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.

Bill Albert Presented Program on Stereography for Enjoyment of All

   After providing the audience at Wakeman Hall with special "glasses" of one red and one blue lens for viewing his powerpoint program, Bill Albert presented a large number of amazing 3D images. He explained the history of stereography from its invention in England before the invention of photography, to the explosion of popularity when photo images were used. In the United States many stereographic images of the Civil War were made, which surprises many people today. Albert showed his large collection of them.

   Beautiful 3D scenes of western national parks and Niagara Falls contrasted with startling photos of disasters such as the 1906 San Diego earthquake and the 1889 Johnstown flood.

   There were many improvements in design of the stereographic equipment, and as it was simplified and became inexpensive almost every home was equipped with one as the family's main form of home entertainment. Libraries and schools used them as teaching tools well into the 20th century.

    Albert had an interesting display of his collection of stereographic equipment which was available for examination following the November 18th program, the last one offered by WHS this year. Refreshments and fellowship were enjoyed as well.



The Wakeman Archival Research Center will be open by appointment through April, and depending on weather conditions and availability of staff, the archives will be open on Wednesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. Look for the “open” flag on the front of the building. Located upstairs at Wakeman Hall 401 Farnsworth Rd., the archives are staffed by Waterville Historical Society volunteers and contain records of Waterville organizations, business, churches, schools, cemeteries, etc., as well as family files and local history. Admission is free. Call (419)878-3425 or (419) 878-2576 for more information or to make an appointment.

Pollie Miller Receives Award

As one of only five Individual Achievement Awards recipients from the Ohio Local History Alliance, Pollie Young Miller stated in her acceptance speech, "It's wonderful to be recognized for something I loved to do, sharing my heritage and my city with children and getting them involved so that they will love it too."  She recently retired after thirty years of teaching.

The awards ceremony took place in Worthington, Ohio on October 3 at the annual meeting of OHLA in Worthington, Ohio. The Alliance works in partnership with the Ohio History Connection (formerly the Ohio Historical Society). A total of twenty-one awards were presented to historical societies, museums, libraries, publications and individuals from throughout the state for a variety of Ohio historical projects.

 Rose Kandik nominated Miller on behalf of the Waterville Historical Society, praising her efforts to involve her third grade students in local history with museum visits, historical and architectural walking tours, participation in dedications of local historical markers and a naturalization ceremony as well as classroom assignments.

As a direct descendant of John Pray, Waterville's founder, "she has actively carried on his legacy by weaving our local history connections into the Ohio standards for Social Studies at her grade level," the nomination read. In support of the nomination, Chad Warnimont, Principal of Waterville Primary School wrote a letter to OLHA praising Mrs. Miller's many accomplishments. "She strives to help the students make a vivid connection with the community while developing community pride in each student," he said.

Each year her students have a fundraiser to purchase a memorial brick for the terrace in front of Wakeman Hall; 2015 saw the eighteenth brick added to the row of third grade bricks. This activity began when the Waterville Historical Society was in need of funds to restore the 1881 Masonic building they had purchased to save from demolition and use for programs and a local history archives.

 In addition, Mrs. Miller involved her students in a mock council meeting and Public Works Day with the city's current council and employees shadowing them. When the village became a city in 2010, children competed in a contest to design the new city flag,

"My entry, 'Waterville: Then and Now' could not have happened without the support and interaction with the Waterville Historical Society, the City of Waterville, and my administration and fellow colleagues at Waterville Primary School . . . . I feel strongly that this is a shared award" Mrs. Miller told the audience at the awards ceremony.         

Pioneers sighted moving into Waterville area!

Yes, it’s true! Through the darkness and fog of this morning, many early risers spotted familiar 1800s faces, clothing, and tools from yesteryear. Did you see them? They are heading for the S. River Road and South Street area! Someone said they overheard one of them mention some-thing called Roche de Boeuf. (Isn’t that a famous rock at the old Waterville bridge in the Maumee River?)

Roche de Boeuf? Happening Saturday, September 26th?

Could these be the very artisans and re-enactors that will show up at the Robbins House and Sargent House museums and yards on that day? And will some of them perform on the grounds, too? We’d better head on over there and check it out. Follow the 10 AM parade to the end of the route and they will appear waiting to show you what life was like in NW Ohio in the 1800s!

Some of those returnees from 1835 include settlers, Indians, trappers, people who did just about everything for themselves from farming and eating their own food to sewing their own clothes from animal skins, building their houses from logs they cut from trees, and so much more.

                    Areas to visit around our historic campus:                                                         

         Historic building tours (Robbins, Sargent, Cobbler houses)
          Beautiful Opel Witte garden
          Books and displays by the Waterville Historical Society folks
          Attic Treasures (some antiques)
          Chinese raffle (your tickets go toward the items you wish to win)

Kids’ activities:  Coloring table—all completed pictures will displayed; Indian rubbings, also done @ tables;
Indian face painting done by HS art students; old fashioned kids’ games and other interactive experiences

          Old-fashioned ice cream available
          Folk art photo op             

All other ghosts from the past will be around all day from 9 AM till 4 PM just waiting for you to try your hand at shelling corn, punching tin, seeing how butter was made, and even watching ashes and lye boil to make…SOAP??? Some of them may even allow you to purchase what they have made!

Learn about Waterville School at Waterville Library July 22 at 7 P.M.

On Wednesday, July 22, Jim Conrad, President of Waterville Historical Society, will present a Power Point program in “Remembering Waterville School:  1886-1996” at Waterville Library beginning with the original structure and designed by noted architect Edward O. Fallas, continuing through major structure changes in 1920 to 1930 and including with the last years as an elementary school. The presentation will include numerous photos and memorabilia.  The program begins at 7 p.m. and is open to the public.

A Little Fausz History

 Do you recall seeing the big red barn near Waterville where Rt. 24 makes a little curve?  The barn is all that is left of the former Fausz farm that Rt. 24 now bisects. It was determined that the barn is historic, so the new Rt. 24 needed to bypass the structure. This tidbit is just one of the many Fausz stories that my newly discovered cousin, Kimberly Young, and I shared recently at the Wakeman Archival Research Center. Verna and John Rose, genealogists at WARC, were more than prepared for our visit and research, so Kim and I dug into Fausz history. 

To give a little background, Jacob Fausz and his wife, Barbara Elizabeth Christman, purchased the farm around 1855 when it was practically all woods. Jacob and three of his surviving sons, John, Adam, and Lewis, spent a great deal of their lives clearing the heavy timber and improving the property. Adam Fausz was Kim’s great-grandfather, and Lewis Fausz was my grandfather. The barn faces Dutch Road which was called German Avenue until World War I when there was so much anti-German feeling in this country. Most if not all the farms in that area were settled by German immigrants. Lewis Fausz eventually bought the Jacob Fausz farm by degrees from his brothers and sisters, getting a modest assist from oil wells that were drilled on the property

 Kim and I shared photos, written histories, sketches (one of Jacob Fausz and another of the original Fausz home) and anecdotes relating to the Fausz family and its descendants. We discovered that male baldness runs in the family. We learned that Lutheran Church services were conducted in German until the early 20th century when the Rev. John Hagen of Zion Lutheran Church presided at services in both German and English.

Kim, who now lives in Bucyrus with her husband and 10 year-old son, Shayne, has done extensive research on the Fausz family, having become interested in genealogy from her mother, Mary Lou Fausz Finley and Aunt Vickie (Victory). Kim’s great-grandfather, Adam Fausz, settled in Indiana with his wife, Mary Vollmar, where they farmed and raised their family of 13 children, all surviving well into adulthood.

Much of my knowledge of the Fausz family came from my mother, Ruth Fausz Herman, daughter of Lewis Fausz, and my Uncle, Arnold Fausz, son of Lewis Fausz. Out of eight grandchildren of Lewis Fausz, six survive today, and we are still close.

 Kim and I finally needed to end our research at WARC, so we moved on to Wakeman Cemetery where we visited the graves of John Jacob and Philipina Fausz (parents of Jacob Fausz), Jacob and Barbara Elizabeth Christman Fausz, and Lewis Fausz. From there, we drove out to view the big red barn, the last remnant of the Fausz farm. We said our reluctant good-bys and vowed to meet again to continue the research.




Wakeman Archives 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.

Passenger Ships of the Great Lakes

    "To Preserve and Make Known the History of the Great Lakes," the mission statement of the Great Lakes Historical Society, was promoted in the talk given Wednesday, April 15 by James Lundgren at Wakeman Hall.  Using PowerPoint illustrations of all types of passenger ships, from early 1800s sailing vessels to luxurious steamers of the 1920s, Lundgren told their long forgotten stories.

     The sidewheel steamer the "Anthony Wayne," also known as the "General Wayne," was built in Perrysburg in 1837 and sank in 1850 when her two boilers exploded. All passengers and crew were killed, estimated between 80 and 100.  It was known that the wreckage was only eight miles offshore in Lake Erie in about 50 feet of water. Not until 2007 was the ship located using sonar technology. Lundgren showed murky underwater photos of archaeologist divers surveying the ship.

     During World War II the "Seeandbee" passenger steamship was converted to use in the training of naval aviators in carrier take-offs and landings and renamed the "Wolverine." About 1,700 pilots were trained in Lake Michigan until 1945.

     One hundred years ago the "SS Eastland," a passenger ship used for tours, rolled on its side while tied to a dock in the Chicago river, killing 844 passengers and crew. Although the largest loss of life on the Great Lakes, the tragedy is largely forgotten. Lundgren said plans are being made for special events on the anniversary of its sinking in July.

     Collisions, explosions and fires sank many other ships, one so terrible it led to the use of dental identification. The Great Lakes Museum, operated by the Great Lakes Historical Society, has a map showing 8,000 shipwrecks. Lundgren, who is Director of Operations, urged the large audience to visit the museum, now rated number four on the top list of things to do in Toledo. 

Betty Metz Portrays Nellie Bly at WHS March 18 program

Nellie Bly, world traveler

     Nellie Bly had to figure out how to appear crazy so she could work undercover at a women's mental asylum in 1887. First person re-enactor Betty Metz told the WHS audience Wednesday that after ten days posing as a patient, Nellie was able to expose the dreadful conditions at the institution by writing about it for the New York World  newspaper. Investigations followed which  led to needed reforms. As a groundbreaking female journalist Nellie was always ready for a challenge. The "fluff" of women's pages, common in newspapers of that time, was not for her. On assignment in Mexico, Nellie had to escape the country and possible imprisonment after sending stories critical of Mexico back to her newspaper.
     Born Elizabeth Jane Cochran in 1864, she assumed the pen name of Nellie Bly after a popular song by Stephen Foster. She is probably best known for her record breaking 72-day trip around the world in 1889, emulating Jules Vern's Around the World in Eighty Days. She returned safely to world-wide acclaim. 
      Mrs. Metz told of Nellie's marriage at age 30 to Robert Seaman, a wealthy older man, her success as a business woman followed by widowhood, bankruptcy and death from pneumonia at age 57. Her grave in Bronx's Woodlawn Cemetery lay unmarked until 1978 when an admiring student searched it out and persuaded the New York Press Club to install a headstone.

John Lester Spafford (former Waterville resident) passed away recently


Spafford, John Lester 01/06/1915 ~ 02/17/2015 SAN DIEGO -- The world dimmed a bit when it lost John L. Spafford: craftsman, inventor, husband, father, grampa, gamesman, dancer, helper, friend. We grieve at his passing, but celebrate a life well-lived and a man well-loved for over 100 years. John was born in the little mining town of Valdez, Colo., to a telegrapher dad and a laughing mom. He grew up on a farm in Waterville on the banks of the Maumee River, south of Toledo, Ohio -- a magical place of cottonwoods and creeks. His Uncle Frank taught him respect for tools and "making do." From then on his hands, tools, ingenuity and sweet patience would solve any problem. Give him some oak barrel staves, inner tube rubber bands, Elmer's glue and some C clamps, and with his trusty pocket knife he could mend your break or devise your gadget. John's life revolved around his family and his beloved wife of nearly 75 years, Betty. They met on a double date, dancing at the Trianon Ballroom in Toledo. From then on they danced through life together to the beautiful music they created. John and Betty remodeled a little house near the river in Waterville, and welcomed daughters Sally and Suzy in the mid-'40s. John worked as a self-taught tool designer - and eventually as a manufacturing engineer in an automotive parts plant, work that contributed to the WWII effort. His success led to an invitation to join the gas turbine engine project at Solar Aircraft, in San Diego, Calif. A look at the travelogue map showed palm trees, cactus and sombreros, so they said, "Let's go!" In February, 1948 they left the snowy Maumee banks for the sunny Pacific beaches. In 1949 they welcomed son John to their little Crown Point home, and began looking for a place to grow. After months of Sunday afternoon searches in their Morris Minor convertible they found a vacant lot overlooking the Mission Bay mudflats from Loma Portal where the Colonial Ranch home was built to John's blueprints. Then John and Betty and the three kids entered the church, school, Little League, piano lessons, home improvement, camping, square dancing, Scouts and art lessons, world. John's engineering mind and amazing craftsmanship in wood assured he always had a workshop project going. His favorite hobby was making wood carvings of Norman Rockwell's Saturday Evening Post covers. He loved turning candlesticks, clocks and lamps on his wood lathe, making footstools and toys for grandkids, furnishings for Suzy's growing company, Suzy's Zoo, mementos for family events - and any gadget Betty needed around the house. John loved a good time. He and Betty fox-trotted through the city and traveled abroad. He loved root beer floats while playing pool with his buddies. He loved a funny prank, a homemade Halloween costume, a picnic at Balboa Park, a chess game, a Louis L'Amour novel, and croquet in the back yard. John is survived by his wife Betty, his three children Sally (Mark Hamilton), Suzy (Ray Lidstrom), John (Lynn), nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. A celebration of John's life will be held Monday, February 23, 2:00 p.m. at Point Loma Community Presbyterian Church. In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorial contributions to the Renovation Fund, Point Loma Community Presbyterian Church, 2128 Chatsworth Blvd, San Diego, CA 92107.
Published in U-T San Diego on Feb. 21, 2015
- See more here

Railroad Telegraphy: Connecting Waterville With the Outside World

Barney Stickles

Waterville Station

The lost art of railroad telegraphy was brought to life November 19 when Barney Stickles displayed his collection of telegraphic and train station equipment at Wakeman Hall and demonstrated how he used them.

 Stickles 83, was employed by both the Nickel Plate Railroad and Wabash Railroad as a telegrapher, dispatcher, general agent and eventually manager of the Toledo Terminal.
"The invention of the telegraph led to the rapid expansion of the nation's economy," he said. Industrial development centered around the railroads and the telegraph.  

Tapping out "What Hath God Wrought!" Stickles repeated the first words sent by Samuel F. B. Morse to Alfred P. Vail, the inventors of the telegraph in 1844. Many thousands of miles of telegraph wires were erected along railroad right-of-way and connected Waterville as well as countless other towns to the outside world.

The Toledo, St. Louis and Western Railroad, commonly known as the "Cloverleaf" was also called "The Commercial Traveler." Stickles explained that salesmen from distant places would take the train to all the towns along the route. Stopping in Waterville they would stay at the Columbian House, lay out a display of their wares and later return to the station to place their orders and move on.

Telegraphers had to be highly skilled Stickles said, or trains could crash head on. He blamed the telegrapher who did not get the SOS signal out in time to prevent the sinking of the Titanic. Stickles was obviously highly trained as he rapidly sent messages in both Morse and International Code to the enjoyment of the 44 people in attendance.


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

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