An article that appeared last week in The Times-Gazette about an old postcard, missing houses and a World War I veteran yielded a number of phone calls from area residents who said they were connected to the story in one way or another.
Among them was a man who said he lived in a house that was moved to McClain Avenue from the 500 block of North Street prior to the construction of the McClain High School athletic field, as well as a distant relative of the soldier mentioned in the article.
Mark Branham, a Greenfield resident, first spoke to The Times-Gazette last Monday about the old postcard, which started somewhat of an investigation on social media several weeks ago.
The postcard, which Branham found on a late night shopping eBay, was sent from a soldier at a U.S. Army installation in New York to his mother, who lived at 521 North Street in Greenfield.
Branham said the address caught his attention because the McClain High School athletic field is where homes in the 500 block of North Street used to be.
A number of Greenfield residents have said some of the homes in that block were moved rather than demolished, and while the Greenfield Historical Society has no record of homes being moved, one man contacted The Times-Gazette to say he lived in one.
Dave Hurley, 80, Washington Court House, said his family moved into the two-story home at 623 McClain Avenue during World War II.
Hurley said his mother worked at the shoe factory in Greenfield at the time, and they moved into the home in 1941 after another family moved out.
While Hurley couldn’t recall the name of the family, he said one of them had worked for Edward Lee McClain himself, and McClain moved the home for the family before the athletic field was built.
“Everybody always told us it came from North Street,” Hurley said.
Hurley said he has “a lot of memories” from the eight or nine years his family lived in the house, including the day the United States entered World War II.
“I can remember how people were acting that day,” he said.
Mostly, though, Hurley said he remembers having to mow the large grass lot adjacent to the house.
The home is now a hair salon.
Branham said he recently spoke with a woman who believes another McClain Avenue home was moved from North Street, but there is no documentation of either home being moved.
Some investigation into the author of the postcard turned up historical records on Ira S. Dowler, son of Charles H. Dowler and Josephine Dowler.
As previously reported, Branham was eventually able to visit Ira Dowler’s grave in the Good Hope Cemetery a short drive from Greenfield.
James Dowler, the president of the Butler County Genealogical Society, called The Times-Gazette on Monday to say he happens to be distantly related to Ira Dowler.
He said his great-great grandfather, Alpheus Dowler, was Charles H. Dowler’s brother and Ira Dowler’s uncle.
Alpheus Dowler’s father, John Wesley Dowler, was one of the first settlers in Athens County, according to James Dowler.
James Dowler said one of his cousins in Washington Court House sent him the article, which also appeared in the WCH Record Herald.
While there are Dowlers in that area, it has not been made clear that any of them are directly related to Ira Dowler.
Branham said Monday that the postcard, which he ordered several weeks ago, only recently arrived in the mail.
He plans to donate it to the Greenfield Historical Society.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.