Regional history showcased

LIBERTY — Hubbard resident Shirley Eckley said sharing history and stories is something she has always enjoyed and the William Holmes McGuffey Historical Society’s monthly lecture series provides the perfect opportunity to do that.

Eckley, a retired elementary teacher from Hubbard, spoke at the Memories of a Lifetime lecture series held 10 a.m. the third Saturday of each month at Kravitz’s Deli, Belmont Avenue, Liberty.

Eckley, who is a William Holmes McGuffey family descendant and president of the society, spoke on the legacy and local roots of McGuffey, who created the many reading primers used by students over much of the past two centuries.

She said the McGuffey reading books are still in print and used today for homeschooling and religious schools.

“These are revised additions. They took out a lot of the religious parts. Now they are going back to the original versions, which included a lot of Scripture from the Bible,” Eckley said.

The McGuffey reading series was started in the 1800s for public schools. The first readers were printed in 1836, with fifth and sixth editions in the 1840s. The books were used for students to sixth grade.

“These were the books from the frontier period. They framed the country’s morals. The stories told of not stealing, not swearing to how to respect everyone. That was what the books were about,” Eckley said.

They were later revised to cut back on the religion in them.

“When I speak to people, I tell them the man behind the books was McGuffey. There are people who did not know the McGuffey readers were from William McGuffey,” she said.

Eckley said the National Education Association in 1873 approved a resolution noting McGuffey’s impact on literature and culture through the books.

“He was considered an example of what teachers should be,” she said.

Several local landmarks in Mahoning Valley were named after McGuffey, including a center, street and several schools. William Holmes McGuffey Elementary School, McGuffey Memorial Bridge and a portion of Interstate 680 as the William Holmes McGuffey Memorial Highway, all in Youngstown, are some of them.

A McGuffey Day is celebrated in Paris, Ky., where a school was started to honor him.

The society is more than 57 years old and has achieved numerous milestones since starting in 1961, including buying the McGuffey Homestead, which consists of 78 acres on McGuffey Road in Coitsville Township and getting it listed as a National Historic Landmark.

The homestead was transferred to Mill Creek MetroParks in 1998 and renamed the McGuffey Wildlife Preserve.

Other recent lectures have included Hubbard natives Benjamin Lariccia and Constance Tarr-Bostardi speaking on the pioneer Trumbull County Coalburg Italians. Lariccia and Tarr-Bostardi presented a program based upon the first Italian immigrants in Trumbull County, who settled in Coalburg.

Used as strikebreakers in the famous 1873 Coal Miner’s Strike, many of their descendants still live in Mahoning Valley.

The next lecture is 10 a.m. Sept. 15 with Jon Marino speaking on “Who Killed the Packard?” He will examine the many factors that ended the famous Warren luxury automobile.

Admission is $6 for nonmembers and $5 for members. Complimentary refreshments served. A 50-50 raffle will be held. Reservations are required but walk-ins are admitted based upon seating availability.

For more information or to make reservations, call Richard S. Scarsella, at 330-726-8277.