“People are proud of their communities and are always willing to share with others,” said Mark Boley, executive director of the Holmes County Historical Society.
“Our Town” was created by the society’s program committee as a community outreach program. “The series was started to bring programming into each community to share their rich individual town history,” Boley said.
So far the series has travelled to Big Prairie/Lakeville and Glenmont. Clark is scheduled for this month, and Walnut Creek/Trail will be up next in the fall.
“We will eventually be doing presentations in all communities in Holmes County over the next several years,” Boley said, “with two programs a year, spring and fall.”
The Historical Society plans the event, sponsors the program and locates longtime residents who know the history. These local historians are invited to put together a program and may choose to share their own material or have members of the Historical Society give the presentation. The community also is invited to share any pictures, memorabilia and additional personal stories when they attend.
The material collected at these events is then added to the Historical Society’s archives. This allows the archives to be enhanced while bringing communities together to learn and share their personal stories and memories.
Previous programs have drawn a crowd of over 200 people. The event is a good opportunity for children to meet and talk with older community members and learn firsthand about the area they call home. History comes alive in a unique way when shared through personal experience.
Lifelong Clark resident Ron Patterson has compiled a brief history of his native community and paired it with over 50 photographs for a visual journey through the town’s history. Holmes County Historical Society members Debbie Cline Weaver and Mary Tipton will present the material.
Patterson said, “My second great grandfather bought the land I’m on right now in 1854. We’ve been here ever since.”
Patterson’s forebears came to the area to farm. Some years ago Patterson was asked by a 4-H group to put together a local history. At that time he discovered an old friend had an extensive collection of historical newspaper articles relating to the area.
“I went through all of them,” Patterson said, “and came up with a lot. There were newspaper clippings well back into the 1800s.”
Patterson discovered a lot of information about the beginnings of his hometown. He also discovered his next-door neighbor had an interesting historical artifact: the first deed granted in Holmes County.
“He has the 1811 sheepskin deed,” Patterson said.
Patterson’s research indicates that much of the beginnings and early years of Clark were built on hope, hope that a railroad would come through town. Clark was home to a multitude of thriving businesses in the late 1800s and into the early 1900s.
Patterson shared just some of what could be found in Clark during this time of growth. “Clark boasted three grocery stores, blacksmith shops, hotels, a grist mill, saw mill, hat shop, cheese factory, two morticians, two churches, two schools, an auto dealership, bakery, tavern and shoe shop. There was a bandstand on the northwest corner of Clark’s intersection. Local musicians went there every Saturday night and entertained everybody,” Patterson said.
Everything Patterson discovered pointed to the fact that all these folks were repeatedly promised a railroad would be coming to Clark soon. When the railroad did not become a reality by the early 1900s, the town began to slow down. “By then everybody of stature was leaving,” Patterson said.
Patterson owns some interesting memorabilia he purchased from Hunter’s restaurant at auction. “Once I was old enough to have a little bit of money, I would go there and get an ice cream sundae or a banana split,” he said. He purchased numerous items from his childhood hangout including a banana split dish and a large cheese knife.
The building that housed Hunter’s on the ground floor also was home to a banquet hall and stage on the third floor. There was a large floor-to-ceiling curtain that would be unfurled when acts performed on the stage.
“When the entertainment was ready to go, they would roll that curtain up to the top,” Patterson said. “When they were through, they would just unroll it down again. There was advertising right on the curtain.”
That curtain can now be seen in the Miley Community Center. “It’s not much more than 100 feet from where it originally used to hang,” Patterson said.
The Historical Society “Our Town” series is free and open to all ages. Those attending are invited to bring stories, pictures and memorabilia related to the history of Clark. Donations are accepted and are used to further the mission and support the programs of the Historical Society.
Boley said, “The society has ongoing needs for volunteers and donations to support the many projects, missions and programs of the society. We are always looking for new members, volunteers and donations, either financial or historical artifacts.”
The society also is interested in hearing from those with historical knowledge of communities that have not yet been part of the series. Call the Holmes County Historical Society at 330-674-0022 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Find the society online at www.holmeshistory.com and on Facebook, HolmesCountyHistory.
Published: April 19, 2017