Ira Conklin (1895–1972) was a local blacksmith during the early and mid-1900s. As a young man, he worked in blacksmith shops in Lake Ariel and Honesdale. Around 1930, at the beginning of the Great Depression, he returned to his parents’ dairy farm in Ledgedale and set up his own blacksmith shop adjacent to the barn. He made many of the blacksmithing tools he used in his shop.
He was a blacksmith for the State Department of Highways, repaired farm machinery, and did custom work for churches, schools, farms, and estates. His one-of-a-kind pieces include rose candelabras, garden statuary, lanterns, flag stands, gates, and the iron railings for the Bidwell Hill Church.
In the 1940s, Ira Conklin taught blacksmithing at the Greene-Dreher Vocational School. He not only taught his students how to make practical items, such as andirons, log chains, farrier tools and dustbins, he also showed them how to twist iron into decorative shapes for gates and railings, and how to embellish everyday pieces with artistic designs, such as the rope link and the rose. Among his students was Ralph Curtis, shown above.
Ira Conklin is remembered as a man who, “if you never met him and talked with him for a few minutes, you would feel like you knew him all your life.”