Linking Ada's past to its present: Leland Crouse, Ada Historian
Thursday, November 01, 2012 6:31 AM
There's a saying, "Don't talk badly about people in Hardin County, because they're probably related to the person you're talk with somehow!" No one knows how true this statement is more than Leland "Lee" Crouse. Crouse was passed the torch from former Ada Historian, the late and beloved Betty Miller, and has taken Ada history to new heights with current technology.Crouse, like many, really never saw much importance to history until he reached his mid-40's. At that point, he realized the people who knew the history of family, friends, towns, etc. were passing away and the desire to absorb and record that knowledge was sparked.
Crouse recalls his first interview with his Great Aunt Faye Buckland of McComb, Ohio, in 1990. Crouse's family was prone to going by nicknames, including Grandma Fat and Grandma Slim, so he turned to his Great Aunt for their true names. This simple question evolved into hours of his Great Aunt describing pictures and retelling stories. "It gets you hooked!", exclaims Crouse. One answer leads to several more questions. As a means of making sense of all of the family history, Crouse turned to "Family Tree" software program. Through the years, Crouse has been given many local family histories and records which he has used to fill out the "leaves on the Family Tree". He currently is on his second upgrade of the program which includes approximately 140,000 names from late 1800's to the present.
Crouse frequents The Ada Herald to check out copies of newspapers in huge hard-bound books, 1' x 2' in diameter and 1-1/2" thick, that go clear back each year to when the paper was first named The Ada Record in 1878! Crouse gets most of the information for the Family Tree from obituaries.
"Ninety-eight percent of the obituaries in The Ada Herald, can be tied into the program", Crouse reports.
While looking for an obituary for a classmate that graduated with Crouse from Ada High School in 1966, Crouse became aware that there was no index. Crouse has volunteered his time since 2000 to put an Obituary Index together for The Ada Herald and has completed the index from 1900 to 1994 so far, of which The Ada Herald is grateful!
Family history may have been the starting point for Crouse's quest for recording the past, but it only led to more paths of history to follow. During preparation for Ada's Sesquicentennial in 2003, Crouse was asked to trace back the history of some of Ada's businesses and industries. One thing led to another and now there is a 300 page book of Ada's history in the Ada Public Library updated to 1945! For example, how many in Ada remember the horse track north of town that used to gather hundreds of spectators? Or counting over 100 trains go through Ada daily on the double tracks, waving to the guy up in the crossing guard control toward on Main Street and watching the mailbag disappear from it's hook as the train whizzed by? How about John Atha plowing the snow from the sidewalks in downtown Ada with his horse team?
Crouse has become quite the collector as well, displaying in his "Ada Room" promotional rulers, can openers, poster, mugs, plates, key chains, etc. from area businesses. He tries to pick up these little treasures of current businesses as well because someday they too will be part of our past. One of his prize collections is an actual Sonnet football helmet he wore in school made in the original OK Factory, now the Wilson Football Factory!
Crouse, with his wife Connie, live in Ada just around the corner from one of the Crouse family farms. While Crouse has not yet seen evidence of the "history bug" in either of his two sons, Michael Crouse, of Ada, and Randy Crouse, now living in Elida, or his grandchildren, he hopes that what he has and will continue to accomplish toward collecting these memories will be able to answer the questions about the past when they come.
If you would like to contact Crouse with questions about your family history, Ada history, or with information to include in his many areas of recording, he invites you to call 419-634-1695 or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .