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.

The Cicadas Are Coming! The Cicadas Are Coming!

Almost like something out of a horror movie, they wait beneath trees, underground where we won’t see them, waiting for the perfect spring night to emerge. Furthermore, they arrive by the billions by swarm. Their unique sound can be chilling when they sing in harmony.

The emergence of Cicadas is an essential part of our culture in Ohio, especially the arrival of seventeen-year swarms. Such a swarm is expected to bloom in some Ohio counties this spring. Once the soil eight inches underground comes up to sixty-four degrees Fahrenheit, the cicadas (also known as locusts) will come out of hiding after seventeen years of waiting.

If you never seen them arrive in mass, don’t worry. Despite there size and startling appearance they don’t bite or sting and after waiting seventeen years to say hello, they’ll only be around about six weeks.

The so-called “Brood VII” cicadas (or known to most as seventeen-year cicadas) will arrive by the billions this spring in western Pennsylvania, the northern tip of West Virginia and the eastern edge of Ohio. While it is common to see hundreds or thousands of cicadas any spring in our part of the country, this brood hasn’t emerged since 2002. The last time Ohio saw a swarm of this magnitude was in 2016 when Brood V emerged and took over much of Ohio, as well as parts of New York, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Brood VIII is expected in Ohio by the middle of May and the hot spots are thought to be Ashtabula, Columbiana and Mahoning counties.


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.

Annual Bryn Du Art Show

The Bryn Du Art show is a yearly exhibition of juried pieces held at the magnificent Bryn Du Mansion. The beautiful grounds and impressive Federal style home is a vocal point of the 52-acre landscape. The buildings have stood on the property since 1905 in the Village of Granville, Ohio. This 15th annual show is held from the 5th to the 24th of March. It features contemporary, current works of both amateur and professional artists. This is a no-charge, public event.

Originally constructed by a local business magnate, Henry D. Wright, John Jones commissioned the 1905 renovation that stands in Granville today and his tenure is its most famous. During the building of Jones’ legacy many famous people of the era visited the estate. Jones’ served dinner to Warren G. Harding, William Howard Taft and Calvin Coolidge. Famous actresses Katherine Cornell and Lillian Gish both visited the estate as well as musicians Paderewski and Rachmaninoff, both of whom played the Steinway that is still on the estate grounds today.

The Village of Granville currently manages the property by a commission of their creation. This commissions goal is preservation of history and to provide use of the property to the benefit of the Village of Granville.

The historic home, Bryn Du Mansion, has by a corner stone of society in Granville since 1905 of continues to be today. Its history, the legacy of the families who occupied it, and the unique grounds add to the character of charming, modern Granville, OH.