Keeping history alive for nearly 100 years

Keeping history alive for nearly 100 years
Teri Stein

Tusc Kent Archive curator Kim Jurkovic and Tuscarawas County Historical Society President David Hipp look at the collection of land grants at the archive. Some of the documents are original, and others are photographs.

                        

There are many fascinating stories to discover at the Tusc Kent Archive, and it is the job of curator Kim Jurkovic to ensure they are not forgotten. Jurkovic also is the editor of The Chronicler, a newsletter for members of the Tuscarawas County Historical Society. The newsletter is the place where these stories and photographs live for everyone to appreciate.

The archive is located in New Philadelphia inside Kent State University at Tuscarawas and is a joint venture of both the university and the TCHS.

With the 100th anniversary of the TCHS upcoming in 2021, the Bargain Hunter is republishing some articles from The Chronicler. The group also is seeking new members. Members receive six copies of The Chronicler each year, and gift memberships are available.

The TCHS was chartered April 26, 1921. Rev. Joseph Weinland, the pastor of the Dover Moravian Church, was the driving force behind its organization. Weinland was passionate about David Zeisberger’s story and finding the exact site of Schoenbrunn and restoring it.

The officers elected at the first meeting were President Charles Barthelmeh, superintendent of Tuscarawas County Schools; First Vice President E.D. Moody, a prominent Dennison banker; Second Vice President S.O. Mase, superintendent of Dover Schools; secretary Robert N. Wilkin, an attorney who later went on to become a federal judge in Cleveland; treasurer Joe E. Hurst, publisher of the Daily Times; and Weinland as historian.

The TCHS is continually compiling information on Tuscarawas County, but its own history is incomplete. “The society was very active from 1921-35, and then we lose information until 1970,” Jurkovic said. “They have financial reports from 1970-75 but no minutes to say what kind of activities went on.”

The celebration of the bicentennial of the United States proved to be good for the society. The organization was revitalized and became very active once again under President John Bihari.

In 1979 the group purchased property in New Philadelphia in hopes of finding a home for the organization and operating a museum. The property was located on a corner of Third and St. Clair Avenue and consisted of two buildings: the former home Dr. Rummel built in 1852 and a former “mom and pop” store. The property was later sold when it became a financial burden and the organizational goals changed.

In 1981 the Zeisberger Heckewelder Awards were created, and over the years many deserving Tuscarawas County residents and organizations have been recognized, not just for work involving the history of the area, but also those who have served their community in a variety of ways.

In 1992 the creation of the Tusc Kent Archive was organized under the leadership of President Earl Olmstead and Kent State Tuscarawas dean Harold Shade. It was met with relief. A statement in The Chronicler said, “We now have adequate and permanent storage for our books, records and documents.”

Prior to this time, the organization’s materials were stored in various locations including members’ homes and Monroe Mall.

“The archive was started with the historical society records and documents and the Olmstead collection of books,” Jurkovic said, adding the Olmstead collection was Olmstead’s personal collection of history books that he donated. “We also have Earl’s collection of material that he gathered when writing ‘Blackcoats Among the Delaware’ and the David Zeisberger books, so we have a very extensive collection of Moravian records of the missions here.”

The purpose of the archive is information and photographs.

“Over the years we’ve collected archival materials: books, papers, documents, photographs and maps,” Jurkovic said. “We have a lot of local history books and resources to find genealogy in the area.”

The archive has vertical files of topics having to do with Tuscarawas County. The files are divided by historic landmarks, historic people, cities, towns, villages and townships.

“We have a church file and a Civil War file. There’s thousands of items in those files, and then we also have the box collection, which are materials that were donated by people,” Jurkovic said, adding that during the pandemic she was able to reorganize the box collection and put like material together.

The archive also has many records of local clubs that are no longer in existence, records of local industry and the county home records. Included in the donated items is more information about towns and townships. The archive houses a collection of city directories and yearbooks.

“We can help researchers in multiple ways. They can come look through the things we have here, and we can help them find things. We also do phone requests and email requests if you’re out of town or you don’t feel comfortable coming in,” Jurkovic said.

The archive is usually open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. to noon by appointment at this time due to the pandemic, and masks are required. Call 330-308-7494 for more information or email tuschs@tuschs.org. The group is on Facebook too.

Their website at www.tuschs.org contains information on the historic markers in the area, and traveling to see them would be a great educational activity during the pandemic for those wanting to get outside.

The archive has a selection of old newspapers on microfilm and access to resources like newspapers.com and ancestry.com that can be used onsite.

“I like a good puzzle, so if you have something you’re looking for, I would love to help,” Jurkovic said.

Jurkovic is most interested in land grants, and it’s always been something she enjoys researching.

“I love land grants, and we have a few here that go back into 1830s and before,” Jurkovic said. “A lot of them were to military people who were given land for their service, and so they were signed by presidents.”

After the 1830s when Andrew Jackson was president, there started to be so many land grants that he didn’t have time to sign them, so the secretary started signing them.

One of Jurkovic’s other interests is exploring cemeteries, and she has found plenty of information at the archive in the “1884 History of Tuscarawas County” book to fill in the stories.

“It includes biographies of people in the townships, and the cemetery books, along with that resource, are just great to find facts,” she said. “There is also the 1870 township map. It’s a plat map, so it has landowners on it, and then the historical Atlas also has plat maps in it. Sometimes when you’re digging through history about someone and you find the land that they owned, that’s just a lot of fun.”

Jurkovic could spend hours at any given time looking through the photograph collection. “Anytime you just start looking at the old photos, there’s so many details,” she said.

Much of the research Jurkovic does at the archive ends up as articles in The Chronicler, and current TCHS President David Hipp also is a contributor. Prior to fall 2015, The Chronicler was researched and written by former TCHS president, the late Fred Miller.

Among the services provided by the TCHS, Jurkovic has spoken at meetings of many civic organizations and library programs and has led walking tours. Plans are in the works for the group’s centennial celebrations, but due to the COVID-19 situation, the events will be announced at a later date.

All dues and donations to the TCHS are tax-deductible. The membership levels are life member, single, $150; life member, couple, $250; patron, $40; professional, $35; family, $25; single, $20; and student, $5. Members receive six issues of The Chronicler each year.

For membership or gift memberships, send the name, address, phone number and email of the new member, along with a check made payable to the Tuscarawas County Historical Society to P.O. Box 462, New Philadelphia, OH 44663. For gift memberships, include the name of the person giving the gift.


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