Ernest Davis, my grandfather, was a lumberman in Wisconsin when he discovered that the lands he cleared could be converted into golf courses.
He worked his way down through Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and back into Ohio building golf courses.
He built courses in Mansfield and Conneaut Lake, Pa., and was building a golf course in East Liverpool with his brother when he was hired by the city of Warren to build a golf course that would first be named Avalon, then Avalon South and finally Old Avalon.
At that time, it was common knowledge that a serious influenza epidemic often sweeps rampant near the end of a major war. The city of Warren decided to be proactive in the event it would happen at the end of the Great War (World War I).
According to former Warren mayor Daniel Sferra, it was decided in the event Warren citizens became seriously endangered, the city would move any infected individuals to Howland Township, where land would have been purchased and buildings erected to house the ill. A deed submitted by widow Judith Henn, was transacted on July 28, 1917, for the transfer of 132.78 acres of land at the south end of what was then Saunders-Hoover Road, now renamed Henn Hyde Road N.E.
Unfortunately, a feared epidemic did arrive in October 1918, but Warren did not enact its citizen relocation plan. Because the relocation never happened, Warren now owned a large quantity of vacant land in Howland Township, and later hired my grandfather to convert it into a golf course. The golf course opened to the public in 1926. I remember a photograph, now lost, that hung on my grandparents' wall, depicting a mule or donkey pulling sledges heaped with stones and dirt to be used to build greens and fill swampy areas around Guthiel Ditch for Avalon Golf Course fairways.
My grandfather Davis, his wife, Clarcia, three daughters and two sons were housed on the course in a big, gray house located approximately where the putting green near the maintenance garage now stands. As my mother Esther, Aunt Doris, Aunt Geraldine, Uncle Robert and Uncle Lyle each were married, they were offered wedding gifts by their parents of an acre of land near the golf course along the east side of Henn Hyde Road. All accepted, except Uncle Lyle. Instead, he took land across from the golf course on the north side of Warren Sharon Road where he operated the 19th Hole Tavern. The tavern was located in the former golf course club house, now the Magnuson Grand Hotel's east parking lot.
My grandparents then bought a house across the street from the golf course on the northeast corner of Henn Hyde Road. The Virgil Theis family moved into the course house where they lived until 1950 when they moved to Mecca. The course house was burned as a fire department drill practice. My grandparents then built a new house on Henn Hyde Road to live in while a new house was built on the foundation of the previous corner home site.
My school years were filled with caddying and golf ball hunting. I became knowledgeable to where every lost golf ball would seek asylum from its owner and would find them and sell them to driving ranges or to golfers as they finished their rounds and traveled to my uncle's tavern for a grog of bitters.
Funding for my first two years of college derived from the golf course along with my nine-and-a-half mile bicycle route delivering local newspapers from Howland to Vienna Township.
My mother, who played in three bowling leagues and two golf leagues, had the honor of recording what many professional golfers never attain, a rare double eagle, which she carded on Hole No. 2 of the Avalon course. She also recorded a hole-in-one on the Mansfield course where she won a women's county tournament.
My last memory of my grandfather before he died while I was at college, was of him in a heated exchange with Dr. Candella over the topographical layout of a tee being perceived by him as located too close to a potential overshoot of a green on the yet to be built Candywood Golf Course in Vienna.
Avalon Golf Course prospered for many decades with many leagues filling the course under pro Tony Joy and others who followed. Then the Avalon Lakes Golf Course was built and the older Avalon course was relinquished to a back seat as a Trumbull County top ranking golf course.
Now, in 2013, the Old Avalon Golf Course sits idle as political in-fighting keeps anyone from enjoying its 18-hole links to play that sport, which my wife, Norma, fondly calls, ''cow pasture pool.''
Warner Taiclet is the president of the Howland Historical Society. Contact him at OhioHistorian@hotmail.com.