Monday, July 23, 2012

Something Good This Way Came!

After posting about so many things that have really bogged me down of late, depressing the heck out of me a lot of the time, I actually have something to write about that happened this weekend and, to my way of thinking, was really neat!

Surprised? I wouldn't blame you if you were but it's the truth. This Sunday was what I would describe as a really awesome day for me!

A while back, I was contacted on the Grassflat Grown Facebook page by a lady who lives in the Cleveland area, inquiring about an area between the village where I live and one of the neighboring villages here. She -in an honest error -thought the area of interest to her was also another little town here but it isn't -as I explained to her -as it is merely an area in between my hometown and the next village over. Truly, it is the epitome of the "Blink and you've missed it" kind of place.

But anyway, because the area of interest to her is where her mother was born and lived until 1929 at which time the family migrated west to the Cleveland, Ohio area -and she and her family were all very interested in trying to see where her Mom had lived, had grown up, etc., she had asked me to help her in that journey.

This weekend, she and her husband and three of their four children, plus grandkids too, had all come to visit in this region and we made arrangements that they would come down to my house after church today and we would then go out to the section of Cooper Township known as "Knox Run."

Because I actually know very little about Knox Run -the history of the area nor the families who once lived there -I had told her that I felt fairly certain though that I could hook them up with one of two ladies who do live in this region and who could most likely give them a whole lot more information than I ever could do.

So by the time they arrived at my house, I had made arrangements with one of these two ladies -who offered to  ride along with us as we made our foray out to Knox Run.

The lady I contacted is Mrs. Janet Rydberg Larson (widow of Raymond Larson, who was one of the bigger coal operators in this region for many years) and Janet also was my high school typing teacher. She also is one very knowledgeable individual where the history of the township where I reside is concerned. Fact is, there is probably very little that she DOESN'T know about this little township!

When we got up to Janet's home, she said she wanted to call her son, Alam, to see if maybe he would like to go with us as he, like his Dad before him, has worked around the local coal mining industry for many years now too and is also extremely knowledgeable too about the history of the mines, as well as people who once lived her too. (A case of the apple doesn't fall far from the tree in that respect, you could say, huh?)

And so, he became our "Tour Guide" you could say!

He drove his vehicle with his mother, Mary Ann Becca Soltis and I as his rapt audience and took us down to the area of Knox Run where Mary Ann's family homestead once stood. And furthermore, he also looked up information for her pertaining to the property, who had owned it, who still owns it, how much land had been involved in her parents' homestead area and lots and lots of other bits and pieces of information definitely of major interest to Mary Ann and her family!

Here's the two photos I managed to get of Mary Ann and some of her family -down in what is now a very wooded area but is where her family's old home once was located. I had wanted to get a photo of her with Janet and her son, Alan, too but we were all so busy talking about the way the land had been once upon a time and all of us learning little bits of history, I'm lucky I got these two photos to remember the day!

And I had one really fun time, also very educational for me too, touring this area and learning a good bit more about this tiny community that borders my home town!

There were a lot of laughs in this little adventure and Mary Ann and I explained to Janet how she had come to find me -via that  Facebook page and then, how a cousin of hers had found my good friend, Anne Lucas Ryba -who is originally from here but who also lives in the Cleveland region too and Anne had referred Mary Ann's cousin to me, telling him that I am an "expert" on things about this region! Boy, when Anne told me she had told Mary Ann's cousin Mark that about me, I howled laughing. Expert is far from what I am about local history, that is for sure!

But, I do give myself credit for knowing the right person to contact who, along with her son, really are experts in this stuff!

I wish there were some way I could do this kind of stuff more often though -show people from out-of-the area little high points in our region. Now, that kind of job would truly be right up my alley!

Of course, before I launch my "Tour Guide" business, I better get cracking and study up on a whole lot more historical data about the coal mines, the railroads, the lumber industries -all of which were the big employers in this region in the years since 1850, when the first settlers made their way to this region of Pennsylvania!

But boy, I sure would love to be able to do that!

1 comment:

terri said...

What a wonderful thing for you to do - coordinating a tour for strangers. I'm sure they appreciated your kindness more than you know.

I know you enjoy this kind of stuff, as you mentioned. I always enjoy your genealogy and historical posts. I'll bet you could do more of this kind of thing. Just a matter of making it known that you're willing and able, maybe!