The photo above shows my grandmother, Lucia Arras (second row without a doll), and her little sister Jeanne (second row left) with several childhood friends. For the longest time, we didn’t know who the other people were in this picture. Then, several years ago, my mom posted it online and someone came forward with the missing information.
Not only that, but she had another photo taken the same day!
Going back to the original photo, the other girl in the second row, Mary Etta Waltermire, was my grandma’s neighbor across the street. The three remaining children in the photo were Mary Etta’s cousins, who were visiting from Toledo, just under 50 miles away. Josephine and Mary Lou are seated in the bottom row and George, of course, is clowning away at the top. Isn’t he hilarious?! Pulling faces in both pictures, like you’d expect of a boy that age.
The funniest part was finding out who else Mary Lou, George, and Josephine were related to. Mary Etta was their cousin through their mother, Alma Irene Cessna. Her sister, Gytanna Cessna, had married Orville Waltermire.
Alma Irene Cessna’s husband was named Harold Clyde Benington. His brother, Ralph Orlando Benington, who I’ve written about here, was my grandpa’s father. Mary Lou, George and Josephine were Lucia’s future husband’s first cousins!
She would not meet their cousin, her husband, Clark, until high school.
I wonder whether Grandma and Grandpa ever recognized the connection!
This photo is of my grandmother, Lucia Marie Arras’s, class at Lincoln School in Findlay, Ohio. It was taken in the spring of 1929. Lucia is sitting just to the right (our right) of the teacher.
None of these children look particularly excited to be there. There doesn’t appear to be any of the usual goofing off. Not one child is looking elsewhere and laughing. Perhaps the teacher was a stern one.
One of my favorite details is all the interesting patterned socks on the boys in the front row. I wonder if they were purchased or if their mothers were such talented knitters.
It appears that a concrete block and a crate were used to prop up the first row bench. A close-up of the crate reveals that it was from the Bourne-Fuller Company of Cleveland, Ohio. Soon after this photo was taken, Bourne-Fuller would unite with two other companies, Central Alloy and Republic Iron and Steel, to become the third-largest steel company in the U.S.
Check out the boy on the left in the photo above. Clearly, mothers in the 1920s also struggled to keep fabric over the knees of their sons! My kids start back to school next week and this is what I expect to see at the end of most days. The only thing missing is the grass stain.
This photo of my grandmother’s sixth grade class was taken at Lincoln school in Findlay, Hancock County, Ohio, in the spring of 1935. The original school building was located (and still stands!) at 200 W. Lincoln Street, a mere two or three blocks from the Arras family’s home at 519 W. Lincoln.
Grandma, Lucia (Arras) Benington, would probably not thank me for pointing her out in this particular photograph. She is, after all, the one person who blinked at the exact moment the picture was taken!
I would just skip posting this photo, out of all the class photos in her collection, but there is something special about this one. This is the only picture on the reverse of which she named every individual! Thanks to her thoughtfulness, I can now (hopefully) identify most of the people in all the rest of the photos, with a little detective work.
I imagine it might be a little difficult to read the writing from your computer screen, so here’s a transcription:
1st row–left to right: Jack Krout, Tommy Marshall, Glen Houes, Robert Brewer, Dick Cramar [Cramer]
2nd row–left to right: Betty Weitz, Dorthy [Dorothy] McCall, Marian Saller, Lucia Arras, Jean Taylor, Jane Bish, Virginia Rose, Maxine Sink, Ruth Cliner
3rd row–left to right: Donald Marvin, Betty Ex, Jeanne Anne Athey, Wayne Brewer, Tom Vosslor [Vossler], Mildred Saller, Arlene Strouse, Helena Oman, Rosalyn Rabkin
4th row–left to right: Robert Galnta, John Tabb, Mary Lou McFarland, Shirley Ann Quis, Mary Katherine Varner, Martha and Egen [Eugene] Cuningham [Cunningham], Bob Deyers, James Quinlan
The police were probably getting pretty sick of seeing Stanley’s face by now. After somehow escaping prosecution twice over, he was back in the city jail for the third time in two weeks.
After stealing butter from the Findlay Dairy Company, Stanley had gone around town to various grocers, trying to sell on his ill-begotten goods. On one such outing, he visited Jacob Frank, a man in his early seventies, at his shop on West Front Street.
Frank refused to purchase Stanley’s purloined products and, either in a fit of pique or unable to resist an opportunity, Stanley stole one of Mr. Frank’s checks while the man was not looking.
All in the Family
Surprisingly, Jacob Frank was also a relative.
Stanley’s sister, Clara Viola Smith, my great-grandmother, was married to Oliver Martin Arras.
Oliver’s mother, Johanna, was born a Crates.
Her father, Gottlieb, was the son of Johann Michael and Sibylla (Zehnder) Kroetz.
Gottlieb’s younger sister, Caroline, married Johann Jakob Frank in their hometown of Oberurbach on August 28, 1859, a year after Gottlieb had left for America.
Caroline and Johann Jakob’s son, Jacob Frank, emigrated to Findlay around twenty years later and established his grocery store.
If that all made about as much sense as trying to nail Jell-O to a tree, check out the chart below to clarify:
All of this means that Jacob Frank, the victim of Stanley’s theft, was his sister’s husband’s first cousin, one time removed.
While it is possible that Oliver and Clara were unaware of Oliver’s relationship to Jacob Frank, it is rather unlikely. At least two of Oliver’s Crates uncles, Charley and Monroe, remained in contact with the family in Oberurbach. After World War I, when Germany was suffering so heavily, they sent money to keep their German relations afloat. With letters going back and forth so long after Gottlieb and Caroline had left their homeland, it seems unlikely that their children and grandchildren would be oblivious of one another’s lives in the same city.
With Obvious Regret
On February 20th–Yes, you read that right. The same day Stanley must have been released from jail after his arrest on the bad check charges. So much for remorse!–Stanley, the old charmer, wrote out a check in the amount of $19.10 to be cashed by “Lester Smith”. He forged Jacob Frank’s signature and took the check to a bank to be cashed.
It all could have ended there, as the bank refused to cash the questionable check. Instead, “Lester” handed the check over to a friend, who had it cashed at Bazley Market.
Bazley Market, located at 407 South Main Street in Findlay, opened in mid-October 1928. It was one of a chain of meat markets across the Midwest, owned and operated by Bazley Markets of Chicago, Illinois. Given their ability to purchase meat in large quantities, the chain was able to keep prices low. As a result, the Bazley Market in Findlay was open until at least 1969.
Stanley was arrested the 27th of February, accused of the crime of forgery. This time he would not escape the swiftly turning wheels of justice. The following day he was bound over to the grand jury by Mayor Groves.
Unable to pay his bond of $1,000–an unimaginable amount of money for the man who couldn’t drum up $3 at the drugstore–he was transferred to the Hancock County jail.
George Henry and Mary Lucinda (Rauch) Smith, my great-great-grandparents and the parents of Stanley Robert Smith, in the yard at their daughter Clara Arras’s house. This photo was likely taken on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary, the celebration of which occurred 69 years ago today:
The 15th Annual Arras Family Reunion was held on August 15, 1922, at the home of Philip D. Arras, four miles southwest of Jenera, Ohio.
Initially, I couldn’t quite read the year on the sign at the bottom of the picture:
but luckily for me, an announcement of the reunion was published in the Findlay Morning Republican newspaper (and even mistakenly appeared twice, making it possible to read portions of the announcement that were misprinted!):
Philip D. Arras was born 14 Aug 1853, the son of Johannes and Margaret (Essinger) Arras, and grandson of Johann Peter and Anna Margaretha (Hofmann) Arras. The latter couple emigrated from the Odenwald in Germany in 1831, bringing along several books which were still in the possession of the family at the time of the 15th Annual Reunion:
The center book in the pile, which at the time was 268 years old, was a German prayer book printed in 1654 that had been passed down in the Arras family. Henry Arras, who, as I’ve mentioned before, was very interested in the family history, was extremely proud of this book. In 1936, he entered it in a historical display held by the annual Farmers Institute in Jenera and won first place for the oldest relic.
One of the books was also a family bible which contained entries for the Arras family since before their emigration to the United States in 1831. My great-uncle, Theron Arras, had possession of that bible years ago before his home was broken into and the thieves stole it, amongst other things.
Here are the (very few) people I recognize:
In the section above, the woman sitting in the lower right in the dark dress, appears to be Elizabeth Ann Wahl, the daughter of Friedrich and Anna Maria (Blaser) Wahl, wife of Peter D. Arras. I believe the man holding the dark hat is her son, Samuel Frederick John Arras.
The woman just to the left of Elizabeth looks like Wilhelmina “Mina” Arras, daughter of Johann Philip and Katherine (Heldman) Arras, wife of Christian Essinger. Beside her may be her sister, Louisa “Lucy” Arras. Lucy was the wife of George Nessler.
In the enlargement I posted of the books, the boy with his head just to the right of the sign is Willard Balthasar Arras, son of George Henry and Johanna Magdalena (Crates) Arras. His sister, Elvina (Arras) Rausch Weihrauch, can be seen in the photograph just below, holding her infant son, Clarence Weihrauch (wearing a dark outfit and light newsboy cap):
Their mother, Johanna Magdalena (Crates) Arras, my great-great-grandmother, is below, the woman on the upper left:
This reunion photo is one that I’ve always wished I could share with all the distant cousins I can find. I’d love to be able to identify every single person in it! Hopefully, eventually, we’ll be able to do just that. So, can you help? Do you recognize anyone?
This photo of the Arras family was probably taken in the late summer of 1914, based on the ages of the youngest family members. The background is the exterior of Henry Arras’s home outside Jenera, Hancock County, Ohio.
From left to right across the back row: Oliver Martin Arras, Homer Emmanuel Arras, Helen Arras, Carrie Arras, unknown, Clarence Arthur Arras, unknown, Jacob Rausch (husband of Elvina Arras)
Seated at the top of the stairs are Clara Viola (Smith) Arras, the wife of Oliver Martin Arras, with her son Howard in her lap and son Theron in the middle of the two ladies; on the right is Elvina (Arras) Rausch, holding her son, Woodrow Henry Rausch.
Seated across the bottom of the stairs are Willard Balthasar Arras; Johanna Magdalena (Crates) Arras, holding her youngest son, Theodore Henry Arras; two unidentified children; and George Henry Arras.
Maybe one of you readers out there will be able to identify the unknown individuals. I’m guessing that they must have been rather close family members to have been included in this photo.
Here are closeups of each of our mystery individuals: