– Commodore Steve Harris, BLYC Historian
As most members are aware, the two-story house by the parking lot was taken down recently. I thought it might be good to share some of the history of the house, the family who made it their home, and their relationship to BLYC through the years. Some of this is repeated from earlier articles — both Commodore Foster and I have previously written about the topic — but it seems timely to share it again.
In the early years of Buckeye Lake, the property along North Bank, along with Watkins and the other islands, were owned by and leased from the state. Much of the other property in the area was owned by and leased from a few families. People would lease lots to build cottages for their Buckeye Lake getaways. Still today, we refer to many of the neighborhoods that now comprise the Village of Buckeye Lake by the names of those early owners — Bounds, Myer, Neel, Carlin, and Rosebraugh. The North Shore launch area of the State Park, Crane Lake, North Shore Landing, and BLYC’s Eastport property were all part of the old Buckeye Lake Amusement Park. What is now the BLYC parking lot, along with numerous cottages and a hotel on North Bank, were owned by the Rosebraugh family — one of the earliest pioneer families to settle this area.
The Rosebraughs were a part of BLYC since the early days. William “Bill” Rosebraugh grew up here and as a young boy played on the island when it was little more than a sandbar with a few lonely willow trees on it. In 1910, he and his brother in law built the house where he and his family would live — the two-story house at the entrance to our parking lot. Like many of our neighbors, he was frequently called upon for supplies, maintenance work, and other necessary tasks around the Club as most of our members were residents of the larger cities of central Ohio and only “visitors” to the lake. He was one of our earliest, and longest serving caretakers. He was made an honorary member of the Club and remained active at BLYC up until his death in 1965.
Sometimes referred to as the “Grandpa of BLYC,” in 1964, as one of the oldest residents and the last member of a pioneer family, he was named “Mr. Buckeye Lake.” That summer, his friend, Commodore Ken Ross asked him to ride in the 4th of July boat parade, they finished in the top three floats — Bill enjoyed that moment immensely. He enjoyed life on the lake in every season and encouraged his grandchildren to love the lake as well.
The Rosebraugh history at Buckeye Lake goes back to 1867 when Bill’s Grandfather bought the Reservoir House, a hunting and fishing lodge that once stood on the clearing along the north bank where the condominiums now stand. We’ll save that story for another day.
Following Bill’s death in May of 1965, his grandson David Boling donated a trophy to the Club in his honor. The Board decided that it should be awarded annually to the “Most Improved Sailor” in the BLYC fleet. It was a way to keep the Rosebraugh’s spirit of working to be the best you can be alive for future generations.
Bill Rosebraugh’s daughters Anna and Alice also grew up at the lake and around BLYC and its members. Alice spent most of her life as a care giver for her family, and also lived in the two-story house. She managed the Rosebraugh addition and owned and operated the BLYC parking lot. The entrance to the parking lot then was what is now the driveway to the two- story house. Across the driveway from the home was a small outbuilding. I recall that structure (removed in 2005), facing the drive. One side of building was used as a coal bin as a coal furnace was used to heat the house. The other side had two rooms — one used as Bill’s tool room and other for storage. They had a large garden and the attic was used for drying vegetables.
Originally, a family farm, where pigs and chickens were raised they had a large garden and Alice and Anna would spend days canning vegetables that would be shared among the family. In the 1940’s and 50’s the parking lot had picnic tables for visitors to use before going to the park, it served the public, everyone was welcome. I know from members who were around in the 1980’s that in later years there was a red can, hanging on a nail, into which you were expected to deposit 25¢ upon your entrance to the lot. Old December issues of the Log frequently reported that parking would be free on New Year’s Eve — Ms. Rosebraugh’s Holiday gift to the members of BLYC.
Following a recent post on the Club’s Facebook page about the house being torn down, David reached out to us and shared memories and recollections of his time with his grandparents at the lake. He recalled that the house was “a place filled with love, great chocolate chip cookies, and lots of family.” He shared many details included here along with some old pictures of the parking lot in earlier years and of his grandfather with his Aunt Alice.
Times change. The lake area today looks very different from what it did just a few years ago. It has certainly changed a lot in the time that BLYC has been here. As George Bernard Shaw once said, “Progress is impossible without change…” However, it’s good to look not only at where we’re going, but also to reflect back on from where we came. I’m certain that the founders of this great Club would, in many ways, not recognize it today. I also genuinely believe that they would find a lot of it very familiar too. Unfortunately, too much of our history has been lost. If you have stories or artifacts from our past, please join me in helping to preserve it in our archives for future members to enjoy.
“If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going.”
– Maya Angelou