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The Flock Farm and its owners Meyer and Slova

Banquet Given in Honor of Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver by the Jewish Farmers of Geneva Ohio
Held at the Harpersfield Ohio farm of Meyer and Slova Flock on Labor Day, September 3, 1928

Photo courtesy of the Western Reserve Historical Society
 

This page is about Meyer and Slova Flock and their farm near Geneva, the site of the picnics the Northern Ohio Jewish farmers held in 1928 and 1929. To go to the first page of our seven page story of these farmers, click here.

 

FINDING THE FLOCK FARM

My first try was unplanned. Coming back from a trip east I left I-80 at OH-11, drove north to US-20, west to Geneva and south to Harpersfield. It was a pleasant but unproductive drive. Then a visit to the Ashtabula County District Library yielded the page shown below. I read the map incorrectly and took pictures of a site almost a half mile east of the Flock farm! I then contacted the Ashtabula County Engineer and learned the name of the north-south road between plats 73 and 74. On a fine morning in June I drove there and took the pictures below.


Above:
From the 1924 book of Ashtabula plat maps.
 

At the right:
The Flock farm, plots 73 and 74, in the name of Meyer Flock's wife Slova.

 

Courtesy of the Ashtabula County District Library.
 

 

 

THE FLOCK FARM TODAY

Looking south from the intersection of North River Road West (OH 307), which runs east - west and La Fevre (or La Fever) Road which runs north-south.

The Flock property east of La Fevre (see #73 in the map above) ends at the Grand River. Online Ashtabula County records show the house, built in 1900, as now having three bedrooms and one full bath. Their barn is behind the house.

The Flock farm was a good venue for the picnics because it was large, easily found at the intersection of a state road and a named road, and, with La Fevre a dead-end road, offering safe parking for the cars of the 35 families and their guests.

History does not tell us how the 250 persons at the picnic. dressed in their best, managed with the Flock family "outhouse".
Looking northeast from La Fevre Road at Concord grape vines that may have been planted by the Flocks in the 1920s or possibly the family that built the house in 1900. (Grape vines can live more than 100 years.) The second satellite view below shows two areas used for growing grapes. Between the time of that image and June 8, 2017 when I took this photo, the larger plot had been removed.
 

THREE GOOGLE SATELLITE VIEWS

At the right:
This image shows about 2.1 miles east-west of the northwestern part of Ashtabula County, which is Ohio's most northeastern county.

Interstate 90, which here is about six miles south of Lake Erie, is at the top. The upper right shows the intersection of I-90 and Ohio 154.

Geneva lies two miles north of this interchange. Harpersfield is south of I-90.

The Grand River winds its way west, then turns north, flowing into Lake Erie at Fairport Harbor.

The old Flock farm is at the intersection of Ohio 307 (North River Road) and Route 136. Its densely wooded and not tillable lower (southern) part, which ends at the Grand River, is not shown on the map below.

Below is a closer view and in the lower right is the most enlarged view of the north end of the farm.

This closer view shows about 2,200 feet (0.4 miles) east-west. The southern part of the property that extends to the banks of the Grand River is not shown. Note that Route 136 is not obscured by the trees; it dead ends.

The streets to the east and west of La Fevre that end in cul-de-sacs are real estate developments. The homes on Fortier Road (east) were built starting in 1991. Jobey Trail, to the west, is newer, with its first house built in 2005.

This satellite view shows two areas used for grape growing. Only the smaller one closer to North River Road is there today. (July 2017)
This close-up view shows east-west about 640 feet (0.12 miles). On the left we see the Flock home, then the barn. The Cape Cod style home east of La Fevre Road was built in 1973.

Where on the farm were the picnics? Probably at the north end of plot 73 because the south end of the farm was on an incline and land near the main road was not usually cultivated. Farmer memoirs mention selling fruit along the road. It was a chance to sell for retail - much more than brokers would pay. That could have been the level land shown in the group photo at the top of this page.

The Jewish Independent announcement of the July 4, 1929 picnic mentions a market (possibly fruit and jams), which also suggests a location along North River Road (OH-307).

  ABOUT GRAPE GROWING IN NORTHEAST OHIO

We asked Donniella Winchell, Executive Director of the Ohio Wine Producers Association, some questions about growing and selling grapes.

What kind of grapes were on the Flock farm?

They were surely Concord. There was a huge home winemaking community in Cleveland and in the local region and all the wines were that, with a smattering of Niagara for white wines. The technology to control diseases and manage winter kill on vinifera (Chardonnay, etc) did not exist then.
 

Are Concord grapes still being grown in your area?

Yes, there is still a demand for a sweet Concord style wine, and old timers growing Concord for juice producers. But increasingly the best vineyard sites are now planted in vinifera -- Riesling and Pinot Gris and Noir plus Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc are the major varieties.

 

MEYER AND SLOVA FLOCK


Searches on Ancestry.com and the Cleveland Jewish News online archive tell us these basic facts:
  • 1900 - Meyer Flock and Slova marry in Russia. He is 23, she is 17.
  • 1904 - Married four years, they immigrate. Ages 29 and 23, no children.
  • 1911 - Cleveland City Directory shows Meyer, a peddler, living at 2544 East 38th St. (north of Woodland)   
  • 1912 - Cleveland: He becomes a citizen
  • 1918 - Meyer (here spelled Myer) registers for the draft in Ashtabula. (See Registration Card at the left.) He is now on the farm. Like many East European-born Jews of his day he knew his birth date only in the Jewish calendar.
  • 1920 - Census: he is a farmer, he owns the farm, four children, ages 5 - 12, all born in Ohio.
  • 1930 - Census same as 1920, children now 15 -22
  • 1940 - Census shows dramatic changes. Meyer, no longer a farmer, is a livestock trader. No longer owns the farm, pays $10 monthly rent for his home. No children at home.
  • 1949 -  Flocks at 873 Thornhill Drive, Cleveland
  • 1950 - Myer Flock dies at 75. Access Jewish Cleveland Cemetery Data Base shows him interred at Bet Olam Cemetery on January 11, 1950. No death notice.
  • 1965 - Slova receives an Outstanding Golden Ager award from the Jewish Community Center.
  • 1966 - Slova Flock dies, age 87, buried next to Meyer at Bet Olam Cemetery.
 
 

Meyer and Slova
at the picnic
Labor Day 1928
 

Epilog

The picture at the left, a small part of the group photo at the top of this page, shows Meyer Flock 56, wearing a cap and seated, and his wife Slova, 50, standing behind him in a white dress, They are a sturdy couple, proud to host the Jewish farmers of Northeast Ohio at their farm. In 2016 Sanford Silverman and Lil Milder, children of a farm family, identified them in the picture.

Slova Flock died in Mt. Sinai Hospital on January 5, 1966. She was 87. She left five children: Jules (Chagrin Falls), Philip (Auburn Maine), and Joseph Flock, Mrs. Sam Wyman and Mrs. Richard Kravitz (Cleveland). From Meyer and Slova had also come 22 more Americans: 10 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

In December 1965, only two weeks before her death, Slova had been honored at the annual meeting of the Jewish Community Center, then on Mayfield Road, east of Taylor Road. The photo at the right shows a beaming Slova Flock receiving the JCC Golden Ager award from Robert (Bob) Silverman, chair of its annual meeting.

Bob Silverman. a direct mail entrepreneur and a leader in Cleveland's Jewish community, was the son of a Northeast Ohio Jewish farming family. He was the brother of Sanford Silverman and Lil Milder.

On these happy coincidences we conclude our story of the Flocks, their farm, the picnics and the Northeast Ohio Jewish farmers.


 

Bob Silverman and Slova Flock
Cleveland Jewish News
December 24, 1965
 
Thanks for help on this page to:

Mary Throop in the Ashtabula County District Library, who worked in Geneva for many years.

Edward Bolte who volunteers at the WRHS Research Library and grew up in Ashtabula.

LeRoy McNeilly, Chief Deputy in the Ashtabula County Engineer office, who told me where the old Flock farm was.

Donniella Winchell, Executive Director, Ohio Wine Producers Association, Geneva, Ohio   website

Arnold Berger, editor   July 15, 2017

 

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