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.
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.
While my wife and I were cleaning out our attic we came across a box that could have been easily tossed in the trash. The treasures that were hidden in the seemingly worthless paperwork that most of us keep proved to be a gem from 1922. In the box we found photographs of my grandmother and grandfather from the 1920’s. My grandmother, Myria Madeline (Studer) Rice, attended the Canton Actual Business College in 1922. She subsequently went on to work as a stenographer at several well known businesses in Canton before she married Raymond Clayton Rice and worked for the business, Rice’s Drugs, he started in 1927.
Scanning this photograph at a high resolution, and enhancing it in Photoshop helped me to reveal the date. There are at least two calendars in the classroom of the Canton Actual Business College. One of them did not have the year, but thanks to Miss Pearl Warburton pinning up a calendar at her desk, she “told” me it was November of 1922. Going to the 1922 Canton City Directory, I found the Canton Actual Business College was located in the New Vicary Building that would become known to most as the Sears building at 424 North Market Avenue Canton, Ohio. J.J. Krider was the president of this business college, while S.E. Hedges was the vice president, and J.E. Bowman secretary, and principal.
It has always been a dream of mine to see the inside of the “Sears” building on North Market Avenue because my Dad worked there in the 1950’s dressing the displays in the windows on Market Avenue. After contacting several people I found out Canton City Treasurer, Kim Perez and his team are located where I think the Canton Actual Business College was located. Counting the windows in the photograph and using Google Maps I surmised the college was on the fourth floor in the back of the Sears Building. My Grandma Rice is sitting at her desk along with ten other students attending the college.
Thank you to Canton City Treasurer, Kim Perez and his team for their time in allowing me to visit this special place in Canton, and the chance to photograph a part of the space where the business college once conducted classes.
While scanning an archive of some 1400 negatives I found an interesting image of a switch tower.
A switch tower is a building where railroad personnel monitor track switches. Towers were placed near switch locations into order for the railroad personnel to manually “throw” the switch to direct trains to a different track. A switchman possessed keys to unlock/lock a switch so that someone just walking along could not “throw” the switch and cause an accident. These towers also served as a communication points along the rails passing along information to trains as to the status of the tracks ahead.
The MN switch tower in this collection was near a passing siding. Passing sidings utilized switches in order to allow two trains on the same track to pass one another. As these opposing trains approach one another, one train is switched from the main line onto a passing siding to wait for the other train to pass. Once the train with the right of way has passed, the train waiting can move back onto the main line and go on its way. The average freight train can be one to one and a quarter miles in length or 90 to 120 rail cars and therefore this passing siding must be long enough to accommodate these large trains.
The photographs in this large archive were shot by amateur photographer William Ward Lowery in the early twentieth century. Mr. Lowery worked for the Canton City Water Department where he retired in 1955 having served the City of Canton for forty-two years.
While cleaning the history galleries in our museum last Friday I noticed a tower in the model train set up we have in our Street of Shops. This tower looked like the switch tower in Mr. Lowey’s photographs. As I walked around the set up I noticed more towers in more cities in Stark County.
The two towers we feature today are the MN Tower, and the Wandle Tower. We have found evidence that the MN Tower was East of Massillon, Ohio. The Wandle Tower in the model represents a tower that once stood in Canton, Ohio. The word Wandle is an amalgamation of the initials of the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad Company W. and L.E. Wandle.
While going through two boxes of papers and photographs left behind by Mrs. George Forbes Putnam better known to her readers as Gretchen Putnam, Editorial Staff member at The Canton Repository, I discovered a really great photograph of Gretchen in Atlantic City walking down the street with an unidentified gentleman, and a twenty something year old Irma Steele. The questions I had were: Why are these ladies in Atlantic City, and where specifically was this photograph taken?
First I looked at what was written on the back of the photograph and guessed it said Irene Steele, but some further digging revealed it was Irma Steele. A quick search in a database that contains the Canton Repository told the story of how Miss Irma Steele of Canton, Ohio became “Miss Canton” in 1927.
Inter-city beauties, Atlantic City Pageant, 1927
Irma was crowned “Miss Canton” and now she was in Atlantic City competing in the Inter-City Beauties Atlantic City Pageant. The Cleveland Avenue Merchants Association sponsored the “Miss Canton” contest at Meyer’s Lake Park.
In a letter written by Gretchen Putnam that appeared in the Sunday September 11, 1927 issue of the Canton Repository we learn that “Miss Canton” Miss Steele won “Most Beautiful Girl in an Evening Gown.” She first thought of her friends back in Canton, Ohio when accepting this award.
While the McKinley National Memorial was still being constructed Miss Irma Steele was born in Sharon, Pennsylvania in 1907. She lived most of her life in the Canton area. Irma was working for the County Recorder at the of the beauty contest. She went on to marry Hubert E. Dougherty who owned Industrial Tools Company of Stark County. Irma became the secretary-treasurer of the firm.
Irma Steele Dougherty died at Timken Mercy Hospital on Tuesday March 12, 1974. Two years later in 1976 her husband Hubert followed her to the hereafter. They are buried in Sunset Hills Burial Park in Section 19 Row 4, close to the road.
“Miss Canton’s” Find-A-Grave page has been updated with photographs and more important details…