Wednesday, October 2, 2013

sylvania family stories (2)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sharing Sylvania Family Stories

Sharing Family Stories are SAHS board members and members Bob Smith,
 Mimi Malcolm, Polly Cooper, and Julia Pelton.
It was "Sylvania Family Stories" night at the Sylvania Area Historical Society's September public program.  A small but appreciative audience learned about Sylvania's founding families and their descendants, some of whom came to the US from England, maybe Germany, maybe Holland, via America's East coast, New York City and State, and yes, Lucas County, Ohio, in its infancy. It wasn't that long ago that Sylvania was "out in the country," we were reminded.  The "suburbanization" of the area didn't really take off until the 1980s, a modern story that brings us up to the present. We went way back to the times Sylvania and area were still rural.   Here are some of the things we learned.

Did you know that the Lenardson family is related to just about all of Sylvania's early families, starting in 1832 with a large farm and a large family that grew larger every year?  One branch of the  pioneering John Timothy Lenardson family, through his son Frederick, had several sons and five daughters, and they married just about everyone who lived around here at the time. More and more land, more children, more grandchildren and great-grandchildren, on through many generations. Did you know there was once a little Red School House called Lenardson School, founded sometime in the 1870s?  The school held a reunion in 1926 (probably mostly Lenardsons and their offspring!) that was reported in a local newspaper, leaving future generations some documentation about an interesting chapter in Sylvania history.  Mimi Malcolm, a SAHS board member, told lots of great Lenardson family stories, and shared a story board, photos, and documents.  Mimi is a master genealogist, and a great teacher.

Have you ever heard the story of Thomas Chandler, the uncle of A.R. Chandler, founder of the hardware store on Main, now Chandler's restaurant?  Thomas Chandler sailed from Kent, England, to America in May 1854, arrived in New York City after a long and arduous voyage, went up to Albany to get settled, then came to Sylvania in 1859.  The Chandler family grew and prospered. I'm guessing they might have joined the Harrouns, Lathrops and others on the Underground Railroad, helping slaves from the South escape North to freedom. I'll check into this. Thomas was a soldier in the Civil War, we learned, which is another fascinating story.  Thomas became a naturalized citizen in 1901, a proud moment in a pioneering life. Polly Cooper shared the Chandler story that began in England.  Also, the Heritage Museum is now featuring an exhibit on the Civil War.

Did you know that the William Carl family, who came to Sylvania in the 1880s, had the blacksmith shop next to Chandler's hardware at the turn of the 20th century, and lived at 5378 South Main, which is still standing, near St. Joe's?  A daughter, Evelyn Pelton, worked at Jimmy's Restaurant at Monroe and Main in the 1950s, where Ace Hardware is now.  Another daughter, Alice, was engaged to a Reeb family member but died of TB in 1925.  Julia Pelton filled in details about her husband's family, and shared some rare historic photos of houses, buildings, businesses, and relatives from long ago.

And what about that large dairy farm that used to be on Sylvania-Metamora Road across from Pacesetter's?  It had its roots in 1836, when a William Sibley, once scalped by Shawnee Indians seeking whiskey (he survived to tell about it), moved to the Lucas County area and bought a large farm on Upton and Berdan. Frontier days. His descendants in time decided "to move out to the country," and bought a 100 acre farm, once a Lenardson farm, that became the well-known Smith and Sons Dairy.   Imagine moving a 270-acres farm, with speedwagons, haywagons, steers and cows, and all sorts of farm equipment, up Monroe Street to Sylvania-Metamora Road. "What a sight that must have been," Pam Rohrbacher exclaimed!  Bob Smith, chairman of the SAHS board of directors, regaled us with stories about his Ohio pioneer ancestors, including his great-grandparents, grandparents and parents, who kept the dairy farm going until 1959.  Polly, the SAHS's archivist along with Liz Stover, remembered that the archives had many of Bob's family photos, and ran and got them out for us to see.

public image, wdwallpaper, yahoo
Bob ended with a story for Halloween. Close the curtains.  Dim the lights.  Light a small candle, to cast shadows around the room.  Here, my friends, is a story about Chauncey Clark.  Clark lived in a large house on the corner of Centennial and Sylvania-Metamora, the very spot where the Rite Aide is today, near the Smith and Sons Dairy Farm.  Chauncey, an avid hunter, took out his rifle one day, sometime in the 1930s it was, put on his hunting hat and boots, walked out the door, as he did most every day. . . .and disappeared.  Went out to hunt, and never came back. The old family dog Dusty might have known where Chauncey Clark was but no one took the dog seriously. Where was Chauncey? It remained a mystery. In fact, it took several months to unearth Chauncey's rifle, parts of it exposed by weather and sparkling in the sun, and to discover his body. Perhaps, Bob speculated, he died of a heart attack.  Who knows?  But Chauncey's ghost, it is said, still haunts Pacesetter Park and the old farms that were once around it. The ghost even shows up on dark nights at the Rite Aide, I'm told, no doubt looking for its home. 
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MARK YOUR CALENDAR:  Want to learn more about your family history? Mimi Malcolm, SAHS board member, will lead a Genealogy workshop at the Heritage Museum on November 16.  Check out to sign up and for more information.

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