By David Snively, Newbury Trustee
In the 15 years I’ve lived in Newbury, the last three of them as township trustee, I’ve frequently come to believe I know all there is to know about Newbury Township. Whenever this happens, something comes along to prove how wrong I am.
Last Thursday was one of those occasions. I was invited to attend the Ohio Historical Society Commemoration of South Newbury Union Chapel on Ravenna Road. I have passed it dozens of time and I recall asking someone about it and learned it used to be a church. Figuring it was likely old enough to earn a sign from Ohio, I decided it would be worth attending. While it’s not inaccurate to say Union Chapel used to be a church, I learned shortly after arriving Thursday there is so much more to the story.
Before the official commemoration, Michael Fath, a Union Chapel trustee, described how Union Chapel impacted Northeast Ohio as well as the entire country. Steve Hoffman, a local historian and educator, followed with “Exercising the Franchise: The Suffragettes of South Newbury” on the important role the chapel played in the struggle for women’s right to vote. Joan Kapsch, a park guide from the James A. Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor, related a clever story, “Brother Garfield Speaks in a Dancing Hall” which explained how the future President became the catalyst which caused the chapel to be constructed in 1858. In the final speech Judith Sheridan from the Harriet Taylor Upton Association in Warren, shared the story of how Miss Taylor and Susan B. Anthony put South Newbury Union Chapel in the history books forever.
When the presentations concluded, the new sign was displayed and the program was officially at an end. I can’t recall ever attending an event where I felt all the speeches should have been longer but there’s a first time for everything and this was it.
During a reception after the program concluded, we had the opportunity to meet and talk with others who attended, many from Newbury but quite a few who had come from elsewhere including John Garfield, an area resident who is also President Garfield’s great grandson. He was clearly pleased to see Union Chapel getting the local recognition it deserves and to have acknowledged how great a role his great grandfather played.
In a casual discussion with a Newbury resident who had attended, we spoke about many things which have happened over the years. She, having lived here longer than I, vividly recalls people and events I have only heard about. I mentioned something about how we might soon have some excitement at Grange Park and she gave me a blank stare.
“Grange Park?” she asked. “Never heard of it.”
Like I said earlier, no matter how much you think you know about Newbury Township, no one knows it all.
Tue, October 19, 2010
by Ann Wishart