A Passion for History
What creates passion in a person? Is it when someone cares deeply or values something? It is tangible things that we touch, hold and smell. Is it the beautiful things that we lay our eyes upon, like a gorgeous sunset, the things that we read, the conjured imaginations of how wonderful things used to be. Whatever it is, it drives us to become who we are and what we value. One such person that had this kind of passion was Thaddeus B. Hurd. He was a person that loved the history of Clyde, Ohio and had a profound effect upon the extenuation of its history and heritage. It is because of him and like-minded individuals that the Clyde Museum, McPherson House, Heritage Hall, other Clyde organizations, and some Sandusky County historical entities continue their missions today.
First, a little of his background. Thaddeus Baker Hurd was born on 23 October 1903 to Herman and Jennie (Baker) Hurd in Clyde, Ohio.
Prior to Thad's birth, his family had lived in Clyde, Ohio since the mid-1820s. There were three generations (in Clyde) prior to him. There was his father Herman, his grandfather Thaddeus Polk, and his great grandfather Hiram. The Hurd family has lived in America before there were American colonial states. As far as one can tell, his family has lived here since the 1670s in what is today, the state of Connecticut.
His great grandfather Hiram, moved to Hamer's Corners (modern day Clyde, Ohio) from New York in the mid-1820s, in the same time frame, as did the McPherson family, the Birdseye family, the Russell family, and other early Clyde settlers. Thaddeus' mother, Jennie Baker, was originally from Bellevue, Ohio. Her family had lived in Northern Ohio for a long period as well. Thad only had one sibling, Hiram Henry Hurd, who was born in Clyde as well on 7 December 1906.
Thaddeus' spent all of his childhood and teenage years in Clyde, Ohio. He graduated from the Clyde High School in 1920. After graduation, he enrolled at Oberlin College and earned a degree from there in 1922. He returned to Clyde from Oberlin and became a fourth-grade teacher at the Clyde Elementary School from 1922-1923. After one year in public education in the Clyde schools, he enrolled at Cornell University and earned his Bachelor of Architecture in 1927. In the fall of 1928, he returned to Cornell University as a graduate student, and was awarded a Master of Architecture degree in June ‘29. While in college, he was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon and Phi Kappa Phi fraternities as well.
After earning his advanced degree in architecture, for approximately one year, he worked for Starrett and Van Fleck Architects in New York City. Upon gaining practical experience in the architecture field, he returned to Cornell University as an adjunct instructor in architecture from 1930-1933. Following his teacher career at Cornell, he became a world traveler. In the fall of ‘33, he left for Europe on an ocean-liner. Upon arrival, he embarked upon a one-year travel study of architecture in diverse parts of Europe and the Mediterranean.
Upon return to the United States he continued work in the architectural field. He became a Supervising Architect in Washington D.C. in 1935, and a regional architect with the Farm Security Administration in Raleigh, N.C. from 1936-1942. After service with the FSA, he worked for Oleen and Deitrich Architects and Engineers at the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station in Edenton, N.C. from 1942-1944. After World War II, he worked for several architectural firms such as Great Lakes Steel Corporation in Detroit MI., Britsch and Munger Architects in Toledo, OH., and himself as Thaddeus B. Hurd, Architect, Clyde, Ohio. He retired from the architectural field on 1 January 1967. On the whole, he worked as a professional architect for thirty-two years (1935-1967).
Though he was dedicated to his career Thad always had a passion for history and genealogy, especially local history. In 1957, after its reactivation, he became a member of the Sandusky County Historical Society in Fremont, Ohio. He was a member of this organization from ’57 through the 1980s. He organized the society’s genealogy group, the Sandusky County Kin Hunter’s in March 1967. He was also a member of several other historical organizations such as the Ohio Historical Society (currently Ohio History Connection), Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums, Erie County Historical Society, Firelands Historical Society, Firelands Kinologists, Lineage Research Society of Fostoria, Connecticut Society of Genealogists, Inc., Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature, and a historian for the life of Sherwood Anderson in Clyde, Ohio. He published much history writings as well in historical journals, articles in newspapers, quarterlies, periodicals and etcetera.
The life of Thaddeus B. Hurd was one of great dedication and passion for whatever he put his mind to, whether it be teaching, architectural work, writing or otherwise. His greatest passion though was for history and related genres. After retirement, he dedicated the remainder of his life to the pursuit of local Clyde and regional history, as well as genealogical research. He invested a good portion of his monies into these pursuits. However, Thad was a very frugal man, and always saved every penny possible. It was said that he was so frugal, he once bought a sack of soy beans and that is what he ate for breakfast, lunch, and supper for the days and weeks to come. It was not that he couldn't afford to buy other food, he just chose to save his money. Also, at the Clyde Museum in the display in memory of him, is his pocket watch. On that pocket watch is a shoe lace, it was purposeful. The lace was his watch chain! He chose to re-purpose it, smart thinking.
So as anyone can see, by his frugal living, he likely saved much money during his lifetime. We cannot be sure of the exact reasons of why he was so frugal, but many local and regional organizations can be thankful for it. At the time of his death, much of his wealth was bequeathed to historical and cultural entities that has helped them to carry on their missions. Though Thad has been gone for many years, his legacy lives on by aiding historical and cultural organizations. This was his passion, he wanted to preserve history for as long as he could, even beyond his years! What are you passionate about? Whatever it is, love it, pursue it, and perpetuate it!
Thaddeus B. Hurd. Thaddeus B. Hurd—Biographical Data Sheet. Compiled 11 September 1981.
Ancestry.com. Hurd family genealogical files. www.ancestry.com, accessed 30 September 2017.
Clyde Museum Local History files.