Finding Family in the Archive

January 25, 2013
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The following post was written by public history graduate student and Dayton Daily News Archive student worker Marcus Manchester, who stumbled upon some fascinating stories about a family member while working with the files of the DDN Archive:

A few weeks ago, I was filing something away, and I came across a folder of pictures entitled “Women Mayors.”  None of the people in the folder were recognizable to me, but I suddenly remembered that my aunt was once the Mayor of Fairborn.  So when I had a few minutes to go look, I went and found her folders [in the DDN Archive]. Her name was Georgia Hale, and she was the mayor from 1983 to 1987.  I remember her as my aunt, but in reality, she was a very close family friend who was very involved with my father when he was young.

From what my father told me, Georgia became involved in the city’s politics through her Church Council and other community activities through Fairborn.  In the late 1970′s, she ran for and was elected to the city council, which had been male only for a few years before that, according to one Dayton Daily News article that I read.  There are not many articles about her during her years as a councilwoman, but she was quoted in one article regarding the opening of an adult bookstore, which was an controversial issue for Fairborn.  The resistance to the store wanted it to be disallowed, but when asked her opinion she said, “[It] Smacks of censorship.  Who is to decide the prevailing morals of a community? …It is the responsibility of Parents and the Church to help children choose intelligently.”  She was for free speech, even if it was something that she disagreed with.  Eventually, the council created zoning restrictions for the store, placing it in an area where children did not commonly walk and restrictions for how close a store store could be to a similar establishment.  When Carl Eichelman was elected mayor, he chose Georgia as the deputy mayor, but Eichelman later died of cancer, elevating Georgia to the post of mayor a few months before the election.  In November of 1983, she was elected as the first woman mayor of Fairborn.  The next two years are rather quiet, there were few articles of interest and it did not sound like anything important was going on.  But in 1985, Georgia was elected to her second term as mayor.

The year 1985 also saw a new Councilman elected, Jack Mattachione, whose platform stated that the council was not listening to the people of Fairborn.  One of the things that I noticed at this point, right at the 1985 election, was an increase in editorials about discontent with the city council.  From the looks of the election results, this was a minority, but a significant one in Fairborn.  One editorial said about my aunt, “She has decided the city of Fairborn no longer have Freedom of speech at council meetings,” which is in direct contradiction of the quote from Georgia earlier, it also contradicts the recollections of people who knew her, who would say of her that she always heard out an opposing viewpoint.  Mattachione had the second most votes of any of the new council members. In council meetings, Mattachione would bring ordinances and provisions that the council had not discussed nor had they seen. The stated view of the rest of the council was that they would not second these motions because of the disregard for the procedure of the council; they had not worked on together in a council work session.  Council meetings with him often descended into yelling matches and the animosity grew on the council.  Nor did this change after Georgia left office. She was ineligible to run for mayor again. Councilman George Gehlauf and Mattachione ran for the office of mayor. Gehlauf won, and Mattchione retained his council seat.  The issues between Mattachione and the rest of the council continued. Gehlauf even gave a lecture on what procedure was supposed to be in the council. There were days when the council had scheduled for public discourse, but that was being disregarded for many of these provisions and ordinances.

Now, after reading as many of the articles that I could get my hands on in the archive regarding this issue, I must say that I understand where Mattachione was coming from, I understand that he and a significant minority of Fairborn’s population felt like they were not being listened to and Mattachione was the one who said that he would speak up for them and he did.  But, I think Mattachione would have gotten far more done to solve the issue if he had worked respectfully within the system in place.  The council’s procedure was to work on ordinances and provisions in work sessions, then discuss them at a public meeting  and then take a vote; this way the council knew what was coming before them. Mattachione though would bring forward provisions and ordinances that the council had not discussed or even seen, that he had written himself, which to the council was a slap in the face.  He would also bring in citizens sympathetic to his viewpoint, who would speak up and cause problems when the council did not listen to him.  To work in this manner, creates and widens rifts, it does not solve them nor does it unify the people of the city.

As I read the articles of this saga, I knew this was an interesting story, and it went beyond my aunt (the reason I found it to begin with).  While working on this, I first found my aunt’s file, then I found Jack Mattachione’s and George Gehlauf’s, and if I had more time to research, I had three or four other names that I would have gone searching for in relation to this.  In many cases, there are repeats of the same articles between these people as they are interrelated by the issues at hand, but there was plenty of information to draw from.  I learned much about my aunt that I did not know before this. She died almost 10 years ago. I wish I could talk to her about this, because it is fascinating, but all I can do is talk to the few people I can find who were close to the issue.  It shows the amount of information and the interesting stories that are waiting to be found in the Dayton Daily News Archive .

~Marcus Manchester

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15 Responses to Finding Family in the Archive

  1. casey carver on February 8, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    I know this could be a real stretch. My best friend’s father was from Dayton,Ohio. He was in WWII and was featured on the front page of a newspaper there in 1944. He and his brother met in Guadalcanal during the war and this article featured them. Their names were Oscar and Roy Hutt.
    Is there any chance at all that this might be archived somewhere? Any help you could provide would be appreciated. Thanks for your help.

    • Lisa on February 10, 2013 at 2:42 pm

      We’ll see if we can find anything, and we will email you.

  2. Bee Dalton on February 10, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    After scouring the internet, I had all but given up hope on finding anything about a cousin from Dayton. Living in California, all of my research is restricted to what is available online. The Dayton Journal Herald is susposed to have an obituary on Page 29 of the 23 Dec 1987 edition about Walter Gilbert. He died in 1993, so I’m wondering if this is his father, or just mention of him in another obituary. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Bee

    • Lisa on February 10, 2013 at 3:14 pm

      We’ll see what we can find, and we will email you.

  3. Joe L. Miller on February 27, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    Looking for a Korean War Veteran named William F. Calhoun, would like his obituary. He died 16 SEP 1983 and according to the V.A. his records are at Dayton.

  4. Joy Teagarden on May 12, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    I am looking for the editorial cartoons of my mother, Kathleen L. Hamlin. She was the head of the “Dayton Tax Rebellion” in the late 60′s-early 70′s. Anything you can find on her would be appriciated

    • Lisa on May 13, 2013 at 8:38 am

      Your question has been submitted to our reference queue, and we’ll see what we can do. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Diane Gibbs-Skaggs on August 17, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    I am looking for news articles about my family. My mom shot my dad to death September 9, 1961. Her trial ended late November, 1961. Her name was Pauline Gibbs…my father’s name was Rollie Gibbs. The shooting took place south of Gratis, Ohio…Preble County. I have seen extensive articles…one Dated November 16, 1961 but can not find it in the archives…the copies I have are unreadable. Thank you for your help of any kind.

    • Lisa on August 19, 2013 at 9:14 am

      Hi, Diane- we’ll see what we can find, and we will email you.

  6. Logopeda Kraków on August 26, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Looking for a Korean War Veteran named William F. Calhoun, would like his obituary. He died 16 SEP 1983 and according to the V.A. his records are at Dayton.

    • Lisa on August 26, 2013 at 4:26 pm

      We will see if we can find anything and will email you.

    • Lisa on August 27, 2013 at 12:07 pm

      Hello- we are very sorry but we could not find the obituary you requested. We searched the Dayton Daily News and the Journal Herald newspapers from Sept. 16-20, 1983. We tried to email you but the email bounced back. Good luck with your search!

  7. Jack Mattachione on February 20, 2014 at 7:30 am

    I find this article biased and one sided since you did not contact me for my comment. It also left out how I changed the Fairborn City Charter and this was done without the democratic controlled council of Mayor Hale. There was far more then a small minority of discontent and this is typical of a liberal press. Hope Marcus develops a better since of the truth.

  8. Georgann Wampler on May 27, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    I am trying to find this obituary and none of my searches find it.
    Floy R. Crouse
    Dayton Journal Herald
    February 7, 1987
    pg. 28,

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