St. Joseph Catholic Church

St Joseph Catholic Church cemetery 06-09-2016Shortly after Road Warriorette Shari and I photographed Luther’s Chapel Cemetery in Perry County’s Union Township, we turned into Apple Creek to explore St. Joseph Catholic Church Cemetery.

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Town originally called Schnurbusch

St Joseph Catholic Church cemetery 06-09-2016Apple Creek was originally named after a prominent family in the area, and there is a stone expressing appreciation to W. Joseph Schnurbusch for donating the land for the church.

German Catholic immigrants built the first St. Joseph church in 1828; the log structure was used for 12 years, then was replaced by the “Rock Church.” The present brick building was constructed between 1881-1884.

It’s a peaceful place

St Joseph Catholic Church cemetery 06-09-2016The grounds are full of crosses and the usual statuary.

The rules are pretty clear

St Joseph Catholic Church cemetery 06-09-2016The Joint Parish Council is pretty clear about what it will and won’t allow in the cemetery.

If you don’t follow the rules, you might be hauled into the Parish Office, where knuckle-rapping might be on the list of punishments meted out. (A convent was added to the church in 1917.)


I was framing a group of crosses

St Joseph Catholic Church cemetery 06-09-2016I was trying to frame a photo of the crosses in the background when my eye was drawn to something beside me off to the right.

What’s with the red rope?

St Joseph Catholic Church cemetery 06-09-2016A stone marking the final resting place of what I think was a long-dead priest held a wrapping of red rope. When I looked closer, it wasn’t just wrapped around the stone, part of it was going up into the tree.

This didn’t exactly break any rules, but it sure seemed odd.

A decoy?

St Joseph Catholic Church cemetery 06-09-2016The rope was looped around a tree branch, and hanging from the end of it, swinging in the breeze, was something that looked like a duck or goose decoy. There was no good way to get a shot of it short of climbing the tree, and y’all don’t pay me enough to exert that much energy.

The stone was old, and the rope had faded enough that it had been there a relatively long time. I’d love to know the story behind this.

We missed the most interesting part

St Joseph Catholic Church cemetery 06-09-2016When I got back to talking with my Jackson and Altenburg museum friends, they said we had missed the most beautiful and unusual part of the church grounds. They were right. I’ll publish photos from that area soon.

Rendville Public School

Rendville School 04-18-2015You’re probably wondering how a town with only 36 people left in it can generate so many posts. Well, this is the last one until I visit the place again, but I think it’s one of the most interesting. Curator Jessica told me to turn right one road too early to get to Rendville proper, but we didn’t much care. Jessica is a lot like Mother: always looking for the road not taken.

Part-way up a tall hill, a huge, falling-down building came into view. We’d never have seen it in a few more weeks when the leaves are all out. There was a pickup truck with its window rolled down parked in a little turnoff leading to the building. I figured that must mean somebody was around. There were no no-trespassing signs around, so we hoofed up the path, noting fresh footprints in the soft ground.

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Marvin filled us in

Rendville School 04-18-2015Nobody answered my hail, so I went to the front of the building while Jessica prowled around back. Before long, I saw Jessica and Marvin, who said he grew up near the building, which turned out to be a school. “When it closed, it was left just like they were going to have classes the next day. There was even a bell, but someone made off with it.”

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Rendville had a sizable black population:  “That’s how Rendville came about,” Marvin recalled the local lore. “They ran all the colored out of Corning.”

Interestingly enough, though, both races attended the school, which dated back to the 1880s.

Convict bricks

Rendville School 04-18-2015Marvin pointed out that some of the walls were made of “Convict Bricks.” They were stamped “Convict Made; 1926; Ohio State Brick Plant; Convict Made.” They were a “hard brick,” unlike most of the older parts of the building that were “soft brick.”

Jessica, who is a bit of a brick expert, said she had never seen any like this before.

Like something from Gone With the Wind

Rendville School 04-18-2015I had the feeling I was in a movie set for General Sherman’s Atlanta urban renewal project (minus the fires).

Long hoof up the hill

Rendville School stairs 04-18-2015 Miz Jessica, a triathlete, is one of those people who runs even when nobody chases her. She volunteered to walk down this sidewalk that connected the school to the town, shooting photos along the way. I volunteered to pick her up at the bottom of the hill in my van.

Note the arched window

Rendville School 04-18-2015I asked Jessica to dig up some information about the school. The Little Cities of Black Diamonds archive has a photo of what the Rendville Public School looked like. The Corning High School had a building that looked so much like this one, I thought maybe someone had mislabeled the photos.

She squinted closer than I did and determined the window shapes and the bell tower were different.

Look for the blackboards

Rendville School 04-18-2015The easiest way to determine if an old building was a school or not is to look for the blackboards.

Disembodied voice

Rendville School 04-18-2015I was down in the boiler room when a disembodied voice said, “Hey, Ken.”

I peered around to see where the sound was coming from and said, “Holy Bleep!” when I saw Jessica and Marvin peering down from above. When I followed them, I found it was less scary than I thought. There was a good poured cement set of stairs between two convict brick walls that was perfectly solid.

Earlier Rendville stories

If you are interested in old coal towns (many which have disappeared), stories about labor and railroads, swing over to the Little Cities of Black Diamonds website for some interesting reading and pictures.







Seelitz Cemetery

Perry County German settlement known as Seelitz 10-28-2011Seelitz, in eastern Perry County, was a short-lived town near Altenburg. It was one of the seven colonies established in 1839 in the Saxon Migration.

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Not a good location

Seelitz Cemetery 11-09-2013Gerard Fiehler from the Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum walked me back to where a memorial stone contains the names of some of the earlier settlers. You’ll notice that many of the dates are from the first two years of the settlement.

Seelitz, I was told, was located in a low area that it made it disease-prone. The other problem was that the the early inhabitants were mostly students and professional men poorly prepared for carving out farms and houses from wilderness.

Rev. Stephens exiled

Seelitz Cemetery 11-09-2013The Rev. Martin Stephan was the leader of the movement. He and his followers, with a communal treasury of $88,000 (you can see the chest it was kept in at the museum), landed in Wittenberg with the goal of farming about 4,500 acres of land that resembled what they had left in Saxony, Germany.

Rev. Stephan, however, was accused of “voluptuous living and dictatorial conduct” and put in a boat for exile to Illinois. It is rumored that he had been tapping the till and some of the wives.

That was the start of the Missouri Synod

Perry County German settlement known as Seelitz 10-28-2011Despite all the difficulties, the Saxon immigration was the start of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, which was established in 1847.

The beautiful and still active Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg was built in 1867.


Hemman Winery in Brazeau

Hemman Winery 10-26-2014The banquet tables at the Immigration Conference were set with bottles of Hemman Winery cranberry wine.

[My presentation went well, thanks for asking. The audience looked at the videos I had produced of The Last Generation of German speakers, laughed where appropriate and had eyes glistening with moisture where appropriate. It’s always a rush to watch folks enjoying something you produced.]

Mother and Wife Lila accompanied me to the banquet after enjoying some great music in the museum. Lila likes a good wine, unlike me, who has never found a good replacement for the bottles of Ripple we OU Post photographers kept stashed in old photo paper boxes in the fridge. I mean, who is going to open a box marked “Open in darkroom only?”]

She thought the cranberry wine was good enough that she wanted to go to the winery in Brazeau, just up the road from Frohna’s Saxon Lutheran Memorial and not too far from Seventy-Six. Class of ’66 buddy Jane Rudert McMahan was in town, so the four of us headed north, with a stopover at the Altenburg museum.

Bonnie did the pouring

Hemman Winery 10-26-2014Bonnie Hemman had a full array of wines set up for tasting.She did a great job explaining each wine and how it was made.

Before we got out of the place, Lila had picked up a case of mostly fruit wines that may show up as Christmas gifts for some lucky people.

The place also had a spinach – artichoke dip that was excellent. I suspect Bonnie may see us again when Curator Jessica hits town next week. It seems like every other email I get from her has a wine mention in it, so I gather she is fond of the grape (or the cranberry or blackberry or rhubarb).

Lots of eye candy

Hemman Winery 10-26-2014While you are waiting for your turn to taste, you can wander around looking at the antique items displayed on shelves around the room. We didn’t discover the outdoor seating area with music until we were out in the parking lot headed home (almost).

I’ve been having some battery problems lately, and needed a jump. A couple of guys pushed my van out to the middle of the parking lot where my jumper cables could reach a jeep one of them pulled up. When it when it finally cranked, I tried to give them some money, but they refused to take it. I offered to buy them a bottle of wine, but they refused it. I told them to take the money inside and buy somebody ELSE a bottle of wine or a couple of beers, but they refused that, too. Perry County has some nice folks in it, for sure.

Barber chair older than mine

Hemman Winery 10-26-2014The building housing the winery used to have a barber shop attached. The barber chair might be just a few years older than the one we have in our living room, based on the arms and color.

Sweeter than cranberry wine

Hemman Winery 10-26-2014While Mother was checking out the music action on the north side of the winery, I was scoping out the view to the south. That’s sweeter than the cranberry wine.

For more information, including wine varieties, hours and directions, go to the Hemman Winery website. If you stop by, tell ’em we sent you. Say hi to Bonnie for us. And, you won’t find a better place to have a dead battery.

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