Wednesday, October 21, 2015

New Photo of School Benefactor is Gift

A small box from the estate of the late Luella Crawford Dodds (1879-1978) who was among the 24 graduates of the 1898 class at Western Reserve Academy arrived at WRA Archives a short time ago.  It had been hiding in the attic of a Hudson house for the last 35 years.  Among the little treasures of this collection include some diaries that Luella kept, a number of clippings from the local paper, and a couple of rare photos of James W. Ellsworth and his wife, Julia.
Luella Crawford Dodds had become the travel companion of Mrs. Ellsworth around 1910 and remained with the Ellsworth household until the death of school benefactor James W. Ellsworth in 1925.  Her frequent travel to Europe or to Jekyll Island, Georgia, with the Ellsworths was quite a contrast to the other young women who grew up in Hudson at the end of the 19th century.  Luella must have had the charm and panache to mingle in the society that the Ellsworths kept.  One photo shows Luella with Mrs. Ellsworth at the Schloss Lenzberg in Switzerland in August, 1920.  It is interesting but not as good as the one taken around the same time at the Villa Palmieri, the Ellsworth home at Florence, Italy.
The photo of Ellsworth himself and his wife was probably taken in Switzerland around 1914 and shows them both posing on a rustic staircase in what appear to be seersucker outfits, appropriate for summer season. Ellsworth is wearing one of the Lenzberg straw hats that he sported during his summers abroad.  This same hat appears on a Swiss postage stamp of our era.
Luella came back to Hudson in 1925 and lived with her husband on Owen Brown Street where she remained for more than 30 years.  She served on the Board of Trustees at the Hudson Library and Historical Society for over 60 years and was active at Christ Church Episcopal where she was cashier for the church's annual fall rummage sale.  She lived in a house on North Main in her later years, liked strong cocktails and cigarettes, and always wore a hat.  Alice Stark of WRA recalled her attending a function on campus around 1975 where she was "seated bolt upright on a Victorian sofa, sipping tea and smoking a cigarette at age 95, the only person in the room wearing a hat".  We are pleased to add these items from an unforgettable alumna to the collections of WRA Archives.