"Half the people in Wayne County don’t know about the ‘Presidential Cemetery’ on Portage Road in Wooster," wrote the late Daily Record columnist Elinor Taylor, "and it’s obvious that the other half don’t care."

John Plank willed the cemetery to President Franklin Pierce in 1853 ... but it isn’t really a "presidential cemetery" because Pierce and his successors have never accepted the gift. It was to have been the burial place of any president who liked the location. Taylor said the federal government won’t take it, the state doesn’t want it and the township trustees ignored it before the area was annexed to the city. A number of years ago it was determined to be city property ... since no one in Washington wanted it.

Because of the overgrowth surrounding the little cemetery, it’s a little hard to spot from the road. However it’s located east of the Spruce Hill Apartments near the Portage Road bridge.

Local chips

The Wooster Pretzel and Potato Chip Co. was run by Frank and Zelma Swinehart out of the rear of their home at 742 Spruce St.

The Swineharts died in 1948 and the business was run for a year by Mildred and Frank Eastman before it was turned over to their grandson Jack Lester. After Lester was elected mayor of Wooster in 1960, the business "died a natural death." Regal Ware bought the house in 1962, eventually tore it down and built a warehouse.

Thick outside walls

The building housing the law offices of Margo Broehl on North Market Street was built in 1860 by George P. Emrich, a Civil War captain who purchased the site for $800. Bricks for the house were made on the Emrich farm near town where Emrich spent a portion of his time, alternating between there and the new home.

The former residence has a third floor with windows in a mansard-style roof. The floor was originally used as a ballroom complete with an orchestra alcove. The outside walls of the building are 23-inch solid masonry. In 1900, Capt. Emrich sold the property to Scotsman William Annat, owner of a department store in downtown Wooster.

FYI

In 1899, Charles Follis, class of 1900, helped organize the first varsity football team for Wooster High School. Elected team captain by his white schoolmates, he led Wooster to an undefeated season. An exceptional athlete, Follis is said to be the first black to play for pay in the professional football ranks of those times. Also playing football for Wooster High were his brothers Curt, class of 1903, and Joe, class of 1904.

Thought you should know.

Columnist Ann Gasbarre can be reached at agasbarre@gmail.com or 330-345-6419.