2011.01.12 Taking and giving a lesson in Ohio history

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

Back when I was a mere boy in elementary school, fifth grade if I remember correctly, I took a required course called Michigan History. Do schools still teach this? And does Ohio have a similar class to teach young Buckeyes about their state? For immigrants to Ohio such as myself, my tax dollars helped to pay for a publication to bring us up to speed.

I recently obtained a copy of “Profile Ohio,” formerly published as “Ohio Citizen’s Digest.” Once you get past the pictures and names of officials in state government, most of who are now out of office, it’s filled with a lot of interesting information.

While I guess I’m not really considered an immigrant, the booklet explains that an increasing amount of immigrants entering the United States intend to settle in Ohio. Since war broke out in Somalia in the 1990s, more and more refugees from the fighting are settling in Ohio. About 35,000 Somalis have settled in central Ohio over the last decade, and Columbus has one of the largest concentrations of Somalian refugees in the country.

A fact I already knew was that more U. S. Presidents have come from Ohio than any other state. Starting with William Henry Harrison, who was born in Virginia before Ohio was a state but was living there when elected in 1840, to Warren G. Harding, who was elected in 1920, eight presidents called Ohio home. From 1868 to 1920, only three elections were held without an Ohio Republican on the November ballot. Lots of interesting things happened to this group of eight, some of which is left out of the publication. 

Four of the eight Ohio chief executives never got out of office alive. James Garfield and William McKinley were both assassinated, while W. H. Harrison and Harding both died in office. 

Ulysses S. Grant and Harding were both plagued with scandals while in office, although neither was personally involved. The election of Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876 was the most controversial in history, at least until another that occurred 124 years later. Hayes trailed in the popular vote, but several states submitted two sets of votes to the Electoral College. A special electoral commission awarded all disputed votes to Hayes, giving him a one-vote victory in the Electoral Collage.

In 1888, Benjamin Harrison, grandson of William H. Harrison, also trailed in popular votes behind incumbent (and non-Ohioan) Grover Cleveland, but scored an easy Electoral College victory to win the presidency. Four years later, Cleveland won the popular vote for the third consecutive time and also took an Electoral College win to wrest the office back from Harrison, making Harrison the 23rd president filling in a 22nd and 24th President Cleveland sandwich.

William Taft had perhaps the most embarrassing loss of all. After winning the White House in 1908 as Teddy Roosevelt’s hand-picked choice to succeed him, Taft’s performance in office angered his former mentor and Roosevelt ran against him as a third-party candidate in 1912. Woodrow Wilson took advantage of the split to win the election while Roosevelt finished second and Taft became the first major-party candidate in the history of the two-party system to finish third.

Ohio is also home to astronauts, with NASA figures listing 24 astronauts as Ohio natives and another 10 living in the state at some point in their lives. They include Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, Jim Lovell of Apollo 13 fame, Guion Buford (first African-American in space) and Judy Resnick (who flew in the first mission of the Space Shuttle Discovery and later perished in the Challenger disaster).

Nationally-known businesses started in Ohio include Goodyear, Progressive insurance, Proctor & Gamble, Smuckers, Nationwide Insurance, Sherwin Williams, Bob Evans and Wendy’s.

Ohio is not only home to two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, but was home to trophy namesake John Heisman, a former player and coach.

The list of actors from Ohio starts off impressively with people like Clark Gable, Paul Newman, Halle Berry and Katie Holmes, but then someone had to throw in the name of Sarah Jessica Parker. I think that list went one name too far. Do you think we could trade her to another state? Make us an offer before they print an updated booklet. We’ll even throw in a spare astronaut or two.

  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

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