A Case of a Most Unusual Flag

Ohio’s flag, adopted in 1902, is often known as the Ohio Burgee for its swallow tail design—which has most often been employed in the design of maritime signal flags. The Ohio Burgee is the only non-rectangular flag in the United States.

John Eisenmann, a Cleveland architect, was selected to design the Ohio State exhibition hall for the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York in 1901. Eisenmann also designed what would become the Ohio Burgee only a year later, as a flag to represent the Ohio Pan-American Exposition Commission, not the entire state. But in 1902, after the Governor, George K. Nash, had visited the exposition and been presented with one of the flags, State Representative William McKinnon introduced House Bill 213 creating Eisenmann’s design the official state flag.

Eisenmann’s design was so literally so “outside the box”, not being of the standard state-seal-on-a-sheet design the press actually went overseas to find precedents for the design – the layout being compared to Cuba’s flag or the flag of the Philippines, while the red and white annulus was chastised for its easy comparison to the Japanese flag.

Though still sometimes considered unpopular and not often flown by Ohioans, the Burgee remains one of the most unique flags in the Union.

Opal Ashcraft’s “Pal Book”

An Ohio Spring means so many things to so many different people, but one thing that means a lot to Ohioans whether veteran bird watchers or casual nature lovers is the returning of the sights and sounds of our bird populations. Across our great state a multitudinous variety of birds will be found celebrating, nesting and hatching as the warm weather graces our state. Others, however, just make a pit stop in there spring journey north.

“Ohio Memory” has in its archives a one of a kind item that chronicles one years’ worth of bird watching, it is known as “Pal Book” and was kept by Opal Ashcraft who lived in Mercer County. She kept the birding memoir for her birding pal, Arlene Keunkel in Knox County (hence the title “Pal Book”). The “Pal Book” dates from December to December 1949-50. It appears as black three-ring binder, but inside reveals itself to be a treasure box of love—love of birds and friendship. The pages contain not only journal entries, but color pencil drawings, photographic snap shots, news paper and various clippings, pressed flowers and even bird feathers.

Opal collects all of this to chronicle the birds she hears and sees in Fort Recovery, her rural home, in addition to what she observers in her travels to the surrounding communities.

Opal’s reporting on April rub-crowned kinglets, nuthatches, juncos, blue jays, red-winged blackbirds, starlings, herons, meadowlarks, field sparrows, and flickers—to name a few. Opal also writes often of a friend “Pete”. He is a woodpecker who made a home of a garden post in Opal’s yards and she writes fondly of his life and loves throughout the seasons.

The “Pal Book” chronicles with the same depth of devotion and love the stories of her farm, family the community and her friends. She speaks of books she is reading and makes beautiful observations and sketches of nature in general.

Ohio’s Alta Weiss: Baseball’s Woman Wonder

Weiss was born in 1890. She lived with her father, a doctor, and an older and younger sister in Ragersville, Ohio. She began pitching from early on and Dr. Weiss established a high-school so Weiss could play on its baseball team.

It was 1907 in Vermilion, Ohio when Weiss would first be considered for professional baseball. She played a pick-up game with some men from the town. The Vermilion mayor was impressed enough that he contacted the Vermilion Independents (the local semi-pro team) to suggest they sign her.

Skeptical at first of a female player, the Independents’ manager arranged a game between two local teams and had Weiss pitch. After her fifteenth strike out the manager asked her to join the Independents and she became a sports phenomenon.
Weiss was only 17 years old.

That same year in September she played her first semi-pro game. She pitched five innings. She would go one to play seven more games that season as pitcher. Her pay rivaled that of the male players. The Independents ended their season with a 5-3 record. Weiss became known as the Girl Wonder.

On September 2, 1907, Weiss made her semi-pro debut, pitching five innings. She pitched seven more games that season and became known as the “Girl Wonder,” dressing in a blue skirt and receiving pay that rivaled even the male players. The Independents ended the 1907 season with a 5-3 record.

Weiss continued to practice, and her father purchased a semi-pro team in 1908, renaming it the Weiss All-Stars and of course it featured Weiss, the Girl Wonder, as its pitcher.
In 1910 Weiss followed in her father’s footsteps and began a career at the Starling College of Medicine and eventually attended the Ohio State University Medical College—all paid for by her baseball career. In 1914 she was the only woman in her class to receive a Doctor of Medicine.

During WWI Weiss replaced the doctor in Sugarcreek, Ohio who was enlisted. Though the war and flu pandemic took its toll on Weiss as she claimed her enthusiasm for the profession waned after those events. However, she went on to practice medicine in Norwalk, Ohio and took over her father’s practice in Ragersville after his death.
Weiss maintained her love of baseball and encouraged children to play the game throughout her life, including Lois Youngen who played for the Fort Wayne Daisies in the All-American Girls Baseball League.

We’ve Known Rivers Performance at the Ohio State House

We’ve Known Rivers is a group of inter active storytellers that celebrate the African American experience in American history by creating dynamic first-person presentations with the feel of a “one person shows”. The stories they tell look at American history through the lens of the power and legacy of the African American community. They bring history to life through their solo dramatic performances of famous African American historical figures.

The organization is that of so-called “teaching artists.” Their goal is to share the timeless stories of country’s history according to the black experience. The characters they portray are often less well known African American historical figures and sometimes are composites of several people. Their well-designed educational performances can cater to all age groups with the intention of empowering the future of our country.

This performance takes place on the 27th of February at the Ohio State House Atrium from 12pm-1pm.

Shaker Historical Society Prohibition Exhibition

This new exhibition examines how Prohibition affected Shaker Heights residents. The way they lived, worked and entertained. Many of the homes in Shaker Heights have wine cellars and bars. The exhibition brings those once private spaces to light and to life for the public. Additionally, it will look at the rise of homebrewing and the cocktail.

The Shaker Historical Society was created in 1947. Its mission is to tend to the stewardship of the region’s most important histories. The organization does this through respectful discovery, collection, preservation and public demonstrations. The Shaker Historical Society is intended to uphold the traditions and heritage of the Shaker sect, Warrensville Township and Shaker Heights.

The home of The Shaker Historical Society is arranged on the grounds of the previous North Union Center Family’s apple plantation and vegetable garden and was the previous home of Louis Myers, a land specialist for the Van Sweringen Company, and his significant other, Blanche. From the Myers Mansion we work an exhibition hall, an open research library and files, a workmanship display, a nearby shop and network of cultivated flower beds.

Exhibit Located at Shaker Historical Museum