An advertisement for Sanders and Sons Farm in the Call & Post on September 1, 1951, directed readers to follow Route 422 to Franklin Road in Chagrin Falls. From there, they would proceed to Woodland Avenue in Chagrin Falls Park, a semirural Black enclave to the south of the village. Turning left onto Geneva Street, they could proceed to the picnic grounds. The farm’s owner was Lummie Sanders, a native of Alabama who had migrated to Harlan, Kentucky, in the 1920s to work as a trackman in a coal mine before arriving in Chagrin Falls Park sometime in the late 1930s. There he started a trucking and hauling business. In 1944, Sanders became a Geauga County deputy sheriff—the only African American in Ohio outside Cleveland to hold such a position.
Little is recorded about the farm, but the 1951 ad hints that the property must not have been too obscure to draw a crowd in its heyday. It tells of a grand picnic with dancing and special guest Dinah Washington and Orchestra and also includes additional directions to the property. At the time Dinah Washington performed at Sanders and Sons Farm, she already had two Billboard #1 R&B hits to her name, plus two more Top 40 songs in the Billboard Hot 100. A second ad tells of a Firemen’s picnic for the 4th of July. With so little information available, it seems that the Firemen’s picnic was probably more typical of the offerings at Sanders and Sons Farm than the Dinah Washington concert.
It is not clear what happened to Sanders and Sons Farm. In 1955, Deputy Sanders resigned his position, noting that he was tired of the racial discrimination he faced, including being forced to work only at night so that he would be less visible. Sanders returned to his trucking and hauling business, but in that same year the Call & Post started running ads for Wilderness Ballroom on Geneva Street, which hosted sandlot baseball games as well as dining, dancing, and live music on weekend nights into 1962.
- “Display Ad 6 – No Title.” Call & Post. July 30, 1955.
- “Display Ad 11 – No Title.” Call & Post. June 9, 1962.
- “Display Ad 15 – No Title.” Call & Post. September 1, 1951.
- “Display Ad 27 – No Title.” Call & Post. May 16, 1959.
- “Geauga County Deputy Quits Over Race Bias.” Call & Post. July 9, 1955.
- “Lumi Sanders.” 1930 U.S. Census, Harlan, Lynch County, Kentucky, E.D. no. 21.
- “Lummie Sanders.” 1940 U.S. Census, Bainbridge Township, Geauga County, Ohio, E.D. no. 28-2.
- “Lummie Sanders.” 1950 U.S. Census, Bainbridge Township, Geauga County, Ohio, E.D. no. 28-3A.
- Paris, Lillian. “Items from Chagrin Falls.” Call & Post. July 21, 1951.