From the "Randolph Times,"
Volume 8, Issue 3
The President's Message from Glynn Marsh
What an exciting time to be President of this group!
Our big exhibit entitled "Along the National Road," which
celebrates the bicentennial of the building of the National
Road, is installed and entertaining travelers as well as local
residents at the Englewood Government Center. If you have
not taken the time to visit this display yet, do so now and
often! Why did I say often? Because one visit will
not provide enough time to digest all the information presented
in the form of photos, memorabilia, video and written documents
that are available for viewing.
I want to thank Tim Garwood from the Vandalia-Butler Historical
Society for all his work in moving that society's
"Crossroads of America" and Tadmor" displays from their
historical center and putting them up in the lobby of the
government center. Thanks also to Jean Deitering, of the
Clay Township Historical Society, for mounting displays about
the National Road from their part of the county.
I would be in deep trouble if I did not thank Sue Cummings for
her hours of work on the Randolph Township display boards that
document the National Road block by block through our township
with hundreds of photos and historical information. Maybe
now I won't have to do the supper dishes each night so she
could get back to her work on the computer!
Others also have contributed to the success of this event.
Paul Dewey not only produced a color video about the building of
the road across Ohio, but he also set up a video kiosk in the
lobby with very interesting side panels that tell about the role
bicycles and autos played in getting road improvements made.
Thanks to Bob Menker for his display of early bicycles in the
atrium! Thanks to Liberty Bank who paid for the
refreshments for opening night festivities and to Sylvia Miller
for her fine presentation about the National Road. What a
crowd we had!
Luis Riancho donated copies of a very interesting document
from 1836 that relates to the survey and reexamination of the
"Dayton-cutoff" along the National Road. This was the
section of the road from Springfield to Richmond.
Influential politicians of the day lobbied to have the road cut
through Dayton and Eaton but the reexamination in 1835 further
justified keeping with the more northerly, original route.
Andrew Jackson approved this more direct route in August of
1835. This document would suggest that the National Road
did indeed reach our area sometime in 1836 (not 1838 as we
Well, let's all enjoy a sigh of relief, pat ourselves on
the back and get ready to set up the display at the Fine Arts
Festival in August. I guess there is no rest for the
"The Berk Families" by Sue Cummings
Recently, Bob Frantz donated an original photo of the Louis
(Lewis) Berk family to the historical society. Bob
identified the people in the photo, including his grandmother
Alice Berk Frantz, wife of Marion Frantz, his grandfather.
I have sorted out the information for this column from Bob's
notes, biography of Henry V. Berk of Randolph Twp. from Beer's
1882 History of Montgomery Co., and from phone conversations
with Louis Berk (Brookville) and Margaret Berk Hough (Dayton),
whose fathers were brothers and sons of Louis Franklin Berk.
(Just for the record, Margaret Hough was my fourth grade
teacher at Ft. McKinley School in Harrison Twp. and she is a
current member of our society!)
Henry Berk, Sr. was a native of Hesse Darmstadt, Germany.
He and his wife Margaret Abt had three sons. Both Henry,
Sr. and his wife died at age 39 and only two sons were still
alive in 1882, i.e., Lewis and Henry V., Jr. Henry V., Jr.
was born in Germany in 1816 and trained as a cabinetmaker.
He came to America in 1836, landing at Baltimore. Shortly
thereafter, he traveled to Fredericks-town, MD, then Vienna
Crossroads, Clark Co., Ohio and then to Dayton. NOTE:
Henry V., Jr. undoubtedly came west over the newly built
National Road! By 1857, Henry V. Jr. had
purchased 28 acres in Randolph Twp. He had acquired 400
acres in Randolph Twp. by 1882.
In 1840, Henry V., Jr. married Anna Glass and they had eight
children: Amelia, Anna, Enna, Ellen, Henry, Louis and
Theodore. Henry V., Jr. saw that all of his children
received some of his land. The Montgomery County Atlas of
1895 shows Henry Berk (the son) owning 160 acres (NE Qtr of Sec.
28) and Louis owning about 100 acres (NW Qtr of Sec. 27).
The two farms were separated by Union Rd. and each was south of
Wenger Rd. Their neighbors were Moists, Engles and
Manns. The photo, ca. 1902, shows the Berk farmhouse, and Louis
Franklin, his wife Mary and children Frank W., Clara F., Mary
Alice, Harry Albert and Earl Ralph born between 1878 and 1893.
Clara married Melvin Bennet and her daughter Ruth also is in the
photo. Bob Frantz's grandmother Mary Alice was the wife
of Marion Frantz and their son Harry was Bob's father.
Margaret Berk Hough's father was Harry Berk who married Martha
Black. Louis' father was the youngest son, Earl Berk,
and he married Ethel Black, sister of Martha. The Blacks
were from Covington, OH. More details on these families
can be found in the society's genealogy archives.