This article was written by Urbana Junior High students Elaei Brown, Grady Lantz, Ethan Rose, Janaya Scott, Gavin Stacy and Michael Upchurch as part of a Project Based Learning unit called “Lost Voices,” which helps preserve and share the history of African-Americans in Urbana. The junior high’s Social Studies Department (which includes 6th-8th graders) is working with the Champaign County and Delaware historical societies to present and preserve the story of Dr. EWB Curry. The information below, as well as other information about Curry, is to be presented at the Champaign County Historical Museum in February 2021.
The students of Urbana Junior High School have selected Dr. Elmer Curry for their 2020 Project Based Learning assignment. They used primary and secondary resources to research his family history, educational background, and his different learning institutions. Dr. Curry was a pioneer in educational reform for African-Americans in the early twentieth century and many of his progressive schools were located throughout Champaign County.
Elmer Curry was born on March 23, 1871 in Delaware, Ohio. He lived in a log house on South Street with his mother Julia and his father George. His dad worked as a minister at The Second Baptist Church on Ross Street, which had a great impact on his future career in education. African-Americans that were freed from slavery were not permitted to an equal education that would have helped them to live a better life. Elmer was interested in helping solve that situation through education.
While attending Delaware City Schools at the age of 17 years old, Elmer rented a kitchen shed for 50 cents per month to start his own school for African-Americans. His school was called The Place of Knowledge for Old and Young. It was located at 19 Davis Street in Delaware, Ohio. The tuition was 25 cents per week and his first student was a 50-year-old man who was a day laborer. After attending Michael College and graduating from Ohio Wesleyan University, he went on to become the first African-American teacher at the desegregated Delaware City Schools.
In 1889 he moved to Urbana, Ohio and founded the Curry Normal and Industrial Institute. His school had a traditional education, which focused on reading, writing, and math. It also taught trade school skills, such as nursing, caretaking, farming, printing, and clothes making. The building still stands today and is located at 325 East Water Street.
Dr. Curry passed away June 19, 1930, in Springfield and was buried at Oakdale Cemetery in Urbana, Ohio. There were over 2,000 students who attended the various Curry Schools. Dr. Elmer Curry’s story illustrates activist African-Americans from Ohio utilizing the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments in an attempt to better the lives of African-Americans.
Since the death of their daughter Alicia, the Tituses have organized, presented and been a part of hundreds of events in their daughter’s name to bring about a more just and peaceful world.
The Tituses raised their family in Champaign County until their move to Michigan in 1997. After their retirement in 2009, they returned to Champaign County and now divide their time with their home in Michigan on Half Moon Lake.
Titus’s career began in the mental health field, working as a youth counselor before moving to the field of higher education.
While working for Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Michigan, tragedy struck. On Sept. 11, 2001, their oldest daughter, Alicia, was murdered while working on United Flight 175 by terrorists who hijacked her plane. In his book, “Losing Alicia: A Father’s Journey After 9/11,” he describes intimate details of this tragedy, their grief journey that followed and their decision to fight for peace rather than war, and justice for those involved rather than more killing.
Shortly after 9/11, after speaking publicly against “civilian casualties” resulting from war, the Tituses joined September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, an organization of 9/11 family members. Titus served on the steering committee for this organization for several years.
His presentation at the Historical Museum will include these issues and his decision to promote peace and justice over war and destruction.
Space will be limited for this free program due to social distancing. Masks are required.
Champaign County native Russell Arnold, Staff Sergeant, who was stationed in Japan at this time, interacted with Gen. Eichelberger on multiple occasions. Arnold still lives in Champaign County and will be on hand during the presentation to elaborate on these interactions with the general as well as answer questions on what it was like to be in Japan during this transformative time in history.
Due to social distancing requirements, capacity for this program will be limited to 30 attendees. Because the event is expected to be well attended, current Champaign County Historical Society members will be given seating priority; specifically, no non-member will be seated until 15 minutes before the start of the program if it appears capacity will be reached by members.
Persons attending together may sit side-by-side while single attendees will be seated six feet apart. A temperature check will be performed at the door. Masks will be required.
The Champaign County Historical Museum, a not-for-profit organization that depends upon donations and dues to preserve, protect, archive and display the artifacts that tell the Champaign County story. The free public museum, 809 East Lawn Ave., Urbana, is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays; and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays.
The boxes arrived by truck on Wednesday and there are over 50 more boxes at UU for Ogden and Virts to explore. Ogden said she hopes that will be completed by the end of next week.
Over the past few months, we have been faced with many obstacles and trying times due to the COVID-19 Virus and its implications. Rest assured, although we have been closed to the public for well over three months, during that time period we have been taking advantage of that time and continued to improve our internal policies and procedures; repainted and redesigned our War Room; and continued to find new ways to raise funding and community awareness.
Upon Governor DeWine’s June 4, 2020 announcement, it is with great pleasure that the Champaign County Historical Society & Museum will RE-OPEN on Wednesday, June 10, 2020, subject to social distancing requirements and standards. Please note that we are constantly monitoring the public announcements from Governor DeWine’s office and have cleaned and sanitized the Museum for your safety and enjoyment. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us at the Museum!
Hope to see you all soon!
Gregory L. Harvey, Esq.
On Thursday, April 9th at 8:30pm, the Champaign County Historical Society Museum was featured on Columbus Neighborhoods. The video segment is also available below.
The Champaign County Historical Museum is CLOSED until at least May 1st with Ohio's extended Stay at Home orders. All programs and activities are also postponed during this time.
We hope everyone stays safe and we look forward to seeing you when this quarantine is over!!
Owing to the coronavirus situation and in the interest of safety the Champaign County Historical Society is cancelling the Sunday, March 15th program by Bill Albers, “Champaign Lady - the heavy B-17 bomber.”
We hope to reschedule the program at a later date.
The Museum itself is still open and operating at normal hours.
On Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020 the following were elected to the Champaign County Historical Society Board of Trustees:
L - R (rear): Hayla Parker, Dan Walter (Past President), Terri Marratta (Secretary), Joe Rizzutti, Gregory Harvey (President), Ken Wright (Treasurer), Fred Krift, Charles Emory, Larry Headlee
L - R (front): Beth Adair (Vice President), Dan Gilbert, Candy Gilliam, Bill Bean
CCHS Board of Trustees Meetings are typically held on the 4th Wednesday of each month at 6:00 pm at the Museum.
2020 Board of Trustees Meeting Dates:
Appraisal Fair: Thursday, April 23, 2020
18 Nov (3rd Wednesday)
Interested in joining the Champaign County Historical Society? Click here to learn more!
Museum Holiday Hours
Open Dec. 24th & 31st 10am-12pm
Closed Christmas Day and Jan. 1st
Champaign County Historical Society Board President