Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It's Fall again!

I don't know why, but every Fall I feel like I need to go around and take a million pictures of the leaves. This year is no different, though I will say I have different scenery than normal since we've moved. The Fall colors at our old house were always amazing, but it's been nice going around Kent and seeing some more, particularly in the parks. I'm hoping if we have some sun tomorrow I can get some pictures at Sand Run Metro Park in Akron. I've driven past it on the way from my after-school job to rehearsal and the colors and scenery I can see from the road are just amazing!! Sand Run is in northern Akron right on the edge of the Cuyahoga Valley, so it really doesn't feel like Ohio or even Akron at all! Unfortunately, I am already running late when I am normally driving past it, so no time to stop. Tomorrow, however, I don't have rehearsal so I hope the weather cooperates. For now, though, I have gotten quite a few pictures around Kent. I've always enjoyed Fall, not only the colors but the weather too. I didn't really appreciate the color and season here until I lived out west in Arizona, New Mexico, and Idaho for the better part of 5 years and really missed it all. There was some color in Ruidoso and in Idaho, but nothing even remotely close to what we have just here in Kent, not to mention around the area. Just the short drive from Kent to Akron along I-76 is full of color. I uploaded all of these and more on Facebook, so if you've already seen them, sorry! If you haven't, check out my Facebook album "Fall 2009" if you're on Facebook.

This is looking down in my current neighborhood. Yeah, I guess it's now "my" neighborhood, but I still don't feel like it's "mine" ya know?

These are both from a tree in front of Central School on North Mantua Street...pretty cool huh?!?

Earl Avenue in Kent...I just kind of saw it while walking and was like...WOW!

This is my favorite park in Kent, the Franklin Mills Riveredge Park downtown. This is where I got the picture of myself that's at the top of the page.

I took most of the pictures Sunday, October 25, but went back Monday to get more when the sun was at a better angle. This one above was taken on the 26th, looking south from the Main Street Bridge downtown Kent.

Looking north along the Cuyahoga from the Main Street Bridge

I am hoping to go back and get another shot of this when there is more sunlight, though I am still happy how it came out. Looking at the old 1875 train depot from under the Main Street Bridge.

Another view from under the bridge on the 26th...you can see I took these earlier in the afternoon and with way more sunlight than the ones on the 25th.

Looking up from Heritage Park, which is right below the Main Street Bridge adjacent to Riveredge Park.

Looking north from the Haymaker Parkway (SR 59) bridge. I had to fit the camera between a very small opening in the chain-link fence that lines the bridge. It's a much tighter fence than a typical chain-link fence.

These two are from the same tree in Tannery Park, which connects to Riveredge Park on the south end. I came in the park and couldn't miss this tree which is seemingly on fire! Tannery Park is on the site of an old tannery that was initially run by Zenas Kent and famous abolitionist John Brown in the late 1830s when Brown lived in Kent (which was then called Franklin Mills).

This is also at Tannery Park. I took a picture the first day I was there but it was overexposed, so I went back the next day and got this from a different angle...I loved how the leaves are pink! The small shelter there was made out of wood from the tannery when it was torn down in 1976.

My grandpa Derby got a picture of this tree at the corner of Crain and Elmwood last year and it was even more red. I found out red leaves are a sign of acid in the soil! Thanks Kirsten!

These are the stairs leading up to the Auditorium Building (now Cartwright Hall) in the Front Campus section of Kent State. In the winter, this is part of a wonderful sledding area! :)

So in case you haven't noticed, I LOVE Kent, especially in the Fall. There aren't many places that can top Ohio in the Fall or the East/Midwest in general for that matter in my humble opinion. :)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

What's in a name?

I decided to do a post about some of the aspects of local history I've been reading lately. This may be of interest to some of you, but less interesting to others. This post is all about what I've learned about the history of what Kent has been called prior to being named Kent in the 1860s. It also dives into the system used in naming that was brought here by the New England settlers in the late 1790s and early 1800s.

Before I begin, I better get all the technical stuff out! The main thing is township, more properly defined as a civil township. Most people here in the East are familiar at least somewhat with what a township is, while westerners are pretty clueless about what they are since such things do not exist in most western states. In Ohio, a township is an additional, older form of civic government that consists of three township trustees. This contrasts with a village or city that is divided into wards and the council will have representatives of each ward and maybe at-large members. Townships also have limited authority. In Portage County, most townships do not have their own police or fire departments, but some do have their own fire departments. Most cases, the township will either be part of a joint fire district or negotiate coverage with the closest city while the county sheriff will cover police protection. That's the case here as Kent Fire also covers Franklin Township. Townships also do not collect income tax and thus are usually not as able as cities and villages to provide additional services like sidewalks, sewers, or an aggregate agreement for trash pickup. I actually grew up in Franklin Township, just outside the Kent city limits. Most services were either ones we contracted ourselves (like garbage pickup) or did through the county (like recycling). Townships also don't have their own municipal water supply, though many will make deals with nearby cities to buy water. Even then, most township residents have wells. That's what we had growing up. As a result, townships can be less favorable to development, so many either are annexed by a neighboring city or incorporate into a village or city. In many other states, township can mean different things or a different term is used. For instance, in New York state, the word "town" is equivalent to a township in Ohio. So, for any of my LDS friends who are familiar with Joseph Smith History where the family "was removed to Manchester" (where they literally moved a few hundred meters down the street across the line), they didn't move from the village of Palmyra to the village of Manchester; no, they moved from the town (or township) of Palymra to the town of Manchester. The village of Palmyra, New York is located near the center of the town of Palmyra (The Book of Mormon was printed in the village of Palmyra). Like in Ohio, the village and town(ship) are two distinct entities, many times legally as well as in general practice, but share a common history and even name. OK...does that make any sense?

So, given that lengthy explanation of what a township is and how it is different from a city or village, on to the names of Kent.

Franklin: The first name of what is now Kent was simply Franklin. The townships were laid out before anyone settled there and most were bought by proprietors. The survey township "Town 3 Range 9" was purchased by Aaron Olmstead around 1798. He named his land "Franklin" after his son Aaron Franklin Olmstead. Only recently as cities and villages have become more prominent have we added "township" after the name to differentiate the township from the village or city. For instance, the nearby township of Mantua (MAN uh way) is usually referred to as "Mantua Township" while the village of the same name is referred to as "Mantua". In the early days (and in older published histories) and likely into the 20th century, however, "Mantua" by itself was referring to the township. Within the township were three small villages: Manuta Center, Mantua Corners, and Mantua Station. Eventually Mantua Station dropped "station" from its name and incorporated into a village and "Mantua" came to be referring to the village of Mantua as opposed to the township of Mantua (which, for my LDS readers is where Lorenzo Snow was born and raised and Eliza R. Snow was raised). So, the first name for Kent was simply Franklin when the first settlers arrived in November 1805. I have only found one other source that even mentions "Franklin" as an early name, but logic tells me it was the first name not only for the naming conventions of the time, but also the next name. Either way, Franklin Township was one of the first named townships in the Connecticut Western Reserve. Initially, "Franklin" included most of what is today Portage County and additional lands as well.

Franklin Mills: The next name, and probably the most well-known of Kent's previous names, was that of Franklin Mills. This, of course, was the result of mills -- gristmills, sawmills, even an ANVIL mill and more -- being built along the Cuyahoga River. So naturually, when the first settlers arrived and there were no mills here, I have a hard time believing they called it Franklin Mills. I do not know, however, when the name was first used. The first settlers, the Haymakers, built a gristmill in 1807, so sometime after then. The first official record of Franklin Mills was ca. 1837 when a town plat was registered for what is now downtown Kent. The original village of Franklin Mills started along the river southeast of present-day downtown on the west side of the river, near the Stow Street bridge. The Kent flour mill (ruins at right) was said to have been built on the site of the Haymaker's original 1807 mill. The name Franklin Mills lasted until 1867 when the change to Kent was made official at the incorporation as a village. The vote to change the name was made in 1864.

Reedsburg: Only dedicated historians even know this name existed. In 1811, the Haymakers sold their gristmill to Jacob Reed, who had come from Rootstown. He made significant improvements to the mill and operated it from 1811-1816 until he sold it to George DePeyster and William Price. Portage Pathways by Loris Troyer seems to indicate residents used the name in gratitude for the improvements to the mill, but at this early stage of Kent's history, there weren't many residents at all. All we know is once Reed sold the mill, the name "Franklin Mills" returns, so that only testifies to me that few used the name, particularly those outside the settlement.

Carthage: This is another of the better-known names of Kent, though this actually began as a separate settlement. Carthage began around 1818 when Joshua Woodard moved from Ravenna and began building several small factories and buildings along the river with Frederick Haymaker near the present day intersection of North Mantua Street, Fairchild Avenue, and Crain Avenue. Locally, Carthage was referred to as the "upper village" while Franklin Mills was the "lower village" and collectively they were referred to under the Franklin Mills name by outsiders. Carthage was, however, the first officially recorded name for what is now Kent when the town plat was registered at the county courthouse in 1825. It is the village identified in Franklin Township on the 1826 map of the Western Reserve (Portage County portion at left). The name, however, didn't stick as some historians believe residents preferred the Franklin Mills name. Whatever the reasons, the Carthage name was never widely used outside of the area and apparently even in the area. The only remaining evidence of it in Kent is a small side road called "Carthage Avenue" in the area where Carthage was. The square created by Hudson Road, Fairchild Avenue, North Mantua Street, and Cuyahoga Street is identified on older maps as "Center Place" and was likely the original town square for Carthage had it been laid out and developed as a village. A small but fierce rivalry did exist between the two villages, mostly because of the competing taverns located in them.

Kent: Kent is named for Marvin Kent as he was responsible for a number of business developments in Kent's history, but most importantly the establishment of the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad in 1863. Even more than getting the railroad to come through the village, he was also successful getting Franklin Mills to be the location of the railroad shops, providing hundreds of jobs and generating significant business growth and development. The Kents had been investing in the area since the 1830s with Marvin's father Zenas owning land along the Cuyahoga River and operating a flour mill (ruins shown above) and a tannery (which was briefly operated with famed abolitionist John Brown in the late 1830s). They finally relocated to the village from Ravenna in the 1850s. Marvin Kent's son William Stewart Kent would later donate his 52.89 acre farm as the site of a new normal school in 1910. This school would evolve into today's Kent State University, a development that has shaped Kent into the crazy, unique place it is today. The name "Kent" was used for the settlement first in 1864 after residents and the post office department approved the name change. The change was not official, however, until 1867 when it was approved by the Ohio state legislature and Kent incorporated as a village.

Rockton: Prior to voting on the name of Kent, local leaders also considered the name "Rockton" in honor of Standing Rock (seen at right), a local landmark in northern Kent. Interestingly enough, Marvin Kent actually preferred this name. There are only two known uses of "Rockton" today in Kent that I could find. The first and most prominent is the local Masonic Lodge (which meets in the former Kent home). It was formed in 1859 and adopted "Rockton Lodge" believing the name of the village would become Rockton. It didn't, of course, but the name of the lodge stuck. Another usage I have seen is the neighborhood where my Ridinger grandparents live just east of the city limits (Horning Road area) is identified in the 1957 Portage County Atlas as "Rockton Heights". It appears to have been the name of the subdivision when it was first being developed. It doesn't appear in subsequent maps, and I have never heard that area referred to by that name, so apparently it didn't stick around.

  • Brown, R.C; Norris, J.E. (1885, 1972 revision). History of Portage County Ohio. Chicago, Illinois: Warner, Beers, and Company.
  • Darrow, Ralph, ed (1999). Kent Ohio: The Dynamic Decades. Kent, Ohio: Kent Historical Society.
  • Grismer, Karl H. (1932). History of Kent (2001 Revision ed.). Kent, Ohio: Record Publishing (1932), Kent Historical Society (2001)
  • Plough, Cyrus T., ed (1978). 1874-1978 Bicentennial Atlas of Portage County, Ohio. Ravenna, Ohio: Portage County Historical Society.
  • Troyer, Loris (1998). Portage Pathways. Kent, Ohio and London, England: Kent State University Press

Friday, October 16, 2009

I am actually alive!

You'd think that not posting for over a month would mean that I've been super busy with a well-paying job or something. I WISH! To be honest, I think I've just been too lazy to sit down and write a blog post. I started one right at the end of September about finally getting my masters degree diploma, but never finished it. I still may finish it, but for now I just want to update for those of you who do keep tabs on me through this.

I wish I could report that things are just fantastic, but that would be less than accurate. Don't get me wrong though, things aren't really that bad either, but I'm really starting to feel the pinch of not having a full-time job. On the good side, I did get A job, but it doesn't have enough hours to even come close to sustaining me. I also am set up to sub here in Kent and will hopefully be hearing back from Maplewood Career Center in Ravenna about subbing there as well. I've been available two weeks now for Kent and so far 0-for-10 (no school today). The frustrating thing about subbing is just not knowing if you'll be needed day-to-day, not to mention not having any benefits or steady pay. The other job I mentioned is an after school program I'm doing in Akron. It's an hour 4 days a week (Mon-Thurs with 2 hours on Tuesday) and I basically follow an established curriculum teaching elementary students basic theater to help them improve their literacy skills. I'm excited to meet the kids on Monday, but am a little apprehensive given my unfamiliarity with the school and this program. At the very least it will be a good resume builder and a good experience.

The program is though the Weathervane Playhouse in Akron, a theater I am already working with for my first non-This is Kirtland! show in a looooong time. The last time I was in a show outside This is Kirtland or school plays was when I was in King and I at Akron Civic Theater in 1993. I am currently working on Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Weathervane. It's actually part of the theater's Children's Theater program, but I am one of the "grown-ups" in the show, appearing as Pharaoh. I also make a brief appearance as the Ishmaelite leader in Act I since Pharaoh doesn't appear until Act II. And yes, I was introduced as "one of our grown-ups" at the first cast meeting. Funny, I don't feel very grown up! It hit me how much older I was than a lot of the cast when I had to make my way through the mob of cast members waiting for their parents to pick them up after that first rehearsal :). Most of the cast is in middle school and high school with a few college students. So far I have enjoyed working with them. Both the show and the after school job came as a result of just meeting new people in the area who referred me to both the job and the audition. I wasn't even looking for either of them, but couldn't resist when I saw them. Oh, and in case any of you are interested in the show, tickets are now on sale now at the Weathervane Playhouse website. We open November 24 and have 16 shows until December 20.

In the meantime, I've used this opportunity to continue my job search (and not just teaching jobs) and also to explore my hobbies more than I have been able to for awhile. We had a run of a few weeks here where every day it was sunny and about 72 degrees, so I took advantage by getting a lot pf photos, many of which I uploaded to be used in Wikipedia. Of course, I've been doing my share of editing there as well :). On top of that I have been reading more about the history of Kent and the surrounding area. I will probably blog about some of the things I have found one of these days. Here are some of the photos I've gotten in the last month or two. You can see more of them and others I have uploaded to Wikipedia by clicking here. I do my best with my simple point-and-shoot Kodak EasyShare. It's served me well, but can't wait till I can upgrade to a DSLR.

On September 19 I attended the Ohio State vs. Toledo game at Cleveland Browns Stadium with one of my best friends Michelle. The weather was AMAZING (sunny and 70 degrees) and OSU won 38-0. It was technically a Toledo "home" game, but as you can see by the large amount of red in the stands (Toledo's colors are blue and gold) it was anything but that for Toledo. On the left is the OSU Marching Band ("The Best Damn Band in the Land") doing a double Script Ohio at halftime

Of course I took TONS of pictures in Kent (gee I wonder why?!?). These two are of downtown Kent along East Main Street.

I also got several of the Kent Free Library including the fronts of the new section (2006) and the original 1902 Carnegie section.

I took a few of the Roosevelt High School campus including this one of the front (even got the "Home of the Rough Riders" on the marquee!) and one of Roosevelt Stadium (used for football and track)

World headquarters of Davey Tree, adjacent to the Roosevelt High School campus on the left with the 1837 Franklin Township Hall on the right. James A. Garfield was nominated for his first public office here in 1859.

I also went around Portage County to get pictures of some of the National Register of Historic Places listings here. On the left is the Riddle Block No. 1 in downtown Ravenna and on the right is the James A. Garfield house in Hiram.

Atwater Congregational Church in Atwater Township on the left with the 1832 Palmyra Center Hotel (aka the "Old Stagecoach Inn") in Palmyra Township.

I got these back in August when I went with the Cub Scouts to Towners Woods Park just northeast of Kent. On the left is a pavilion in the park and Lake Pippen is on the right. The lake is adjacent to, but not part of, the park.