A History of the Burns Family
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PART THREE: Cuyahoga Falls, 1905-1917  

Inspiration and Sources

Ada in her wedding finery

The thirteen stories in Part Three take up the action after Ada and Guy were married on May 27, 1904 and started their family. I have written most of them from Ada's point of view, since her letters are on the whole more disclosive of thoughts and feelings than Guy's.

The inspiration for Stories #1 through #3, covering Ebba's early years, came from census records, Cuyahoga Falls directories from the early 1900s (which listed addresses and occupations), photographs of Guy in early workplaces, and Ebba and Ada's recollections of their early years in Cuyahoga Falls, as recalled in letters they wrote to each other after Ada and Guy moved west. Piecing these disparate sources together I have concluded that Guy and Ada lived first in a little brown house around the corner from his parents, then in Ravenna, a nearby town, for a while. Around 1908, they moved back to the Falls to live with Lorenzo and Mary Rebecca. A photograph of Guy taken in 1908 shows him working at Nute Foundry, which is in Cuyahoga Falls, and Don also recalls they moved back to the Falls that spring.

Don's memoir, filled with detailed memories about life with his grandparents on Newberry Street, provided the inspiration for Story #4. I feel so grateful that Penny saved it, along with a great deal of Don and Helen's correspondence, and that Liza York drove it all up to Seattle so I could take a look at this treasure trove of Burns history!

A letter from Guy to Ada inspired Story #5, with additional details filled in from later letters among family members regarding Zoe and Minnie. It is not clear why Ada was in Alliance, a small town south of Akron, but from the sound of it, she was helping Zoe, so perhaps this was where Zoe was staying at the time.

Stories #6 through #8 were inspired by letters, photographs, and later recollections of the Burns family's domestic life during the first decade of the 20th century.

Christmas memories were mentioned in so many letters that passed between Ada and Ebba over the years, and they were unfailingly sentimental and happy ones. Christmas with the Burnses seemed a topic worthy of its own telling in Story #9.

Ada loved country life, and her appreciation of nature is woven through all her correspondence. To write Story #10, I augmented the postcard evidence of a trip to the country with contemporaneous events and family issues hinted at in the letters Guy and Ada exchanged during this separation.

In perusing the Cuyahoga Falls history site, I came across a list of natural disasters that had befallen the town over the years, and realized that one of the most destructive of these -- the Flood of 1913 -- would have occurred when the Burns family was living quite near the Cuyahoga River. I studied the timing of events and created Story #11 to match them.

Elizabeth Ingraham was a beloved cousin and playmate for Evelyn, and her mother Ola, Guy's first cousin, was Ada's dear friend. When I saw the letter Ada had written to Ebba while she was visiting Elizabeth in Cleveland, I thought it would be a good way to memorialize that special childhood friendship in Story #12.

Gaylord Grove was a treasured memory for the Burns family. There was something magic about pulling up stakes for a long period each summer and setting up camp at this lovely spot just down the river from the Falls. Bringing Dave Jr. into Story #13 in this setting seemed a fitting way to introduce both the new arrival and this hallowed place.