Monday, June 27, 2011

Blog 12

Sorry to keep you all waiting. We have too often been out of the range of a wifi signal.

Thursday, 23 June
We met with Bob & Betsy Zimmerman in Betsy's sister's place in Burton, Ohio, in the middle of Amish country. It is charming seeing horse-drawn buggies on the streets sharing the pavement with cars, trucks and RVs. Perhaps the most interesting contrast was seeing the horse and buggies parked in special shelters next to a Walmart. There's definitely a lesson to be learned here, however. While the average American enjoys many amenities, luxuries and conveniences, it is done at a great cost to the environment. Meanwhile, the Amish thrive while mowing and cultivating their fields with horses. They leave a very gentle footprint on planet earth.
Bob's sister-in-law lives in a wonderful house built in 1820 occupied by people of note in Ohio. We chatted with Bob a while, catching up on this & that, and then had lunch in an Amish restaurant and traveled to meet with his mother in nearby Hiram. And talk about houses people of note, President Garfield once lived in Phebe's home and Phebe is a relative of Garfield's.
But this is not a story about famous people, it is a story about an extraordinary family, and for sure, Phebe's life is quite extraordinary. Besides sharing gene's with a president she, her husbandthe late John Pridy Zimmermanand her four sons, Bob, Ted, John, Jr., and Dean, are all highly intelligent, well-educated, well-read and accomplished in their fields. The house and the treasures in it are physical testaments to their lives and the things they hold dear. We were unable to meet with Ted, John, Jr., and Dean. That will have to wait for a future trip. The visit finished with a delicious dinner at the nearby Welshfield Inn with Bob and Phebe. Thanks Bob!

Friday, 24 Jun
This was a primarily a day of travel, not a particularly long day, but a trip through the heartland of this country, through the rich farmland of northern Ohio and southern Michigan. Our first stop in Michigan was to try to find out more about the life of my great-granduncle, John H. Purves. You may recall John from our days in Georgia. John fought in several battles in the Civil War and was quite seriously wounded. After the war he lived for about seven years in Sandusky, Ohio, and then moved to Jackson, Michigan, in about 1875 and lived there until his death in 1923. The when is not quite so interesting as the what he did there. He became a prison guard, and especially while serving as the captain of the night watch, he kept a journal detailing his experience there, the things he witnessed. Shortly after his death, the prison edited and printed in book-form these journals. My cousin, Christine Lurk (see Blog 7), discovered the journals in their printed form and sent me a copy, and Sunday, Valerie and I will go to the old prison on a tour and hear his words as part of the narration.
At the end of the day I met with the woman who will conduct the tour, Judy Gail Krasnow. She was excited to meet the great-grandnephew of John H. Purves. She took us into her apartment in the Armory Arts Court where she now lives. The Armory Arts Court is a prize-winning reconstruction of the old prison where Purves once worked. There she gave me a copy of this wonderful picture that a relative of another night watchman had given her. Written on the photograph is: “When he worked at Jackson Prison.Walter Bearse.” We are looking forward to the tour and I will tell you all about it in the next Blog.
Night Watchmen, Jackson Prison, Jackson, Michigan. John H. Purves, Captain, front and center.
Our home for the two days was amazing. There were well over 1,100 campsites, many of which were permanentat least until they die.

Saturday, 25 June
An interesting monument/vault in Woodland Cemetery.
In the morning Valerie & I went to the Jackson Public Library to do a little research. Unfortunately we did not leave ourselves enough time, we but did discover, among other things, that he and his wife were buried in Woodland Cemetery. Then, knowing that, we went to the cemetery where we found, unfortunately, that the office is open only on weekdays. The cemetery is large and there was no way that the two of us could find their graves simply by walking around. Because he was in the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) we narrowed our search to graves with GAR markers. It was, however, to be for naught, and we had to move on to our next destination, the home of Walter and Gloria Edwards in Owosso, Michigan.
Walter Edwards is my second cousin once removed, that is to say, his great-grandparents are my great-great-grandparents. We had never met them and found them delightful. Walter has been many things throughout his long life: Fireman in the Birmingham Michigan Fire Department, ceramic tile setter, and during WWII he was in the Navy serving as a technician specializing in fire control and radar. In addition he is an accomplished furniture maker. Gloria is an artist specializing in painting ceramics. We were most impressed with them both. Their long lives have been very rich and full.
We finished the day by returning to our camp.

Sunday, 26 June
After breakfast, we headed back to Jackson for Judy's tour of the prison. Story telling is her thing, and she does it very well. Her narrative has been thoroughly researched, the selections chosen are interesting and dramatically presented. After the tour we took her out to lunch and introduced her to my collection of the Purves' millitary service records and pension applications. She got quite excited by it and after lunch we copied it all for her. I wish I could return next year to see how see incorporates this new material.
Afterward, we looked for former residence of the Purves family, and then set out for Ann Arbor where we met Betsy & Chuck Price. They are busy people! And busy people are always the most interesting, so we were fortunate to find a time when they were both at home. Chuck is a radiologist, and it's fascinating hear the business from his side. We've only experienced it from the patient end, and there's so much more that we are unaware of. Betsy volunteers for least two worthy causes, and does gorgeous quilted work, everything from the typical squares cleverly pieced together to free-form pieces. And she makes the in all sizes, from picture size to full-size bed spreads, all of them knock-dead gorgeous.
We next moved on, back to Ohio where we will meet up with many of the Cleveland folks. More on that on the next blog.
 More pictures of the magnificent farms along the way.

At KMart: A horse & buggy and a shed to shelter both from the weather.

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