To celebrate the addition of the Doris L. Page Collection* to MidPointe Library’s historical “Digital Archives” we proudly present....
A conversation with Trenton Historian Doris Page
Were you born in Trenton?
Yes, I was born on the family farm on Wayne-Madison Road.
Could you tell us about your family - parents, siblings, any other relatives?
My family came from Germany. On the voyage, the ship stopped at a port in England and one of the young boys became lost there. They were very anxious that the ship would depart before he was found. During the first World War my grandfather had to be careful when he went to town because of hostile feelings toward German people. There were thirteen boys and two girls in our family. My father worked at Armco Steel. Before that he was a streetcar conductor in Hamilton.
What was your childhood like?
We lived out in the farmland. My sister Hildegarde and I had two friends nearby, Gracey and Doris Jean. We had just a few visits during the summers. I remember that we had a Maypole in the yard and invited school friends over.
Could you tell us about the “Log Cabin” that you lived in and its location? Does it still exist? Is it actually a log cabin? How did you end up living there? How long did you live there? Could you share the history of the place?
The log cabin is on Hamilton Avenue in Trenton. It can be traced back to 1830. I researched and found the names of everyone who lived there. My grandfather purchased it in the 1930s to work on as a renovation project. I moved there in 1948 and lived there 72 years.
Were you married? Could you tell us about your spouse?
My first husband was a casualty in World War II. He died in a field hospital in Italy. The military returned him to the United States and he was buried in a military cemetery. Later we moved him to a cemetery nearby. Then I met Wesley Page. We were a blind date. He worked for the IRS in Middletown.
Could you tell us about any of your work experiences?
My first job was when I was a junior in high school. I accompanied a friend to an interview at a shoe store and they hired both of us. I was at the counter selling purses. My first day no one bought anything and I became worried so I had my sister come in and buy a purse. I went to business college in Hamilton and graduated. I worked for Edward J. Gardner and Ohio Casualty. When my first husband died I stopped work for a while. I visited my high school friend in Texas and had a job at a bank there as secretary to the president and executives. Then I came back to Hamilton and had a similar job at a bank there. It was fun because I got along with people and had many different assignments.
How did you get to work earlier in your life? (Roger Miller tipped us off on this one)
I went to work on the streetcar. The fare was only 5 cents!
When did you realize you had a liking/talent for writing and history?
I researched the history of the log cabin/house where I lived. Then I became involved in the Trenton Historical Society Museum and became the curator. Also I became interested in refinishing and re-caning old chairs and did many of them.
Did someone in the community influence you to take up writing or the study of local history? If so, who and in what way?When I was writing many people helped. George Crout read drafts and helped edit. Carl Rupp knew the history of Woodsdale. And I remember Frank Flenner. He was a real character!
How do you conduct your research? Do you rely on previously written and/or oral histories? Do you interview residents? Do / Did you visit historic sites?
I learned to research when we were making applications for Chrisholm and other houses in Madison Township for the National Register of Historic Places.
How many books have you written?
Five, overall. Marie Johns and I wrote The Amish Mennonite Settlement in Butler County, Ohio in 1983. I was 62 years old. Miltonville’s Story was next in 1986. I wanted to document Miltonville because it was being absorbed by Trenton and would lose its identity. The next book was Where Was Busenbark? in 1991. “Woodsdale’s Story” was published in 1994. The Trenton Historical Society Museum needed funding and the proceeds from the book sales went to fund the museum. There was also “Trenton People, Trenton Places: 175 years” written with Marie Johns, JoAnn Howell, Robert McIntyre, and Myra Garrett. These books can be found at the MidPointe Library. Copies of The Amish Mennonite Settlement in Butler County, Ohio and Woodsdale’s Story are for sale at Chrisholm Historic Farmstead.