It is not often that one discovers that a prominent citizen and contributor to the community lived in the home one now occupies. I consider myself lucky to be one of those people. Buying my home, and researching its history, has brought me closer to the community I now call home and understanding the stories of the previous residents of my home help me better understand the story of my community as a whole.
The death of Florence Marsh’s husband, George Canfield Marsh, in the summer of 1926 did not prevent Florence from continuing her activities as a member of the community. In fact, in many ways, she expanded her role even further throughout the next two decades. Florence wrapped up the decade of the 1920s by adding to her resume service on the Tuscarawas County Public Health Association as its Secretary and the Tuscarawas County General Committee of the All Ohio Tax League. This group was developed to promote a tax amendment to the Ohio Constitution. She was the only woman on the 33-person, county-wide committee.
The decade of the 1930s, and the Great Depression that came with it, found Florence directing much of her energy into community service in addition to her social clubs. She was named as a member of the city’s Community Chest Committee in September 1931, again the only woman to serve on the committee. The committee included the Mayor, County Auditor and a County Judge. In addition to these activities, Florence was appointed to the County Health Board Committee and the Salvation Army Advisory Council. Florence continued to advocate for children’s’ causes including education, health and food scarcity. There is one story that has Florence, at the height of the Great Depression, leaving jugs of milk on her back porch for less fortunate children and families to take as needed.
Early in the decade Florence Marsh’s sister, Clara Myers, retired from her 28 year teaching position at Flora Stone Mather College where she taught English and Drama. Clara returned to her hometown of New Philadelphia and she and Florence began hosting regular, monthly lectures at Florence’s home. Her lectures covered subjects ranging from specific authors, works and criticisms of classical literature. Clara Myers also began construction of her own home on Saltwell Road just outside New Philadelphia and, for reasons unknown at this time, in 1934 Florence moved in with her there.
Florence’s daughter Susan Marsh, herself now a graduate of Flora Stone Mather College, was working at the University Book Store in Cleveland, Ohio. During her time in Cleveland Susan met Howard Eugene Hanthorn, a chemist with the Grassen Chemical Company in Cleveland. Howard was originally from Portland, Oregon and was a graduate of Oregon State College and the Case School of Applied Science in Cleveland. The couple were married in February 1935 at Clara Myers’ home with many Myers and Marsh family members in attendance. The couple then moved to a home on East 75th Street in Cleveland.
In 1936 Florence entered another chapter of her life, relocating to Springfield, Ohio (just northeast of Dayton) where she accepted a position as a House Mother for a sorority at Wittenburg College. Ads in the paper indicate that she was attempting to rent her home in New Philadelphia but nothing is known about how successful that effort was. During her tenure at Wittenburg, Florence became active in the local garden club as well as serving as a chaperone on trips taken by the students. She lived in Springfield until 1941 when she returned to her home in New Philadelphia.
After her return to her home in New Philadelphia, Florence once again found herself in her familiar social circles, often hosting her various club meetings in her home. Her beloved sister Clara Myers passed away in the late fall of 1945 and shortly afterwards in 1946 her son-in-law took a position with General Electric at the Hanford Atomic Energy Reservation in Washington state. Florence, now known to her grandchildren as “Gramma Marsh” determined to move with her daughter’s family to Richland, Washington where she lived out the remaining years of her life.
Florence Marsh passed away on July 3, 1953 from cancer but she returned to her native New Philadelphia to be buried in the family plot at East Cemetery. Her obituary in the New Philadelphia paper unfortunately mentioned nothing of Florence’s activities and contributions to the community. There is little doubt that Florence Myers Marsh lived an active and productive life and little doubt that she cared greatly for her community and hometown. I am honored to call her home mine.
I will examine the life of her husband, George Canfield Marsh, in a future post.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2020.