The Paint Me House: Out of it’s Misery

photo 3 This eye-sore was chock full of eye-soreyness since the day we moved in across the street in 2006. It didn’t have any graffiti on it yet, but it was in horrendous shape. My neighbors who have lived around this neighborhood longer than I could tell me more I’m sure, and I’ve heard bits and pieces as to why the house at 705 was in the shape it was in, but frankly such recent history is none of my business. Whatever the reason it can’t be a happy one.

We begged the city to tear it down in 2011 and 2012 – we had our house on the market and though values on all houses were down, this pile of wood and blocks was not helping. Scrawled on it in white spray paint for the last 7 years was “Paint Me” and “Mom” and “I ❤ Ashley”. And so we all called it “The Paint Me House”. Sounded better than the Mom House or the I Heart Ashley House, I thought.

The family next door to it shared with me last fall it would be torn down in November. I guess things needed more time. And then last week flags started going up. Water line. Gas. Phone line. I was hopeful.

Yesterday the big excavating equipment was brought in. (Need an excavator? Call my sister’s boyfriend!) The kids loved seeing the show. They started away at the porch, then took a dinner break. We left for the evening and when we came back- gone! We missed it. I know I have a good picture of it from a few years ago, but I have to find it.

This morning we got a better look:photo 1 (1)

I’ve done a few posts about the history of my house, and as intriguing as that is for you readers (hardy har har) I decided to do a quick search about the beginning years of the heap of bones of a house across the street. In a way, it’s kind of bittersweet. It lost it’s dignity years ago and if I had grown up in that house and seen it meet it’s end like that, it would make me sad.

 A Brief History of 705 Eastern Avenue. Or affectionately known as The Paint Me House.

My 3 year old house on Banning watched as it was being built in 1923. Soon the Patrick McKay family bought and moved in from their house on Edgehill. Patrick immigrated to the US from Ireland at the turn of the century and made his way from New York to Akron to Ashland. He worked as a pump assembler at the FE Meyers Pump Factory. They lived right next to his wife Rosene Marie’s mother, Rosa Yeagle. They and their young family grew to have four (that I know of) children, Mary, Cecilia, Theresa and Patrick Jr.

I could find 3 of their graduation pictures from the page.

Image Cecilia graduated in 1939 from Ashland High School.

 ImageTheresa graduated in 1945 from AHS.

ImageAnd Patrick Jr. in 1949.

The McKay’s made a home in that house for more than 3 decades, and watched as their son and youngest child went off to serve as a Corporal in the Korean War. Then in 1959, his father (now in his mid 70’s) died at Samaritan Hospital. Right up the street.  I can’t find much in City Directories online or info after that to see how long Marie stayed in the house.


That was a chapter in someone’s life. It held memories of new babies, school days, war times and losses. No house will stand forever. Miles was worried that would happen to our house, but I assured him we’d never let it go that far down hill while we owned it.

Miles also consoled me when I shared my disappointment with not getting to see the actual demolition of the whole house. “Mommy, don’t worry- they can just build a new house, let it get old and then they’ll do it again! You’ll get to see that one!”

I hope not:) It would actually just be great to have green space there for a while.

See the video:

 (Sources from Census records from 1930, 1940, Ashland City Directories from 1919-1959, the Ashland County Auditors website, and the Ashland County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society’s webpage.)



The Michael Nevins Mystery: Part 1

All we knew about Michael Nevins was that he was the father of my great-grandmother. His name was found in a family Bible as such but there is nothing else to tell us about him. The only other facts we had to go by was that my grandma’s mother was named Elizabeth Nevins and born on February 23, 1906 in Methuen, Massachusetts. Her mother, Ellen Taylor was from England and by 1910 she had a new relationship- she had married a Peter Beeley, also an English immigrant, and together they would have nine children together and be known as “Ma” and “Pa” Beeley.

Peter, Ellen Beeley and Ellen's daughter Elizabeth Nevins in 1910

Peter, Ellen Beeley and Ellen’s daughter Elizabeth Nevins in 1910

For years the children assumed their older sister, Elizabeth was their full blood sister. They had no idea about any Michael Nevins and still today some of the Beeleys have a different idea about who Elizabeth’s father is. One of the Beeley brothers remembers a young man coming around their house and asking him, “Is Elizabeth your sister?” To which the Beeley brother replied, “Yes.” “Well she’s my sister, too.” Something was obviously mysterious about it all and when the family did understand that Elizabeth was their half-sister, the question still remained- what happened to her father? The answer my grandmother always knew to be true and that I always heard growing up in my questions about our family was that “Ma Beeley” had married Michael Nevins and sometime after they had daughter Elizabeth, they divorced. Everyone had “heard” or assumed he went on to have another family, but never knew what happened to him. Divorce was obviously not as common at the turn of the 20th century and rarely was it because of a mutual agreement or irreconcilable differences- more likely it was because of adultery, abuse, desertion or mental illness. It wasn’t until 1969 could you file for a “no-fault” divorce in the US. It seemed rather scandalous to me up until now. Now it was just a mystery.

A few weeks ago my grandpa (he’s the one who drew me into this addictive hobby when I was in grade school) had some papers to  give me from the Beeley cousins and from his research. There were family trees of the Beeleys and one of a possible Nevins link. Mismatched census records and question marks showed me there was no evidence to support it was accurate. There seemed to be a few Michael Nevins floating around the Methuen/Lawrence, Mass. area in the early 1900s from census records, but to find out which Michael was “our” Michael, we needed more proof. Grandpa did, however, come across a birth record for Elizabeth Nevins. This matched my grandma’s mother’s birth info to a T.

Cropped Birth Record of Elizabeth Nevins 1906

Cropped Birth Record of Elizabeth Nevins 1906

Then I started digging a bit more on And I found a death certificate. For Michael Nevins. If you know anything about genealogy research you know that a death certificate can be a gold mine of information. I couldn’t believe what I saw! This discovery would rock my grandparents view on what my grandma’s family told her about her biological grandfather. I wanted to call them up right away I was so excited- but it was midnight and I didn’t know if they’d still be up or not!

Michael Nevins Death Cert 1908

Michael Nevins Death Cert 1908

They didn’t get divorced- he died 2 years after the birth of their daughter- at the age of 28 from Tuberculosis! But why say you were a divorcee? Why not just say you were a widow and remarried? Over 100 years have passed and I don’t think these questions will ever be answered. My next step was to find out more about Michael’s family and where he came from.

Walking and Lavender

Some may find it morbid that our normal place to walk (aside from our neighborhood loop we do) is the cemetery. A lot of people walk there. Plus, our love of history, names, and quiet stretches of paved roads without a lot of traffic makes it a perfect place to walk. It can be a good workout with those hills- they can be a killer. No pun intended.

That’s a lie. It was intended, I am just a slap stick nerd.

Miles did his regular fall down and get a skinned knee, but other than that we just enjoyed the temperate weather and got some exercise in after dinner. Clem was wrapped to my chest, head a-bobbin’ as I wandered around trying to find a few shots of cool textures to take. The Mykrantz mausoleum everyone has seen, and forever I hadn’t really thought about how the name was really pronounced. In my head I always thought “myrkatz”. But no, it’s not like the animal, I was wrong. And dyslexic. I learned online that the vault was established on April 8, 1898 and holds 9 family members. I snapped a few pictures of the ornate door, looks very Art Nouveau to me.


A few cemetery walks ago, we stumbled upon grave sites of the Sharr family. (Click on the name to read what I’ve already learned about the Sharr Family- the second family to reside in my house.) There was Carl and his wife Velda, who were both newlyweds and starting their family in my house by the 1930 census. Their 3 year old, Richard, grew up in Ashland and is living (now in his 80’s) so I wrote him last year and he wrote back! The sad part is that a stone next to his parents was for Robert Sharr 1932-1932. They suffered a loss of their little boy in my house. I can’t imagine the pain they must have gone through, and then to think dealing with it in many of the rooms I move in and out of every day. Then I looked back at Carl and Velda’s stone. I had to move a plant out of the way to see the dates on Carl’s side and realized I was touching lavender.

It was small, so I’m sure it wasn’t planted at the time of either of their deaths, but I suddenly realized some thing we had in common besides sharing a home: Three years ago I had decided to buy two lavender starts and plant them in the front flower bed of our house in between the small shrubs.

It was a meaningful moment.

Roadtrips: Durango, Colorado 1996, Part 2 (of 2)

Part Deux

July 23,1996

“We stayed at the Hilton Tammaron. When we got there, we had dinner at San Juan’s. After breakfast the next morning we went horse back riding. Mom and Liz had Bill the horse. Sam had Casa. I had Midnight and Dad had Blue. Blue had a gas problem. Dad rode last in line:) We got back and went swimming in the indoor/outdoor pool. As I swam under the partition separating indoor and out, I bumped into someone. Her name was Audrey and she was from Kansas. We were instant friends. We ate dinner at San Juan’s again.” After another convention another year, we hung out together, then wrote letters from time to time, but now, 15 years later, we found each other on Facebook and caught up a bit! How fun is that?!

“The next day we ate at the Village Inn, went swimming and met Audrey at the ping pong tables to play. Mom and Dad had to go to a BBQ for the US Dry Bean Meeting so I watched Sam and Liz. Liz got a bee stinger in her butt. It was interesting trying to get it out. The next day we walked around Durango. We got our old west photos taken! Lunch at McDonald’s then white water rafting! It wasn’t bad. I could use a little more adventure, though. You have to be 16 to go down the big white water rapids.” Haha a little more adventure. Well, I finally would get to experience a little more adventure twice on the Gauley River in West Virginia in 2004 & 2007.

“We went back to the Hilton, changed, then headed back to shop or look around town. Then Elizabeth opened her presents. Happy B-Day Liz. Big 6. Wow. Still a brat. Oh well.” Tell us how you really feel, Ali! Sorry Elizabeth! 🙂

“Well, we swam in the morning (July 23rd) and said goodbye to Audrey. We’re going to miss each other. We’ll keep in touch though. Now on our way to Mesa Verde and we’re staying in Cortez, Colorado.”

July 26,1996

Well in Cortez we stayed at the Days Inn and ate at the crappy restaurant near the Inn. The next day we went to Four Corners. It was cool. We drove on highway 666. Scary! Drove from Gallup to Albuquerque. We stayed at Santa Rosa Wednesday. We ate at Denny’s for dinner then swam. Elizabeth stepped in the pool filter cause it wasn’t screwed in at all! We ate at Denny’s again for breakfast. There was a big storm far away- we could see the lightning- dad filmed it. We stopped at Subway for lunch, and continued to drive through the pan handle of Texas, and finally got to Oklahoma. We stayed at the Holiday Inn in Stillwater and – you guessed it, swam. There was a brat of a girl there. I asked her if I could try to dive for one of her diving game rings and she said “NO!” Brat! Gosh, be that way! We ate Wendy’s to take back to the hotel room. In the morning we got doughnuts from Winchells. Started the long drive through Kansas to Illinois. Stopped in Missouri at a gas station. One bathroom. The four of us women piled out of the van and lined up. Mom was first but someone was in there. Out came a very filthy barefooted man, smelly and with a cigarette in hand. As I went in, soon realized he didn’t flush either. Oh. My. Gosh. Finally made it to Greenville, Illinois and stayed at the Budget Inn. After 8 hours of driving, we were finally home.”

Nothing like a dirty gas station bathroom experience to end a family vacation. At least we saw lots of interesting things, met or revisited fun people, traveled on Route 66 AND 666 (lol), ate great food, or just food, and bonded in the car by counting barns. 🙂

Roadtrips: Durango, Colorado 1996, Part I (of 2)

I’ve kept journals since the 6th grade. 1996. A while ago. I’m not as consistent as I was, but I enjoy looking back through them occasionally to see where I’ve come or just remember some details I would have otherwise forgotten! It pains me, however, to read from about 1996-1998. 6th grade through middle school. I wrote some really stupid things. I cared about some really stupid things. I picked up some very bad language from time to time. I almost want to trash those years because I don’t want anyone reading them when I’m dead anyway. It’s embarrassing. If I have a girl someday, I’m not looking forward to ages 11-14. No, not at all.

Anyway, I wanted to look through 1996 so I could recall our summer vacation that year. My dad had a US Dry Bean Convention to attend, so we would take about two weeks, drive out to Durango, Colorado and back, stopping at various places along the way. Here’s what I found (mind you, some of the story – in quotes- is directly from the ramblings of 12 year old Ali; italics are present day Ali). Enjoy.

July 14, 1996

11:36 am “Well, we’re on the road to Iowa. (We’re going to stop at a Comfort Inn.)…We’re stopping in Indiana to eat lunch…Sam is counting barns because Dad is curious. Mom and Liz were playing a type of Bingo. Dad is driving and I am writing…” Wow. Nice ploy, Dad. Keep the kids busy by counting barns. Because your “curious”. As a parent I now know what you were up to.

4:05pm “…we ate in Indiana at a rest area on a picnic table. We had relay races. Barf…” Apparently running around after eating was one of the first lessons I learned in my young tween life.

In Iowa “we swam in the indoor pool. The next morning we left for Amana Colonies…then we went to Winterset, John Wayne’s birth place. On the way I noticed I left my camera in a store in Amana, but it was already an hour away.” Strike one. “JW’s birthplace was closed.” Strike two. “We got pictures though. We had eaten lunch in Ox Yoke something.” Strike three. “…we drove to Lincoln, NE and stayed at Fairfield Inn. We ate dinner at Boston Market.”

“At breakfast at the Fairfield Inn and saw a cute boy. I thought he was looking at me, but it was probably the food table.” Yeah, good call, young Ali, if he was looking at you, it was only because he thought his family brought him to see the world’s largest pair of glasses. Strike four.

“Anyway, we’re heading for Grand Island, NE. We’re going to see some historic thing there, too.” Hahaha, “some historic thing”. Oh the many historic things we saw as kids, and in all seriousness, I’m thankful for it now.

“We walked around Railroad Town and looked in old houses from the 1800s and played old games. Ate lunch in an old restaurant and went on a carriage ride. We each got to drive the horses!…We also visited the first settlement house in Nebraska (1859). The tour guide there told us that the owner way back then and his wife and three kids were in the house one night when lightning struck the chimney. The three kids were asleep in the loft of the cabin and the six year old boy died instantly- was really torn up. The other two boys were unconscious. So was his wife. He took his dead son and buried him quick, for fear of his wife seeing their boy like that. His other sons woke up, and his wife was okay too. We’re staying in Kearney, NE and going to some sporting goods store.” Way to show emotion about a horrific story there, Ali. I like how I jump right into visiting Cabela’s.

July 17, 1996

“Stayed at the Best Western and it was nasty. The pool was good though, we played with Sam’s nerf ball with a couple other kids. In the morning we ate breakfast at their restaurant, Apple Annie’s. Gross. I found a spider on the table and killed it, they got our orders wrong and the waitress seemed bored with us. All of it was crap.” Such language! I feel like as many nice places as we had the opportunity to eat in, we had the equal amount of one star duds on our list.

“We’re going to Uncle Harold and Aunt Shirley’s tonight and the next night. They live in Franktown, Colorado. Then to Durango. We ate supper with them, then in the morning we packed a picnic breakfast and ate at Castlewood Canyon State Park. We hiked 2 miles along the 7,000ft mountains, it was great! Then we went to Colorado Springs to the Air Force Academy. Lunch at Wendy’s then Garden of the Gods. Then shopping at the Trading Post. Dinner at a Mexican Restaurant.” I love all my great uncles and aunts. I have the blessing of knowing them all fairly well, and they all are so interesting. Having traveled the world, volunteering in awesome ways, or running a housekeeping-cottage campground, they all are dear to my heart. My Uncle Harold (Buzz) and Aunt Shirley were the ones we visited from time to time out in Colorado. They are in such great shape and would take us hiking around the beautiful area they lived in. 

“We got back to the Bowers’ 5 acres and I walked around and found a little kitty that I named Tiger. Aunt Shirley said it was the neighbors cat.” Probably the only time I really liked a cat. Or at least didn’t sneeze or get scratched by one.

We left the morning of the 19th (Day 6 of our trip) and headed for Durango.

(Part 2 tomorrow)

He Wrote Me Back!

Well, in previous posts I have been sharing about my research of the history of my house. I found out that the Sharrs, were the 2nd owners. The young couple lived here from around 1930 till about WWII, when they sold it to the Dunlaps. Their son, Richard E. Sharr was just a toddler when they moved in, and I found his AHS senior picture on the Ashland Genealogical Society website. I also learned he only lives a short ways away from my house, his old stomping grounds. So I wrote him. About a week ago.

And today it came. The letter from the 89 year old Richard who was once just a little boy in my house and did much of his growing up here, I suppose! He wrote a full page and little bit more to me, saying how he was surprised and glad to get my letter and to correspond with me. He didn’t say anything about the house actually, but kind of wrote about his life in a nutshell, what he did after high school, married, raised kids, have grandchildren, etc. I’m taking this as a friendly sign that it’d be okay to stop by some afternoon and just introduce myself and say hi. I’ll write him back again though.

Getting that letter in the mail today almost made me giddy. I mean, he could have never responded at all, and been a total grouch or something. I know it seems like nothing, but I think there are enough unanswered questions out there, that getting a response from someone who happens to be kind and helpful, gives me hope and joy in risk taking- no matter how big or small the risk might seem.

More of the Past Uncovered: The Outside of my House, 1950/51

So the outside has changed a bit as well. When the Dunlaps owned it, they improved on many things, since the house was then getting to be in it’s 30’s. The first two pictures show porch pillars (new brick to replace rotting wooden ones) and a chimney, all still untouched by paint. In the later photos from the next year(s)? they have been painted the white you see today. (Of course, I can tell from some of the peeling paint, it went through a few colors since then, but obviously back to white!)

This was a photo where our side patio is, then grass, gravel and a stone walkway, no paved over fully. Here, 4 generations of Dunlaps pose for a picture.

Below is a better picture of what our patio area looked like then and now. New awnings, paved over, and the stairs leading to the side door for the upstairs apartment are on the opposite side now! Interesting fact: The circular lid thing on the left lower part of the picture, was an inground trash bin that grandfather Dunlap had put in. His granddaughter shared with me that at the time you didn’t have to put trash on the curb, and that the trash men hated hoisting the can out of the hole every trash pick up day! Hahaha!

A view of the detached garage, where Sue used to play in her sandbox, with her Dad, Marion L. Dunlap.  I wish the car that was in the 1950s garage was still in there today!

The driveway view. Miles has ran on that driveway, but only not with a mini stroller for his baby doll. He doesn’t have a baby doll, trust me:)



The History of My House: 1970-Present Day

Well, we know in 1970 the Dunlaps were still living in our house. Then in 1975, a new name in the ACD (Ashland City Directory) shows up. Satterfield.

Eunice Y. Satterfield , seemed to be a widow, and only lived there a short time, because by 1980 a new name was listed in the house. She potentially could have been there from 1971 to 1979, but I’m not sure right now. I did find that she was alive until recently, a newspaper mention of her was that she passed away in September of 2009.

In 1980 the new owners of 252 Banning were the Kauffmans, Earl and Leola. He worked as a driver for Yellow Frt. I don’t know what that is, but that’s what the ACD said. It looks like Earl is still living, at 89 years of age. I may work up the courage to go visit him and see if he has any old pictures of our house, even if it just was 1980 and not in the 20’s. I’d LOVE to see what it looked like back then.

I’m not sure when the Kauffmans sold or who they sold it to. So there’s a gap right now, and I could go back to the courthouse to really nail down the info, but I can’t right now.

Somewhere in there though, the Ritz family owned it and she married a Derr. So we bought it from the Derr’s in 2006, and now are looking for that next special buyer that will love our house the way at least 8 families before them loved and cared for 252 Banning Avenue. Every house has a history, and if you dig enough you can find it!

The Heart Barn, circa 2007

The History of My House: The Dunlap Family

Perhaps the longest amount of time spent by a family in the house I call home now in 2011, were the Dunlaps.

The first record I found was in the 1948 Ashland City Directory of Marion E. Dunlap, 44, born in Amherst,  who worked as a salesman at Ashland Rubber Products. His wife Esther G. (Sutliff) Dunlap, 46, was from Greenwich and married Marion on July 1, 1922 in Huron County, Ohio.

They may have lived there before ’48, but I’m still searching for that. In 1948, anyway, it was listed as a duplex, having a 252-1/2 with tennants Marion L. Dunlap and a wife named Dora J. Dunlap. Jason brought up a good point, it was probably Marion E.’s son. A junior! Marion L. was listed online as serving in WWII, so it made sense he could have returned from the war with a new wife and his parents let him stay in their house, and turned the upstairs into an apartment for them. Marion L. worked at Ashland Tile & Linoleum Store.

In 1951 all 4 Dunlaps were living there still, not sure of any children, since the ACD doesn’t list that. The only change was that Marion (junior) worked as a salesman at Gilbert Furniture.

I found a 1942 senior picture from Ashland High School of a Marion Dunlop. Typos happen. I’m really betting it’s the Marion that served in WWII and lived in 252-1/2, I’m almost certain.

By 1955, apparently the younger Dunlaps moved out, as it’s listed in the ACD as just 252 Banning.

So from 1955 to at least 1970, the older Dunlaps were still living there. Marion E. went from being a Department Manager at Eagle Rubber in 1961 to being a salesman at Ashland Rubber Products in 1970. I’m sure it wasn’t much longer til he retired, he would have been 66 then.

The Dunlap Family lived in 252 Banning roughly 22 years, or more. From WWII to Vietnam, they experienced life in my house during those booming and turbulent times. I probably can also thank them for the interesting carpet and tile we uncovered in replacing our carpet and bathroom carpet last year. 😉 I’m not judging- it was the 60’s. I understand completely.


Maybe my favorite update so far- I found out that Marion E. and Esther had two sons, Marion L. (see above) and Jack Allen. Not sure if Jack ever lived at the Banning house, or if he was already out on his own before and after the war. He certainly visited there for sure, though. I found Jack’s obituary, and learned a lot about the family from that. One thing is that Marion L. is still alive and living in North Carolina. I found a potential address for him and may write him sometime.

I also was given a tip by my friend Joan, who lives down the street, that Marion L.’s daughter, Sue is a genealogist and may have some good info for me. I searched until I was able to find a few email addresses that could be her, and I succeeded! She is a super nice lady, and gave me the scoop of the neighborhood in the 50’s. When she was born her parents did live with her grandparents for a few years until they bought a house of their own. She shared with me that she may be able to find pictures inside and out of the house for me and what it looked like from the 50s to the 70s when her grandparents lived there before they moved to Kentucky to live with their son Jack and his family.

I’m so lucky to have a genealogist that actually lived here and spent time here growing up helping me in my search for details about how my house used to be and who the people were that lived here. Amazing. I’m looking forward to her next emails after she talks with her parents and finds pictures. What a great find today!!

The History of My House: The Sharr Family

In the 1930 census, a new family shows up in 252 Banning. Carl K., 28 and Velda B. Sharr, 21 and their little boy Richard, 3. In 1911, he lived on Banning with his father, G.M. who was a real estate agent and his mother Isa. In 1920 Carl lived just down the street in 105 Banning with his mother and sister. I’m assuming they were in the 105 house on Banning in 1911 too, but now his father had passed away. Now, grown up and married with a toddler, he worked as a Traffic Manager at the Stock Food Factory. The Ashland Directory at the time said he was employed by Hess & Clark. Not sure if that’s related. The directory has the family still at my house in 1935. There is a big gap until I find new owners in 1948, so not sure if Carl and Velda stayed in the house until then or not. I did find a senior picture from Ashland High School, 1945, of a Richard Sharr. I’m 99% sure it’s the Richard that grew up in my house. Or at least lived there when he was 3 to 8 years old. 


I found Richard! And his wife! And they still live in Ashland, right down the street from me! Well, down near the Hillcrest neighborhoods; I’ve walked Miles down there and back many times. I’m going to write him and see if I can visit sometime to see if he has pictures or memories of the house in the 30’s when he lived there as a little boy. This is so exciting to me!