Marge (Petty) Austen



Almost as often as we moved to Rushville, Ohio to Grandpa Green's house, we lived in the town of my birth, Somerset, Ohio. I remember several houses in this town and some very special happenings associated with each one. Of course, here is the house of my birth. I can find it, I have photographed the small home, but I do not remember anything about the house, personally. However, there were a couple of stories about the day of my birth, recited repeatedly, and really should be told here. The first one was what Mother used to tell me. She said that after eight years of Doctors telling her that she would never carry a live baby, I came along! My Pop was so proud to have a daughter that he took me from the nurse, immediately after I came squalling into the world, and looked me over. With a smile all over his face, he announced that, "Yep, she's a PETTY, OK, look at that crooked little finger!" It seems that in the PETTY families, a child was determined to be a legitimate PETTY descendant if their little fingers were small, crooked as in corkscrew, and identical in twist. Since, even then, I possessed two crooked “pinkies”. I passed the test, without DGT. (Dominant Genes Testing) Next, to take me for inspection was my Grandmother PETTY, nee MURDOCK, who had waited far too long for a granddaughter. My brother was eight years older than me and all other children born into the family had been males. She was ready for a little girl to spoil and believe me, as soon as I was able; I stepped right up to the plate, and took a crack at this thing called spoiling. I learned rapidly, as soon as I caught on to what I was supposed to do. I got my first lesson that afternoon. Mother told me that Grandmother headed for the old coal stove, pulled up a chair with the two of us in it, and began to toast my little feet as she inspected me from top to bottom to see if I had the correct number of fingers and toes. Apparently, I was a bit upset, no doubt from the rude awakening I had endured in the birth process. The warmth of the stove plus the loving attention of a Grandmother, who bonded with me in every sense of the word that day, soon quieted my tears. I had just had my first wonderful session with my Grandmother. Thankfully, there would be many more to follow.


I have no idea where we moved when we left this house, but I do remember the house in Somerset where I learned all about hobos! Mother was fixing lunch because Pop would soon be home from the garage to eat. It was snowing heavily, the big old, fat, heavy with moisture, snowflakes that fall silently to the ground. I was watching out the long window at the kitchen door. My little green table and chairs were pulled up close to Mother's stove and I was busy preparing a tea party when there was a loud knock at the door right behind me. Mother opened the door to find a man, heavy with beard, cold and hungry, who wanted to know if she had any work in exchange for lunch. She told him that she needed coal and wood carried from the barn to the back steps. He grabbed the coal bucket and headed for the back of the lot. I remained quiet until the door was shut then I demanded an answer as to why this stranger was going to be eating our lunch. Mother explained that he was a hungry, homeless, hobo, who traveled by train from town to town trying to find work for his food. Soon Mother had her fuel stacked by the backdoor and the man had his lunch as he sat on the back step. I watched from behind the curtain and wondered where he would be sleeping that night. I never forgot the hungry, man at the back door. God certainly did bring events into my life, even at an early age, in order for me to learn about those who had less than me.Another incident in the snow happened at this place. I was watching out the window while my brother and his friends were building forts at each end of the empty lot next door to the house. They were preparing for a royal snowball fight. I wanted to go outside; but Mother wisely thought better. However, I had an ally. Mary Katherine was a family friend, whose Mother had taken care of me when I was a baby and Mother had been ill, and she was enamored with JR. If she volunteered to "take care of Marjory Ann”, she was that much closer to JR.She saw me at the window and came inside to coax Mother into allowing me to go outside and join in the snowball fight. Mother agreed, finally, and they dressed me in winter clothing until I resembled a sausage. I clearly remember Mother handing me down over a porch banister and out I went. Boy, I was with the big kids now. Everything went well until an errant snowball made connection with my being. That was the end of my experience in the great outdoors. I should have known better because I never was a winter's child!




Marge (Petty) Austen



I remember one more incident at that house, and I have checked with my Mother, when she was still living, to be sure that I did, indeed, remember these stories and not just remember hearing about them. I described where the bedroom was located, the color of the bedspread and the kitten involved. I described the entire first floor plan and established, without a doubt, that I remembered the story accurately.Mother always loved cats and usually had one of some size, nearly everywhere we lived. At the house where the hobo had come, there was a tiny kitten, which had a few flaws. Mother had just laundered a chartreuse, taffeta bedspread for her bedroom, which must have made a real impression on me because I always knew that Mother disliked the color green intensely. I also remember the big doll I received for Christmas, which was almost as tall as I was, and I was afraid of it!Well, I was beginning to play with my doll and Mother was busy cleaning house, having just finished her bedroom when a strange odor began to creep past our mutual noses. Upon investigation, she discovered that one small feline had chosen the freshly laundered bedspread to use as her bathroom facility and my Mother was angry...really angry. One kitten went outside and the laundry routine, which was an old wringer type Maytag, started all over again. Now, why would I remember that incident? Who knows?


It was also from this house that I went shopping and proved to be a frugal shopper. Mother had announced that she was going up town to Spangler’s, a general store located on the southwestern corner of the square, if my memory serves me correctly. She was leaving me with JR, which was a rare occurrence. I do not remember my brother staying with me at any other time in my young life.I must have expressed an interest in going along with Mother because I was getting my coat when JR reminded me to get my money. I kept what few coins I had in Mother’s sewing cabinet in the pull-down tray.The bad part of this memory is that I consciously remember doing the following. I removed a few pennies and a button from the tray and joined my Mother to go uptown. I do not know what it was that I had selected for purchase; but I do distinctly remember, “paying” the man. I dropped my payment into his outstretched hand and made a fast dash for the front door. He had a funny look on his face so Mother asked what it was that I had given him. When he told her a button, she marched me back to the scene of the crime where I made full restitution. Apparently, in my mind if they looked alike, coins and buttons were interchangeable.Shortly after that stunt, we moved to the northern part of the state outside of Medina and lived above a filling station in a little wide spot in the road called York. I remember this place for the wrong reasons. The day we moved in, it was warm and humid. Mother had my bed set up and it was just dusk when she put me to bed. Soon I began to squirm and demand attention. Mother came to the door and cautioned me that I was supposed to be going to sleep. I tried one more time, but it was not long before I let out a yelp and Mother came running. Something was biting me! There were bugs in my bed and they were making their presence known. Much to Mother's chagrin, we had moved into a place with bedbugs and I had good cause to be upset.Later, when Christmas was approaching in this same place, we traveled what seemed like an endless trip from this house in York back to Somerset to see my Grandmother Petty. My parents left me with her while they went up town shopping. I was always glad to go to Grandma's little chalet house which was really tiny and dwarfed by two larger buildings, one on each side.I was especially pleased if it was just Grandma and me; and, this evening I lucked out. I remember standing up on Grandma's sofa at the window and looking outside. It was dark and there were colored lights all over the huge house across the street. Naturally, I had to know why.




Marge (Petty) Austen



Grandma calmly sat down beside me and while we watched the pretty lights, she told me the story of Jesus' birth, and the meaning of Christmas. What a lovely way for a child to learn about the meaning of decorating our homes for the holidays and the giving of gifts to honor the gift of our Lord, Baby Jesus. Every child should have a grandparent who takes the time to teach such a beautiful lesson so that memories, to last a lifetime, prevail. I know that I have fallen far short of that which my Grandmother did for me; but I have tried hard with my own grandchildren to follow the pattern laid out by this wonderful grandmother of mine.Grandma Coplin was unique in her dealing with me through the years because she either adapted whatever she was doing so that I could participate in the same activity, or, she explained or told me a story to go along with the activity. She always made the activity interesting. Consequently, I was always wherever she was, by choice. I sprinkled the sugar on the prepared grapefruit or rolled out my own little piece of pie dough, which she magically had left after making pies. She found ways to keep me interested by always including me.She should have been a teacher because I used some of the same techniques with my own children years later; and, in the classroom, especially my first graders. I learned so much from this woman who loved me, unconditionally, and who never failed to show me that love. I would wish that every child should have such a grandparent. She was an important part of my life.I remember that it was about the time Grandma was living in this tiny house that she went to work for a man by the name of Edward Coplin. My Grandfather Petty had died several years before my birth so I never knew him; and Grandma made her living by working in homes. She was an excellent cook and she knew how to nurse patients back to good health, nutritionally. She also helped at a birthing and assisting the new mother until she was ready to fly solo with a new baby.After Grandma died, I received a few items from her middle son, Uncle Lawrence, and in a sack, I found her recipe book. She had instructions for making beef tea to build the blood after serous illness plus other recipes for various illnesses.


Ed had no children and thus no grandchildren. He had, however, nephews and nieces so he asked that my brother and I call him Uncle Ed instead of Grandpa. Now, I had a huge problem. I had a step-grandfather who was my Uncle Ed and my Grandmother Petty was now my Grandma Coplin. No wonder I was in a state of confusion and always asking questions! I remember traveling from the cold house in York, outside of Medina, the night we heard that Jimmie's Mother had died in childbirth. I did not understand all of the conversation but I sensed that a little girl had died, and I knew that my Mother was most upset. That night they took me to my Grandmother Coplin's house where she and Uncle Ed lived. This was my first visit in Uncle Ed’s house and it seemed huge to me. I had never seen such a big front yard in which to play; and, the back yard was a gigantic garden.I had never seen a fireplace in use and Grandma had theirs going when we arrived. I thought it was nice to get out of the cold back seat of that car and into the house to stand in front of the fireplace furnishing that fine fire with the wonderful heat. I toasted for quite a while before I went to bed upstairs in what was a strange bedroom at that time. Grandma and Uncle Ed had just recently married. I wanted to go where Jimmie was going to be, but my parents explained that he would not be where they were going.In another car trip, JR and I were in the back seat of the car again, and I was always listening in on conversations. This time was no exception. JR was explaining to Mother that they were going to be forming a Junior Choir at school and that he was joining the group. I remember thinking about that for quite a while before feeling the urge to join in the conversation. I casually commented that when they started a Marjory Ann Choir, I would be joining that group. I was always dead serious about these remarks; however, I was always the source of laughter, too. In hindsight, I think I should have tired of always being the butt of jokes. However, it did not seem to bother me. I must have been a slow learner.Back in York, Mother was not happy living in this upstairs, somewhat drafty apartment, so we soon moved into Medina, where Grandma and Grandpa Green joined us in a much larger house. We spent at least a winter and part of the following summer in this house because I remember some specific seasonal happenings here.




Marge (Petty) Austen



Spring came and went and I was outside in the backyard, playing. I had watched the little green plums on our tree turn to a delicious looking red, ready to eat fruit. One afternoon without seeking permission, I was partaking of them, profusely. After several samples, I accidentally swallowed one of the seeds, and with my limited experience in such matters, I went to my big brother for counsel. He listened to my tale of woe; and, then, he quietly told me that I would die for the error of my ways. He went on about his business and I was alone, pondering my dilemma. I determined that I needed solitude to handle this situation, so I went upstairs to be alone.I passed Grandma Green on the way, but I did not stop for conversation. Eventually, coming to my parents' bedroom, I climbed up on their bed, removed my shoes and carefully smoothed out the bedspread; then, I put my head down on the pillow to wait. Last of all, I carefully folded my hands across my tummy, apparently, all set for whatever was going to transpire. Then, I waited. I was not exactly sure how to handle a crisis of this nature, and I do not think that I knew much about the concept of dying, but I prepared for whatever was going to happen.Grandma Green must have been suspicious of my actions because it was not long before she was at the doorway asking me what I was doing. I calmly told her that I was lying down. When questioned further for a better answer, I volunteered that I was just waiting. When Grandma pursued, "Waiting for what?" I told her that I had swallowed a plum seed and I was waiting to die. JR was her pride and joy when it came to grandsons, but he was in trouble for that one. Grandma squealed on him. We had moved back to Somerset following this event and we were living in the house with the brown trim. It was a huge, yellow house and the wooden frames around the windows were painted dark brown. The house was at the end of a long alley, which led to my father's garage uptown, but I had never been there. There was also a large sign in the yard, which instructed the reader to beware of the mean dog, which was Buster, Pop's coon dog.


One morning as Mother was hanging laundry and I was investigating a large bush, which would later appear in my picture, a man came running around the side of the house yelling something or another at my Mother. She told him to read the sign. He ignored her, Buster bit him, and everything hit the fan. Buster did not hurt him and released the entire ankle back to its proper owner; but the man was still screaming all kinds of words I had never heard in my life. In her excitement, Mother must have forgotten that I had never traveled alone to the garage because she told me to go up the alley and get Pop, quickly. Wow, what an assignment I had! Without hesitation I was off, headed up the hill as fast as I could go. I rounded the corner, made the proper decision as to which direction to turn, and promptly presented myself in the middle of Pop's garage. I will never forget the expression on his face when he looked up and saw me because little girls did not frequent garages in those days. They might get dirty! I must have been able to make him understand the emergency at home because I remember the pride I felt later, riding home with my Pop. With a smile all over my face and a feeling of mission accomplished because I had done it all by myself, I went home. The man left quickly after Pop's arrival.




Marge (Petty) Austen



It was just a few days later, when once more Mother was hanging laundry, that a photographer came down the alley, spotted me under my bush, and asked if he could take a photo of me. Mother told him that she had no money for pictures. Since he agreed to use the picture for his own promotional purposes, they made an agreement of some sort. Anticipating one more problem, Mother told him that my shoes had a hole in the toe, but he offered reassurance that he could take a picture without that being an issue. Once the negotiations were finished, Mother quickly washed, combed, and dressed me for my sitting. My little wicker rocker and I were placed in front of this huge bush, whose species is still a mystery to me, and the photos were taken. We waited and waited for the mail. When that picture arrived, the finished product depicted a gentile little girl, legs crossed, and a hole in the toe of her shoe, sticking out like a sore thumb!


I should mention here that Somerset has come down in history as a well-known community, for numerous reasons. Gen. Philip Sheridan, of Civil War fame, spent his childhood there, though he was born in England; I was born in this town, but I did not get to stay very long; and just a few miles away another Civil War General was born and raised.I guess the mere mention of my arrival in Somerset was probably not noteworthy. However, the PETTY name came to Somerset back in 1807 in the person of my progenitor, Joseph PETTY, born April 24, 1765. He quickly became active in the community by serving as their Township Treasurer. He was a Notary Public, a well-known farmer of considerable acreage, and he and his son, Jacob, who was my ancestor, donated the land for the first schoolhouse in Reading Township in Perry County, Erected about 1837, the Schoolhouse is still standing and in use as a dwelling today.




Marge (Petty) Austen



The owners happen to be dear friends of mine and I have stayed in their historical building and enjoyed seeing all of the details, which the owners have retained. There is a large, dark, burned spot on the floor of what is now Kathy Baker’s kitchen. She proudly points out to each visitor the place where no doubt an errant student overloaded the old stove, and perhaps almost endangered the building itself from the looks of the burn.


I should add here a little local color about the PETTY schoolhouse and the plans, which the Bakers have in store for their home. A few years ago while they were out riding around Perry County, Carl and Kathy spotted an abandoned log cabin in a nearby township. Upon investigation, they discovered that a descendant of Joseph and Elizabeth PETTY had originally owned the cabin. They arranged to buy the partly standing cabin, and Carl and his son dismantled the cabin, log by log, and moved it to the schoolhouse property.Kathy went to the courthouse and copied the trail of ownership in the county records. Eventually, as time and funds are available, their plans are to connect the cabin, already erected beside their schoolhouse home, to their abode. The cabin, with the beautiful old fireplace as a showpiece, will become a much-needed Bed and Breakfast in the area. What a wonderful addition their completed establishment will be to Perry County researchers when they travel to the area to use the wonderful new genealogical library in New Lexington, just a few miles down the road. I should add that research in Perry County is a pleasure not only because of the nice facilities available for hunting your ancestors, but also for the beautiful scenery throughout the county.




Marge (Petty) Austen



The original PETTY farm is just up the road from the schoolhouse, which no longer resembles the Victorian flavor displayed in the photo in this book. That photo, taken at some point following the Civil War, displays how Josiah and Harriet COLEMAN PETTY had decorated their farm. The cannonballs displayed on the fence posts were souvenirs of Josiah’s Civil War Service in which he was seriously injured.Josiah died at a young age from complications of those injuries in 1879. I was pleased last summer on my trip when a descendant of the currentfarm owner gave me two of those original cannonballs. She vividly described her chore of painting those balls as a youngster when her family lived there after the turn of the century. There is a lot of history associated with this old farm when you consider that the old original cabin, which Joseph and his boys erected in 1807, is contained within that present house. The current owner gave me a brief tour of the place while I was there. I experienced goose bumps when I considered that I was sitting in the same area in which my Joseph and family had lived. The couple raised ten children in the home. The two oldest sons were probably about to leave home by the time they arrived in Ohio. Kathy has researched the road beside the schoolhouse, an old township road that is now closed, which the children used to travel across the fields to school. My Pop is identified in the school photo, along with his brothers, but they did not attend this particular building for their schooling. Though their family had donated the PETTY school, their father, my Grandfather, owned a farm on the old Perry/Fairfield County Line Road, so they attended a school closer to where they lived. The original farm had been lost to the PETTY family after Harriet COLEMAN PETTY’s death after World War I. Their son, W. H. PETTY and his son Freed were the last family owners.It is interesting that the PETTY name remains connected to the property yet today even though a PETTY does not own the property. The current owner and the owner of the property across the road, which originally was the hunting lodge belonging to a descendant, Josiah’s grandson, Freed PETTY, are both members of the PURVIS family, an allied family which married into the PETTY family. These sister-in-laws are just full of stories about the old PETTY farm and the people who have lived there. I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent with them. Therefore, even though someone other than a person of that surname owns the PETTY farm, there remains a connection or thread to old Joseph. I find that another interesting bit of history.


What a sensation of history can be felt as you travel the roads to this area past the old Toll Houses, also erected in the early 1800s for the incoming frontiersmen and their families, near the roads leading to the PETTY farm and the Bakers in the PETTY Schoolhouse. As I familiarized myself with the area last summer, I can personally tell you that it is like going back in the pages of time in Perry County to visit the area and see history unfold as you travel. (Note the photos of the schoolhouse in 1913 and the turn of the century photo of the original PETTY farm are included in this book.)On the wall panel of the schoolhouse, Kathy showed me where the students had left evidence of their having put their signatures, inappropriately, on the walls. Upstairs, the huge, hand-hewn beams are indisputable evidence of the age of the building, and, a tour of the place leaves the viewer with a full understanding of why thebuilding is still so sound. The walls are double-bricked, and they would probably withstand any tornado that might come along; and, the bolts holding the huge beams in place are the largest I have ever seen in a building. They look like something you would see on an old iron bridge instead. Even though to this point in time, I have not personally done much to bring notoriety to Somerset in Perry County, Ohio, my ancestors took care of that problem for me. The name PETTY, according to the History of Perry County, stands for neighbors, who are congenial, who follow a Christian way of life, and who show trustworthiness to all, as mentioned in Graham’s History of Perry County, Ohio. That is a good standard for anyone to meet; and, it certainly is fine enough for this PETTY to wear the name with pride.




Marge (Petty) Austen



In August of 2003, when I spent time in that area taking photos of all of the houses and places I have discussed. I went to Mary Katherine's old house and a flood of good times with her came rushing to my mind. In fact, I learned all about maple syrup from her when we had it for breakfast every morning.I also thought about the plant in the back yard, which I almost killed without intending to do so. Louise, Mother of Mary Katherine, had shown me that it was a “Touch Me Not” plant; and, when you touched it anywhere, it would fold in its leaves in hopes of catching a fly or some unsuspecting insect. This activity was so fascinating that I touched it quite often; until Louise pointed out that, I was killing the plant. I clearlyremember the shameful feeling I experienced when Louise took me outside to look at the little plant, which was by then starting to turn brown. I felt terrible!I also found Grandma Coplin’s little house and realized, all over again, exactly how tiny this little abode appears because it is dwarfed by a larger building on each side. However, the window at which I had learned the story about Jesus is still there just as it was when I was there. After a little research and speaking with the owners, I learned that the huge house across the street, which had been the center of my interest that night so many years ago, had served as a hospital for the community at various times; but, at the time of my lesson, it was a doctor's residence. Of course, he was a prominent man in town and probably the only one who could afford to decorate his house at Christmas. With all of its history in the community, the home is now a beautiful Victorian home under total renovation.Another memory comes to mind as I think about playing in front of Grandma’s little chalet. We were living there as a family for a short period of time which probably means we were between houses, waiting for one to be readied for us, or waiting to find one in which we could live. I was young, but it was a sunny afternoon and Mother had allowed me outside on the sidewalk, which is a short distance from the front door. I remember that Mother was ironing just inside the door. A neighbor woman came down the sidewalk and stopped to chat with me. She clearly asked me if I liked candy and of course, I assured her that, it was my favorite food group! When prompted to supply a flavor, I assured her that chocolate would do nicely. I started salivating as she moved on down the street toward town, and Mother soon called to see if I was ready to come in the house. I declined, insisting that I needed more fresh air. As the afternoon wore on and I repeatedly resisted Mother’s urging to come inside, she became suspicious. She immediately assumed that I had asked the kind person for the candy, I was nearly tried, judged and sentenced, without benefit of defense. Of course, I vigorously protested my case.Finally, in the distance I spotted my alibi walking slowly down the sidewalk and called Mother for the purpose of clearing my name, and, of course,

accepting my promised gift. When my proof of honesty arrived on the scene, she quickly cleared my reputation of any wrongdoing. She also assured my Mother that I had not mentioned the word “candy”. U’mmm, chocolate never tasted so good!The house where I first encountered a snowball was lost to me because all of the lots now have houses; there was no empty lot for building a fort. However, the biggest disappointment was that my favorite yellow and brown house, where I rememberso many incidents, is gone. There is a public building and a paved parking lot where I posed for the picture. Worse still, my Alley of Achievement, where I trudged to get my Pop, is gone and bricked over; and, the Petty Garage is a different business all together. That was disappointing to me.I would like to add that Somerset is a friendly little community and I am proud to claim my roots from there. While I was visiting my places of former living, I stopped in Somerset to eat lunch after taking photos of all of the houses in which I had lived. I looked around and since I had eaten breakfast in the "Little Phil Inn Restaurant" on my last trip in 2001; and incidentally struck up a conversation with a French descendant of the PARGIN/PARGEON family. One of his ancestors and Joseph’sdaughter, Elizabeth married and became early settlers in Lawrence County, Illinois. This trip I decided to go to a different place to eat. I spotted an old brick building, just off the square, which looked like it might have some history connected to it. Inside, I soon found myself deep in conversation with the owner who had come back to Somerset where, in memory of her husband, she purchased the old original inn and eating establishment, which had been there since the town settled in the early 1800s. While I did not meet anyone of a surname I knew in her establishment, I appreciated the fact that Mrs. Clay has retained as much of the original charm and "flavor" as possible in furnishings and decor. The old original fireplace is a real plus.She shared a brochure and photo about their former business, a dairy, along with some of the old photos hanging around the room, which were of great interest to me. Of course, I always check to see if there is a surname from one of my lines, but it is rare occurrence if I stumble across a family related to one of my lines. If I did not know better, I would think that my lines had crawled out from under a rock somewhere instead of being early pioneers in this great state of Ohio. (For my readers’ clarification, I have presented a brief genealogical chart of my families in the Perry County area following this chapter, along with surnames of research interest.)I enjoyed a trip back into the history of the town by looking at all of the items of interest displayed on the fireplace mantle, the walls of the restaurant, and the adjoining eating areas where the owner displayed many mementos of days gone by. I encourage the tourists to stop by andenjoy a good meal in historic atmosphere. You can enjoy a sense of how Somerset looked and felt in days gone by




Marge (Petty) Austen



Only a few communities today retain the charm of the old town square. However, in Somerset, after you have driven around the ring, you are free to take four different directions out of the town. The square is exactly as I remember it when I was a little girl as I stood first on one foot and then the other as my parents stopped to talk with an acquaintance. I had to wonder if people still stand around on Saturday evening, and visit with each other on the town square of Somerset. I would lay odds that they do!Oh Dear, that brings up another memory of which I am not proud today. I was little and waiting on Mother to finish a conversation with someone, impatiently I might add, because we were on our way to the ice cream shop. Her acquaintance decided to accompany us there and I had my ice cream, still waiting on Mother, when I spotted a woman on crutches standing with a group of people. Only now, there was another problem! I could only find one leg for my lady of interest. Ice cream in hand, I walked around her group, over and over, hunting her other leg. I think Mother finally observed what I was doing and prevented me from embarrassing myself still further. I imagine my next move would have been to inquire where she lost her other leg! I could not locate the ice cream shop on the square, but otherwise, everything else was almost exactly as I remember it. Even General Philip Sheridan is still riding his horse, right in the middle of the town square !


While I was in town, I decided to go to the Nursing Home and see my Mother's double cousin, whom she referred to as Sis. Alma Armeda GREEN Stewart, widow of Dwight Stewart, is the Mother of Laurie, my cousin who died when we were fifteen. Laurie is the subject of the Appendix of this book, entitled, “The Day the Angels Sang”. (This story is my testimony of the day God made me aware of His existence.)Sis, as we all called her, is my relative with whom I visited at Ashland College in the 1960s era. I remember that she was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis at that time. Shortly after I graduated, they moved to Arizona to see if it would help her deal with the arthritis. They later returned to Lancaster in Fairfield County where their children were located.Whenever I stayed at college for a night class, I visited with her in the cafeteria. Now, I have the same arthritis and she, in her nineties, is almost bedfast from the disease. She remembered me well and remarked that I looked like one who "was no longer with us", meaning my Mother. Since my hair is almost all white now I look more like the GREEN family and my Mother than when I was younger.




Marge (Petty) Austen



During the early 1940s, I remember once when Sis came to visit our family and stayed several days. Her husband, Dwight, was boarding with our family that winter in Ashland because he, too, was working for the Gas Company and waiting to find a place to move after the school year closed. My Mother was working at a local dry goods store and left Sis and me to make dinner that evening. She wrote out the recipe for the spaghetti sauce and told us exactly what to do, almost! I was only about ten years old so my knowledge about cooking was rather limited. However, Sis had been a Mother and homemaker for quite some time so I expected to get direction from her. We started the sauce and everything was moving along quite well until we came to the part of the recipe which called for one clove of garlic. She asked me if a clove was one part of the bulb or the entire bulb. We discussed the terminology for a while and finally mutually agreed that if Mother left us the entire bulb of garlic, she must have intended for us to use it. That evening the families pronounced the spaghetti sauce the best that any of them had ever eaten and we basked in all of the compliments as though we were two experienced chefs! Later that night, Mother went upstairs to change clothes and promptly fell head over heels into her closet. She was a low blood pressure patient and that much garlic must have done the trick. She came downstairs and questioned the cooks, and we had to admit that we were the culprits! Our specialty surely was good eating, but marketing might be a problem since, apparently, it could be injurious to your health !

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More pieces of my history were gone as I drove around over the town. However, as I reflected on my experiences in the town of my birth, I realized that I learned a lot about life in the few years I was there. In addition, I lived elsewhere and made still more memories in the process. Now, it is time to move on and to learn about some of my other escapades. The next set of memories comes from a farm, in Perrysville, Ohio, a community of beautiful rolling hills and green pastures in northern Ohio in Ashland County. I call this area of Ohio, God's country, now that I am older and I have lived in other parts of the country. When I lived in east Texas, where there was nothing but pine trees, I sometimes longed for Ohio with all of its rolling land and huge hardwood trees. One scene I could envision, if I closed my eyes, was near Perrysville, where a long time ago a little girl and her family spent a summer on the farm. It was to be a summer like no other in my life.