On this date, 28 February 1883, my great-grandmother Kathryn Elizabeth Roahrig was born in Linton Township, Ohio.
Her son, Carlos, was interviewed by the Coshocton Tribune (Coshocton, OH) the summer of 1985 and gave these details about her life.
History contest winners named
Coshocton County’s oldest native resident and longest held parcel of land have been named by the Coshocton County History Book Committee.
Kathryn Elizabeth Roahrig Bradford, 102, of South Seventh Street, was the oldest resident found by the committee… Mrs. Bradford was born Feb. 28, 1883, in Linton Township, the daughter of John and Matilda (Klein) Roahrig. On Oct. 16, 1904, she married the late Charles Ross Bradford.
She had three children: Thelma, wife of H. Paul Joseph, is deceased; Kerma, widow of Donald Minor and of Albert Hoge; and Carlos. She has seven grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren and 3 great-great-grandchildren.
She resides with Carlos and his wife Betty on South Seventh Street in Coshocton.
She has always lived in town and is a member of Grace United Methodist Church. She worked for a short period of time, when her children were small, at the Old Glove Factory.
Bradford is not in good health and was unable to be interviewed; however, her son’s reply, when asked to what he attributes his mother’s longevity was, “It runs in the family.”
History contest winners named, Coshocton Tribune (Coshocton, OH), 26 July 1985; newspaper clipping a part of D Kay Strickland Family Collection, 2021.
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.
The year was 1934, and though a great depression set boundaries on aspirations and dreams, folks still found occasion to bring out the good dishes and light the candelabras.
Aunt Alice Stansbury was celebrating, as was her niece, Katie Bradford. Little Marilyn was coming! The toddler, Katie’s only grandchild, arrived midday at Alice’s home in Coshocton, Ohio. After the long car ride from Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, the adults lingered in the back yard, soaking up the spring sun. Marilyn busied herself in the grass, sharing her pickings with her Grammy Bradford, Grandmother Minor, Aunt Alice, and Coshocton friend, Earnest Bachert. Young Uncle Carlos Bradford hung back, laughing at the scene.
Eventually, the party moved indoors, where Aunt Alice could keep tabs on the simmering pots and roasting meats. Donald and Kerma Bradford Minor coaxed their little botanist to wash up, preparing to take her place as honored guest at Aunt Alice’s festive table.