Trivia Tuesday highlights Women in History

Erika Grubbs, genealogy librarian for the Local History and Genealogy Department of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County


Born in Steubenville in 1928 and a graduate of Steubenville High School, this woman reached international fame with her beautiful soprano singing voice. During her career, she performed with the leading conductors and orchestras in the United States, such as Leonard Bernstein, William Steinberg and George Szell. She recorded under Andre Kostelanetz and many of her operatic performances took her overseas. She was the soloist at the funerals of John F. Kennedy and his brother, Robert. She died in 1969.

Answer: Saramae Endich

The Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County has embraced several ways to mark Women in History Month during March, and Trivia Tuesday is one way to do so.

What began nearly a year ago during the COVID-19 shutdowns, Trivia Tuesday emerged as a way to remain interactive with the public, explained Erika Grubbs, the genealogy librarian for the Local History and Genealogy Department of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County.

“Since the library was closed for several months, Jen Cesta was thinking of ways to remain interactive with the public, and that’s how Trivia Tuesday came to be,” Grubbs noted. “Every Tuesday morning, a trivia question is posted on the library’s Facebook page, usually with a related image to go along with it. Anyone with a Facebook account can post an answer or their best guess as well as make additional comments,” she said.

While questions so far have been tied to Jefferson County history in one way or another, Trivia Tuesday could eventually expand to cover other areas of Ohio, too.

Questions have been random but also have been tailored to suit commemorative months, holidays and special anniversaries such as the recently celebrated Black History Month in February and now Women’s History Month in March, according to Grubbs.

“Some (questions) are inspired by the questions I have received from the public over the years,” Grubbs explained. “These are fun for me as well because if I don’t already know the answer, it requires some research, and I learn something new, too. The comment sections on Facebook also can reveal cases where there’s ‘more to the story.’ We hope that Trivia Tuesday generates an interest in local history. It also can simply be a lot fun, such as in the case of guessing or identifying photos of old businesses or historic aerial views of local towns. There are no prizes given for correct answers,” she added.

Here is some history-related trivia involving women with local ties to Jefferson County.

≤ Memorial from the Ladies of Steubenville, Ohio, was a petition with the signatures of nire than 60 women from Steubenville that was sent to Congress in 1830 as a protest against the Indian Removal Act. The Indian Removal Act involved the forcible removal of southern Native Americans to lands west of the Mississippi. Their journey westward is known as the Trail of Tears.

≤ Florence Spaulding of Steubenville was the first woman elected county commissioner in the state of Ohio. One of four candidates running for Jefferson County commissioner in 1924, Spaulding won the race, beating James Carnes, Fremont Tarr and William Bretell.

≤ Dr. Jennie Prentiss was one of the first women to practice medicine in the Jefferson County area, treating mainly female patients. She was born in 1868 to a family of Steubenville philanthropists. She made her home on Franklin Avenue where she lived with her sister. She died in 1969 at age 101.

≤ The Steubenville Female Seminary has been referred to as the first female seminary in the Northwest Territory. Opened by Charles Beatty in 1829, much credit has been given to his wife, Hetty Elizabeth Beatty, for its inspiration. The school was located near the Ohio River taking up a city block bounded by Adams, High, South and Water streets. Approximately 5,000 women were educated there before its closure in 1898.

≤ Dorothy Sloop Heflick, born in Steubenville in 1913, was the inspiration for Ohio’s official rock song “Hang on Sloopy.” Dorothy’s father was a musician, and it is from him that she developed a love for music. She became a jazz pianist, forming a jazz quartet in New York City. The story behind “Hang On Sloopy” is said to have begun in New Orleans. Dorothy was performing for a rather rowdy crowd at Dixie’s Bar of Music on Bourbon Street. Seeing her frustration, someone in the crowd tried to encourage her by yelling, “Hang in there Sloop! Hang on Sloopy!” Two songwriters were in the crowd at the time, thought the phrase was catchy, and a song was born.

≤ Ellen Summers Wilson was the first librarian at Steubenville’s Carnegie Library (now known as the Main Library). She was an 1898 graduate of the State University of New York Library School. While working for the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, she received word that she would be sent to Steubenville where the city’s new library building was nearing completion. The Carnegie Library opened in March of 1902 and by August 1904, Ellen was forced to resign when she contracted tuberculosis. The illness took her life that November.


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