Martha Coss Bate was born on February 13, 1890 in Wayne county on the farm of her great-grandfather Mathius Camp.
Martha Coss Bate’s grandfather, John Camp, was also born on the Mathius Camp farm. John Camp bought an adjoining farm in Ashland County and he married Ellen Campbell from Rowsburg.
Ellen Campbell was the daughter of Arthur Campbell, Jr. who was the son of Arthur Campbell, Sr. who came to America from Scotland. His wife was Miss O’Kane from Ireland.
Arthur Campbell, Jr. married Lydia Ecker whose father was Abram Ecker who came from Maryland. Abram Ecker settled just east of Rowsburg on Route 250.
Arthur Campbell, Jr. took over a farm joined at the north by the Ecker farm. Dr. Abram Ecker came to Rowsburg area when Arthur Campbell, Sr. came. Ecker was then the only doctor in Ashland County and the first doctor to come here. These men settled near Rowsburg because they thought the canal was going to be built through there. Michael Row at this time established the village of Rowsburg and sold lots.
Lydia Ecker married Arthur Campbell, Jr. They were Martha Bate’s great-grandparents. Dr. Ecker was her great-great grandfather.
The daughter of Lydia and Arthur Campbell, Jr. was Ellen Campbell. She married John Camp from Wayne County near the Muddy Fork. They were the parents of Mrs. Bate’s mother, Margaret Camp Coss.
Mrs. Bate’s father was Calvin Luther Coss who came here from Maryland when he was seventeen.
When Martha Coss Bate was seven years old (in 1897), she lived with her family in Red Haw. It was then quite a center, having three churches, three general stores, a two-room school, a harness shop, a blacksmith shop, a barbershop, a Post Office, and a hotel. Mrs. Bate attended the Red Haw school for six years.
Mrs. Bate’s parents, Margaret and Calvin Coss, bought the house at 229 West Main Street in 1906.
Mrs. Bate (Martha Coss) was married in 1921 to Harry Bate of Cleveland who was one of the founders of Ashland Tire Company. They lived in Cleveland Heights and Indianapolis. They inherited the house at 229 West main in 1939 and came here to live.
Olive Williams was Mrs. Bate’s piano teacher from 1903, until 1905. At this time Charlie Kettering was Miss Williams’ boyfriend. He gave her such gifts as a grand piano, a set of encyclopedias, and a diamond ring. Miss Williams showed Martha all her gifts as she was very proud of them. At this time Charles Kettering was with the Star Telephone Company of Ashland, and at that time he worked with Tom Gault and Henry George, young men of Ashland. Charles Kettering and Olive Williams were married in Ashland, and then went to Dayton to live.
When Mrs. Bate went to Dayton View to visit her brother and his wife, she would walk out to Salem Avenue and there she would meet Olive Kettering and her son Eugene. Olive at that time was working very closely with the architect who was building their big home in the Dayton suburb which is now called Kettering.
The Williams family lived on the north side of Walnut Street, midway between Center and Luther Streets.
Mrs. Bate recalled the very beautiful Opera House. When she was a little girl Fred Edwards was the manager. He was a large man who always wore a checked suit and was quite a character.
The library was on the second floor of the Opera House. Nell Stevens was the librarian. Mrs. Bate remembered going to the library every Saturday night.
A stock company would come in the summer and stay two weeks. Mrs. Bate said she would go to all the matinees and evening performances.
Mrs. Bate recalled hearing about a particular incident which happened at the Opera House. Her father and his friend went there one night while Blaine was running for President. It was a Democratic meeting, but he and his friend went up and down the isles yelling “Hooray for Blaine!” They were almost lynched.
The house at 229 West Main Street was built in 1898, the same as the Otter hotel and the Worst Building at the southwest corner of Main and Claremont were built. The Coss family purchased the house at the time when saloons were voted out of Ashland. The house had belonged to John Patterson who owned the nicest saloon in town. He moved to Marion. The population then, around 1906, was 5,000.
Mrs. Bate recalled the Flood of 1913 as being frightful. Water from the creek came in the basement windows of the house and was about 20 inches deep in the area near her house.
Mrs. Bate recalled Dr. R.C. Kinnaman whose office and home stood at the corner of Main and Center Streets where later the Home Company was located. The house was a story and a half. Mrs. Bate had eye treatments there twice a week. Dr. Kinnaman had one of the first automobiles in town. It had big brass lights which Dr. Kinnaman often polished. He was a charming, handsome man with a Van Dyke beard. He tried to teacher German. He was very fond of music and had a pipe organ installed in a new house built on Edgehill. The fountain near the corner of Main and Center is dedicated to his son, Guy Kinnaman, the only child of the family.
Martha Bate’s mother knew George Gilbert very well. His oldest sister was her mother’s music teacher. Mrs. Bate’s children used to go down to the store to see Mr. Gilbert, and he always gave them a dame. He was a very nice man. Mrs. Bate remembered that as a child she had received little gifts from Mr. Gilbert.
Mrs. Curt Moore, always known as Bessie, was a leader in the community. She was always raising money for some cause or selling war bonds. She was a good bridge player, as well. The Curt Moore family lived on the east side of Broad Street, near West Main where the Hyle Funeral Home parking lot is now. It was a bit rambling white house with a porch around tow sides. Curt Moore’s grocery was on the south side of West Main. It was one of the nicer groceries. Kate Moore Myers (Mrs. Guy C. Myers) was their daughter.
Mrs. Bate recalled going with her friend Pauline Sellers to the home of Bessie Moore. Curt Moore would parch corn for them, while Bessie taught them bride rules in verse so that they would remember them.
Bessie Moore came from England as a young girl. Her Maiden name was Morgan. Her family lived out in the southwest part of town before it was built up. Her father made soap and sold it for his livelihood. Bessie Moore was a brilliant, well-read woman who could tell great stories about England.
Bessie Moore’s sister, Aunt Mellie, was a dressmaker who lived in a large red brick house on Second Street (which can still be seen from Route 42) in Mansfield.
Kate Myers was a lovely person and Mrs. Bate’s good customer when Mrs. Bate ran the O’Neil shop at her home. Mrs. Myers always tried to buy something useful for people.
Mrs. Bate recalled the Hemmingway Hotel and Mrs. Hemmingway. It was a family hotel and was situated from the second floor up in the McNulty-Gilbert building. For many years a travelers’ library was kept there, and Mrs. Bate often went there to get books. A five and dime store was then downstairs in the building. Nora, who became Mrs. Emery Brown, and Blanche were the Hemmingway daughters.
Mrs. Bate recalled often going to the Jacob Brubaker store which was east across the alley from the Hemmingway Hotel. It was here that her family went in the fall and the spring. For twenty dollars they would get everything they needed: shoes, coats, and yardage. When they went in winter, they would go in the store to take off all the heavy clothes they needed to wear when driving into town from the country.
The fire during World War II was caused by a wreck at the Erie Station. Mrs. Bate could see the flames shooting up in the sky from the windows of her house. The whole town, especially the factories, seemed to be in danger. Gasoline was running down the streets and into the creek.
When the Post Office was built on the northwest corner of Jail Hill and Main Street, Mrs. Hess’s house and Mrs. Albert’s house were torn down. The McCool House was moved out on West Main. It was a beautiful house, owned later for many years by Art VanOsdoll. At the time of the interview it was being demolished.
Mrs. Bate and Bill Wiley recalled the dedication of the Post Office. School was dismissed and the children of the town assembled to hear US Post Office General Jim Farley speak.