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Stark Contrast: A History of Stark County

Stark Contrast: A History of Stark County

As Stark County celebrates its bicentennial in 2009, PBS Western Reserve takes a look at its past, present and future in STARK CONTRAST: A HISTORY OF STARK COUNTY. The 60-minute documentary traces the county’s story from its geological roots to the people and enterprises that thrive there today.

Ted Henry, retired WEWS-TV news anchor and Canton native, is narrator for STARK CONTRAST: A HISTORY OF STARK COUNTY. Funding for the production has been provided by The Hoover Foundation, Stark Community Foundation, Stark Industrial, Schauer Insurance, The Albert W. and Edith V. Flowers Charitable Foundation and Diebold Inc.

To tell the region’s story, STARK CONTRAST: A HISTORY OF STARK COUNTY looks at the land itself, Stark County’s early settlers and communities, industrial development and educational and cultural institutions. It also follows two groups of residents, representing the county’s older and younger generations. All of their stories are interspersed with expert interviews, narration and video footage to bring the history of Stark County to life.

The program explores the early development of Canton, the county’s largest city, and other cities and towns, including Alliance, Louisville, Minerva, Massillon, Brewster, East Canton, Waynesburg and East Sparta. It also talks of the early 19th century industrial boom, heralded by the building of canals and then railroads. Manufacturers including the Timken Co., the Hoover Company, Dueber-Hampden Watch Co. and Republic Steel Corp. all established in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, set up shop and would eventually employ thousands of people.

Through the wealth generated in the industrial boom, philanthropy allowed the arts and education to thrive. The production looks at the county’s five colleges and universities and cultural organizations including the Canton Museum of Art, Massillon Museum, McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, National First Ladies’ Library, Canton Ballet, the Canton Symphony Orchestra and more. STARK CONTRAST: A HISTORY OF STARK COUNTY also focuses on a few of the area’s wonderful diversions, past and present—the age-old McKinley-Massillon football rivalry, Meyers Lake, Taggart’s Ice Cream Parlor and the Moonlight Ballr

A PBS Western Reserve production, 2009.


An integral feature of PBS Western Reserve’s STARK CONTRAST: A HISTORY OF STARK COUNTY is the inclusion of insights from community members representing both older and younger generations. Offering comment are the following residents:

Older Generations

  • John “Jack’ Farrell — relative of the owner of Dueber-Hampden Watch Co. and retired manager at Massillon Containers
  • Robert Fasnacht — retired lithographer who owned Canton Graphic Arts
  • Lou Gibbs — son of the owner of Gibbs Manufacturing, former toy manufacturer
  • Bob Nichol — retired milkman and former professional baseball player
  • Bill Raymont — retired official photographer for the Timken Co.
  • Dr. Robert Rhodes — retired oral surgeon at Mercy Medical Center
  • Phil Stern — retired part owner of the former Stern & Mann department store


Younger Generations

  • Mike and Barbara Abbott — Mike is president of Abbott Electric
  • LaShonda Card — commercial technician, Time Warner Cable
  • Joseph French — executive director, Childhood Education Alliance
  • Jen and Ben Grisez — residents of Jackson Township
  • Michael Lemon — executive director, Family Life Center
  • Holly Monte — employee at Stark State College of Technology
  • Rory Pacconi — native of Jackson Township


Educational Resources

Subject Area: Interdisciplinary

Grade Level: Middle School