Historical Personalities

1: Margaret Butler Takes a Memorable Walk
2: Off the Press: Butler Book on Lakewood Streets
3: Russian Wife of Henry Elliott Won Esteem of Lakewood Society
4: Begin Series of Articles on Lakewood Pioneers (Eunice Westfall Custer Allen)
5: Eliza Jennings Burton Reminisces of Days When Lakewood Was Young
6: Mrs. Christopher Maile, 89, Recalls Horseback Trips to Post Office
7
: Pioneer Tells of Days When Lawn Croquet Was Popular Lakewood Sport (Hope Hird Browning)


1

MARGARET BUTLER TAKES A MEMORABLE WALK
PLAIN DEALER - undated (possibly 1961)

Gas rationing gave Lakewood a local historian.

She is Margaret Manor Butler and she admits that the rationing days of World War II helped her to her hobby-career. She was left alone with two preschool children during the war years while her husband, Clyde H., served overseas with the Air Force.

"I had to get those boys out every day," Mrs. Butler said as she talked of the beginnings of her research on Lakewood, "and gas was rationed, so I walked."

For the sake of variety, Margaret Butler walked her boys up one street and down another in the city in which she met her husband. "I noticed this house at the corner of St. Charles and Detroit," she said. "It was old, fashioned out of stone and looked interesting.

"I talked to the owner, but he didn't know anything about the house. Then I began my research. I called persons who might know about the house and I found out that it was built of native sandstone about 1838 and was one of the last remaining homes of early settlers of the community."

That was in 1942 and Margaret Butler has been at her researching ever since. Soon after she completed her research on the stone house, Mrs. Butler interested a local Lakewood newspaper in the story. She had been writing a PTA column--unpaid--for the paper for some months. In fact, Mrs. Butler believed she started the first PTA newspaper column in Ohio.

For the historical sketches of Lakewood, the paper put Margaret Butler on its payroll. She contributed a story a week for five years, then decided to put them all into book form. The result was "The Lakewood Story" published in 1949. That same year, she was named Lakewood's outstanding citizen.

Another Book

Now she's working on another book, a biography of Dr. Jared P. Kirtland, who lived in Lakewood for 40 years. Last summer, Mrs. Butler journeyed to Wallingford, Conn., to do research on the famed naturalist's early days. The book is still in "nebulous form," Mrs. Butler said.

Mrs. Butler is also writing for a local paper again. She is doing a series entitled "Romance in Lakewood Streets" which runs weekly and tells of Lakewood street names and their origins. And she's working on a historical pageant for Lakewood's 50th anniversary celebration this year.

"I'm interested in writing first, then history," said petite Mrs. Butler as she led the way to her pleasant sun-filled office in the Butler home at 15123 Edgewater Drive. She's lived more than 40 years in Lakewood, first in a house on Rosalie Avenue which she can see from the kitchen window of her present home.

Files galore fill her workroom. Some of the files are on Lakewood, some are on Kirtland, some are on the organizations she's interested in and currently working with.

Collects Items

One of Margaret Butler's pet projects is the Lakewood Historical Society and its well-known Stone House, her "discovery," which now stands in Lakewood Park, only a two-minute drive from the Butler home.

Mrs. Butler is curator of the Stone House which was restored by the Historical Society as an example of how the early settlers lived. It is filled with items Margaret Butler had collected and stored in her own home over the years. Here's Mrs. Butler's story of how the house was preserved:

"In 1952, I heard that the very house about which I had written was going to be torn down to make room for an office building. It suddenly dawned on me that that little stone house was the last stone house in the area.

"I decided to save it. In fact, I felt the responsibility of saving it fell on me. The owner didn't want any money for the house. He deeded it over to me with the provision that I get it off his property within three months.

"I couldn't afford to buy it, so I certainly couldn't afford to move it. It had no place to go. I went to the city fathers. They decided the house could be placed in Lakewood Park.

"However, the lowest moving estimate we could get was $13,500. City Council voted only $10,000 to move the house. They would vote no more and we could get no lower estimate. I had two days to make up my mind. I couldn't find anybody to put up the additional $3,500. We would lose the house if I didn't act. So I borrowed money on my own house and the stone house was moved.

"Then in September of 1952, the Lakewood Historical Society was formed. People came to rescue after all. The society took over the note and the mover knocked $1,000 off the price."

Mrs. Butler served as first president of the society. Now her main job is taking care of the Stone House. She takes 5,000 school children through it every year.

"To me, it's like stepping into the past," she said. The Stone House is open to the public on Wednesdays and Sundays. Volunteers take interested persons on tours of the completely restored kitchen and parlor of the house. The volunteers, called hostesses, are trained by Mrs. Butler, and she now has a list of 100, including a troop of Girl Scouts.

Clyde H. Butler is "interested" in history and his wife's work, but only to a certain extent. "He's an aerial surveyor and loves his work," said his wife. He heads Butler Air Survey Co.

The Butlers' older son, James, is a chemistry and physics instructor at the University of British Columbia. His brother, Jerry, received his A.B. degree from Princeton, is now doing graduate study. Mrs. Butler still finds time--if she says up 'till 1 a.m.--to bake cookies for him.

PHOTO CAPTION: Lakewood historian Margaret Manor Butler reaches for more research papers in her large file cabinet.

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2

OFF THE PRESS: BUTLER BOOK ON LAKEWOOD STREETS
LAKEWOOD POST - October 11, 1962

'Romance in Lakewood Streets,' a new book by Margaret Manor Butler, author of The Lakewood Story, will make its initial appearance with the author at an autograph party given by Higbees from 3 to 5 on Monday afternoon, Oct. 15 to which the public is invited. Mrs. Butler will be honored by Cleveland Branch of the National League of American Pen Women at a luncheon preceding the autograph party. Published by the William Feather Company, the book sells for $1.75. Publication was made possible by donations of members and friends of The Lakewood Historical Society, currently celebrating its Tenth Anniversary. Preserving the lore of the community is one of its purposes.

Recent contributions to the Publications Fund have been donated by the Bailey Company, Daniels Funeral Home, Fraiberg & Smith Surgical Company, Fieg Sewering Company, Munkachy Antiques and Furniture Restoring, Saxton Funeral Home, Millers Dining Room, Keith Jewelers, Evelyn Cicerchi Gift Shop, Lakewood Business & Professional Women, Kiwanis Club of Lakewood, Early Settlers Association of the Western Reserve and the Cleveland Doll Club. Any size contribution is welcome. It is tax deductible and may be sent to the Lakewood Historical Society treasurer, Sarah Pynchon, 14709 Slifton.

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RUSSIAN WIFE OF HENRY ELLIOTT WON ESTEEM OF LAKEWOOD SOCIETY
LAKEWOOD POST, June 11, 1944
By Margaret Manor Butler

Editor's Note. This is the third and final article by Mrs. Butler on Lakewood's Henry Wood Elliott, who did more to save the rich Alaskan fur seal industry for the U.S. than any other individual.

When Henry Wood Elliott brought his young bride, Alexandra Melovidov and his infant daughter, Grace, back from Alaska in 1873, there was quite a stir in the social circles of Cleveland and East Rockport (Lakewood), where the Elliott's had an estate on Detroit avenue. Friends and curious acquaintances deposited their decorated calling cards and stayed for a brief chat with the attractive 19-year-old Mrs. Elliott. Her beauty was something to be talked about--blue black hair arranged in a coiled braid on top of her head, clear beautiful skin, a petite figure and brown eyes with a depth of understanding that bridged the gap of language. She quickly adjusted herself to this new life, learned English words rapidly, her ready smile winning her a host of friends.

It was she who before long assumed the responsibility of raising their ten children in a stange land, while her husband found his life work in Alaska and Washington, D.C. His career proved a turbulent one, but when pressure became too great for him in political groups, he sought comfort and haven in his Lakewood home, the commotion of a household of twelve, mild in contrast to the confusion in congressional circles.

Shortly after the purchase of Alaska, Congress declared the Pribilof Islands a special government reservation, and granted a twenty year lease of the sealing industry to the Alaskan Commercial company. Henry Wood Elliott arrived there in 1872 to a virgin field of exploration. His methodical mind reveled in the opportunity to record life on the Pribilof Islands. Under his adroit fingers with his natural devotion to detail and accuracy, there emerged sketches of seals in every mood, in every season; scenery in color to challenge the most vivid conception of the near Artic region; realistic drawings of natives and their homes; fascinating maps, showing rookeries, elevations and lakes; and statistics about seals to back up arguments for years to come.

Some of his observations of the islands are worthy of reproduction: "During the summer there is a beautiful spread of grasses, flowering annuals, biennials, perennials of gayly colored lichens and crinkled mosses which have always afforded me great delight whenever I have passed my way over the moors and up the hillsides of the rookeries. Ten or twelve species of grass, over 100 varieties of plants, greenest of greens, so green it gives a deep blue tint to gray noonday shadows."

He noted that the natives drew their entire stock of vegetable medicines from fern roots and gentian. Mice and cats abounded everywhere, the cats assuming weird shapes because of their almost exclusive diet of seal and mice.

The seal pups were a glossy black, their most attractive features the eyes--dark, liquid weeping eyes with long lashes. The adult seal did not have beautiful soft brown fur as we know it. It was dull, gray-grizzled and concealed by a coat of stiff over-hairs, which must be plucked by a special process before going to market.

Those were happy seasons on the Pribilof Islands, days of painting, writing, walking, observing, exhilarating days of discovery.

In 1890 after the expiration of the first lease, a second lease was granted to another company, the North American Commercial company. Almost immediately, government income began to fall off. Elliott was assigned the job of inspection in Alaska and when he learned that some of the most prominent board members of the company were engaged in pelagic sealing (killing seals on the high seas) and that mother seals and young pups were being slaughtered indiscriminately on the islands, all in violation of their contract with the government, he descended on Congress in his fury asking it to intercede before it was too late.

His 1890 report started a series of Congressional battles involving scientists, politicians, educators, who under Elliott's relentless questioning were found guilty of falsifying records and of having associations with the leasing company. So involved became the accusations and defense that they almost precipitated a war with England.

Ultimate triumph came in the passage of the Hay-Elliott treaty drafted in 1896, but because of greed and deception, not passed by Congress until 1911. By its terms pelagic sealing was outlawed and slaughter on the islands prohibited for five years.

In 1913 Elliott was once again commissioned to visit the Islands, and what he hoped would be his last public stand was taken in 1914. He returned to his family, who had moved from Lakewood to Seattle a number of years previously. (The Lakewood estate was cut through to make Cohassett avenue.)

Sealing debates were hushed in Washington for a while, but when word reached Elliott in 1926 that the government was turning over all the fur seals to a St. Louis company for processing and auctioning, he was furious. Although over 80, he once more descended on Congress for a final fight to point out the fallacy and great loss of income to our government. His mind was clear and his tongue sharp as ever. He passed away May 25, 1930 at the age of 84. No flags waved and no special honor was paid the man who had saved the U.S. millions of dollars and had devoted his life to saving a great resource of the American people.

His wife Alexandra, in her 90's is still living with her daughter, Grace, near Seattle. Age is taking its toll, but she still manages short walks and some gardening and visits with her many children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

PHOTO CAPTION: Alexandra Melovidov ... (Mrs. Henry Wood Elliott) shortly after her marriage in 1872. Picture loaned through courtesy of her daughter Ruth (Mrs. James Brayton of Indianapolis, Ind.)

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BEGIN SERIES OF ARTICLES ON LAKEWOOD PIONEERS
LAKEWOOD POST, July 2, 1947
By Margaret Manor Butler

Editor's Note--This is the first of a series of interviews with pioneer Lakewood residents by Margaret Manor Butler, whose articles on Lakewood history have appeared in The Post from time to time during the past year.

As I chatted with Eunice Westfall Allen (Mrs. John Custer), 1356 Lakeland, I was aware of a twinkle in her clear blue eyes that belied her 87 years, but gave one an inkling to a full and happy life. She had no set formula unless "liking people and looking on the bright side of everything might have had something to do with it."

And there were many occasions recently when looking on the bright side would have been difficult, such as losing three grandsons in the war (such fine looking lads from their photos) and the silent passing away in the night of artist-and-writer son Frank Hales Allen, whose numerous paintings of flowers from the garden have found places in every room.

Originally living in Carrollton, O., the family moved to Cleveland in 1887, residing on the east side a number of years before coming to Lakewood in 1903.

Lakewood was then a sprawling village of about 2,500 with a general store and post office at Belle avenue, and a stream flowing through the Nicholson pastures to the lake. There were clusters of homes on Detroit avenue and wide open expanses between the next group of homes. Vineyards greeted the eye as far as one could see with orchards abundantly interspersed.

Happy was Mrs. Allen when she and her husband found an eight room house, about 13500 Detroit, where three acres of land afforded plenty of space for their six growing children: Angeline, Nina, Samuel, Grace, Mary and Frank. She remembered well the ten cherry trees, a number of pear, quince and apple trees and the good sized vineyard of large white and blue grapes. The house was modern for its time and even boasted a kitchen pump. All this for $20 a month.

Hardly were they settled in their new home when callers, coming from as far west as Rocky River, dressed in their Sunday best, deposited their fancy calling cards, stayed for a short chat or invited them to a church social. It was a friendly community and a newcomer did not have an opportunity to feel new for long. The Allens were soon a part of the village, and they in turn stretched out their welcoming hands to the strangers who were quickly transforming the village to a city.

When their Detroit avenue home was sold, they felt the pinch of a housing shortage in a fast growing community. They had little choice but to purchase their present home at 1356 Lakeland, where they have established themselves these many years.

A substantial bond with the past permeates their home created by oil-rubbed cherry cupboards 150 years old, cherry bureaus and bedsteads and a black walnut table all over 100 years of age. A grandfather clock made in England 250 years ago and brought to America via Germany by Mrs. Allen's revolutionary ancestors, is a prized possesion. The original face on the clock still shows its figures and tiny floral scrolls. A pane of glass on one side, evidently used for inspection of the mechanism, is very thick and shows grains of sand in its otherwise clear texture.

A glimpse of the small compact garden would indicate another reason for Mrs. Allen's long and cheery life.

As a reminder of the good old vineyard days, a healthy grape wine, which supplies bunches of white fruit for the family, suns itself on the fence. A mammoth black cherry tree provides shade for the old fashioned garden with its profusion of gay colored flowers, among them hydrangeas, peonies, five varieties of lilac, gaillardias, primroses, red ramblers, the rare princess feather, and the resurrection lily--a delicate pink flower that loses all its green foliage before the bud shoots skyward, defying any comment that it was not alive.

Mrs. Allen claims she still has her "green thumb." She loves to pick and arrange bouquets in her prize vases, and she finds occasion to do some weeding, but the digging is assigned to daughter Mary, whose legs are more nimble, but who inherits her mother's smile and her "green thumb."

PHOTO.

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5

ELIZA JENNINGS BURTON REMINISCES OF DAYS WHEN LAKEWOOD WAS YOUNG
LAKEWOOD POST -- August 8, 1947
By Margaret Manor Butler

"I do not want you to see this picture" was the welcome greeting I received when I dropped in for a visit with Eliza Jennings Burton Backus (Mrs. A. M.) who will be 92 on Sept. 14. "Doesn't he have a fine face?" she continued. "He was one of the best loved men I ever knew."

She was referring to her father (below), who was lovingly called, "The Apostle of the West Side," and so our talk centered around Rev. Lewis Burton, D.D., who for 24 years--from 1847 to 1871--guided his parishoners from Parma to Rocky River, while he was rector of St. John's Episcopal Church, (the oldest church in the city--still standing at 2600 Church street). The population on the entire West side was less than 2,000 when he became rector. As comforter and advisor he became a well-known figure wherever he went.

Often during Civil War days she rode in the horse and buggy with him on his calls to Lakewood where he was welcomed as a member of the community. She remembers stopping at almost every house whether people there were Episcopalians or not. There were the sick to comfort, advice in family or civic problems, perhaps a letter to write and then the baptisms, marriages and funerals, and he was never above lending a helping hand with a chore if he were needed. Eliza J. sat in the buggy and waited for him during some of his visits, but where there were children, she too scrambled down for a visit.

She recalled the stops at Dr. Kirtland's (his home is still standing at 14013 Detroit) because they were so long. Rev. Burton and Kirtland had much in common and it was with difficulty that he tore himself away.

She remembered Lakewood when it was open country with vineyards and orchards paramount, and houses set back from the road. There were Sunday School picnics via the Dummy Railroad to Rocky River, and occasional dinners at Silverthorns.

After the cholera epidemic in 1850 which took its toll in Lakewood as well as Cleveland, Rev. Burton won the everlasting respect of hundreds. Ministers were in as great demand as doctors, when entire families were wiped out in a day or two. Civic authorities prohibited keeping bodies after death--which meant immediate burial. Many were the sleepless nights when he actually helped to bury the dead in the dark cemeteries illuminated by the feeble light of a torch, and then returned to sit the night out with distressed members of the family.

Rev. Burton was energy personified. After resigning from St. John's he organized three other churches: St. Mark's, All Saints and Lakewood's Church of the Ascension. Despite immense amounts of church work, he still found time to enjoy other things, keeping himself physically fit for any task. An entry in his journal of Aug. 18, 1877 says: "I sawed and split kindling. broke coal, bathed, wrote to Phebe and Jane, shelled beans for Amelia's succotash and rode with Lewis to the East side." Another entry in 1884: "Mowed the church yard--grass rank and thick--hard work to cut it."

He was devoted to his family all of whom found some outlet in religious activity. His wife Nancy took a vigorous interest in reforms and was instrumental in establishing "Friendly Inns" in the 1870's when morality was at a low ebb. She was also an active member of the Temperance society.

His son, the Rt. Rev. Lewis W. Burton became Bishop of Eastern Kentucky. One daughter, Mrs. H.G. Leslie (Amelia), became active in the early work of the YWCA winning recognition at an International Conference in Montreal in 1877 through her paper entitled: "Rescue of Fallen Women." She later became Secretary of the Women's auxiliary of the Diocese of Ohio.

The youngest daughter, the intended subject of this interview, Eliza J. (shown above as she looked on Commencement day, June, 1873, when she was graduated from Cleveland Female seminary), claims she was not as religious as the rest of her family who merited the main part of our conversation. She thinks she belongs to the new generation, and has a keen interest in what others are doing in this busy world. Unable to do much walking since a fall three years ago, she is still cheery, alert and surprisingly youthful, her skin creamy white, her eyes bright and her smile ready and winning.

After her graduation with honor from the Cleveland Female seminary in 1873, she helped her father with his mission work at the Church of Ascension on Detroit avenue near Grace, where she often played the organ. It was here she met Rev. Arthur Mann Backus, who later became her husband. At the time he was the young assistant rector from Trinity, but soon became the first full time rector of Ascension Church.

Their's was a happy but short marriage of 13 years due to his early death at the age of 46. After his death Mrs. Backus devoted [page torn] to her two daughters, but [page torn] more leisure came an in-[page torn] in church work. She served [page torn]-esident of the Women's [page torn]-ary of the Diocese of Ohio [page torn]-ten years and is still its [page torn]-rary president. For thirty [page torn] she was treasurer and for [page torn]-mber of years president of [page torn] Paul's Women's auxiliary. An endowment fund started through her efforts, has been given her name.

She toured Europe with her daughter Jean in 1906. Other trips on her own or with friends followed: Alaska, 1922; Cuba, 1928, and the Orient in 1931.

Mrs. Backus was named after her aunt, Eliza Jennings, who gave her home and her farm on Detroit avenue as an industrial home for underprivileged children and a home for aged women. They are now called the Eliza Jennings Home and the Children's Aid Society.

Mrs. Backus lives at 16105 Detroit ave. with her daughter Jean (Mrs. A.N. Dawson), her granddaughter Elizabeth (Mrs. Allan Barker, Jr.), and nine month old great-granddaughter, Barbara Jean Barker.

PHOTOS.

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MRS. CHRISTOPHER MAILE, 89, RECALLS HORSEBACK TRIPS TO POST OFFICE
LAKEWOOD POST -- August 16, 1947
By Margaret Manor Butler

When Mary Kidd Maile was an infant in 1859, her parents, Joseph and Mary Kidd, crossed the ocean from County Wexford, Ireland, to settle in Cleveland. They lived for a short time on Case avenue (E. 40th St.) before purchasing a farm on Riverside and Munn roads.

Although Mary was too young to remember anything about the old country, there is a bit of Ireland in her blarney, a sparkle in her very blue eyes and a youthful lilt to her head. It was a joy to talk with her, and I still feel unconvinced that she was 89 years old on July 12. Her equally vivacious daughter, Alice (Mrs. J.H. Benes), who also looks years younger than [page torn] chatted with us, recal-[page torn]-dents her mother ha-[page torn] years past, and remem-[page torn] own gay school days [page torn] East Rockport school [page torn]-ren road.

All of Mary's schooling [page torn] place in a little red brick [page torn] house on Lorain avenue, east of Riverside. She remembered her teachers as two sisters, Mary and Cary Brown.

Church played an important part in her life. She walked from Munn road to Detroit and Grace avenue to the little mission Episcopal Church of the Ascension, never missing a Sunday, even when the snow was knee deep. There was excitement in her neighborhood when evangelists erected a Tabernacle at Kamms Corners, and folks came from miles around to sing hymns and hear testimonies. After her marriage, her religious devotion shifted to Lakewood Methodist church where she became active in a number of circles. The Maile family contributed all the brick for the first two Methodist churches built prior to the present one on Detroit and Summit.

She recalled with a chuckle some of the lively incidents she and her seven brothers and sisters had on their farm. Only a short time ago she stood under the identical apple tree on Warren road to whose sheltering branches she had fled after an argument with one of her brothers. She remembered the long intellectual discussions her father had with Obadiah Munn, who lived across the road and for whom Munn road was named.

Most vivid of all her recollections were her trips to Johnson's Post Office on Detroit at Belle ave. As a child her daily chore was to go for the mail on her large white spirited Kentucky horse. She created quite a stir as she galloped along Riverside and down Detroit avenue, her fair skin and light brown hair framing her neat figure in tight black bodice and flowing black skirt. She seldom looked to the right or left either, intent on her errand or perhaps absorbed in a dram of galloping knights in armor. Someone always rushed out with the mail to hand to Mary Kidd, for it was well known that once atop her spirited steed she stayed there until he deposited her at her own picket fence with the extra step to climb down.

As she grew older and more sedate, the white horse pulled the carriage in which she rode on her daily trips to the Post Office. For many months Christopher Maile watched from his doorway as she rode by, and he vowed that she was the girl he intended to marry, although he had not yet been properly introduced. And true to his vow, he did marry her before she was 18.

Christopher's father, William R. Maile, one of the first trustees of the hamlet, was also the only brickmaker. His yard and kiln were near the Nickle Plate in back of the old homestead, a brick house still standing on Detroit between Brockley and Cranford. Mr. Maile also owned a lot of property, and when a short street near Riverside was opened, it was named Maile after him.

Besides their son, the William Maile's had three daughters, Nellie (Mrs. Sidney Goss), Hattie (Mrs. U.B. Hird) and Lulu (Mrs. Jay Cannon).

After his marriage, Christopher followed in his father's footsteps by establishing a brick yard of his own on the south side of Hilliard near Elmwood. Mrs. Maile told me of how they dug the clay out of the ground, moulded it into bricks, baked them in the kilns and when cool, piled them neatly in the yard. "And I will never forget one day," she added, "when I was the only one at home and there was a hurry up call for a load of bricks. Well, I was troubled for a while, but decided it had to be done, so with the help of the driver I loaded one thousand bricks on the wagon. No one was ever wearier than I that night."

The brick yard was for many years a happy memory for Lakewood youth, for in winter the pit was filled with water which froze for ideal skating. Almost as soon as school was out, gay figures dotted the ice pond and more than one romance started at Maile's.

Sadness came early to the family when six year old William was killed in a fall from the brick wagon, where he had climbed for a ride. Besides Alice Benes who lives with her mother, Mrs. Maile has another daughter, Lulu May (Mrs. Edward Robinson), and three grandchildren, Howard Benes, June and Frank Robinson. Her nephew, Rear Admiral Isaac Kidd, was the famous hero of Pearl Harbor.

Active for years in many welfare organizations, Mrs. Maile has cut her activities to her friends and her one favorite club, the "Oh Be Joyfuls" to which she has belonged for 60 years.

Mrs. Maile lives at 1372 Bunts.

PHOTO.

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PIONEER TELLS OF DAYS WHEN LAWN CROQUET WAS POPULAR LAKEWOOD SPORT
LAKEWOOD POST -- September 26, 1947
By Margaret Manor Butler

"When Lakewood was young, it was a delightful place to live," reminisced Mrs. Victor Browning, the former Hope Hird. "It was a peaceful, friendly community with well kept farms quite far apart. We knew everyone and we were interested in all that they did."

Perhaps some of the old friendliness has been transferred from the West to the East side, for it permeates their charming colonial hom in Euclid where I enjoyed a delightful conversation with Mrs. Browning, and met her husband, her daughter Elizabeth and two grandchildren.

We talked about the Hird farm where she spent her childhood and youth and where she was married. Business necessitated a home on the East side where they have been for the past 48 years. The old farm was located next to Hird avenue on the site of the Homestead theatre, the house set back about one hundred feet from the plank road, a row of young maples shielding it from the front, a grove of pines obscuring it from one side.

The chief farm crop was wheat, giving the place its title, "Wheatland." In 1852 Thomas Hird, her grandfather, received a silver medal from the Board of Agriculture for raising the [paper torn] wheat in the state of Ohio.

Originally the estate, which extended from W. 117 to Cove avenue and from Madison to the lake, belonged to Richard Lord a wealthy pioneer who came the Western Reserve on horseback, wearing a money belt full of gold. He purchased a large section of West Cleveland, building a pretentious home on Franklin avenue. Many of the West side streets are named after members of the Lord family: Abbey after Aunt Abigail Lord, Hope after Richard's daughter, and Barber after another relative. He donated the West side market to the city with the stipulation that when it was no longer used for that purpose, it would revert to his heirs.

Richard Lord appointed Thomas Hird, who had come a young lad from England in 1818, as manager of his Lakewood property. Shortly thereafter Thomas married Hope Randell Lord, the daughter [paper torn] wealthy employer, and the[paper torn] wood farm became their [paper torn].

Mrs. Browning who w[paper torn] after her grandmother, [paper torn] some of the good times [paper torn] as a young girl in Lake[paper torn] the 1880's and the gay [paper torn].

"Some of our gaye[paper torn] were with the Elliots, w[paper torn] lovely home and a beau[paper torn] den with a huge pond [paper torn]. Perhaps our bathing p[paper torn] the foot of Cove avenue [paper torn] gayest of all. When Racer, Elliott's horse, came up our driveway pulling the old spring wagon, we rushed to gather our bathing togs. Mine had full black bloomers several inches below the knee and of course long black stockings. We also carried a clothes bar, which we erected on the beach and from which were suspended curtains so we could dress in privacy. I remember how shocked our parents were when we were bold enough to have our pictures taken in our bathing outfits. I don't remember any good swimmers, perhaps our clothes were too cumbersome, but we did have such fun, paddling and splashing."

Gay memories brought to mind the croquet parties on the Edwards lawn (Richard Fry Edwards still lives on Fry avenue). Croquet was a favorite sport that intrigued its players long after dark, especially if the wire arches were equipped with coal oil miniature lamps as they were at the Edwards place. Dick Edward's father was a patient man who felt young people should play a good game, and he spent many hours teaching them a firm correct stroke.

One event looked forward to from year to year was the strawberry festival at Ascension church (Detroit near Grace). A huge circus tent, stored between-times in Oviatt's barn was erected on the lawn and then busy preparations began for the full course dinner served in the tent for the entire community. Culmination was the much anticipated dish of strawberries topped with cream.

Our chat could have gone on indefinitely as I told her about many of her old friends in Lakewood with whom she has lost touch. The mention of their names brought back a flood of memories. A number of them I have written about in this column, Mrs. Backus who was a member of the same church group. Rev. Lewis Burton, who was a good friend of her grandfather, Emma Beach Townsend, Mrs. Jay Andres, Mrs. Christopher Maille, Clayton Tyler, etc.

Mr. Browning added the final touch as he showed me the above picture made in 1897. It was taken in the course of a party on the Hird lawn, with Hope Hird--playfully pulling the ear of Victor Browning. His cherry comment confirmed her statement, "Lakewood was a grand old place and we did have some wonderful times there."

PHOTO CAPTION: Subjects of This Week's Pioneer Portrait Enjoy 1897 Lawn Party
PICTURED ABOVE, "In a playful mood," are Mr. and Mrs. Victor Browning (Hope Hird), subjects of this week's Pioneer Portrait by Mrs. Margaret Manor Butler. The photograph, taken during the course of a party in 1897 on the Hird lawn, shows Mrs. Browning -- then Miss Hird -- mischievously pulling the ear of her husband-to-be. The Hird estate later became the site of the Homestead theater.

 

 

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