SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP — It’s been a long time since Bobbi Heil, a 1977 graduate of Ashtabula High School, thought about the stories her grandmother would tell her about walking to Ashtabula High.
But the Ashtabula resident was reminded of that as she perused the AHS Class of 1918 roster pulled out of a 97-year-old time capsule Thursday night.
“That’s my grandmother!” she said, as she started to cry. “Edna Gear – that’s my maternal grandmother.”
Heil also found her great uncle (her grandmother’s brother) Homer Gear, who also graduated in 1918.
“She said she had to walk to school with her brother from Austinburg Road to Ashtabula High School,” she said. “I do a lot of genealogy research and I was hoping to find her.”
More than 250 people watched as David Boyer, director of operations for the school district, opened a copper box that was placed in the cornerstone of Ashtabula High School on April 18, 1915 under the direction of the Masonic Lodge, according to newspaper reports at the time.
The box was discovered during demolition of old AHS about three weeks ago.
The school district built all new schools — a high school and junior high on Sanborn Road in Saybrook Township and an elementary campus on Wade Avenue in Ashtabula.
It took Boyer about four minutes to open the copper box with a hammer and a chisel.
As Boyer worked, the box began to emit orange dust, and when people began to make comments, Boyer reminded the anxious crowd that it was 97-year-old dust.
Once open, the standing-room-only crowd applauded.
“It smells musty, but it’s dry inside,” said Chris Seuffert, president of the school board, as she reached inside to pull out the first item — a sample of a diploma.
The next “treasure” was a copy of the Ashtabula Beacon, which cost 2 cents.