Ella Virginia Blackburn Eshbaugh was born 10 Jan 1920 in Fairplay, Jefferson County, Ohio. She has eight children. (Interview conducted by Flora L VerStraten with Ella and her daughter, Elsie Tressler, chaptermember). Sitting in the living room of Grandma Eshbaugh’s home I felt quite comfortable and relaxed. Grandma is what I’ve called Ella since I first met her over 27 years ago! She was sitting in her comfy chair as we talked of days of yore. Ella was the second oldest from her father and mother’s marriage, and fourth oldest of all her eight siblings. When she speaks of her childhood days, she speaks of days that were good and full of fond memories of which I feel honored to share just a few!
A sincere thanks to Elsie Tressler, daughter of Ella Eshbaugh, for providing photos and genealogical information needed!
Above - Photo was taken in the Summer of 1918
Left - Albert Ross & Wife Sarah J Kuhn Blackburn, baby Iva Mary
Ella Eshbaugh explains that her father was Albert Ross Blackburn, born in Fairplay, Wayne Twp., Ohio. Her mother was Sarah J. Kuhn born in Green County, PA. Her father worked as a railroad track inspector for many years. He would walk the tracks from Unionport to Broadacre. Later he worked on the WPA project as a timekeeper and he also worked at the local coal mines.
Ella’s paternal grandfather was Francis Marion Blackburn who was a carpenter. He was born in Bloomfield (now Bloomingdale), Wayne township, Ohio. Her paternal grandmother was Ella Virginia Albaugh who was born in Unionport, Wayne Township, Ohio. They had nine children. Ella states that many Blackburns are buried in the Bloomingdale Cemetery and also the Quaker Cemetery in Smithfield. Ella’s maternal grandfather was Jacob Kuhn, who was a farmer from Green County, PA. He had a hog farm and he built a children’s wagon that Ella remembers playing with when she was just a young child. He also made wooden children’s toys, which reminded her of the corncob pipe that grandpa made for her. Jacob’s wife was Mary Emma Adamson also from Green County, PA. They also had nine children. Ella’s maternal grandparents were Democrats while her paternal grandparents and parents were Republicans.
When I asked Ella about her Jefferson County roots she began spewing out old pioneer surnames that I’ve come to know well over the years such as; Blackburn, Albaugh, Davis and Peterson.
I asked Ella what she remembers about her childhood and her friends and her face seemed to light up sharing those wonderful old stories of her childhood of fishing at Cross Creek with a homemade safety pin as a hook, and bread dough as her bait. Some of her chores as a child were picking wild berries, picking potatoes and corn from the garden. She said they always had a couple cats and dogs and a few farm animals such as; cows, pigs, horses and chickens. Some of her favorite summer time snacks as a child were picking fresh vegetables out of the garden, such as; lettuce, turnips and peas and putting them on her mother’s fresh baked bread for a great tasting summertime sandwich!
Ella enjoyed many childhood games and her favorite past time was riding a tricycle, rolling tires, playing marbles, jack knife, iron hoop off an old wagon wheel with a piece of wood. She and her older siblings had sack races, played in the woods and built fires and cooked out. They enjoyed swimming at Cross Creek (then called "swimming holes") in a couple different locations on Cross Creek called Rolling Hill and Big Rock Bridge. She caught lightening bugs by night in the summer and by day killed ground hogs by "clubbing them on the head!" When talking to Ella she seemed to enjoy baseball best of all! Even though she had to wear a dress when she played baseball with the neighborhood kids, that didn’t stop her. Maybe her love of baseball was taught from her father’s knee. He would walk from Bloomfield to Richmond (7-10 miles) to watch the BIG GAME, which was played, on Memorial or Labor Day weekend each year. Her father was an active Methodist and taught the children by nightly ritual the scriptures, they toasted bread, sung hymns, and later had scripture discussions. This was no chore because the family enjoyed the nighttime gathering! Her parents believed in whippings and if she or her siblings got in trouble at school they were in more trouble when they got home from school. The family didn’t play cards and dancing was not allowed although the family did sing and loved music. She remembers that her father had a lovely voice! Ella attended the one room schoolhouse with a potbelly stove, coal and wood for heat, oil lamps and no indoor plumbing. Water was brought in from the neighbors for washing. Three generations from her family including, her father, Ella and her children attended the one room schoolhouse. The little schoolhouse was called the Valley Home School located in Fairplay. She attended two years high school in Unionport and then the last two years she attended and graduated from Hopedale High School, which is in Harrison County, Ohio. She didn’t get an allowance in those days and getting an ice cream cone on Decoration Day, the 4th of July and Labor Day was quite a treat to remember. One vanilla scoop at the ice cream parlor in Bloomfield cost five cents. Her childhood friends were; Lucille Marker, Isabelle Rayl, and Alice Harris. Her high school friends were; Florence Marie Miller and Pauline Flohr. Ella shared many wonderful memories that evening with me. She has raised eight children, some of which are now gone but not forgotten! She holds strong to her faith in God and is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She draws strength from her family of which many live close by. Ella will be attending the Blackburn family reunion held on the third Sunday of each year in August at the Aladdin Land Park, Twp Rd. #166, (off of Old State Route 22 at Reed’s Mill).
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