Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tuesday Time Travel: 1909, When Marian McClure Was Born

This is the first in a series of "time travel" entries, looking at what was going on when/where my ancestors were born or at other significant points in their lives.

This entry is about my late mother-in-law, Marian Jane McClure, born in 1909 in Cleveland, Ohio. Here she is in May, 1955, with husband Edgar James Wood. Marian made the ceramic bird pin she's wearing.

I know from the Census that in 1910, Marian was living with mother (Floyda Mabel Steiner McClure) and father (Brice Larimer McClure) at 567 E. 115 Street in Cleveland, Ohio. This was a quiet residential neighborhood with modest homes, off of St. Clair Ave, a major street. Her father, an expert machinist, worked as a wire weaver, making wire cloth.

Here are some of the influences on Marian's world in the Cleveland of 1909:
  • Exploration was all the rage. Shackleton thought he'd arrived at the South Pole in early 1909 but he was actually nearly 100 miles away when he turned back. Peary and Cook were vying to "discover" the North Pole. Such travels of exploration captured the public imagination during the years leading up to WWI. Marian would have picked up some of these tales of undaunted courage. Her granddaughter is very interested in Shackleton, as it happens!
  • Everyday life was changing. The Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company was wiring many neighborhoods. Even if Marian's home wasn't wired when she was born, it would be very shortly. Radio was the coming thing (Marconi shared the Nobel Prize in 1909); Marian would have grown up with radio programs in the background all her life. Air flight was in its infancy, but as an adult, Marian liked ocean-liner trips with her husband, Edgar. 
  • No car? No problem. The interurban light rail system and streetcar networks were well-established ways to get around in Cleveland and beyond. Marian and her family could pay a few pennies to hop on a streetcar and visit friends and relatives. Her father, Brice, probably rode the streetcar to his job as a wire weaver. Cars were still expensive and rare, and not really needed (yet).
  • City girl. With a population of more than 500,000, Cleveland was the 6th-largest U.S. city and by far the largest in the entire state. The Industrial Exposition of 1909 attracted more than 200,000 visitors, who were impressed with Cleveland's manufacturing might. Although Cleveland was spread out, residential neighborhoods like Marian's were only a few streets away from small shops (drugstores, bakeries, grocery stores, etc.) Marian lived in Cleveland most of her life. By the time she left Cleveland to move closer to grandchildren, the city's pollution had been mostly cleaned up and the Cuyahoga River no longer caught fire as it had many times before, starting in 1868.


  1. This is a great idea for a blog prompt. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Heather, thanks for your kind words! I'm trying to understand what was going on around my ancestors, an idea promoted by my friend Mary as a way to get inside the heads of these family members.

  3. Marian: I love this photo! What a handsome couple. They lived through some exciting and interesting times. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Mary, thanks for your comment. I started thinking about this time-travel theme because of YOU and the way you research the background for your ancestors. Thank you!