Jefferson County Historical Association Museum gets donation, story behind it
STEUBENVILLE — A recent board meeting of the Jefferson County Historical Association included a special donation and a special story behind it.
The museum, located at 426 Franklin Ave., Steubenville, was the setting for the meeting where President Judy Brancazio presided, welcoming as guests Jerry and Eileen Krupinski.
Eileen was on hand to donate an oil painting titled “Mingo Light,” which has been in her family for many years. It was painted by the late Charles H. Manion, an industrialist, surveyor and former mayor of Follansbee. He served as vice president of operations for Follansbee Steel Corp. and held the patent for seamless roofing. He also was a part owner of the Fort Steuben Hotel, she added. He died in 1976.
The former Eileen Bennett grew up in Follansbee and explained such were the times that children would never refer to their elders informally.
“We were not allowed to call adults by their first name — it was either Mr. and Mrs. or, if they were very, very close, it was aunt and uncle,” she said.
“So, Charlie Manion, who painted the picture, to me was Uncle Charlie and Aunt Lisa,” she said. “They weren’t blood relations, but they were close family friends, so to us kids growing up, it was Uncle Charlie and Aunt Lisa.”
The Manions lived on Virginia Avenue in Follansbee, close to Eileen’s grandparents, according to Krupinski, who believes that Follansbee Park was built when Manion served as mayor.
“He then moved to Wellsburg and lived in a huge mansion in Wellsburg. They only had one child, and she was an adult, and married and had kids of her own, and so I have my own bedroom in this mansion.
The “Mingo Light” painting was done in 1937 from the West Virginia side of the river just below Follansbee. “I can remember the Mingo light lighting up the bedroom all night long,” she said.
What makes the painting “amazing” is that Manion’s hands apparently shook under normal circumstances, but not when he painted.
“When he would drink a cup of coffee, his hands would shake and he’d spill half of it, but when he picked up a paint brush, he could draw a straight line with a pencil across a room,” Eileen said.
In later years, Manion painted a still life for Eileen and Jerry when they got married in 1969. “It’s called ‘The Note’,” she said. “It was a still life painting of a tea pot, copper tea kettle on a shelf with some apples and a paring knife and the back was just a board wall, and he put a note on it from Jerry to phone a friend of mine, Claudia. He just called it ‘The Note,'” she said, adding that Manion had an art show at one time at the Fort Steuben.
“When my mom died she had three of his paintings,” Eileen said. Her parents were Roy and Jean Bennett. “We had one. We broke up the house. I took one of the other paintings that I have hanging in my living room.” Eileen said Her younger brother, Charles Bennett, had two — one of a winter scene and “Mingo Light.”
Eileen said her brother and sister-in-law, Charles and Doreen Bennett,” have since moved to Myrtle Beach and wanted to donate “Mingo Light” to the historical association museum.
Eileen and Jerry delivered it, donating it on their behalf.
The museum has opened recently to small, limited tours.
It is open every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“The museum is open every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tours are given in limited numbers or family groups at a time and one can also do genealogy research, according to Brancazio. “We will close for the winter season on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving,” she said.
Meanwhile, changes are being made in two room displays on the second floor. Whether the museum will be open and included in the trolley tours of the holiday season has not yet been determined.”
The museum’s phone number is (740) 283-1133.