Lea Perrin

This section concerns Lea Baker Perrin, my grandfather. It encompasses a time which, while taking place before my birth, I have a sort of personal knowledge. Not the organized history of a narrative from my mother, rather a collection of semi-conscious statements from her about her young life, usually coming as explanations for why she was the way she was. This knowledge will color the narrative; for while it has been possible to fill in facts and present pictures preserved from her family, the significance which these objects have are inseparable from feelings. I do not remember my grandfather Lea Perrin as an individual, although doubtless I met him while alive. Indeed, these events happened when I was so young that I needed to be reminded by my brother that we went to Pittsburgh in 1956 for Lea's funeral. It is only through constructing this part of the Perrin history that I can appreciate those parts of my own behavior which come directly from the people here depicted.

Early Life

Lea was born December 23, 1888 in Crafton. Aside from a few photographs, either in the last section (here and here) or with the Maxwell family (here), I know nothing of his early life.

lea perrin around 1910

Lea Perrin, perhaps 1910

Starting in 1905, at the age of seventeen, Lea was listed in the Pittsburg Directory. He initially worked as a clerk downtown, first at the Carnegie Building and then Union Station. In 1910 he was a stenographer or clerk at the Oliver Building, room 812, which was the office of the Shenango Furnace Company. The census that year recorded Lea at home on Noble Avenue, with the occupation of clerk at a steelwork.

First Marriage

Lea wed Helen Wentz on June 10, 1914 :

Perrin - Wentz

Miss Helen Rae Wentz and Lea Baker Perrin were married Wed?nesday evening at the home of the bride's parents, Mr. and Mrs. L. F. Wentz, of Bradford Avenue. The ceremony was solemnized at 7:30 o'clock, by the Rev. C. M. Miller, assisted by the Rev. O. J Shoop. The bride wore a gown of taffeta draped with lace used on her mother's wedding dress. She carried orchids and white roses showered with lilies of the valley. Miss Margaret Stephenson, maid of honor, was gowned in lavender chartreuse trimmed in yellow, while Miss Bathilda Evans, as bridesmaid, had a gown of yellow chartreuse trimmed with lavender. Will DaLee served as best man and the ushers were Clyde Phillips, of Cleveland, and Howard B. Wentz, a brother of the bride. Following a lake trip Mr. and Mrs. Perrin will reside in Ingram.

An early portrait of Helen

An early portrait of Helen Wentz

helen wentz around 1914

Helen Wentz, perhaps 1914

1914 marriage party

Marriage Party, 1914. See text for participants

The last picture above has some names written in the back. I presume it comes from the time of the wedding as the three women on the right are identified as Margaret Stevenson, Bathilda Evans, and Helen Wentz (with the hat). These women, as all of the others identified, are all from Crafton. Lea Perrin is the man smirking in the upper right hand corner. There is only one male unaccounted for in this photograph's description; he is the man sitting cross-legged in the front row at the left. I believe this is Helen Wentz' brother Howard.

The couple presumably did move to Ingram; Lea lived at 40 Schley Avenue in Ingram when he registered for the draft in June, 1917 . He then stated he was five foot six inches tall, weighed 115 pounds and had black hair and gray eyes.

Jane Helene

The photographic record shows that later in 1917 the couple had moved in with her parents, Louis F. and Alberta (Beck) Wentz, at 47 Bradford Avenue, Crafton. Babs stated that the Perrin family lived on the second floor of the house, the Wentz family on the first. There Jane Helene Perrin was born October 6, 1917 .

Lea and Jane, 1917

Lea Perrin and Jane, December 2, 1917

As Lea prepared an album of Jane's early photographs for posterity there are too many pictures of her between 1917 and 1919 to include here; what I have done with them is arrange a selection of them as a . My emphasis is on pictures which show other family members and the house on Bradford Street. Many of these pictures are damaged; I have touched them up as much as possible, but tried to preserve essential details. Photoshop is a wonderful program, but can only do so much in the hands of this amateur.

Jane died in June 18, 1924. The death certificate stated the cause of death was measles with uremic convulsions; more likely this may have been measles encephalitis .

Jane Perrin, 1924

Jane Perrin, 1924

Alberta (Berta)

Helen and Lea had a second daughter in April, 1921. Named Alberta, after her grandmother, there may not be many early photographs of her. This may reflect the common tendency for family to take many infant photographs of one's first child, and neglect to do so for subsequent children. But it is also possible that I have these photos, but can no longer determine which daughter(s) is (are) present in them. The next picture, from a studio session, was identified by Berta as showing her with her older sister. Unfortunately, comparison of this picture with others of Berta and her younger sister makes it extremely difficult to be sure of this identification. Even detailed analysis of the clothing is not helpful -- as it seems likely that each sister would get to wear the same clothes as hand-me-downs.

Jane and Berta Perrin, 1922 or 1923

Either 1) Jane and Berta Perrin, 1923, or 2) Berta and Babs Perrin, 1927

But I favor the first interpretation. On the other hand my aunt says otherwise, and she may be right. The following photograph comes from the same session, and shows Helen.

helen and alberta perrin

Helen and Alberta or Babs

Barbara (Babs)

Following the death of Jane there was one more daughter, Barbara, born on October 4, 1925. Babs cynically called herself a replacement child for Jane. Starting in that year there was a second photo album assembled by Lea, providing dated photographs. Here is a second for the two girls starting with Berta in 1922, and continuing through 1931.

Berta and Babs, 1927

Berta and Babs, 1928

The pictures of these times come from both Bradford Avenue as well as Conneaut, Ohio. Located on Lake Erie just west of the Pennsylvania border, and the probble location of Lea and Helen's honeymoon, it is apparent that the extended family stayed there for vacations each summer. There are increasing attempts on the part of Lea to structure these photographs. Babs says that her father studied and tried to copy the poses in photographic magazines, much to the posers' dismay. I have tried in the these slideshow to place unposed pictures as well, which do a much better job of showing the real people.

The last full picture of the Perrin family, 1931

Helen and Lea Perrin, with Babs and Berta, Conneaut, June, 1931

1931 was the last summer in Conneaut for the Perrins for several years. Helen Wentz Perrin died in June 15, 1932. The death certificate stated that her cause of death was heart failure, and that five days earlier she had undergone surgery resulting in the removal of the uterus (fibroids) and a cystic ovary .

south side cemetery

Helen and Jane Perrin, South Side Cemetery

Both Helen and her daughter Jane are buried with the Wentz family in South Side Cemetery, circle A. What follows is a two year hiatus in photographs and information regarding the Lea Perrin family.

Second Marriage

Two years later on Friday, May 18, 1934 Lea married Marion Hutchinson. The marriage took place at the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Pittsburgh . This church seats 1100, has a roof built with 80 foot long timbers of Oregon pine, and of its fourteen stained-glass windows, twelve were made by Tiffany. But Babs tells me that it was a small wedding.

Berta described his courtship of Marion Hutchinson, known familiarly as Sandy, as initially uncomfortable to her as an early teenager, but she came to love very much this woman with her love of nature, and interest in art, birds and flowers. I suspect as well that Sandy manifested a growing love for her two new children; there was always the implication from Berta that this was different from the emotional life Berta had experienced during the Bradford Street years.

Riverside Hotel, Cambridge Springs, 1934

Riverside Hotel, Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania, May, 1934

Following the marriage, Lea's photographs show that the couple first went to Cambridge Springs, a spa town about twenty miles south of Erie, Pennsylvania, as implied by the placement of the picture above at the beginning of a new album of photographs put together by Lea.

Marion Hutchinson Perrin, May 1934, Cooks Forest

Marion Hutchinson Perrin (Sandy), May 1934, Cook Forest

and then to Cook Forest, a section of the Allegheny Mountains which then held Pennsylvania's largest stand of virgin hemlock (largely destroyed by a tornado in the 1950's). The change in photographic subjects for Lea is profound. The next picture comes from a later trip to the same place in 1936, but is a unique photograph from Lea's collection; it shows a "moccasin flower" which commonly is called the pink lady's slipper, a wild orchid. I can imagine the excitement from Sandy upon seeing this rare plant, and must admire the fact that she could identify it. Other pictures from this time I believe show her carrying binoculars.

Moccasin Flower, Cooks Forest, 1936

Moccasin Flower, Cook Forest, May, 1936

Marion, fifteen years younger than Lea, still lived with her parents in Carnegie in the 1930 census. Her father, George Hunt Hutchison, was born in Vermont and had married Ida Westervelt from Pennsylvania . He had worked for some time in St. Paul, Minnesota before moving to Pittsburgh's west side. After his wife's death in 1940 George lived with the Perrins.

George and Ida Hutchinson, 1936

George and Ida Hutchinson, December 5, 1936

Lea's photographs show that the new family moved to 21 Grandview Avenue in the fall of 1934.

21 Grandview Avenue, 1934

21 Grandview Avenue, Winter, 1934

On September 19, 1935 Lea purchased 23 Grandview Avenue for $6000 ; there was an accompanying mortgage which Lea had repaid by 1944 .

23 Grandview Avenue, 1936

23 Grandview Avenue, Spring, 1937

Modern picture of 23 Grandview Avenue

23 Grandview Avenue, 2009

These years until Berta's graduation from Crafton High School in 1938 are otherwise shown by carefully posed photographs, as Lea falls back into his usual method. I have tried to pick out a selection of those images which either show exceptions to that rule, or at least significant furniture, on another .

Work

From 1910 until his death in 1956 Lea worked at the Shenango Furnace Company. While it seems he did not share much information with his daughters about his job, the 1930 Pittsburgh Directory indicated he was the secretary to the president of W. P. Snyder & Company, the holding company of Shenango Furnace.

W. P. Snyder founded Shenango Iron in the 1890s, building a vertical monopoly that owned coal mines in Pennsylvania, iron ore mines in Minnesota and a fleet of five ore boats that brought iron ore to Cleveland or Conneaut, Ohio. The ore was shipped to Sharpsville, Pennsylvania, north and east of Youngstown, Ohio where it was smelted into pig iron . A brief biography of the Snyders through 1922 gives more background.

William Penn Snyder, Jr. inherited the company from his father upon the latter's death in 1922. The same age as Lea, W. P., Jr. managed the company until his death in 1967.

Lake freighter, 1936

Shenango Iron steamer William P. Snyder, Jr., July, 1936, Sault Ste. Marie

The Perrin family cruised to Minnesota in 1936 on an ore boat; the vacation photographs are on the Web. This was probably not Lea's only cruise, for Synder's boats, unlike most lake freighters, had luxurious quarters for members built for the Snyder family and other guests. It was a company policy that executives sail on the freighters to see how the company operated. Indeed, it is said that one ship had an electric organ installed for Snyder family use. In Lea's photographs there are pictures as early as 1915 which could only have come from these ore boats.

Later documents stated that Lea became the Secretary of Shenango Furnace in 1939. In a company meeting photograph from the middle 1950s he was identified as the Secretary and Assistant Treasurer of Shenango Iron. However, he did not seem to fit in with the captains of industry who also appear in the company photographs. For more about tis topic please take a look at a short .

In 1956 a memorial letter from the Board of Directors of the Shenango Furnace Company to his daughters stated

He came with Shenango in May, 1909, and served faithfully in various capacities, most recently as Secretary of the various Shenango companies

His loyalty to his company, his devotion to his work, his spirit of cooperation and his friendliness to all his associates, commanded the highest respect of all those who knew him. He will be sadly missed...

The Forties

In 1938 Berta went to Westminster College, in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania; she majored in secretarial science, a subject no longer listed in their catalog, graduating in 1942. Photographs of this event, as well as a vacation that Lea, Marion and Babs took to Ontario to visit Lea's "cousin" Ella Baker Ford can be found in another . Babs graduated from Crafton High School in 1942 and attended Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio. I have included photographs of home life from the 40's, as well as selected photographs of Lea through 1956, in one final . There are in addition some fine portrait photographs from this time.

Berta and Babs, 1940

Portrait of Berta and Babs, 1940

Marion Hutchinson Perrin, 1942, New Jersey

Marion Hutchinson Perrin, October, 1941, New Jersey

Lea Perrin, 1942

Portrait of Lea Perrin, about 1942

Marion Hutchinson Perrin, 1942

Portrait of Marion Hutchinson Perrin, about 1942

Berta in this time became enamored with a man from Crafton who proved to be quite different from her father; sensitive and warm. They married one year following her graduation from college, and shortly before he shipped off to England to aid in the preparation for DDay. Perhaps I will continue their story in this space in the future.

Berta and Tom wedding, 1943

Berta and Tom Day, September 1, 1943

The Fifties

Babs will also marry in 1950:

Babs' wedding

Babs' wedding, with a pregnant Berta on the right

Unfortunately this wedding occurred after Marion's death in 1949. I do not have specific information about her illness, but circumstantial information shows that it was prolonged.

Third Marriage

Lea Perrin, 1955

Portrait of Lea Perrin, 1955

Lea Perrin and Loretta, 1955 wedding

Lea Perrin and Loureta (Redinger) Rawsthorne, 1955 wedding

The Perrin sisters, 1955

The Perrin sisters (From left: Thelma (Florus' wife), Anna, Ruth, Mabel and Nell) at the Perrin-Redinger wedding

Lea married for the third time December 22, 1955. Photographs show this wedding was attended by his five living siblings but apparently not his daughters. Lea's third wife, Loureta Rawsthorne, was born Loureta Redinger, the daughter of Albert Redinger, who had himself been born in 1871 in Southampton Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania. The 1870 and 1880 census showed this Redinger family lived next door to J. H. P. Adams and the Fetters on Perrin's Run.

Loureta gave her occupation in the 1930 census as stenographer. I wonder whether work interests, or common background in Bedford County, were at all responsible for this union.

Loureta married her first husband, Ralph Norman Rawsthorne, in 1923, according to the 1930 census. His draft registration in 1942 gave their address as 177 Morrison Drive, Mount Lebanon . He died in 1953 .

After Lea married Loureta he sold the Grandview Avenue residence April 5, 1956 . In August, 1956 Lea became an owner of 177 Morrison Drive .

Death

Lea Perrin grave stone

Lea and Marion Perrin grave stone, Allegheny Cemetery

Lea Perrin died November 7, 1956. He was buried with Marion in Allegheny Cemetery, just a stone's throw from his father Florus Romulus Cassius Perrin and the Kramer Circle. His obituary summarized his official life :

Lea B. Perrin, 69, secretary of the Shenango Furnace Company, died of a heart attack yesterday in his home, 23 North Grandview Avenue, Crafton. Mr. Perrin, a life-long resident of Crafton, was a trustee of the Crafton Methodist Church. He also was president of the Crafton-Ingram Building & Loan Association for many years. Mr. Perrin started employment with the Shenango Furnace Company in 1909 and served the firm in varied capacities until he was appointed secretary in 1939. He also was secretary of an affiliate, the Snyder Mining Company. Mr. Perrin is survived by his wife and two married daughters. Funeral arrangements were not completed.

There is one other memorial that was sent to Lea's daughters by the Crafton Methodist Church. These paragraphs probably summarized his personality better than any family tradition :

Mr. Perrin's service as Secretary of the Board of Trustees, Secretary of the Official Board, as a member of the Board of Trustees for many years and as communion steward was marked by careful attention to detail and tireless effort in Christian service.

We knew Mr. Perrin as a profoundly interested man deeply concerned with obtaining the best results. He took pride in doing a careful, accurate job and in seeing that adequate preparation was made to anticipate and meet the administrative problems of the Church.

Mr. Perrin's advice and opinion were highly valued by his co-workers in Crafton Methodist Church. His praise, like his general attitude, was sincere. His criticism was forthright and was given with a kindly spirit and import of authority.

We recognize Mr. Perrin's valued characteristic, his sense of responsibility, for he gave of his time, his talents and his substance without reserve. His keen sense of responsibility made his word completely dependable in all matters.

Though mild mannered and reserved Lea was nevertheless a leader. He led many of us to find the time and to do things we might never have done otherwise for our Church. Under his gentle prompting we were capable of renewed interest and enthusiasm.

We esteemed Lea Perrin for those characteristics we have mentioned, but we sorrow at his passing because of the warm personal relationship established between him and his fellow workers. His sincere interest in us and our Church made us feel that we were truly working together in the furtherance of God's Kingdom...

Aftermath

Lea's last will, written in October, 1956, gave his entire estate to his new wife . His daughters were not pleased, particularly when Loureta Perrin remarried ten months after Lea's death . Her third husband, Donald L. Manley, sold medical devices and also lived in Mount Lebanon.

Loureta and Donald retired to Florida but returned to Pennsylvania later. Donald died in Washington County in 1986, according to the Social Security records. Loureta died in the same county in 1987 .