December 16 2010

Press Release: Physicists and Wayne History

(l to r) Gloria McCullough, Kayoko Ohta and Koichi Ohta tour the Wayne County Historical Society museum.

(l to r) Gloria McCullough, Koichi Ohta, Kayoko Ohta plan their afternoon at the Wayne Hotel.

(l to r) Gloria McCullough, Kayoko Ohta, Koichi Ohta on Honesdale tour.

In June, Wayne County Historical Society research librarian Gloria McCullough received an email from Koichi Ohta, a retired physicist from the town of Zushi in Japan, who was gathering information for a book about noted physicists. Mr. Ohta was referred to Gloria by the staff of the Wayne Hotel, where he had made arrangements to stay when he arrived with his wife, Kayoko, on October 3. Their purpose in visiting Honesdale was to find and photograph the house in which Henry Augustus Rowland, Jr. was born on November 27, 1848.

The son of Rev. Henry A. Rowland, Sr., pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Honesdale from 1843 to 1855, Henry Jr. inherited his love for science from his father. At the age of three, young Henry made a model of a clock from a cardboard carton and while growing up conducted various experiments and fashioned apparatus that he insisted on demonstrating to his family. The family moved to Newark, NJ in 1855, and Henry Jr. went on to become one of the most respected physicists of his time.

While awaiting the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Ohta, Gloria established that the Presbyterian manse (parsonage) originally was located at the corner of Main and 15th Streets. It appears on an 1851 map of Honesdale, set off as one of the few structures in the sparsely populated section above 13th Street. Thanks to WCHS trustee Ab Rutherford, she learned that the house now standing at that location was not the original manse, which had been moved on rollers to 18th Street.

Gloria met Mr. and Mrs. Ohta at the Hotel Wayne on the afternoon of Sunday, October 3, a perfect autumn afternoon, and after stopping to photograph the First Presbyterian Church, the original manse on 18th Street and its former site on Main Street, they toured Honesdale so the visitors from Japan could have an opportunity to see the town where Henry, Jr. spent his earliest years. After a tour of the Wayne County Historical Society museum, they ended their day with coffee and dessert at the Wayne Hotel. The couple repeatedly remarked how friendly everyone in Honesdale was.

Mr. Ohta retired three years ago and has been spending his time researching the lives of well-known physicists, accompanied by his wife Kayoko, who assists him with his work. He has also traveled to Baltimore to see the home where Henry Rowland, Jr. lived until his death in 1901. Rowland's laboratory in Baltimore in no longer standing but Mr. Ohta was able to locate and photograph the exact site. The Ohtas' quest is clearly a labor of love and Gloria McCullough was delighted to be their Honesdale research assistant.