Albert and Belle
Life of Albert and Belle Strong
Albert was the son of Edward and was raised on the family farm founded by his grandfather, Alonzo.
The farm consisted of 250 acres and included good level fields, a large wooded area and a stream, Mill Creek that flowed through the North end of the farm. Some pasture land was on the far side of Mill Creek. The farm was in Berlin Center, Mahoning County with the western border on the Mahoning – Portage county lines.
Alonzo, his grandfather was the original owner of the land, acquired from the Connecticut Land Company.
Albert had one older sister, Ola who was a graduate of Ohio University and taught at Southern High School in Youngstown. She married late in life and had no children.
Albert attended Christytown School, a one room school on Leffingwell Road, just east of Helsel road. It was about 1/2 mile from their home. The old school house was used as a community hall through the 1930’s. He attended the school for 8 years, and then attended Alliance High School, boarding with his aunt. He was able to commute on weekends on the railroad that maintained a station in North Benton and was one of the few men in the area that graduated from high school.
He had hoped to go to college as his sister had done, following his sister’s lead. Howeverr his father by this time was in his 70’s, and the rest of the family had moved away from the farm. As a result, Albert was obligated to stay to manage the farm.
He married Belle and bought the adjacent farm, just over the line in Deerfield township. He managed and worked both farms until 1940 when two events broke up the arrangement. His sister took control of the old farm in return for caring for their father for the rest of his years (he was 90 at the time) and the government built the dam forming Berlin Lake which flooded substantial portions of both farms.
The old farm had a large stand of hard maple trees which supported a maple syrup camp every spring. He made about 100 gallons of syrup each year. However, the primary cash crop was milk, and between the two farms, he kept about 30 dairy cows in addition to 40 or so sheep, 5 work horses and a horse to ride named Dan.
Dan was a very fast horse that Albert had rode for transportation during his teen years. The horse lived to be 44 years old. Dan was trained to accelerate into a run as soon as the rider swung his legs over his back, so the rider had better aim for Dan’s neck as that was where his back would be when properly seated. We never used a saddles.
After losing control of the old farm and with 35 acres lost to Berlin Lake, he spent the war years as a carpenter, first building army barracks at new Army bases in Pennsylvania and then at Taylorcraft Aircraft Company in Alliance packing aircraft parts such as ailerons and rudders to be shipped to larger aircraft manufacturers.
In the 1950’s, he sold much of his land as lakefront lots and retired although he still planted and harvested crops on the remaining land for many years. He built a house in Florida for winter and summers on the farm.
After Belle died, he remarried Helene while still maintaining the same lifestyle until has last 2 or 3 years.