Did You Know ?
History is amazing ! The more we look into our past the more we discover. In this section our archivists will connect you with past events and activities. Some will be special "Moments in History." Some will be "History Tidbits" and yes some will be short "History Quizzes." Join us in our discoveries.
Waterville I.O.O.F. Building at 16 North Third Street
The building started its life as a bank building, a two story frame structure on the corner of Third and Wood Streets (later Farnsworth Road) where Peter Ullrich’s little harness shop once stood. Built ca.1905 the Waterville Bank was located on the first floor. Later, about 1924 the I.O.O.F. (International Order of the Odd Fellows) Lodge bought the building and had it moved to 16 North Third Street where it still stands. The bank built a new building on the site of the old one and that building remains there to this day. The Odd Fellows and the Fallen Timbers Rebekah Lodge used the upstairs for meetings and rented out the downstairs to various commercial enterprises over the years. At one time Henry Schmid (1845-1973) had his undertaking and furniture store there. A Kroger store was there in the 1940s and during their time a fire damaged the building and a heavy safe belonging to the lodge fell face down from the second to the ground floor without damaging the contents. The fireman lowered it to the basement. Carl Conrad, fire chief, thought the fire was caused by a rubbish fire.
Jim Page’s Hardware moved in following the 1955 fire that destroyed the Witte building. John and Marcia Knollman purchased that hardware in 1979 and later moved the business back to the Witte location when the new building at 30 N. Third Street was vacated by the Waterville Pharmacy. Many other businesses have rented the I.O.O.F. building over its lifetime.
The distinctive, faux cement block tin siding on this building was probably installed right after the building was moved, or soon after. This type of tin siding was put on the Gas Company building about the same time. It must be good siding as both buildings still look good.
Sources: Olde Waterville June Huffman, p.24 and “Architectural Styles” from Pat Ligabel report 1984
World War I Exhibits
Just one hundred years ago the deadliest, most terrible war the world had ever known was raging in Europe. Young American men were being sent over to France after intensive training to stop the German Army including Waterville’s own Albert Graf. Albert, son of Charles and Rosa Graf, graduated from Waterville High School in the spring of 1918 and enlisted in the Army even though he would not be eighteen until October. He trained as a member of an infantry unit as a machine gunner, but by the time he arrived in France in the fall, the fighting was nearly over. Perhaps he was very lucky but late arrivals were retained in France through much of 1919. Albert was able to travel through much of France and, to our benefit was a prolific writer. He kept a diary of his duty stations and travels and wrote many letters to his girlfriend (future wife) Agnes Peterson which survive to this day. He also sent home many souvenirs, picture postcards and booklets which tell much of the history of World War I. Many of the Albert Graf artifacts are part of the World War I display at the Robbins House museum. This display also features other Waterville young men and women who took part in the “war to end all wars.” The displays include activities of support on the home front. We urge all our readers to stop in at our open house on Saturday, June 30 and see these unique features of this traumatic time in our history. Items not on display can be seen at the Wakeman Archives every Wednesday from 10 am – 2 pm or the last Saturday of the month from 10 am -2 pm. Other open houses will be July 28, August 25 and October 22.
Museum Open Houses from 9 am-12 noon and Wakeman Archives open from 10 am -2pm. There will be two walking tours. Downtown tour meet at Robbins House 9am and Uptown tour meet at Wakeman Hall 12 noon.
THE BIG ROCK
Waterville’s Roche de Boeuf, has many spellings and pronunciations. Some say “Roche de Bout,” many say “Roche de Boef” and many of the old timers in the area call it “Rush de Boo.” The rock was named by French fur traders and the English pronunciation and interpretation is the source of all the confusion. The rock is the limestone rock in the Maumee River near the old Inter-urban Bridge. When they built the bridge in 1908 they destroyed at least 1/3 of the Rock. American Indians used it as a place to meet and hold council and met there before the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. Anthony Wayne camped two nights before the battle near here at Fort Deposit which was on the high bank opposite the rock. At one time an early French village and a cemetery were located at Roche de Boeuf where the stone quarry is today. The earliest recorded birth in what is now Waterville, that of James Knaggs, took place in that little village about 1780. Jane (Dilts) Richardson was deeded land on River Tract #39 known as the Roch de Boote farm. She was the widow of Isaac Richardson whose tavern was located on her father’s land. The Roche de Boote/Roche de Bout/Roche de Boeuf Farm was later owned by Elijah Dodd and long referred to as the Dodd Farm. Watervillians seem to prefer Roche de Boeuf and interpret that as Rock of Beef or Buffalo Rock thinking those early French thought it looked like a big buffalo in the river. Historians seem to prefer Roche de Bout, interpreted as Rocky Point.
Note: See the historic places marker at the trailhead of Farnsworth Park overlooking the “big rock” which was commissioned by W.H.S. and placed by the Ohio Historical Society.
Unknown Baseball Team
The men of the baseball team pictured are all identified but the date, place and circumstance are unknown. We are hoping that someone might know more about this team. This nice sepia tone card-mounted photo is part of an archives collection of photos with names but no known family connection, location or other pertinent information to make the photograph a useful record. We will need help from the public to acquire needed information on some of these “orphan” photos. We will feature these photographs on this website and Facebook from time to time. If anyone has information please contact us through the website email. The men in this photo are as follows top: Fred Duck; ? Farley; Dan Moosman; Chris Seal; ? Vollmar and Harvey Wittes. Bottom seated: Herman Rupp; ? Thatcher; Clarence Mast; Sam Moosman and Earl Noward.
The Site of the Great Pekin Mill
The big 3 ½ story mill was built around 1846, just a few years after the canal was opened to traffic. Water was drawn from the canal to power the mill and discharged into the river via a millrace down the north side of Mechanic Street. In time Waterville became known as the grain center of Ohio. However, by 1900 the canal was obsolete and, after the 1913 flood, mostly abandoned. The big mill was torn down about 1920 and the automobile became the popular mode of transportation about this time. So it was that this location at the end of Third Street at Mechanic became an attractive location for an automobile service station. The old mill site has hosted a gas station ever since. It was a Marathon station in 1940 and, as this picture indicates, a Valero station currently. Our readers may recall the proprietors and brands of gasoline sold at this location.
J.E.Hall Store becomes Pray Park
The Northwest corner of Farnsworth Road and the Anthony Wayne Trail/Miami and Erie Canal has seen much change over the years as shown in these “then and now” photos. Waterville’s “other canal store,” the J.E. Hall store, was a busy part of Waterville’s canal commerce. It is reported to have had a grain loading facility where farmers could unload grain wagons on the higher Fourth Street side which could be pushed down chutes into waiting canal boats. The canal gave way to more efficient railroads and was eventually filled in to become a highway in the 1930s at the Toledo end, but not until 1950 through Waterville. The old store was of course torn down and today this quiet peaceful little park occupies the once busy commercial corner.
Waterville Beavers 1950 Basketball Team
Bottom Row: Jim Strayer; Kenneth Limes; Norm Cocanour; Dick Hilfinger; Bob Streicher; Al Neitzke
Top Row: Melvin Fruchey, Manager; Dick Davis; Bill Sijan; Coach (?):Bud Walbolt; Jim Simpson; Jerry O’Brien, Manager. Can anyone tell us who was the coach?
Mailing Baby Chicks
Did you know that baby chickens were routinely sent through the mail? The hatchery would take boxes of live chicks to the post office and the rural mail carrier would deliver those boxes to the farmer or customer who ordered the. Chickens by parcel post….I wonder if Amazon does that.
Have a swell day!
I was reading a letter in our archives written by a World War II soldier and was struck by how often he used the word “swell.” It would be swell if you sent another box of cookies.” “I saw a swell movie at the club last night,” and so on. I wondered how many in today’s society would know what he was talking about. Today we would use the word “great.” If swell means swollen and great means large, maybe we are all a bit crazy. We sometimes forget how our word usage, especially slang words, changes over time. Anyway, it is fun working with old letters and documents at the archives.
Now you all have a swell –er—great day.
W.E. YOUNG FAMILY: The family includes from left Susie (Carol Sue) with violin, Betsy (Elizabeth) with violin, Bill, son of W.E. Young, his wife Margaret at the piano and Barbara is at the Cello.
Rotary Club Fish Fry – year unknown
Front row from left: Frank Bucher, Ernie Delventahal, Jim Sweeney, and Bill Werning.
Back row: Howard Squire, Herman Gschwend, Count Olwin, Paul Bersee, Ernie Wynocher, Paul Welles, Earl Thoroman and Harold Walbolt. Far back on left, William Lindbloom
I have heard it said that a historian is a person old enough to have lived it.
· I was born in the middle of the great depression – at home
· I remember vividly World War II – rationing, blackouts and victory gardens
· I brushed my teeth with Dr. Lyon’s tooth powder
· I bathed with ivory soap because “itfloats”
· I learned to drive in cars built before the War
· Cars had no seat belts or turn signals
· I could fill the gasoline tank for $2
· For evening entertainment we listened to Jack Benny, Amos & Andy and People are Funny, etc. on the radio
· Our first television was a 17 inch black and white model
· Some stores had tube testers where you could test the vacuum tubes from your radio or T.V. yourself
· My first house cost less than my last car
My young friends think I am an ancient historian.
Question received regarding the Canal through Waterville!
Question: I read about the Miami and Erie Canal through Waterville and the next article I read calls it the Wabash and Erie Canal through Waterville. Why can’t you history people keep your stories straight? Which canal is it anyway? Signed Puzzled
Dear Puzzled: Both names are correct. Ohio’s canal plan was to link Lake Erie with the Ohio River through Cincinnati and through the Wabash River by joining with Indiana’s canal system being built at the same time. Our section of this system began in 1839 and was completed through Indiana by 1843 when the first canal boat traveled from Lafayette, Indiana to Toledo. Hence our canal was the Wabash and Erie Canal. The Cincinnati connection was started at the southern end and finally connected with the northern section at what became the town of Junction in 1845 and the Miami and Erie Canal was complete. Later the State of Ohio decided to call this entire Ohio system the Miami and Erie Canal
Mrs. Carson's 1963-64 2nd Grade Class
This photo of Mrs. Carson’s 1963-64 second grade class came to the archives without identification. Do any of these children look familiar? We need your help to add names to these faces. Thanks to anyone who can help.
Waterville Drum and Bugle Corp
Can anyone tell us about the Drum Corps that was formed in the 1940s? We are also looking for pictures of the group. The group was directed by Ed McDonald/McDonnell, they met for practice at Graf’s garage. Ed’s grandfather had a drum corps at Findlay for half a century and he took the Corp to Findlay to show them off to him.
The Corps was called the “Junior Highlanders” and was a children’s band with boys and girls from 7 to 12 years of age. At one time they had 36 children in the group. The corps was a civic enterprise and was financed by the combined efforts of the Volunteer Fire Department, the American Legion and business men of Waterville. Bob Gschwend was chosen president; Wilma Frost, vice president; Dick Grimm, secretary and Charles Witte, treasurer. Other members of the group were Doris Schumacker, Sue Allion, Dick Monroe, Chester Metcalf, Marge Harper, Jack Graf, Betty Bucher, Dale Woods, Barbara Fox, Susie England and Nancy McDonald. The group participated in parades year-round including the July 4th parade. Those who marched in the Corps wore plaid kilts, plaid caps and a decorative shirt.
Pray Park Revisited
Recently we found a news article about the corner of Farnsworth and Anthony Wayne Trail showing that it was as an eye sore which had become a public dumping ground. It was transformed into a beautiful spot with an attractive garden with flowering beds, pathways and flagpole. The news clipping gives no date. It was first discussed by the Waterville Rotary Club. Water and power supplies were dumped near a shed. Members were concerned that created an eyesore. First the 4-H Club members planted a pine tree and decorated it at Christmas time. Is this the beautiful tree that still stands and is decorated with lights each year? The Rotary Club, Fallen Timbers Rebekah Lodge, Apple Blossom Garden Club, American Legion Post and Auxiliary, Waterville bank and the village recreation committee, plus others donated funds and labor for the work. Ernest Delventhal, a landscaper donated his services to direct the program. Underground water and light systems were installed. The village police and at one time the Legion members made sure the flag was flown daily and the pole lighted.
Can Anyone Tell us about The Waterville Teen-Town?
We have found an old news article about the Waterville Teen-Town holding a Valentine Party at the American Legion building. The news article claims 80 youth danced to the Music of Jim McCurdy’s band. Mr. Glendale Wittes called for the square dances. Later the group would meet at the Odd Fellows Hall. The Student Council of the Waterville School prepared a slate of students to take charge of all events aided by adult advisors. The students in the picture are Nancy Berkebile, Betty Grimm, Jimmie Simpson, Dick Jacobs, Norman Cocanour, Phyllis Hutchinson and Peggy Taylor, left to right. The organization was sponsored by parents to provide regular recreation for the students.
Later there was a Waterville Teen-Town that was open in circa 1963 school year in the vacated Stickney Electric Store at 38 N. Third Street. The Jr. Chamber of Commerce of Waterville sponsored this which was open on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evening for dancing, ping pong, card games, etc. We are looking for more information or pictures and your involvement with the Teen-Town.
Shopping at Rupp's Canal Store - Seeds in 1884
Corn was one of the bigger crops planted. The farmer bought a lot of seeds. From what I found they purchased between 13 and 70 pounds paying twelve cents and seventy cents.
They also purchased onion sets. They paid between ten cents and fifty cents. Turnip seeds were also planted. The packages varied and seeds were sold between ten cents and twenty-five cents. Jacob Rupp is standing in his store beside the rack of seeds for sale in his Rupp Canal Store on Third Street.
Hotel Corner Becomes An Ice Cream Corner
Did you know that the Union Hotel built by a man named Eastwood stood on the corner of Farnsworth (Wood St.) Road and the Anthony Wayne Trail (Miami and Erie Canal at that time) to serve the canal travelers. Later it was owned by Abraham Fredricks and used as a home and saloon. It was torn down in 1950 to make way for the new roadway. Melvin Fredricks open a Dairy Korner where you could get the most wonderful milkshakes, malts and ice cream.
Highway or Canal
Did you know that the Anthony Wayne Trail was built over the bed of the former Miami and Erie Canal. Much of the work was done by W.P.A. workers in the depression era of the 1930s. The road through Waterville was not built until 1950. The two pictures of the same location were taken from the Masonic building only 100 years apart. They both show the canal-way/highway carrying local and interstate commerce.
Shopping at Rupp Canal Store---Meat and Fish in the 1880s
Fish seemed to be eaten a lot. There were codfish, herring, mackerel, oysters, salmon, sardines, and whitefish. The oysters, salmon, and sardines were canned as well as some of the mackerel. One can of oysters was fifteen cents (what a deal!). Mackerel were evidently fresh sometimes although it was also sold in a kit or in a can for fifteen cents.
Salt Codfish can still be found in some stores. The direction states to prepare: Freshen the fish as follows – wash fish for 15 minutes in running water. Place fish in pan and cover with water. Many times the dried cod fish was cut in pieces, mixed in a white sauce, and then the sauce was served over toasted bread.
A purchase of beef of 125 pounds was sold for $8.96. The other meats that were being sold were ham, pork, salt pork, and shoulder. A fourteen pound ham sold for $2.10. Wouldn’t it be nice to pay those prices again?
The Hutchinson School?
Hutchinson School, Dutch Road circa 1918 was a Waterville Township School determined by the age of the several students. We have at the archives a program for an Eight Grade Commencement dated May 27th, year not given. The following were on the class roll; Clarence O. Brown (1904-1984), Frederick Struhsaker, Richard Wirtz, Lester L. Barns (1904-1989), Anna Fischer, Margaret Hutchinson and William Schwartz. Supt. J.W. Whitmer presented the certificates.
We have an 1875 map showing where this school was located east of the present Waterville - Monclova Road. Note the arrow pointing to the school house. A 1901 map also shows this school at the same location. Would anyone know what happened to the school building? Does anyone have similar paper records they might share? Please contact us through the website at www.watervillehistory.org
Oil Derricks in Waterville
Soon after the Civil War (1861-1865) people discovered that petroleum could be a useful product. That nasty black liquid that seeped out of the ground in some places and killed vegetation suddenly had value and the search for oil was on. Kerosene (often called coal oil) for oil lamps was the most useful product until the internal combustion engine was perfected in the late 1800s. The combustible gas associated with oil was at first flared off and burned until it dawned on us that this fuel could be used for heat and light in homes and industry. A well was drilled just north of Waterville in 1865 but yielded no oil. Oscar Ballou in 1887 was convinced, after touring the great gas fields around Findlay, Ohio, that the natural gas was the more valued product in this area. He sunk a well on the corner of his farm north of Waterville near the river which was a producing well called the Ballou no.1. After that the race was on and oil derricks sprung up everywhere. Some produced gas, some oil and some were just dry holes. George Cooper wrote in a newspaper column that when he visited his father’s home on 5th Street he could see 15 to 20 wells in operation or being drilled. The photos for this article show producing oil wells next to the canal on the Dodd and Carlin farms, near the quarry. Robert Stitt of Waterville Oil and Gas Company sank the well next to the wagon bridge where there was a known gas seep. This well shown in the photo produced gas for the village. Village Council in 1888 gave permission to alter the width of Water Street to allow for drilling of wells to supply the citizens. Most of the local wells gave out or produced much less by the early 1900s. The Waterville Gas Company although no longer producing its own gas, continues to supply the citizens and is still owned by descendants of Robert Stitt.
Shopping at the Rupp Canal Store
Mrs. Lederer went shopping at the Jacob W. Rupp General Merchandise store January 6, 1914, most likely on 3rd Street and bought her groceries. Here is what she bought for her $3.00 as seen with the sales slip.
Another grocery list included: 10 yds. Alpaca(wool) - $4.00; 2 lbs. oatmeal - $.10; 3 Darning Needles - $.03; 3 medium Flower Pots – $.25; 1 oz. Indigo - $.10; 1 lb. Allspice - $.30; 1 Willow Market Basket - $.50; 11 ¾ lbs. Ham - $1.77; ½ yard Mosquito Net -$.05; 1 can - $.20; 2 milk crocks - $.12; 70 lbs. Corn (for planting) - $.70; 1 lb. birdseed - $.10; 1 box Matches 0 $.05; 1 Sugar pail - $.30; 1 ½ yds. Table Oilcloth $.45; 1 Baby Bib - $.20; 1 Corset- $.50; 1 Axe handle - $.25 and 1 pkg. yeast cakes – .08 for a total bill of $10.05.
The Quarry Mill and Crew.
The crewmen pose with the newly constructed Miami Stone Company crusher building c.1900. The names of the men and their positions are written on this J.F.T. Isham photo from the Wakeman Archives. This highly mechanized operation was powered by a large steam engine. Steam powered winches would haul quarry cars into the upper levels of the mill where the stone was dumped into the stone crusher, screened and dumped into rail cars under the building. This building was retired and torn down about 1975.The Quarry photos came to us from the late Waterville historian Marjorie Bucher Campbell and were taken by her grandfather John Findlay Torrence Isham.
Shopping at the Rupp Canal Store for Dress Material
One of the materials that women in the 1880s used was called Silesia This material was a sturdy twill-weave cotton fiber used for pockets and linings and probably was needed for the garments the women were sewing. However, later on, the definition for Silesia was “a lightweight, smoothly finished twilled fabric of acetate, rayon or cotton for garment linings.”
It surprised me that there was such a variety of material for the women to use: Cashmere wool is from goats; Cambric is light, thin, white linen or cotton cloth; Denim is a sturdy cotton; Duck Cotton; Flannel; Gingham was made from dyed cotton; Knickerbocker is a linsey-woolsey fabric having a rough knitted surface on the right side used for women’s dresses; Lawn was a textile originally of linen but now chiefly cotton. It is made using combed yards with a soft feel and slight luster it is known as “nainsook.”; Muslin is a cotton fabric; Fine linen muslin was formerly known as sindon; Nainsook is a soft, fine, lightweight form of muslin. Nainsook was first documented in 1790. Until the 1920s nainsook was often used to make babies’ clothing or lingerie. Nainsook cotton was often used to make bias tape in the 50s and 60s; Shirting is fine cotton that is usually used for making shirts; Zephyr is used for any number of lightweight items made from high quality wool.
Shopping at Rupp’s Canal Store -- Bluing
Do you know that, with proper use, nothing else is quite so good at bringing back that crisp, white look to your clothes? Unfortunately, liquid bluing is not found in many laundry rooms any more but your grandmother and great-grandmother probably used it regularly. Manufacturers use a bit of bluing agent when finishing white clothes because a very slight blue tint actually makes things seem whiter. Unfortunately, that tint wears off over time after a lot of washing, but it can be brought back by using your own bluing agent. The most popular brand is Mrs. Stewart’s and is still available.
Editor’s Note: Does anyone remember creating a chemical garden with a lump of coal or clinker, salt, ammonia, water and bluing. Crystals will form in your garden. If you want the directions contact us by the website.
Do you remember the Principal Business Enterprise, Inc.?
The Principal Business Enterprise, Inc. that was originally located in Perrysburg, moved to the former Graf blacksmith shop after remodeling the building. Earlier businesses that were in this building were a blacksmith shop, Shop of Siebert Co., a garage, and then the Principal Business came to Waterville at 205 Farnsworth Road in 1962. There was 10000 sq. ft. of manufacturing and office space in the remodeled building.
Principal Business Enterprise was owned by James and Lee Mitchell and their children of Perrysburg. They made slippers from polyurethane foam material. Mrs. Mitchell found that the foam that stretched over hangers could make disposable foam slippers that were cheap and easy to wash. At first they were called “Pillow Ped’s and later they were known as Pillow Paws. These slippers were used in hospitals and could be disposable for patients. The business operated in Waterville for about fourteen years until growth forced them to find a larger facility.
Shopping at Rupp's Canal Store
The Bath Brick I found among the other items in the ledger at the Rupp Canal Store from late 1883 to November 1884 was different than I thought it would be. Certainly it wasn’t a brick to warm your feet in bed!
This Bath Brick was patented in 1823 by William Champion and John Browne. Also known as Patent Scouring or Flanders bricks, the Bath Brick was a predecessor of the scouring pad used for cleaning and polishing.
The fine clay dredged from the River Parren in the town of Bridgwater, England, was turned into Bath Bricks by several companies. Fine particles of alumina and silica in the silt were collected from the river on either side of the Town Bridge. Beds of brick rubble were left in the rain for the salt to be washed out. What remained was put into a “pugging mill” to be mixed by a horse. Then what was left was shaped, dried, wrapped, and boxed for sale in England. Twenty-four million Bath Bricks had been produced in Bridgwater for the home and international markets.
The Bath Brick was about the same size as a regular brick, and it could be used in a number of ways. After a mild abrasive powder could be scraped from the brick and used as a scouring powder on floors and other surfaces. If the powder was moistened with water, it could be used on a cloth for polishing or as a kind of sandpaper. Knives and like items might be polished directly on a wetted brick.
In 1918 alternative cleaning materials were cheaper and put an end to the manufacture of Bath Bricks.
Shopping at Rupp’s Canal Store
Do you know what fannings are? If you walked into the Rupp Canal Store, one of the clerks could tell you. Fannings are small pieces of tea that are left over after higher grades of teas are gathered to be sold. Traditionally these were treated as the rejects of the manufacturing process in making high-quality leaf tea like the orange pekoe. Fannings with extremely small particles are sometimes called dust. Fannings and dusts are considered the lowest grades of tea, separated from broken-leaf teas which have larger pieces of the leaves. However, the fannings of expensive teas can still be more expensive and have more flavor than whole leaves of cheaper teas.
This traditionally low-quality tea has, however, experienced a huge demand in the developing world in the last century as the practice of tea drinking became popular. Tea stalls in India and the South Asian sub-continent, as well as Africa, prefers dust tea because it is cheap and also produces a very strong brew; consequently, more cups are obtained per measure of tea dust. Because of the small size of the particles, a tea infuser is typically used to brew fannings. They are also typically used in most tea bags although some companies sell tea bags containing whole-leaftea. Some exporters focus primarily on broken-leaf teas, fannings and dusts.
Remembering 2014 -- Our 50th Anniversary Year
"Historical Society Newsletter" September 1964
Excerpts from Volume I No. I
FOR SALE; The society is selling note paper featuring the famous old Columbian House for 50c a dozen. It is time to ORDER The Waterville Story. Stop in at the National Bank and give Mr. Sieczkowski your order. The price is the same; $1.50. These items will make excellent Christmas gifts. SUPPPORT YOUR SOCIETY!
THE NEXT MEETING -- YOU are invited this Sunday (Sept. 20, 1964) at 3:00 P.M. in the basement of the Lutheran Church. Topic: "Let's Talk About Watervillle." Following color slides of Waterville by Mrs. Wreede, an informal discussion in which all can add what they know about the village. SOCIAL HOUR WITH REFRESHMENTS! We hope to see you Sunday.
YOU will enjoy membership in The Historical Society:
Active Members $5.00 per year
Sustaining Members $25.00 per year
Life Members $50.00
Dues are payable at any meeting to Mrs. Carl Conrad, Treasurer.
The first officers of the Waterville Historical Society were: Lucile Conrad – treasurer; Pat Krause- secretary; Al Sieczkowski – president; and John Amstutz – vice president.
Waterville’s Mill Race
Did you know that a millrace once ran down the north side of Mechanic Street? The large Pekin Mill built on the canal at the end of Third Street drew water from the canal to power its turbine engine and drained the spent water down a ditch on the north side of Mechanic Street all the way to the river. By 1900 there were very few canal boats operating and August 28, 1916 the Village of Waterville council passed an ordinance declaring the millrace a nuisance and a menace to health. The Street Committee was authorized to buy tile and eliminate the drain known as the Race. The resolution was signed by Clark J. Roach, Clerk and Joseph J. Lloyd, Mayor. The picture shows the mill race along the right hand side and behind the Pekin Mill. The Methodist Church at the corner of Mechanic and River Road is in the background along with the bridge that crosses the race
Actor John Lithgow once lived in Waterville
John Lithgow, well-known Broadway, movie, and TV actor, (remember the sitcom, "3rd Rock from the Sun"?) once lived in Waterville. In his memoir, “Drama, an Actor's Education” he recalls moving here in 1958 and attending the old Waterville School in the seventh grade. He was very upset at having to move once again since his father had a Shakespeare theater group that frequently changed locations. But he remembered the kindness of fellow students, especially Denny Bucher, and soon adjusted to his new surroundings. It also helped to walk home from school for lunch. In the summer he enjoyed playing baseball, swimming in the quarry, riding bikes, etc., with his new friends. Susan Borger was a friend of his older sister Robin, and remembers that the Lithgow family lived on the corner of Michigan and Pennsylvania Avenues. Unfortunately, his father once again lost financial backing and the family moved to Cleveland the following year.
"Stories by Heart," an adaptation of his memoir, won critical acclaim on Broadway and later went on tour, including Cleveland and Detroit. In his solo performance he included stories of Waterville! Two recent movies he starred in are, "Love Is Strange" and "Interstellar."
Shopping at the Rupp Canal Store
Do you know what oilcloth is and what it was used for in the 1800’s? The Rupp Canal Store sold a yard of it for thirty cents.
The base of oilcloth was canvas, and much of the canvas originally came from the sails of ships after the sails were not in good condition. Then the canvas was painted with oilpaint. Oilcloth was quite tough in normal use and was said to last for thirty years. If the oilpaint was cracked or disfigured, it could be touched up or repainted. Families using oilcloth for floor covering (which was called floorcloth) would put old newspaper under the floorcloth to protect it from splinters, nails, uneven floor surfaces and sharp objects.
There were many uses for oilcloth. If someone was taking a journey by stage coach, the person’s valuable possessions such as clothes and documents might be put in a waterproof oilcloth bag to protect everything from the weather.
Older people probably will remember their mother covering their table with oilcloth because it would be easier to clean the table. However, when the Vicar called on Sunday the best linen was on the table and oilcloth placemats were used to protect the table linen.
Washstands and cupboard shelves were covered with oilcloth. It is probable that the covers for shelves were cut from a worn table oilcloth. If there were rough wooden surfaces, oilcloth might be used to hide the surface and make cleaning easier. When food was served from sideboards, oilcloth rugs were used beneath the sideboard to catch the spillage.
It was said that oilcloth could be used in homes as curtain material, wall covering, hats and other waterproof garments. To prove that, I was talking to a friend about what I had read, and she remembered that her mother covered the kitchen walls with oilcloth. I remember my mother using oilcloth on our kitchen table.
Old and worn floorcloth was sometimes used as roofing material for the garden sheds and the pigeon lofts.
CANAL BOATS STOPPED TO SHOP AT THE OSTRANDER STORE 1868
The 1868 Ostrander Store account book has been indexed and is located at the Waterville Archival Research Center. This ledger gives us some insight about the amount of canal boat traffic in 1868, what was commonly purchased, prices and the names of many local people who traded with Ostrander. The canal boat names were listed with the items purchased or on credit. Some may have been delivering items as well. Many boats were there frequently and others only once in a while. On a number of dates there were seven to ten boats all stopping on the same day. The handwriting was difficult to read and many times the person writing in the book spelled individuals by phonetic spelling and some in the German spelling. The book may be seen at the Wakeman Archival Research Center but cannot be copied due to age. A digital camera could be used. There is also an index of the individuals stopping to buy items.
A few of the canal boats stopping at Ostrander Store in 1868 were; Aaron Palmer, Albert Blockade, T.J. Bodly, Brillant, Brooklyn, Caroline, Champion, Clymena, Columbia, Columbine, Commit, Echo, Eldorado, Evans/Evens, Freedom/Freedona, Gen. Grant, Gen. Scott, Gen. Sherman, Geo. Washington, R.W. Gillet, Gondola, Hazeldell, J. Holden, Indianolia, Kirk Johnson, Lady Mary, T. J. Lawton, Lewellyn, Look, Lumberman, Luberman of Durand, Miami Valley, Plowboy, Plowboy of Penn, Queen City, Rob Roy, Scott/Scottie/Scotty, Scrow A., Scrow D, Sea Bird, Shamrock, Shelby, Uncle Sam, Wabash of Toledo, W. Walbridge, Weekawken, E,B. Wheeler, Wm. Jackson and York Town.
Postmasters of Waterville Post Office from 1828 to 1983
Originally the post office was established in Wood County. Lucas County was established in 1835. The early Waterville Post Office occupied several places including the Columbian House, J.E. Hall Store and the post office located on Mechanic Street.
A listing of the names followed by the date of appointment follows: John Pray, Postmaster -- 2/29/1828; Galen B. Abell, Postmaster -- 2/18/1835. The Post Office was changed to Lucas County with the follow Postmasters: David Smith, Postmaster -- 11/14/1838; Lorenzo L. Morehouse, Postmaster -- 2/4/1842;David Smith, Postmaster -- 12/30/1845; Mars Nearing, Postmaster -- 2/12/1850; Joseph E. Hall, Postmaster -- 7/9/1853; John W. Rupp, Postmaster -- 7/17/1877; Adam Christmann, Postmaster -- 7/30/1885; George I Cooper, Postmaster -- 10/3/1889; George M. Utz, Postmaster -- 10/2/1893; John H. Stover , Postmaster -- 11/30/1897; Ruth M. Fletcher, (Acting Postmaster) -- 11/25/1913; Clarence J. Fisher, Postmaster -- 2/10/1914; George W. Hurless, Postmaster -- 2/3/1922; William Disher, Postmaster -- 12/18/1930; Merle G. Van Fleet, Postmaster -- 5/2/1935; Lyman Dudley, Postmaster -- 7/2/1936; Franklin C. Van Fleet, (Acting Postmaster) -- 4/30/1951;Earl W. Schnetzler, (Acting Postmaster) -- 5/15/1953; Earl W. Schnetzler, Postmaster -- 8/5/1954; Robert Roy Box, (Acting Postmaster) -- 5/19/1967; Henry Oliszewski, (Acting Postmaster) -- 10/20/1967; Henry Oliszewski, Postmaster -- 6/12/1971-6/24/1983.
Village incorporated 1882
The first Waterville Mayor was Joseph Emmons Hall in 1882. He was born at Charlestown, Portage County, Ohio on April 18, 1816 and came to Waterville in 1836. He was a tailor by trade but soon expanded into general merchandising. He built a two-story building on the Canal in 1860 where Pray Park is now and opened up a general store and still carried on the tailoring business. (He may have operated a store in part of the old Columbian House earlier.) He also had a grain elevator on the north side of the J.E. Hall building where the farmers could unload their grain from Fourth Street and drop it through chutes into a canal boat docked on the east side. He also had a large barn for the mules erected on the north end of the dock.
Other Mayors of Waterville are as follows: 1882 Joseph Hall (1816-1899); 1884 John Batt, father of W.F. Batt, Mayor 1912-1914; 1885 Alfred J. Taylor (salary $5);1886-1890 Lewis Van Fleet (in Mayor’s records); 1887 John Batt;1887-1888 George I. Cooper (paid $5 for six months);1889 John Batt; 1890-1894 James Marston; 1895-1896 Charles W. Shoemaker;1899-1900 George M. Utz (1827-1908);1901-1902 John Thomas Ging;1903 T.H. McClure (resigned);1904-1905 T.B. Tasker;1905 George Fisher;1906-1909 Charles W. Shoemaker;1910-1912 Alfred J. Taylor;1912-1914 William F. Batt/Bath (name changed after his death);1915-1917 J.J. Loyd;1918-1921 Edgar L. Keller;1922-1927 James A. Clay;1928-1931 Merle G. Van Fleet ($25 salary);1932-1935 Franklin L. Hook;1936 Edgar L. Keller (served 3 terms); Feb. 1938 - June 1938 Ernest Hook; June, 1938 Frank C. Schaller (3 terms as Mayor); 1940-1942 A. Logan Mills;1942-1951 Albert F. Graf;1952-1956 Harold Hutchinson;
1956-1964 Richard Farnsworth (doesn’t agree with obit);1964-1968 Paul Sellers;1968-1976: Harlan E. Reichle;1976-1980 Rodger Herringshaw;1980-1988 Charles Peyton; 1988-1996 Charles Duck, Jr.;1996-2004 David Myerholtz; 2004-2008; Charles Peyton; 2008-2012 Derrick Merrin;2012- Lori Brodie
Note:Information taken from old receipts, Midge Campbell Collection #130, Waterville Memorial Profiles, village records located at Wakeman Archival Center, Bend of the River and Down Memory Lane by George G. Cooper
Offenses brought to Mayor’s Court
We have found the following offenses that were brought to the Mayor’s Court in 1890s from the records: Riding on the sidewalk, frequenting a saloon, having open a saloon that sells intoxicating beverages, abuse, taking ax after wife; indecent exposure, misuse and abuse of a dumb animal by leaving the same exposed unnecessarily in a storm; evicted from house by landlord, not paying for a debt; repossession of carpet, furniture for non-payment; jury that was summon to try a case; acting in an intoxicating manner; calling husband indecent names, filth profanity, petite larceny of stealing muskmelons, stealing a horse blanket, scattering rubbish on Main Street, fist fighting and unlawfully leaving team hitched without feed or water more than six consecutive hours. Avis Barnes had borrowed an ice cream maker from John Esworthy and it came up missing along with six quarts of ice cream the property of the Narcissus Club. This was brought before the Mayor's Court where the 2 men were named and ordered to pay a fine.
Note: all of the above records may be seen at the Wakeman Archives.
The Next Whistle Stop – Bailey Station
We have previously written about the little town of Neowash just west of Waterville on the route of the Toledo, St. Louis and Western Railroad. The next stop along these tracks was the Bailey Station, around which grew the little town of Bailey. These rail stops were very important to local farmers in a time when transportation was dependent on horse or mule drawn vehicles. One could visit relatives in Toledo and other parts of the country by train. Crops could be sent to market by train much more quickly and reliably than by canal boat.
Bailey is in the extreme southwest corner of Waterville Township on a section of land curiously platted as a river lot instead of the usual north-south, east-west grid of most of the township. The property along the railroad to the river was owned by George O. Bailey although his neighbor Jacob Fancher gave his name to the Post Office, so the map shows the town of Bailey with the Fancher Post Office. Jacob Fancher was said to have an inn along the canal for packet boat passengers to rest for the night and a barn for mules so that canal boatmen could exchange their tired mules for a fresh team. In this sense, Bailey represents a transition from the canal to the railroad era. The town was laid out with three streets: Railroad Avenue parallel to the tracks; Broadway at right angle to the railroad through the center of town and Toledo Avenue at the other end of town, parallel to the railroad. There were 18 lots, but apparently this plat was never officially filed with the county. Broadway crossed the railroad as an extension of Hertzfeld Road. Today Broadway is still there with several residences but Hertzfeld Road is cut off by the Route 24 freeway.
The town of Bailey boasted of a large general store run by Ezra Morningstar, later by Mr. and Mrs. Irvin Welsh and a much smaller store run by old John Shoemaker. There was an elevator dealing in grain and coal, a cider mill and a barber shop and pool hall run by Alvin Conklin. In the 1930s Bailey fielded a baseball team, The Bailey All Stars, sponsored by Irvin Welsh that competed with teams from Waterville, Whitehouse and other area teams. The ballfield was just across the tracks from town. The elevator and the cider mill were both run in later years by Charles Brown who owned a farm just across the tracks on Hertzfeld Road whose home has now been torn down to make room for the highway. By 1940 the railroad business concentrated on long distance service and the frequent “whistle stops” were no longer serviced. Bailey like Neowash, its neighbor up the tracks, faded away. All that remains of the town is a few homes along what once was Broadway.
Shopping at the Rupp Canal Store
I’m sure that my great grandmother would purchase some items to use on the oil lamps in her house at the Rupp Canal Store the year of 1883-1884.
The Rupp Store was selling the following oil lamp parts: Lamp Chimney $.o8, Burner $.15, Lamp Wick $.05 for a total of $.28 She also might need some coal oil or kerosene which was selling at $.15 for one gallon.
Note: The author has indexed the old Rupp Canal Store ledgers held in the Wakeman Archives. Watch for future articles of items that were sold at the Canal Store.
The Town of Neowash Ohio
Did you know that as you motor up Neowash Road you may pass through what once was the town of Neowash? Neowash was one of the hopeful little towns that sprang up along the route of the Toledo, St. Louis and Western Railroad as it passed through Maumee, Waterville and on westward in the 1850s. Located at the corner of Noward and Neowash Road where the railroad crossed, the town became a rail stop serving local farmers. There was a general store run by Civil War veteran John Dunkleberger for nearly 30 years starting about 1868. He was ticket agent and postmaster. At one time the Neowash Store building was owned and operated some forty years (unknown newspaper, May 30, 1929) by an organization of farmers known as the Patrons of Industry. In later years it was under the ownership and management of neighboring farmers J.A. Utz and Frank and Charles Wittes. Ironically the store was burned to the ground in May of 1929, ignited by sparks from a passing train. The store was rebuilt by the local farmers but gradually fell into disuse as travel by automobile became easier and more common. The next time you cross the railroad tracks on Neowash Road give a little wave to the old ghost town of Neowash.
Note: The next town a few miles up the tracks will be the subject of a later sketch.
Waterville Ordinance No. 107
Imagine what life was like in Waterville in 1900 when this ordinance was passed! The Waterville Historical Society has received many old documents from the Village of Waterville which have been organized and preserved at Wakeman Archives.
An Ordinance to Prevent the Playing of Games and Shooting on Sunday
Be it ordained by the Council of the Incorporated Village of Waterville, Lucas County, Ohio THAT:
Section I. It shall be unlawful for any person within the corporate limits of this village on the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday, to engage in playing at any game of ball, marbles, pitching quoits, or any other game or sport, or to engage in any game of billiards, pool, or bowling at any saloon or other public place; or to discharge any fire-arm of any kind except for the purpose of destroying some vicious or destructive animal or bird.
Section II. Any person violating anyof the provisions of this ordinance shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction thereof shall be fined in any sum not more than ten dollars, and the costs of prosecution, and the person so fined shall stand committed until such fine and costs are paid.
Section III. This ordinance shall take effect from after its passage and after publication.
Done at the council chamber this 26th day of February, 1900.
A.J. Taylor, clerk George Utz, Mayor
The Waterville "Swing Bowl"
Harry and Opel Witte owned the Waterville Hardware and Supply Company at 30 North Third Street for about 40 years. It was a large two-story building built in 1880 that burned down in 1955. The main floor was a large open room. During World War II the heavy implements the Wittes had sold there were converted to the war effort and unavailable. Opel had an idea to put in a partition and have a place to sell ice cream and have music that kids could dance to. "Swing" was the type of dance popular at the time so Opel named it the "Swing Bowl." In a 1987 interview she said, "It was like a little hangout for kids and it was fun for them. Friday nights and Saturday nights it was crowded." It became popular with all ages because hot dogs, hamburgers, sandwiches, home made noodle soup and pies were also offered. Note the signs in the photo advertising sundaes for 15 cents and sodas for 12 cents!
Waterville School Seventh Grade Class
Not all of Waterville's earlier historians were senior citizens. In 1956 teacher Estelle Wreede and her seventh grade social studies class undertook a project to document Waterville history through research, interviews and photographs. At first it was not meant to be sold to the public but to be a learning experience for the students. However, Doyle Clear Jr., chairman of the class's 50th reunion, remembers that the students took orders for the The Waterville Story, and after they were all turned in, the book was printed for that number. He delivered his 30 or 40 spiral bound copies and collected about $1 each for them. Neither he nor other classmates contacted can remember who printed it and suspect Mrs. Wreede took care of it. The others agree that it sold for about $1 and was well received by the citizens of Waterville. It included a complete Bibliography. (An index to the book has been produced by the WHS archivists.)
Here's a sample of their efforts:
"While the class was doing a great amount of searching for the first map of Waterville, they came across this article taken from the Toledo Blade, May 26, 1930. It read that the first centennial celebration was held in Waterville. Heirlooms and relics of many Waterville families were shown to the public for the first time since the founding of the village by JohnPray in 1830. . . One of the most interesting features of the display was a copy of the first map ever made by John Pray. This was the one item that the class truly tried to find. There are many maps of the town, but to get the real original was just impossible. The boys who did some extensive "snooping" for this map were Bill Reiley and Brenton Stott. They spent a great amount of time with Mr. and Mrs. Markley at the town hall."
In 1973 the Waterville Mother's Club reprinted the students' work, adding a class picture of the 1955-56 Seventh Grade Class, among whom were the social studies students who contributed to the original book. The Club also added a 21-page supplement with many photos showing the changes and additions in businesses that had taken place in the 17 years that the village population grew from 1,100 to 3,300. Records do not show what the book sold for or how many copies were made.
The 1975 Mother's Club "rather than reprinting The Waterville Story , a very costly venture," the club and "The Anthony Wayne Standard" worked together to publish and update it. Readers were instructed to clip the large article from the September 11, 1975 issue of the newspaper and add it to the back of their books. Extra copies of the 1973 edition were available for sale to those who needed a copy. New businesses like The Moppet Shop and Tom Kelsey Ford were described without photos, as well as the new Fallen Timbers Middle School and the four Waterville homes added to the national Register.
Ordinance No. 111
An Ordinance to Prevent Aiding of Prisoners to Escape from the Village Jail
Be it ordained by the Council of the Incorporated Village of Waterville, Lucas County, Ohio, THAT:
Section I. It shall be unlawful for any person within the corporate limits of this Village to convey, or attempt to convey, or cause to be conveyed to any prisoner lawfully confined within the village jail anything useful to effect the escape of such prisoner or any other prisoner so confined, whether an escape be effected, or attempted or not.
Section II. It shall be unlawful for any person within the corporate limits of this Village to convey, or attempt to convey, or cause to be conveyed to any prisoner lawfully confined within the village jail, any fire-arm or other dangerous weapon.
Section III. It shall be unlawful for any person within the corporate limits of this Village forcibly to break into the village jail or any part thereof, or forcibly to make an opening into said jail or any part thereof whereby any prisoner therein lawfully confined might escape, or with force or threat to compel any officer in charge of said jail, or other person to release any prisoner or to leave any part of said jail open or unfastened, so that any prisoner therein lawfully confined might escape.
Section IV. Any person violating any of the provisions of this ordinance shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction thereof shall be fined in any sum not more than fifty dollars, and the costs of prosecution, and the person so fined shall stand committed until such fine and costs are paid.
Section V. This ordinance shall take effect from and after passage and legal publication. Done at the Council chamber this 26th day of February 1900. G. M. Utz, Mayor A.J.Taylor, clerk
Historian ~ Midge Campbell (1918-1985)
Not one to just reminisce, Marjorie Bucher Shufelt Campbell (Midge to all who knew her) had a love of architecture, animals and history, especially local history. Descendant of Gunns, Ishams, Knaggs & Buchers, long established family lines in Waterville, she grew up listening to family stories and expanded her knowledge of family genealogy by digging through attics, libraries, cemeteries and courthouses looking for ancestors.
She studied to become an architect, but was dissuaded from finishing her studies by professors who implied that she would never be employed in the field. Settling into a bookkeeping career, she redirected her interests to the restoration of three older Waterville homes. Similarly, she attracted and took in stray animals, caring for a three legged part collie named “Hopalong Cassidy” until his death of old age. She was active in the Waterville Historical Society, serving as treasurer and historian.
In retirement, she organized her stories, submitted articles for local newspapers and finally compiled her research into a book titled Watervillore, published in late 1984 shortly before her death on April 9, 1985. She never saw the finished product, as illness had affected her sight prior to publication. Substantive, the book has been a source of information for Watervillians for these many years since her death.
Emergency Resolution of 1912
Many old documents have been donated to the Wakeman Archives from the City of Waterville. They provide interesting insight into the problems the early residents had to deal with.
Declaring it necessary to build a Foot Bridge across the Miami and Erie Canal at Mechanic Street in the Village of Waterville, Ohio.
BE IT RESOLVED: By the Council of the Village of Waterville, State of Ohio, three-fourths of all members elected thereto, concurring
Section 1. That it is necessary to build a Foot Bridge across the Miami and Erie Canal at Mechanic Street in the Village of Waterville, Ohio, that the same be built so that the channel in said Canal may be free of all obstruction for the full width of sixty feet.
Section 2. The Clerk is hereby authorized and directed to have plans and specifications for the said Foot Bridge prepared, the same to be submitted to the Council for its approval.
Sesction 3. This Resolution shall take effect and be in force from and after the earliest period allowed by law, and this resolution is hereby declared to be an emergency measure.
Passed June 10, 1912.
Attest. C. J. Fisher, Clerk W.F.Bath, Mayor
Historian ~ F. Glen Haskins (1897-1997)
Another of Waterville’s “wandering reporters,” F. Glen Haskins grew up on Canal Road and wrote of his days there and his life as a young man during World War I and subsequent college years. Many of these articles were originally written for the Painesville Telegraph (where he relocated) and for Bend of the River magazine. He eventually compiled them into the first part of a short book titled Grandpa Reminisces; his wife Dorothy Boyd Haskins added her stories in the second portion, Grandma’s Favorite Tales.
An agricultural extension agent, he won a number of awards for his work and was active in agricultural and service organizations, was well traveled, having visited all 50 states. He survived to age 100, died November 29, 1997.
Historian ~ Mena Graf (1889-1979)
Taking up the challenge in the 1960s, Mena Graf combined her interest in Waterville’s past with her career in her articles titled “Mena’s Meanderings” also for “The Anthony Wayne Standard.” A bank teller at the Waterville Branch of the First National Bank, she would reminisce about an event from Waterville’s history followed by an advertisement for the bank. A sampling: “Now that the ice is moving in the river, it reminds me of the time in 1904 when the first bridge over the Maumee was washed out. . . But better than that I can remember the old ferry that used to run from Waterville across the river. . . I do remember that as a youngster I used to take a lot of rides on that ferry. . . And for that matter you just can’t beat The National Bank when it comes to automobile loans. . “
She retired after a forty year career which included four robberies at the bank, two in the 1930s and two in the 1950s. She died in her home at age 89 on the 31st of January, 1979.
WATERVILLE POLICE WITH BOB HOPE
Bob Hope, world famous comedian and star of radio, movies and TV, was very fond of Waterville. He first visited here in 1967 when his son Anthony married Judy Richards, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Richards of 105 North Fifth Street. The wedding took place in Defiance. In 1969 he stayed at the Richards' home during the time he was given an honorary degree at Bowling Green State University. A "Saturday Evening Post" article of 1971 quoted Hope referring to Waterville, "The quiet in that town really scared me. It was so peaceful. Ever since I have threatened to go back to Waterville for a month each year to let the quiet clear out my head."
The picture shows (L-R) Jeff Mcknight (auxillary police officer), Bob Hope and patrolman Bob Davis. Hope is wearing Davis’ hat.
Hope was given accolades for entertaining the troops, particularly during World War II with annual Christmas shows at bases overseas. When he was 94 he became the first American designated by Congress as an honorary veteran of the United States Armed Forces. He died in 2003 at the age of 100.
Waterville's Cookie Lady
Christmas was the favorite time of year for Mrs. John (Norma Wirtz) Leonhart of Waterville-Monclova Road. She was the daughter of John and Sophia (Fausz) Wirtz and delighted in decorating her home and yard for over 50 years. Norma would decorate her house with (mostly) handmade decorations that she made from old Christmas cards. She would start decorating before Thanksgiving and it was said there were more than 600 lights on the inside added to the arrangement of winter scenes and numerous Christmas trees that she collected. Everywhere you looked there were decorations. Her husband was in charge of the out-of-doors decorating and had made life-size reindeers, Santa Claus and a nativity scene. Mr. Leonhart was a builder and cabinet maker. Inside the house each table top had a different holiday scene with houses, church, skaters, etc., which were ordered from Germany. They loved to share their decorated home with their friends and neighbors.
The family welcomed everyone who wanted to view the decorations into her home, and after touring the small home, she would offer cookies. In 1977, at age 80 she had been serving cookies to those that came to see the decorations for over 30 years. She used extra-large pans for mixing and when the cookies were cool they were put away in 50 pound cans for keeping. In 1976 in honor of the Bicentennial observation she made 1776 cookies. The largest number she ever baked was 2095. Beginning before Thanksgiving she would start making her cookies with the help of her husband. Everyone’s most favorite cookies were the German Lebkuchen and Springerle. She used her mother’s springerle rolling pin. She also made butterscotch, oatmeal, raisin drop, chocolate chip, Hawaiian drop and potato chip crisps. This was their Christmas just being able to have friends in for a cup of coffee and serve some of her Christmas cookies. Mrs. Leonhart’s decorating and baking skills were the subject of several Toledo Blade articles in the 1970s.
We all know our pioneer ancestors were self-sufficient. They had to be because there was no store to run to for needed food supplies or perhaps the store was just too far away. By November the crops were gathered in and stored. It was time to consider their meat supply for a long cold winter. Cool days and frosty nights made November the ideal time to butcher livestock. Natural refrigeration kept the meat fresh until it could be processed and stored away. The meat was packed away in salt, soaked in salt brine and smoked in the smokehouse or sometimes canned and put away in jars. Nothing was wasted. Scraps were made into sausage and the fat was rendered into lard. Butchering, as shown in the photo, was a family affair and perhaps even the neighbors would come to help. The hickory rod used to suspend the carcass was called a “gambrel stick”.
It Was N0t John Lennon
John Lennon of the Beatles is often mistakenly given credit for coming up with the statement, “Life is what happens when we are making other plans.” However, long time Waterville resident John Saunder’s father, Allen Saunders, creator of the Mary Worth comic strip, was quoted in a 1957 “Reader’s Digest” article saying, “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” See our feature article on John Saunder's
MULES ON THE CANAL
Did you know that mules were the much preferred work animals to tow boats on the area’s canals? Did you ever wonder why mules were considered more desirable than either horses or donkeys? We have the answers! Mules, which are the offspring of a male donkey (jack) and a female horse (mare) were (and are still) considered to be more patient, sure-footed, hardy, and long-lived than horses and less obstinate, faster and more intelligent than donkeys. Mules are stronger than horses of similar size and inherit the endurance of their donkey sires. They also require less food than horses.
Another note of interest, although exceedingly rare, a mule can be the offspring of a female donkey (jenny) and a male horse (stallion). This kind of mule is called a hinny.
Waterville's Grainger Island
(or Granger Island)
Waterville historian Midge Campbell wrote in her 1884 book, Watervillore that Waterville Founder, John Pray arrived the summer of 1818 and built a dam across the river from what is now the rear of the old schoolyard to the island opposite. (First evicting a squatter named Grainger.) In 1821 Pray built a grist mill at the end of the island using Maumee River waterpower. The waterfall over the dam came to be known as "Pray's Falls." Sometimes in the summer when the river water level is low, the ramains of the dam can still be seen.
Transfer of real estate records state, "John Pray to Theophilus Short and Ira Wilder, October 1835, Granger Island, in the Maumee River and lots in Waterville, for $7,000; Pray reserving certain privileges, including the removal of everything in the old Mill on the Island except the Water-Wheel, and the removal of the contents of the barn."
Over the years many others owned the island, but in the 1950s it was acquired by Herb Mericle. (Herb died January 18, 2008 age 101, and is best known as Waterville's "Polar Bear" because of his traditional New Year's Day swims in the Maumee.) 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 an interview in 2006 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 vegetable garden on the island too, which he learned to share with the wildlife like deer and foxes. He found Indian artifacts; a skinning stone and "a real good tomahawk." One time when he was plowing he uncovered a fire pit that he believed was used by Indians. Unfortunately, the cottage was burned, probably by vandals, and Herb sold the island in 1980.
Grainger Island is still a beautiful part of the Waterville landscape, especially in the fall of the year. Next time you cross the bridge or visit Memorial Park, gaze across at it and picture our village founder, John Pray at the old mill, and fondly remember our village personality, Herb Mericle working in his garden.
[Grainger Island was acquired by Metroparks of the Toledo Area on December 30, 2011.]
Where was Roosevelt Boulevard?
Did you know that the CWA (Civil Works Administration) created jobs for those who were out of work during the Depression? CWA was a short lived program from November 9, 1933 to March 31, 1934, probably due to the high cost of funding it. President Roosevelt wanted a way to get men and women back to work. The CWA created mostly manual labor. The unskilled were paid $.50 and skilled $1.20 per hour.
The France Stone Company, presently known as Hanson Aggregates, rented its facilities to the CWA with a royalty of 40 cents a ton. A detachment of 319 CWA workers furnished all the manual labor at the quarry. France Stone Company and the Toledo Workhouse on Schadel Road, near Whitehouse, furnished the stone for the 12 mile highway to be laid in the old Miami & Erie Canal bed.
The CWA workers on the canal bed showed their appreciation for employment given them by unofficially naming the new roadway “Roosevelt Boulevard”. They placed the name in white crushed stone on the bank of the old canal where it could be seen from the River Road. A flag donated by the American Legion also was raised in Waterville. The following men were listed as being on the job in the CWA in Waterville: Foreman Frank Miller, Edward Baxter, Floyd Bovee, Ray Bloom, Earl Brogan, Ray Cashell Thomas Cook, Fred Cook, Harry Davis, Andy Tehser, Frank Fought, Edward Gardner, Arthur Goodwin, William Gregezorzswski, Fred Holloway, Russell Hinshaw, Leroy Harrison, Kenneth Hannifan, Clyde Jewell Elmer Johnson, Roland Lowe, Charles Lauch, Clarence Magium, F. McGaugall, Eugene Miller, James Morrison, John Morgan, Sam Mohr, Joseph Mohr, Frank Noester, Laurence O'Brien, Roy Rubadeaux, Burt Ryan, supervisor and Charles Rieck, timekeeper.
Benjamin Franklin Bucher invented a tool to change tires on Model T Fords
Benjamin, better known as Frank, was born July 27, 1890 to Benjamin and Maria (Sherer) Bucher in a log house on Bucher Road, near Whitehouse, Ohio. Later the family moved to the Sherer farm on Waterville-Neapolis Road. He attended the Hammond’s School at the corner of Waterville-Neapolis and Noward Road. He was very mechanical and helped the inventor of one of the earlier automobiles when the “horseless carriage” was in its infancy. He was personally acquainted with Barney Oldfield, the foremost racing driver of the time.
In 1913 while living in Detroit he invented a tool for the removal of auto tires. He married Wealthy May Isham , daughter of J.F.T. and Emma (Knaggs) Isham of Waterville, on June 28, 1914. In 1915 they moved back to Waterville and in 1921 Frank opened an auto repair garagewhich later became Bucher Motor Sales. There he sold Model T Fords and eventually Nash automobiles. It was located in Waterville in the old Presbyterian Church on the corner of River Road and North Street. Later he would open the Waterville Machine Company in 1942. This venture began in the old machine shop at Graf’s Garage and later moved to 726 Farnsworth Road. Frank also made a traffic light in the 1920s that Waterville used for over 40 years. It was made from Model T parts, angle irons and copper sheeting. It hung at the corner of River Road and Farnsworth Road in front of the Waterville School.
To learn more about the Bucher, Isham, Sherer families visit the Wakeman Archival Center.
New Fire Equipment 1904
The Waterville Fire Department was organized in 1902, with Martin Bennett the first fire chief. A ladder and bucket cart was the first equipment. In 1904, a horse drawn, hand operated pump wagon and a large two wheel hose cart was purchased. The hand operated equipment required twelve men, six each side facing in and pumping the same way as a railway handcar. At one time this equipment was housed in a lean-to shed attached to the west side of the Charles Graf Blacksmith Shop, now Smedlaps Smithy. In 1906, firemen at the fires were paid between 30 to 35 cents per run while the man with the team of horses was paid $2.35. At the time the picture below was taken, the location of the fire hall was on the east side of Fourth Street near Farnsworth Road, now part of Pray Park. The men in this picture are back row: ______, Liberty Fredericks, Charles Wilford, Abe Fredericks, Ulysses Walbolt, Pete Fisher, and Alden Walbolt. Front row: John Myers, Jacob Federicks, Sr., George Wilson, Jerome Rulspaugh, and Vern Maylor. Man standing on pumper not identified.
Waterville Once Had "Tea Rooms"
From: Olde Waterville by June Huffman 1994.
Shiny black Pierce Arrows and Cadillac limousines were a common sight in Waterville, beginning about 1910 and continuing into the 1920s and 1930s, during the height of the Tea Room era. Toledo's society matrons frequently were driven to Waterville where a cluster of Tea Rooms awaited them. Also, couples in search of fine Sunday dinners were drawn to the quiet little hamlet on the Maumee River.Meanwhile, chauffeurs, who waited patiently outside, stood sentry over the automobiles, polishing them to a mirror-like finish with gloved hands.
Some of the Tea Rooms in operation in Waterville homes were: Downs Tea Room on the corner of River and Farnsworth Roads. Mrs. Ging's on South River Road, Shadel's Tea Room, Farnsworth Road, and the Silver Pheasant Tea Room, North River Road.This dish was used by Mrs. Ging at her tea house on South River Road, and was donated to the society by Susan Glaubitz, a relative of Sadie Ging, along with a picture of Mrs. Sadie Ging. The picture and the dish are both on display at the Robbins House Museum
The Methodist Church in Waterville
The first Methodist Class was formed in Waterville under the pastorate of Elam Day in 1834. It was part of the Waterville Mission of the Ohio Conference. Those attending were Jane Adams, Thomas Gleason and wife, Harriet Farnsworth, Hannah Cross, John Hoag, Elisa Hanson, and Sarah Bailey. Lucina Haskins was with the class of 1835 and in 1840 Whitcomb Haskins, John Pray and his wife joined. By 1841 a church 36’ x 50’ was being built in Waterville but no parsonage at this time. The church was completed in 1844 and by 1847 the church had a Sunday school with 50 scholars.
The Waterville Church was part of a preaching circuit until a permanent pastor was assigned in the late 1870s. The Methodist history says that in 1879 a parsonage was built on lot 13 next to the church. Other records suggest the building was moved from behind the church. Regardless of when or where built, the needed parsonage was established. By 1882 the pastor, Rev. J.C. Miller said the house was in good condition but improvements were needed by way of a barn, wood house, walks, and fence. The barn and wood house were later constructed. By 1891 the parsonage and church building were free of debt but need an enlargement of the parsonage. When a kitchen was needed the pastor promised to build it if they could find money to buy materials. The minister scouted around and carried home most of the material for the framework. The roof was still needed and more searching turned up a discarded tin roof. There were gaps and holes to cover until he found cans to salvage. He dropped tin cans on beds of hot coals in the kitchen stove and presto the roof was completed. Finally the new kitchen was ready to be used. Today the former parsonage is a private home with additions and remodeling. At one time the minister had an office in the home. There were two doors leading into the home. The left door led to the office and there was a pocket door between the office and the home.
Today the church at the corner of Mechanic and River has been torn down and the new church built in 1915 stands at the corner of Fifth and Mechanic. When it came time to move to the new church the members walked carrying the books and other items up the hill to the new church. The Methodist Congregation recently celebrated their 100th anniversary of worshiping in the new church.
Who Put the Bench in Pray Park?
The origin of the covered bench that sits in Pray Park can be traced to the members of the Apple Blossom Garden Club, which was very active in Waterville from 1932 until 1983. It was erected as a bus stop shelter in memory of Edna Ferrell in 1948 on the southeast corner of Farnsworth Road and the Anthony Wayne Trail. Greyhound busses stopped there to pick up and discharge passengers. During a 1989 ODOT road improvement on the Trail, then Route 24, and the intersection, the bench was moved to Pray Park. The bus service had been discontinued.
The club also sponsored many beautification projects in the village, including selling hundreds of flowering crab trees to local residents, donating trees to Wakeman Cemetery and making Christmas wreaths for the places of business in town. They held home and garden tours, lawn sales, flower shows, landscaped the grounds around the new library in 1964, and conducted many educational programs. They met monthly in members' homes. Much of the beauty of our town can be attributed to these dedicated women.
Three large scrapbooks and other memorabilia about the club have been donated to the Waterville Historical Society. The material has been organized and catalogued and is stored at the Wakeman Archives.
Local students injured at Washington’s National Cathedral…1928
Did you know that in 1928 Waterville and Whitehouse seniors traveled to Washington, D.C. for an educational six day tour? It was for high school students under the direction of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The cost of the tour was $60 and students were only allowed to take $5 in spending money. There were rules such as to retire at 11 p.m. and be ready for breakfast at 7:30 a.m. The trips were planned by school authorities who thought all students should see the U.S. Capitol which was part of their studies in the senior year.
On this trip they visited Washington’s National Cathedral which was still under construction. The Cathedral guide who was conducting the tour took them across scaffolding in the new building. It gave way and seven girls fell from 10-15 feet on to cement flooring. An investigation was held to see if the scaffolding was meant for visitors or workers. Those on the trip from Waterville were James Sweeney, William Carroll, Chauncey Parker, Virginia Schaeffer, Pearl Schaeffer, Grace Brown, Leona Lake, Harold Hutchinson, Karl Lloyd, Lloyd Davis, Thelma O'Hara, Helen Struhsaker, Miss Helen Witte and Miss Irene Kutzly. Ethel Borough received a fracture of the first lumbar, Laura Piefer and Inez Demuth received bruises. Several Whitehouse students were injured as well. Pearl Studer and Leona Mesnard from Whitehouse were injured and stayed in the hospital a number of days, receiving flowers from Mrs. Calvin Coolidge. The students from Whitehouse and Waterville were awarded a total of $7,150 for their injuries from Cathedral Foundation Corporation and the National Cathedral.
Who Was David Robbins?
Many different families have lived at 114 South River Road over the years, but we know from early records that the house was built on lot 36 in 1838 by David Robbins. He bought the lot from John Pray for $13. Pray had laid out the village in 50 lots in 1831. River Road was originally "Main Street." Robbins married Phebe Gunn in 1839 and she died at the age of 30 after bearing six children. An 1850 Lucas County census lists David Robbins, constable and farmer, age 47, born in Canada, with children: Lucy 18, Elizabeth 16, Wellington 14, and Mary Ette 12. Another daughter, Susan had married Reuben Hall, and a son Rinaldo (1831-1894) was a local merchant.
The Criminal Docket of Cyrus D. Hanks, Justice of the Peace of Waterville in the 1850s, records various crimes from petty theft to murder. David Robbins was frequently given custody of the accused to keep overnight at his home. He would then bill the village for room and board, usually 75 cents or $1.50, depending on how much the criminal was fed. The Hanks' ledger and some of these original bills are stored at the Wakeman Archives and make fascinating reading.
David Robbins died in 1859 and is buried in Wakeman Cemetery. His home, now the Robbins House museum, restored by the Waterville Historical Society, is open free to the public the last Saturdays of the summer months and on Roche de Boeuf Day in September, and also by appointment.
Where did our pioneers get ice before refrigeration?
In an interview in 2002 with Elnora Brown Matthewson, who was born in 1914, she related the following:
The ice house we had on our farm but it belonged to the whole neighborhood. Every year Mr. Schaffer checked the ice when it was deep enough to make 50-pound squares from the canal, the old canal. That was work because that canal was down in that particular area - up there by Sizers and Schaffers. It was sealed in there. They had a second siding on the inside like they do, [in an ice house] and then the ice was packed in sawdust to keep it frozen all summer. And all the ice cream socials were always done at our house because the ice was there.
Who had the first Christmas tree in Waterville?
Before the 1860s Christmas Trees were not an established American tradition. The very first Christmas tree in Waterville was displayed about 1865 by Peter and Sophia Ullrich in their home on the northwest corner of River Road and South Street. It was one of the German customs they had brought from their homeland. All the children in town came to look at it. The tree pictured here is from 1938.
Does anyone remember these?
Printed by the State of Ohio between 1935 and 1962, a sales person or merchant had to tear these off from his books of stamps the number equal to the sales tax paid for your purchase. These were presented to you as proof that the correct amount of sales tax had been collected. Click here for more information.