Today I learned how to add a google map to my wordpress hosted blog, quite a simple accomplishment, actually. The big secret is to access google maps in the classic mode. Open http://www.maps.google.com, and your page automatically loads the New Google Maps. In the lower right hand corner you will find a tool bar. Click on the question mark on the left, and you will have options to take a tour, send feedback, ask questions, or return to the classic mode. That action returns you to the “old” map, and once you have zoomed into your desired location, look to the upper left. Do you see the get directions block? Look to the right and click on the link symbol. Here is secret #2. You must copy the HTML code, not the short code. Return to your wordpress blog and paste the code into your post. Check out the results with a preview!! Finish up your writing, save, and publish!!
Stuck between some sheet music bearing my grandfather’s signature was a photograph. A faded copy of a copy, it depicted a mid-19th century cane-carrying gentleman astride a large dapple gray horse. Establishing provenance of the photograph is almost impossible, but the copy appears to have been among Donald Minor’s possessions, which were then stored by my mother, Marilyn Minor Strickland, and inherited by me.
When first discovered, I posited that this commanding figure was a Minor.(read my first post here)
Since that summer day, I have been in communication with two Minor cousins, and was lucky enough to score a new photograph. This time provenance is known. The original photograph of John Pearson (Pierson) Minor was taken by J. P. Shafer of Morgantown, West Virginia, held by his son, Samuel, in Greene County, Pennsylvania, and then passed down through that family to my cousin, Ron.
The figure on the horse bears a striking resemblance to the man calmly sitting for his portrait. My investigation into my mystery horseman will require additional knowledge of period clothing and hairstyles. I also think the cane may hold a clue about his identity. But I am stepping lightly toward identifying the rider as one John P. Minor, circa 1860.
May Laura Stevenson lay under covers, listening to eight siblings rustle from bed’s warmth into cold, thick wool layers. Procrastinating would not reduce her chores or delay the walk to school, so up she sat, throwing off her blankets, reaching for her clothes. In quick fluid movements May covered her shivering little body, and joined the familiar morning jostle. Ice had to be broken from animals’ water troughs; pigs had to be slopped, and chickens fed. Stalls needed to be mucked out, and cows milked. Breakfast had to be fixed, the table set.
May’s early life was spent on Gabler’s Knob, a farm that looked out over the bustling river town of Greensboro, on the Monongahela River in Greene County, Pennsylvania. Born in 1874, May was the seventh of nine children born to Ellis and Mary Jones Stevenson.
After a hearty breakfast the school-age Stevensons set off down the hill, past Dr. G. F. Birch’s orchard, and turned left onto the main road of the Old Glass Works*. As William, Presley, Permelia, and May walked up the village street, they were joined by young Kramers, McCoys, Mercers, Blacks, and Gablers. The wind coming off the river hurled the winter damp through their coats, and the would-be scholars hurried past Mr. Neil’s ferry, round the corner, and into the school house. All together they learned to read, to write, to do their figures. At day’s end, the group trudged on home, the Stevensons to return to more chores before settling down for the dinner and a good night’s sleep.
On Sunday, the family traveled into town, to attend services at Greensboro Presbyterian Church, on the corner of Clear and Second streets. The sanctuary was just a block down from the Star Pottery and Tile Works, owned by Frank Hamilton and John Jones, Mary Stevenson’s cousin. After church service, May and her family walked three blocks south on Front Street, to eat Sunday dinner with the Jones’. Uncle David and Aunt Cill ran Greensboro House, a family business handed down from father, John Jones, and the home to the Jones family since the late 1840s. Her double first cousins, Anna and Fannie, would regale May with stories about the latest hotel guests, and the difficulties steamboats had when the river ice grew thick. The girls imagined a day in spring when they would saunter down County Street to the quay, and board the Packet Dean Adams, traveling all the way to Pittsburgh, just to shop for a dress. Laughter and dreams and family.
That is what I imagine for May, my great-grandmother, as I walk down May’s street in my mind. [click on the maps below for enlarged viewing]
In 1946 the songwriting team of Charles Tobias and Nat Simon captured the hearts, and ears, of a post-war audience with their tune, The Old Lamp-Lighter. Band leader Sammy Kaye recorded the song, featuring vocals by Billy Williams, and the haunting melody hit the Billboard Best Sellers List by November. The Old Lamp-Lighter stayed on the charts for fourteen weeks, peaking at #1. Among Sammy and His Orchestra‘s many fans was fourteen year old Marilyn Minor, a young pianist and talented vocalist living in rural Greene County, Pennsylvania. Every Friday she traveled into nearby Waynesburg, to stay overnight with her Grandmother May Minor for her Saturday piano lesson. I imagine this young teen sitting at the bench, determined to parse out the arrangement’s rhythm of dotted eighth and sixteenth notes. And I wonder if her father, Donald, sang along, “He made the night a little brighter wherever he would go…”
CHAUTAUQUA TENT WILL RISE TODAY
During the early decades of the twentieth century, the arrival of the big brown tent was the highlight of a town’s summer. Under the canvas roof, large crowds would gather for a week’s worth of entertainment and education. The Redpath Circuit Chautauqua was part vaudeville show, part educational lecture series, and at its height in the 1920s the performers and lecturers appeared in over 10,000 communities in 45 states. Crowds, far from the cultural benefits of metropolitan areas, were thus able to hear Broadway hits, watch classic plays, and learn about the social and political ideas of the day. For many Americans the Circuit Chautauqua was an important factor in molding the very character of the nation.
CHAUTAUQUA TO HAVE JUNIOR TOWN
The chautauqua wasn’t only for adults. Thousands of children had their cultural horizons expanded through programming just for them, and for hundreds of young women, the job of supervising the children’s programs offered an opportunity to work and travel. One such lucky lady was my grandmother, Kerma Pauline Bradford. In the summers of 1928 and 1929, Kerma left her hometown, Coshocton, Ohio, to set up Junior Town in a circuit that included Canton and Masillon, Ohio, and Greene County, Pennsylvania. In each community, Kerma met with the youngsters, ticket holders all, at nine o’clock the first day of chautauqua.
From among the assembled kids, ten boys and girls were elected to the Junior Town Council, which was then charged with assisting Miss Bradford. Every day the Junior Chautauqua would meet from nine until noon, to play games, listen to stories, take hikes, and, most importantly, prepare the week’s project–a minstrel show or pageant–which was performed during the last day, for the entire chautauqua.
In 1929, Kerma Bradford traveled to Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, where she reported to the Big Brown Tent each morning from her room in the Wisecarver House. Beyond her duties to Junior Town, Kerma had time for friendships, and time for romance. When the Junior Town supervisor returned to Coshocton that fall, she had many stories to recall to her kindergarten students, including the memory of a certain young man, future husband, Donald Minor.
Photographs from the Marilyn Minor Collection, archived with the author.
For more interesting chautauqua tidbits:
The Evening Repository (Canton), “Chautauqua To Have Junior Town,” July 31, 1928. http://www.genealogybank.com (accessed January 12, 2014).
Canning Charlotte, The Most American Thing in America: Circuit Chautauqua as Performance. University of Iowa Press: Iowa City. 2005.
The Redpath Chautauqua Collection, University of Iowa digital collection: http://www.sdrc.lib.uiowa.edu/traveling-culture/inventory/msc150.html.