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Photos depict Chardon change
Photos depict Chardon change
By JOSEPH KOZIOL JR.
Three local Chardon residents started a treasure hunt a little more than a year ago and now are ready to share the fruits of their labors with the public.
Late last year, residents Deborah Chuha, William Jackson and Joan Windnagel began a search for vintage photographs that captured 200 years of history in the Chardon area.
The trio began their search as a steering committee of the Chardon Bicentennial Celebration committee, which is planning a yearlong celebration in 2012, marking the community's 200th birthday.
After spending hundreds of hours pouring over more than 1,000 photographs, the trio has produced a photo essay of more than 200 photographs that chronicle life in Chardon from some of its earliest days.
Produced by Arcadia Publishing, the book titled, "Chardon and Chardon Township" is now available to the public at local retailers, online bookstores and from the publisher by calling 888-313-2665. The cost is $21.99.
In an introduction, the authors wrote their intended purpose for the book, which targeted photographs at least 50 years old, was to provide a sense of what Chardon was and now is.
"It is hoped that the selected photographs will give a sense of Chardon's small-town past and its change to a less agriculturally dependent community," it states. "At the same time, we hope to portray a community that has enjoyed steady growth mixed with tragedy and triumph. Finally, we seek to show a town that is proud of its own heritage and pleased with its surroundings."
The authors identified three local topics of note that are listed as chapters -- the maple syrup industry, the winter weather and Chardon's Centennial Celebration.
Mrs. Chuha said the trio met weekly at the Chardon branch of the Geauga County Public Library to put the book together. For her, she said, it was a labor of love.
"It is very dear to my heart," said Mrs. Chuha, whose family has been part of the Chardon community from its earliest days.
Her family settled in Chardon Township in 1815 and a good part of her family's history is contained in the book. The back cover features her great-great aunt, Mattie Granger, on a berry-picking expedition at Sage farm around 1900. Mrs. Chuha said it was not her choosing to feature a relative. She said the group submitted about 10 photographs for possible use as the cover and the publisher made the final decision.
And, like any good Chardonite, Mrs. Chuha said she delights in what some outsiders may characterize as the worst of Chardon. "It was fun to do the winter chapter," she said.
The chapter, titled "Snow Capital," concentrates on one of the community's most memorable snowstorms in 1913 and features photographs of snow piles that dwarf residents and business owners along Chardon's Main Street.
Mrs. Windnagel said digging for the photographs that depicted a succession of hotels and a look-out tower on Little Mountain in Chardon Township was the most enjoyable part of her labors. "I just find that so fascinating," she said. "To think they would have had to drive horse-drawn wagons up that mountain with materials just to build those grand hotels is mind-boggling."
Unlike Mrs. Chuha, Mrs. Windnagel said her family arrived a little more recently. But, that arrival came in the middle of winter in January 1976, she said. "It was one of the worst winters there was," she said. "I didn't think Chardon kids went to school in the winter," she said, recalling her first days in the area. She said she spent her time watching television reports of the schools' continual closures because of that harsh winter.
Mrs. Windnagel said as fiscal officer for Chardon Township government, she took a particular interest in the community and surroundings of her newly adopted home. But, she said, she lacked the background knowledge that her other two co-authors had on the area's history.
"I would go to people's homes and would have to take their word for what the photographs showed," Mrs. Windnagel said. But, she said, it was always Mr. Jackson and Mrs. Chuha that could speak with authority on what the photographs depicted.
Mr. Jackson has been part of the Chardon community since early childhood and took an interest in his town. He and his wife, Louise, are members of a number of historical societies and he has done extensive research into the history of the local interurban railroad that was a part of Geauga County and Chardon as well as the county's resort communities and local churches.
In a description of the book's authors, Mr. Jackson wrote that he hoped the book stirred more than memories.
"I hope that the book and its collection of photographs not only brings back memories of the old days, but also inspires the readers to learn more about the area and the folks who came before us," he wrote. "I also hope that the book will prompt others to search their family archives and share them during the upcoming Chardon bicentennial year of 2012."
Mrs. Chuha said the book is arriving just in time for gift-giving during the holidays. "It's easy to ship and it's affordable," she said.
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