Waterville Historical Society

your connection to the past

The Waterville Historical Society collects, preserves, provides access to, interprets and fosters an appreciation of history that has an impact on the Waterville, Ohio and surrounding area.

Scalawags and Scoundrels

The frontier brought good people looking for a fresh start, to seek their fortune or looking for fresh fertile (and cheap) farmland. There were also a few folks who came because there was no established law and order. Some of these were always looking for ways to make a quick easy buck as we shall see in this series on Scalawags and Scoundrels.

Scoundrel Isaac Richardson was perhaps the earliest white settler in this area. The British and allied hostile Indians during the War of 1812 drove any white settlers in the Maumee River Valley out of the area and new settlers were slow to return. Isaac, however, is reported have been in this area by the spring of 1814. Why he came here is unknown but by 1816 he built a double log cabin on the Fort Defiance to Fort Detroit road along the Maumee River opposite the Roche de Boeuf rock as a tavern and trading post. It is reported that besides entertaining travelers on the road, he sold whiskey to the Indians, made a business of catching fugitive slaves for the bounty money and cheated anyone he thought he could. He prospered as more settlers moved into the area in spite of his known character flaws. These “character flaws” finally led to his downfall. In July of 1830 a simple half-breed named George Porter who worked as handyman for Isaac became so enraged at being constantly cheated that he shot him in the head on the porch of the tavern. Porter was hanged for his crime at Perrysburg, the Wood County seat at that time, in spite of much public sympathy for him. Isaac’s widow Jane Richardson then became the first woman to own property in this area, River tract 39, which she sold and had a house built in town. This house on River Road stands and is included in the WHS walking tour as the “Jane Richardson House.”

Note: Some of the information for this article is taken from Midge Campbell’s book “Watervillore.”

Mother's Day Sunday May 12, 2019

The beginning of celebrating Mothers goes back to the 17th Century in Britain to take gifts to their earthly mothers but then died out in the 18th Century. 1858 in West Virginia was the earliest Mother’s Day celebrated. Then a few other celebrations appeared such as Mother’s Work Day to improve sanitary condition during the Civil War. Later, Mother’s Day for Peace to honor peace and womanhood was celebrated. Most of these celebrations died out in a few years.

In 1908 Anna Jarvis wanted to honor mothers after her own mother died, so at the St. Andrew’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia, her own mother’s church, they celebrated a Sunday service honoring all mothers. This idea was sent to the United States Senate proposing the day but did not pass even though it was held in 46 states the next year. Seven years later it finally passed in the Senate and designated the 2nd Sunday in May as Mother’s Day and President Wilson proclaimed it as a national holiday. Ann Jarvis was against commercialization and had many court battles with the Florist Industry. She died penniless and her nursing home bill was paid for by the Florist Exchange which she never knew.

The Rupp Canal Store Safe

The historical society received a large safe from Thad and Barbara Jones that was originally in the Rupp Canal Store on the Miami and Erie Canal which was located just east of the Wakeman Hall. The Canal Store was known as Rupp’s Store since he was the last owner of the store. There were previous owners of the store as it opened in 1854 under the ownership of Orin Gillett and Wm. Dyer. Later in 1868 it was owned by Haskins and Christman, then the Haskins Brothers. Finally, in 1883 Jacob W. and David Rupp bought the store with David later selling out to open his own store in Haskins. The Canal Store closed in 1904 when Jacob built his new store at 20 N. 3rd Street. The safe was used in the old Canal Store and then moved to his store on 3rd Street.   When Herman decided to sell the 3rd Street Rupp Canal Store Thad asked Mr. Rupp what he was going to do with the safe. He asked him if he would like to buy it. Thad asked how much do you want for it? He answered “forty dollars.”  Thad went back on February 7, 1970 with the forty dollars in cash and the sale was done. Herman Rupp’s diary (now at the Wakeman Archives) shows the receipt of the sale to Thad. Mr. Rupp at that time told him that years ago robbers had attempted to open the safe by drilling a hole in the door, but they were unsuccessful. To fill the hole, Mr. Rupp (or his father) put a rat-tail file in the hole and broke it off. At that time, the safe could have been in the store at it original location on the canal. The safe is a 19th century floor safe measuring 37” high x 28” wide and 27” deep. It is on rolling wheels and has six compartments and decorated surface on the inside of the door.  It is still in working condition.

In time the safe will be on display, but at present to see other items from the Rupp Canal Store visit the Wakeman Hall and check out the replica Canal Store front with many items from the Rupp Canal Store on display.

Myths, Lies ---- and History #4

The Legend of Smedlap Effinglass

This Don Buckhout story is more tongue-in-cheek and amusing that the previous story reported in this space. The story was printed on the menu of his Smedlap’s Smithy restaurant in Waterville to justify the name of the establishment. The story relates how a distant ancestor of Mr. Buckhout named Smedlap Effinglass was chased out of the state of Georgia by an “angry mob,” made his way to the vicinity of the mouth of the Maumee River, set up a still and was supplying “Hooch” to the Indians and even to General Anthony Wayne after the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. The story relates that Smedap made a lot of money and in 1836 built a commercial building in Maumee which many years later housed the Old Plantation Inn (Don’s original restaurant.) Our hero Smedlap, on April 1, 1849, encountered a lovely young lady aboard a canal boat bound for Waterville so he stowed away among a flock of sheep aboard. (Is it lost on anyone, dear reader, that April 1 is April Fool’s Day.) The object of his affection was one Quindora Metzberger, daughter of Waterville’s only blacksmith Throck Metzberger. It seems that she was hurrying home because old Throck had abandoned his family to pursue a dancer from the local dance hall. So it was that Quindora and Smedlap came together, Smedlap became the blacksmith and soon a son named Quincy was born. Much later then Mr. Buckhout decided to follow the steps of his great, great, granduncle from Maumee to Waterville and set up a new restaurant in the old blacksmith shop and of course named it Smedlap’s Smithy.

I really like this story. It is clever, humorous and brings in some area history including being Indian Territory, the Battle of Fallen Timbers, the city of Maumee, the canal connecting to Waterville and beyond, plus the fact that the building was indeed originally a blacksmith shop. Watervillians must remember, however, that the history of this building is fairly well documented and there is no one named Metzberger or Effinglass among the known blacksmiths using this building. We generally remember the last blacksmith owner from around 1888, Charles Graf. The shop morphed into wagon makers shop, then auto service and repair as the automobile replaced horses. A thoughtful person might even question the timeline of the Smedlap Effinglass story. See our past article titled “The Saga of Peddlers’ Alley” for more about this building and the blacksmiths that were there. Still, Smedlap’s Smithy has a nice ring to it doesn’t it?

Note: If you can’t find an old menu or copy of The Smedlap story, visit us at the Wakeman Archives.

Myths, Lies and History—Myth No. 3 The Historic Flagpole

Prominently displayed on the wall, framed and under glass, in the hall of Peddler’s Alley just outside the restaurant that originally was Don Buckhout’s Smedlap’s Smithy is the tale of the historic flagpole. The story is that several young former employees at his Maumee restaurant The Plantation Inn, were at the site of the old British Fort Miami watching a huge ice jam on the river force huge blocks of ice seventeen inches thick up the hill above the river. One such block gouged a six inch deep furrow in the top soil and pushed aside an old millstone. Under the stone they discovered a deep, old dry well and peering into the well they saw an old moss-covered rounded pole. They covered up their find and told their former employer. Later, under the cover of night the boys and Buckhout pulled the thirty foot flagpole from the well, loaded onto a boat trailer and hauled it back to Waterville. The pole was stored several months, cleaned up, and varnished and fitted with pulleys and cable. The pole was erected with a concrete base on Thursday May 26, 1977 and Saturday morning a beautiful new 5’ x 8’ flag was raised. The story then suggests that when the British abandoned Fort Miami about 1814 they thought they might return so they hid the garrison’s pole in the well. The story notes, to make it more realistic, that there is (was) a hole near the top made by a small cannonball.

Great story! A piece of American history prominently displayed in front of a Waterville restaurant. Could this be true? Let’s check a few facts. The river at Fort Miami is deep, wide and well beyond the rapids above Maumee. Does anyone recall an ice jam pushing cakes of ice ashore at that location? Would even Don Buckhout steal a historic artifact from a historic site and brag about it? Would the British dig a well 30 feet deep in front of the river? Would a well that deep be dry? Would a wooden pole last 150 years in a damp if not wet hole? As for the cannon ball hole, I don’t recall in the history of Fort Miami that it was ever fired on. Fort Meigs is a couple of miles upriver and fired at the British cannon just across the river in present day Maumee. Could it be that Mr. Buckhout may have been pulling our leg to promote his restaurant?

Author’s note: Does anyone remember this flagpole? When was it taken out and where did it go?

 

Myths, Lies and History----Myth No. 2: The Great Chief Turkey Foot

During the Battle of Fallen Timbers, next to the Old Indian trail along the river, the great Indian Chief Turkey Foot stood upon a large rock to rally his troops to stand against General Anthony Wayne’s Legion. He was shot dead and the discouraged Indian warriors fled across the river to escape. The legend of the brave chief is widely published in many books and articles about the 1794 battle. It makes a great story and the origin is unknown. Again it was so often repeated that it became “history.” 

Checking facts then, we know, as pointed out in our last article, that the Battle of Fallen Timbers was not fought in the river flood plain but on the high ground north and west of the flood plain. The historical literature about the Indian Confederation does not mention a chief named Turkey Foot and finally, folks who are expert in Indian affairs say that Indians did not name their sons after body parts but only after an admired animal. In other words there never would have been an Indian chief named Turkey Foot and the whole story is a fabrication. Oh dear! We have the famous Turkey Foot Rock on which the fictitious chief never stood, Turkey Foot Creek and Turkey Foot Recreation area that are named after our imaginary hero. What do we do now? There is no harm in a name I suppose and we have a great, often repeated story---so long as we don’t mistake it for history. It always helps to check and re-check the facts when searching for the truth in history or any other endeavor.

Myths, Lies and History

There are times when misconceptions, erroneous stories and sometimes deliberate untruths are accepted by the public as fact. Some of these are harmless, amusing stories but some can distort our understanding of our history. We will present a series on some of these stories affecting our local history in the next few months.

Myth No. 1: The Battle of Fallen Timbers: 

This one is the longest held, widely accepted story of our local history and appears in most of the journals and books of the history of Toledo and Lucas County. The story holds that the battle was fought on the hill and flood plain above the river where the monument now stands, and gave rise to the legend of Chief Turkey Foot. (We will pursue that myth next.) The story says the Indians were routed and retreated across the river. This story arose because the locals in the mid-1800s found many downed trees in that location and assumed these were the fallen timbers of the 1794 battle and then created their own story. Fact check! The Indian Confederation fighters were not stupid. No army would take a defensive position in lowlands where the enemy could fire down on them and with a physical barrier like the river blocking their retreat. Unfortunately no one questioned the story until recently when learned professors of history looked into the existing journals of the men who were actually there in 1794 and calculated a logical pathway for General Wayne’s army to march down river from his Fort Deposit at Waterville to the actual battlefield where the Fallen Timbers Battlefield Park is today. Archaeological researches unearthed many artifacts proving this area was the actual battlefield. We must now rewrite over a hundred years of commonly accepted but incorrect history.

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WONDERLAND

This story comes to us via Midge Campbell in her book “Watervillore” and also appeared in the Anthony Wayne Standard newspaper February 4, 1971. We think it fits with our recent articles about the prohibition era.

There was a roadhouse along the River Road and the canal just south of the Village of Waterville, a large three story structure. In the early 1900s it was owned by one Henry Shearer who had a penchant for building. The local folks called it “Wonderland” because they wondered what Henry was going to do to it next. During the prohibition years the roadhouse was run by an older lady the locals called “Aunt Mary” assisted by one of Waterville’s “characters” known as Big Ed. Aunt Mary served dinners and bootleg liquor to those that traveled here from Toledo wishing to partake of her hospitality. She also rented rooms to overnight guest and the establishment was very popular. The end of prohibition however put old Aunt Mary out of business. The old building began to decline but sometime after WW II it was purchased by Bill Kurtz for his residence. Mr. Kurtz removed the Third floor and made it into a comfortable home. Many years later while pursuing a water leak he removed a laundry cupboard and found a door he did not know existed. Behind the door there was a secret room and the remains of an old still including some unused mash. This apparently was one that Waterville’s Miss Hattersley did not find.

Waterville's Miss Fisher

If you ever followed the “Miss Fisher” detective series on P.B.S. you may be interested to know that Waterville had its own real life pretty young female sleuth in the 1920s. This young lady, Dorothy Hattersley, was living in Waterville with her parents Charles Edward and Edith Hattersley and at age 20 was sworn in as a constable by Waterville Justice of the Peace Clifford Ballou. Unlike most of her peers this young lady was seeking excitement, adventure and a little danger to spice up her life. Her mission was to seek out and arrest boot-leggers selling illegal liquor and to find illegal “stills” making the same. Those men tending the stills were arrested and the equipment destroyed. She seemed to be very good at her job according to the newspaper reports we have found. Her most famous escapade just a month or two after her appointment was reported in several Toledo newspapers.

It seems that on Friday November 24, 1922 Miss Hattersley and a male deputy entered a house at 426 Twelfth Street in Toledo which was known to be a distributer of illegal whiskey. They purchased a pint of whiskey from three male occupants of the house and immediately produced a warrant for their arrest. In spite of our heroine being armed with two guns, a struggle ensued for possession of the evidence in which Miss Hattersley was roughed up a bit but she made it out of the house, hid the bottle and called the Toledo police. The three were arrested and charged with illegal sales. Some adventure for a 20 year old female who told reporters, ”this is the most fun I have had since becoming a deputy marshal.” A few months later the February 24, 1923 edition of the Sandusky Star Journal ran a large (and likely glamorized) photo and article about Dorothy Hattersley proclaiming her “Ohio’s Prettiest Booze Sleuth,” describing her as a nemesis of “hooch” makers. The article talks of many stills that were seized as a result of her operations.

Dorothy’s later life was just a turbulent as her young beginning, but that would be another story. All of the Hattersley papers are stored in the Wakeman Archives and may be viewed by the public.

A Waterville Boy—Historian and Author

Robert Ferrell

Robert H. Ferrell, a 1939 graduate of Waterville High School came to live in this town when his father Ernest H. Ferrell, Sr., a WW I Veteran took a job with the Waterville Bank. The bank was located at the corner of Farnsworth and Third Street. In 1938 Robert and his brother Ernie, Jr were members of a Boy Scouts troop in Lakewood, Ohio before moving here. Robert got his Eagle Scout from Troop 67 in Lakewood, Ohio.  Ernie Ferrell, Jr. became the Third Eagle Scout of Waterville Troop 101 on September 14, 1939 and graduated in 1941 from Waterville High School. Robert was a talented pianist and it has been said he played piano at the Waterville Methodist Church. Robert served in WW II and later as an intelligence analyst in the U.S Air Force during the Korean War. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in Music Education at B.G.S.U. in 1946 and a Bachelor in history a year later. He probably went back and forth between Waterville and Bowling Green frequently, instilling in him the small town atmosphere of life in Waterville.

Robert went on to receive his PhD from Yale University in 1951. He began as a lecturer in history at Michigan State College (now University) in the fall of 1952. Robert was hired as an Assistant Professor of History at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, in the fall 1953, where he could teach his specialty, diplomatic history. He taught many years starting as Assistant Professor and then advancing to Distinguished Professor in History in 1974, retiring in 1988 with Emeritus status there. He taught American diplomatic history there. After his retirement he moved closer to his daughter in Chelsea, Michigan. He was a prolific author writing and editing 60 books. He authored 12 books on President Harry S. Truman and a best-selling collection of the president’s letters to his wife. Dr. Ferrell was the first scholar to examine the letters after Bess Truman died. The book is called “Dear Bess: The Letters From Harry to Bess Truman 1910-1959” published in 1983. He wrote a biography of George C. Marshall, the World War II general and 1959 published “American Diplomacy.”  He wrote books about other presidents including Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt.  His students were required to read a book a week, then required to turn in a review of the book. He read all of the papers that were turned in. He was able to help many PhD students get their degrees. The Waterville school system most likely instilled and encouraged the love of books and history to him. What an honor to know that here was a Waterville student that made the most of his education. Robert passed away on August 8, 2018.

Robert’s father Ernest Ferrell Sr. remained in Waterville until 1978, took up photography in retirement and was part of the group that founded the Waterville Historical Society.

An Automobile Factory in Waterville?

We have recently discovered an article written in the Perrysburg Journal dated March 11, 1910 indicating a corporation had recently been formed in Waterville to manufacture motor trucks and might eventually employ 200 men. At this dawn of the automotive age, the Waterville investors were W.W Farnsworth, D. Sheldon, A.E. Zook, Charles L. Graf, W.H. Ostrander and J.P. Fowler. The plan was to place on the market both heavy and light “auto trucks” that they claimed had several new features not found on any other trucks; “now being manufactured.” The article states that the company will install its plant in the Graf blacksmith and wagon shop in Waterville. This is not surprising as documents suggest that Charles Graf had been building wagons in his shop for several years. The article also states that the Graf building had been remodeled and enlarged for the new company and that the planned first year’s production had already been sold.

This information raises many questions and we hope perhaps some of our readers might provide some answers. Did the company ever produce any of the motorized trucks mentioned and if so what ever became of them? Who bought them? What name did they use for the trucks? Are there any advertisements or literature anywhere regarding this company or their products? Is this the time and the reason the Graf building was extended? Obviously this enterprise failed and we know very little about it, which is a shame. This would have been a very big deal for 1910 Waterville. Later we know the school bus or buses were garaged in the expanded Graf building. Ironically, much later in the 1950s motor vehicles were made in this space when the Shop of Siebert leased the building to make extended automobiles for hearses, police and ambulance use and stretch limousines.

Herb Mericle's Granger Island Chili

Herb Mericle acquired the Granger Island in the 1950s. He built a one bedroom cottage on the highest point of the island to prevent flooding and his whole family enjoyed spending time there. In a 2006 interview Herb said, “We had great times over there. You know, what was so nice about it – some people got a cottage up on some lake and would drive 40 or 50 miles, but I could either drive or cross in a boat. No traffic, no sidewalks, no roads, coal oil lights. It was just perfect. It was just another world.”

Herb had a large a large vegetable garden on the island, which he learned to share with the wildlife like deer and foxes. He would find Indian artifacts; a skinning stone and ‘a real good tomahawk.” Herb had a great recipe that was printed in a newspaper at one time for Granger Island Chili

Granger Island Chili

4 pounds hamburger

Canola oil to coat the pan

2 cups onions diced

1 bell pepper, diced

1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes, cut into small pieces

1 can (46 Ounces) tomato juice

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon chili powder

¼ teaspoon crushed hot red pepper flakes

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Cook’s notes: “I like for there to be a good bite, a chunk, of hamburger in every spoonful of chilie. So you shouldn’t mix it up too much,” says Herb Mericle, explaining his approach to an old favorite. That’s why he mixes the seasonings with some of the liquid ingredients before combining all the solid ingredients. “Instead of just dumping a lot of dry powder into the chili pot and stirring, I put all my seasonings into the tomato juice,” Mr. Mericle stated.

Procedure: Brown the hamburger in large, heavy pan coated with canola oil. Don’t break the meat up’ you want a bit of meat in every bite of chili. Drain fat from the meat thoroughly.

In a stew pot, gently combine the onion, bell pepper, and tomatoes along with the browned beef; set aside. Stir salt, pepper, chili powder, hot pepper flakes and garlic powder into the tomato juice, then stir the seasoned juice into the onion-meat mixture. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and let it cook about ¾ hour, over low heat, covered. Stir it every so often. 

Unfortunately, the cottage was burned in 1984, probably by vandals. Herb sold the island in 1980 to Joseph Braden of Maumee, Ohio. Granger Island was acquired by Metroparks of the Toledo Area on December 20, 2011. This summer the Metroparks will offer camping experiences at Granger Island. The Island now has a cabin, outhouse and several tent platforms that the Penta Career Center helped construct. Canoers will be able to camp overnight on the island.

The Blade photo is by Herral Long 1998

World War I Ends!

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Armistice Day, the day the agreement to end the war was signed on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. It was called the “great war” and the “war to end all wars” because the warfare was so terrible and the death toll so great from machine gun fire, heavy artillery, poison gas, submarine attacks, etc. that surely mankind could never sustain such a conflict again. How naive we were! The next generation would have to live through it all again.

It is hard to believe that only 100 years ago the world was such a different place. The copy of the Toledo Blade shown in our photo, dated November 11, 1918, talks of kings, princes, czars and other forms of royalty ruling much of Europe and mid-east at that time. Air warfare was in its infancy and played a minor role in that war. German submarines, on the other hand, took a terrible toll on shipping and led to shortages of food, fuel and some strategic materials. This, plus the need to supply our armed forces, led to rationing of food, fuel, rubber, etc. which the public supported with patriotic fervor. War bonds and saving stamps were sold to support the enormous cost of the war and women entered the labor force in large numbers for the first time in history. The end of the war under terms dictated by the U.S. and allied forces changed the world map and many systems of government. The holiday known as Armistice Day has morphed into Veterans Day since World War II and subsequent conflicts.

Note: This year marks 100 years since World War I ended. The Waterville Historical Society has illustrated this significant event with displays of WW I artifacts, including this newspaper, at the Robbins House Museum, throughout the year. We hope many of you have visited and appreciate the sacrifice of so many American men and women, including our own Watervillians whose artifacts were included in this display. Your Waterville Historical Society is dedicated to preserving and presenting our local history and public support is vital to our mission. The Toledo Lucas County Library Local History Department has scanned all of our WW I letters from Alfred Graf and they now can be seen on the “Ohio Memory, A Collaborative Project of the Ohio History Connection and the State Library of Ohio.” Of course you are always welcome to come to the Wakeman Archival Research Center to read the letters.

The Home of Koral Hamburg

F.C. Starkweather Store

This building at 12 North Third Street was built as a hotel circa 1875 by Fred Haverland. Notice it is probably built in two sections as you can see the two halves do not meet. Later the building was owned (1910) by Fred C. Starkweather who ran a grocery store on the left side and an ice cream parlor and soda fountain on the right side. His brother, Will assisted him in the business. They delivered grocery orders by horse and wagon. When they realized automobiles were going to be used they put in a gas pump. In 1916, two gallons of gas cost $.54. The Starkweather store closed about 1950.

Other businesses in the building have been BonBar named for two daughters Bonnie and Barbara, Howard’s, Herb’s and Henry’s Variety and then the famous Koral Hamburg. The right side of the building has housed a barber shop, beauty shop, State Farm insurance office, Oliver Pray Antique and a bakery. The Village Barber Shop was operated by Lyman Sheely during the time Herb’s was on the other side. Herb Bauman bought the Henry’s Variety, took over the business on January 1, 1968 and owned that as Herb’s Variety until he sold out in 1974.

Koral Hamburg was originally founded in Maumee in 1942 by Andrew Koralewski. (Note where the name originated!) He bought the business that had been operating on River Road across from Fort Miami since 1926. Candy and Vince Flaggert brought Koral in 1985 to Waterville.  Later in 1998 Jay and Melody Surdasky purchased the building and gave the interior a 1950/60s theme look. They closed the business in 2015 for the last time but retained ownership of the Koral name. Recently they have gone in to the Koral Hamburg Food Concession Trailer business and the original cook is still making the famous hamburgers in their food truck that all in Waterville will remember. Emily Surdasky is the Marketing agent.  When former residents come back to Waterville the first thing they ask about is the Koral Hamburg. They have a website at www.koralhamburg.com.  Koral holds a special place in memory for those that grew up in Waterville. At present time the building houses Clayful Arts and they have an ice cream shop on the other side.

 

 

The Dr. Welcome Pray Property at 15 N. River Road

             15 N. River Road, Waterville, OH

Late last year the Waterville Historical Society was the recipient of a wonderful gift of the historic Waterville Gas Company building on River Road in Waterville from Rob Black, President and Todd Black, Secretary Treasurer of the Waterville Gas Company. At the time of the donation the Blacks expressed their desire that the building be preserved and maintained.  Due to the fact that the Gas Company building (Real Estate Tax Record—9 N. River; Street Address—13 N. River) and its neighbor (Real Estate Tax Record—11 N. River; Street Address—15 N. River) occupy the same lot, both properties were given to us as a package deal. 

              Waterville Gas Company

Both buildings are historically significant.  The Gas Company building dates to circa 1827 and, at one time, housed a tinsmith and dentist prior to becoming the headquarters of the Waterville Gas & Oil Company.  Its next door neighbor became the property of Dr. Welcome Pray in 1835 and, more recently, was the longtime home of Waterville resident Ernest Blauvelt and family. 

We initially considered the possibility of restoring both properties to their former appearance and utilizing them as museums.  While the Gas Company building is in near pristine condition, we remain committed to fulfilling that goal.  Unfortunately, the Welcome Pray property has suffered from years of decay and will require total gutting and rehab.

Faced with the extensive cost of restoration versus selling the property to help restore and maintain our other properties (Sargent and Robbins Houses; Wakeman Hall; Cobbler Shop) as well as providing other services and programs to the community, we chose the latter.

We are in the process of dividing the two parcels to facilitate sale of the Pray property.  We were approached by a potential buyer committed to rehabbing the building for residential rental.

It is important to realize that the building lies within Waterville’s Historical Overlay District.  Consequently, strict regulations apply to maintaining the external appearance and historical significance of the home.  (See Chapter 1157.01:  Statement of Purpose of the Waterville Code.)

We remain committed to our mission statement—“to encourage the preservation of historic buildings.”

Most sincerely, Jim Conrad, President

The Saga of Peddlers' Alley

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A blacksmith shop is said to have been built around 1840 on lot 84 on Wood Street(Farnsworth Road.) The shop where the blacksmith worked was called a smithy. Charles Graf was not the first blacksmith there as he was born in 1859 in Germany and came to America at the age of fourteen. Aden/Adon Cobleigh paid taxes of $100 between the years of 1854-57 on this property and was probably the first blacksmith. He died on April 12, 1863 at the age of 72 and is buried at the Wakeman Cemetery. On the 1860 Waterville Township Census his son, William was listed as a blacksmith along with Andrew Dutch and Dennis Mahan also listed as blacksmith living with him. Voil Downs(1896-1976) in his Anthony Wayne Standard weekly articles, “Did You Know?” said that Michael Tyler had his brick blacksmith shop built in 1867  on lot 84 by the Shufelt Bros, which was later the Grafs’ Machine Shop. The History of Toledo and Lucas County, by Clark Waggoner, published in 1888, mentions Asher Demuth, blacksmith on Wood Street, who succeeded Michael Tyler in 1884 working as a blacksmith. Charles Graf was probably the next blacksmith in that building that we know about.  On the building in an early photo it states “C.L. Graf & Son, Auto repairing and Machine work, Blacksmithing, Carriage and Wagon Works.” Their stationery read, “Carriage Ironer and Horse Shoer: Repair Work a Specialty.” The Graf family lived across the street and would come over during the night to keep the fires burning in the blacksmith forge. Next door there was a brick building which in a ca1920 photo states “The Brick Garage” with a gas pump outside, a machine (auto) shop. Charles Graf may have expanded his building when his son Albert came home from WWI in 1920.

 In 1895 Charles Graf was commissioned to make a prototype wagon which incorporated a front end that turns like an automobile rather than a straight axle. The inventor received a patent on this and Graf may have made and sold this type of wagon. The model wagon now is housed in the Sargent House museum. During WW I, to keep up with modern times Charles Graf made the first motorized school bus, made with a wooden box frame and door mounted on a model T truck frame. You can see the picture of the school bus on page 99 in the “Waterville” book by Arcadia and available from Waterville Historical Society.

 In the 1950s the Shop of Siebert Company leased the Graf building to customize Ford vehicles into ambulances and stretch limousines. In 1961 they expanded to Whitehouse at the corner of Route 64 and Cemetery Road. They left the area in 1964 for Michigan.

 1962 Principal Business Enterprise moved to the Graf building and built additions to it. They made slippers from polyurethane that was cheap and easy to wash. At first they were known as Pillow Peds and later known as Pillow Paws. These were used for patients in hospitals and could be disposable. They were here about 14 years before looking for a larger facility in Perrysburg.

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In 1976 Ferd Seipel and Ron Martin purchased the building and designed Peddlers’ Alley as a 16 store mall, restaurant and cocktail lounge, with shops inside and a brick walkway through the building. There were wrought iron gates for doors and glass doors in the winter. This was part of Waterville’s “Operation Old Town” restoration program. The blacksmith shop on the east side of building was the oldest part of the building and became the Restaurant. They just recleaned the bricks, walls and the old dark wooden ceiling. On January 4, 1977 Don and Lee Buckout from the Old Plantation Inn on River Road in Maumee opened Smedlap’s Smithy Restaurant and Tavern. He installed a spiral slide from the second floor down to the dining room which is still in use today. Many other proprietors ran the restaurant after the death of Don Buckout. The restaurant was closed December 2014. It was sold and now is the Cocina de Carlos which brings fresh Mexican food to the area. The name “Smedlap” was created by Don Buckout. No such person ever owned the blacksmith shop.

Some of the businesses that were in Peddlers’ Alley when it opened: The Totem Pole; The Tiffany Flower Shop; Graphics Limited; The Finishing Touch; The Time Piece; Waterville Outdoor World; Village Squire Barber Shop; The Kaleidoscope; The Needle’s Eye and Forever Yours Antique Shop to name a few.

Electricity for Waterville

Did you know that the Village first received electricity for homes and street lighting in 1917? We found, among a stack of old ordinances and paperwork, a series of actions by the Village Council in the year 1917 to electrify the Village. A special election was held April 25, 1917 to allow the Village to issue bonds to finance “building works for the supplying electricity to the Corporation and inhabitants thereof”. The issue was passed by a vote of 115 for and 14 against. Then a series of ordinances were passed at a June 4, 1917 meeting to publish and sell bonds totaling $13,600 and another to authorize the Clerk C.J. Roach and Mayor J.J. Lloyd to advertise for bids for this project. Ordinance No. 7 dated July 27, 1917 authorized the Village to levy a property tax sufficient to pay interest on the bonds and establish a “sinking fund” to pay the principal when due. Bids were taken to “furnish all apparatus and equipment for building a distribution system to receive purchased electrical energy for lighting of streets and resale to the public” to specifications supplied by the Froelich and Emery Engineering Co.  A resolution passed September 17th awarded contracts for materials and labor to Chas. L. Zahm of Toledo and to General Electric of Toledo for transformers, service meters and lamps all totaling $11,933.68. No paper work was found indicating when the village residents began to actually receive electricity but we can assume sometime in 1918.

Power was purchased from 1918 until June 1930 when a municipal generating plant was built and put into service.  This generating station was powered by several large diesel engines and was located near the water tower at the western edge (at that time) of the village. When the demand for power increased to capacity more diesel engines and generating units were added. By the 1950s the village residents had to decide whether to build a larger power plant or abandon the municipal plant and again purchase power from Toledo Edison. This controversial issue raged for years with much passion on both sides. The villagers were evenly split on the issue and no decision could be reached. Finally in 1967 Toledo Edison agreed to buy the Waterville Power Company for about 1.3 million dollars.  The power plant was shut down and Waterville power switched to a Toledo Edison substation on April 20, 1968. The plant was sold to Toledo Edison in July of 1968 and later the building was given back to the Village.

In 1974 The Waterville Historical Society was interested in using the building as a museum. The Village, via resolution 19-74, dated September 7, 1974, offered a 99 year lease of the building to W.H.S for one dollar per year. W.H.S. then had an architect study the prospect of turning the old generator building into a museum. The architect, recommended by the Ohio Historical Society, determined the building was not suitable for a museum and would be to costly to upgrade and maintain. W.H.S. was grateful for the generous offer from the village but by September 1975 had to turn it down. This regret was expressed in a “Letter to the Editor” dated September 4, 1975, signed by President Opel Witte and Historian Midge Campbell. The old building was eventually demolished.

A Millstone lives in Waterville

There is a millstone in the Witte Memorial Herb Garden at the Robbins House Museum. Tom Parker tells us that it was found in the ground when two houses were torn down on Second Street to make way for the new (at that time) town hall. It was moved to the WHS property when the cobbler house was moved. This millstone most likely came from the Pekin Mill when it was torn down. June Huffman in her book “Shades of Providence” notes that in January of 1917 workmen were busy removing machinery and equipment at Pekin Mill. The Millstone could easily have been rolled the short distance to the rear of the Second Street property.

This millstone has been the object of much attention recently. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History has been interested in cataloging our stone since June 2014, with several contacts and requests for information but no follow-up. They are studying millstones around the state of Ohio. This June, they again made contact and wanted to set a date to come to Waterville and study our millstone. On June 4th Dr. Joe Hannibal and his intern Tyler Mahoney met with Bob Chapman, Jim Conrad, John and Verna Rose at the Robbins House to examine and measure our millstone. They were mostly interested in its origin. It seems that many millstones are made of chert imported from France, deemed to make the best millstones. Others may be made of a similar material mined in Ohio at Flint Ridge. They differ by the type of fossils found in the stone and Dr. Joe has published his findings on this in scientific journals. They have determined that our millstone is made of French chert. The stone was imported and then fashioned in a millstone probably in Cleveland. Dr. Joe says that a whole millstone was charged an import duty or tariff but raw stones pieces were not. The photo shows our stone is an assembly of multiple pieces. The millstone is 43 inches in diameter, 7 inches deep and bound with an iron band around the outside. Waterville Historical Society has kept a sheet metal cover over the stone to protect it from the weather and other possible damage.

Mathewson Restaurant

Breisach Saloon --- Mathewson Restaurant

The Breisach Saloon, which was on the corner of Mechanic and River Road, was bought in 1923 by Nebraska B. Mathewson and his daughter Mrs. Asher (Marie) Hoobler and the business became the Mathewson Restaurant. Later in 1926 his son, George and Alice Mathewson bought the building and continued the restaurant business. During the Great Depression George moved to a small farm near Bowling Green and rented the restaurant business to Dick and Bud Witte. George’s eldest son Ray met Elnora Brown, who was a waitress for Dick and Bud, in 1936 and they were married in 1937. At this same time Standard Oil contracted with Mathewson to build a gas station on the Mechanic and River Road corner, so the restaurant building was moved one lot south. Ray and Elnora started their marriage running the Mathewson Restaurant while George and his father ran the gas station. The restaurant seated 50 customers and they served home cooked food. They also ran a small carryout business in one part of the building. Several years later Ray and Elnora took over the gas station business at 33 N. River while George and Alice again took over the restaurant. In 1980 the restaurant building was sold to Bill Imes who extensively remodeled the building. Many businesses have occupied the building since that time. 

Ray’s Sohio Service continued for many years until the Standard Oil Company decided to construct a building on the new Anthony Wayne Trail at Farnsworth Road and ask Ray to manage that building.  Eventually his son Jud Mathewson ran the station as a Sunoco gas station on the corner or River and Mechanic. It was sold in 1990 to Waterville Import Motors which is still in business.

Historical note: The subject corner was the intersection of Route 24 and Route 64 at that time and both highways ran through that part of town on River Road.

The Pumpkin Vine by Randy Studer

To tell the story of the Toledo, Waterville & Southern Railway Co. (aka the “Pumpkin Vine”) interurban, we need to start at the very beginning.  Keep in mind this is not the Ohio Electric Railway that ran across the Maumee River on the old concrete interurban bridge by the Roche de Boeuf rock.  We will talk about that interurban line later.

In July of 1887, The Toledo & Maumee Valley Railway Co. was formed by A. K. Detwiler, G. G. Metzger, G. K. Detwiler and C.P. Griffin (dba the Detwiler & Metzger syndicate.)  In April of 1896, the Toledo, Bowling Green & Fremont Railway Company was formed by the King-Tracy syndicate.  This line will run from Perrysburg or Maumee to Bowling Green, Pemberville, Gibsonburg and Fremont.  In 1897, the Toledo & Maumee Valley Railroad leased the Toledo, Bowling Green & Fremont Railway line and operated them both as part of its own system.  This was done to increase the growth of the electric railway systems with Toledo as the central point for all the railway lines.  On January 21, 1901, the “Pumpkin Vine” was incorporated with $25,000 in capital stock.  The Toledo, Waterville & Southern Railway Co. was a subsidiary of the Toledo & Maumee Valley Railway Co.

The new Toledo, Waterville & Southern Railway Co. proposed to build and operate an electric railway following the Maumee River with stops in Toledo, Maumee, Waterville, Grand Rapids, Napoleon and Defiance.  However there was one problem that had to be resolved.  The Toledo, Napoleon & Defiance Railway was being incorporated on the same day, January 21, 1909.  Both lines immediately engaged in a heated rivalry for the franchises from the various towns that the line would serve.  A franchise is the permission from a town or city to lay track and operate them in accordance with the terms of the franchise agreement.  The fare amounts to be charged are also set within the franchise agreement.

Let’s go back to January 3, 1901, when the village of Waterville received applications from Abraham K. Detwiler (dba Toledo, Waterville & Southern Railway Co.) and William R. Hattersley (dba Toledo, Napoleon & Defiance Railway) to construct, maintain and operate an electric street railroad with the necessary equipment on and along Main Street (River Road) in the Village of Waterville, Ohio.  A sealed proposal with a deposit of $2,500 had to be submitted by January 28, 1901.  Abraham K. Detwiler was awarded the franchise with a 25-year lease by the Waterville Village Council.  On October 14, 1901, an ordinance was passed by the village of Waterville to grant “The Toledo, Waterville & Southern Railway Company, it’s successors and assigns, the right to lay, construct, maintain and operate a railroad, to be operated by electricity or other motive power, except steam, in, along and upon a certain street herein after described, in the Village of Waterville, Lucas County, Ohio. Passed and signed by G. T. Ging, Mayor.”

With all the new interurban/street car companies being formed in the Toledo, Ohio, area in the late 1800s and early 1900s, changes were on the horizon for the electric lines.  The Toledo, Waterville and Southern Railway, the Toledo, Bowling Green & Fremont Railway and the Toledo and Maumee Valley Railway did not go unnoticed.  Henry A. Everett and Edward W. Moore from Cleveland, Ohio entered into the picture.  They were both active since 1895 when they built the Akron Bedford and Cleveland Railroad.  It served in a populous area and proved to be profitable for them.  They formed the Everett-Moore Syndicate in 1899, with several of the directors and officers of the Cleveland Electric Railway Co. At this time, they were the largest syndicate building and operating interurban railways.  They were also in the process of expanding toward Toledo and Detroit.

They controlled 1,200 miles of interurban electric railways.  The syndicate owned outright or controlled vast local and long-distance telephone systems in Ohio.  In December of 1901, the Toledo, Waterville and Southern Railway (Pumpkin Vine), Toledo, Bowling Green & Fremont Railway and the Toledo and Maumee Valley Railway were sold to the Everett-Moore Syndicate.  The new electric railway line that was formed from the sale was named the Maumee Valley Railway and Light Co.  It was organized with a capitalization of $1,000,000 to take over and operate the 36 miles of electric railways. The electricity to power the railway was purchased from The Toledo Railways and Light Co.  With the consolidation of all three electric lines it would mean more improved car service and freight hauling with a better system of car transfers between the various interurban railway lines.

At this time the Maumee Valley Railway and Light Co. had begun operating the “Pumpkin Vine” interurban.  The “Pumpkin Vine” got its moniker because of its twisting, turning corkscrew tracks paralleling the Maumee River between Maumee and Waterville.  It was still only extended into Waterville and ended at River Road and Mechanic St.  There were plans at one time for it to go across the Maumee River at Waterville, but that never happened.  Since there was no loop or way to turn the car around, the line used doubled ended cars.  The motorman and conductor had to go to the back end of the car and go reverse of the route.  Over the years the people of Waterville found the Pumpkin Vine interurban to be a convenient way of commuting to Maumee, Toledo, Perrysburg and other towns by transferring to different lines.  It ran each hour between Waterville and Maumee.

Unfortunately, the route the line took from Maumee to Turkey Foot rock was in low areas prone to flooding from the Maumee River during the spring and ice jams in the winter.  It was reported in the Perrysburg Journal dated February 19, 1904, “The tracks of the Waterville line have been covered with ice for the past three weeks which caused a complete suspension of traffic along the line.  For the past week a force of men have been working to clear the tracks.”  The entire roadway from Maumee to Turkey Foot rock was impassable.  It became necessary to put in a new line of trolley poles, as nearly every one of the poles was carried away by the floating ice.  This would cost the company around $25,000 to replace track and trolley poles each time an ice jam would take out the poles.  Mr. Leroy Waffle, father of Lois Waffle who was a noted librarian at the Waterville Library, was the motorman for the “Pumpkin Vine.”  He kept a diary in which he would include the name of the conductor with whom he worked with each day.  On February 10, 1910 he noted that a car become jammed in an ice gorge near Turkey Foot rock.

On March 18, 1910, it was reported in the Perrysburg Journal that the Maumee Valley Railway & Light Company is seriously considering abandoning the Waterville extension of the rail line on the Lucas County side of the Maumee River.  They had a new plan which was to lay new track and trolley poles on the Wood County side of the Maumee River, extending it to Haskins.  With this new route the railway would not have any problems with ice jams and flooding.  The line was surveyed several years ago and the right of way secured between Waterville and Haskins with a spur across the river at Waterville for the accommodation of the village, which would later extend the line to Bowling Green, Ohio. Unfortunately that did not happen but what did happen came on May 9, 1910.

Albion E. Lang, president of the Toledo Railways and Light Co. (which controlled the Maumee Valley Railway and Light Co.) made the decision to remove the tracks and trolley poles from Maumee to Waterville and abandoned the line.  Lang did say, “When the road was constructed several years ago by the Detwiler’s, it was the intention to extend it south into a section of the state so that it would ensure a reasonable return on the investment, which never happened.”  The Pumpkin Vine had never paid for any of its operating expenses and had become a liability due to inadequate fares and track wash outs. The short lived “Pumpkin Vine” Interurban was no more.  One interesting note is that the builders of the Lima and Toledo Traction Co. (Ohio Electric) had originally planned to enter Toledo using the Pumpkin Vine route, but changed their mind and built their own entrance into Toledo via Waterville and Maumee in 1908.

The Maumee Valley Railway and Light Co. continued to operate its other lines. In 1921, the Maumee Valley Railway and Light Co. went into bankruptcy. In 1924, the Maumee Valley Railway and Light Co. line was abandoned. Its gross revenues no longer covered operating costs, and the trackage rights over the Toledo, Bowling Green & Southern Railway line were proving prohibitive. In the 1920’s -1930’s, bus lines started to take over when the interurban lines stopped running. Times were changing and the interurban were losing favor and becoming less profitable due to poor service, more bus and truck lines, and more personal cars.

The Toledo Traction Light & Power Co., Toledo and Railway Light Co., Cities Services Co., and Community Traction Co. controlled most of the interurban and city electric railways in the Toledo area and provided electrical power to them and to the city of Toledo.  All of the street and interurban cars are long gone now and we still have two companies in Toledo which are direct descendants of the Toledo Traction Light & Power Co. and Toledo and Railway Light Co. The Toledo and Railway Light Co. itself was composed of several electric streetcar and utilities companies that were purchased and consolidated.  They provided electric and gas service to Toledo and surrounding areas.  In 1921, The Toledo Railways and Light Co. was renamed Toledo Edison.  Later it would become Toledo Edison / Centerior Energy / First Energy Corp.  The streetcar operations were sold to the Community Traction Co., which later became the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority (TARTA) providing transportation services.  A final note is that the last Community Traction Co. street car ran on December 31, 1949, and that was the end of street cars in Toledo, Ohio

P.O. Box 263,  Waterville, OH  43566            whs43566@outlook.com

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