John (Jack) Conway WELDAY

{Written by Flora L. VerStraten} John Borkowski took me to Apple "Jacks" Orchard in Smithfield. Customers can come and pick all the apples that they want by the bushels or bags! It was a perfect time for a visit- a crisp fall day! Fresh apple cider was ready to be sold and fresh pumpkins were sitting out on the front lawn. Alongside the driveway was an old family sign that reads, BLOW HORN! Jack’s family has owned apple orchards for four generations!

Jack was born on the 28th of May in 1917. He is a very friendly gentleman and was willing to share many childhood memories with us. He has one sister, Elva Jean and a brother, Chapline Foch Welday. Chapline was so interested in the family tree that he traveled to Europe to do extensive research. Jack gave me a copy of a rather large scroll type family tree that his brother traced back to the mid 1200’s. Chapline researched the Welday surname back to Germany where it has undergone many name changes such as, Welte, Velte (German spelling).

Jack’s parents were Wheeler J. Welday and Dorothy May Shackleford. Wheeler was a teacher in a one room eight-grade schoolhouse for years. Dorothy’s family was traced back to 1602 in Jamestown, Virginia. Wheeler died at the age of 91 years in 1970. John Leslie Welday, Jack’s grandfather, liked to tell his grandson stories. Jack remembers back when the Friendship Park area was strip-mined and many of his small family graveyards "disappeared." This happened sometime after 1935. Jack’s paternal family owned the original land where the Wheeler M.E. Church and Cemetery is located in Smithfield Twp.

Jack served in the Army Air Corp. during WW II from July 1943 to December 1945. He was trained on the B 29 (four engine bomber) the week the war ended so he never saw battle. He continued to serve his country for eight more years in the active reserves. Work took him out of the area for thirty years and he returned to Smithfield in 1979. 

{Photo courtesy of John {Jack} Welday taken 1931}

I noticed this photo along with several others of Jack and his family, taped up on the wall near the cash register. I built up enough courage to ask John Borkowski to ask Jack if we could borrow the photos to get copies and then return them. Without hesitation Jack said, “Of course.”  John scanned and sent me the photos for this article!

Jack said that he and his friends could buy a car for about $5.00, cut off the body and drive it as you see it pictured above!

John C. "Jack" Welday

A CHAPTER IN LOCAL APPLE INDUSTRY COMES TO AN END – (The following information is from the Herald Star Newspaper, Sunday, April 6, 2008, written by Esther McCoy.) The apple industry that put Smithfield on the map for more than 60 years is gone, and the last of the Welday family owners are gone now as well.

Jack Welday died April 1, [2008] at the age of 90 years old.

Welday’s Orchard was a popular place in the autumn of each year from the 1930’s through the 1960’s. This is when residents from all over the county would go for a Sunday drive to buy apples and sample a penny cup of cider.

The old Bradley Road would look like Sunset Boulevard at quitting time, with cars sometimes lined up at the orchard entrance, waiting to drive to the packing house where apples were kept in cold storage, and cider was made and flowed straight from the tap of a wooden barrel.

Jack put up a courageous fight, going to a Cleveland hospital in November, being transferred to a Veteran’s hospital and then coming home.

“Coming home was something he really looked forward to. He wasn’t sure it would ever happen, “Laurie Welday, his wife, said.

Another of his great pleasures was going to Rick Pastre’s shop, where the retired men hang out with a coffee cup in their hand early each morning. He was able to do that again as well.

An era when little things, such as a cup of cider and shiny apple brought happiness is gone.

{The following story is submitted by, Flora L. VerStraten.}

I met Apple Jack several years ago when John E. Borkowski took me to Jack’s apple orchard. There he was, working in his shed and he offered me some apples. I had another motive for being there that day, and it wasn’t apples, but I ended up with apples before I left!

John knew of my interest in genealogical information and had seen a poster size genealogy chart of Apple Jack’s hanging up on the wall in the shed. So, we proceeded to ask him about his roots. He told us it was truly his brother who was interested in researching the family roots. When his brother died, Jack kept the chart and hung it up over the cash register in the shed.

In the Jefferson County Lines newsletter published in the winter of 2004, there is an article about Jack and his family on page 8.  He is sitting in a car, along with his brother and sister. Jack has some old pioneer links with surnames on the family chart that include: Welday, Chapline, Welte/Velte, and Wheeler, to just name a few.

Jack told me that his brother traveled the world and researched the family roots. , I scanned the chart, that we borrowed, and it goes back to the early 1600’s in one line, and yet another line back to 1330. This chart is quite impressive.

Herald Star Newspaper – [Obit] - Monday, April 14, 2008 – John C. ‘Jack’ Welday 90, owner and operator of the Welday’s Apple Orchard in Smithfield, Ohio, passed away Tuesday, April 1, 2008, in Trinity Medical Center West.

Jack was born May 28, 1917, in Smithfield, son of the late Wheeler and Dorothy Schakleford.
Jack was known to the community as “Apple Jack,” worked with his dad, Wheeler in the orchard that was in the family for many years. In 1973, he took over part of the orchard, as a pick-your-own operation, and expanded it with products and ready-picked fruit until it tripled in size.

…member of the Smithfield Historical Society; Jefferson County Farm Bureau; Smithfield Methodist Church; Smithfield American Legion Post NO. 396…he was a veteran of WWII serving in the Army Air Corps, as a First Lt., navigator and co-pilot.

In addition to his parents, Jack was preceded in death by his daughter, Elizabeth “Conway” Johnson; and his brother, Chapline “Chap” Welday.

Burial will be at the Northern Cemetery, Smithfield. Military honors will be provided by the Smithfield American Legion Post 396. Donations in Jack’s memory may be sent to Smithfield Methodist Church, 144 High Street, Smithfield, Ohio, 43938.

From Doyle’s History, Representative Citizens, pg. 511 - In 1815 James Wheeler deeded a tract of about three miles south of Smithfield village to himself, William Whitten, Jacob Cramblet, Thomas Kems and Dennis Lowry, trustees, for an M.E. Church and cemetery. A log house was built, known as Wheeler’s Church, which was used until about 1849, when it was abandoned as a preaching place and afterwards removed, although the burying ground was retained. Mr. Wheeler came from Maryland about 1804 and was proverbial for his honestly.