My parents kept the iron safe tucked inside a corner of a bedroom closet. The floor safe remained there, holding important documents, a diamond ring before it was sold, and a box of coins. When their household goods were divided among my brothers and me, Tim assumed custody of the safe.
I had a surprise question from Jeannie a few months ago asking if we or one of our sons would like to have it. We asked Sam if he would like to be next in line to caretake this safe. He was delighted. The day to bring it home came on Thursday, also Veterans Day, a day when Tim was especially on my mind. He is a U.S. Navy Seabee veteran of the Vietnam War.
But how does one move a floor safe, well, safely? Its weight is unknown, but it is certainly not something that should be lifted to determine. I previously didn't give a thought to such things. Funny how aging turns thought patterns upside down.
Rain was predicted; the ramps we found to rent for the trip weren't tall enough to secure onto Sam's RAM truck bed. What to do? Overkill it, that's what! It's the Cronk way.
Jeannie didn't realize it was us when Brian and Sam pulled into her driveway Thursday. She was expecting a normal-sized vehicle. Before I could get parked, Sam and Brian were headed inside to survey the safe and assess the asset. But lunch called our name, so first things first: off to meet Jeannie's nephew Matt at Liberty Bell.
Back at Jeannie's following lunch, and with Matt along, in came Brian's trusted dolly, inherited from his dad. Sam was able to crack the safe quickly (I've always wanted to use that term, so there it is). My thorough brother, Tim, had left the combination.
There were papers inside, no, not a secret stash of cash, but rather an envelope bulging with old photos, and some miscellaneous bank and real estate papers, along with insurance policies on 1970s vehicles long-since gone.
My thought is that the pictures are a curated collection that Tim wanted to make sure got passed on in the family, and the other papers had simply remained there from the 1970s where Dad left them ...
Jeannie sent the contents home for us to decide about.
You can't read the company nameplate on the right of the door, but it says The Wehrle Stove Company in Newark, Ohio. The company's start came from an 1883 iron foundry where farm goods were made. In 1885, Joseph Wehrle became a partner and stoves became the principle product. Joseph's sons took it over and in 1904, the company bought Atlas Safe Company. Thirty-five fireproof safes were made daily in 18 sizes. The above information is from The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art & Technology.
So, while I don't have a firm date on our family safe, the company nameplate would place it at least 1904. I saw a similar safe online that is credited with 1910. It appears that the company stamped or engraved the name of the safe owner above the door.
A similar personalized nameplate in the same font, size and color appears on the 1910 version. So I would put the safe at around 110-115 years old, give or take.
The family name on the safe is that of my great-grandfather, George (G.W. on the safe) Job(e). My understanding is that George changed the family name from the biblical or Irish spelling of Job to Jobe. He added the e.
He married Donna McDougal, who was known as Donnie. I have a gold bracelet of Donnie's. The original Job(e)s were from Ireland in the 1820s, and the McDougals from Scotland in the same era. Both families settled in or around Brownsville.
The McDougals are buried in the Christian Union graveyard in Brownsville while the early Jobs are buried in the pioneer cemetery of the old Robinson Chapel in Fayette County. George, however, is in the Springersville Cemetery. Roscoe (his only son who survived past a young age) is buried in the Brownsville United Methodist Cemetery along with recent generations of my Jobe family.
The first Job (no e) to come to the area from Ireland was Samuel Job. Interestingly enough, we named our firstborn Samuel Jobe Cronk. We had no idea then of the family history of the name. I had this photo in my files of the original safe owner, George Job.
Original owner of the antique safe, George Job, my great-grandfather, and wife Donna (Donnie) McDougal Job. Only Roscoe (the younger boy in this photo) lived to enjoy adulthood. His only son to live to adulthood was my father, Huburt. If Huburt were alive, he would be 109. This photo would be around 129 years old.
Some time ago, I located George's obituary. If I find I am not remembering this correctly, I will correct it, but it seems that he served as president of the Brownsville Telephone Co. Back in the early 1900s, small communities had their own local phone companies.
You'll realize how that worked out in everyday terms when I tell you the cause of his death: Complications from falling off a telephone pole. I would gather then, that the company president was also a lineman.
I can only imagine the various important papers, life savings, deeds to much-loved and labored-over property, have passed through that old family safe.
My brother Tim always got a laugh out of our crazy Cronk antics. I know he would laugh (and how I miss that laugh!) at the effort involved in renting a van to come and get the safe. Overkill, yes. The Cronk MO.
But it's safe and sound at Sam's now. Another number in the combination that makes up this family.