E. Palmer Woodworking Shop

More changes have come to the museum this Summer. With the building of the “new” blacksmith shop, we have decided to turn the old blacksmithy into a wood working shop.

We built a dividing wall in the 30×20 (former) Hotz building, creating a larger front room for the 19th century tools, and a smaller back room for the more modern equipment that is used when more speed and ease is needed in construction

We will name the new shop “E. Palmer. Woodworking. Casket Making.”

Ebenezer Palmer was a close friend of the Great Abolitionist, John Brown, when Brown lived in Richfield. They used to spend late nights talking about the Underground Railroad, The Bible, and the doings of the Church they attended together. When Brown’s four children died of Diphtheria within days of one another, Palmer built the four caskets in which they were buried. Palmer spent nearly his whole life in Richfield and built many of the older houses that still stand in Richfield and surrounding communities.

The woodworking shop contains many of the same tools Ebenezer would have carried in his tool box, as he walked in the early morning hours to the next house he was building. Also on display are two very rare pit saw blades that were used to saw lumber before a saw mill came to Richfield. It was amazingly tough work hand sawing or hand hewing all the lumber needed for barns, sheds and homes before steam or water powered mills were built. Ebenezer Palmer and the other men of those days, shortly after the founding of Ohio, were far tougher than the men of these more modern times.

Fryburg Cycle Co. ~C. V. Vessele -Cycle Agent

Stop by to visit the latest shop at the museum. It’s modeled with the the Wright Cycle Co. in mind.

The Wright Bros. began selling bicycles in 1892, while continuing to run their print shop. By 1896 they started designing and manufacturing their own bike models, and used the bicycle profits to finance their first aviation experiments. (The museum’s bike shop is in the same building as the future museum print shop.)

When I was much younger, I rode my bike every day, all winter, all summer, every day. My friends and I often used to ride our bikes the next county over to visit (play) at Whipps Ledges. I like bicycles. For quite awhile now I have been wanting to set up a bike shop at the museum. But I never had quite enough old cycles to do so. Then we decided to visit my sister Beverly in Chicago. When we got there she said we could have (my brother-in-law) Carl’s, bike. Carl had planned on restoring it, but just never quite got around to doing so. The bike is a 1896 Crown, and has wooden fenders, wood handle bar, wood wheels and a wood and string chain guard. -It was a ladies bike and the chain guard with crossing strings was necessary to keep a ladies skirt safe from tanglement (no proper lady of the time would ever have worn pants).

So, with the other bikes and children’s wagons and scooters I had collected over the years, bike shop time had finally arrived. The most famous bike shop of all American history was the Wright Brothers Cycle Shop. So I modeled our shop a bit on the style and set up of the Wright’s shop. It’s been a fun project, and may be one of the more interesting shops in the museum. Be sure to notice the 1903 wheel alignment machine sitting on the table. It was donated to the museum and came from the Elyria Cycle Shop. The bike in the shop’s window is a 1890 Rev-O-Noc, which also sports wooden wheels.

While construction was proceeding, using bits and pieces from several old buildings including the flooring from the Hamburg Horseshoeing shop, I came across several old bike shop signs. One of them named the shop’s owner as “Cycle Agent”. So in honor of my brothers wonderful donation of a fantastic bike, I have named Carl Von Vessele as Cycle Agent of the Fryburg Cycle Co. He may be the best guy I have ever known. I miss him.

What’s in a Basket?

Have you ever wondered about shopping carts? Everyone uses one if they are buying more than an item or two when they grocery shop. They are practically as common as cars. But where did they come from?

Before their invention, folks just carried a basket or bag to tote their intended purchases to the checkout. But store owners began to notice that often purchases were limited by what a shopper could carry. They wanted to sell more, so they tried several solutions. One grocer installed a raised 15″ wide track on which shoppers could push a wheeled basket. It was something like a RR track. It proved wildly unsuccessful. Other owners tried hiring helpers who would carry groceries for the customers. The help would carry the full baskets to the counter then take another empty basket to the shopper. This was also quite inefficient and sometimes confusing. Other grocers tried little pull carts that looked much like a child’s toy wagon. But pulling your groceries behind you and bending down to load and unload the conveyance also proved a poor solution.

Then one day in 1936, Sylvan Goldman was sitting at his desk in the office of one of his Humpty-Dumpty grocery stores and noticed a folding chair. He took the idea of a new kind of cart to one of his store’s handymen, Fred Young, and Sylvan and Fred worked out the design & kinks so that it was steady and wouldn’t tip over or unexpectedly fold up. Thus the (nearly) modern shopping cart was invented. After a short struggle to get the public to accept the carts (many men said they could carry their own baskets, thank you very much, and some women had had enough of pushing something that resembled a baby carriage) but it didn’t take long for the new shopping carts to prove very successful and were soon used in groceries across America.

If you would like to see (and use) one of the first grocery carts ever made, stop by for a visit at the museum Gen’l Store. We have two on hand, given to the museum by Gary Strietlow, who had collected the carts many decades ago from a closed meat market in Cleveland.

“New” Tin Shop

September of 2018 I had the opportunity to save as much as I could of a barn over on Brecksville Rd. The barn was once the center piece of one of the many old time farms along that road. It had been moved there many years ago from another earlier farm. Now it was time to move it a third time.

That barn has always interested me. I remember long ago when it served the farm, then more recently (getting near 40 yrs. ago) when it was rented out as a used furniture, tools and nick knack store. I liked that store. I used to get many useful items there. But the barn was in decline, and the owners weren’t much concerned at fixing it. When the store closed the barn sat unused, except for a local gent who parked his trailers and a 1933 Whippet car there. The fire department eventually burned down the old farm house, and the barn followed these several years later.

It has been very sad for me to watch as our once thriving and vital farming community disappears. Driving down pert near any road in the area I can still picture barns, homes and farms no longer there. But I suppose the current mayor of our community likes big flashy glass and steel buildings. She has certainly seen to a fair amount of destruction of what they like to call “The Historic District”. They fly nice flags proclaiming such on the telephone poles in town, then they tear down another house or building in a succession of now lost historic treasures.

But, at least a bit sometimes gets saved. I pulled out as many 8×8 beams, roof rafters & boards, siding, floor boards & joists and windows as were still usable. And those nearly ancient parts have been reassembled at the museum as the “new” tin shop, a portico to the collar shop, and as a dividing wall in the “new” wood working shop.  I just wish the benefits to the museum didn’t come at the cost of our town heritage.

The Tin Shop is a nice stop on the tour of the museum. It is filled with the tools of the trade from 150+ years ago. And there are lots of pieces of tin ware just as great grandma used. It is a very interesting look into what was utilized as containers before plastics came along. Of particular interest is the long table that sits under the windows. That table was once used at Taylor Elevator in Cleveland. 120+ years ago, that company built the elevator, for Queen Victoria, that is still in service in Buckingham Palace today.


Hamburg Horseshoeing & Jobbing

This past week we have been working on building the Hamburg Horseshoeing & Jobbing Shop. Some years ago we were given a carriage building. A century ago it had protected the buggies at the Wall Farm in Sharon Center. The building has been stored under a tarp, these several years since its move to the museum, waiting to be re-erected. I just needed to decide where to put it.

The building had originally been built on a slope. The foundations and bottom sills had stepped down the slope, so it really needed to be put back on sloping ground to accommodate its original configuration. But I just didn’t have the right spot to put it.

Then last week the obvious finally became apparent. The oddly shaped building would fit nicely, attached to the side of the Hotz Blacksmith. The fall of the ground was just right. So at last up it goes. The original beams & rafters once again joining together to provide space and protection, as they had for so long at the Wall.

The new shop is attached to the west side of the original Hotz building, with a 12 foot opening into the basement. The lower level of the Hotz now contains all the museum’s scrap metal. That makes a very large and convenient storage area for the necessaries of future projects and art.

We leveled the floor of the new shop with 8 tons of gravel (all moved by wheel barrow). Then we hauled 4 very heavy truck loads of bricks from a former parking lot in Cuyahoga Falls. It made a great looking and fire proof floor for all the cutting, welding and smithing common in a blacksmith shop. It’s already made metal working much easier than was possible in the old shop (our first project was making iron railings for the new barn bridge).

The upper level of the wooden floored Hotz Blacksmith Shop will soon become a wood working shop. Part of every day is already spent there, working on the many needs of the museum.

Clock Shop & The Hampden Table

When I was quite young, first grade or so, my younger sister and I used to walk a long way down the gravel road to visit Mrs. Garman (back then there was almost no traffic and nobody worried about “stranger danger”. Before the freeways, Richfield was a very sleepy little farm community.). She was in her nineties or so, and lived alone. Her husband Howard was passed, her daughter also gone, her sons long since moved on. She had given up her chickens. The farm was sold. She was alone. -Except for her clocks. When you walked in her back door, there were ticking clocks everywhere. It was quite a wonderous sight for young eyes. It must have taken her some time to get them all woundup every morning.

I’ve often wondered if that experience caused my lifelong liking of old windup wall and shelf clocks.

Several years ago a fellow came along to do some trading. I had a Soap Box Derby car that didn’t fit the museum and he had clocks. Lots of clocks. Soon I had clocks all over my house, just like Julia did. But even better, he had a clock maker’s table. I didn’t know it at the time, but that table was to reveal quite a story.

Back in 1864 John C. Dueber founded the Dueber Watch Case Company in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1888 he bought the Hampton Watch Co., then moved both companies to Canton, Oh. There the combined company grew to employ 10% of all Canton workers. Unfortunately, by the time of the Great Depression the company failed from lack of sales. But a quirk of fate was to give the once thriving company a second, then third life.

Communist Russia needed watches (I suppose when you want to lead worldwide revolution your army needs to know what time it is). They tried to buy several watch factories in Europe, but the Europeans wouldn’t sell to them. So the Soviets turned to the U.S. They settled on Hampden. Soon 28 train car loads of equipment and parts were on their way to their new home outside of Moscow. It proved to be so important that when the Nazi’s invaded Russia, the factory was packed up once again and moved farther into the Russian interior.

So now, ninety years later, the Hampden (renamed the First Moscow Watch Factory) still produces watches. While back home in the States, all that remains of the once mighty employer of so many Canton residents is the single watch maker’s desk now residing in the museum’s new Hampden Clock Shop.

The Old Landis, in the “New” Shop

I received a call a few years ago from the daughter of a gentleman in the nearby community of Brecksville. Her dad had reached the age of letting things go. He had a 700 lb. sewing machine he wanted to see go somewhere safe because it had had so much meaning to their family. I said I’d come take a look. They had a Landis Model 12 Series E shoe sole sew’er.

Back before the Great Depression, Grand-dad worked in a shoe repair shop in Cleveland’s Near East Side. When the economy crashed the shop went out of business. Granddad lost his job, but saved the shoe repair machine. He took it home and put it in his basement and began fixing shoes. As the Depression wore on the whole neighborhood began bringing their old shoes to him to be fixed. Nobody could afford new. All through the hard times he kept his neighbor’s feet properly attired, through the several years of snow and rain and heat, receiving little in return. There just wasn’t money. But a good and helpful friend he remained.

Unfortunately, as sometimes happens, when good times returned the neighbors stopped going to him and spent their money at the bigger established shoe stores. And he was left poor, -forgotten by those he had helped.

It was interesting to go over to the family home and listen to their story of Grand Dad, and hear how badly the third generation still felt about what had happened. Sometimes in some families events echo for a long time. Grand dad had given so much almost a hundred years ago, and received so little in return. It all still remembered by his family.

The Landis now stands, once again useful, in the “new” Peter Allen Harness Shop. And with it is told another small story of a single man, caught in the great sweeping changes of his times.

P. S. Allen Harness Shop

Most every town had a harness shop at one time, some towns several. Richfield’s most well known shop was run by Peter Allen. It stood at the corner of Streetsboro and Broadview Rds.

These days, early in the 21st Century, harness shops have become quite rare outside of Amish communities. There was an old gentleman in Richfield who repaired harness and tack out of a small “yard” barn behind his house, until he finally retired in the mid ’90’s from his almost hobby like work. And years ago there was a harness shop over towards Wadsworth. But now, if you need something repaired, you have a choice of traveling north an hour to the Amish communities around Middlefield, or go south an hour to the Amish shops in Holmes County. We almost always go south. We have many Amish friends there, and we still have quite a number of Amish relatives in the Charm area (our great grandfather’s farm was just south of Charm).

We have occasion to visit a number of harness & buggy shops down in the area, but our favorite is found along a long dirt road, south of Kidron. It’s run by a really nice gentleman who is there when he’s there, and isn’t when he’s not. When he’s not, you can go on down the “drive” another half mile or so to his farm. I asked him one time why he walks such a distance to go to his shop and he said he didn’t like to bother the horse. So then I asked why he didn’t ride a bicycle since it would be so much easier. He got the strangest look like he couldn’t figure out what I was talking about, then finally replied that the Bishop of the house church didn’t allow air filled tires.

Over the course of years I’ve known him, he has done a great job of repairing and oiling the many sets of museum harness I have brought him. He’ll never be wealthy, he charges very little, ..in part because he only works for Amish (and me). I have also bought several other things from him, including a old, old (but still usable) heavy duty, leather sewing, treadle sewing machine.

But now, at long last, the museum has it’s own harness shop. In style, look and use it greatly resembles the Peter Allen Harness Shop that operated from 1880 to 1908 in Richfield. Along the long wall are a series of windows with a sewing machine at each light. There is a large trough for dipping harness in Neats Foot oil. In one corner is a stack of trunks for sale, just as Peter sold trunks. Down the center of the shop is a nearly ancient table that has served for years as cutting and assembly bench for harness. And hanging from many metal hooks around the walls are nearly countless sets of harness and tack collected from now long gone area farms including the Mueller, King, Sebecky, Knopp, Krone and Morris Farms ..and of course others. I have wondered about all the horses that had labored under those sets of leathers. I have seen a few old pictures of a couple of them, even heard their names. But now, they and their masters are long gone and only the harness remains.

I’ve spent most of the last two weeks in the “new” shop, …carting in equipment, getting it running, sorting and hanging tack. It took a couple hours just to attempt to sort, match and hang all the many hames the museum has collected. Hames come in matched sets, fitting and clamping to each side of a horse collar. Then the harness attaches to the hames so the horse can pull its load. I have several dozen of the (sometimes all wood, sometimes all metal, sometimes wood and metal mixed) devices. But I could only find three matched sets. I have no idea what the farmers I got the hames, halters and harness from did with the other half of so many of the hames.

I’ve also added quite a number of shoe and boot making tools, machines and lasts, including an eight foot long shoe fitting, grinding and polishing machine. It’s rather uncommon to see those machines anymore. People just don’t much have their shoes repaired these days. Imports have made new (but much less long lasting) shoes and boots cheaper.

Another couple days and it’ll be a great and interesting shop to visit. It’s a nice step in time, with the rich smells of oil, the creak of leather, the chatter of the treadle sewing machines, and the hundred year old brick floor, …all housed in one of the oldest remaining barns in Northern Ohio.

Love of a Farm

The Story of My Family’s Farm    -as told by Juanita Taylor

My mom was a World War II war bride. My dad was a Navy pilot. After the war Dad remained in the Navy, and our family lived the adventure of traveling every two years across country from post to posting.

It was a wonderful life, but one thing I always longed for was a home in one place where I could watch my friends grow up and go to the same school (I moved 18 times between birth and high school). Luckily we did have a home base between our many moves, my mom’s family farm in Cooksville, Illinois.

The farm has been in our family for 5 generations. It was established in the 1880’s by my great grandmother and grandfather. My grandmother was born on the farm. My mother was born on the farm. I have my mother’s and grandmother’s bedroom set in my home in Richfield. Its 240 acres is currently farmed by my cousin and his son. My aunt still lives in the farmhouse. It was always home to me. It still is.

I get excited every time we approach the farm when we plan a trip to visit family. The deep rich soil, the soy beans and corn growing so tall and green. My aunt’s beautiful garden. Her home cooked meals. The welcoming comfort of the farmhouse. Sleeping in the bedroom my mother slept in as a child. The farm has been a part of the rhythm of my life.

Whenever we went to the farm, my sister and I would head for the attic. Even on the hottest summer days, we’d climb the stairs, open the attic hatch and breathe in the heavenly stuffy stale air that was released as we entered that attic. We always opened the old trunk first – loaded with clothes, a scrap book my grandmother put together in the 1890’s, and little treasures like needle cubes, handmade lace and postcards. We also found out about a long hidden secret involving our family that we weren’t supposed to uncover (you never know what you’ll find in an attic).

My love of old things started at the family farm. I dreamed of living in my grandmother’s time: walking to school and attending the one room schoolhouse located down the road from the farm; imagining the love story blossoming between my grandmother and grandfather (he grew up on the farm closest to my grandmother). I collected anything my family didn’t want from the farm. And I have collected many antiques that I thought would have been a part of our farm.

When my husband and I were about to be married, we decided we both wanted something outside the city with a little land and a century home. We now live in a home built in the 1840’s, have a little over 3 acres with a buggy barn, and a 38 acre preserve in our back yard with paths and a pond. For us it has been heaven.

As we age and are ready to divest ourselves of some of our possessions, we could think of no finer place than Stone Garden Farm & Village to pass on a number of our antiques collected over the years. Some are from our family farm in Cooksville, Illinois. Others have been collected in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. We know the Fry’s and the museum will treasure them as much as we have. Those simple things of such beauty and use that reflect a simple hard working life on a farm.

Juanita Juarez Taylor

Nitre Kettle -The Pot That Won the War.

    Human history and the art of war was forever changed with the invention of firearms. Gunpowder made it happen. The availability, or lack of, gunpowder often meant the winning or loss of a battle. In American history this was most important early in the War of Independence. At the Siege of Boston, the Colonials were able to trap the British forces on the then peninsula of Boston, and eventually to force the British to retreat to Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada. It was the first great battle of the Revolution, and allowed the Americans the self confidence to pursue the war and eventually gain independence. But, at one point during the nearly 11 month siege, each of the Colonial troops were down to their last 1/2 pound of gun powder. Had the British known the sorry state of supplies they surely would have attacked and won the day, and perhaps have ended the revolution before it had barely begun. Fortunately, as the Colonials became better prepared for war, supplies of gunpowder became more available.

Gun powder is composed of salt peter (potassium nitrate), charcoal and sulfur. When gun powder was first produced there was no science to explain why it worked. People just knew that mixing its parts together produced a powder that exploded. Because there was no chemical understanding, the recipes for its production varied widely, and was especially dependent on the quality of it parts, most particularly the quality of the salt peter.

Sulfur and charcoal are easy, they can be dug or produced in abundance. Salt peter is another matter. It is produced by the mixing together and rotting of plant material, manure, and urine for a period of usually six months. Salt peter (niter) crystals precipitated out of this mixture and were then gathered, then refined. Or, salt peter can be gathered from certain caves, most commonly located in Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky and Alabama. Dirt from the caves was dug and placed in large wood troughs, then water was poured over the dirt to extract out the salt peter or niter.

But the key part of the production of the salt peter was to mix it with water and cook it in kettles to further refine it. Without the kettles, it couldn’t be refined enough to make effective, reliable gun powder. Without the kettles, the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and the Civil War may have had very different outcomes.

Shortly after the Civil War the chemical industry became much more sophisticated and much better explosives were developed. And the once so important kettles were no longer needed. There are very few left, with most long forgotten or consumed in the scrap metal drives of the World Wars.

There are several still in caves located within National Parks in the South. The DuPont Chemical Co. has two kettles (used by the DuPont’s in the early days of their company) which are displayed at their museum on their original manufacturing grounds. And there is one of these now very rare, and once so important, kettles at this museum.

A Studebaker Buggy, ..and the Ely and Gest Families of Elyria

The museum received a fantastic donation today. An all original Studebaker buggy.

Elyria was founded in 1816 (just 40 years after the establishment of our nation) by Herman Ely from Massachusetts. He came to the Western Reserve on horseback and built a log house close to the Black River (close to where Original Peoples were camping). He also built a dam, gristmill and sawmill on the site. The sawmill was built near one of the waterfalls and they used the lumber to build more houses to accommodate immigrating settlers. Just 36 years later, when Mr. Ely died in 1852, Elyria had five churches, three grocery stores, three flour mills, a newspaper, and a population of more than 1500 people.

At the turn of the century, the Ely family owned a buggy. They had acquired the buggy from Elyria Equipment Company, in Elyria. The family gave the buggy to the Ingersol family who used it for a short time. The Ingersol’s then gifted the buggy to their friends, the Gest’s, when they were married about 1910. The buggy was used by the Gest’s until they gifted the buggy to their grand daughter (the oldest sister of Richard Wise) on the occasion of her wedding in the late 1960’s. Eventually the buggy skipped back up a generation to Richard’s parents, who stored it for a time in a barn in Belden. About 1990 it went to a cousin, and finally Richard acquired the buggy in the summer of 2017. He kept the buggy in his barn in Wellington.

The 108 years of the Gest/Wise Family ownership of the buggy finally ended in Feb. 2018 when Richard and his daughter, Wendy, donated the buggy the museum. Their donation completed the buggy’s journey from the original seller (the Elyria Equipment Co.) to its first owner, the Ely’s, and eventually to the Gest’s and to their descendants. The museum has never seen such a well documented buggy.

Buggies and sleighs from before the turn of the century always had small brass tags marking their builder. But for those conveyances that have survived to present day, the tags have almost always been removed by “tag collectors”. It’s rare to find the original maker’s mark on either. It’s even more rare to find a tag bearing the name of the seller of the equipment. In fact, I’ve never seen or even heard of one. But this wonderful buggy bears both, …probably because one family has owned the buggy for nearly all of its life. But there they are, Studebaker Company, South Bend, Ind. and Elyria Equipment Co, Elyria, Oh.


Mystery at the Museum -Magic Lanterns

Several days ago I decided to set up a camera display in the (new) Gen’l Store. The museum has had a number of them in storage for several years, and it was time to get them out. But when I got to looking at them they didn’t seem right. So research began, and I was soon to discover that the “cameras” were actually Magic Lanterns. And thus began a whole new field of learning I had known nothing about. –That’s one of the things I like so much about the museum. There’s always new things to learn, ~about things that are old.

Very few people these days know what Magic Lanterns are. But not so long ago, before computers and cell phones, before movies or TV, before the Silent Pictures, before there were even very many photographs, …there were Magic Lanterns. Just a bit over a hundred years ago, Magic Lanterns were the most common and well liked form of entertainment in the U.S. By some estimates there were 50,000+ traveling road shows of the projected pictures. And then they suddenly disappeared from use, and even disappeared from memory.

The magic lantern was an early type of image projector, developed in the 17th century. It used a concave mirror behind a light source to direct as much of the light as possible through a small rectangular sheet of glass – the magic lantern slide – on which was the painted or photographic image to be projected – and onward into a lens at the front. The lens was adjusted to focus the projection on a screen or wall.

Initially, candles or oil lamps were used, producing very dim projections. Improvements in lighting took the form of the Argand lamp from the 1790’s, limelight in the 1820’s, electric arc light in the 1860’s and finally the incandescent electric lamp.

The art of projection reached a high-point in the 1870-1880 period, with the magic lantern playing a very important part in Victorian society. Temperance and religious lectures were given, they were used in education, they helped in the demonstration of scientific principles, they helped relay the latest news of world events, and were used to create ‘phantasmagoria’ shows. By this time, images were being transferred to slides by photographic means, and then colored by hand.

One of the most interesting early uses of the lanterns was during church or religious gatherings. At the front of the sanctuary, or meeting room, a screen would be set up. A Magic Lantern was placed behind the screen so it could not be seen by the congregation. In the darkened church, at the point of the sermon most warning of the dangers of the devil, the lantern would be turned on showing a picture of a monster or some other evil being. The projectionist would then very quickly move the lantern away from the screen, causing the projected image to appear to grow larger. This would cause an effect of the monster charging at the crowd. And many folks were terrified. With reportedly much shouting, crying and even some repenting. An even scarier effect could be achieved by projecting the image on a cloud of smoke or incense, which would cause the devil to appear to move and waver.

Magic Lanterns brought wonderful lessons and entertainment to the public. They showed folks the many wonders of the world. They brought people together, unlike the many devices of today. They were fun and they are certainly missed by those few remaining who remember them.

-You can see the museum’s Magic Lanterns on display at the Gen’l Store. And if you ask, maybe we’ll turn one on to show you how they work.


A Bag of Charcoal

Several years ago someone donated a number of items which were immediately incorporated into various displays. –Except for a bag of charcoal of which I hadn’t really paid much attention. At casual glance it hadn’t seem to “belong” anywhere. So it has lingered in a corner, waiting. Till today. Today I looked again and realized what it was.
Henry Ford began producing Model T cars in 1908. By 1914 the Ford Motor Company was producing thousands of cars a week and just 5 yrs. later Ford was selling a million T’s a year. Each car required 100 board feet of lumber for the running boards, frame, wheel spokes and the dash board. Ford was using so much wood in the production of Model T’s that he wanted to go into the lumber business for himself.
Every year Henry and his friends (including inventor Thomas Edison, naturalist John Burroughs and tire builder Harvey Firestone) went on a camping trip. They traveled in a six car caravan which included a full mobile kitchen. They called themselves the “Vagabonds”, and their well publicized trips made camping “cool” for the American public. For the 1919 trip, Henry included Edward Kingsford (a cousin-in-law) because Henry wanted to talk with him about buying forested land in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Shortly thereafter, Ford bought 313,000 acres, where he built a sawmill, a parts plant and a company town he named Kingsford.
The new mills and factories were soon producing all the wood parts needed, but there was a great deal of wood scrap and saw dust left over. Mr. Ford abhorred waste, so applying an invention of Orin Stafford (a chemist in Oregon) Henry had the waste wood turned into charcoal, which was then pressed into briquettes using corn starch and tar as a binder.

At first the briquettes were sold for use in meat & fish smokehouses and for home heating. But soon supply outstripped demand. Henry then created a brand new business of bagging the charcoal and selling it at Ford car dealerships for use during picnics or camping. The idea of family cookouts became so popular (in part because of the Vagabonds) that shortly Ford was selling “Picnic Kits” that contained grills and charcoal, and bore the slogan: “Enjoy a Modern Picnic -Sizzling Broiled Meats, Steaming Coffee, Toasted Sandwiches.”

Ford Motor Company Charcoal eventually was renamed Kingsford Charcoal, which is now America’s most popular maker of charcoal. The company uses a million tons of wood a year making it’s ever popular product.

Henry Ford not only invented one of the most popular cars ever sold, created one of America’s most successful businesses and invented the revolutionary assembly line, …he also changed American life and leisure by making possible and popularizing the great American barbecue.

—(It’s fascinating how even the most seemingly insignificant artifact can lead to such interesting history. Glad I looked at that bag of donated charcoal again. It turns out it had quite a story.)

Why We Don’t Charge Admission to the Museum.

We have been asked a number of times why we accept donations, but do not charge admission to the museum.

We see our “mission” as several fold: We really like saving historic buildings. We believe it is extremely important to save the tools and the knowledge of how to use them, of the many 19th Cent. trades. We feel it is also just as important to preserve the stories of family and farm life in the Western Reserve of the 19th Century. ….And we believe we should share all this wealth of history with as many folks as possible. That is one of the primary reasons we do not charge for visits to or use of the museum.

Our thinking on this question began to be formed over the many years I worked at another local historic village. Over a thirty year period I worked there a number of times. I ran the Wood Working Shop. I did general maintenance, and made repairs as needed to the Church, Jaeger House, Stow House, the farm barn, saw mill, and other buildings and displays. I also helped build several buildings including the Herrick House. At another time I built the administration offices in the basement of the visitors center. And I received a private contract to paint several of the houses. —There was virtually nothing I wasn’t intimately familiar with, or helped build. And yet, one time when I stopped by for a quick reminder of how one of the cabins was built, I was told I couldn’t go on the grounds. I needed a ticket. Thirty years of working there (off and on) and I wasn’t welcome.

This is something I never want to have happen here at Stone Garden Farm & Village. We want all folks to be welcome. And even more we want all folks to discover our American history, as it was lived by our ancestors and saved by us, not as a monetary transaction but simply shared by all. Let the public come to at least one place to learn and experience our Nation’s common story, without paying for the “privilege”.

–P.S. About those “donations”. Over the years we have been very grateful for all the many donations the Museum has received. Folks have given us many tractors, pieces of horse drawn equipment, furniture, buildings, washing machines, a fire truck, innumerable other things, …and sometimes even monetary donations. And, of course, many friends and acquaintances have donated untold hours of help. For all of it, we are most appreciative. It’s much of what helps this museum thrive.

Gas & Kerosene Pumps.

Before cars became popular there was much less use of oil based fuels. Some gasoline was used to power hit or miss engines, but most gas and kerosene was used in lamps (The first commercial use of gas was in 1865, when Charles Gilbert and John Barker partnered to build the Springfield Gas Machine that boiled gasoline into gas vapor to allow gas lamp lighting in homes and buildings.).

There were no gas stations. Just pumps often standing on the porches or in front of Gen’l Stores. Many early pumps had a simple clock face gage to measure the number of gallons pumped. But that soon became unpopular because customers could not actually see how much gasoline was being delivered. As towns grew and travel increased, folks less often personally knew the gas seller, so trust oft times came to be questioned.


The earliest pumps had a handle that when cranked would pump gas out of a storage tank directly into a hose, then hence directly into the car gas tank. Because of the problem of sometimes maybe not trusting the seller to give a fair measure, some folks took to carrying a measured can which they would first have the gas pumped into, then pour the can contents into the car gas tank.

This proved unwieldy, so a new type of gasoline pump was invented, often called visible globe pumps. These improved pumps would first deliver the gas into a gas globe that sat on top of the pump as the handle was turned. Then the clearly measured gas would flow down a hose to the customers can or tank.

The Museum now has two early clock face gas pumps, and one early kerosene pump, whose gage would measure one gallon, 1/2 gal. and 1 qt. at a time. They can be seen at the museum’s Gen’l Store.

The Bartelemy, Lyford & Ailing Coverlets, …Tied Beiderwald Woven, w/. Jacquard Attachment.


The Museum had a happy event the other day. Kyle & Carol Morison stopped by. They brought a beautiful coverlet, woven in 1847 by Jacob Bartelemy of New Britain, in Stark Co., Ohio. (Jacob is listed in the famous reference book on coverlets, “American Coverlets and Their Weavers. -Coverlets From the Collection of Foster & Muriel McCarl”.)

The red, white and blue coverlet is a Tied Beiderwand (which is a German term referring to the structure of the weave). The coverlet was woven using a Jacquard Attachment on the loom instead of using the much more commonly used heddles & harness. Jacquard equipped looms were almost always owned and used by full time, professional weavers and are now quite rare, with the few remaining examples in museums.

(The Jacquard Attachment was invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1804. It enabled looms to produce fabrics having intricate woven patterns. The loom was controlled by a number of punched cards laced together into a continuous sequence, or “chain”. Multiple rows of holes were punched on each card, with one complete card corresponding to one row of the design.  This mechanism is probably one of the most important weaving inventions as Jacquard shedding made possible the automatic production of unlimited varieties of pattern weaving. The term “Jacquard” is not specific or limited to any particular loom, but rather refers to the added control mechanism that automates the patterning.)

The coverlet remains in wonderful condition, in part because it has been so carefully protected by the descendants of the Fulmer Family. The Fulmer’s lived on the family farm in Greentown, Stark Co. (midway between Akron & Canton, Ohio). They purchased the coverlet directly from Jacob Bartelemy, in 1847. It was then handed down to daughter Belle Fulmer, hence to Merle Fulmer Ford, then to Ramona Ford Morison, to Kyle & Carol Morison, and finally to the Museum.


A number of years ago I received a phone call from Louise Lewis, wife of Robert Lewis. They wanted to know if the Museum was interested in a barn beam loom. According to the family history written by Caroline Hutchins Lewis in 1941, the loom was made in the late 1600’s  (more than 100 years before the American Revolution) by a member of the Lyford family of Brookfield, New Hampshire. The loom was used by generations of the Lyford’s, until its last use by Betsy Lyford Hutchins. During the Civil War, she wove the red, white & blue coverlet which now resides in the Museum collection. The loom was then stored in the Lyford farm’s barn for a number of years, and finally moved to the attic of the farm house. The loom eventually was bequeathed to Caroline Hutchins Lewis, who moved the loom to her home in Baltimore, Maryland in 1941, during WW2. 72 years later her son, Robert, donated the loom, pictures, coverlet and written history to the museum in 2013.


My family, the Fry’s, have been raising sheep on the family farm in Richfield Twp. for 62 years. When my brother, sisters and I were young, our parents used to take the sheep’s wool down to the Aling Wool Mill (later named Rastetter Wool Mill) near Kidron, Ohio.  Ailing would clean, card and weave our wool to our request. During a number of the early years of the farm’s wool production, our family choose to have coverlets made, each of a different color, and with a pine tree pattern around the edges of the coverlets to denote our raising of Christmas trees (1956 to present) on our farm. Each of us kids received a coverlet in the color of our choice. The Museum now counts Jim’s brown coverlet and his parent’s blue coverlet in the museum collection. The other still family owned coverlets are yellow, red and green. {Note: Rastetter was to eventually close its doors in 2002. Several years later when they sold the building, they donated several hundred balls of rug fabric to the Museum.} –Also pictured are two additional coverlets from the museum’s large collection.

~~For more information about American Coverlets, we recommend visiting or calling The National Museum of the American Coverlet, in Bedford, Pa. They are most helpful and wonderful folks.~~


The Stills of Stone Garden.

The Whiskey Rebellion (also known as the Whiskey Insurrection) was a tax protest in the United States beginning in 1791 during the presidency of George Washington. The so-called “whiskey tax” was the first tax imposed on a domestic product by the newly formed federal government. It became law in 1791, and was intended to generate revenue for paying the war debt incurred during the Revolutionary War. The tax applied to all distilled spirits, but American whiskey was by far the country’s most popular distilled beverage in the 18th century, so the excise became widely known as a “whiskey tax”. Farmers of the western frontier (primarily Western Penn. & and what would become eastern Ohio) were accustomed to distilling their surplus rye, barley, wheat, corn, or fermented grain mixtures into whiskey. These farmers resisted the tax. In these regions, whiskey often served as a medium of exchange. Many of the resisters were war veterans who believed that they were fighting for the principles of the American Revolution, in particular against taxation without local representation, while the federal government maintained that the taxes were the legal expression of Congressional taxation powers. The Federal Gov’t was finally able to impose the tax on “Spirits” makers, but many folks continued on with making their own, untaxed and privately used or traded, brew.


Years later, the Federal Government again decided to regulate alcohol, this time much more severely. Prohibition was declared law of the land from 1920 to 1933. No one was to make, use, drink, transport, …alcohol. Again, many private Americans decided they could live their lives better without Federal laws and intrusions. Many folks made their own.

It’s been interesting over the years to visit and explore once productive, now abandoned, farms. It has been especially interesting to discover the things those “old time” farmers left behind. Some years ago I received permission to collect the equipment left on a farm in Strongsville. There was a tractor and all the equipment, nuts and bolts galore, chicken feeders, signs that read “Silver Queen Corn -For Sale”, and more. It took me a couple days to move it all, but eventually I was finished, ..except for a final look around. I wanted to make sure the old guy hadn’t parked some last equipment along one of the line fences. So I walked towards the rear of the property, and discovered in the middle of a back field a dense crop of trees. It seemed a bit strange, so I got down on hands and knees and crawled in to see what was what. And there in the thick patch of cover was a hidden building. You could not see it from outside the copse. In the building was a still. That guy had been using his extra Silver Queen to brew a batch now and again. I’m sure it was a lucrative product to sell with his eggs and hens and sweet corn.

Since then, the Museum has collected many stills and heard numerous stories of farmers making a living by producing something many people want, –even if the Gub’mint says it ain’t lee-gal. Our large collection of stills and liquor producing equipment can now be found on display in the “new” Gen’l Store.


“New” Gen’l Store

The Museum is pleased to announce that, at long last, the Hamburg Horseshoeing and Jobbing building from Independence in Cuyahoga County, has transformed into the Hamburg Gen’l Store.

The building, which was originally a transition blacksmith shop in the center of old Independence (Mr. Hamburg originally shod horses and made repairs on buggies and wagons, then progressed into very early car repair as they were invented and came on the market.). The shop was two stories tall and 20×40 foot on a side. It had a later, smaller addition attached to one end.

The Museum purchased the building for $1.00 from the City of Independence, and moved it here several years ago. Because of the constant work of restoring the many other buildings moved here every year (we average 3 or 4 a year), we simply didn’t get the Hamburg finished and usable until this past Thanksgiving. We lowered the roof to be more compatible with the rest of the museum buildings and added a porch and a fireplace, but otherwise the building is much as it was when it stood on its original site. The back door is the same, the windows still open in their original locations, and the wonderful wood stairs and closet under still provide access to the second floor (now attic). Of perhaps special note are the Eastwood Gen’l Store shelves. Richfield has had quite a few stores over the years, including the Sykes Grocery at 21 & 303, Damon’s on 303 just west of center, and Eastwood’s next to the Underground (now Richfield Tavern in town center). The Museum has the last bit of Eastwood’s store, the green painted hanging shelves. They once again serve to hold (antique) grocery items “for sale”.

There’s still more to be done once the Christmas season is over, including more shelving and a permanent fireplace, but it’s a wonderful place to visit and shop for the many farm and museum products and hand crafted local gifts you will find on display.

P.S. If you click on individual picture, picture size will increase for better, more detailed, view.


Night Painting at the Museum

The Museum is open with no admission to everyone who wishes to visit. We are open seven days a week, daylight hours. Certainly during the Winter there are fewer visitors, but for most of the year it is a very rare day folks aren’t touring the grounds.

One of the things we most like to do is welcome historic societies, groups that like to visit historic homes, antique car clubs, woodworking groups, Dowsers, retirement village folks, photography clubs and many others,. Sometimes they come to just look around, and sometimes they will make a day of it with meetings and picnics and talks or lectures. We welcome them all at no charge.

The pictures above were taken this past Summer by a local photography group. They like to take night photos using extended lens exposures and a variety of lights in order to achieve an effect called “night painting”. On this particular, actually quite dark, night they took pictures until 3 in the morning. We were/are glad they came.

Serendipity, The Wrought Iron Fence, and Joyce’s Garden

Several years ago three friends and I drove over to Valley City, a favorite little town 40 minutes west of here. An old fellow had a very large barn cupola he wanted to donate to the museum. He told a story about a group of guys who planned to tear down a local barn, but wanted to save the ornate cupola set high on the peak of the steep roof. Nobody could figure out how to get it down. Finally one young fellow (whose family wasn’t there to stop him) took a rope and made the rather scary climb to the top of the roof. He tied the rope around the construction and threw the end of the rope off the back of the barn. He then tipped the cupola over and down the front of the building. The guys on the ground slowly lowered the quite heavy roof ventilator to the barn bridge by playing out the rope a bit at a time.

Unfortunately, the cupola then sat, unmoved, in the gentleman’s back yard for the next 50 years. When we first saw it, it looked really great. But, like so many other buildings I have looked at, it sat whole from simple gravity (and paint) holding it together, instead of being whole from structural integrity. It fell to pieces when we tried to move it.

And then was to happen one of my favorite parts of museum collecting. ….Serendipity.

I asked him what else he might have that might suit the museum. He took us over to a barn/garage he had at the back of the property. It was stuffed full of “stuff”. We looked in, managed to squeeze thru the door, pushed past a grindstone mounted to a table and picked our way over, behind, under, around, other mostly junk, to find twelve sections of wrought iron fence. He said it once surrounded and protected a cemetery in Grafton. He went on to say that when he was much younger the Grafton Trustees decided to replace the fence with something newer because the wrought iron needed fix’n and it was becoming a maintenance problem. Our new friend had picked it up, thinking he might use it some day, but instead put it away. And there it waited through the decades for our arrival.

We made a quick deal with him, loaded the fence onto the trailer and brought it home, …where it sat for another couple years. We had the same problem as the old gentleman, we also just hadn’t the time to fix and paint it. But, now, in this winter and spring of little snow and cold, we are finally repairing the broken and bent pieces, and painting it once again its original colors, -gloss black, with gold tipped spear points. We have fixed it to new posts and it now surrounds the museum’s Victorian Garden.

We have a number of gardens, trees and areas where passed friend’s ashes are placed. There’s Harvey’s Garden, the final resting place for our great friend and most excellent dowser Harvey Lisle; and Rill’s Tree, a Dawn Redwood she donated to the museum shortly before she passed (perhaps somehow knowing it might be her last place for resting in the shade). There’s a baby, lost many generations ago, buried in the front yard by the horse chestnut tree, a Vietnam Veteran amongst the ash trees and Mark is at the Stone Circle.

Now Laura has suggested that the Victorian Garden, with its “new” 120 year old wrought iron cemetery fence, be named Joyce’s Garden. She was a very well liked friend who was always so helpful to the museum and the gathering of its collections. Laura thought the naming appropriate because some time ago Joyce gave us two metal garden chairs. I then went to work with the welder and created two Victorian ladies sitting on the chairs (Laura thinks they may be one of my better art projects). And, as they ever so properly sit by the newly fenced garden, waving a friendly hello with their hair slightly mussed from the breeze, they always remember us to our missed friend Joyce, the lovely lady of Seville.

Peninsula Cabin

We had quite the surprise the other day. We received a post titled “Cabin”. I thought it was someone inquiring about staying here. Instead it turned out to be a wonderful lady, living deep in the heart of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, offering us a cabin. We have always wanted one for the museum, so we were quite excited, even sight unseen. So we went to look immediately. And happy we were.

Years ago a previous owner of the property had collected cabins and eventually ended up with five on his land. We hadn’t known, until our visit that day, that one of the cabins had already been moved into “town” in Peninsula, and had been serving as an occasional art gallery. In recent years I had displayed some of my metal art at their seasonal, weekend long “Cabin Art” shows. I have always really liked and admired that cabin.

Usually folks have an “archetype” picture of cabins. We think of them as being built of large hand hewn logs that took 3 men and a dog to lift and stack for walls. And, in fact, almost all surviving old time cabins are built like that. Big logs could take the weathering of time and season, so they simply lasted longer -even to present day. But the early settlers were coming to the Western Reserve that was deep woods and little else. Building a large house was a future luxury they could not initially afford.

Folks would try to leave the Colonies or original States in the Spring so they would have enough time to make the long and arduous journey, and still have sufficient time to prepare for winter in an unsettled land. The earliest wave of them had a tough trip. Some took canoes or small boats through the Great Lakes then south into the new lands down rivers such as the Sandusky, Cuyahoga and Grand. Others made part of the trip on the Ohio River then north up the branches of either the Muskingum, Tuscarawas, Scioto and Olentangy Rivers. And many made the months long trek overland. But, how ever they came, it was long, it was hard, and many of them never made it. Those who did usually got to their piece of land with summer fast upon them. So there wasn’t a great deal of time to prepare for snow, cold, hunger and want. There was much to do.

A usually small party of people, mostly alone in the wilderness, were faced with myriad tasks. You had to hunt, fish, gather food, pick any available fruits and nuts and preserve them all for winter. You needed reliable water, and stores of firewood. You had to clear land for planting a garden. You needed to provide shelter and food for any animals you had. You constantly had to be aware of and protect against the dangers of wilderness life. You needed to cut and prepare logs. And you really needed to build something to shelter in.

The Peninsula cabin we hope to move here soon is one of those very early cabins.  We were told that it originally stood in southern Ohio. Instead of the large hewn log cabins, it is built of smaller logs that could be more easily handled by a few people. It is small, only 12×12, since there was likely little time to build bigger. And it has a flat roof (which is less efficient but easier to build than a peeked roof). At some point the board or shake or possibly sod roof was replaced by metal, and larger windows were added. Originally any windows would have been much smaller and often covered with oil skin.

We plan to return it to more of its first look and use. We may remove the more recent cement chinking between the logs and replace it with more traditional chink, we’d like to replace the windows with earlier ones, and we’ll place it on a stone foundation, rather than the block used by its previous mover. And the roof will once again be covered with wood shakes.

We admire its original builders for all the tough work they did to just survive. We are very grateful the gentleman who moved it locally and thereby saved it. We are very thankful it was later offered to us. And we are thrilled to have it for the newest addition to the museum. Our thanks go out to the many generations of folks for saving this piece of Ohio history.

Update: July 9th, 2017.

This past Sunday morning we brought the cabin home. Legally you are allowed to transport things down the road that are no more than 10′ wide. There’s a small chance that the cabin might have been just a touch wider that that, but hey, I forgot my tape measure. We didn’t get stopped, didn’t run over any stray dogs and didn’t block any traffic or hit any mail boxes. All-in-all, a rather successful drive home. Now we need to get it on a foundation, build a new roof, and it’ll be ready for visitors.

The Lady Who Wouldn’t, and the Tractor That Will

A few years ago the museum acquired another tractor for its collection, a 1940 9N Ford. It took quite awhile in the gettin’.
                                                                 A couple generations ago a family had a farm on several hundred acres along Hawkins Rd. in Richfield Twp. It had a nice old farm house, big well maintained fields, and very large barn that had exceptionally wide roof boards. Near the house the family built a really nice outdoor, stone fireplace which was featured in a long ago Cleveland newspaper article and was apparently somewhat famous for quite a while. The barn lasted until about 15 years ago when it was torn down, in part because of the depredations of a pack of ground hogs who undermined its foundation. But, at least, those large roof boards were saved and sold to panel a restaurant in Cleveland. The fireplace still stands, but is suffering a great deal from the weather of the past 60 some years. And of course the farm had several tractors, tillers and other equipment.
                                                                                 The family eventually sold the land in three pieces. The house and barn and about 30 acres went to a couple of guys (both named John) who raised and raced sulky horses. (For many years I made hay for them on about 20 of their acres, and stored it in their barn for the horses. During those years I also acquired several of the original farm’s nearly eight hundred pound tillers. Those things were brutes. It’s hard to imagine them easier to use than horses, but they must have been.) Another 30 or so acres went to a guy living in Hinckley, who let me make hay every year for feeding my Hereford cattle, and it helped him by keeping the land mowed. The remainder of the land was sold to a couple of city folks who put up a small building, an outhouse and a picnic table or two near the pond, and used the area as a place to get out of town on weekends. When they bought the land, they acquired one of the farm’s tractors to keep the fields mowed. But they didn’t seem to be much at maintenance and they ended up parking the no longer running tractor in a small shed. There it sat for the next 40+ years.
                                                                                                                                                         About 38 years ago they hired me to mow the fields. I continued to do so for a number of years, until they got divorced and neither one of them would agree to pay me for the most recent hours of mowing I had done for them. Over the years I have occasionally wondered about the tractor, so now and again I checked on it. It began to sink a bit into the dirt from just the action of freezing and thawing. And the shed began to fall. It was a shame to see a once nice tractor go to rust (as I have seen so many tractors and various other equipment rot in fields, left behind on once productive, now abandoned, farms.). Every so often I would contact the old lady about paying me the due on the work I had done, and I also asked her about selling me the tractor. But she was an plain ornery person (as so said everyone I ever talked to about her, –including her family) and she wouldn’t talk about settling or selling.
                                                                                                                                                             When finally the old lady sold the land I went to talk to the new owner. He said sure I could have the tractor just for the hauling it away. There was just one problem. The lady had specified in the land contract that she would maintain ownership of that darn tractor, and she could come get it whenever she wanted. Of course by then she was in her nineties and hadn’t been out of her house in years (according to her family who lived in the other half of the family duplex). She was just by gosh going to hold on to that tractor until the bitter end. But, fortunately, the new owner wanted it gone, so we decided I could store the old rusty Ford until she came and got it. And it’s been here now for some time.
                                                                                                                                                                  So, at last she is gone, having left a bit of havoc in her wake. The tractor is now “free”, and we have asked our good friend Ward Cox, and his apprentice James, to restore it to running. We’ve so far spent far too much money on parts and labor to fix it, we could have bought a similar tractor in good condition for less. But sometimes it’s just the doing of something that matters, not the practicality. We’ll use it to make some hay for the animals and do some work around the museum. And it will recall the stories of the folks that first owned it, and it will remind of the lady who just wouldn’t let it go.
                                                                                                                                                               Four or five years ago, before I had the tractor, the grandson of the original owners stopped by. We got to talking and he mentioned how much he had liked that tractor when he was a kid visiting his grandparents on their farm. We took a walk and he was quite sad to see it in its depleted condition in that falling shed. I hope he stops by again sometime, and sees how great that old Ford looks now. I ‘spect he’ll even take it out for another spin like he did so many years ago.
                                                                                                                                                     –Historical Note: The 9N tractors were mainly sold before WW2. They were/are about a twenty horse utility tractor widely used on farms of the era. With the start of the war, Roosevelt imposed price freezes on many of the goods sold those days, mostly to prevent price gouging and inflation from war caused shortages. Ford couldn’t afford to sell the 9N’s for the prewar price, so they came out with a “new” tractor, the 2N. The 2 and 9N’s were virtually the same tractor, with the only difference being that Ford removed the battery and starter from the 9, and installed a magneto and starting crank to make it a 2N. The 2N was thus considered a “new” model tractor so the price could be raised (even though it was a bit harder to use).

Agritourism, the Museum & the Law

Last August the Ohio Legislature passed the Ohio Agritourism Law. It says, in effect, that any farm that opens up to visits by the public can not be sued for any injuries that occur on the farm as the result of the normal hazards of farm life. This is a tremendous help to farmers who no longer must fear of losing their farms to the whims and vicissitudes of America’s over supply of lawyers. (To quote Shakespeare, “The first we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”.)

The Museum of Western Reserve Farms & Equipment is located entirely at Stone Garden Farm & Village, in Richfield Twp. Our farm, and its museum, are now listed and posted as an Agritourism Farm. We try to make your visit to the museum and farm as enjoyable and safe as possible, but please be aware that visits to any farm carries with it inherent risks due to the many displays, pieces of equipment, animals, fences and tools that are normal to any farm or farm activity (and farm museum). Thank you for your visits and your caution while visiting.


Arno Strobe. The Older the Guy, the Bigger the Toys.

This has been a year without winter. There was little snow or cold in January. That was a very lucky thing for the museum. It gave us time for a very big outdoor job.

Arno is a friend of many years. He is one of those old guys that we like so well, and that many others, …don’t. He is just a friendly old cuss who seems to inspire certain reactions that aren’t always “pleasing” in most folks. But we like him. Once you get past his ways, he is a great story teller. His body is failing him now, but his mind is sharp. He can tell you stories about the local life you wouldn’t believe. –Along with his many tales, Arnie has also been an extremely dedicated collector.

Some months ago he fell in his home and his family found him several days later. He’s now living out his days in a care center. And his house has been sold. His children are becoming somewhat well seasoned in age, and were unable to clean and clear everything out. So they called us before the sale was final.

I had been over to visit him many times over the years, but had never really explored all he had. It was both awesome, and very, very daunting. The house, two garages and barn were stuffed. Lost in the piles of things were 5 cars, the most notable being a 1930 Franklin. We spent three weeks sorting, moving, hauling, …stuff. There were many days of loading scrap metal and taking it all to recycling. We burned enormous amounts of cardboard boxes and trash. Eventually three huge dumpsters were loaded and taken away. Arnie was a super collector (aka: well inventoried hoarder)!

All the work was a great benefit to the museum. The Franklin was sold to a Franklin collectors group in Pennsylvania to be restored (it was too modern for the museum), and the money will be used to acquire an earlier Model T. We found many automobiliana & gas station signs and license plates that now grace the “garage” at the museum. There was a wonderful 1950’s Shell gas pump, which will also be passed on in order to get a 1910 era pump (also for the garage). We found lots of parts for a 1936 Silver Streak Pontiac sedan, which also are being “converted” to acquire other museum car equipment, and there was all kinds of lifts, pumps and jacks that have become part of the museum. And then there were all the books, badges and buttons, all great for display and research.

It was quite the task, but well worth it. The only problem with it was how it again reminded me of how often guys spend their lives creating great collections, then it all drifts away in their later years. It seems such a loss that such fine assemblages of history are lost. Fortunately for Arno, and the museum, much of his collections will continue on.