News From Down Under…



The Nagle Journal Edited by John C. Dann Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson Copyright 1988

The Nagle Journal Edited by John C. Dann Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson New York Copyright 1988

An intriguing email from Australia arrived in June of 2016 requesting information about a colorful and extraordinary man who’d traveled the world but spent his last days in Canton, Ohio, dying at the age of 80 in 1841.

Jacob Nagle was born in 1761 in Reading, PA, during one of the most historic periods in American history.  At the age of 15, he joined the American Revolutionary War effort and served at the Battle of Brandywine, and he met George Washington at Valley Forge. He joined the Navy two years later, was captured by the British in 1781, served in the British Royal Navy under Lord Howe and Commodore Nelson during the Anglo-French war, sailed with the First Fleet during Australia’s settlement, and eventually went on to have a 45 year career as a sailor on privateers and merchant ships. During his lifetime, he traveled to 5 continents.


H.M.S. Sirius

As a “First Fleeter”, Nagle sailed to Australia on the HMS Sirius in 1787, which was charged with founding the first British Colony in Australia in the territory of New South Wales, which later became the city of Sydney.  He sailed to both India and China in the service of the East India Company and spent the better part of a decade in South America. During his time in London he married and fathered seven children, although all reportedly succumbed to yellow fever.Nagle eventually returned to the United States in 1822, retired from the seagoing life, and spent the last 16 years of his life wandering from place to place, trying to secure a pension for his military service. His astonishing life might have languished in obscurity were it not for the purchase of a 161-page manuscript at a New York gallery auction in 1982.  Titled “A Sketch or Journal of Jacob Nagle from the Year 1775”, the journal was purchased by John Dann, director of the Clements Library of the University of Michigan. The diary was subsequently published as a book, “The Nagle Journal”, in 1988. This remarkable journal documents his life as a soldier and seaman traveling the world, written in an earthy and plainspoken vernacular.

After his retirement from British seagoing vessels, Nagle found his way to Canton, Ohio to visit his sister, Sarah Webb, on May 19, 1827. He spent his remaining years variously living with his sister and family in Canton, a sister in Maryland, a cousin in Harrisburg, PA, and a nephew in Perrysburg, Ohio. While living in Canton, Nagle supported himself first by sawing wood and then working in the Stark County Clerk of Courts and Recorder’s offices, copying deeds and keeping ledgers. In 1833 Nagle created at least two land plats for newly incorporated towns in Stark County (Minerva and Louisville). He also sought to obtain a written document from a prominent and trustworthy Canton resident who would vouch for his good character in his attempts to apply for a Revolutionary War pension. In his journal, Nagle refers to a “Mr. Shorb” who apparently helped procure the pension in 1833. Consequently, Nagle was able to obtain an annual payment of $32.46 for his service.  Nagle spent his remaining days traveling and regaling listeners with captivating tales of his adventures. His journal details stops in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, PA, as well as Canton, Perrysburg, Sugarcreek, Dover, Cleveland, Akron, Massillon, Bolivar and Zanesville.


Nagle attended the funeral of his sister Sarah Webb on a cold Saturday morning in Canton, OH on February 13, 1841. Overcome by the emotion of the moment, he expressed his desire to soon join her. Four days later, at the age of 80, Jacob Nagle died after having been taken ill. The town of Canton turned out in full force for his funeral on the 18th, with full honors provided by Captain Weber’s company of German guards and the music of the German Brass band. His earthly remains were consigned to the grave near the Webb family plot at Plum Street Cemetery, Canton’s second oldest cemetery. In 1808, the land had been given to the city by Bezaleel Wells, founder of Canton.

Oddly enough, the Plum Street Cemetery was converted to a municipal park in the late 1890’s. Some of the existing graves were removed and placed into Westlawn Cemetery. Other tombstones and remains were buried beneath 336 loads of earth. There was a record of names of the dead removed from the cemetery, but Nagle’s is not among them. Only two grave markers remain and no one knows how many are still buried there, but it is likely that Jacob Nagle is one of them.

Our gentleman’s inquiry from Australia sought information on his resting place, and a desire to honor this former First Fleeter who was part of the expedition to found the first British Colony in New South Wales. Who would have thought that this would have brought to light such a kaleidoscope, a life so rich and far-flung? Jacob Nagle…soldier, sailor, seaman, storyteller, traveler. A man who ventured to all corners of the earth, yet found his final resting place in Canton, Ohio.


Speech in Time…


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In our service to the community, we often find ourselves starting with a question posed which leads to a fascinating journey through our archives and beyond.  One such question arrived via email in April, 2017 from a researcher with the National Archives of Chicago.  Planning an article for the agency’s quarterly journal, Prologue, the gentleman inquired if we had a photograph of the socialist, antiwar activist Eugene V. Debs addressing an audience in Canton, Ohio in Nimisilla Park. The speech took place on June 16, 1918, five months before Armistice Day and the end of WWI.   A search of our archives revealed no such photo, but a colorized postcard of Nimisilla Park and its bandstand from 1907 was found and forwarded to him.

Recently, archivist Mark Holland was doing research on an unrelated matter. While browsing the Western Reserve Historical Society database, Mark spotted the name “Eugene Debs.” Clicking on the link, he was led to the David Rubenstein Gallery of the National Archives. He was astonished to find a crystal clear black and white photograph of Debs addressing a sizeable crowd at Nimisilla Park in Canton, Ohio.

Here is the link which features the photograph:

National Archives

The significance of this event is notable.  Debs was known as one of the most outspoken opponents of American participation in WWI. He had started his career as a railroad laborer and eventually become the president of the American Railway Union. He converted to socialism in 1897 and ran as the Socialist Party candidate for President five times. By 1918, the US government was imprisoning socialist dissidents who were antiwar.  Eugene Debs was on their radar.

The speech in Canton, Ohio was duly noted and the district attorney for Northern Ohio, Edwin S. Wetz, had stenographers record his words.  Debs had chosen the Canton location as it was not far from the Canton jail where three socialists were being held in violation of the Espionage Act.  During the speech he criticized the rationale of the war while denouncing the government for suppressing free speech.

He told the audience “you need to know that you are good for something more than slavery and cannon fodder.”

Debs was arrested the next day in Cleveland and charged with ten counts under the Sedition Act of 1918. After six hours of deliberation, the jury found Debs guilty on three counts, ruling that he had tried to incite refusal of military service. He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. After serving 3 years, Warren G. Harding commuted his sentence.

Debs’ conviction and the ongoing arguments regarding the boundaries of free speech eventually led to the formation of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Concluding, one can say that the question posed led to the uncovering of a turbulent piece of Americana, with Canton, Ohio as a part of that story.  As we examine our current environment, with its own battles and controversies, we can better understand the cyclical nature of our nation’s history.

Inverted Intersections: Virtually Living…  


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Driving down the interstate is long, it’s for the most part boring, and its…interstate.  It is always nice to exit the interstate, and find a city to explore.  The problem is finding the highlights of the city.  Where can we eat? What fun things are there to do? What is some of the city’s history? 

Wonder no more…We present to you from the minds of middle schoolers of

TomTod Ideas

CantonSmart powered by CitySmart



This app came out of ideas generated in a week long camp presented by TomTod Ideas know as Camp What If.

Camp What If Tee Shirt

The actual application was made possible by Mountain Ethos.

CantonSmart App was launched at November’s First Friday in Canton, Ohio.

It features local downtown restaurants and 38 historic photographs of Canton, Ohio taken in 1956 by Robert Hildebrand, known as Inverted Intersections.


Market Avenue North & Tuscarawas Street Canton, Ohio 1956


Cleveland Avenue North & 4th Street November 3, 2017

There are more features coming in the near future.

More Later…

On Visiting the Monument (Installment 1)


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The following is a personal account of the first visit of the writer to the McKinley National Memorial in Canton, Ohio

On Visiting the Monument (Installment 1):

My first visit to the McKinley National Memorial – a site that we as Massillonians had always just called, “the monument,” most likely came at the invitation of my first grade school- and Cub Scout-pal, Robert.

One fine June morning , just as our summer vacation was getting underway, Robert and his mother drove up in front of our house in their trusty blue Chevy.  Mom and I were out directly and got situated in the car – moms in front, kids in back.  A picnic lunch for four that mom had made the night before was folded neatly in waxed paper and packed in a basket with our drinks wrapped with equal care in aluminum foil so they’d stay cold, rested on the seat between Robert and me.  The moms both wore white “cat’s eye” rimmed style sunglasses to protect their eyes from the glare of the mid-morning sun.  Rob and I were men.  We didn’t need no glasses.

Driving from Massillon to Canton, we covered the eight mile trip in mere minutes.  As we rode the then familiar landmarks along Lincoln Way West and West Tuscarawas Street passed before us:  Lambrou’s Chicken Chateau, Brady’s Pink Cottage Restaurant and Stark Drive-In; ahead on the left, the orange roofline of Howard Johnson’s, Milk Maid Candies, the Ohio Bell Telephone Terminal Center and The Sachsenheim Club, Stemco’s, The Red Coachman, the Town & Country Buffet and little F’n E Dairy.  Construction was near finishing on the new St. Joan of Arc Church, then came Central Catholic High School, Kling Motors, The Dog House, McDonald’s Golden Arches, the Robert Hall Store and PDQ on the left, Laughlin Motors on the right; there’s Fishers and Country Fair Shopping Center.  Across the street on the south side of the block, the new Mellet Mall was getting signage in place on the wall of the huge new Penny’s store soon to open and in a few more blocks there was Heggy’s Nut Shoppe. A little farther on the left, there’s Schrock’s Hobbies and the bell tower of St. Joseph’s Church, Shopper’s Fair on the right and finally, there ahead on the right, the golden dome of First Baptist Church and just beyond, venerable Mother Goose Land.  We turned left off of West Tusc and entered the edge of the park but still at that point, the whole sweep of the monument itself was hidden from view.


We drove in heart-pounding silence up the right-hand side of the tree-lined boulevard where once, “The Long Water” formed the blade and tip of a figurative sword.  Just a little further and there at last was the monument!  First the motor court then the tiers of steps drew our eyes up to the bronze doors and the glistening white dome.  Big as it was, you almost had to refocus to capture the bronze statue of the president standing centered at a point about half way between the first step and the top step.  As I leaned over on Robert’s side of the seat to look out of the open window, the view took my breath away!  His mom brought the car to a stop in a parking space as he and I stared out the back window.  Before we left the car the moms, speaking almost in a whisper, reminded us that this was supposed to be a quiet and respectful place – like church.  Once outside the car, I still wasn’t sure of myself and I held my mom’s hand.  I remember being just caught up in the moment – dare I say, the majesty of the place – the glaring white granite, the brilliant blue of a cloudless late spring sky, the deep green of the grass and the leaves on the trees – and the silence; respectful, awesome and still.  Everybody’s mom must have had that talk in the car that morning because except for maybe the click of a camera shutter or the occasional robin or cardinal trill, there was no sound.  The American and Ohio state flags fluttered on their halyards but never scratched against the masts.  Busy West Tusc was just a few blocks away but not a sound intruded on that setting.  It seemed holy.  Then a little voice from someone who, in their own excitement, forgot the whispered reminder from their mom in the car, turned and hollered merrily from the top-most step, “One hundred and eight!”

The steps had a bit of an irregular stride so it took a few to get our climbing rhythm but it was quickly mastered and we were on our way up and up, “44,45,46…” a quick look back down to reckon how high we’d climbed and get a closer look at the statue.  “68,69,70…” gettin’ kinda sweaty; “106, 107, 108!”  We first turned to look behind us as we were standing above the tops of the trees and could see clear into downtown Canton.  The bell tower of St. Joseph’s on our right at about 2 o’clock; the fifth floor dome of Central Catholic much farther out at about 1 o’clock; directly ahead and to the left, the panorama of skyscrapers, church steeples, smoke stacks and signal towers that was the pulse of Stark County.

Now composed and reverent again, we turned to step inside.

Only one of the bronze doors was open and it was, it seemed, only open a crack but each of us entered with room to spare.  In the cool, quite stillness, taking a few seconds for my eyes to adjust, I remember making the sign of the cross and looking for a holy water fount – so very church-like was the atmosphere.   Gathered on the floor were several of the wreaths still on display from the Decoration Day program held just a few weeks before.  And there at last lying side by side in a very tall granite vault were the two McKinley’s.  Their daughters, the sign read, had been interred in the walls.  Looking up into the arch of the dome I noticed that there were flood lights shining on the vault that wasn’t black as I’d thought but instead a deep green.  This seemed an almost surreal spot, so cool and clean and quiet; right on the edge of a busy downtown but almost unaware of the hustle and bustle going on all around it.  Time suspended itself for those several minutes we spent inside reading and imagining and taking history by the hand.

Michael J. Bachtel Guest Blogger





Star Struck… Sub-Title: Archives of Answers…


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Star Struck… Sub-Title: Archives of Answers…

It was an amazing weekend! The Zoar Reenactment was well attended and a very satisfying event!

(9) September 2017 Civil War Reenactment Zoar, Ohio

In my mind, I pick up the phone to call my mom to tell her all about it! In my mind, I drive home to tell my mom all about it! Then I realize that mom died over seven years ago, and I can’t tell her all the details of the magnificent weekend we all had.  Many of us as humans have had this experience.  Some people have told me these feelings never go away.  Many of us want to ask our relatives, who have passed on, intimate details about the objects and the photographs they left behind but that is not possible.  We can only go on the information we are left with.

Almost all of us have photo albums at home hidden away, and full of treasured photographs of family, friends and pets long lost.  Some of the albums are the type with the sticky pages and the clear plastic covering your photographs.  The type you’ve been meaning to take the photographs out and put them in another container that is safer for its preservation.  And as well you should! Other albums are more like a scrapbook with the photographs pasted on the soft black construction paper type pages.  This is the type of album I picked up at home last week just to look through and reminisce.

(9) September Photograph Album Blog

As I flipped each page over to look at the images of my family I noticed someone had written on the edge of one of the photographs deep into the album.  One of the markings said movie stars, and the other markings were dots that marked the people in the photographs.  There were five photographs in all.

Raw Page

In one of them I identified one of the buildings in the photograph as the Stern & Mann’s building on North Cleveland & Second Street NW.

Car 2

When I showed the photographs first to my wife Alyson who is a classic movie buff, she immediately pointed out Fred Astaire.  I said “What!?!” Fred Astaire is in my Grandpa Rice’s photo album? Why?

Fred Astaire

One of our researchers who is getting proficient with keyword searches found the article in The Canton Repository on September 13, 1942.

Star War Bond Sales Canton Repository September 13, 1942 (1)

Star War Bond Sales Canton Repository September 13, 1942 (1A)

Exactly seventy-five years ago today Hugh Herbert, Ilona Massey and Fred Astaire visited Canton, Ohio in 1942 to help sell war bonds to raise funds for The War.

The next photograph I was able to identify was Hotel Onesto on Second Street NW.


Hotel Onesto Main Entrance 1942

The star trio was set to arrive in Canton, Ohio at 12:30 pm.  They will be met at the corporation limits by a committee organizing this event.  Any persons purchasing $10,000 or more in war bonds may help escort the trio into the city.  The stars are on a mission working for the United State Treasury Department in an effort to raise one billion for The War.  Upon the group’s arrival they will be taken to Hotel Onesto for a reception sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.  They will then be taken on a tour of the city making stops at all of the major theaters.  At 2:30 pm the group will attend a rally in Public Square at Market Avenue and Tuscarawas Street.


This photograph was taken in the 1960’s, but it gives you a good idea where the event took place.

More Later…



Circling Joy…


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Meyer’s Lake Amusement Park Canton, Ohio

Meyer's Lake Carousel IV

Cleveland Avenue North & 4th Street Canton, Ohio November 3, 2017

The carousel spinning and spinning…

Meyer's Lake Carousel III

The lights, the sounds, the horses…

Meyer's Lake Carousel II

Meyer's Lake Carousel I

All of these elements added up to one thing.  Pure joy, for all ages.

Every generation looks for a way to bring together people of all ages.  Meyer’s Lake was the glue that held all ages together for many generations in Canton, Ohio. Just say the phrase, “It used to be at Meyer’s Lake…” to a native of Stark County and watch her face light up with a certain joy not found in many other places.

The Carousel at Meyer’s Lake brought joy to many people from all over the country.  In the early 1970’s, when the amusement park came to an end, this Merry-go-round was packed up and shipped to Hartford, Connecticut.  It was unpacked, a sight was chosen, and it was assembled in Bushnell Park for many more generations to enjoy.


Bushnell Park is situated at the base of the Connecticut State House

My wife Alyson Bachtel Holland and I had the opportunity to ride this historic artifact that once brought children and adults of  Stark County a sense of pure joy!  As we chose our horse and we listened for the next bell, and the music to begin we felt nostalgic and we were drawn closer to the memories of our parents riding this carousel over and over., when it sat in Meyer’s Lake.  You can’t buy that feeling…

Listen now, as we take you on this ride, Circling Joy…




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2017.0.1128_The Strausbury Family

The Strausbury Family. Courtesy of the McKinley Presidential Library and Museum.

The Strausbury Family. Courtesy of the McKinley Presidential Library and Museum.

Stark County History, Ohio, Like You’ve Never Seen Before!

Can you imagine having greater access to historic photographs from around Stark County? Well, imagine no longer! Many of the Stark County photographs, which were donated to the Ramsayer Library over the years, have been digitized!

The digitization of these historic photographs will greatly benefit the research community and the general public. Additionally, there are numerous instructional applications made by possible by this digitization project. For example, Mark Holland, the archivist, has the capability of projecting these digitally-captured, historic photographs for visitors when they come to stop by at the Ramsayer Research Library. Moreover, they will be incorporated into future audio-visual productions as well.


Digitization Process: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?




Who digitized these historic photographs?

Stephen Wendt, MLIS, digitized hundreds of photographs from the Stark County collection during his digital preservation internship at the Ramsayer Research Library. Stephen’s internship was affiliated with Kent State University’s graduate School of Information in Library and Information Science. In addition to his passion for digital preservation, Stephen is a professional genealogist. He assists the community with their genealogy-related requests! Stephen may be contacted here.


Many of the Stark County photographs, which Stephen digitized, concern the “Citizens of Canton” and the “Grand Army Band” photographs. The photographs are of various shapes, sizes and conditions-many of which, as you might expect, are in black and white.

2017.0.998_Don Millett                    Don Millett – Editor of the Canton Daily News.      

1977.3.49.5_Sr. Symporose

Sr. Symporose – Principal of St. Marys School in Canton. 1955



Many of the photographs are from the late 19th century and early 20th centuries.



While most of the photographs were taken in Stark County, some of them were taken in other locations.

For example, the Grand Army Band traveled together by train, and these photographs were digitally captured as well! The Grand Army Band depicted in the slideshow below show them in action in Canton and across the country!




Sharing Stark County past with researchers and members of the public is why we do what we do!



After all of the photographs are properly assigned a specific number (called an accession number), they are sent to the Ramsayer Research Library’s flatbed scanner for scanning. Each photograph is scanned front and back. Normally, up to three images are taken per photograph. Here is how the process works!

All digitized photographs courtesy of the McKinley Presidential Library and Museum.

To submit a research request with the Ramsayer Research Library, please click on the following link: Research Request Form.


Memorable Tuba Solo…




Left – Lola Vincent Center – Mark Holland Right – Marilyn Stevens

Mrs. Lola Vincent called last week to tell us the story of her grandfather, who played the Tuba for Representative William McKinley.

In 1878 George McKee was 16 years old played in the Hinckley Township Band.  As George remembers it, there were around fifteen bands in Medina County at the time.  The Medina County Fair Board would hold a contest every year to determine who would have the honor of playing at the county fair.  George recalls the contest that year being very close as the boys from the different bands had practiced all through the fall, summer, and spring.  Close until George’s band struck a Rare Rendition of “Dixie.”

George McKee

George McKee is in the center of the front row

During the playing of Dixie a young man stepped forward from the band with his e-flat tuba.  The young man took the lead in a rapid 4/4 time.  The crowd could not believe what they were hearing, and seeing! At the end of the song the crowd was silent.  The judges of the contest declared on the spot the Hinckley Band to be the winner and would play at the fair! The young man who gave the wonderful solo was George McKee! Congressman McKinley was one of the spectators who was in the crowd.  Years later President McKinley visited Medina County, and asked to see that “Hinckley Tuba player.

Mrs. Vincent has donated the Tuba, the newspaper article accounting the story, and a photograph of the Hinckley Township Band.  When I went out to her car to bring the tuba into the museum who stepped out of the car as Mrs. Vincent’s Chauffeur?  It was another good friend of our museum, Mrs. Marilyn Stevens, whom I had interviewed last fall for the Frank Onesto program.  Marilyn Stevens is Frank Onesto’s niece.  Lola Vincent and Marilyn Stevens have known each other for thirty years!

Small World!

Mark G. Holland, Archivist

McKinley Presidential Library & Museum

Diebold Jail Cells…



The community we serve is not limited to Stark County.  We recently received a call from the City Archivist of Deadwood City, South Dakota.  Their community is creating a history walk and the location of the City Jail is one of the stops along the way.  Mike Runge, City Archivist called us after discovering an invoice created by the Diebold Company of Canton, Ohio dated 1885.  He requested some background information on the Diebold Company that made the City Jail in his town.

Tom Haas, Volunteer in our Ramsayer Research Library  received this call and went to work finding the information Mr. Runge requested.  Tom found much information on the Diebold Company itself.  He had to dig a little deeper to find out about Diebold making jail cells, and their locking systems.

Tom and I had two questions that were unanswered.  What root did the railroad take from Canton, Ohio to Deadwood City, South Dakota?  And, how long did the trip take?  I was out to Cherry Creek, South Dakota in 1988 for a church mission trip and it took us three days by bus.

Below is a link to South Dakota’s State Historical Society’s flickr page.  It shows the city jail with this caption: Deadwood Jail

First jail at Deadwood, 1876. The city was wide open and needed a jail. Miners carried a lot of gold, and gamblers, prostitutes, gunslingers, and thieves were out to get what they could.

Deadwood Jail


Mark G. Holland, Archivist

McKinley Presidential Library & Museum

My Family Connections



Before I started my internship here in January, I thought I might find a thing or two regarding my family, since they have been settled in Canton since the early 20th century. However, I didn’t expect to learn as much as I have about some of my family members.


One day Mark showed me an index of WWI privates from Canton. I was just flipping through the pages and came across a name I recognized, William Edward Edwards, who I know as Uncle Bill. He is my great great great uncle, and while I never met him, I grew up hearing stories about him from my family. He came to America from Wales in 1904 and joined the service on December 27th, 1917.

William E. Edwards WWI Canton, Ohio

William E. Edwards WWI Canton, Ohio

Edwards served in the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I. He fought in the battle of Saint-Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, which is considered the largest and bloodiest military operation for the AEF. The operation was fought from September 1918, until the Armistice of 11 November 1918, which ended the fighting. Edwards was wounded in action in October 14th, 1918, which could have occurred when American troops were launching frontal assaults to break through the German defenses. He was honorably discharged on May 21st, 1919 and earned a purple heart for his service.


On another day, I was looking through the letters from the Secret Gift collection. It contains the letters that were written in response to a December 18th, 1933 newspaper ad that offered $10 to families struggling with financial hardships. Sam Stone, or “B.Virdot” as the ad identified him, received so many letters that he changed the amount he gave to $5 so he could help more people. Sam Stone’s grandson, Ted Gup,  eventually found these letters and wrote a book about his grandfather and the letter writer’s called The Secret Gift.  As I was looking at the letters, I noticed the name “John F. Gatchett”. My great great grandfather was named John Franklin Gatschet, but went by Frank J Gatschet. I did some research and found Frank J Gatschet in Canton’s city directory at 3504 Fairmount blvd, which is the same on the letter, so it has to be him.

John Franklin Gatschet



Gatschet’s Secret Gift Letter

At the time of this letter, my great great grandfather was divorced from my great great grandmother, so he is discussing needing money to support his 2nd wife and her three children. He was chosen to receive $5 to go towards clothes for the children. While I have seen a lot of family pictures, it was really neat to interact with a tangible item from my great great grandfather.  Overall, I have learned a lot during my time here and finding out about my family connections in Canton has been a fun bonus.

Guest Blogger:

Tess Hamilton, Intern, McKinley Presidential Library & Museum