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On Wednesday, October 24th, an intimate gathering of 30 enjoyed an evening of wine and appetizers at the Welshfield Inn, while they listened to Molly Sergi, Ph.D. walk through the history of the Welshfield area. Dr. Sergi is a history professor and the resident historian at Kent State Geauga since 2001. She wrote her doctoral thesis on the diaries of Emily Nash, one of the first residents of the area and a professional mourner.
“Emily, traveled by wagon with several others from Berkshire, Massachusetts. They were promised land in the Western Reserve if they exchanged land in present-day Connecticut.” Sergi explained. Emily started a diary of their travels so she could share it with family and friends back home. The diary which has been cited many times by local historians has become not only historical documentation of what was happening in Geauga County in the early and mid-1800's, but it also became a record of death.
“From a very young age, Emily would prepare bodies for mourning and burial. She would be with the families when a loved one passed away and then get them ready for in-home visitation,” Sergi said. This was an odd profession for a child, but it is what her parents did. Emily would write snippets about the person that died, that included short stories. Obituaries were not common at this time, but Emily’s diary shared who the people were. Throughout the evening, Dr. Sergi spoke of the good and bad history of Geauga County and how it was all captured through Emily’s diary.
Three courses of appetizers and Ohio wines from Debonne vineyards in Lake County enhanced the glimpse of history. The Welshfield Inn was the location for this event as it originally started as the Nash Hotel, that Emily’s brother started. “It was nice to host this intimate evening to share not only the history of Geauga County but also the caliber of professor we have at Kent State Geauga,” said Angela Spalsbury, Ph.D. Dean of Kent State Geauga and Regional Academic Center in Twinsburg. “Her (Dr. Sergi’s), passion for local history is second only to those that were in the room tonight.”
Monetary gifts from the “Emily Nash” event went into the Molly Sergi Endowed Scholarship in History at Kent State Geauga. This scholarship was established in Dr. Sergi’s name in 2010, by Senior Guest student, Art Kohn. Mr. Kohn loved hearing about history and contributing to class when he could through his own experiences.
If you would like more information about leaving a lasting legacy in Geauga County by starting a scholarship or contributing to an existing one, please contact Molly Smith, Associate Director of Advancement at firstname.lastname@example.org or 440.834.3761.