John Gurnish, a member of the Ellet Grace Brethren Church in Akron, Ohio (Jonathan Carey, pastor), is featured in today’s Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal. Gurnish, a Civil War enthusiast for most of his life, has an extended collection of Civil War artifacts. Read the complete story here.
Retired Ellet history teacher collects artifacts, stories from Civil War
LAKE TWP.: For John Gurnish, fascination with the Civil War began in 1961.
He was a fifth-grader, and the country was marking the 100th anniversary of the start of the conflict.
“I began to study it and find out all I could,” said Gurnish, now 61. A retired Ellet High School history teacher, Gurnish has spent his life digging into the subject and getting to know the people from the Akron area who fought in the Civil War.
In his home, artifacts, documents and photographs of local men who served line the walls of a first-floor library and a museum-style room in his basement.
“It is because they were from here and they were local people — ordinary people — who served in these big events you read about in history,” Gurnish said as he showed a small portion of his enormous collection of historical memorabilia to two guests.
Gurnish, a 1969 Springfield High School graduate who received his undergraduate degree in education from the University of Akron and his master’s degree from Kent State University, believes he has collected items and stories of nearly 70 area Civil War veterans. Many of those people are buried in graveyards in Summit County.
“I can hold a photograph of someone who lived back then,” he said, and know parts of their story and even visit their grave.
“Here lies that person,” is what he says he thinks when he takes a photograph of a Civil War veteran and finds his grave.
Gurnish will share his Civil War story and show some of his collection at a meeting tonight of the Cuyahoga Valley Civil War Round Table. It will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Peninsula Library, 6105 Riverview Road.