Created by Susi Soler, Columbus, OH
Title: An Ohio Family’s Circular History
Theme: Immigration and migration
First, I decided to focus on my Grandmother Dora Markel, a farm girl from Laurelville, OH. Her family valued education and sent her to university when most girls just married after high school. Dora was a scholar, and along with being an expert in literature from the ancient Greeks, forward, she was also fluent in Spanigh a very unusual skill for a woman in the late 1800’s. I followed my Grandma Dora’s adventures, from college to NYC to Havana, then back to Ohio State, “elder retirement” in NYC and burieal back in Ohio.
I drew a little sketch of the places she went and realized she had circled back to Ohio when Ysidro died.
I decided to use red as a focus color since Ohio State’s colors are scarlet and gray. New York, of course, was represented by an apple. I used a bright “folky” flower to represent New Orleans and hearts to symbolize the “true love” of Dora (Laurelville) and Ysidro (Havana). Having never really paid that much attention to where everyone came from, it was most interesting to see the circular migratory pattern of my Grandmother’s life and how and why we all ended up in Columbus, Ohio as Ohio State University graduates.
Eventually, I plan to write a book about Dora and Ysidro.
About: The Soler Family, Columbus, OH
1. Senor Jose Soler of Barcelona, Spain, was commissioned by the Spanish Government to become the “minister” (Governor) of the province of Pinar del Rio in Western Cuba. Spain owned Cuba at this time.
2. Jose first traveled to New Orleans, LA where he found a French bride to take with him to Cuba.
3. Their son (my Grandfather) Ysidro Soler, who was born in Havana, was sent to The Ohio State University to study civil engineering (#4.) in 1897.
4. Meanwhile, my Grandmother, Dora Markel, a top student and valedictorian of her high school class, was sent to The Ohio State University from tiny Laurelville, Ohio, to attend “teacher’s college” (a 2 year program) in 1899.
5. Dora, who was fluent in Spanish..
6. ..and Ysidro, fluent in English met and fell in love. They graduated in 1901, got married on the farm in Laurelville, then moved to NYC for Ysidro to get his Master’s in Engineering at New York University. While in NYC, they had their first child, Dorit’a Violet Soler named after Ma Ma Dora.
7. Ysidro graduated from NYU and was hired in Cuba to design and build the canal system that surrounded Havana. They had their second child, Gilbert Soler, 2ns all was well, Dora embracing life in Cuba, caring for the children and painting landscapes of the surrounding countryside.
8. When a terrible explosion killed Ysidro, Dora carrying their 3rd child (my father, Joseph) was devastated. There she was with 2 young children and a 3rd due in a month. After Joseph was born in Havana, Dora and the children moved back to Columbus, Ohio. The Engineering Department at Ohio State created a secretarial job for the widow so she would be able to support the children. The flags at the university had been lowered to half-staff when Ysidro died! Dora raised her children in Columbus and never remarried saying Ysidro had been the “love of her life”. All 3 children grew up to attend and graduate from The Ohio State University, all graduating with honors. Gilbert majored in Engineering and moved to Pittsburgh for a job with U.S. Steel. Dorita majored in Literature and theatre and moved to NYC to pursue play writing. Joseph stayed in Columbus with a degree in Business and became a successful food broker and campus apartment owner.
9. When Dora became elderly she moved back to NYC to live with daughter Dorita.
10. When Dora died at ahe 78, her body was flown back to Laurelville where she was buried in the family cemetery. Dora’s 3 children, plus 4 of her grandchildren all graduated from Ohio State with honors, 2nd 2 great grandchildren graduated as Buckeyes, with honors.
This is just one small part of the family, who migrated first to N.Y.C., then to Havana, Cuba, back to Columbus, Ohio, then back to N.Y.C., eventually being buried in Laurelville.