This wasn’t the trip I planned but this was the trip I got. I drove to Dayton with the intent of doing a 30-35 mile loop around Mahoning Dam up to North Freedom.
I arrived in Dayton to begin my trip. I had preloaded a course on my Garmin and was determined to follow it. I went about 500 yards and turned onto a dirt road. Oh crap. Not sure how long I could do this. Thankfully it was less than a mile.
I followed my course for about four miles when Garmin told me to turn. It was a dirt road. I decided to forgo my plan and ride the “main” road. The main road was a chip and seal road. There were no flats. It was up and up again. Perhaps an occasional down hill. But not many.
I turned to go to Timblin, passing the farm of Scrap and Dot Snyder. Scrap is deceased but he was a classmate of my dad’s, and as I would discover later, 4th cousins.
Hard to imagine that 100 years ago this railroad town was a center of commerce. I stopped at the post office and talked to the postmaster, Stacey Taylor. She helped me with some of my roads. I had wanted to go up Brocious Road. I found the road, despite missing a sign, but found it was uphill, turned to gravel, and protected by angry dogs. I turned around.
I found my way to St. James Lutheran Church, founded by my great-great-great-grandfather in 1831. In 1989 I visited the church and was not greeted warmly as the locals were afraid my Uncle Tom Sherry and I were there to steal their pastor. We weren’t.
The church closed three years ago and Stacey told me the Lutherans tear down their closed churches rather than let them fall into disrepair. I didn’t have time to walk the entire cemetery but found some of my Sherry relatives. I actually meant relatives named Sherry because the cemetery is full of my relatives.
I left on my planned route and one mile later the road turned to gravel. Although I followed it for a bit, I turned back. I came to Shreckengost Road where I saw a teenage Amish girl. We talked for about 10 minutes. She helped me avoid gravel (go back the way you came).
I went to Ringgold then headed over to North Freedom. I passed Sherry Hollow Road. I understand my great-great-grandfather, Daniel Sherry’s brother, John Sherry, had his farm here.
We lived in the area from 1961-1964. My dad served four churches and I passed the North Freedom Church. I made my way to Salem, or New Salem, and saw the second church. In New Salem I attended a two-room schoolhouse for first and second grades (1-2 were in one room; 3-4 were in another). My teacher for first and second grade was Mrs. Shreckengost.
I left Salem and rode down to McWilliams. Then it was back towards Dayton. My legs were hurting.
I came to the crossroads. Here was Mt. Carmel E.U.B. church which may have close by 1968. It was the third of the four churches my dad served. A forest surrounded it and I thought about the Lutherans. How much better it might have been to simply tear it down.
The sign said Dayton – 8 miles. I knew my planned route was around the face of the Mahoning Dam. And I knew it would be 12 miles. I was very tired and was planning to ride the MS Ride tomorrow. I decided to go the short way.
I got back to Dayton and met a kindergarten teacher at Dayton Elementary School. The school opened in 1963 and we were bused from Salem to Dayton to attend this new school. It has been 54 years since I had been there. She was not impressed.
Back in Dayton, I met a kid on a bike. He wanted to race. He wasn’t wearing a helmet and I told him that I wouldn’t race unless he wore one. Deal breaker.
In a little over 30 miles I had climbed about 4500′. That was extremely mountainous. It was hot. I was toast.
That evening I met my 4th cousin, Jody Sherry Scott, in Clarion. She told me her dad was born in McWilliams. We met at her frozen yogurt place in Clarion, Yo-Licious. I highly recommend it.