History

Symphony’s North Star Festival celebrates music of African Americans

From the TOLEDO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Toledo has a rich history as a safe haven along the Underground Railroad, a 19th century network that helped many slaves escape to freedom. Toledo Symphony’s new North Star Festival highlights this local connection and celebrates the musical contribution of Black Americans throughout history. The Toledo Symphony Orchestra will present this North Star Festival from February through April in a series of concerts and collaborations, presenting music by Black American composers and about Black American history—from songs brought over to America during times of slavery to more contemporary music that pays tribute to the brave men and women of the Civil Rights Movement. “Lift Ev’ry Voice: The Musical Legacy of the Underground Railroad” will take place February 15, for two performances at 9:45 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. at the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle Theater. The Toledo Symphony Orchestra along with additional community organizations will come together to explore Toledo’s Underground Railroad history through music. Special friends from the Lathrop House will be on hand to narrate and make history come to life. This program features a screening of the word-less storybook “Unspoken” by Henry Cole and a sing-along of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.” This event is sold out. A Preschool Storytime will take place February 22, at 10:30 a.m. at the Sanger branch of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library. This Preschool Storytime will feature musical guest, members of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra. Free and open to the public. Registration required. Reaching for Our Stars will take place February 25, at 5:00 p.m. at St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church. The Toledo Symphony Orchestra will perform a neighborhood concert in celebration of Black History Month. Tickets at St. Martin de Porres, 419-241-4544. An Instrument Petting Zoo will take place February 27, at 4:30 p.m. at the Kent branch of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library. Children will see, hear, and play a variety of orchestral instruments. Members of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and the Toledo Symphony Youth Quartet will present music inspired by…

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Library partners on Spanish Civil War, WWI programs

From WOOD COUNTY DISTRICT PUBLIC LIBRARY Two Wood County Public Library Partnership programs will explore 20th century conflicts. On Thursday, October 12 Bowling Green State University’s Department of History presents a screening of the documentary “Souls Without Borders: The Untold Story of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade” (2006) in the Wood County District Public Library’s 1st Floor Meeting Room starting at 6 .pm. The 53-minute film, part of the History Department’s program “America and World Fascism” seris is shown in partnership with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives. The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA) is an educational non-profit dedicated to promoting social activism and the defense of human rights. ALBA’s work is inspired by the American volunteers of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade who fought fascism in the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). Drawing on the ALBA collections in New York University’s Tamiment Library, and working to expand such collections, ALBA works to preserve the legacy of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade as an inspiration for present and future generations. The film will be followed by a question and answer session with scholars Peter Carroll (Standford University) and Sebastiann Faber (Oberlin College). Also on October 12 at 7 p.m., WCDPL’s Michele Raine will be the guest speaker at the Wood County Historical Center & Museum’s (13660 County Home Rd., Bowling Green) October Tea. Her talk, “Home Fires Burning: WWI Fiction,” examines the literature which grew out of the shock and horror of that war’s battlefields, and its depiction of the lives forever changed by the war–both on the home front and in the trenches. The Tea costs $12 for Wood County Historical Society members and $15 for non-member adults. Payments and RSVPs may be through Friday, October 6, either online at http://www.woodcountyhistory.org/event_teas.html or in person at the Museum. More information about the Tea is available from the Museum at 419-352-0967. For more information, contact the Library at 419-352-5104.


BG fifth graders take learning from classroom to camp

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For one week, the fifth graders left behind their classrooms, their parents, their cell phones. But they found nature, social skills and how to learn without being tied to technology. The fifth grade teachers and principal from Crim Elementary School talked with the Bowling Green Board of Education Tuesday about the experiences of the nearly 250 fifth graders who traveled to Heartland Outdoor School last month. The best explanations perhaps came from the students themselves, who wrote letters to people in the community who helped pay for the week-long learning adventure. “I learned that fear was just a word,” one student wrote after reaching the peak of the rock wall. Another student talked about the different environments they observed and the different types of rocks they studied. “We learned so much, I could fill the whole page,” the child wrote. And another told of learning how to tell the difference between healthy and unhealthy streams, how to shoot arrows, make candles and throw a tomahawk. Not typical classroom lesson plans. This was the first year of camp for Crim’s new principal Alyssa Karaffa. “It was a great experience,” she said. And for the teachers who return year after year, “they are absolutely saints,” Karaffa added. Science and social studies teacher Tyler Nye said it’s easy for him to explain when people ask why the students go to a week of camp every year. Where else can they have hands-on learning about crawdads in the creek, food chains, and adaptation of animals. “In my opinion, it’s the best way to learn,” Nye said. And where better to learn about the skills that settlers needed to survive in Ohio, from camp staff who re-enact those roles. “They get to learn what life was like before cell phones and I-pads,” Nye said. On the bus ride back to Bowling Green at the end of camp, one student exclaimed, “I survived the whole week without technology,” teacher Brenda Haynes said. “They were so proud.” And they…


Once forgotten veterans memorial restored in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As they waited for the rededication of Bowling Green’s veterans memorial in City Park on Monday, Brian Craft and Mike Hammer could not help but reflect on the ironic path of the monument. The memorial was originally dedicated in 1931 “in honor of the veterans of all wars.” At its base were the engraved words, “Bowling Green has not forgotten.” But somewhere over that last 86 years, that’s exactly what happened. The memorial, near the entrance of City Park, was surrounded by arbor vitae, with a canopy of branches growing over the top. “We knew it was there,” said Brian Craft, director of the city’s public service department. “But when you came in to the park, you couldn’t see anything. The eagle at the top was in sorry shape.” So Craft, along with Mike Hammer from the public works department, took it upon themselves to do exactly what the memorial asked of them. “It was forgotten, which is ironic since the plaque at the bottom said, ‘Bowling Green will not forget,’” Craft said. The public service, electric division, and city arborist worked to cut back the overgrown plants, tuckpoint the stone wall, install lighting and flagpoles, and had the eagle at the top returned to its gold coloring. “They just took ownership of it,” Mayor Dick Edwards said of the public works department. “I really give credit to them. Bowling Green has not forgotten.” The history of the 1931 memorial was difficult to dig up. But American Legion members Dave Ridenour and Dick Conrad dusted off as much information as possible. “One of the oldest members of our legion post remembered playing around it on his way to school,” Ridenour said. The records showed that veterans from the Civil War, Spanish American War and World War I took part in the dedication. The monument now adds to memory those who served in World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Iraq and Afghanistan. Ridenour thanked Craft and Hammer for their efforts. “I believe…


Living History Day remembers service in World War I

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News World War I took its toll on Wood County. Seventy-three young men, some still teenagers, died while in service in the war. All were remembered Sunday at the Living History Day at Oak Grove Cemetery. They were clerks, teachers, and many farmers and farmhands. When the United States entered the war in 1917, they answered the call by local recruiters to enlist, and they headed to France. But the majority of those who died in uniform in the war never made it to France. Disease, especially pneumonia and influenza, were as much an enemy as Germany. Those attending the annual event heard from them, or their bereaved parents. Those not given full presentations had their lives and deaths encapsulated in a few sentences and read solemnly by a troupe of high school students, not much younger than the dead soldiers. That so many of the family names were familiar, only brought the tragedy of the war closer to home. The first to go over there was a woman, Margaret Lehmann. She joined a contingent of Red Cross nurses at the beginning of the war in Europe in 1914. She was portrayed by Cassie Greenlee, with a script by Hal Brown. First, Lehmann was stationed in France. There they saw how trench warfare, living in constant wet conditions, claimed the lower extremities. Infection set in quickly. “Our nurses do what we can to help them,” the nurse said. When her six months were over, and Lehmann could have returned home, she realized that “I knew somehow there was more I could do.” She was then moved to Serbia to a hospital with capacity for 554, but with about 900 patients. These were the wounded from both sides of the conflict – Germans as well as French, Serbians, Gypsies Russians and more. Disease swept through the hospital. ”It’s easy to lose heart and lose hope,” she said. Still “we had an impact. We made a difference.” When Lehmann returned to Bowling Green, she continued her work…


Ghost towns make an appearance at Wood County Fair

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Don’t let the name fool you. These ghost towns aren’t haunted, they are just plain gone. There may be a house or two remaining, but the life that was once there is no more. Wood County has 133 towns that have mostly disappeared. They were communities that grew around gushing oil wells, busy sawmills, or promising railroad tracks. Sometimes all it took for a town to take root was a general store, a post office, or a doctor to live nearby. But once that vital component was gone, it wasn’t long till the town died off too. When the oil dried up, the sawmill closed, the railroad moved or the one-room schools consolidated, there was nothing left to keep the townspeople there. “The oil petered out, the post office closed. There was no one to buy products, so the stores closed up and the churches moved on,” said Millie Broka, of the Wood County Genealogical Society. The genealogical society will have an exhibit on Wood County’s ghost towns at the Wood County Fair this week. In some cases, the towns were barely big enough to warrant a tiny spot on the map. “They could be a grouping of houses,” Bob Broka said. “They weren’t too big to begin with. They just withered away over the years.” “Some were just crossroads and people lived around them,” Millie Broka said. “The kids would move on, and once there was no one there to buy the products, the stores closed.” The genealogical society has collected several black and white photos of towns that once were. They show old hotels with guests posing out front, one-room schools, general stores, railroad depots and churches. There are stories of shindigs in the old town of Bays, where people from miles around would gather for square dancing upstairs at the general store. And stories of 5,000 barrels of oil a day gushing up in the ghost town of Ducat in 1888. And in Bloom Center in 1876, when 20…


County fair history – hoochie-coochie girls, a hanging and much more

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Fair’s history is steeped in far more than prize steers, skillfully stitched quilts and homemade pies. Those county residents who think the fair has a bland story to tell, may not know about the cholera outbreak that drastically cut attendance in 1854, the hoochie-coochie girls who stirred up trouble in 1896, or the ostrich races in 1962. Or that in 1883, fairgoers could purchase side tickets to watch the hanging of Carl Bach, who murdered his wife with a corn knife. And few probably realize the pressure from the H.J. Heinz Co. in the late 1920s to change the fair date so it didn’t conflict with tomato harvest, because the company couldn’t find enough employees to show up at work to bottle the ketchup during the fair. According to records compiled by Dick Martin and the county genealogical society, since 1851 the Wood County Fair has jumped around from Bowling Green, to Perrysburg, to Portage, to Tontogany, and back again many times. In fact, for a series of years it was held in two towns because of warring fair factions. This year’s Wood County Fair begins Monday, and bears little resemblance to the first county fairs, except for the ability to attract people from around the county to reconnect with friends and recognize agricultural prowess in the region. The county fair was, for many, the event of the year. It attracted families in their best clothing for food, music and competitions. Some records show that the Wood County Fair had the top attendance of any county fairs in the state. Old black and white photos show lines of horses and buggies, then later lines of old automobiles, in the area that is now the Country Club golf course. The fairs have always given businesses an opportunity to advertise their products. Back in 1920, there was a booth called the “Wife Saving Station,” which boasted the latest in home plumbing equipment. The official program for the 1906 Wood County Fair…