Christmas in the Kitchen
by Pat Zalba – Volunteer Curator
Chagrin was a milltown in its early years (1833 into the early 20th century) There were mills located along the river, from Whitesburg, through town, and around the river bend by River Run Park on Solon Road.
The Kitchen display represents a Village millworker’s family Christmas celebration. It is decorated with mostly homemade items, and includes a reproduction feather tree with cookies, cakes, popcorn and apples on the table. Paper chains adorn the windows. Furniture made in Chagrin Falls is also in the display. The table was made at Mr. Warren’s carpentry shop near Triangle Park in the 1870’s. The four matching chairs were made at the Maple Grove Factory (now the River run Park area) Circa 1840s. The potato masher, butter molds, bowls and paddles are from the Bullard Woodenware Co., circa 1860s. It was located on the river bank bordered by West Washington Street. The many sad irons in the kitchen were manufactured by the Williams, Ober and Chagrin Falls iron foundries in the 1880s and 1890s.
The highlight of the Christmas season for the family would be the service and program held at their church. The children would present a Christmas program, followed by a gift, a little candy box, and maybe an orange for each child. If you were lucky you might also receive some homemade mittens or a toy at home on Christmas morning.
We hope you can come for a visit!
by Laura J. Gorretta, editor
This award winning book has been updated with new archival information and new photographs to illustrate the growth of the Village as it was carved out of the dense forest and became a major manufacturing community that shipped its products all over the United States and the world.
by Serapio R. Zalba, ed. and Ronald M. Humphrey, graphics ed.
This delightful book contains over 120 pen & ink caricatures of the people who were part of Chagrin Falls life at the turn of the 20th century. What is fascinating is that Max created these drawings from memory when he was 60-70 years old. Each caricature tells a nuanced story about the subject. A fascinating trip through the history of Chagrin Falls.
by Don Barriball
An illustrated history about the largest manufacturing business in Chagrin Falls, which made Chagrin’s famous sad irons, lathes, iron banks, and wooden handles which were sold around the world. George Ober designed and produced a duplicating lathe that was sold around the world. The Chagrin Falls Historical Society and Museum is located in the home originally built by George Ober in 1874.
by Annie Gumprecht
Annie Gumprecht (1924 – 2003) wrote this wonderful illustrated memoir about growing and celebrating holidays and seasons in Chagrin Falls.
We purchased 4 very interesting pictures through Ebay showing a transient camp located at the Chagrin Falls Airport. Don Barriball has researched the origins and work of this camp and you can read his article below.
During October of 1929 the US stock market collapsed. Financial panic and depression became worldwide. In May 1931 the Austrian Credit-Anstalt failed. The credit crunch caused international bankruptcies and unemployment around the planet. The 1930 population of the USA was 123,202,624 (U.S. Census Bureau). There were over 12,000,000 Americans in the jobless ranks in 1932.
The election of 1932 brought Franklin D. Roosevelt into the White House. With his inauguration in March 1933, came the “New Deal” which included social reforms and economic stimulation, public works projects, wage and hour laws, social security and assistance to farmers all began to be enacted. President Roosevelt unveiled the Civil Works Administration (CWA) on November 8, 1933. The jobs provided were only temporary and were to last through the Winter. The program ended on March 31, 1934. It had spent $200,000,000 a month and provided employment for 4 million Americans.
One of the first objectives was to get unemployed men back to work as rapidly as possible. The creation of the CWA, and funding of it, established shovel ready jobs throughout the country. Each State government was next in the bureaucratic line, followed by county governments, municipal and township governments. The FCWA began operation locally during the week of November 20, 1933. The local Government prioritized projects it had on a “to do” list. These were submitted to the County. If they were approved, they were forwarded to the State. The State determined the amount of money and number of men to be allocated for each project at the local level.
The four projects approved for Chagrin Falls were:
- Ditching and grading North Main St. from Summit to Falls River Road. Total labor costs appropriated by the Feds $7,384. Sixty-seven men allowed on the project.
- Excavation beneath the Town Hall, 28 men allowed and Feds authorized $3,134. The Township had to pay for the materials.
- Swimming Pool proposal on Village Park property. Feds allotted $6524 for 63 men. The Village had to supply all materials.
- School property maintenance, 8 men and $540 allotted. The materials were furnished by the Feds.
The local government went back to the Federal pocketbook and requested a second appropriation for school repairs and painting. By the First of December 1933, 69 local men were working on the projects. At the end of the first week of December, another 76 men had registered for work. Labor wages were 50 cents per hour for a 30 hour week. Experienced labor, time keepers and foreman earned from 60 cents to $1.20 per hour. The Chagrin Falls Exponent on December 15th reported 220 men on the local CWA payroll. All men who were on local township relief work were approved immediately by the CWA and added to the Federal payroll. Any other applicant had to be approved by the Columbus office before they could be put to work.
The CWA granted Chagrin Falls three additional projects the week of December 4th, 1933, which totaled $80,833.75, bring the total projects approved to $98,721.75. Wednesday December 28, 1933 an announcement came out of Columbus stating the Ohio Aeronautics Division had approved a $17,000 project to improve the Chagrin Falls Airport on Bell Road. Work was to begin as soon as the work order arrived and 100 men would be put to work. Runways were to be improved and the field would be leveled, drained and seeded. On March 30, 1934, Chagrin Falls Mayor, H. W. March received word from Columbus the $17,000 airport improvement project had been withdrawn from CWA and the State of Ohio would be handling the project. Captain Fred Smith, Ohio Aeronautics Chief was put in charge.
When this project was initially approved the previous December, the project was assigned to Geauga County to manage. The County had no men to put to work without transportation. There was no way the County could transport laborers to and from the site. Consequently the work was never begun. Captain Smith said the supplies had been ordered through General Hendersonʼs office in Columbus and should be at the site within a week to ten days so work could begin. Chagrin Falls Village Engineer C. W. Courtney was to supervise the work with labor coming from Chagrin Falls and Geauga County.
On Tuesday April 4th, 1934 men from Columbus met with Geauga County Commissioners arranging the final details for transferring the airport project to County control. The result of this new effort unfortunately was the same–no labor or transportation were available.
May 23, 1934, State Officials visited Chagrin Falls to revive the airport project, which had not moved off center for 6 months. The State requested the Village to grant it permission to develop a “transient camp” under the direction and supervision of the Ohio Transient Service. The camp would be set up on the airport property for carrying out the improvement plans made under the CWA (Federal Civil Works Administration) program. In a special session that evening council passed a resolution authorizing the construction of the camp.
This was camp #5 among a total of ten camps established throughout Ohio under the direction of the Ohio National Guard. On Monday May 29, 1934 the camp was officially established at the airport. Lieutenant E. R. Kittinger was in charge of the camp and had a cadre of 5 guardsman. Two hundred men would be housed on site and twenty were already there. The men received three meals a day and a place to sleep in return for their labor on the airport. They dug ditches, laid tile and leveled the field. A well was drilled to supply drinking water. Latrines and showers were set up. The State expected the camp to be open until November of 1934.
Most of the supplies were purchased from Chagrin merchants and were paid for every two weeks by the State. Lieutenant Kittinger certified the bills twice each month and the checks were sent directly to the purveyors.
The transients working at the airport came from all parts of the US and were thankful for room and board for their daily labor. There were incidents of minor personal disagreements, usually amicably resolved. However, a report in the Exponent relates four men who were involved in an altercation with knives. Two had stab wounds to their chests and the others had less serious cuts. The military turned the four over to the Sheriff. One man had to be kept at the camp emergency hospital. The consumption of liquor was responsible for the trouble.
The photos presented in this edition were taken in October 1934. No additional information regarding the airport project was located at the Society. In January 1935, William Plunkett, National Director of Transient Relief, stated the the Ohio Transient Camps still housing approximately 1200 men would be abandoned. The men are to be returned to their homes. If they are unable to support themselves they will be placed directly on relief rolls where they reside. The men will be absorbed into the newly proposed gigantic Federal Works program. This became the Works Projects Administration (WPA) which accomplished so much throughout the Chagrin Valley and the Country.
(Editor’s Note: Grace Ambos, a longtime friend of Barbara Taggart, described her many trips on the Interurban in her diary, which came into Barbara Taggart’s possession after Grace’s death. Barbara loaned the diary to the Historical Society so that we might make a copy or transcription of it. Zo Sykora volunteered to make the transcription, and wrote this charming piece for our newsletter.)
The Chagrin Interurban cars carried milk and other freight to Cleveland; they carried mail back and forth to Cleveland; they carried city dwellers out to Chagrin to attend the County Fairs and they took people back and forth to jobs in downtown Cleveland. The Interurban made Chagrin a bedroom suburb in the late 1800s. The Interurban served another purpose as well: it connected people from Chagrin Falls with the culture and shopping opportunities available in Cleveland. Grace Ambos was an upper class woman who lived on Park Lane, off Miles Road, just west of River Road. She could have earned “frequent rider” miles as she traveled to and from downtown Cleveland an average of 3 times per week. She went into town to get her hair cut and colored, to see the dentist and the doctor, to carry produce and canned goods to her mother and other relatives, and to lunch with girl friends. She also went into town just to have lunch with her husband, whose office was in the Arcade between Euclid and Superior. She would eat lunch with him at the Cleveland Athletic Club, and then she would prowl the stores picking up a pair of leather gloves or a new dress and then see a matinee movie. She would then go to dinner with her husband and they would take the Interurban home. It helped that the train stopped at the rear of their property.
The couple purchased a “machine” in 1917. It was a Buick but she always referred to it as “the machine”. The car was frequently left in a garage in downtown Cleveland when the weather was bad and they took the Interurban home. The car was used, however, to get them to and from Ravenna, Kent and Ashtabula to visit with family. An outing on a pleasant evening frequently took them into Randall or “The Falls”. As far as I can tell the only reason she had for going to “The Falls” was to pick up a forgotten grocery item or to pick up or drop off their laundry. On days when she was feeling poorly her husband would carry a pre-cooked turkey from “The Club” home with him on the train. Grace never once referred to the “interurban” or the “train.” She only referred to the time of the train which she/they took. She would go in on the 9:40 and come home on the 3:20 or take the 4:10 from her mother’s. She was always mindful of the time of day and her life seemed to revolve around the train schedules. They would hurry guests along after an evening’s visit so that they wouldn’t miss the 8:20. Her husband relied heavily on the Interurban for his transportation to and from work even after he purchased a car. The missus relied on the Interurban to visit with friends, to shop, and to see movies. During hot summers she would sometimes see 3 movies in one day. I’m guessing that the theaters were air-conditioned even then.
She did write of several delays which occurred on the rail line, including one time in the dead of winter when they were delayed so long that she thought her fingers had been frost bitten from her long stay on the cold train.
I wonder how she managed after the Interurban ceased to run. Her diary ends in 1920 so I will never know, but I’m guessing that she and her husband stopped having lunch together on week days, that they had a lot fewer guests and parties, that she had to find a dentist in Chagrin and that her wardrobe suffered mightily. I wonder if she learned to drive so that she could get back and forth to Chagrin Falls?
After 18 years at the Cleveland Museum of Art, The Lion and the Fatling return home to Evergreen Hill Cemetery. It was an emotional, awesome sight to see the carefully wrapped lion sculpture arrive on the back of a large flatbed truck. The sculpture was carefully removed from the flatbed truck by a skillful forklift driver hired by the Cleveland Museum of Art. It almost appeared that the lion was smiling and saying, “Hey everyone, I’m home!” This transpired on Wednesday, April 2,2014 and was witnessed by a small crowd of villagers, Cemetery Board members, reporter and photographer from The Times, myself (Jane Babinsky) and Pat Zalba our Curator.
The Lion and the Fatling sculpture was created by Master Artist (this is how he referred to himself), Henry Church,Jr. in 1887. Henry Church, Jr, a blacksmith by trade, was born in Chagrin Falls May 20,1836 and died at his home on South Franklin Street in April 1908. The sculpture was based upon The Bible verse Isaiah 11:6, “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” Originally the sculpture had a child leading the lion and the fatling with a chain. Vandals removed the child and chain as well as the glass eyes. (The lion’s eyes were replaced by the Cleveland Museum of Art when they prepared the sculpture for exhibition.) Church did many stone sculptures, but this is the one he chose for his gravesite. The sculpture was placed in Evergreen Hill Cemetery somewhere between 1904 and 1906 after the cemetery board finally consented to Henry Church’s request to move it there.
The Cleveland Museum of Art wanted to feature Henry Church, Jr in their 1996 exhibit, Transformations in Cleveland Art, 1796-1946. This was the second of four exhibits to celebrate Cleveland’s bicentennial year. The curator at the time, David Steinberg, contacted my mother (Frances Stem Babinsky) and asked if the family would loan the museum a few pieces from our collection. They also requested to have the sculpture from the cemetery as one of the pieces in the exhibit. After determining that it would be feasible to move the large sculpture we gave our consent. The sculpture was moved a few months before the exhibit, which was from May 19-July 21,1996 at the Cleveland Museum of Art at University Circle. When the exhibit closed, my mother and I decided to allow the museum to have this particular sculpture on a permanent loan basis to protect it from vandalism at the cemetery. The Lion and the Fatling was on display in the courtyard of the art museum until the museum began its renovations and remodeling.
Henry’s sculpture was sadly put into storage and after the construction was done it was determined that there was no longer a proper place to display the sculpture. I received a call from the Curator of American Painting and Sculpture, Mark Cole, informing me that they were no longer going to display the sculpture and what did I want to do with it? My answer, of course, was return it to Henry’s gravesite at Evergreen Hill Cemetery! The return was orchestrated by Mary Suzor, Director of Collections Management of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Her crew along with Cemetery Sexton, Rob Arnold and his crew, accomplished the task in a little under two hours. Sheffield Monuments owner and helper were there to secure the sculpture on it’s base with a special type of caulking putty and of course helped to guide the sculpture to the proper setting on it’s base. The heavy sculpture was moved from a truck with a forklift, transported to the foot of the base, straps placed around the sculpture to the raised forklift and slowly lifted and moved over the base and slowly guided down and secured upon the base. The question is, how did Henry Church do it? Something to ponder.
Welcome home Lion!
Jane E. Babinsky
Great-Great Granddaughter of Henry Church,Jr
The Chagrin Falls Historical Society acquired a beautiful painting by Henry
Church Jr. 1836-1908. Henry Church Jr. was a Chagrin Falls Blacksmith and
self taught sculptor and artist. His work is exhibited in many museums
throughout the United States including the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art
Museum in Williamsburg, Va. Church also has been acclaimed for his carving
of Squaw Rock and his Sculpture The Young Lion and the Fatling Together,
which is now at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
The painting entitled “Snufftakers” measures about 37 X 24 inches. It is oil
on paper, with the paper then being glued onto a woven material and
stretched across a frame. The painted is signed and dated 1865, and when
illuminated seems to glow with rich colors. An image very similar to this was
used in the late 1800’s for an award winning advertisement for Lorillard
Snuff. This painting becomes the 3rd work of Henry Church Jr. owned by the
museum and we hope to be able to acquire more. This painting was
purchased through an auction house and has been fully restored.
A cookbook of recipes of Soups & Breads by Historical Society members, illustrated with some drawings of their historic Chagrin Falls Homes.
by Don Barriball
Chagrin Hardware opened in 1867 and has been in the same location for 150 years. This book is an illustrated history of the many changes since the store opened and its many owners. The book includes pages from of old catalogues and ads printed in local newspapers, and vintage photos from the Historical Society. collection.
by Don Barriball
The history of the Interurban line in Chagrin Falls is full of pictures and stories that illustrate how this utility effected a small community. Don combed through years of newspaper article to compile this book, complete with many photographs from the Historical Society collection and photographs of a wide range of artifacts associated with the Cleveland and Chagrin Falls line.
by Don Barriball
The history of early mills and foundries in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. The book documents the early industries of Chagrin and illustrates how some of the early machinery operated. A map of the Chagrin River showing the 9 dams that existed along a one mile stretch of the river is included. The book also describes the many products that were made.