Barbara Johnson


Barbara Johnson


MA: Hear about one of those being your family history, and how the Dentons came here

BJ: oh ok

MA: and how the Johnsons came here and when that was.

BJ: Uhuh

MA: when they came to Berkshire Corners.


MA: I wondered if you knew, you know anything that you wanted to tell us about what you remembered
the area being like when you came here. And some of the buildings that were around then.

BJ: Uhuh

MA: And then I um, have some specific things that we have in our collection at the library that I
wanted to ask you about


MA: to see if you could add to the information that we know.

BJ: well prompt me whenever you need it

MA: I will,

BJ: because

MA: I have a list of questions here

BJ: oh ok

MA: but you know the conversation can just go where it goes,

BJ: ha ha

MA: anything you have to say


MA: we're going to find valuable for the collection

CM: You're good to go

MA: OK we're good to go

MA: So I read in the article that I showed you that your husband's family was from Medina

BJ: Yes

MA: But you're a Denton right?

BJ: Yes

MA: Are you related to the Dentons that live on North ___

BJ: He's my cousin, Bruce is a first cousin,


BJ: our dads, our fathers were brothers. His dad and my dad were brothers


BJ: and uh, I don't, I know when my grandparents came down this way they a, they built a
home in 1925 my mother always told me this 'cause this was the year I was born.


BJ: And um they built that in Delaware and that house is still standing. In fact a few years
ago I,I took my son, one of my sons, both of them live in Texas, and one of them was up here,
and I said let's go over and see if that lady will let us go in and I can maybe tell her some
things about the house that I remembered when we lived there and when grandpa and grandma
lived there. But we went over and of course I said I don't know I've never met this lady but
let's go and knock on the door. We knocked she came finally to the door and I think she's a
widow lady and um she looked us over and I said I told her who I was and what I'd like to do
to if she would let us come in and I said I can remember which rooms were what and I said I
can draw you the floor plan and everything. She said No you don't need to do that she said
she just lived up on Curtis Street and she said she had watched the house being built.

MA: oh

BJ: Well that's one up on me but she was not about to let us come in. I realized afterwards
that you know a man and a woman coming up that you've never seen before and saying I used
to live here when I was a girl and my grandparents lived here. Well anyone can make up a
story like that. And so I didn't blame her one bit but I sure would have loved to have seen
the house again. We moved away from there. We moved in in 1943 in the fall. It was

MA: Here?

BJ: No, this was when I was a girl

MA: Ok

BJ: Maybe I'm getting a little ahead of my story

MA: That's OK, it was your grandparents who built the house in Delaware and they stayed in
that house?

BJ: Yes they had lived there. And the reason we moved over there was because grandpa had
died and, a few years before, and it hadn't presented any problem about my grandmother having
somebody in the house with her until a couple of years, 3 or 4 years afterwards because then
her daughter was going to be leaving the house she was on a sabatagal to do some studying down
at Ohio State and so that would have left my grandmother all alone. Well my brother went over,
and stayed. He went to school his last year at Willis in Delaware. And then he went into the
Army when he got out, and so that left grandma alone again. Well she tried staying with some
of her children none of 'em could handle her.She was kind of Alzheimers and very very, um,
engrained Methodist Republican anti-this anti-that (laughter). And and she she was pretty far
gone mentally. So we moved in in the fall and she died in December of that same year.

MA: Uhum

BJ: And Um, so that's, my uncle, Uncle John, who is Bruce Denton's dad, lived right across the road
from her so he could kind of look in on her too occasionally. But um, like I said that was getting
kind of ahead of my story. Do you want me to start back when I first came here?

MA: Well you lived in that house then?

BJ: We lived there for about 2 maybe 3 years, and this was during the war. And um, my dad was working
at Curtis Wright when the war was over why they all lost their jobs. And um so he sold that house and
bought a farm over near on the Centerburg and Croton County line, Licking County line. And um, if they'd
moved to the house, to a house on the other side of the road my sister would have gone to Centerburg
schools. As it was she they didn't, and she went to Croton and graduated from High School over at Croton.
And um, it was just from there uh my folks moved back to Delaware. They they lived on the farm possibly
4 or 5 years I'm not sure what, it was 17 acres and my dad farmed it. He had kind of a rough time to go.
And um he decided he wasn't the farmer that he was when he was a young man (chuckle). And so they moved
back to Delaware. And they were the first people who eventually moved into the seniors place down on
London Road. And uh they had their choice of any place, any apartment they wanted and they chose one
that looked right out on London Road and they hadn't built that gas station yet that's in front of it.
And so they watched all that being built up you know and everything and um they, they enjoyed themselves
there. But um, it it just seems like, I look back now and it just seems like that was a fast fast trip
growing growing up and all these things happening and I just couldn't uh could't vision what what all
had happened and and its just been a speedy thing. Uh my husband and I were married in 1950 and uh

MA: Where did you meet him?

BJ: I had known him forever it seemed like. We moved down here from Apple Creek, in Wooster area. This
is my family, my dad and mother. Dad had this store down here at the corner. And um, the Johnsons lived
here and Beryl had just graduated that year we we were, it was 1938 I believe. And uh that was the year
that he graduated I think. And he and my oldest brother were kind of two of a kind, they didn't date,
they were very quiet. Beryl had a car, my brother didn't so Beryl took him lots of places and and um, in
the evenings they'd, they'd maybe go to a movie or something like that. And then um, then they both went
in the Army just a month apart I think. Beryl went in um February and Bob went in March or vice versa.
But it was just a month apart. And that was at the beginning of 1942.

MA: So your dad had the store on the corner- that's the building that's for sale right now?

BJ: Yes, yes

MA: But you were living in Delaware and he would come to work here?

BJ: No at that time uh I, I was getting ahead of my story. Uh when we first came down we moved to a
place down here all I can think of is Mabel Finch's house.

MA: Oh

BJ: But uh its just about um, well the corner is gone now. Its got that big building down here.

MA: Is, is Mabel's house gone?

BJ: No,

MA: Its still there

BJ: Its the first house down there

MA: After Gosslin's Construction

BJ: Second house, second house.

MA: The little yellow one?

BJ: There's a little one and then theres one right beside it where all the busses are.

MA: Oh ok.

BJ: ok

MA: That house is the house with the busses?

BJ: Yeah

MA: Ok oh and you lived in there.

BJ: yeah, and uh

MA: Is this, this is that house?

BJ: No that's the store

MA: This is the store.

BJ: That's the store.

MA: Look at the intersection. That's, that's the intersection

BJ: I made um, this is courtesy of the library (giggle)

MA: Oh. This came from the library?

BJ: No I made the copy over there. (giggle)

MA: And so this is the front of that store

BJ: uh uh

MA: So it's been sided I knew it had been

BJ: uh um

MA: Because it wasn't, its its framed

BJ: This doesn't show the gas pumps either. I think she, these were from Berl's mother. It says 1924 and
that was the year before I was born.

MA: And what year, so did your dad buy the store from someone?

BJ: Yeah he bought it from Mr. Billicum. Uh Dick Billicum was in my class at school and they lived down
the road and um

MA: Do you remember what year that was that he bought the store?


MA: 1938? OK and you were all living on South Galena

BJ: Yeah yeah

MA: In the house that now has the busses

BJ: uh huh

BJ: And we lived there and mother would come down to the store and help my dad do whatever he needed to do.
And there wasn't the delivery that there used to, that there is now so he would take this little panel truck
that he had and he'd go to Columbus to some of the wholesalers down there and to the hardware and everything
'cause it was a general store.

MA: Uh uh

BJ: And he'd go to Smith Hardware down in Columbus, and um, Smith Brothers

MA: That was a long trip

BJ: Yeah (giggle). And he'd would come back with nails and screws and everything. He, he did have um a
produce man that would bring fresh produce and also um meats and things he did his, um, he cut the meat
there but, you know, it would come in big sides or quarters or something like that.

MA: uh um

BJ: and

MA: Did the farmers in the area provide produce and beef?

BJ: Uh, no

MA: Or did he always go into Columbus?

BJ: Generally, generally went into Columbus. And um, he would, lets see, what was, I'm trying to think
there was something else that flipped through my mind like that and went out the same way. Well anyhow,
Mother would come down and help him. And then uh, she'd would walk back and forth 'cause she never learned
how to drive. And then he, he bought a house out here on the highway.

MA: 37?

BJ: Yeah and its, uh, lets see, do you know where that little house, that first little house is on this side
of the road, right just beyond the golf course? Its a small house kind of setting up on a hill, just, not
much of a hill but just a bank, just beyond this golf course.

MA: Well we will notice it on our way back.

BJ: Yeah, well we lived almost

MA: Is it white?

BJ: Um, I think so. Its only a story.

MA: Uh um

BJ: And its had some building on to it, but its the first one after the golf course

MA: uh um

BJ: and we lived right across the road from it. Well those, the, the people that bought the property later
on after we moved here, uh tore down the house, it was an old farm house. And um, my dad had built a new
garage when he was out there. And the garage now is just barely hanging (makes a motion of blowing air) it
looks like the wind could blow it down.

MA: uh huh

BJ: and uh so you can still see that behind this brick home.

MA: Why did they want to leave the house on South Galena?

BJ: I don't know. It, we were renting there.

MA: oh I see

BJ: And he bought this one.

MA: He bought it, ok

BJ: So maybe that was, I think that was the reason, I think Mabel wanted to move back into her home.

MA: Do you know if uh Mr. Billicum had owned the store for a long time?

BJ: I don't think it was very long um, his, like I said um he had been a farmer I believe, I'm not
real sure about that but I think he had been a farmer and um, it was quite a coincidence when I found
out that his son was in my class when I went over here to start school. I thought, Oh my (giggle). But
uh I, I was very very quiet in school. I was just, you know, one of these kids that doesn't speak
unless you're spoken to and and um I, that was my class graduating picture and I was just counting them
up before, before you came in. I think 16 of 'em are gone and there were only 32 in our class so half of
'em are gone now.

MA: uh um

BJ: but um, this is me

MA: oh

BJ: Uh, Dick is still living, Bellicum

MA: uh huh

BJ: He's, he's over in Delaware

MA: and he's the son of

BJ: of the former owner

MA: Is this your father in the picture?

BJ: No, no I have no idea who that is unless it says on the back

MA: I think, oh it sure does

BJ: I saw some pencil writing

MA: It says Birkshire Store and Harry Finch

BJ: Oh well so that's another Finch then

MA: Is that Mabel's husband?

BJ: No, she never married.

MA: Oh, ok

BJ: And there was also another, Ilo Finch up here.

MA: uh uh

BJ: That might of been their parents Ilo and Mabel were brother and sister and this might have been his
dad, their dad. I don't know.

MA: Do you remember, um, any stories that might have been passed on to your father when he bought the
store about the building or, or other businesses important at the corners there?

BJ: Well, there was Bests had a little gas station and they had ice cream. We didn't have ice cream.

MA: And where was that?

BJ: That was in that vacant lot that's right across from the store. Right down here at the corner.

MA: Oh, is that this building?

BJ: Yeah

MA: Oh

BJ: Yeah

MA: So that was a, that was a

BJ: It was a little store. And they sold ice cream, milk. And they were open on Sundays whereas my dad
wasn't. But when we would go to church, we'd come up here to church, and he'd always stop at the store and
people knew that. So, if they needed milk or a loaf of bread or a pound of baloney or something like that
they'd say "I'm coming down, I'm gonna stop, don't, don't go until I get there".

MA: Uh huh

BJ: And uh he would wait for 'em. Oh but store managing then was so different than it is now, so so

MA: Were there other um, businesses that were right there at the intersection? I know this is, this was a
house, I think the Frost house maybe.

BJ: Yeah, up here,

MA: It was across the street

BJ: it was on a bank that was gone, well no it wasn't that, that was still there. It was a two story, they
said that was a stage coach stop.

MA: oh

BJ: But I don't know anything more than that. But Billy Frost, uh, lived in there. He never married, and um,
my younger brother used to just love to go down to Billy's, because he'd, like I said he'd never married and
he just kind of adopted Jimmy, my brother. And he loved to have him tag around after him, you know how older
men are. And he'd, he'd tell him all kinds of stories and Jimmy would come back to the house and say "did you
know this, did you know that? Well Billy told me it was so." (giggles) Who knows, I don't remember any of 'em
now, I don't remember any of them now.

MA: Uh, the, there were a couple of buildings that were taken down when, um, the Gosslin Construction

BJ: Yea,

MA: Building went in

BJ: Yeah, Uh huh

MA: and one was a house

BJ: Yeah, uh, well there were two houses, uh. Right on the corner was where Wright Ormell and his family
lived. And his wife's mother was there. Her name was Strawser.

MA: uh huh

BJ: But I don't know if she had lived in that house before or if a, if she just moved in with 'em after
they got there. They were there when we came in.

AM: Which was?

BJ: In 1938

MA: 1938. What was Mell's last name?

BJ: Whose?

MA: Mell's last name, did you say Mell lived in the house?

BJ: No, I said I didn't know whether she had lived there. Her name was Strawser, she Wright Ormell's


BJ: but um

MA: And then there was a, well in the Burrer Room we have pictures of that brick building and sometimes
it's labeled as a school and sometimes it's labeled as

BJ: Oh

MA: an Episcopal Church.

BJ: Oh

MA: What was it when you came?

BJ: When we came it was part of his farm.

MA: He was using it as a barn.

BJ: yeah, kind of a dairy, dairy- uh uh -like store

MA: uh um, yeah we have, this is a, this is hard to read, but its a map that's from the library and it,
and it has it has that building listed as the Episcopal Church.

BJ: Oh really?

MA: Yeah, near the cemetery, but I didn't know if it was being used as a church

BJ: ah huh (no)

MA: when you were little

BJ: ah huh (no)

MA: When you were growing up here or if it was

BJ: ah huh (no)

MA: So you've always just known that to be the barn

BJ: yeah, uh huh

MA: That's interesting

BJ: I don't know whether it started out that way or whether it had been a school house, excuse me I got
the hiccups,and um whether they just, you know, they stopped using it as a school because right across the
road here there was another little school house and it seemed odd that there'd be two school houses

MA: Yeah, and uh

BJ: so close together

MA: yeah, um, they, the building that's right across the street that's painted red

BJ: uh huh

MA: was, because the Berkshire Methodist Church was here when you came here wasn't it?

BJ: uh huh

MA: Is it that building?

BJ: Yep

MA: I kinda thought it might be just because of the way the windows look.

BJ: Yeah, um, Mrs Crawford had the nursing home down here, the big brick house.

MA: That's this house?

BJ: Yeah

MA: OK, so when you came here that was a nursing home.

BJ: I don't, yeah when we moved here, that is when Berl and I moved here that was a nursing home. But
when we moved here before, when, when my dad and mother moved down here in 1938 it was not, it was a, it
was a house. And

MA: The Speary's lived there but I don't know if that was before or after.

BJ: Spa...

MA: Speary. S P E A R Y,

BJ: Oh,

MA: is what we have in the Burrer Room. It was Carlton Burrer's mother.

BJ: Oh

MA: So he, he grew up in that house. Did you know the Burrer's?

BJ: I knew of them, but I didn't...

MA: But I didn't know, we had in the Burrer Room that this had been a nursing home for a time but there
aren't any dates attached to it so we really, we really aren't sure, when, when it was being used as a
nursing home, but you remember

BJ: Oh yeah

MA: When you came here it was

BJ: In 1959 when Berl and I moved up here it was a nursing home at that time and it had been for some
time before that but I don't know exactly when. I think she was just getting it started and um she would,
I, both of our older boys helped down there, they'd help do dishes and they'd work in the kitchen and just
do various things. But Mrs. Crawford was always doing something there and they built that house just this
side of it, she and her husband. Mr. Crawford was a teacher over at Sunbury.

MA: Oh, OK. And then the church, the church merged with another church is that correct? Its up on Cheshire

BJ: Cheshire. yeah

MA: So you all stopped going to that church

BJ: Well we, we our selves. Um, I went there when I was growing up before I was married. But after Beryl and I
were married and moved here, uh we were members of the Church of Christ and we went to Delaware

MA:uh huh

BJ: and then from Delaware we went to Westerville where we're going now. but uh..

MA: Was there a building that was torn down when the township hall was built?

BJ: Yes, that was the old school house and it was a red brick one room thing

MA: Oh ok

BJ: and we lived right across from it and I have pictures uh, on a um, a little 8mm camera (giggles), made
a long time ago of them when the firemen went over there and burned it. And they'd, they'd burn it a little
bit and then they'd stop, and go in and do other things and then they'd burn it some more and then another
township with their fire crew would go in but there was the Sunbury and I think there was, I, did Galena have
a separate one when they started out?

MA: a school house?

BJ: No I mean fire, fire

MA: You know I'm not sure when Galena and Berkshire and Trenton joined to become

BJ: uh huh

MA: the BGST that they are now.

BJ: Yeah, well its been since I've been here I'm sure but I think that there were three or four different
ones, I think Berlin had one but there were several different companies over there and they were... It was
instruction just like it is now you know when you burn a place. And its done on fire, on purpose, where
they'd check it and see what, what needs to be done and so forth

MA: I have a picture of that building, but it's unidentified, I had a hunch it is this

BJ: oh really?

MA: yeah

CM: You say you have the 8mm?

BJ: I did.

CM: ah

BJ: yeah, I I have, I have the camera, I I don't have the camera I have the film, I had it put on video tape

CM: You did?

MA: Oh

BJ: Yeah, yeah, would you like to see it?

CM: Well maybe

BJ: I don't have it out right now

CM: Maybe, maybe we could borrow it, uh,

BJ: yeah

CM: just, just to get it on this tape

BJ: Ok, Ok. I'm not real sure whereabouts it is

CM: well you know there's no rush

BJ: Then this, then this place down here which was right next to me

MA: This one?

BJ: Yeah, yeah

MA: I wanted to ask you about that because everyone calls this the Major Brown House. And I was curious to
know if that's what people called it when you came here.

BJ: Well I never saw the whole house.

MA: oh,

BJ : It was all

MA: That's, that's a picture from the Delaware Gazette.

BJ: It was all crumbed and just the foundation was there.

MA: uh huh

BJ: when we moved in here

MA: oh and

BJ: it was just a foundation

MA: and that was in 19...

BJ: when we moved to Berkshire with my parents uh, 1938, it was just the foundation

MA: oh, so ___

BJ: and maybe a brick wall standing or something like that

MA: so that picture would have to pre-date 1938

BJ: oh yes, yeah

MA: We have the original and we have the negative, and thats all in the Burrer Room. Its a, its a large _____

BJ: and then...

MA: so you've always just known that little pile of rubble

BJ: Yeah, Yeah

MA: And nothing else. Do you, did, did anybody ever call it the Major Brown House then or how was, how
was it referred to?

BJ: (giggle) Denny's barn. Denny Neilson being the one who lived up on the hill down here. Mr and um...
It was just in his pasture, I mean he owned this whole corner clear over to Carter's Corners and everything.

MA: Well that's interesting. These, this was also in our library's collection, and I didn't know, uh this is
the Meadows, did your dad sell the store to them? I didn't know if this, if that's uh

BJ: Clyde Meadows, yeah, that's who he's yeah... its one of two businesses, yeah.

MA: So you you knew, they did buy from your father.

BJ: The Meadows bought it from my dad, uh uh.I never knew her very well nor him but his, his brother lived
just down the road, John Meadows.

MA: oh ok

BJ: And uh they were from Berkshire. I, I don't really know where these folks lived but it wasn't right here
at Berkshire as I recall.

MA: OK, Were they the last people to run it as a store? Do you know?

BJ: No, um umm Ruby Basham who lived up around Olive Green. She bought it and she was still running it as a
store when we moved back here in 1959. And she was just a year ahead of me in school. And I went down when
I found out she was the new o, the owner, new as far as I was concerned I went down and told her a few things
about it and what I remembered and everything and she said well she says its changed alot since you were a
girl. (giggle) Oh that is great.

MA: uh huh, and then, this uh this house is just really falling into disrepair all of a sudden. um, do you
know what they are doing?

BJ: I think they are getting ready to buy and burn. I think that's what it is because there was another house
out there and they've just with within the last month or so that's been burned and a couple of others are empty
that are back there and I I think that figuring on the whole corner there going up in smoke.

MA: was it this Marjon ____

BJ: Marjon Farm

MA: when you were

BJ: Well no that was Spanglers, his name was John and hers was Mary and that's how they got Marjon out of it.
She gave piano lessons and a he was I think more or less a gentleman farmer. And um our second son went out
and used to help him with his pigs and things like that. One day Rick came back and he says I got a present
out here for yea. I said what do you mean? He said well Mr Spangler said with all the work I've been doing
out there he was going to give me a pig. (giggles) That was all we needed, I had four children and they were
going to bring a pig out. And um so he he fixed up a little pen back here and he just very, very readily fed
it, took care of it, cleaned it and everything.

MA: What happened to the pig?

BJ: He made good pork chops. (giggle)

MA: That's what I figured. Um I know that the Hoover Dam project went on in the 1950's but I don't know when
Alum Creek was built but I wondered what the road was like between here and Delaware. It sounds like it must have ___

BJ: Just a two lane, just one lane each way

MA: One lane each way and was there any water there at all?

BJ: Just a creek

MA: Just a creek. oK, So there must have been just a little bridge that went

BJ: Yeah, uh uh metal, uh iron bridge, uh I can't think of exactly what it was like but when you go down,
there was a, go down the hill out there, there was kind of a curve and over on this side there, there still
is a shallow place and the lake now comes up into it. There used to be a little cottage right down there on
that little piece of land it wasn't any bigger than this, if it was this big, as this room, and uh somebody
owned it apparently but when they when they built the dam well that had to go. And uh, Its just amazing to
me to see, see all that water under there and I'm very scared of water but for some reason I can cross that
and it, it doesn't frighten me but get me any closer... I just have this fear I don't know why, I do.

MA: My mom's the same way too, I'm not much crazy about swimming myself but... Um I see you have some pictures
in the file there.

BJ: Yeah um these were some, that uh I don't know whether you'd be interested in them or not, but these were
of Beryl he was over

MA: Oh my gosh he's on a camel,

BJ: Yeah

MA: and there's a pyramid behind him so.

BJ: In the back in the back there's some writing on it

MA: So this is when he was overseas

BJ: Yes he went over to uh, Africa, and he was over there with the Rommel campaign and everything North Africa,
those don't have anything to do with this. And uh, then from there he went in to Italy and that was what I
wanted to show you was these, that's how they censored some of the letters, you know you weren't supposed to
say where you were calling from or writing from or, course they didn't do any overseas calls then, but they'd
cut it out. But sometimes on the back of the page there would be something (giggle) and um that's how I found
out he was in Italy.

MA: Oh I see

BJ: (giggle) And this, this might help you, I found that as I was doing some rummaging around.

MA: We h.., we have this in the Burrer Room

BJ: Oh do you

MA: At the library but that's what made me start to think I wanted to ask if that building was this church

BJ: Uh uhm

MA: And it is. We have the um the uh registration book

BJ: Oh

MA: in the library and I saw you listed there as a little girl with all the other Dentons.

BJ: Yeah, uh huh

MA: But uh I'm not sure how the library wound up with that but we have it

BJ: well good, good

MA: Yeah, and it will be it'll be scanned and be part of this collection. And be on the computer also

BJ: oh great that's great.

MA: And you will see your family's record there

BJ: that's great. And while I'm at it did you ever see a V-Mail?

MA: V-Mail?

BJ: Yeah

MA: I don't know what that is

BJ: UH, I came across a few of these in some of my mother's stuff. This is what we used to write to
them on. It was a page about 8 by 10 and it was, we would send it in a special envelope, the thing folded
up to an envelope. It was censored here and of course it was censored over there across when they would
write back to us and um that, that was put on film and then when it got over there they would re-develop
it so uh it would take sometimes two weeks or more to get a letter

MA: So he's writing to your mom?

BJ: Yeah, and I, I happened to run across several of them, I think this one was the one that my brother
wrote when, yeah, when I

MA: That's what you copied and left in the Burrer Room. He's describing his eye injury.

BJ: oh no this is another one,


BJ: I do have that here

MA: you left me with a copy of that

BJ: Yeah, this was his letter

MA: so how did he do? I mean he's, he's

BJ: He's passed on now. But uh he, he was blind in one eye and had the metal plate in his head,

MA: uh huh

BJ: and he, uh, he had a, he got on to alcohol and drugs, I mean drugs for his pain, and um, he, he
lead a good life I mean when he came home he went to college, he graduated, he was an engineer. He
went to Western Reserve University and he had a good job.

MA: Did he marry, have kids?

BJ: Yes. He had two children. And um, it was just one of those things that the war did. I, I don't
think he ever would have touched anything if, if he hadn't been hurt.

MA: That was a bad injury

BJ: Yeah yeah, very bad. And then they sent him back to the front again after he got out of the hospital

MA: Gosh I'm surprised

BJ: I know. There were a lot of people that were surprised but he went back

MA: Those are all letters that your brother sent to you?

BJ: Between, well, between writing to my mother

MA: uh huh

BJ: But that one was after graduation, after I graduated

MA: May I open them?

BJ: Sure, sure

MA: Some pictures here

BJ: But some Beryl wrote to, uh, that was my um

MA: Oh, is this at the Sunbury School, then? This building?

BJ: No, this was um, this was at Apple Creek

MA: Oh where you grew up.

BJ: Yeah, Apple Creek School and uh I don't have, oh, 1937 that was the year before I came down. Can
you find me on there, I'm in the front row I'll tell you that much.

MA: Well you're none of those little boys so we can ignore that then.

BJ: There were Amish kids that went up there too

MA: Um, I'm going to guess, I've got you narrowed down to two guesses what do you think Chauncie? I was
thinking this little, are you this little girl?

BJ: yeah

MA: (laugh) Fifth and sixth grade.

BJ: But I wrote all the names on the back (giggle)

MA: My um, my uh mother's uncle settled in Wooster and lived there. His, he was a dentist there for years.
And he was also in the war and his last name was Steigerwald.

BJ: Oh

MA: I don't know if you ever

BJ: No, never knew...

MA: knew him at all. But He used to use, um, he was a radio um, operator in Germany and he was also a
dentist in Germany so he used to use his drill to scramble the signals

BJ: Oh

MA: so that the Americans could get messages where they needed them to go, but the Germans would only
hear a dentist's drill.

BJ: Oh, well how great is that. That sounds like it might have been a German uh name so he could
probably speak German too

MA: I'm not sure if he did or not, but, but my, my family was from the Steigerwald Forest area of Germany.

BJ: Well when Bob was hurt it was in the Aukum Forest**

MA: Oh. OK, That's right he wrote about that in the letter I think he identified that spot.

BJ: I don't know what all is in there.

MA: Cards and things like that

BJ: Theres no special order, no

MA: Boy this letter is old, its from your brother Bob

BJ: uh huh, He wrote me a real nice letter when I graduated, and he said I'm so sorry I can't be there for
ya, but um, uh he, he wrote back to mother alot. And uh Beryl wrote to my mother. That was another thing I
wanted to show you is... In these pictures mother was very active over here in the church

MA: uh huh

BJ: and she made, everybody had a service flag that had anyone in the war and she got all the neighborhood found
out, I forget who the gold star was for but it was someone here within Berkshire township, and then all the other
blue stars there were the other active members in the Army and Navy. She wrote every one of 'em.

MA: Uh huh

BJ: She would write to every one of 'em.

MA: uh huh, So each star represents a soldier?

BJ: yeh, yeh

MA: from Berkshire?

BJ: yeah.

MA: oh

BJ: And these were just some family pictures, uh, taken. Um, this is part of my family

MA: I see you there, so that's your mom and your brother and sister

BJ: Yeah, yeah, and then I had a younger sister, that was when my oldest brother was in the Army so he wasn't
in any of those

MA: Is this house in Wooster that you're standing in front of?

BJ: No that's, that's the one in Delaware,

MA: oh, in Delaware

BJ: my grandparents' home,

MA: uh huh

BJ: it's 558 West William that's where it was. And at that time it was the last house in, in Delaware,
but since then they extended it about a mile beyond there.

MA: and um, do you know, the Johnsons were from Medina, but do you know when the Dentons and when the
Johnsons first came into Ohio from, I know they must have come from the east?

BJ: Yeah, they came from the east. My, I don't know anything about Beryl's family, when they came. Uh,
he has a cousin, a distant cousin who lives over near Johnstown and his wife uh, has a lot of genealogy
for that's begun, and how intertwined everything and all the greats and, and two brothers married two
sisters and that made their children double cousins or something like that (chuckle) I don't know

MA: Uh huh

BJ: But anyhow I, I don't know all of that history and I'm sorry I don't 'cause every once and a while my
kids will come up and say well how are, how are we related to these people you know, and all I can tell is
just about our generation.

MA: Uh huh

BJ: Um, I don't know whether Beryl's mother was an only child or if she had brothers or sisters. I know his
bro, his dad was one of three brothers.

MA: Uh uh

BJ: and my, as far as my family is concerned my grandfather was a minister and when they built that house
over in Delaware uh, he was retired at that time so he, he didn't minister here in central Ohio.

MA: uh huh

BJ: Uh, he came from West Virginia and uh that's where he did the biggest part of his, and in northeast
Ohio. He um, he might have retired from up there, there's a little place called Chatham

MA: uh huh

BJ: "C-h-a-t-h-a-m" and um, oh there's another place up there uh, I have a niece who lives in that, on the
lake, what is it, Mentor on the Lake.

MA: Uh huh

BJ: And its up in that vicinity where grandpa preached at little country churches. At one time he was a, a
circuit rider

MA: oh ok,

BJ: preaching

MA: uh huh, We have a book about circuit riders in the Burrer Room.

BJ: uh huh

MA: Um, Does it seem, it must seem like Berkshire Corners has changed a lot?

BJ: Oh yes, neither of these houses, I've got two on each side of me, when we moved in here there was nothing.

MA: uh huh

BJ: And, I, you know, I was used to running out in my bathrobe out to...

MA: (laugh)

BJ: to the outside anywhere, I said I can't do that anymore and then when I found out that their houses were
in back of mine, I thought oh this is going to ruin everything,

MA: Uh huh (chuckle)

BJ: but, but I'm friends with all of them now. And they, they've, they've all been real nice people.

MA: uh huh

BJ: I, I have a tendency to stick to myself, I'm not, I don't, you know people call, talk about "neighboring",

MA: uh huh

BJ: well I, I "neighbor" but I do it in my own way.

MA: uh huh

BJ: If I see you outside "Hi"

MA: (chuckle)

BJ: and we'll talk, uh, I'll talk out in the yard or something, but I'm not one to actually go visit and
have a cup of coffee or something like that I, I don't think I've ever done that.

MA: uh huh. It sounds like when you, when you and your husband had the, the store, or you and your father,
your father's family had the store, that things were pretty bucolic and quiet there

BJ: It was, it was very quiet

MA: a place for gas and a place for ice cream and that's about it,

BJ: chuckle

MA: that's really all you need (chuckle)

BJ: Do you, Did you know um, Stevens over in Sunbury, Jay Stevens?

MA: I don't know that name do you (to Chauncey)?

BJ: He has a, what do you call it, a backhoe and he does a lot of work sometimes. Um, as you turn left on
Route 3 out here at 36, you turn left, there was a, a house before you reach the next light and the backyard
had some of these big equipment machines in it.

MA: uh huh

BJ: That's where Jay and Ellen lived, and Ellen Grove lived up here,

MA: uh huh

BJ: She grew up in this house down here where they have, you pass it every day when you go to your place.

MA: uh huh

BJ: Its the uh first one on the right hand side after you cross the road

MA: Oh, the one story that has the garage *(unintelligible remark)

BJ: where they have the wood and stuff. yeah

MA: uh huh

BJ: And uh, her name was Grove and the Groves were here for a long time

MA: We always have been told that the red house that's a few down from that on the same side of the road was
a was a,

BJ: Crones

MA: Oh they own that, right, that's right the Crones do own that, um that that was some sort of a stop for a
train or a stage coach

BJ: I don't know

MA: or some other transportation

BJ: I don't know anything about that.

MA: uh huh

BJ: But his, um, Joe lives there now with his family and I don't know how many children they had or anything
else. I know his eyesight is real bad

MA: uh huh

BJ: but, uh, his mother lived in that red house and then Joe built the house just this side of it

MA: uh huh, and then um, that pond that's a, across the street from us probably wasn't, I don't know when that
was built

BJ: well that's been since we moved here in 1959.

MA: uh huh

Bj: But uh, uh there was another house down there too,

MA: Uh huh

BJ:Uh did you live here at that time?

MA: No, well uh, well my husband's parents bought the, bought the house in 1969

BJ: Oh in '69. yeah yeah

MA: And I think they bought it from a family named the Freemans

BJ: Curt Freeman and his wife, yeah

MA: uh huh, And before that the Searles, some Searles lived in it. I think about the time that you, in the
1930's they owned it but I don't know if you

BJ: I knew the Freemans

MA: They had lived there for a long time, I think they owned the house for maybe 20 years, 25 years

(unintelligible dialog here)

BJ: and then Tippetts lived down there across the road

Ma: Where the Smiths used to live

BJ: yeah yeah

MA: Yeah he, he came and knocked on our door because he wanted to see the inside of the house because he,
he had lived in that house for awhile too because he had a, his grandfather had lived in this house. And
so we, we showed him around.

BJ: uh huh

MA: because he had spent some time in it as a child.

BJ: Mr. Tippett was one of the big teachers over here at Sunbury between he and Pop Neilson

MA: Was he a music teacher, Pop Neilson or?

BJ: Well he, he sang, and he could play uh an accordian and uh, I don't know whether he ever taught music or
not but he, he loved to sing and he always directed our choir over here at the church. And it was kind of nice
to have a couple of teachers that close to ya, you know, in one way. In another way they were always at the store,
and they, if my dad had asked 'em how I did in school that wasn't so good.

MA: So did you ever have to go in to Sunbury much for anything? Or people in Berkshire Corners could just come to
your store and they could get their gasoline and maybe to go to school and

BJ: Well we went to school in Sunbury and the bus came around but um, other than that, it, for daily things no,
and most everybody had a garden. Big gardens 'cause they had big families at that time. I know we had a big garden
too. We had to work at it, I mean there was no laying around or anything else. I can remember, we didn't even have
a radio at home. My dad bought a little, little one about that long about, oh about that wide and maybe about that
high and he'd tuck it under his arm on Monday morning and walk from Mabel's house down to the store and it stayed
there until Saturday night when he'd come home and then we would have a radio we could listen to on Saturday night
and Sunday. That's the way we grew up, we didn't have a radio. And of course there was nothing like TV, nothing
like that. And let me tell you about the telephones. Everybody was on the same line and they had their own ring,
and I'm not sure now I'm so used to this 965 prefix that I can't recall what our prefix was but it was like, just
for instance if it was 965 R2 then the R meant how many rings and you had to ring it. And R2 meant two even, and
if it was 1 2 1 it'd be a short, one short two longs and one short. Or if it was 2 1 1, it was two, don't ask me
how they figured it out, but when we finally got a phone of our own out on the highway it was R5. So One, Two,
Three, Four, Five. And you could hear everybody's ring. You could hear everybody's. So if you wanted to pick it

MA: You could listen in

BJ: Oh yes. There was only one line out here

MA: You know you explained something that I didn't know. We have in the collection at the library these old
Delaware County directories and they have this code of R 1 2 1 and it doesn't explain anywhere in the directory
what that means.

BJ: What that means

MA: And you just did, yeah, so that's good to know

BJ: Well that's just a for instance. The store was R 2

MA: uh huh,

BJ: But everybody else's

MA: Well I'm sure the store is listed in that, in that directory that we have.

BJ: I wouldn't be surprised.

MA: What, what did your dad call the store?

BJ: Just Berkshire Store

MA: Just the Berkshire Store

BJ: It went by that name all the time that I can remember.

MA: What have, what do you have in your, uh blue folder there?

BJ: Oh this was the uh, the stuff that I've been working on to save for... This was uh, where was it? This
is what I gave you

MA: Yes that's what we have in the Burrer Room.

BJ: and I've kept all these copies about things being done over there with the

MA: Oh, at the Memorial

BJ: Uh huh, and I bought 4 brick, and had 'em for my husband, my two brothers, and our two sons. Both
of our sons were, Oh I've got to show you something, this isn't way back like this is. But I've made a
quilt and its in the other room, and its for my oldest son. He's going to retire next year, he'll have
30 years

End of video

Dublin Core


Barbara Johnson


Local History--Ohio--Delaware County--Berkshire Township
Personal Narratives--American--Barbara Johnson--1925-2017
Videography--Video Recording


This is a video of Barbara Johnson (1925-2017) describing her family, the Berkshire Township Store, and memories of relatives, her childhood and school years.


Videographer Chauncey Montgomery; Community Library
Interviewer Margaret Arnold; Community Library


circa 2005







Moving Image





Videographer Chauncey Montgomery; Community Library Interviewer Margaret Arnold; Community Library, “Barbara Johnson,” Delaware County Memory, accessed May 24, 2024,

Output Formats