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.

Open House, WW I Exhibits

                    Ernie Ferrell and friend

This year the Robbins House will be having a special exhibit on WW I with objects and uniforms. In the glass case downstairs will be showing artifacts Albert Graf brought back on his return home. The other cases will have items from local soldiers as well. Upstairs they will have information on the Home Front during that time. We know at least 68 WW I soldiers were buried in the Wakeman Cemetery. If anyone has photographs they would like to donate to the Archives, please send them to us or scan and send them through the website. If you bring photographs to the Archives, we can scan them so you may keep the original. We would like to have a file on all of the men that served in WW I from Waterville or were buried in the Wakeman Cemetery. On Saturday April 28th the Robbins and Sargent Houses will be open from 9 AM until Noon. There will also be two walking tours. The Downtown walking tour will meet at Robbins House at 9 AM and the Uptown walking tour meets at the Wakeman Hall at 12 noon. The Wakeman Archives will be open from 10 AM to 2 PM on that day.

Waterville Gas Company Donates Two Historic Properties to WHS

                  Dr. Welcome Pray Home

 The Waterville Gas Company President Robert Black, announced today that the company is proud to donate two of its historic properties, The Waterville Gas Company Building located at 11 North River Road and the adjacent Dr. Welcome Pray home located at 15 North River Road to the Waterville Historical Society.

Both properties are considered to be amongst the most historic buildings in the City of Waterville.  Founded in 1888, The Waterville Gas & Oil Company is the oldest family owned utility in the State of Ohio and until 2009, the Waterville Gas Company building served as the headquarters for the Waterville Gas and Oil Company before its move to its current headquarters on Farnsworth Road in Waterville. 

         Waterville Gas Company building

According to Mr. Black, “The donation of these properties to the Society was a significant event in the history of the company since they represent a cherished family legacy having been in the family dating back to the founding of the company in 1888. It was a decision that was not lightly made, but with the excellent reputation of the Waterville Historical Society, we were convinced that this significant contribution of a piece of our history would be preserved and utilized in a way that we would be proud.”

“In addition,”Mr. Black stated, “The Society is currently in the process of raising funds for its major capital campaign and we felt and hope that our gift would provide positive momentum to their efforts.”

Founded in 1964, the Waterville Historical Society has been preserving the rich history of Waterville for over 50 years. What began as an organization established by 34 citizens has grown into a dynamic Waterville community asset owning and maintaining four historic properties in the city including: the Sargent House, the Robbins House, Wakeman Hall and a Cobbler Shop.  The addition of the historic Waterville Gas & Oil Company building and the Dr. Welcome Pray home will provide the Society with additional historic properties to showcase to visitors and area students.

James Conrad, President of the Waterville Historical Society said, “The Waterville Historical Society is extraordinarily honored to accept this amazing donation of not only a significant piece of Waterville History, but the important contribution of the R.G. Stitt Family and Gas Company to our community.” Mr. Conrad said, “Our current plans for the buildings are to not only restore and preserve the historic nature of the properties, but use the donation as an opportunity to educate Toledo area visitors about natural gas and the R. G. Stitt family’s important contribution to Waterville and the surrounding area.

While exhibits and displays within the properties are still to be planned and developed, we envision a restoration of the original 1888 interior with photos, documents and artifacts representative of the time in addition to interactive educational exhibits on the oil and gas industry.”  


Dennis Jones Executive Director Waterville Historical Society Watervillehistory@gmail.com (419) 276-4674


                         Phyllis Witzler

   Phyllis Witzler a longtime volunteer with the Waterville Historical has decided to retire from her position as the Chair of History & Publicity Committee.  Phyllis has been a volunteer with the Wakeman Archival Center since it opened in 2001 and helped to set up the Archives after WHS bought and restored the Wakeman Building. She has co-authored our recent book called “Waterville.” Phyllis has been a member of the historical society since 1986, has served as president, docent, publicity chairman, and volunteer archivist with the archives. She interviewed and compiled oral histories of many of the local residents of Waterville. These were published in a book called “I Remember When” and she also assisted with our book “Memorial Profiles.” She has written articles for the “Bend of the River” and for the website. Phyllis has taken many photographs to document the history of the society along with volunteers doing work for the society. These were all placed in many notebooks over the years. She also documented the remodeling of all of the museums which will be a great help for future historians.

    Phyllis put together the application for the marker at Pray Park and the sign in front of the Wakeman Hall through the Ohio historical markers program.  The markers commemorate the Miami and Erie Canal, John Pray founder; and the Wakeman Hall and Waterville Historical Society 50th Anniversary. She has been our editor making sure the documentation and punctuation was correct for the articles on the website having been a writer and editor for the Anthony Wayne Standard weekly newspaper in the 1970s. Phyllis was always willing to assist with the latest mystery that a visitor to the archives presented. It has been a joy to work with her at the Archives and she promises to visit often and hopefully will continue to edit our writings.

Field View from an American Soldier in WW I

                    Speaker: Dave Westrick

     "Field View from an American Soldier in World War I" will be presented by Dave Westrick on Wednesday, November 15. Sponsored by the Waterville Historical Society the free program will be held at Wakeman Hall, 401 Farnsworth Road at 7 p.m.

    Using copies of combat art and an extensive collection of artifacts, including weapons, uniforms and gear, Westrick as historical interpreter will provide a glimpse into the life of the doughboy and the experience that changed the world one hundred years ago. The young American soldiers came from small towns and farms. Most had never seen a city. Very few had ever been in a foreign country. None of them were prepared for a modern war. Despite the shock and horror of poison gas, machine guns and trench warfare, the Americans prevailed.

     Westrick is a retired communications consultant and historical researcher. He serves on the board of the Fallen Timbers Battlefield Preservation Commission and the Maumee Valley Heritage Corridor and lives in Maumee.

     Refreshments will be served following the program.

Winter Hours Set for Wakeman Archival Center

          Wakeman Archival Research Center

The Wakeman Archival Research Center at 401 Farnsworth Road will be open Wednesday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon weather permitting. Look for the "open" flag on the front of the building. We are also open by appointment through April. Call (419) 878-3425 for more information or to make an appointment.

Open House and Walking Tours on October 21, 2017

                    Robbins House Museum

     Two guided walking tours of Waterville will be offered for the last time this year on Saturday, October 21. The Downtown Tour begins at 9 a.m. at the Robbins House Museum, 114 South River Road and focuses on the historic area of Waterville prior to the opening of the Miami and Erie Canal. The Uptown Tour begins at 11 a.m. at Wakeman Hall, 401 Farnsworth Road and includes the "new business district" of Third Street which grew with the opening of the canal in 1843. Prior to the walk, visitors may view the diorama of Waterville in 1903 inside Wakeman Hall to better understand the location and appearance of the canal.

     The first walk should be completed in time for a visit to the 1838 Robbins House and the circa 1834 Sargent House Museum next door. This will be the last opportunity to view the nostalgic display of artifacts and photos of the old Waterville School in the Robbins House. Both house museums will be open until noon. The rare 1849 sampler made by 10-year-old Rowena Sargent is on display in her family home.

     Following the Uptown Tour a visit will be provided to the staged general store in the front window of Wakeman Hall. as well as a tour of the archives on the second floor. The archives will remain open until 2 p.m and includes a great deal of information about the Waterville area and its families.

     Both the walking tours and admittance to the museums are free, with a $1 donation requested for the walking tour brochure

Saturday, June 17th: A Big Day in Waterville

Schaller-Simpson House at 219 Canal Road

Schaller-Simpson House at 219 Canal Road

Historic Homes of Waterville Tour 10 am – 4pm. Did you get your tickets yet? Six beautiful homes in the historic neighborhoods of Waterville will be available for touring. The Historical Society’s Robbins and Sargent Houses on South River Road will also be open. Many of these homes are very true to their original floor plans so that you will get an idea of how our ancestors lived during the early days of our community. Several have been remodeled extensively, but still retain their historic feel with many original touches. Ticket information is online at www.watervillehistory.org

Other event for the day will be the A.W. Area Arts Commission Plein Air Event. Outdoor artist will offer their paintings for sale. Rock the Block Party sponsored by the Waterville Chamber of Commerce and Third Street Cigar. Party runs early evening until late. This promises to be a full day of fun and entertainment for young and old. Come out and tour old homes, watch an artist, buy a painting, have lunch in town and party in the evening.


     "The Life of General Anthony Wayne" will be presented by re-enactor Frank Butwin on Wednesday, March 15, 7 p.m. at Browning Masonic Community. This is the first in a series of free programs sponsored by the Waterville Historical Society for 2017.

     Butwin is on the boards of the Perrysburg Area Historic Museum, the Fallen Timbers Battlefield Preservation Commission and the Maumee Valley Historic Corridor. He is well-known for his re-enacting portrayals of a soldier in the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key, President John Tyler and others as well as Anthony Wayne.

     Wayne is famous in this area primarily for the successful Battle of Fallen Timbers in which he defeated the Native American forces near Maumee in 1794. His name is now attached to schools, roads, towns and many other entities, but he really gained his fame during the Revolutionary War where he was admired by General George Washington for his military successes.

     Butwin will talk about Wayne's family heritage, schooling, early work as a surveyor, military career in the Revolution and campaign to Fallen Timbers, death, burial in three places and legacy. His attitudes and character traits will be examined as well. Was he really "mad" and a "dandy?"

     Browning Community Center is located at 8883 Browning Drive off of Neowash Road. The public is welcome and refreshments will be served.


Again in 2017, a membership envelope was inserted in the members’ January newsletter. (If you did not receive a newsletter, pick one up at the Wakeman building on Wednesdays between 10 AM-Noon or at the Waterville Library or Chamber of Commerce.) Simply fill out the information on the envelope, place your check for membership or a donation inside, place a stamp, seal the envelope and drop it in the mail!

Checks may be written to: Waterville Historical Society or you can pay online at www.watervillehistory.org  (click on “Join & Give”) and charge to Visa, Master Card,Discover, or American Express.We are an all-volunteer organization. Thank you for helping us fulfill our mission to preserve local Waterville history! Mail to: Waterville Historical Society  c/o Rose Kandik, Membership Chair  P.O. Box 263, Waterville, OH 43566

Waterville Historical Society Thank You

Waterville Historical Society would like to thank all who donated on the Giving Tuesday fund raising event in support of all of our programs and projects. Your generosity helped to meet and exceed our goal of raising enough to qualify for a matching grant of $500 from the Toledo Community Foundation. 

Here's a little about the Waterville Historical Society

Since 1964, the Waterville Historical Society has played an important role in our community. Over the years we have acquired the following properties:  the Robbins House, Sargent House and Cobbler Shop museums are located on our historic campus at 114-118 S. River Road and the Wakeman Archival Research Center is uptown at 401 Farnsworth Road.

Our many services and activities include:

·       Maintaining an archival collection for historic research and local genealogy

·       Offering free public programs on topics of area interest

·       Holding regular open houses for our historical museums and Wakeman Archival Research Center

·       Guiding walking tours of both the downtown and uptown historic areas

·       Participating in Roche de Boeuf Day and holding various community events

·       Hosting docent-led instruction in our museums and archaeological walking tours for Waterville third graders(based on Ohio 3rd grade Social Studies curriculum standards)

Communicating events and activities with members and friends through our newsletter issued 3 or 4times per year
Membership:The Waterville Historical Society is dedicated to collecting information and memorabilia about the history of our community and sharing and preserving this heritage for future generations. Memberships and contributions are the only means by which the society’s programs and facilities are financed. We are an all-volunteer organization!  Check the website for membership categories or email: rosekandik64@gmail.com for assistance. There are a variety of opportunities for volunteer assistance throughout the year. Join and serve!

Before you go: Visit our website at watervillehistory.org and “Like” us on Facebook @ bottom of the website home page or search for “Waterville Historical Society” through your FB page.

Waterville Historial Society is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization.

Winter Hours for the Wakeman Archives

     Winter hours for the Wakeman Archival Research Center, 401 Farnsworth Road, began November 2nd. It will be open by appointment, and depending on weather conditions and availability of staff, the archives will be open Wednesday mornings at 10 a.m. until noon. Look for the "Open" flag on the front of the building. Located upstairs at Wakeman Hall, the archives is staffed by Waterville Historical Society volunteers and contains records of Waterville organizations, businesses, churches, schools, cemeteries, etc., as well as family files and local history. Admission is free. Call 419-878-3425 for more information or to make an appointment. Summer hours will resume in May, 2017.

Open Houses and Walking tour back by popular demand Oct. 29th

 Two guided walking tours of the historic districts of Waterville will be offered for the last time this year, along with open houses at the Robbins House and Sargent HouseMuseums and Wakeman Hall on Saturday, October 29.

    The Downtown Tour meets on the Robbins House porch, 114 South River Road, at 9 a.m. It will focus on the history of Waterville as a river town prior to the opening of the canal in 1843. In about an hour walkers should be back to the starting point in time to visit the 1838 Robbins House and the 1834 Sargent House Museum next door, which will be open from 9 a.m. until noon.

     The Uptown Tour will meet on the front porch of Wakeman Hall, 401 Farnsworth Road at 11 a.m. Included is a visit inside to view the diorama of Waterville in 1903 to better appreciate the location and appearance of the Miami and Erie Canal, followed with a walking tour of Waterville's "new business district" which grew on Third Street with the opening of the canal. After returning to Wakeman Hall, a visit will be provided to the staged general store in the front window as well as a tour of the Waterville Historical Society Archives on the second floor. The archives will be open from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and includes a great deal of information about the Waterville area and its families.

Ghostly Encounter Cast Members

Ghostly Encounter Cast

Cast members of the "Ghostly Encounters" program presented by the Waterville Historical Society Wednesday evening, October 12 wait behind a building at Wakeman Cemetery as the audience gathers nearby. Appearing one at a time to present the stories of the cemetery "residents" are from left front: Jim Conrad as Edward Sargent, John Bradley as John the Prisoner, (a composite of several town characters), DeAnna Bradley as Lucinda Oliver, and Kathy Saco as Susan Pray. Back row: Dave Lagrange as David Robbins, Karen Wiggins as Jane Shoemaker, Tom Wiggins as George Cooper, Taya Marshall as Rowena Sargent and Frank Butwin as Harry Witte. Jim Conrad also appeared as Fire Chief Carl Conrad. The audience was treated to a great deal of humor as well as sadness in learning the lives of Waterville's early citizens. The Presbyterian Church provided refreshments after the program.

WHS May 18th Program

     As a direct descendant of John Pray, the founder of Waterville, Pollie Young Miller has always been interested in local history. On Wednesday, May 18 she will present a program about her relatives, "The Farnsworth Family of Waterville,"  7 p.m. at Wakeman Hall. At one time the Farnsworth Fruit Farms were the largest employers in Waterville and Northwest Ohio. Toni Stoma will assist with the Power Point presentation.

      In preparation for her talk, Pollie met cousins she never knew and reconnected with others, even one in Australia. "Everyone has been so helpful," she said, "and I've learned so much." She already had family information fromher sister Debby, a DAR member, and her sister Cindy, who videotaped and narrated family history. Norton Young, Pollie's father had written his life story. His mother was Ruth Farnsworth Young. Pollie learned she is the 11th generation of Farnsworths and the 13th generation of Prays.

     For 30 years Pollie taught in Waterville Elementary Schools, retiring in 2014. Last fall she was one of only five Individual Achievement Award recipients from the Ohio Local History Alliance for her efforts in involving her students in local history and the community.

     Wakeman Hall is at 401 Farnsworth Road. The public is welcome to this free program sponsored by the Waterville Historical Society. Refreshments will be served.

Wakeman Archival Research Center Summer Hours

Summer hours for the Wakeman Archival Research Center in Waterville begin May 6 and are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Wednesday until November and also the last Saturdays of May, June, July and August. The Center, located upstairs at 401 Farnsworth Road, contains records of Waterville organizations, businesses, churches, schools, etc., as well as family files and local history. The public may inspect them free of charge and a volunteer archivist will assist with research. No items may be removed from the archives, but copies may be made for a small fee. Donations of similar documents and photographs, or items brought to be copied and added to the files are welcome. To schedule an appointment at other times call: 419-878-3425 or 419-878-2576.


Dr. Janet Rozick replaced Jamie Ozendine as speaker for the Waterville Historical Society Wednesday evening at Browning Masonic Community. Oxendine had to cancel due to a family emergency, but Rozick very capably took over his topic, "The Battle of Fallen Timbers from the Native American Perspective." After she earned degrees in history from Heidelberg College, BGSU and the University of Toledo, she held academic positions, worked at historical centers and the Metroparks, where she began her research in Native culture and the Battle of Fallen Timbers. At present, she serves as the part-time Executive Director of the Maumee Valley Historical Society and as Associate Professor at American Public University.

Speaking to an overflow crowd, Rozick explained that the Native Americans had gained a lot of confidence after defeating both Generals Harmar and St. Clair and their armies, and thought they could also defeat Anthony Wayne, despite Chief Little Turtle's warning. Rozick said the Americans couldn't believe they had lost the earlier battles to uncivilized "savages."  She also gave the background history of the confederacy of the several tribes. Their support from the English and Spanish faded when wars in Europe required attention. After losing the Battle of Fallen Timbers the tribes signed the Treaty of Greenville which opened the Northwest Territory to American settlement.



Program on Fallen Timbers Battlefield well attended

                              Dave Westrick

Dave Westrick, president of the Fallen Timbers Battlefield Preservation Commission, presented a program to a full house at Browning Community Wednesday evening March 15. There were two battles of Fallen Timbers, he explained, a brief but bloody one in 1794 between Anthony Wayne and his troops against the Native Americans, and a second prolonged and contentious one between those wanting to preserve the battlefield site against developers and politicians. The site was finally opened to the public last fall. The trail through the battlefield is maintained by the Toledo Area Metroparks and begins off Jerome Road in Maumee.

Using powerpoint illustrations, Westrick showed how archeologist Michael Pratt discovered the actual site by finding many artifacts from the battle. It was long thought to have taken place along the floodplain of the Maumee River. An old inaccurate map reinforced the idea. The legend of Turkey Foot Rock has also come into question, Westrick said, but next month's program on April 20 will tell the battle from the Native American perspective, including their beliefs about the rock. Sponsored by the Waterville Historical Society, the free program will again be held at Browning Community at 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

Volunteers needed to help out the Waterville Historical Society

Roche de Boeuf Event ~

For the past ten+ years, our historic campus has come alive with artisans, re-enactors, docents, musicians, book sales and attic treasures. The event requires months of planning and, along with the Chamber of Commerce, resources are combined to help us meet our mission to foster an appreciation of our local history. The community has responded positively with their presence and it is hoped that this tradition will continue. However, at this time we do not have a coordinator for this to take place in September, 2016. Will you or someone you know consider taking on this role? The plans are organized down to final details and ready for a willing volunteer(s) to accept the challenge. Help is available; a leader is the critical need. Contact any of the officers listed on the back of the newsletter or through our website if you or someone you know can “take it away!” WHS’ undying gratitude is the reward. An exciting “Pioneer Arts” event is the outcome.

 Live in a Historic Home? Like to tour some?

Pray-Starkweather Home

Within the next calendar year or two, we would like to bring back the historic home tour event that was very popular in the 1980s. We have discussed this with several Waterville homeowners who know the history of the house they are living in and some have agreed to participate. Right now we’re seeking members or friends who may help build our planning committee. We have a good deal of organizational information already. We need energetic, interested adults to help us carry it out. Won’t you consider joining us? Or if you know of your or a neighbor’s wonderful historic home that you or they would be happy to share with our community to benefit the Society, please contact us! Many hands make light work. Let’s see our beautiful historic homes shine!


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

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