Sketches by Dennis Haas

This month the featured item from the Wayne County Historical Society collection is an item that has probably not been seen since it was donated by Mrs. Florence Johnson at the end of 1985. Her donation of a small, plain, black covered 3-ring notebook does not look like much on the outside, but the loose leaf collection of newsprint pen and ink sketches it contains are a delight to see.

Mrs. Johnson was a subscriber to the Akron Beacon Journal newspaper in the mid-1970s and very carefully cut out and collected a series of featured drawings printed in the newspaper between 1974 to 1978 of about 40 Wayne County historic houses and buildings. The original drawings were done by staff artist Dennis Haas who reported that he did illustrations, cartoons and maps as part of his daily job but in 1971 thought a weekly historical drawing would be an interesting feature item. His supervisor agreed and the weekly “Sketches by Dennis Haas” art column was born. The drawings accompanied by a short biography of the subject quickly became a popular feature in the newspaper and Haas continued to do the weekly sketches for about 10 years from 1971 to 1981.

I would look for houses/buildings in the (Akron) Beacon’s circulation area (Summit, Stark, Portage, Medina, and Wayne counties). It wasn’t too long after starting the feature I’d get fan mail with lots of suggestions for future subjects. I really enjoyed it a lot because it got me out of the office and I met a lot of interesting people. I would gather some of the information to go with the sketch and one of the Beacon’s reporters would write the actual text that accompanied the feature.

The old newspaper clippings in the notebook are yellowing with age and the glue holding some of the clippings to the loose-leaf pages is losing its grip in places, but through the magic of computer image editing software some of the drawings have been brought back to life to appear much as they did when originally printed over 36 years ago. Note: you can click the the image to load a larger version of the picture in your web browser.

Old Doylestown Village Hall

This 2-story red-brick building was erected in 1882 at Clinton and Portage streets in Doylestown. It was reportedly torn down in the mid-1970s to make room for a new Village Hall.

Old Doylestown Coach Stop

Once located on the corner of Portage and College streets in Doylestown this old red brick house was believed to have been a coach stop during the frontier days of Ohio. It was reportedly razed by then property owner Carl Abel, who planned on building a food store on the site.

Saurer-Stansbury House

This house located at 425 S. Main street in Orrville was built in 1875 for John Saurer. It was sold in 1898 to James W. Stansbury who converted it into apartments in 1921.

Jackson's Corners Stagecoach Inn

Located at the NW corner of what was called Jackson's Corners on St.Rt. 3 south of Creston stands an old stagecoach inn. The brick building was reportedly built in 1840 to provide food and lodging to travelers.

Old Smithville Harness Shop

The house at 122 W. Main St. in Smithville was a harness shop owned by Horace Blattenburg in 1872.

Norfolk&Western Railroad Freight Station

The old Norfolk&Western Railroad Freight Station stood at 691 E. Main St. in Smithville and was still receiving shipments when this picture was drawn in 1978. The last passenger train ran past the station in 1938 on its daily run between Wheeling and Brewster.

John G. Gish House in Rittman, OH

The John G. Gish house on the north edge of Rittman was built in 1888 and was the 3rd one built on the foundation. The 7-bedroom brick mansion was once the headquarters of the Gish Tobacco Co. from the late 1800s to early 1900s.

Orr Homestead in Orrville, OH

One of the oldest homes still standing in Orrville is the Smith Orr Homestead built around the 1860s on W. Main St. west of downtown Orrville.

Rogues Hollow

The red brick home of Mrs. Walter Collier in 1972 located in Rogues Hollow between Doylestown and Clinton around where county roads 100 and 169 meet.

The artist, Dennis Haas was born and raised in Wayne County and graduated from Orrville High School and attended Kent State University. He started working in the art department of the Akron Beacon Journal in 1967 but was called to serve in the U.S. Army from 1967-1969. Upon his return he continued to work for the Akron Beacon Journal for the next 23 years.

Dennis Haas

Image of the artist Dennis Haas.

When computers started to appear in newsroom art departments he could see that the future would rely heavily on the new digital technology and computers. Rather than reject the new technology, he embraced it. He worked at the Akron Beacon Journal until March of 1990 when he took a new job in Washington, DC to work at Knight-Ridder/Tribune News wire service (KRTN). It was a lot different than Akron, Ohio and small personal computers were popping up everywhere. Networking all the computers together to distribute and deliver graphics for KRTN news products was his main job. He worked in offices throughout the United States, Europe and South America, getting the KRTN Graphics Network products to them. Later KRTN became KRT and they started a new service, News In Motion, which delivered daily animated news graphics to TV markets throughout the United States. At that same time the KRT graphics service began producing compact disc’s of its graphics in addition to the daily electronic delivery of its product. It was a lot of fun, but very challenging, as he was working at the leading edge of technology at the time.

In 1997 Haas decided it was time for a career change and planned on moving to Florida to work in anything but the newspaper business. Fate had a different plan and he ended up taking a new position with the St. Petersburg Times newspaper’s IT Department. However, there would be no more crazy hours or deadlines, just a nice 8 to 5, Monday through Friday job.

For twelve years the IT job in Florida was great. Then the newspaper business began changing. The St. Petersburg Times began to struggle with reduced readership and revenue like so many other newspapers still struggle with to this day. In March 2009 Dennis Haas decided it was time to retire and has been enjoying his retirement in Florida.

Mrs. Florence Johnson’s old notebook containing the Wayne County “Sketches by Dennis Haas” are stored at the Wayne County Historical Society and can be seen by appointment.


  1. Frederick C. Monson says

    Paragraph from my Grandfather;s autobiography – William J. Kauffman, son of Rudolph and Anna Kauffman – log house outside of Marshallville.

    “There came in the fall a new principal; and when my time on the farm expired on November 1st, I decided I would try it again. Coming two months late and confused, he singled me out, came back where I sat, and sat down with me. I told him about my resolve and why. He put his arm around me and promised me every help, and invited me to his house to talk it over. He implanted in me a new ambition and reinforced my determination. I was a new boy. There was also a new boy from the county who attracted and interested me. He was smart and companionable, and we became inseparable. We studied together, and had much in common. I was determined to get to the very roots of my studies, and had much to undo. Again, I was to go back to work on April 1st, and so was my new friend who was a farmer’s son. And he wanted me to go with him to his father’s farm. The result was that his father employed me for seven months at $16.00 per month. And so he and I worked during the day and studied at night, and went back to school on November 1st, and were under the tutelage of the same teacher who had inspired me. This was the fall of 1885, and in the summer of 1886, I was teaching a three months term of school in the country having obtained a teacher’s certificate in the early spring. My friend, the teacher, had written Dr. Kirkwood, on the examiners, of my struggles and of my surprising progress, and my character. I am sure this letter did me a lot of good, and Dr. Kirkwood took more than a passing interest in me; and being a professor of mathematics in Wooster University, and in addition a Presbyterian Divine meant much to me.
    The practice in the country was to have a winter term of school of five months, from November 1st to April 1st, and a summer term of three months mainly for the young children. I was employed for a summer term of three months at a red brick school at what was known a Roger’s(Rogues?) Hollow, at a salary of $17.00 per month. The school was five and one-half miles from home, and this I walked every day, five days a week, making a total of 220 miles per month. The last Saturday of each school month I had to walk 3 miles to Easton to have the Township Clerk give me an order on the township Treasurer for $17.00. Then, I had to walk 3 more miles to Doylestown where the Treasurer lived, who was an aged Lutheran minister, to pay me the money. In each case, I had to run the risk of finding them at home. From Doylestown was another 6 miles home. And so, after working 21 days and walking 232 miles, I could reel rich in the possession of $17.00. So here in broad terms is my initiation into the public schools as a teacher – 63 days work, 700 miles walking, $51.00. Some difference from the situation 40 years later when my time in New York was rated at about that per day….”

    You mention the red brick house in Rogue’s Hollow, and I wondered if it might have once been a school. BTW, when I am finished, you may have a copy if you wish. I have never read a better story about how one grew up in rural ‘anywhere’ than what my Grandfather left behind. His brother Jacob H. ran for county Auditor in 1900? (Stark County Democrat). Grandfather and his brother Orrin, authored the Stark County Atlas, of 1896, that is used even now in proposals for land developments.

    Cheers, Frederick C. Monson, PhD, CMIRT, West Chester University of PA, West Chester, PA. “” to see what we do..

    • Hello, kind sir — Thank you for sharing this great story! I will be sure to tell the folks at Marshallville Historical Society to view this, as well. If you are ever in the area, they meet every Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. at the log cabin museum, located at 4 E. Church Street, Marshallville.

      I’ll also ask Mary Mertic of the Chippewa-Rogues’ Hollow Historical Society if she knows more history about the red brick house pictured. You can visit their website at

      We would very much enjoy a copy of this autobiography for our library. Reading this story makes me ashamed that I got into my car to drive two blocks for lunch today. 🙂

      Hope to speak with you again!
      Vicki Slater

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