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WPA Annals of Cleveland, 1818-1937

During the New Deal Era, workers of Annals of Cleveland staff summarized and indexed material from early Cleveland newspapers, beginning with the inaugural issue of the city’s first paper, the July 31, 1818 Cleaveland Gazette and Commercial Register. The project provided jobs for unemployed white-collar workers during the Depression of the 1930s and created an important record of early life and thought in the city of Cleveland.

Biography of Elbridge G. Little

Elbridge G. Little was born August 5, 1807. He obtained his preliminary education at Exeter, N.H., and graduated from the Medical College at Cleveland, Ohio. He attained eminence in his profession, and in New Lisbon, Wis., where his last years were passed, he was one of the wealthiest and most prominent citizens. His wife, who was born November 4, 1809, was a daughter of Thomas and Judith (Dodge) Peabody, of the part of old Danvers, Mass., now known as Peabody. She was a sister of George Peabody, the wealthy and benevolent banker, who died in London, and who bequeathed to her son, George Peabody Little, a portion of his vast wealth. Six children were born to Dr. and Mrs. Little, George P.; Allen F., who was born August 12, 1838; and Henry C., who was born March 31, 1842. George Peabody Little was educated in the academy in Lewiston, N.Y., Pembroke Academy of Pembroke, N.H., and the gymnasium and military institute here, a branch of the Norwich Military Academy of Vermont. He taught school for one term in Pembroke, N.H., when he was eighteen years old, and the following year went to Portland, Me., where he was engaged in mercantile business some six years. The ten years ensuing he managed a photograph studio at Palmyra, N.Y., having taken a fancy to chemicals and cameras. Returning then to Pembroke, N.H., he purchased his present homestead, and turned his attention to general farming and cattle breeding. In 1868 he erected a handsome residence, a spacious barn, and other buildings. Mr. Little has about two hundred and twenty-five acres of land in...

Biography of Judge William Smieding, Jr.

Judge William Smieding, Jr., who for the past fifteen years has been the municipal and juvenile court judge of Racine County, is a native son of this city and his life record stands in contradistinction to the old adage that a prophet is not without honor save in his own country, for worth and ability have gained him professional recognition and he is regarded as one of the representative members of the Racine bar. He was born September 9, 1868, a son of William and Mary (Wustum) Smieding. The father’s birth occurred at Lübbecke, in western Prussia, November 11, 1831, and he was a son of August and Amelia (Mix) Smieding, who were likewise natives of that country, while his paternal grandfather was a brewer and baker of Germany, where he owned a small shop. He and his wife both died in Germany at an advanced age. Their son August followed in the footsteps of his father, acquainting himself with the trades of brewing and baking, but afterward went to Holland, where he secured a situation as clerk in a store. He was engaged in military duty under Napoleon I in the year 1815. His death occurred in 1850, when he was fifty-six years of age, while his wife passed away about six years before. Their family numbered seven children, including William Smieding, who obtained his education in the public schools near his home and at the age of fourteen was apprenticed to a general merchant for a term covering about five years. The reports which he heard concerning the opportunities of the new world led him to the...

Biographical Sketch of I. B. Gurney

I. B. Gurney was born April 10, 1845, near Cleveland, Ohio. His father, Asa H. Gurney, was a native of Ohio, and his mother, Catherine Sortor Gurney, a native Allegany County, New York. When he was ten years of age his parents moved to Lake County, Ohio, where they were located on a farm, and where Mr. Gurney received his education, attending school during the winter for several years, and afterward entered college at Berea, Ohio. In August, 1863, he went to Venango County, Pennsylvania, where he became foreman in the office of the McClintock Oil Company, where he remained until 1866 when he moved to Caldwell County, Missouri, and had charge of a drug and grocery business for a year and then came to Daviess County and settled in Colfax Township. In the fall of 1871 he was appointed United States mail agent on the North Missouri Railroad, and held the position three years when he again went into the drug business at New Castle, Gentry County, finally returning to Daviess County where he has since resided, engaged in teaching and farming. Mr. Gurney has been twice married; first in 1866, to Miss Carrie M. Cole, a native of Ohio, and by whom he had one son; Asa G., born January 25, 1868. He was again married, May 17, 1879, to Miss Marilla Mullins, of Daviess...

Biographical Sketch of Horatio E. Needham

Horatio E. Needham is a native of Addison County, Vermont, born September 10, 1827, near the village of Shalott. While in his infancy his, parents migrated to St. Lawrence County, New York, remained six years, and then went to Cuyahoga County, Ohio, where they remained until 1852. During this time Horatio was employed on the farm and also at stone-cutting. In 1859 he went to Fremont County, Iowa, and in 1862 enlisted in Company E, Twenty-ninth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and was on duty three years, being in many important engagements, among which were the battles, of Little Rock, Helena, Mobile and Saline River, and his soldier life was extended through the States of Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana,, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas and Iowa, until he was honorably discharged in 1865. After his return to Fremont County he was engaged in teaming for two years before his removal to Nebraska, where he took up a section of land which he afterward sold and came to Daviess County in 1875. He now owns and cultivates a fine farm in Sheridan Township. Mr. Needham was married, November 25, 1852, to Miss Lucina Bagley, a native of Ohio. Eight children have been born to them, five of whom are living: Whitfield H., Mary I., Ada A., Minnie E. and Willie...

Biography of Judge Joseph Oscar Cunningham

Judge J. O. Cunningham. The publishers and editors of this work feel that only a meager tribute can be paid to the memory of Champaign County’s most beloved citizen in the following brief review of his life. Judge Cunningham was a great historian. He contributed liberally to historical literature, was himself the author of a History of Champaign County, and in the closing months of his life he gave generously from the riches of his great collection and from his experience and memory in an advisory capacity to the compilation of the present work. Joseph Oscar Cunningham was born at Lancaster in Erie County, New York, December 12, 1830, and died at his home, 922 West Green Street, Urbana, on April 30, 1917, when in his eighty-seventh year. He was a son of Hiram Way and Eunice (Brown) Cunningham. Some of his early life was spent in northern Ohio, where he attended Baldwin Institute at Berea and also Oberlin College. In June, 1853, at the age of twenty-two, he came to Champaign County, and from that time forward his home was at Urbana. He had previously taught in the village school at Eugene, Indiana, but a month after his arrival at Urbana became associated as one of the proprietors and editors of the Urbana Union. He was a member of this firm of Cunningham & Flynn until 1858, and in August of that year became associated with J. W. Scroggs in the publication of the Central Illinois Gazette at Champaign, a village then known as Western Urbana. In April, 1855, Mr. Cunningham was admitted to the bar. In 1859...

Biography of Preston B. Plumb

In the words of his biographer, Preston B. Plumb was a pioneer in Kansas. He was one of the founders of Emporia. He was in the Union army, and both major and lieutenant-colonel of the Eleventh Kansas. He was long United States senator from Kansas. In the Senate he was one of the men who accomplished things. He was the father of the ides of the conservation of the natural resources of America. It was his law that created the National Forest Reserve and extended aid to irrigation and the reclamation of arid lands. Many of the laws on the national statute books were put there by Preston B. Plumb. He was a great man and a great Kansan. No attempt can be made to cover fully the life of this great Kansan in a brief sketch. Here will be found only those details which are the frame work of biography and some reference to the larger work of which his life was an expression. Preston B. Plumb was born at Berkshire, Delaware County, Ohio, October 12, 1837. His parents, David Plumb and Hannah Maria (Bierce) Plumb, were of old New England families, their respective parents having come as pioneers into Ohio. David Plumb was a wagonmaker. As a boy young Plumb put in part of his time in his father’s shop. At the age of twelve, having made all the progress possible in the schools of Marysville, where the family was living at that time, arrangements were made for him to attend Kenyon College at Gambier, Ohio, a fine old school established and long conducted under the auspices...

Slave Narrative of John W. Matheus

Interviewer: Bishop & Isleman Person Interviewed: John Williams Matheus Location: Steubenville, Ohio Age: 77 Place of Residence: 203 Dock Street WPA in Ohio Federal Writers’ Project Bishop & Isleman Reporter: Bishop (Revision) July 8, 1937 Topic: Ex-Slaves Jefferson County, District #5 JOHN WILLIAMS MATHEUS Ex-Slave, 77 years “My mothers name was Martha. She died when I was eleven months old. My mother was owned by Racer Blue and his wife Scotty. When I was bout eleven or twelve they put me out with Michael Blue and his wife Mary. Michael Blue was a brother to Racer Blue. Racer Blue died when I was three or four. I have a faint rememberance of him dying suddenly one night and see him laying out. He was the first dead person I saw and it seemed funny to me to see him laying there so stiff and still.” “I remember the Yankee Soldier, a string of them on horses, coming through Springfield, W. Va. It was like a circus parade. What made me remember that, was a colored man standing near me who had a new hat on his head. A soldier came by and saw the hat and he took it off the colored man’s head, and put his old dirty one on the colored man’s head and put the nice new one on his own head.” “I think Abraham Lincoln the greatest man that ever lived. He belonged to no church; but he sure was Christian. I think he was born for the time and if he lived longer he would have done lots of good for the colored people.”...

Slave Narrative of Charles H. Anderson

Interviewer: Ruth Thompson Person Interviewed: Charles H. Anderson Location: Cincinnati, Ohio Place of Birth: Richmond, Virginia Date of Birth: December 23, 1845 Place of Residence: 3122 Fredonia St., Cincinnati, Ohio Occupation: Handy man “Life experience excels all reading. Every place you go, you learn something from every class of people. Books are just for a memory, to keep history and the like, but I don’t have to go huntin’ in libraries, I got one in my own head, for you can’t forget what you learn from experience.” The old man speaking is a living example of his theory, and, judging from his bearing, his experience has given him a philosophical outlook which comprehends love, gentleness and wisdom. Charles H. Anderson, 3122 Fredonia Street, was born December 23, 1845, in Richmond, Virginia, as a slave belonging to J.L. Woodson, grocer, “an exceedingly good owner not cruel to anyone”. With his mother, father, and 15 brothers and sisters, he lived at the Woodson home in the city, some of the time in a cabin in the rear, but mostly in the “big house”. Favored of all the slaves, he was trusted to go to the cash drawer for spending money, and permitted to help himself to candy and all he wanted to eat. With the help of the mistress, his mother made all his clothes, and he was “about as well dressed as anybody”. “I always associated with high-class folks, but I never went to church then, or to school a day in my life. My owner never sent me or my brothers, and then when free schools came in, education...

Slave Narrative of Charley Watson

Interviewer: W. W. Dixon Person Interviewed: Charley Watson Location: South Carolina Age: 87 “Dis is a mighty hot day I tells you, and after climbing them steps I just got to fan myself befo’ I give answer to your questions. You got any ‘bacco I could chaw and a place to spit? Dis old darkie maybe answer more better if he be allowed to be placed lak dat at de beginnin’ of de ‘sperience. “Where was I born? Why right dere on de Hog Fork Place, thought everybody knowed dat! It was de home place of my old Marster Daniel Hall, one of de Rockefellers of his day and generation, I tells you, he sho was. My pappy had big name, my marster call him Denmore, my mammy went by de name of Mariyer. She was bought out of a drove from Virginny long befo’ de war. They both b’long to old marster and bless God live on de same place in a little log house. Let’s see; my brother Bill is one, he livin’ at de stone quarry at Salisbury, North Carolina. My sister Lugenie marry a Boulware nigger and they tells me dat woman done take dat nigger and make sumpin’ out of him. They owns their own automobile and livin’ in Cleveland, Ohio. “Us live in quarters, two string of houses a quarter mile long and just de width of a wagon road betwixt them. How many slaves marster had? Dere was four hundred in 1850, dat was de year I was born, so allowing for de natural ‘crease, ‘spect dere was good many more when...
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