Elizabeth Aultman Harter’s Lasting Legacy… Part Three, The Businesswoman

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Elizabeth Aultman Harter’s involvement in her father Cornelius Aultman’s business was exceptional for a few reasons. First, it was rare for women to be involved in business operations, let alone at the level Elizabeth would reach in her lifetime. Secondly, Elizabeth was only nineteen in 1867 when she began serving on the board of directors for the farm equipment manufacturer Aultman & Taylor Company in Mansfield, Ohio. Despite the common attitude towards women working at this time, her father was incredibly proud and encouraging of his only child.

For over fifty-five years, from 1866 to 1924, Elizabeth was an integral part of the Aultman Taylor Company’s success in the farming machinery industry. Additionally, following the passing of her father and her husband, George DeWalt Harter, Elizabeth inherited their fortunes, along with their responsibilities. Because of this, Elizabeth took on leadership roles at various business and banking institutions.

A C. Aultman & Co. fashion trade card, one from a set of four. The front of these cards commemorated fashion throughout one hundred years prior and the backside advertised the company’s brand of Buckeye Harvesting Machines.

The Genealogy of the Essig Family. Pictured in the bottom left corner, a man uses a Buckeye Binder.

The heading on a piece of Aultman & Taylor Machinery Co. stationary. Mrs. Harter is identified as the vice president of the company in the top left corner of the paper. This heading also features the company’s logo of a starving chicken. It is accompanied by the slogan, “Fattened on an Aultman-Taylor straw stack.” This ironic comment is a reference to the fact that Aultman & Taylor machines leave behind no grain for chickens to feed on.

Elizabeth Aultman Harter’s Lasting Legacy…Part Two

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On May 14, 1847, Elizabeth Aultman Harter was born to Cornelius and Eliza Wise Aultman in Greentown, Ohio. Throughout her life, Elizabeth would leave a lasting legacy here in Stark County. She would serve on the board of directors for her father’s business, the Aultman Taylor Company, and bring great success to the corporation. She would provide the location for future President William McKinley’s front porch campaign and become the close friend of several other presidents. Along with her stepmother Katherine Barron Reybold Aultman, Elizabeth would create Stark County’s first hospital, which is still caring for hundreds of thousands of patients today. She would become the third president of Canton’s YWCA. Another thing that made Mrs. Harter so outstanding is that she, like her father Cornelius Aultman, was one of Cantons greatest ‘silent’ benefactors, putting many young men through college who otherwise would not have had the opportunity. She was also left a young widow and single mother to four children at the age of forty-three. She was a multifaceted woman who fulfilled numerous roles during her life, as well as overcame several devastating hardships. By the time of her passing on October 25, 1932, Elizabeth had reached various achievements throughout her lifetime, exceptional then, and still remarkable to this day.

Elizabeth Aultman Harter’s Lasting Legacy…Part One

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As part of my internship at the Ramsayer Research Library here at the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, I was tasked with creating an exhibit for the display case in the library. The assignment was, “Share a story that needs to be told.” At first, researching possible ideas was overwhelming because there were simply too many stories to tell. After much thought and consideration about what kind of story should be told, the topic presented itself. The women who shaped Canton, Ohio have been largely forgotten in history and their stories need to be shared. Library volunteer Judy Cloud Pocock gave some guidance for this project. She suggested that Elizabeth Aultman Harter be included in the display case exhibit. Once Elizabeth’s life story started to be uncovered, it was clear that she was the woman who the exhibit should focus on.

Elizabeth Aultman Harter was an incredibly accomplished woman— and not just in her time. Her legacy still impresses to this day. Daughter of Canton, Ohio’s first millionaire entrepreneur Cornelius Aultman, Elizabeth left a lasting mark on Stark County. She and her stepmother Katherine Barron Reybold Aultman founded Aultman Hospital here in Canton, Ohio. Elizabeth served on the board of directors at the Aultman Taylor Company in Mansfield, Ohio. She also presided as one of the first presidents of Canton’s YWCA. Another thing that made Mrs. Harter so outstanding is that she, like her father Cornelius Aultman, was one of Canton’s greatest ‘silent’ benefactors, putting many young men through college who otherwise would not have had the opportunity. While she exceled in her professional career, she was also a strong woman in her personal life. When she was just eighteen, Elizabeth lost her birth mother Eliza Wise Aultman after a long-term illness. In her adult life, Mrs. Harter lost her first daughter Eliza when she was just six months old. Later, Elizabeth lost her only son Cornelius A. Harter when he was four. The passing of her husband George DeWalt Harter made Elizabeth a widow and single mother to four daughters by the age of forty-three. However, despite her successes and the hardships she overcame, her memory has faded from history. To bring her back to life, Ramsayer Research Library intern Alyia Marasco has uncovered her legacy to share her story. “Elizabeth Harter’s Lasting Legacy” will be displayed in the Ramsayer Research Library display case. The Library is open Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm for anyone who would like to view this new exhibit.

Meet The Interns…Alyia Marasco

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Hi! My name is Alyia Marasco. I’m currently a junior at Walsh University where I’m pursuing degrees in History and Museum Studies. After graduation, I plan to eventually go on to graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in Museum Studies. My end goal is to be a curator of collections and work with exhibition design. I love history and spending time in museums, so I’m very excited to be interning at the Ramsayer Research Library for the 2021-2022 school year!  

Growing up, I had a unique education. Being homeschooled, I had the freedom to choose what topics I wanted to study. I also had the freedom to explore outside of classrooms. Because of this independence, I was privileged to have a hands-on education. This meant I took tons of field trips exploring nature centers, historic sites, monuments, and– my favorite– museums. I’m originally from Medina, Ohio, so I was also lucky to live near the city of Cleveland, which has a great wealth of museums. Some of my favorite memories from “school” are taking classes at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, going to the Cleveland Museum of Art for my birthday every year, and visiting the Great Lakes Science Center with my friends. I also had the opportunity to visit the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum several times growing up, so interning here and seeing behind-the-scenes has been such an interesting experience. My unique course of education has given me a deep love of learning that I still value to this day.  

I decided to major in History and Museum Studies so I could share my love of the two subjects. In the future, I’d love to create and design exhibits to tell the stories of a museum’s collections. If I could inspire others to love history and museums like I do, I feel that I could make a difference.  

The Story of Leo Abt…

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Podcast

Thanks to a recent donation of photographs, the stories of prominent Canton businessman Leo Abt and his store have been rediscovered. Included in the donation were photographs of Abt’s store, the clerks, portraits of the family, and more pictures whose backstories remain a mystery. The captions on the back of the photos were minimal, often providing only basic information. More research had to be done to uncover their stories. An article found by volunteer Sue Henry gave a valuable start to uncovering Abt’s story. This Canton Repository article, written by Gretchen Putnam in 1937, included a photograph of Abt’s clerks, matching a photo that came to the library in the donation. In her article, a part of the series Canton’s Family Album in the Canton Repository, Putnam identifies the clerks and gives an overview of Abt’s millinery. Using the clerk’s names and this new information, I began researching. Throughout my investigation, I discovered Abt’s personal life story, his professional accomplishments, and overall developed a picture of life in Canton in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The group of Abt’s young trimmers, as identified in the Canton’s Family Album article.

Leo Abt was born on December 31, 1850 in Melzungen, Hesse Castle, Germany as the youngest of twelve children. At the age of sixteen, Abt immigrated to the United States. Abt later married fellow German immigrant Flora Ury in New York City on November 8, 1873. On November 22, 1875, the couple had their first son, Arthur Loeser Abt, in the town of Aurora, Indiana on the western border of Ohio. Later, the family moved to Circleville, Ohio, a city just south of Columbus. Here, Leo and Flora had two more sons. Edwin I. was born on March 19, 1878. Two years later on July 9, 1880, Oscar Moses Abt was born. The Abt family arrived in the city of Canton on April 1, 1888.

Leo and Flora had three sons, Arthur, Edwin, and Oscar. Pictured here is Edwin Abt.

In his personal life, Abt was a deeply religious man who fostered Canton’s Jewish community from the ground up. In 1915, Abt, with committee of other devoted Jews, began working passionately to create a synagogue for their religious community. Today, this structure is the Canton Pentecostal Temple, located at 950 McKinley Ave Northwest. After Abt’s passing, he was described by Charles I. Cooper as the “father of Jewish communal life in Canton.” Further, he was the beloved president of the Canton Hebrew Congregation at the time of his death. The congregation recalled Abt’s memory as being the “most efficient and faithful member and worker” who “was especially fitted in every way for the position of president.” His congregation also described him as being a “friend to all, and really a father to many.” It is clear that Abt was greatly respected and treasured by his community in faith.

Mr. Leo Abt, “The Father of Jewish Communal Life in Canton.”

In addition to being a leading figure of the Jewish community, Abt was a prominent Canton businessman. For over thirty years from the time of his arrival in Canton until his passing, Abt was an industrious and hardworking merchant. In early May of 1888, Leo Abt’s New York Bazaar was announced to be opened in the Evening Repository, as the Canton Repository was known then. At the time of its opening, the bazaar was advertised as being located at 21 South Market Street. Today, this would be the lot at the corner of Market Avenue South and 2nd Street Southwest. Days after the opening was announced, on May 14and 16, the bazaar’s grand opening was declared a “great success” in the Evening Repository. The advertisement describes “throngs” of customers in attendance, and apologizes for not being able to help every patron due to the mass of shoppers. The millinery department was particularly popular. In 1937 in the Canton Repository, historian Gretchen Putnam described the busy workroom filled with young female employees, referred to as “trimmers.” These girls included Katie Mintzenburger, who was the head trimmer, Inez E. Allensworth, who later owned and operated her own millinery, sisters Olivia Fierstos and Rosia Victoria Halter, and many more.

The Leo Abt & Sons storefront. Son Edwin is seen standing on the far left. It is possible that the young boy in the center is Edwin’s younger brother, Oscar.

Abt continued his business under several different names over the years, including Leo Abt & Sons, and the Leo Abt Company at the time of his passing. In several newspaper advertisements and the photographs of his storefront, the cursive logo from the Abt & Sons era can be seen. Abt’s resiliency as a businessman is demonstrated through his handling of various challenges. For example, in October of 1915, Leo Abt & Sons was declared bankrupt by the United States Bankruptcy Court and was immediately sold. Not even six months later, Abt announced the opening of his new store, the Leo Abt Company in March of 1916.

The interior of Leo Abt’s millinery.

During my research, I found various newspaper articles that gave insight to what life was truly like for Abt and his employees, both the good times and bad. In June of 1897, Abt’s employees gathered for a pleasant evening of entertainment at the home of W. S. McClelland, just north of Canton. The Evening Repository gives a vivid image of the night: “The spacious lawn was elaborately decorated with Chinese lanterns, and admitted of many outdoor games and pastimes.” The contemporary article mentions the delicious dinner the guests enjoyed, and how the party continued until a late hour.

Captioned, “Abt’s Clerks,” this image shows the women enjoying each other’s company outside of work.

The newspaper also provides an image of hard times the employees endured. On November 20, 1899, the Repository reported the death of young trimmer Rosia Victoria Halter. This employee was only twenty-five years old when she developed appendicitis. She later passed due to the operation for her illness. The article describes Rosia as being popular with the other girls she worked with. She worked at Abt’s with her younger sister, Olivia, nicknamed Ollie, Fierstos.

Finally, the Evening Repository illustrates how the Abt family celebrated special occasions. On March 26, 1895, the Abt home hosted the wedding of Leo’s sister-in-law Clara Ury and Reverend David Klein. This article describes the beautiful event as “one of the most delightful weddings of the season.” The Abt family’s faith is also shown in the “impressive rituals of the Hebrew ceremony.” These photos and articles offer a brief peek at daily life for Abt and those close to him. They hold the hints left by those who came before us. Following the clues in these documents, you can uncover the most forgotten details to piece back together lost stories.

Pointing In The Sky…

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Thank you to Shawn Wood of Studio7 for this spectacular image of the McKinley National Memorial receiving the love it deserves. You thought your work was a challenge…. Mr. Wood’s photograph gives us an amazingly rare look at the festoons of ivy that ring the top of the monument. To the artist the ivy symbolizes McKinley’s character-constancy according to a September 29, 1907 Repository article that appears one day before the dedication of the McKinley National Memorial. In Architect Magonigle’s plans it calls for the festoons of ivy. Each ivy leaf has a bronze post to lift it up and away from the granite surface to create an added dimension.

4 – Main frame

Bicentennial Celebration, Groovy Director…

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Thank you to Gary Brown for his very interesting Monday After article: Remembering 1976 and the Bicentennial in Stark County! The article that appears in today’s Repository features longtime volunteer at the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, Tom Haas when he was the Director of the Canton American Revolution Bicentennial Commission. He went on to take the position of Education Director at the Stark County History Center before later going on to a longtime career at WHBC Studios. Tom is in his 7th year of being a volunteer researcher in the Ramsayer Research Library. Thank you Tom for your hard work and dedication to our community.

Wedded to the Sea…

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Wedded to the Sea… (The Christening of the Battleship Ohio)

12:20 pm Pacific Time Mary Barber of Canton, Ohio daughter of Mary Saxton Barber stood by the apparatus that gave the signal to release the Battleship Ohio down the ways and into San Francisco Bay. Uncle William known to the world as President McKinley was nearby silently overseeing the entire celebration.

The trip of a lifetime for many began in Washington D.C. President McKinley was embarking on a Tour to the Pacific Coast. The train of the Southern Railway pulled away from the Washington station at 10:30 am Eastern time on Monday April 29th, carrying the President and First Lady, most of the President’s Cabinet, and their spouses or relatives. The original plan was to cover over ten thousand miles out to California and back to Washington, during the greater part of fifty days. The official trip roster contained forty people. The trip would have to alter and history would turn out different than planned because of the health of Mrs. Ida Saxton McKinley. The most important objective was to witness the christening of the Battleship Ohio, named in honor of William McKinley’s home state. 

On Saturday May 18th the President would rise in the home of Mr. Irving Scott, President of the Union Iron Works. He left his beloved wife the First Lady, Ida McKinley at the Scott residence where she was recovering from her, most accounts say “near to death” episode. Mrs. McKinley had a felon on her finger caused by an infection to a severe point. Now she was recovering and well enough for the President to leave her to attend the christening ceremonies.

President McKinley departed the Scott residence at 9:42 am for the transport dock where he would board the Slocum. He was joined by Ohio Governor Nash and a close family friend of the governor’s, Miss Helen Deshler. The Slocum made its way up the San Francisco Bay toward the Union Iron Works where the launching would take place. As the Slocum passed other ships in the bay they saluted President McKinley with cheers, and six inch guns thundering the twenty-one gun salute. Every boat, tug, and ship in the bay area was out to greet the President.

President McKinley boarding the Slocum May 18, 1901

Upon arrival at 11:15 am to the dry dock opposite the ways where the massive haul of the Ohio sat, President McKinley was greeted by the workers of the Union Iron Works. Several ships where either in dry dock or in the bay waiting to be completed including; the cruiser Tacoma, the torpedo destroyer Paul Jones and the Alaska. At precisely 12:22 pm with shouts of joy, countless national flags fluttering in the wind, the Chief Executive and his party, and the Governors of seven states and territories the mighty Battleship Ohio slipped into the waters of the San Francisco Bay “Wedded to the Sea.”

Mary Barber of Canton, Ohio Niece of the President and the First Lady pushes the button

Miss Mary Barber, of Canton, Ohio Niece of the President and First Lady pressed the button that activated the guillotine severing the rope restraining the ship to the ways.  As the ship made its way to the water Miss Helen Deshler of Columbus, Ohio released the ribbons and the net that held the bottle that christened the ship crushing the glass bottle on the iron. With a voice that was lost to the din of the crowd Miss Deshler shouted “I Christen Thee Ohio!” According to the Riverside Daily Press of Riverside, California, no other war ship’s launching has ever been so honored as the Buckeye State’s namesake. One hundred and twenty years ago today at the hour of this writing was launch the mighty Battleship Ohio.

Miss Helen Deshler of Columbus, Ohio “I Christen Thee

May 18, 2021

Mark G. Holland

Archivist

McKinley Presidential Library & Museum

Freak Accident (The Death of Grace Vicary Pottorf)

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PODCAST

Last month one of our interns, Hannah Beach, met with one of our longtime researchers in the library Judy Pocock. Judy taught Hannah various skills in researching county history. Judy and Hannah spent a lot of time studying a photograph that was taken between 1905 and 1910. The photograph was a portrait of the employees of the C.N. Vicary Company. The C.N. Vicary Company was well noted as a high class men’s clothing and men’s furnishings retail store in Canton, Ohio.

The photograph is 16 ½” x 12” and identifies eight of the eleven people who appear in the portrait. Some of the spellings were wrong but by using the city directories Judy and Hannah were able to clear up the errors in the identification. Through looking on Find-A-Grave Judy found an obituary for a Grace Vicary Pottorf. Which leads me to a Freak Accident.

On April 1, 1891 the Charles Vicary family moved from LeRoy, New York to Canton, Ohio. Grace was born in LeRoy on Sunday August 9, 1885 to Charles and Louise Vicary. The couple would have two more little girls, Margarete and Caroline, and one little boy, Arthur. Charles Newell Vicary along with his business partner L. W.  Steuber also from LeRoy, New York were in the clothing business together.  

In Canton in 1892 the Union Clothing company folded, and the two businessmen were put in charge of administering the liquidation of the company. During the panic of 1893 Steuber left the company and Vicary to deal with the hard times in business. The hard times proved to be a boon for Vicary and he established his growing business first as Union Vicary, and then the C. N. Vicary Company.

Mr. Vicary’s daughter, Grace, attended Canton Central High School in Canton, Ohio and was graduated in 1904, and attended Lasell Seminary of Auburndale, Massachusetts in 1907. During the Great War, World War I she was in charge of the knitting department of the Canton Chapter of the American Red Cross, along with other activities to support the war. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and was the Sunday School Superintendent for the primary department for eight years in the First Presbyterian Church.

On December 26th, 1918, Grace and John L. G. Pottorf announced their engagement. The two were married Thursday June 26th, 1919. Mr. Pottorf was the first principal of McKinley High School. He served as principal for Central, North (later Lehman) and McKinley High Schools for thirty-six years. The couple had a little girl on Sunday September 26, 1920 whom they named Louise in honor of her grandmother.

On Monday October 18th John went to a Canton Board of Education meeting in the evening. While preparing baby Louise for bed and a bath for herself Grace received a visit from her mother Louise, and one of her sisters Margarete. The visitors left Grace’s house at 702 13th Street N.W. between 8:15 and 8:30 pm. and around 8:45 pm Mr. Pottorf returned to his house to find his wife dead. Grace had apparently slipped in the tub striking the base of her brain on a faucet that was bent. There was also a heater that was found in the tub which could have caused her to be electrocuted. Thirty-five year old Grace Vicary Pottorf left behind her family, including her husband John and her twenty-two day old daughter Louise Carolyn. Mr. Pottorf never remarried.

The funeral services for Mrs. Pottorf were held at the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Vicary, at 1253 Cleveland Avenue, N.W., Thursday afternoon at 2:30 o’clock. The service was conducted by Dr. C.E. Manchester and Reverend Walter B. Purnell. She was originally buried in West Lawn Cemetery then disinterred and reburied beside her husband in North Lawn Cemetery on Cleveland Avenue.

Native American History of Stark County

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Before white settlers moved to Stark County, the area was home to Native American tribes, beginning in the Paleoindian Period, which was between 13,000 B.C. and 7,000 B.C. Paleoindians were small groups that moved often depending on season and climate and relied on hunting, gathering, and foraging. They used tools made of bone, wood, and stone. Paleoindians were hunting in Ohio approximately 11,000 years ago, as evidenced by the Nobles Pond site in Jackson Township. The Paleoindians that used this site were among the first inhabitants of Ohio. Here, campsites have been discovered, as well as artifacts such as spear points and stone scrapers, both of which were characteristic tools of Paleoindians. The unique way in which the spear points were made helps to identify around what time Paleoindians were living at Nobles Pond. There have also been mounds representing later cultures located in different parts of Stark County, including Lawrence, Lake, and Canton.

After the Paleoindian Era, Stark County was sparsely inhabited by other prehistoric groups of different cultures for hunting and gathering. In the historic period, the people inhabiting Stark County were the Delaware Indians. They were pushed west from their original area near the Delaware Bay and Delaware River by the British, Dutch, Germans and other tribes in the mid- 1700s. Other Native American tribes living in Ohio around this time included the Wyandots and the Shawnee. Eventually, white settlers began to move to Stark County from places like Maryland, Virginia, and states throughout New England. Some of the earliest contacts involving Native Americans in Ohio were with French explorers and traders, English traders, scouting parties, and military campaigns.

 The contact between Native Americans and settlers was not without conflict. In 1794, General Anthony Wayne defeated a Native American force at the Battle of Fallen Timbers. This led to the negotiation of the Treaty of Greeneville in 1795. Many Native American tribes of the state, including the Wyandot and Delaware, surrendered much of their land under the treaty and had to move to western parts of Ohio. Eventually, these tribes were forced to move even further west to states such as Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

The topic of Native Americans living in Ohio includes 13,000-15,000 years of prehistory as well as over 300 years of history. The history of Native American tribes is an integral part of understanding the history of Ohio, and therefore the history of Stark County.

Nobles Pond Site
Fluted Point found at Nobles Pond
Trianguloid End Scraper found at Nobles Pond