“A small town is a wonderful place to grow up. We could skinny dip in the ‘crick’ in the summertime and skate on it in winter. The ‘old channel’ or ‘run-around’ as we kids called it was wonderful for playing ‘shinny’ with branches from trees as clubs and a stone for a puck. Today they call it ice hockey.”
— Paul A. Carl (1907-1994) writing of his Jeromesville, Ohio, hometown
Small town USA survives, though in far too many cases, commerce has faded enough to knock the pillars and posts out from under the once-thriving crossroads towns.
My hometown is a one-stoplight village, but as a child in the 1960s, it was a busy little town. Still remaining today are three churches, a cemetery on one end of the village and a funeral home with a furniture store owned and operated by the Fickes family near the other end.
Lots of people have come and gone through this village; memories hold the stories of the old teachers and the preachers, the antique dealers, the grocery store proprietors, the hardware and grain elevator owners, just to name a few.
I am grateful my roots run deep in this community, where people care about one another and offer help without hesitation. There remains a warmth about the town, though it is hard to find the words to properly describe it.
In the 1924 Jeromesville school yearbook, the town is described as “a very beautiful village with a population of over 500. The C.C.C. and Harding Highways pass through it….because of the progressive appearance, fine dwellings and paved streets it attracts the attention of the tourist and many favorable comments have been expressed by them….Its citizens, known for their generosity and hospitality, heartily welcome you at all times.”
A page is set aside to offer a “sketch” of the town, telling it was laid out in 1815 by two men, Deardorf and Vaughn, who had purchased the land from John Baptist Jerome.
“Many legends are related concerning the Red Men who roamed up and down the Jerome Fork. The Mohegans, an Indian tribe, settled at Jeromesville, who, after the defeat of Braddock in 1775 brought James Smith, a captive taken near Bedford, Pennsylvania, with them. He finally escaped in 1762 and it was about this time an Indian village was established on the Yocum and Ingmand farms.”
This is the land on which I grew up. My father was able to trace the land deeds back to the Yocum and Ingmand family names. This connection to the Native Americans ran through many of our childhood games as we filled our pockets with flint and arrowheads while we played and roamed the fields.
“The earliest settlers found John Baptist Jerome, a Frenchman with an Indian wife, on the present location of Jeromesville. Jerome is believed to have been the first white settler within the present limits of Ashland County,” says the sketch written in 1924.
In the 1924 yearbook, the hope for a new school building in the village was spelled out clearly under the heading “What We Deserve.” At that time, the building which is now Fickes Furniture served as the school. A brick schoolhouse built later in that decade, still in use today, would tell many stories if those old walls could talk.
The rest of the series
- Part one: Buying local pushed in 1924
- Part three: Rural people known by nicknames
- Part four: Growing up small-town proved invaluable for our ancestors
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