J. Peery Miller Memoirs — Part 5

Note: “telpehawkin” is currently unknown; “belleflower” is now known as “bellflower”.

The use to which the other out-buildings were put is indicated by their names. Each was located so as to be easily approached from the house or barn. The dryhouse, bakeoven, woodhouse, smokehouse, carriagehouse, and springhouse stood in a row at regular distances from each other, east of the residence and the front yard. The other buildings, being more particularly associated with stock and field work, were placed nearer the barn.

A large apple orchard was planted just north of our house. Father purchased the trees from one John Boswell in the year 1823, as is evidenced by his book account of the transaction. There were 100 seedling trees in all, and the price for the lot was $5.87. Being seedlings the fruit produced was just what each tree happened to bear, but much of it was good. There were many varieties, large and small – some sweet, some sour; some neither sweet nor sour. In later years grafting was resorted to as a means of improving the quality of the fruit and increasing the variety.

Grafting was done by cutting a scion from a tree bearing the fruit of the variety desired and inserting it in a branch of a limb of the seedling tree. (The process of grafting is fully explained in Webster’s unabridged dictionary). When a boy at home I did a great amount of this work. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the scions grow from year to year until they became branches large enough to blossom and produce fruit. By means of grafting a tree could be made to produce several varieties of fruit. I especially remember one tree in our old orchard which bore Siberian crabs, belleflower and a worthless seedling without name, the latter always in evidence to show its primitive right of possession. Some grafting was done in the spring of each year so that in my time the original stock of one-hundred hit and miss seedling trees were made to produce some of the best varieties of fruit on the market, namely, fall pippin, telpehawkin, belleflower, smith cider, winesap, &c.

In later years root-grafted trees were purchased from regular nurserymen, thus insuring trees that would reproduce the variety of fruit desired without regrafting. Now the youngster gets the benefit of the early harvest variety, an apple much appreciated when he has a craving for the forbidden green fruit. The early harvest apple was ready for the average boy’s chompers just as soon as a little shade of yellow on one side indicated approaching ripeness. In fact, the tasting process began much earlier – soon after the apple was out of the blossom, and was kept up at regular intervals until the “yaller” test gave full proof that it was surely ripe and ready to be eaten with impunity.

Of the seedling fruit of our old orchard I recall three varieties that no modern apple can duplicate in richness or delicacy of flavor. One was a small, sweet russet, which, when fully ripe, had a most delicious honey-like taste altogether different from the modern sweet russet. Another was a medium sized apple, pale red and green – the green starting from the stem as though it would form a stripe, but it soon merged into a moderately radish color on the body {this apple we called the wine apple (not the winesap, which is altogether different). Surely it was rightly named, for no wine, however sweet, could surpass it in delicacy of flavor. The third variety I have in mind we named “Neither sweet nor sour”, – these qualities being so harmoniously blended in juicy composition as to form a delightful compromise between the two extremes.

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Happy Birthday to Our Neighbor Organization

Long before the Yellow Springs Historical Society came into being, the Greene County Historical Society was serving the historical interests of the area, so we are pleased to celebrate their 90th birthday by sharing the history of this organization.


The Trebein-Flynn home is an elegant part of the Greene County Ohio Historical Society complex.

Greene County Historical Society is 90 Years Old

XENIA – In February 1929, about 100 Greene County residents met at the Greene County District Library to organize an historical society. Dr. William Albert Galloway presided over the meeting, partly because he was in charge of the historical exhibit for the 1928 Home-Coming Committee. He spoke briefly of highlights in Greene County history, and of the danger of losing such a wealth of personal and general history unless it were collected by organized effort. Following that initial meeting, the group met bimonthly in various places, including the Courthouse and Shawnee Park. Speakers presented lectures, further plans were made to preserve county history, and schools were encouraged to include the history of Greene County in curriculum materials.

In 1934, Miss Emma King donated a house and lot at the corner of Second and Monroe Streets in Xenia to the county commissioners for a museum. In response to this generosity, the Greene County Museum Association was organized in April of that year. In 1936, arrangements were made to move the Galloway log house from its original location near Goes Station to that lot. During the next few years, the group learned about museum management firsthand; collecting and caring for artifacts and building maintenance were all part of having a permanent home. Memberships were solicited to further the work of the Society; the County Commissioners agreed to fund the museum’s running expenses in 1935 “as the building had been given to the County for museum programs.” The Greene County Museum Association and Greene County Historical Society merged in 1953, the year of Ohio and Greene County’s 150th birthday celebrations.

In time, the members felt that additional property would be desirable, and through the donations of two men, Charles Snediker of Fairborn and John Glossinger of New York via Xenia, the property on West Church Street was acquired. The William G. Moorehead house on the corner of North Detroit and West Church held many artifacts. The Snediker Museum, named after its donor, was a brick carriage house on the Moorehead property and housed pioneer tools and implements. The John Glossinger Cultural Center was used for meetings and contained the offices of the Society. In 1965, the Galloway log house was removed to this location from its former home at Second and Monroe St., and the four-building complex was complete.

Things went as usual until the afternoon of April 3, 1974. Of the four historical society buildings, three were damaged beyond repair, with the log house the only survivor. It received a temporary roof while artifacts and fixtures were gathered and stored by volunteers until the Society could find suitable storage during the rebuilding process. Storage facilities ranged from an old warehouse in Yellow Springs, to Hooven & Allison property, to members’ homes. There was no question about rebuilding; many different options were considered. After much thought, the membership voted to “trade” the city of Xenia a portion of the property which was needed for widening Church St., in order to purchase a house to replace the Moorehead & Glossinger houses, and to rebuild the Galloway log house at its same location. A grant was obtained for restoration of the log house, which became the primary, immediate goal. During this time, membership meetings were held in various places throughout the county, but none were missed.

The log house was reopened to the public in December 1975. The Queen Anne house from the southeast corner of Church and Detroit was moved to the corner of southwest Church and King in 1977; The Paul Gertler Co. of Reynoldsburg OH did the moving, which took two days and cost around $15,000. In 1990, with donations and help from many, the Brantley Carriage House Museum, a three-story brick building modeled after the old Snediker carriage house, was erected behind the Town House. Presiding over the dedication ceremony was Dr Norman Vincent Peale, formerly of Bowersville. In fall 2009, the Galloway log house was restored at a cost of nearly $30,000, replacing rotted logs and the cement chinking from the 1974 rebuilding, and adding copper gutters and downspouts.

The Historical Society continues to preserve historical artifacts and documents in its three-building complex on West Church St., as well as its caboose on South Detroit St., which are open to county residents and visitors alike. Monthly meetings on a variety of topics welcome those who wish to attend, and annual memberships at a minimal cost are available for all age groups. Commemorative N and HO scale railroad cars with the 90th anniversary logo will be available also, at a cost of $25 each, to raise funds. For further information about the Greene County Ohio Historical Society or its programs, please contact them at 937-372-4606 or gchsxo@yahoo.com.

Catherine Wilson, Executive Director,

Greene County Ohio Historical Society

74 West Church St, Xenia OH 45385

Phone: 937-372-4606

E-mail: gchsxo@yahoo.com

Website: sites.google.com/site/greenehistoricalsociety

Visit the Historical Society on Facebook!


On 20 Oct 1965, the Galloway log house was moved from the corner of South Monroe and East Second to West Church St.
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A Researcher Reaches Out — Seeking Works by Gilbert Wilson

This request for leads to works by Gilbert Wilson is the next link in a chain that started locally with a request to Matt Minde at the Yellow Springs News, who passed it along to Connie Collett, head librarian of the Yellow Springs Library who forwarded it to the editor of this blog.

We have previously covered isolated works of Gilbert Wilson: 1) the bookplate based on his illustration here, and a series of small murals which sadly proved prohibitively expensive to restore and preserve here.

I’m publishing a biography of Gilbert Wilson, the artist who painted the murals at Antioch College. It’ll be released at the same time as an edition of Moby Dick illustrated by Wilson, in celebration of Herman Melville’s 200th birthday. 

As part of the process, we’ve been reaching out to communities where Wilson lived and worked to find new pieces of art in order to both catalogue them and, in some cases, include them in the books.

Scott Sanders told me that he recently had a Wilson piece donated, so he thinks there might, indeed, be more Wilson art in the community. Wilson was known for just giving away his work.

The Terre Haute Tribune-Star recently wrote a couple of pieces (see here and here), and I’m wondering if you might help spread the word about our search? And more specifically, do you know if the library has anything that might be useful, such as photographs?

Here’s a link to the book projects:

http://www.gilbertwilsonmobydick.com/

And you can reach me at 312-860-8646.

Robert K. Elder

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1870s Sketchbook — Part 2

Are any of these sketches of locations in the Yellow Springs area?

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From the Antioch Bookplate Archives — Part 5

This group demonstrates the wide variety of interests to which Antioch Publishing tried to appeal, from pop licenses to historical imagery.

B-322 combine Ziggy from the comics with an early ecological theme.

B-323 features another character from the comics — “Cathy” by Cathy Guisewhite.

B-324 was license based on a YA board game and book series of the 1990s.

B-325 uses a painting by John Ruthven.

B-326 was painted by staff artist Katherine Gardner.

B-327 features a painting by Roger Cooke.

B-328 is based on an illustration by Thomas L. Cathey.

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New Research Tool

Glen Forest Cemetery

Researchers of local history and genealogy have a new data source. Thanks to the efforts of Yellow Springs Historical Society board member Jean Payne and others, the Miami Township Board of Trustees now has a burial search function on their website: https://www.miamitownship.net/burial-search/.

Cemeteries administered by Miami Township trustees and searchable include Clifton Cemetery (both old and new sections), Clifton-Union Cemetery, Glen Forest Cemetery (including the Scattering Grounds and Natural Burial Grounds) and Pleasant Grange Cemetery.

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Siemer on the Amphitheater’s 1987 Comeback

Ron Siemer, who was the photographer for the series of portraits currently on exhibit in the John Byran Comminty Center as part of “The Timeline Show: YS Theater Past to Present” exhibit, ” also contributed articles to the Xenia Daily Gazette as Arts Correspondent.

XENIA, OHIO, DAILY GAZETTE—Thursday,May 7, 1987

‘Radical Surgery’ hopes to revitalize Antioch Amphitheater

By RON SIEMER

DAILY GAZETTE arts correspondent

Denny Partridge, Antioch Theater’s new boss and the physician in charge of restoring health to that ailing enterprise, has announced “Radical Surgery” as the first major operation in the revitalization of the Antioch Amphitheater.

At a press conference Tuesday, Partridge introduced the specialist — husband playwright Steve Friedman — who wrote “Radical Surgery,” a political-sexual farce involving a four-way brain transplant and rampant presidential assassination, which will launch the Amphitheater’s first season in 10 years with a five-day run, May 20-24.

“Radical Surgery” will be performed by a student cast. Curtain time is 8 p.m. on each date. In case of rain — always a contingency with outdoor theater — the dates will move, Partridge said, rather than the play, since the play has been produced for the outdoor theater.

RETURN TO OUTDOOR THEATER

“Everyone is excited about this show,” Partridge said, “not only because it’s a great new play, but because it’s bringing outdoor theater back to Antioch. Once again, outdoor theater will be a large part of the Antioch Theater focus.

“Outdoor theater is a great love of mine,” Partridge said. “And the students really love working here. One of the reasons for restoring the Amphitheater is that it’s such a great place to work.

“Outdoor theater is extremely attractive to people,” she said, “especially to people in a highly cultured, theater-conscious community like this. We’re hoping the community will respond with as much enthusiasm as it did when we started rebuilding the theater department last year.”

Denny Partridge took over as head of the Antioch Theater Department in 1986, with the substantial chore of breathing life into the department’s decaying, all-but-abandoned program and facilities.

‘An energetic program of new theater curriculum, a high-quality season of outstanding plays, and a sleeves-up attack of the job of restoring the Antioch Theater’s physical facilities has resulted in rebirth of the enterprise, which had been revered as a vital and forward-looking entity in the academic world and in area theater generally.

THEATER OF CLASSIC DESIGN

The Antioch Amphitheater itself, an imposing, mostly-concrete structure built in 1961 and modeled after the ancient Greek theater built at Epidaurus more than 2,500 years ago, has loomed as an attractive but strangely abandoned edifice hauntingly like the ancient structure that inspired it.

Often compared to the awe-inspiring stone antiquity at Stonehenge, England, the Antioch Amphitheater has stood as a monument to timeless design and better times — at least for most of the 10 years since it was officially used as an outlet for the dramatic productions of the Antioch Theater Department.

Unlike the ancient theater, however, it isn’t a ruin.

“The Antioch Amphitheater probably is the safest place on the campus,” said Antioch Fire Chief Ariel Leonard.

Built in 1961 by Yellow Springs builder William Hooper, with design consultation by Paul Treichler and Meredith Dallas, the Amphitheater has the visual impact of an ancient fortress with graceful, contemporary lines. Essentially circular, the hemispheric concrete audience seating area is approximately 80 feet in diameter, facing the hemispheric cyclorama (back wall), also of concrete and approximately 20 feet high and 70 feet in diameter.

OUTSTANDING ACOUSTICS

Partridge demonstrated the outstanding acoustics of the theater by standing at center stage with her back to the audience area and speaking in a soft voice. Every word was heard clearly by the several persons sitting in the theater.

“This is one of the many reasons why we’re so excited about plays in the Amphitheater,” Partridge said into the curved back hall. “Not only will we be doing great plays, but we’ll be able to use all the vocal dynamics that make a dramatic presentation really dramatic!”

“Radical Surgery” should be a ringing — and therapeutically effective — opener for the reintroduction of the Amphitheater. Playwright Steve Friedman, now a nearly full-time resident of Yellow Springs, is a successful author of Off-Broadway plays in New York City, affiliated for the past nine years with the Modern Times Theater in New York.

Friedman’s work includes “Fallout” (1985), a short play commemorating the 40th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima; “Freedom Days” (1984), a play about the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s; “Hibakusha” (1982), a prize-winning play about the survivors of Hiroshima that was broadcast in part on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” in 1982; and other dramas, some of which have been produced internationally.

Friedman also has been a drama teacher in New York, California, and abroad in France. He was won numerous awards for his plays and teaching activities and has written and acted in plays for the San Francisco Mime Troupe.

He still is an active playwright and actor for the Modern Times Theater.

“RADICAL SURGERY” BITING SATIRE

“Radical Surgery” is set in the near future amid the crumbling remnants of America, where even shooting the president has become a national pastime. The four principal characters, who are subjects of a four-way brain transplant that goes haywire, are a southern white racist sniper, a militant black lesbian poet, a jilted surgical nurse, and the wounded president of the United States.

The action becomes a wild and hilarious jumble of shootouts, assassinations, seductions, and general mayhem, liberally mixed with stark revelations about American politics and sexual identity.

Admission to “Radical Surgery” — as to all the plays produced in the Antioch Amphitheater — will be free.

What will be the financial support required for continuing productions in the Amphitheater?

“Maybe we;’ll pass a hat at the end of each performance,” Partridge said. “We really want to keep the Amphitheater and all its productions free to the public. Passing the hat has worked in the past in this community, because people who have come to outdoor plays have been wonderfully supportive. They want this kind of theater to continue.”

OUTLET FOR NEW DRAMA

Partridge intends to continue producing new plays in the Amphitheater.

“This isn’t to be a once-in-a-lifetime event,” she said. “We want to create new plays on a regular basis here. Some of them will be written by well-known playwrights, and some will be written by students. But they’ll all be good theater.

“The lack of original material is a serious problem in American Theater,” she said. “That’s one of the things Antioch Theater is focusing on. A big part of the drama curriculum at Antioch is creating new plays — as opposed to just writing new plays. We’re committed to improving the quality as well as the quantity of American drama.”

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J. Peery Miller Memoirs — Part 4

[In which he describes the process of preparing the apple harvest for use]

In the evening after the regular work of the day was finished, paring and coring apples preparatory for drying was a part of the duty of the whole family. Several bushes of drop apples were brought from the orchard to the house during the day. This labor was generally performed by the women and children, the men being too busy at field work to stop to pick up a few bushels of apples.

After the supper dishes were cleared away the kitchen table was surrounded by all hands able to aid in the important work of saving the fallen apples and adding to the winter supply of edibles.

Family preparing apples – photo taken from J. Peery Miller’s daughter Della’s memoirs

The paring was usually done by a paring machine – a home made affair – consisting of a wooden frame containing a band-wheel six of eight inches in diameter, turned by a crank. By means of a leather belt the power was conveyed to a spool wheel of inch and a half diameter immediately above the crank wheel. The axis of the spool-wheel was an iron spindle the left end of which had two prongs like a fork. On this fork an apple was stuck and a modest turn of the crank gave a rapid revolution to the apple. As the apple spun around a short knife blade fitted into a wooden base with a short handle, was held against it, paring the skin thick or thin according to the setting of the knife in its wooden frame. Any good carpenter could make this machine. The spindle on which the apple revolved was shaped by a blacksmith. I think ours was made by brother Milton, who was skillful in the use of carpenter tools. An expert hand with this machine could keep four or five persons slicing and coring to keep up with him.

[Note: examples of such early apple paring machines can be seen in the Virtual Apple Parer Museum’s Gallery.]

The modern metal parers are fastened firmly to the edge or table by means of a set screw, but the one above described was framed to the end of a board about two feet long, which, when in use, was placed on a bench or kitchen chair and held firmly by the operator’s own weight as he sat astride it.

Personally, I must confess that I did not always take kindly to these family apple-cutting bees. They came at the time when the average farmer boy would rather sleep than work, and frequently I tried to persuade the managers that, in my particular case, the former was more necessary than the latter. Looking at it from the standpoint of youth doubtless my parents sympathized with me, but thee was a question of duty to be considered. Children should help in providing for the needs of the family and dried apples were certainly a necessity. So with visions of dried applesauce and dried apple pies in the future, I applied my knife in quartering and coring the luscious fruit as vigorously as conditions would permit until the end of the session, which was announced by the machine man when he reached for the last unpared apple.

Machine paring was not very satisfactory with bruised or imperfect fruit as the knife would fail to catch all the rind, leaving much for the hand knife to finish. However, much labor was saved by its use.

After the fruit was prepared for drying it was spread out in thin layers on hurdles (commonly called hartels) and these were placed on a scaffold built for this purpose, located in a convenient, sun-shiny spot. The dryhouse with stove heat could be used in all kinds of weather.

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Not Just a Local Big Deal

One of the ways in which Mary E. Morgan shared her love of Yellow Springs history was to create bulletin-board style presentations. An envelope found among the her papers received by the Historical Society containe some of the items used for her presentation on the subject of the notable theatrical Shakespeare presentations at Antioch College in the 1950s with newspaper excerpts indicating the wide interest in the Shakespeare plays across the nation.

To find out more about the history of all theater in Yellow Springs don’t forget to attend the exhibit opening event at the John Bryan Center for “The Timeline Show – YS Theater Past to Present”

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1870s Sketchbook — Part 1

The Yellow Springs Historical Society is the fortunate recipient of a donation by noted local sculptor Jon Hudson of a sketchbook (which he thinks he acquired at an auction) with at least one sketch dated 1870.

Some of the sketches are definitely not of local subjects, but many are, and it should be no surprise that nature is a favorite subject.

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