Saturday, July 11, 2009

On the Road: Crossing Missouri (Summer 2009)

In Sedalia, Missouri, heading west on US 50. I gave up trying to get to Kansas City in time to see the Nelson-Atkins Museum today. I will try tomorrow and then start across Kansas, heading toward Colorado. What to see? Hmm.... Any suggestions?

Friday, July 10, 2009

On the road: Lebanon, Ohio to St. Louis

I made the drive today from just north of Cincinnati to an area a little west of St. Louis, on my way back west. I mostly took the backroads--Highway 50 across Indiana, through Seymour and Bedford, and then diverting at Oolitic, to State Route 58, through Doans and Scotland to Newbury, then southwest on 57 and 67, ending up in Vincennes. I traveled across Illinois mostly on Highway 50 again. I got into St. Louis quite late, but I already had a hotel picked out and I had my dinner in a bag beside me, so I didn't mind.

Near Seymour, Indiana, I stopped at the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge and took a short hike through the woods, but didn't see any birds of special interest. Most of the drive was flat and only mildly interesting. One section in Indiana was along railroad tracks and transmission lines of some sort on old wooden poles with multiple cross pieces and strung on old-fashioned insulators. I got to thinking how much work it was to construct lines like that. The poles couldn't have been more than about 120 feet apart. That's 44 poles a mile. I figured 24 insulators a pole, so 1,056 of those each mile. The poles stretched for many miles. It's a testament to the strength of the human craving for communication.

I detoured at Oolitic because the name on the map intrigued me. I knew it had to have something to do with rocks. It turns out to be an area where they quarry limestone--one of the biggest limestone quarries in the world, apparently. Although I couldn't find any actual rock-cutting to look at, the stone was apparent all along the roadsides.

Vincennes was rather interesting. There were a lot of older buildings to look at and there is a huge monument to General George Rogers Clark (the older brother of Clark of Lewis and Clark fame) on the site of Fort Sackville, a Revolutionary War fort. The monument commemorates the taking of the fort from the British, in 1779. I'm sure that was important, but the monument seems a bit out of proportion. The best view was looking back, from the bridge that crosses the Wabash River taking you into Illinois. Unfortunately, I couldn't stop to photograph from that vantage point.

On the Road: Golden Lamb Again

Ended up staying at the Golden Lamb again, this time in the Harriet Beecher Stowe Room, which was quite a bit bigger than the Grant Room. I'm hoping to see the museum in Kansas City on the way back, so I'll mostly be backtracking now until I get there, although, for variety I think I'll go through Indianapolis rather than Louisville.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

On the road: Goodbye Ohio--almost

Haven't been able to write much because of work. I've been stuck in my hotel rooms in the morning the last two days. Since I last wrote, I've been mostly in Oberlin, where I stayed last night. I went to Oberlin in the hope of seeing a copy of a little booklet of views of the Oberlin campus that my Grandfather, Warren R. Laity, published and illustrated with his own photographs, but Oberlin doesn't have a copy. I remembered there was one at the Ohio Historical Society Library in Columbus, so made plans to go home through Columbus. I was also hoping to see the Columbus Museum of Art, but work got in the way. I'm now having a late dinner in Centerville (decent Mexican), hoping to get as far east as I can tonight.

I enjoyed seeing the campus at Oberlin. Judging from the photographs in my Grandfather's publication (which I saw and copied this afternoon), it hasn't changed much since he was here, in 1923-24. I especially enjoyed the art museum on Campus. It's a small space, but the quality of the work is excellent. The large addition was closed for renovation. I assume they usually show more than what I was able to see, but there was an interesting special exhibit of German Expressionists and one of Japanese prints as well. As a souvenir, I picked up an Oberlin T-shirt. Stayed at an inexpensive B&B in Oberlin.

I didn't get back to Columbus until 4:00PM, but the OHS is open late on Thursdays, which was lucky. Actually, it's closed on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, so it's very lucky I hit it. I found and had them copy the book of views of Oberlin and also found some family records in their collections while I was waiting. The OHS is huge. I had no idea. You could spend a week in the place looking things up. Wish I had known when I lived nearby.

Then headed south and east, hoping to make some headway. I was hoping to see Corinne, my old friend from Japan, in Dayton, but it didn't work out. I have no idea where I'll stay tonight, but I suspect I'll stop driving earlier rather than later.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

On the road: Millersburg and Winesburg, Ohio

Worked in the morning, but spent most of the day with Scott driving around Millersburg and Winesburg, Ohio. I went to the library in Millersburg and looked through the genealogy library, mostly marriage, probate, obituary, and cemetery records. I found records for all the people we already know about and some others, which may or may not be relatives. I went to the Millersburg Oak Hill Cemetery. I found the graves of Godfrey Heinig, Ernestine Heinig (as the stone reads), and right beside them a Julia A. Heinig, which must be a relative, but that’s a name I’ve never seen before. According to the stone, she died on Dec. 19, 1903 at 50 years, 5 months, and 24 days, which would mean she was born around 1853. There are two other Heinigs in the cemetery, in different plots, that probably are not connected with us—oddly, both Julius Heinig.

The records showed that Abraham Kratsch and his wife Caroline are buried in Winesburg, in the old cemetery behind what is now Zion Reformed Church. Sadly, about 70% of the monuments were made of a very soft stone and they are entirely unreadable. I DID, however, find Abraham’s stone—barely legible—but, it definitely says “A. Kratsch.” There is a nearly identical one next to it that I have to assume is Caroline, but I couldn’t really read it. Both stones are at the back of the cemetery (furthest from the church, on the left with the church behind you). I asked around town, and I was told that records from the church have all been lost, so there’s nothing to be found there. Two Amish women in a store suggested I talk to the local historian, one Glen Wengerd. I found him and he took down the information and offered to see what he could find. Maybe that will turn up something.

I talked to a librarian at Oberlin today, too. I plan to go there tomorrow. She said they have a student file on my grandfather, Warren R. Laity (and Harold, his brother) that I can see, but they don’t have a copy of the Oberlin Campus Views book I was hoping to find. There appears to be a copy at the Ohio Historical Society Library in Columbus. I may swing back there on my way home. I plan to start back tomorrow.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

On the Road: Dayton and Columbus, Ohio

In Dayton, spent the evening last night with friends from high school and college. It was a lot of fun to see them again after about 12 years, and nice to be among friends for the first time in many days.

This morning I ran over to Woodland Cemetery to see the family plot. I cleaned off the stones a bit, but everything was in order. Now that some time has passed, the broken stone cross doesn't look that bad. I left a few flowers at my Grandma's grave and sent her greetings.

I drove around a bit, but really didn't look at much. It was rather sad. So much of the area I knew is run down and overgrown. I did go to the old house. It's for sale. It looked empty, or as if someone was camping out on a mattress in the living room. The redbud tree I planted all those years ago is giant. The plum tree has been cut down. There were many shoots from where it stood, but I couldn't pull one with roots. So, I guess my quest over the years to get one going in a yard of my own is hopeless. Too bad. I drove by the Forrest Avenue house in which my Grandmother was born. It looks in good shape. It's been painted red, but someone seems to be keeping it up.

The downtown area looks very different. The arts center looks good, but I just drove by it. Without Rike's being there, it was very hard to get my bearings. Looking at things was rather depressing, so I moved on quickly. I went to the Dayton Art Institute, but it had closed already. So, I missed that. It's a small collection, but there are some things there I like very much and wanted to see, so that was a disappointment. I particularly remember a small painting of Charleston harbor (I think) in a beautifully hand-carved frame that I had looked forward to seeing. There's a good Hopper, a small Modigliani portrait, and a fun Bouguereau. I remember those at least.

It was a short drive to Columbus. I arrived at about 6:00PM. I spent an hour or so walking around my old neighborhood, on Highland Street and King Ave. (photo above). The houses are still very interesting. I'd like to spend a month here, drawing them all again. There just isn't time on a trip like this. The church on the corner of King is now an Eastern Orthodox church, otherwise little has changed. The trees are bigger. It was fun to see some of the places in my old drawings. The Ohio State campus, however, has changed quite a bit. There has been a lot of new construction. Also, the area called the Short North, which is just north of downtown and well south of campus, has been developed to an extraordinary degree. It looks attractive now.

I found a hotel north of campus. Tomorrow I'm going to have lunch with Jon, a friend from high school that lives in Columbus now, and then I plan to head north, to Honeytown, initially, which is where my friend Scott's family farm is. He's offered to put me up. It should be a good base for a night, or perhaps two, to visit Millersburg and Oberlin. After that, I plan to head home as quickly as practical. It's been fun, but rather tiring after 3,000 miles and with the thought that there are at least that many miles still ahead of me. That said, I am well. I hope everyone at home is too.
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