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 Favorite Ancestor Essay Contest Winners

Each year since 2005, ACDL's Genealogy and Archives Department has sponsored an essay contest inviting people to honor their heritage with an essay about their favorite ancestor.

Essays must be 500-1500 words long, typewritten or printed from a computer file, or written in longhand in ink on 8 1/2 x 11-inch paper, and the "favorite ancestor" must be deceased and have some connection to Ashtabula County. (The fact that you, the descendent, now live here, is sufficient.)

There must be at least one date to put the subject into historical context, and at least one Ashtabula County place name mentioned, and the subject must be named, that is, pseudonyms are not permitted; however, you need not be in direct lineage.

As a rule, entries are accepted between mid-January and the end of March, but contact our Genealogy and Archives Department for the specific dates for this year, as well as any rule changes.

2011 Winners 

By Vickie Lee
"Johan Jhalmer Blom went by numerous nicknames. J.J. Bloomy, Swede, just to name a few, but to me he was Grandpa...."
"My Grandmother’s Story: Maria Libra DeCiurcio Napoli"
by Constance B. Naylor
"My fondest memories of my Grandmother Napoli center around that home near Lake Avenue just a short walk from St. Joseph’s Church...."
"Jerome Starkweather"
By Mary L. Lardi
"Take a walk to the far east corner of Eastwood Cemetery, and you will find a crooked, weathered gravestone, standing apart from the smaller stones around it. This aged stone, with the misspelled name..."

2010 Winners 

"Hazel Fern Westlake Shaw Billman"
by Kathryn Brown
"My earliest memories of my grandmother were of sitting in her wooden rocker with the swan arms with my brother, Dale, covered by the brightly colored afghan she had crocheted and eating gingerbread, while listening to her recite poems...."
"Walter Bernard Morgan"
by Karyn Joiner Hobson
"His name to us was Pa and we loved him. He had a quiet strength, a strong love of family, reading, politics, animals and the Geneva Library which he visited a number of times weekly...."
"Miranda Morris Stewart"
by Beverly Willis
"She had social status, coming from distinguished Morris family and the New York Knickerbockers...."
"Cousin Beau, Anthony Robert Colucci" by Constance B. Naylor  "Anthony Robert Colucci grew up in an Ashtabula neighborhood not far off West Avenue in an area near what was called “Forty Acres” when my grandparents lived there in the mid-1900s."
"Story About My Momma,
Hugette Marthe Leona LeClercq" by Christine Louise Sanger Colvin
"Her maternal grandmother... could not understand why Louise would wed a poor, crippled Belgian man who had only his love and devotion to share..."
"Gertrude Elizabeth (Elliott) Lewis My Paternal Grandmother, “Gertie” by Trudy Hanhilammi  "She never baked anything, never offered us grandchildren cookies or any food of any kind, even after my family, which includes my Mom and Dad, and my 3 sisters, and me worked hard on their farm...."

2009 Winners 

"Fren Nicholas" By Carol Nicholas Tinney  "My favorite ancestor is my father, who faced adversity and overcame many obstacles that were involved in raising two children alone sixty-four years ago...."
"Marilyn May Jarvi, my Mother" by Karen Anthony  "But better than the flowers was the conversation of her childhood; her Grandma’s hugs, the canaries she raised and the special cookies she made..."
"My Mom – "It” or Evelyn Ruth (Allen) Lewis" by Trudy Hanhilammi  "My mother was born December 16, 1909, in Austinburg, OH, to parents, Ida and George Allen, that I am sure never expected this angel. They already had 2 daughters, Nora, age 14, Bessie, age 12. The girls were so de-lighted with this baby sister, that they always referred to her as ‘It”. “It” did this, or “It” did that...."
"Uncle Ottley Russell Coulter" by Adrienne L. Marrison  "As a young woman, I thought fondly of him as my amiable, old, half bald uncle, regardless of any perceived eccentricity...."
"Samuel Goodlove Cosgrove" by Cathleen Lilly   "At sixteen years of age, the farm boy en-listed in Company E, 14th Ohio volunteer infantry, to serve in the Civil War..."
"George Chismar 'Outhouse Tragedy'” by Marilyn Strubbe  "The truth, as she told us, was probably too embarrassing to put in his obituary...."

 2008 Winners

"An Immigrant’s Story: Constantino Napoli" by Constance B. Naylor "My fondest memories of my Grandfather Napoli center upon his home near West Street in Ashtabula. We came to Ashtabula many Sundays..."
"My Favorite Ancestor: Elizabeth Mueller" by Ruth Mueller Urcheck  "When my sister, Bernice, and I were very young, Grandma spoke only German, but when we spent some of our summer vacations with her, she taught us German phrases and we helped her with her English...."
"My Favorite Ancestor: Lempi Kajander" by Eleanor Kaihlanen  "Lempi found herself on her own in a land where she couldn’t speak the language and knew only a few people. She became a waitress at the old National Hotel on De-pot Street in Ashtabula...."

2007 Winners 

"A Dollar a Day" by Virginia D. Mastrisciano  "Sometimes it really does take a village to raise a family. In our case it was New Lyme, where mama was born in 1901..."
"Snow White? No, Its Just Aunt Ida" by Donna Davis Prine   "At the thought of losing Mousy, she began to think of her other losses: her father, her mother, her son Tom, her brothers and sisters and her beloved husband..."
"Untitled" by Helen Wheeler Tackett  "Food for the long winter was a tedious job for such a large family. They dried apples, cushaw, beans, and pumpkin. Potatoes, apples, beets, and cabbage were buried in a hole in the ground and covered with straw...." 
"My Dad, Emerick Jute" by Marilyn Jute Strubbe  "My grandfather’s brother (My dad’s uncle) was a Catholic priest in Yugoslavia. When my grandparents came over to this country, this uncle, the priest, made my grandfather promise that he would send his first-born child back to Yugoslavia for him to educate..."

2006 Winners 

"Frederick Pierre Labrousse – My Favorite Ancestor"
By Adrienne Marrison
"Before they married, dad and mom had decided that four children would be the ideal number for their family. Lillian and Lorna were born on the farm, while Ruth, Marianne, Fred, Emily and Russell..."  
"My Mother’s Aiiti" by Donna Prine  "We played at the base of the huge sand pile, Janet, with her beautiful dark curly tresses, and I with snarl-ing sun-bleached hair flying every-which way. I peeked into the cellar window where my grandmother..."
"She was My Favorite"
by Janet Volk
"Around the 1930's Gram worked for the Star Beacon as one of the first women reporters. Her "beat" was Bridge Street, which in that era was very dangerous with many bars frequented by sailors off the foreign boats docked in the harbor. Gram was a suffragette, so this must have been interesting...." 
"I Remember Grandma" by Noreen Martin  "We kids would be out playing on a rainy, windy day and Grandma would say in a rather stern voice, "Get in the house and get your coats on you'll catch 'azzaturi' for sure!" Nobody had any idea what that was, but it sounded so dreadful that you came in and got your coat on immediately...."
"My Aunt Lucille" by Sharon L. Hamilton  "She showed me how to spoon off the cream from the top of the milk bottles to make her own butter. She taught me how to make homemade bread. I helped her can all of her own fruits and vegetables from her garden. She had an old wood stove in the cellar where we cooked everything in cast iron kettles...."
 "My Grandma Clara" by Karen Cook  "There was a front porch where we used to sit and visit on the warm evenings. We'd talk about all sorts of things: what we did that day, what I wanted to be when I grew up, if there really was a God..."

2005 Winners 

"Cherished Memories" By Laurie Taggart  "George Mantel's life was filled with a lot of hard work..."
"Louise Weaver" by Susan Smith
"She lived in Kingsville with her husband Walter, on what is now called 193. They lived in quaint little house just over the hill there. The year was 1939...."
"The Secret of a Long Life" by Catherine Butler  "By this time, Rachel had two children and a husband away from home. She had no idea if she would ever see her husband again. She took a job raking hay with a wooden hand rake to support her family for a wage of 25 cents per day...." 
"Phillip C. Brummitt In Celebration of My Son Phillip" By Laura Thompson  "...Phil was born with oil in his veins. He could fix a car in no time at all, and even diagnosed and fixed problems over the phone. His mechanical skills were incredible!"
"My Favorite Ancestor" by Desiree Lomas  "In 1960 he built a cabin in Pennsylvania. In the late 60's He opened Daves Dairyland. He ran for Village Council in the 1970's. When True Temper closed down in the early 80's he started a Charter Fishing business..."
"Promises"by Donna Prine  "He was a baseball player, a fisherman, a barber, a story teller, a mara-thon runner, a painter, a gardener, a basket weaver, a buyer, a salesman, a mathematician, a huckster, a giant, a Mr. Mom, but most of all..."