George Ernest Hackathorn ~ written by Merrianne Hackathorn, his daughter

George, H.S. Graduation photo, 1928
George, H.S. Graduation photo, 1928

My father, George Ernest Hackathorn, was born on New Year’s Day 1910 in Bergholz, Ohio, to Thomas John and Flora Hackathorn. He shared his birthday with his sister Elsie (born 1908). His mother died when he was 7 and his oldest sister Mary took over the motherly duties for her younger siblings. George attended high school into his senior year (c. 1928), as we have his senior photo, but he did not graduate. He was working in the spring and decided to continue in his job and forego graduation.

I don’t know if it was a tree-trimming job, but by 1932 he was working for Nelson and Kuemmerling, Inc., the first power-line-clearing tree-service company in the U.S. That’s George and his crew in the banner photo for the family page. The photo was taken in Cleveland, Ohio.

George, standing by spare tire.
George, standing by spare tire.

While working in Cleveland, he met my maternal uncle, Ed Reising, who introduced George to his younger sister Ruth. George and Ruth were married in Wellsburg, West Virginia, on New Year’s Eve 1932, the eve of his 22nd birthday; Ruth was 17. George’s sister Lois was one of the witnesses; the minister’s wife was the other witness. My sister Kay (Kathleen Lois) was born June 11, 1933. (You can do the math.) George and Ruth lived with her parents in Cleveland for several years, and had another child, Tommy (Thomas Henry, named for his two grandfathers) in 1934. By 1937, George and Ruth had moved to the Adrian, Michigan, area, and had three more children—Gloria (1940), Leora (Cookie) (1941), and Dennis (1945). George was still working as a tree trimmer. In 1949, George was offered a job with the Union Line Clearance Co., based in Lorain, Ohio, so they packed up and moved back to Ohio. They looked at many towns in the Lorain area, but chose to live in Norwalk because they thought it would be the best place to raise their family. At the end of 1949, I came along, their sixth and last child.

George Hackathorn business card
George Hackathorn business card

George was a representative for the Union Line Clearance Co., traveling in Ohio and West Virginia to negotiate tree cutting for power-line rights of way. I can remember riding along with him in the summertime, listening to Arthur Godfrey on the radio. In early 1963, George became ill and was diagnosed with arteriosclerosis, complicated by Buerger’s disease. He had one leg amputated, and recovered fairly well, but the circulation in his other leg began to fail, and they had to amputate his other leg. He never really recovered from the second operation and died in Good Samaritan Hospital in Sandusky on September 26, 1963.

Some random stories about George Hackathorn:

My Dad told us that one time his sister Goldie got so mad at him that she threw a fork at him, and it stuck in his forehead.

At some time while growing up, George was kicked by a horse and had back trouble all his life because of it.

During World War II, George tried to enlist in the Army but was designated 4F (physically unfit) because of his back problems.

My Dad told my brother Denny that he, George, was a semi-pro heavyweight boxer for awhile, weighing 250 pounds. I have never found any information about that aspect of his life. It is hard to believe he could have weighed that much! In all the photos we have of him, he has a trim build.

Announcing: Family Narrative Fridays

Beginning today, Friday, March 27th, I’ll be publishing family narratives written by family members. Because these will be written by those who knew them the best, we’ll be able to get a better sense of who our ancestors were and help to preserve their stories. Thank you, in advance, to those who contribute to this little project.

Want to contribute a story? Drop me a line in the comments.

~ Hollie

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