1840s Big Spring School Memories of Ralph Lodge

School House Drawing

Drawing by Minnie Prior. Big Spring (Northwest) Schoolhouse located on the northeast corner of Front and Wadsworth Streets. Built circa 1860 of brick and stone and named so because of its location next to the town’s main water spring.

This recollection was taken from the May 1912 edition of the Cuyahoga Falls Reporter. No name was associated with it, however, using some of the details I’ve come to the conclusion that it is written by William R. Lodge about his father Ralph’s time in the Cuyahoga Falls schools.

“A brick school house was built near the corner of the Cuyahoga Falls Road. Rollin [Roland] Clapp taught there. He was more commonly called Deacon Clapp. A Miss Ladd also taught there. She later became Mrs. Bacon.

“Father [Ralph H. Lodge] used to tell about his going to school to Deacon Clapp and mentioned his having a square ruler about an inch square and a couple of feet long which he always used to open the sessions by striking it hard on his desk as he struck for silence. One day he misjudged the distance from his desk and barked all the knuckles on his right hand by hitting the desk.

“Father saw him use the ruler, striking the palm of a boy’s hand until it puffed up in a blister. Whipping was the great pastime in that school. I asked father if he ever got whipped. He replied, two or three times a day and he counted that he was one of the best boys in school at that.

“One boy had so many whippings that Clapp wore out all his whips on him. He then sent the boy out to get him another whip. The lad went to the nearby woods and cut a sapling about 12 feet long and could hardly get it into the school house.

“Another boy, John Shimmin, was used to coming late and missed roll call. After much reprimanding, he arranged with a fellow classman who sat near the open window to give a signal by throwing up his arm when his name was called and John yelled “PRESENT” from clear across the school grounds so that it could be heard by the teacher.  Then he walked in and took his seat. Deacon Clapp said to him, ‘John, you have a keen sense of hearing.’ ‘Oh yes,’ said John, ‘I could hear a leaf drop clear over in Pennsylvania.’

“About 1880 father employed Deacon Clapp, then about 80, as his first gatekeeper to collect the nickels at the entrance of Silver Lake Park.”

William’s father, Ralph Hugh Lodge, the subject of the above, was born on August 3, 1830 in Munroe Falls, Ohio and died on May 22, 1907 in Silver Lake, Ohio. He was the eldest son of George and Rebecca Lodge, both of England. Ralph married Julia Plum on April 7, 1869 and they had ten children. Julia died on August 23, 1911.

William Ralph Lodge, Ralph’s son born June 6, 1874, became the secretary and manager of the Silver Lake Park Company, the vice president of the Cuyahoga Falls Savings Bank and he entered into a number of other successful business enterprises, becoming one of the best known men of Summit County. William attended the schools of Cuyahoga Falls and then Oberlin College. While in College he became interested in his father’s Silver Lake Park enterprise, and without finishing his courses he decided to return home and help his father with the Park. His ideas of business were more modern than those of his father and for some time the organizational methods of William surprised his father.

Copyright – Jeri Holland. Cuyahoga Falls: River of Memories