woke from a deep slumber to find her youngest child pulling at her. The room was full of smoke. Grabbing that child and her sibling, the woman fled the house. She must have run through the dining room, where the fire had started, because she emerged from the house with her clothes in flames. Neighbors, roused by her screams for help, extinguished them.

Not only is this an exciting story, it is has a personal note for me. The Gordon home (which does not now exist, of course) was only a mile-and-a-half from where my family lived during my elementary school days. I know the terrain, you might say.

 

Sources: “Family Saved by the Baby,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, February 27, 1907, page 1, column 6.

 

 

Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1907 Ends War Scare with Japan

In my February 4 post, Pearl Harbor Harbinger, we saw that a 1907 dispute about discrimination against Japanese immigrants in California had brought the U.S. and Japan to the brink of war. On this day, one-hundred and ten years ago, the two countries concluded the Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1907, averting the crisis.

The U.S. government promised not to restrict Japanese immigration, and the Japanese said they would not allow emigration. It seems like a face-saving exercise for Japan to me, as it effectively halted immigration.

Compared to the hysterical articles reporting of impending war back at the beginning of the month, there was little coverage in either Norwalk newspaper of the end of the tension between the two countries. The Norwalk Evening Herald carried nothing on this day, or the following. The Norwalk Daily Reflector had a short article on the day following the agreement that the agreement had been sent to the Senate for ratification.

japanese-question-to-senate

In fact, the agreement was never ratified, and it was eventually ended by the Immigration Act of 1924.

 

Source: “Japanese Question up to the Senate,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, February 16, 1907, page 1, column 7

 

Minnie Cleghorn – Norwalk High School Girls’ Basketball Coach

As I reported in my last post, the gym teacher and girls’ basketball coach at Norwalk High School in 1907 was Miss Minnie Cleghorn.

Who was Miss Cleghorn?

A decade ago, I found at my mother’s home a box of photos, genealogies, diaries, and other documents that had belonged to Harriott Wickham (my grandmother). This treasure trove set me on a path of genealogical discovery.

In this box I found the photo displayed below of the Norwalk High School girls’ gym class in 1906.

1906-nhs-girls-gym

On the back of this photo, my grandmother had inscribed the following:

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Old Norwalk High School

Norwalk, Ohio – 1906 – N.H.S. Girls’ Gym Class – in gymnasium – Auditorium, on third floor of Old High School Bldg. – Miss Minnie Cleghorn, (2nd row – 3rd from left), was gym teacher and coached girls’ basketball teams, which played other H.S. teams. She was also H.S. English teacher – very good one.

Well, that sure piqued my curiosity! I wanted to find out more about this beloved teacher. As I investigated, I learned not only about her, but also about the “athletic girl” movement of the time, which explained why there was a girls’ basketball program at Norwalk High School in 1907. More about that, and about Miss Minnie Cleghorn in future posts.

 

 

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