Seller Story: Cincinnati, OH

“My grandfather was John Jacob Strader IV, known as Jack—my mother was Jack and Joan Strader’s only child. And Jack’s great-grandfather was the first John Jacob Strader, who came to Cincinnati in the early 1800s and worked his way up in the steamship industry to become a captain and the owner of a steamship line. Their primary contract was with the U.S. government to deliver mail, but they shipped everything—industrial products, farm animals, cotton, and passengers too.

The Strader family has owned property in Clifton, one of the historic towns surrounding Cincinnati, since the early 1800s, when it was just grassland and they ran cattle. The original family house doesn’t exist anymore—it was torn down because they couldn’t run gas lines through it—but my grandfather lived on that property his whole life.

My grandparents’ house was a kid’s dream. There were so many places to hide, so many interesting things. My grandparents still had a lot of the old family documentation and heirlooms. Paper money from before the Federal Reserve; shipping logs from the 1800s detailing how many people they picked up on shore and how much cotton they were hauling; steam trunks from generations ago; 19th century letters from the Piatts, another family we’re connected to, who donated Piatt Park to Cincinnati.

My grandparents were always very proud of the family’s accomplishments. They always taught me that honest work is honest work. One day my grandfather said, “I don’t care what you do as long as you can look in the mirror and feel proud of it.” -Sean Darragh

Seller Story: Cincinnati, OH
Seller Story: Cincinnati, OH
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Seller Story: Cincinnati, OH

There are a lot of items in the sale related to Cincinnati—history books, pictures of Fountain Square and Piatt Park. How important was the city to your grandfather?

I constantly heard stories about life in the city and how the Straders were involved. John Jacob Strader founded the chamber of commerce, and started a bank that later was sold to PNC. My grandfather told me about the flood of 1937, when the only way to get around the city was by canoe or boat. Both my grandparents were extremely proud of the family’s history in this city that they loved.

Jack was a famous radio announcer in Cincinnati. What was his voice like?

He had a smooth baritone—deep and clear. He could read the phone book and people would be enthralled. He used to MC a lot of events too. He and my grandmother went to a ton of black tie functions—they were big supporters of the arts—and we had a couple of big parties at the house too. I remember one in particular with at least 200 people where he played the organ.

What was your grandparents’ relationship like?

Those two loved each other absolutely silly. Back in the 1970s when I was little, I remember that whenever he had decisions to make, he would always talk through them with my grandmother. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that wasn’t always the norm, especially for their generation.

What are some of your earliest memories of Jack and Joan?

When I was really little, I would walk over to my grandparents’ house in the morning to help make breakfast for my grandfather. He was allergic to egg yolks, so my grandmother and I would crack open eggs and strain out the yolks and make him just the whites. I loved doing that with her.

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