Albert Strong, my father was born in 1896 in Berlin Center and grew up on the Strong family farm. He attended Christy Town School, located about a mile east of the farm on Leffingwell Road. After completing 8 grades at the one room school, he attended Alliance High School and earned a high school diploma in business. Only a very few boys received a high school education in that era. He was disappointed that he did not get a chance to go to college as his sister Ola, but it was necessary for him to take the responsibility of the family Farm.
Albert's farm buildings circa 1938. Note the unpaved road and outhouse to the right of the woodshed. The oak tree was about 5 ft in diameter.
He married Belle McConoughey in 1920. Belle taught in one room schools in the area, North Benton and Berlin Center. They acquired the 103 acre farm just west of the original farm across the border in Deerfield Twp. Belle took over the 1850 farm house and Albert farmed both farms. Normally the work required 2 or 3 farmhands to care for nearly 30 milk cows, about 40 sheep, a few pigs and about 200 chickens. Most work was done with horses and 2 teams of work horses plus some extras. One of the horses, Dan, had been Albert’s riding horse since his teens. The horse was a mixture of a thoroughbred and Morgan. Dan was very fast and beautiful, but also was used for tasks such as raking hay and cultivating gardens.
Albert did acquire a Moline tractor in the late 1920’s followed by Fordson’s, a Case, Farmall and two John Deere tractors.
Belle gave this tractor a tryout. She got it started but couldn't get it stopped. She drove it around the barnyard for some time and it became a family joke.
Belle and Albert raised 3 children, Dora, Merle and Ralph. All three received university degrees at Kent State University. Dora taught school at Ashland High School and then married Robert Gallagher who became an Orthopedic Surgeon. Merle taught school, earned his PhD at Ohio State University and became an internationally known expert in vocational and industrial education. He retired as a tenured professor at Wisconsin University at Madison. Ralph intended to teach school, but became involved in the aerospace industry as a systems engineer and project manager.
In 1940, Albert lost control of the old Strong farm, as his father gave title to his sister Ola in return for taking care of him for the remainder of his live at her home in Poland. At about the same time, Berlin Lake was being built, which flooded about 35 acres from Albert's farm and even more acreage from the old Strong Farm. As WW II approached Albert made use of his talent as a carpenter and worked in Pennsylvania building army bases. During this time, he was home only on weekends. Later, he worked at the aircraft factory, Tailorcraft, in Alliance, where he boxed parts of aircraft to be shipped to assembly plants for aircraft such as the Martin B-26 and Boeing B-17. After the war, he returned to farming and did contract work as a carpenter. Lakefront property on Berlin Lake became valuable and he began to sell off some of the property for lots.
After the war, Ola sold the origional Strong farm to Kirkbrides who owned the farm just north of Albert's farm. This property had been owned by the Lazarus family.
Belle began to teach at Deerfield High School when the WW II began. She was a very popular teacher and did not retire until about 1953.
Belle and Albert built a winter retirement home in Palmetto, Florida and enjoyed the Florida sun in winter and returned to the farm for the summer in their retirement years. Belle developed heart problems and died in 1965 at their Florida Home.
Albert then married Helene Dutcher in 1970. They lived in Sarasota during winter months, but they returned to Deerfield every summer until he died in 1977.