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… (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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
365 Reasons: Today let me give you a reason to bury a time capsule. When I first met my wife when I was 19 years old, she had a neighbor lady who finally died when she was 103 years old, oh the stories she had to tell. She told me about attending President William McKinley’s funeral in Canton Ohio. I wish she had buried a time-capsule and I could dig it up today. Why not preserve your now, which will become history for a future generation. Choose carefully what you include in your capsule, you want it to accurately represent your snapshot in time. Can you imagine what your great-grandchildren might think about today’s newspaper or CD or current best selling book? Go ahead, think beyond yourself, and invest into the future.
In 2011 a boy named Zane visited our museum with his class. On his history tour he viewed a mural we have in our Stark County Story called The Treaty of Greenville “The Signing” by Ohioan Howard Chandler Christy. Zane went back to his school and created this one of a kind work based on our copy of this famous piece.
My name is Hamed Alwusaydi. I was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I am in the final semester to graduate from my BA at Walsh University in Communications. I have always wanted to be a part of the President McKinley Museum family because of my passion for learning about the history, interest in it and its care. I am currently working as a volunteer and seeking to learn and train and listen to the advice and guidance of Mr. Mark Holland, who has always made me feel his desire to train and mentor me. I am currently working on developing the visual aspect of the Walk with the President program, and I am working on adding some important pictures to present to those looking to understand the past and those interested in it.