Marion Township

Nathaniel Beastley laid out and surveyed Marion Township in a six-mile square grid layout in 1821. A map dated 1834 already shows the Belmore-Defiance Ridge as an available road through southern Henry County. The road was originally an indian trail.

Many of the first settlers located along the Ridge (now Co. Rd. Y) because it was high and dry and provided a good natural road to Defiance. Early travel was by foot with settlers going to high spots, the Ridge or railroad tracks, then walking to their destination.

Population of the township in 1861 was 195, 513 in 1870 and 1202 in 1880.

Four villages have existed in the history of Marion Township; Edwardsville, Gallup, Woodville, and Hamler.

Most settlers of the township were of German and Irish descent.

Marion Township was named after General Francis Marion, a well-known Revolutionary War hero.
Ridgeland is the oldest town in Marion Township. The first settlement was made in Dec., 1841, by Samuel Hashbarger, father of the famous Wisconsin hunter.

Edwardsville was laid out on the ridge near the township cemetery by George W. Edwards and John Rayle on September, 1863. A post office was established there in 1861, but the U.S. Postal Service insisted on calling it Ridgeland. The hamlet never grew much beyond two or three dwellings even though W. P. Young maintained a thriving sawmill, stavemill and tile manufactory within a stone’s throw. He also was the postmaster of Ridge-land later on.

It was only natural that some business endeavors be promoted at the juncture of the railroad and the Ridge. It was said Gallup was named after one of the men of the D&LN construction gang.

Gallup became a shipping and transportation center. It had a stockyard and livestock buyers. As business increased, two railroad sidings were needed to handle the amount of freight that moved in or out of Gallup.

With the coming of the automobile and the motor truck, the end of Gallup was imminent. The post office and express office closed, passenger trains on the railroad were suspended and sugar beets were trucked directly to the processing plants. Finally, in April of 1936, an overheated electrical motor set fire to the elevator and Gallup was no more to rise from its ashes.


Around 1850 settlers appeared in Marion Township. They came to harvest the forests for building materials and clear the land for farming. They were hunters, woodsmen, builders, and farmers. Early settlers needed to be versatile to survive.

The first few families to settle in this immediate area gave their settlement the name Belton. Soon thereafter, the name was changed to Hamler. The town was named after John Hamler, whose home at one time was on the west side of Allen Street, between Belton and Randolph streets.

Hamler grew rapidly. Several saw mills were built to handle the harvest of logs. With this rapid population growth there developed a great need for roads, schools, churches, stores, and medical facilities.

The coming of the railroads accounted for much of the town’s growth. The B & O Railroad began operations around 1873. The DT&I Railroad came in 1896. With the coming of the railroads, the future of Hamler was assured.

In 1888, Hamler had a population of 500 people.

Today, Hamler continues to provide the essential community services. The people of Hamler take a justifiable pride in the town’s many business establishments and the friendly and efficient people who operate them.


In 1882, Fred W. LeSueur of Defiance, came into the Hamler area, buying up a large amount of timber ground in Section 1 of Marion Township. It is thought that it may have been a company, therefore the oldtimers called it the LeSueur Co.

The area was full of virgin timber of the best quality. The main complex of buildings plus about 30 homes, rooming house, hotel, office and ashery covered a large portion.

The town was known in the community as Woodville. But, because Wood County had a town by that name, the post office was known as LeSueur.

About 40 rods south of the main crossing was a large brick head and stave dry kiln heated for rapid drying with tracks running the full length of the building. On the west side was the large stave, bolt and hoop mill. Foundations are still in the ground.

It is claimed that this was the only factory in Ohio where all the parts of a barrel were made. These component parts (hoops, staves and heads) were shipped by rail in package form to conserve shipping space.

On July 2, 1894, about 9 p.m. the brick dry shed started on fire. The shed, full of dry, one-inch material, was like a furnace. The entire barrel business was gone and it was the end for the company.

Many houses were moved for dwellings. Some were moved to Hamler. Others were dismantled for their usable lumber. The hotel was traded for a horse years later. There are still a few Woodville homes in the area. The last one to be moved was taken to the Deshler area in 1957.

Reprinted from Henry County, Ohio. A Collection of Historical Sketches and Family Histories Compiled by Members and Friends of The Henry County Historical Society, Volume I. Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas, TX, 1976.

Liberty Township

Liberty Center in 1888 was a flourishing village with a population between five and six hundred. It was the second village in the county to become incorporated, and took advantage of its corporate franchise to secure good sidewalks, streets and drainage. It was located in sections twenty-five and thirty-six of the original surveyed township, was a railroad and telegraph station on the Wabash, had the third best post office in the county and a printing office from which the Liberty Press was issued weekly.

The village had a good hotel, a livery stable, a hardware store, a drug store, three dry goods stores, several saloons and restaurants, several fine brick blocks, and the mechanical artists usual to all villages. A handsome roller process grist-mill was a considerable attraction to the trade of the village, and a saw mill furnished a market for the few trees which remained for timber. It had four churches, one Methodist Episcopal, one German Reformed, one United Brethren and one Seventh Day Adventist.

Reprinted from Henry County, Ohio. A Collection of Historical Sketches and Family Histories Compiled by Members and Friends of The Henry County Historical Society, Volume I. Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas, TX, 1976.

Harrison Township

Some time after the close of the War of 1812 and the conquest of the Indians in the area, the United States government had a strip of land across northern Ohio surveyed. Within that area was Harrison Township. The government then offered that land for sale at $1.25 an acre to finance the building of a canal which would serve it. The land was not very accessible, and the price a bit high compared to 65 cents charged in some states. Although records are skimpy, it seems that white people did not come to Harrison Township until the late 1830’s or early 1840’s with the intention of staying.

Harrison Township was named in honor of the hero, Tippecanoe. This township was tardy in settlement and slow to improve. There were good reasons for this. The construction of the canal and especially the Wasbash Railroad, on the north of the river, afforded convenient shipments to market. The construction of the dam at Providence had made the river unfordable between that point and the rapids at Florida, Ohio. On the south side there was no railroad, and no roads of any kind, and in order to reach a market of any sort, it became necessary to ferry the river, which in seasons was difficult. Lands being equally cheap on the north, the early settlers naturally secured homes there. It was not, however, until after the construction of the bridge across the Maumee at Napoleon, in 1860 that settlement can be said to have really begun in earnest in Harrison Township.

On the banks of Turkey Foot Creek, south of U.S. 6 on State Route 109, nestles a collection of homes called Shunk.

A park at the mouth of Turkey Foot Creek.

Little is known about the beginning of Shunk. Only legend remains, having been passed down by word of mouth for years. Old timers tell of a man by the name of John Shunk operated a trading post and a U.S. Post Office at this location. Where he came from or where he went is a mystery to this day. The place took its name from him.

In the early 1870’s a man by the name of Stuckey established a saw mill on the banks of the Creek. Many of the old homes in the area still contain lumber sawn in this mill.

Shunk Tile Yard (Fiser), on wagon, Frank Finks, left to right: Tony Preston, Ervin Finks, Elmer Sturdavant, Noah Eisaman, Ben Bechtol, Gus Haines and Thomas Finks.

Reprinted from Henry County, Ohio. A Collection of Historical Sketches and Family Histories Compiled by Members and Friends of The Henry County Historical Society, Volume I. Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas, TX, 1976.

Freedom Township

Damage from 1923 tornado

Freedom Township was one of the first of the five townships organized in territory now composing Henry County. When Fulton County was organized in 1850, part of Freedom Township was lost to Fulton County and the township is now composed of only 24 sections of land. In 1850 the population was 460 and the taxable valuation of property amounted to $27,602. The 1970 census showed a population of 810 and the present (1975) real estate valuation is $4,480,810.00. After 1860 there was quite an influx of Germans to Freedom Township and it is still basically German heritage which permeates the township. The township is to a very great extent agricultural. Except for the hamlet of Gerald and some good tracts of wooded areas, the land is all under cultivation. General farming, specialty farming such as raising of tomatoes, sugar beets, cucumbers, and livestock farming all find their place in the township.

Naomi is now only a memory, but it was at one time a hamlet on the Henry-Fulton County line about one mile north of Gerald, Ohio, and one-half mile west of State Route 108. The village of Naomi came into being about 1895 along with the incoming railroad. The name of Freedom was proposed, however, there already was a town in Ohio by that name. The part owner of the railroad had a daughter Naomi — that then became the name of the town. Since the late twenties, Naomi could be considered an abandoned town, and at this time only several nice houses with well kept lawns remain.

Located in Freedom Township and situated five miles north and 1/2 mile west of the county seat lies Gerald, Ohio. It was named by Mr. Mike Donnelly for his son Gerald, born January 4, 1892. Mr. Donnelly served as a judge in Napoleon and was one of its leading citizens. Mr. Donnelly was instrumental in getting the railroad built.

Just as the building of the railway helped to bring industry to Gerald, the ease of transportation brought on by replacing the mud roads with concrete highways started the decline of its grocery stores, saloons, stock yards, and blacksmith shop, and their eventual disappearance. The two remaining businesses with a link to the past are the Gerald Grain Association and Harry Von Deylen’s Implement Shop. Both serve the area farmers needs of today.

Reprinted from Henry County, Ohio. A Collection of Historical Sketches and Family Histories Compiled by Members and Friends of The Henry County Historical Society, Volume I. Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas, TX, 1976.

Flatrock Township

Flatrock Township was organized on May 23, 1835. At this time, Flatrock Township included what is now Richland Township in Defiance County.

In 1833, there was no post office nearer than Defiance, but one was established about 1834, called McLean after John McLean, the Postmaster General. This is probably where the story that Florida was first named McLean stems from and it well may be true as the location of this post office was said to have been just east of the present site of Florida. Mail was received about once a month, carried on horseback.

In 1833, the Indians were more numerous than the whites in Flatrock Township, but they were friendly. They had camps near Girty’s Island on the south bank of the river and came each year to burn bones at the graves of their deceased friends. It was predicted then that Flatrock Township would grow as its soil was capable of sustaining a population multiplied by ten or twenty. In 1888, Flatrock Township was one of the best “cleared up” townships in the county, containing more of the “old” farms than any other section. The population of Flatrock Township in 1888 was 469 persons. The official census of 1970 lists 1,560 inhabitants in Flatrock Township of whom, 285 live in the Village of Florida.

Flatrock Township farmers are prosperous and still produce generous yields from their fertile farms. General grain farming is foremost but the advent of the large Campbell Soup Co. plant at Napoleon has introduced the cultivation of tomatoes and small vegetables to the area. Dairy farming is declining although there are some top notch herds in the township. Much of the choice acreage in Flatrock Township now sells for well over a $1000.00 per acre and is much in demand. Many new homes are being built on the farms and in 1975 there is a trend to move to the country and many farmers are selling small acreage plots from their wood-lots and former pasture lands to city dwellers who are constructing homes.

In 1831 Wm. Bowen wrested a small clearing on the north bank of the Maumee River and established a double log cabin known as “Hunter’s Inn”. This clearing was to become the first village in Henry County and was named Florida although it has been written that it was first called McLean. The village
is located in northern Flatrock Township on Scenic Route 424 nine miles west of Napoleon or nine miles east of Defiance. Here the township records were kept and the township business done.
With the completion of the Miami-Erie Canal in 1842, Florida immediately became a thriving metropolis —the center of trading and commerce for the area. It is said that at one time the village supported sixteen saloons. There was a grist mill and slaughter house as well as a hoop mill, an ashery, two hotels, and several other enterprises.

Stanley, located in the very southwestern corner of Flatrock Township, was a railroad town organized when the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad bought a 100 foot strip of land from the local landowners. Hearsay has it that Stanley was named because in order to board the train, potential passengers were obliged to stand on the platform in order to stop the train as no regular stop was made there.

Today, Stanley remains much the same — a small cluster of homes divided by the railroad tracks with the elevator as its main business establishment.

Reprinted from Henry County, Ohio. A Collection of Historical Sketches and Family Histories Compiled by Members and Friends of The Henry County Historical Society, Volume I. Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas, TX, 1976.

Damascus Township

Damascus was first settled by whites in two general areas. The first area near the mouth of the south Turkey Foot, now owned by Dr. Thomas Brown, is known as Odessa. This area was probably an old Indian haunt and was taken up by the Reid family as early as 1838-40. The Reids came from Scotland, and parlayed hard work and enterprise into large landholdings along Road 5-A, once known as Reid Street. Odessa prospered for a time while the Miami and Erie Canal made port on the Turkey Foot.

Apparently an epidemic of cholera and progress nearly finished the community, but before the railroad put McClure (1880) on the map, Odessa was the only community of any size in the township, and at one time boasted of a sawmill, gristmill, and at least one store. Of late, Odessa is only a place name to people of the township and to the residents of the assorted dwellings along the creek.

The other area of early settlement in Damascus Township was along the eastern edge. This most likely occurred because of travel along the Wapakoneta Trail and Big Creek. Into this area came the Rowlands in the 1840’s, the McLains, David Hickman, the Bells, James Fiser, and Ballmers. Settlement in this area was less concentrated than around Odessa. But the land was cleared, churches and schools founded, and life on the frontier began.

The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 designated certain areas being set aside for schools. The early settlers took this cue and established at least 9 schools throughout the township before they were consolidated into the Central School in McClure about 1917.

Today a drive around the township will show the remnants of the “little brick schoolhouses” that “learned” our parents. Only three buildings remain; The Foltz, Big Creek or “Brush College” and Odessa.

The fate of the local churches through the township is much the same as the schools. All have been consolidated, forgotten, or transformed into homes, yet they stand as a monument to those founders of this land whose faith in themselves was surpassed only by their faith in God.

While the river served as the primary transport connection to commerce, Odessa flourished and the ferry to Texas at the foot of Bob Wagner’s lane carried Damascans to that thriving canal town across the river. However, once the Cloverleaf Railroad cut through the woods from Toledo to Grand Rapids, to Delphos, the fate of the canal-river connection was sealed. Now the railroad town was the link to the world and all along the track sprang up those little towns that still dot the county; McClure, Grelton, Malinta, Elery, Holgate and on down the road.

Laid out in 1880 on the farm of John McClure, the village of McClure was incorporated in 1886. The new town was near the junction of two proposed railroads, the Coldwater, Mansfield and Lake Michigan and the Toledo, Delphos and Burlington (also later known as the Cloverleaf, the Nickle Plate and now the Norfolk and Western). The Coldwater never passed the grade stage but the T,D and B was built and the town flourished. A relic of this growth period (circa 1890) still stands east of the McClure Elevator along the railroad. The McClure Machine and Manufacturing Building is all that remains of the ambitious scheme to produce farm machinery in McClure. Despite the company’s failure, a new addition to the town was platted, people were attracted and new businesses were established.

Businessmen are the first to recognize the change and the smart ones take action. One such character was Thomas Durbin, who moved his store from Texas across the river to McClure. He built a store and eventually, a bank on the site of the present bank building in McClure.

(Reprinted from Henry County, Ohio. A Collection of Historical Sketches and Family Histories Compiled by Members and Friends of The Henry County Historical Society, Volume I. Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas, TX, 1976.)

Bartlow Township

Bartlow Township is situated in the southeast corner of Henry County where Henry, Wood, Putnam and Hancock join. It was not organized until 1854, at which time there were not enough electors living in the territory to fill the township offices. It became necessary at this first election, which was held on a pile of railroad ties, for one person to assume the duties of several offices. There was no need for electioneering!

The township was named in honor of Cornelius Bartlow, who had settled in section 36 in 1851, and was the first settler in the township, it at that time being a part of Richfield. Earlier still, it, together with all of the rest of Henry County, was a part of Damascus Twp., organized in 1823.

In 1855, there were but four resident tax payers, who with the Dayton and Michigan Railroad, paid taxes totaling $488.12.

Many causes contributed to the slow development of this area. It was the only part of the county that formed a part of the actual “Black Swamp”, low, flat, wet, with no outlet of any kind for the water that covered the whole surface. Nine-tenths of the land was owned by land speculators, the land not being for sale, and besides there were plenty of more desirable and better located lands that could be had cheaply.

The construction of the Dayton and Michigan R.R. was the first real break made in the wilderness. The construction of this road necessitated drainage, but it was quite superficial. A large reservoir was constructed at the place where Deshler now stands, and the surface water drained into it through Brush Creek, and became a main watering place for the railroad. The real improvement of the township came in 1869 with the construction of the Baltimore and Ohio Railway. A frame building was erected and a supply store for the contractors and employees opened at the reservoir, and the D. and M. then made that place a regular station, giving it the name of Alma.

The west branch of Beaver Creek, Hammer Creek, Beaver Creek, Brush Creek were all cleaned out, widened and deepened. So began the conversion of the swamp to the fertile farms of today!

According to Historical Atlas of the World published in 1875 by H. H. Hardesty and Co. of Chicago, there were only 342 acres of land under cultivation in Bartlow Township. The total acres of land in the township are listed at 22,434 with a value that totals only $91,380! Now, a hundred years later, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to purchase 100 acres for that sum!

Few of the names of land owners in the township a hundred years ago are familiar here today. Among those that are, may be mentioned the Blues, Oberlightners, Spanglers, Van Scoyocs, Smiths, Millers, Wendts, Lees, and Browns. In 1875, Mr. J. G. Deshler, still held title to over 6000 acres in the township.
Of land that is today in possession of descendants of the same surname there are two: the farm of Howard Van Scoyoc in section 36 which was first owned by his great grandfather and his father, and the farm of Nelson Spangler in section 18 which was first owned by his grandfather’s brother Levi Spangler in 1851.

Today fertile fields cover nearly all of the township. From the air, it appears like a vast, orderly, and very beautiful garden. However, it seems that the pioneer zeal to clear the land has been carried a little too far for the ultimate good of the land. It remains to be seen if our farmers of today will be equal to the challenge of preserving the remaining woodlands and conserving the soil that is their basic and most valuable resource.

(Reprinted from Henry County, Ohio. A Collection of Historical Sketches and Family Histories Compiled by Members and Friends of The Henry County Historical Society, Volume I. Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas, TX, 1976.)

Texas, Ohio

by Lura Durbin Rittenburg

These gentlemen are Civil War Veterans from the Colton area, Washington Twp. This picture was taken about 1895 inside the old G.A.R. hall in Colton. Left to right, front row: Ed Mathews, Rev. Poling, Mr. Earheart, Jim Slater, Thomas Barlow, J. Bechstein, Mr. Schultz; middle row: Bill Jackson, unknown, Bill Hyter, Frank Weirich, unknown; back row: Sam Overmire, Peter Greiner, Mr. Shatzer, Simon Wagoner.

Texas, Ohio, was once the principal village of Washington Township, and is one of the oldest in Henry County. It was given the name of Texas, because it was in that year of 1845 that the great state of Texas was admitted to the Union. This is also the year that Durbin bought the land.

Main Street of Texas, Ohio, 1920

It is beautifully situated on the north side of the Miami and Erie Canal and on the north bank of the Maumee River. A ravine runs around the north and west sides, so that the town plots lie high and dry.

The outlet lock of the twenty-four mile level of the canal was at this place and the slack water in the Maumee River caused by the dam at Providence near Grand Rapids, Ohio. It gives the river a greater depth and width from Texas on east. A public ferry was used to connect the banks and the expense was paid by the county. On July 22, 1909, this ferry was sold by the commissioners to Theodore Wagner for $75.00 and Mr. Wagner ran it as a toll ferry. Men who have acted as ferrymen are as follows: 1849, William Kiterman, who drowned while drunk; 1849-1878, Daniel Kerstetter (This ferry was a pole and toll ferry.); 1879, G. W. Long (It became a free cable ferry at this time and the county paid the wages and took care of the cable and boat.); William Bellinger was a ferryman at this time; 1879-1881, Jacob Hardy; 1881-1883, William Bellinger again became ferryman; 1883-1886, Martin Winover; 1888-1909, J. J. Hardy.

The ferry at this period averaged thirty rigs a day and wore out three flat boats. It ferried anything that ever traveled the highways, including threshing machines and livestock.

When John Houts’ funeral was held, there were 106 rigs ferried across the Maumee. The funeral was held at Westhope and the burial was at the Colton cemetery.

On Sundays and holidays there were 50 to 75 rigs ferried across each day.

The village of Texas was first recorded on April 2, 1849, by James Durbin the proprietor. A monument with James Durbin’s name on it was erected near “Bad Creek” on Route 24 and it still stands there today.

The Durbin family was of Scotch and Irish descent and settled here after coming from the State of Maryland. James Durbin was a lawyer but after coming to Ohio during the 1830’s, he became a contractor on the Maumee and Erie Canal, and he was also an engineer.

Thomas William Durbin, brother of James, was a blacksmith and did contract work also on the canal; he was also a school teacher. He later became a merchant here in Texas.

James and Thomas W. invested their surplus capital until they owned very large tracts of land. This land was plotted and became known as Texas.

Thomas W. Durbin was one of the staunch leaders of the Democratic Party. He served as county clerk, county recorder and county commissioner.

The streets in the village of Texas were laid out with the cardinal points, running from north to south; they are named mainly from timber natural to the soil, and those running from east to west are named numerically beginning at the canal.

Through the eastern part of the town there once ran what was called a hydraulic canal. It led from the canal and was built for the purpose of supplying motive power for the mills in the lower part of the town. These mills were the first erected in the county. There was a time when Texas was thought to be a very prosperous town because of the canal.

A Mr. Phipps was seeking a suitable place to make his home and start a gun repair shop and he located in Texas. When asked by Dr. D. E. Haag why he settled here instead of Liberty Center, he explained that he believed Texas would grow into a more prosperous and larger town in time to come.

The canal at that time was doing a good business in grain and lumber and Mr. Phipps did not believe Liberty Center would ever grow too much, even with the railroad going through there.
Quite a little business was done in Texas by Mr. Anglemyre, J. W. Wright, and Mr. Phipps; and there were others too as the years came and went.

At one time there was a barrel factory, a handle factory, and a brick factory here in Texas; and in fact, the first brick to be made in the county came from this village. The first brick court house in Napoleon which was destroyed by fire in 1879 was constructed of bricks manufactured here. The bricks were transported to Napoleon by boat on the canal.

The village in its early days was the most important trading point in Henry County. It was also a formidable rival of Napoleon for the county seat.

The Texas Cemetery lies to the north of Texas (Junction of Coon Creek and Bad Creek). James Durbin and William Sheffield associated it in 1860. No plots of burials were kept.

William Sheffield gave the plot of ground on which to build the Methodist Church in 1870. It was a church until 1930 and later it was made into a beautiful home. On June 24, 1896, the Texas Aid Society formed to maintain Sunday School in Texas throughout the year.

The Miami and Erie Canal through Henry County was started in May of 1837. Ohio Governor Ethan Allen Brown was known as “The Father of Canals” because he was a great help in getting the canal started through Ohio.

The first boats were mule powered, and then steam power came later in the 1890’s. The summer of 1837-38 was the worst for the men working on the canal. The area was notorious for malaria or “Maumee Fever” which took the lives of many canal workers.

The first completed trip from Cincinnati to Toledo wasn’t made until June 27, 1845. By the year of 1847 the canal was doing great business in Texas and it opened up this area for trade.
The boats would stop at the loading docks of J. W. Wright’s general store and they would be loaded with water, apples, vinegar, cider, potatoes, molasses, flour, corn meal, smoked meat, and vegetables to be sold to the commissioners in Toledo.

Mr. Wright stored the food in his ice house underneath the store. In winter ice blocks were cut from the Maumee River and stored in saw-dust at the icehouse. They would use this to keep things cool in the summer.

There was a wide place in the canal just east of Texas which was called “Wide Water” and here the canal boats could turn around.

In 1865 Captain George Carver conceived the idea of drilling for oil and a company was formed in February of 1866 under the name of Henry and Lucas Oil and Mining Co. Work began at once and at a depth of about 400 feet a vein of gas was struck of sufficient force to blow the tools which weighed fifteen hundred pounds clear out of the well. A stream of water shot into the air for twenty feet and continued to spout for a couple of days. At last it subsided and work was resumed. Their method of drilling was very primitive, for instead of casing the hole, they continued to bore in the water, reaching a depth of over 1100 feet. Here they discontinued the work thinking there was nothing any farther down and not knowing the many purposes to which natural gas could be converted.

The vein of water which was struck was of a strong sulphurous kind and heavily charged with gas. By taking a glass of it fresh from the well, it sparkled like champagne. It was impossible to fill a bottle with fresh water and then cork it tightly as the generated gas would surely break the bottle. After the futile attempt to strike oil, the land was sold to Captain J. W. Geering, who, thinking that there was an opportunity to start a sanitarium, built a large hotel here on the grounds. It was called the “Parks Hotel” and was equipped with modern conveniences.

The resort featured hot and cold water baths, which were supposed to cure rheumatism, arthritis, and all aches and pains. It turned out to be a financial failure and was later abandoned.
This well flowed winter and summer and never froze over. It has been capped because of the sulphurous odor which was unpleasant throughout the area. It lies on the east bank of “Bad Creek” near the river.

Fred Weirich, who will soon be 90 years old lives here now and he told me he remembers Mary Hardy starting a Carry Nation Organization of women in Texas and they went to Mose Jackson’s Saloon on the south side of the canal and broke all the whisky bottles.

Well! What a change the years do make! The cars came and then lots of new highways. The first good paved road went through in about 1924. Mary Manley once said when they put the first paved highway through Texas, her mother, Mrs. Corwin, sat on her front porch and said, “I can tell you these automobiles will be the ruination of this country.” I wonder what she would think if she saw all the cars today in 1975? Maybe she wasn’t too far wrong.

Texas has never grown too much but there’s now East and West Texas today. It has always been a beautiful spot on the Maumee. It flows by so peacefully sometimes that one could sit on its banks for hours and enjoy it. But then again it goes on a rampage and has a power you would never believe, when it breaks up and carries out the thick ice at the end of a hard winter. In 1935 it froze to a thickness of 36″ and after a hard rain things really started to happen. Many, who make their homes near the river banks, sure know the pain it can cause. I have seen large cakes of ice shot up on the banks and also up on the Damascus Bridge. The ice would usually jam here at Texas because of the bend in the river. This causes bad flooding in Napoleon and west of here.
In my teens, I remember taking a one horse sleigh that belonged to Charlie Showman, and which he let us children use. Charles Krueger drove the car that pulled the sleigh loaded down with Texas kids and we went clear to Napoleon on the river. Some of these kids were Peggy Johnson, Jack Murrin, Paul Ahleman, Mary Ellen Patton, and others I can’t recall. Well, as I think of it today, the good Lord must have been watching over us. When some of our family found this out, they sure gave us a talking to!

We had many skating parties down there too. Boy! Could the Price boys Larry and Glendale skate! Peggy and Pat Johnson could too, and even though I couldn’t skate as well, it was fun.
Some of the family names of the people who have lived here for the past twenty or thirty years are Charlie Showman, Ivan Wright, Ira L. and Walter Johnson, Harold and Mary McCloy, James Bortel, John Lorenz, Albert Artz, Albert Koch, Manley, J. Murrins, Pat Mann, Donald Lawrence, Carl Shepard, Hans Thrane, D. Shasteen, L. Patten, Durbin, Ed Ellinwood, Anglemyre, Kimerer, Perry, Foreman, and Faith.

Lucy (Showman) Johnson moved to the north edge of Texas as a bride in 1913. She and her husband built a home in 1925 and lived there until his death. Since then Mrs. Johnson contin-ues to live there alone.

Another one who once lived in Texas and has long since moved to Lebanon, Missouri, wrote a poem about Texas and submitted it to the Liberty Press. She is Lura Durbin Rittenburg and her poem is entitled “Memories.”


If I should start a’travelin’
I know where I would go,
I’d go right back to my home town
In the State of O-HI-O.

I’d go right back to Texas
Beside the old Maumee,
And there I’d sit a’wishing
For things that used to be.

I know the ferry’s there no more,
And row boats hard to find;
I don’t know what I’d wish for most,
Of things I left behind.

I know I’d hunt up all the friends
I used to know and see,
When I moved west and left them
On the banks of old Maumee.

And that’s not all the changes
I’ve heard about, you see,
So maybe I had better stay
Home in MISS-OU-RI.

TEXAS, OHIO Written by Hans and Mary Ellen Thrane

The above article is from Henry County, Ohio, Volume Two, A Collection of Historical Sketches and Family Histories Compiled by Members and Friends of The Henry County Historical Society. Dallas, TX, Taylor Publishing Co., pp. 410-412.

Pohlman, Henry F. "Fritz"

Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, August 11, 2006

C. .Do you have any information that might be helpful for the Historical Society?

F. Well, I can tell you of my lineage.

C. That would be interesting.

F. My great-grandfather’s name was August Pohlman and he was born in northern Germany, which was called Prussia and he came down to Berlin and married a girl from Hanover. Her name was Mons and I think her first name was Caroline. They came to United States from the port of Bremen, Germany, to New York, Cleveland and then Lorain, Ohio where they settled. They moved on into Defiance County When my Grandfather, Henry F. Pohlman, grew up he moved to Napoleon and started a butcher shop, which was my grandfather’s basic profession.

C. Where was your grandfather’s shop?

F.Some place in Napoleon, I’m not sure. Then he met Dora Schulte, who was from a substantial family in Napoleon Township, and married her. Her father had obtained a Section of land around Monroe Township in Malinta.

C. That’s a lot of land.

F. Yes and then when he died Dora Schulte got her portion of land and that’s how my Grandfather got started in farming here. He cleared the land. Of course that was Black Swamp and as he cleared it he grew cattle and built barns, and he went out of the butcher business into the farming and livestock. He met with a pioneer in this area called Jacob Brown and they became Brown & Pohlman, livestock buyers. They would go around and buy cattle; then over the weekend they’d hire high-school kids to help them They’d drive these cattle to Napoleon on the road. Of course the kids would come ahead and block the side roads so the cattle could come straight into town. They had a difficult time getting them across the bridge because of the vibration on the bridge. They would drive them thru town to the stockyards.

C. Where was your stockyard?

F. It was on the railroad approximately where the VFW is now on the Wabash RR, and they also had a place in Malinta where the Nickel Plate RR is now. That’s where they would weigh the cattle, pay for them and ship ’em out by rail, usually to Buffalo or New York.

C. Not to Chicago?

F. No. They’d go east-more population, less agriculture.

C. Of course that’s where the people were in those days.

F. That’s right. We were on the eastern edge of the corn belt and the people needed them there. My Grandfather bought several farms and we became one of the largest landowners in the area. My father, Henry G., came along and he took over . My grandfather died suddenly in the courthouse at Paulding, Ohio purchasing a farm in Paulding County.

C. Oh really-heart attack?

F. Yes. And what he was buying is now called the Auglaize Country Club.

C. Oh for heaven’s sake!

F. Route on 111 by the Power Dam. And so when they built the Power Dam-all that land has a lot of water. It’s beautiful land for a golf course but he was buying it for a dairy setup.

C. Did he own that land?

F. Yes. When he died he gave it to one of my father’s sisters. She kept it for a while and then my Dad and his brother Fred bought the sisters out and all their land and joined up for what they called “Pohlman Brothers.” They worked together 14 years and then they went their separate ways and did what they wanted to do. My Dad went into the livestock business-cattle buying-and Fred went his way. My grandfather died in 1932.

Then I came along. I came out of the Service in World War II and then went to Purdue University, graduating in 1948. Several years after I came home my father became ill and I took over the operation. He was still very active-a senior. I carried on with the farm and livestock operation until just recently when my eyes didn’t work well anymore and in 2003 I started renting this land out rather than farming it myself.

C. Did you miss it when you retired from it?

F. Oh yes, yes, but to be a good farmer you have to have good eyes but I was hiring a lot done and I couldn’t see some of the weeds etc. When you’re buying good cattle you need good eyes because you miss things. Your production goes down dramatically.

C. Did Charlie Bowman work with your cattle at all or . . .

F. No, he was competition but he was mostly a hog man but I, my father and grandfather liked cattle more. And we dropped the stockyards in Napoleon back in the ’40’s and we just kept the one in Malinta which is still there. I talked to different people about what to do with it. I offered it to the Malinta Historical Society and even the Nickel Plate Historical Society; they said it’s the only stockyards between Buffalo and St. Louis that is still intact. A few years ago they all came out and had kind of a get-together here.

Now, my father met my mother whose maiden name was Eldridge. She was at Purdue and her father was the first graduating engineer from Purdue . She took languages and she thought she’d like to come to Napoleon because she could teach French and she thought she’d like to teach French to the Napoleon French people. But once she got here she found out there were no French, they were all German so no one took her class. She had to go into English and Science which she then taught. She met my father and they were married in 1920 or 21, I’m not sure. Shortly after that my sister Mary Helen Roll was born and then I came along in 1925.

C. Oh, so she was older than you?

F. Yes, she was three years older. My mother was a co-founder of the Ladies’ Literary here in town and Napoleon Garden Club and she started a lot of those things At Purdue she was founder of a sorority called Kappa Alpha Theta at Purdue. She was quite accomplished.

F. I graduated from Purdue in 1948 and I took Agriculture Economics.

(Turned recorder off to rest.)

F. Well going back to my grandfather, Henry F. Pohlman who I was named after, he was on a lot of committees and several bank boards, and he was one of the ones that helped get the Carnegie Library started here in Napoleon and if you want to check on it his name is on the cornerstone of the old library building on Woodlawn. He was on several other boards-quite civic-minded. The old story goes that after he developed all this land he would get up about 4 o’clock in the morning and go the court house. Anyone that wanted to work that day-day labor-would be there and he’d pick ’em up and they’d go by horse and buggy all the way to Malinta. They’d work all day, then he’d bring ’em back by horse and buggy and they’d get back about 7 or 8, 9 o’clock.

C. How long would it take to go to Malinta?

F. It’s about 9 to 10 miles out there, so-1 to 2 hours. I remember some of the old people around here said they’d see him coming down the road here and if the buggy wasn’t full he’d take them along to school or wherever they were going. Finally he got an old Model T in the ’20 something. That’s way back in the teens and then after he was gone my father, Henry G. built up the cattle end of it. They had quite a few cattle. They’d have about 700 to 800 cattle at one time which was big for that day and age but not now because all the feeding is done in the western lots. There’s no more cattle feeding here, so we basically in the ’70’s and ’80’s started to go more on the crops. Finally in the ’90’s the cattle population in this area went to zero. We couldn’t compete against the freight rates bringing cattle in from the south and the west and the big lots would feed them and butcher them right out there-such as Con Agra-the big boys. We now have about four or five corporations which are controlling about 70% of the cattle. So that’s the story there, but at one time we brokered a lot of the cattle that went east. We’d handle the better quality cattle. I think at one time we brokered close to 10,000 cattle a year and that’s a lot of cattle. At that time they went out by rail. No, we didn’t do much in the hog business. Mr. Bowman did the hog dealing as I remember. No, we weren’t set up for hogs, just for cattle.

C. What railroad line?

F. Nickel Plate, but they didn’t want our business anymore either. It wasn’t profitable for them because you had to take cattle off every 36 hours, feed and water them. That was the law. They didn’t want to do that. Usually we could get them to Buffalo and then they had to take them out and water them and put them back on the next day. Finally they had to get’em all the way to the east coast but they didn’t like that. That’s when they discouraged it. That’s when we went into the trucking business.

C Where did you have your trucks?

F. In Malinta. We had several there, and we hired a lot too. There’s no more cattle. Our stockyards is just for an office, doing books and we’re mostly in grain right now. We ship the

C. Now you have to do a lot of mathematics.

F. Well basically I like to cash rent. Makes it easier for me and I’ve told these people that still call me, especially widows, people that have a little land and don’t know what to do with it. I tell them, “Just cash crop, don’t share-crop because that way you know what you’re dealing with. Let the farmer make some money too. Just let him do what he wants to do.

C. That’s probably wise because that way the farmer’s more interested.

F. That’s right. You gotta let the other guy make a profit too you know. And when I was at Purdue I had some very good professors. When I was there I joined this fraternity called Sigma Chi and they had a lot of–my friends became very successful around the United States.

C. How’d you happen to come back here?

F. I was offered a lot of nice jobs but my Dad said, “If you’ll come back I’ll start you out at $25.00 a week and I’ll give you a car and you can put your fanny under my dinner table.” (laughs) I was offered a lot more to go with Swift and Armour, some of the big companies but I decided to come back. And I guess I didn’t regret it. Most of those that went highballing it on the fast track were burned out or died.

C. That’s it: an awful lot of stress.

F. And that’s what I’d have to be into, the stressful part, so I’m still here. I married a local girl, I married Marilyn Jean and I lost her in the year 2000. at 74.

C. Did she have cancer?

F. Yes, and her mother died when Marilyn was five or six years old and she had three brothers and they all died of cancer. Could be a weakness through the genes.

C. Well you had a pretty long life together anyway.

F. Shortly after we were married she had a hysterectomy, which lost our chance for a family.

C. Now, what year were you married?

F. 1960. We had 40 years.

C. Where’d you go on your honeymoon?

F. Florida, like they all did. We drove down there.

C. Did you used to spend winters in Florida?

F. Sometimes, when I’d want to go on a vacation my Dad would want me to stay up here and work. He was from the old school, you know. (laughs) My Dad had a stroke in the late ’50’s and he kind of left everything up to me after that.

C. In a way that made it a little easier for you?

F. Yes. He’d do a little overseeing but he didn’t want to do the day-to-day work. The technology these days has passed me by because I can’t see well enough to use the computer.

C. Oh and now everything is done by computer.

F. Yes. Everything is set-global positioning and everything else in farming today. Every square foot, you know, they know how much fertilizer to put on and you can set these tractors and combines so you don’t even have to steer them. Everything is global positioning. Satellites do it for you now. But the equipment now-you’re talking about on a combine over $200,000 and at my age I wasn’t going to go into that. I would never get my money back.

C. Yeah. I think all farming equipment is overpriced. They are terribly expensive.

F. That’s right. The farmer has to either get real big or get along real small as a second occupation. There’s no in between anymore. A man who has a factory job or a small business might have a small farm that he could handle himself. If you’re going to make it your livelihood you gotta make it real big. The people I rent to right now are farming 4000 acres.

C. I know that the small farming is might hard. I have relatives having a hard time.

F. I can’t think of any more things. I’ve told you my father’s side and my mother’s side and I told you a little about myself.. My sister went East for several years. She did modeling for John Robert Powers and she came home. That eastern life wasn’t for her. They live a different lifestyle, if you know what I mean. She got to meet a lot of people like the Prince of Wales and people like that but they lived a fast life. She passed away in 1997 at 75. She had two daughters; one is married to a Doctor in La Guna Beach, CA. She worked for a big real estate corporation that manages property. And the older daughter lives in Indianapolis and she’s a housewife. But she did do some work for Purdue while she was in Lafayette in the placement department.

C. Well tell me about your childhood. You grew up on the farm?

F. No, in town here on Welsted St., two or three doors down from Dr. Stough’s office there.

C. What do you remember about that?

F. Oh I had a nice childhood. I played all the sports: basketball. I wasn’t strong enough to play football. I was skinny: one tackle and I’d come apart. So I played basketball. I thought I was pretty good but when I went to Purdue I thought, “I’m just going to go out for a team.” Of course that’s Big 10. So I put my gym stuff on and walked on. Boy, there were about 200 people out for the team! I think I handled the basketball once and the coach didn’t even see it. He got up on a chair and said, “Thanks for coming out, boys. I have the fifteen I want now.” And of course he already had them picked out. So that’s my experience playing Big 10 basketball.

C. Didn’t last long.

F. I thought I was tall but boy, when you get into Big 10 basketball . . .it’s not!!!

F. When I got out of high school the war (WWII) had started so they said “You go ahead and go to school and when we want you we’ll come and get you.” I got about a year, year and a half in before they called me. When they called me-I wasn’t going to volunteer–so they drafted me and so after my basic training they said, “Anybody have any experience in veterinary or medical?” I raised my hand because of my work in veterinary-you know, very little-but they put me in the Veterinary Corps which was attached to the Medical Corps at that time. Your food inspections and also sanitation in the mess halls and things like that. I took the job as quick as I could ’cause the rest of those guys-they were shipping them out to the Far East because at that time Germany was just about finished near the end of World War II. Anybody that knocks Harry Truman for dropping that bomb-he saved me and he saved 6 million troops or more troops.

C. I think so too. Old Harry Truman was a pretty good guy. They didn’t think much of him at the time.

F. They do now! Roosevelt got me into this mess and Harry Truman got me out. So I can’t say that I was in combat but I was in the war. And then I went back and finished at Purdue.

C. G.I. Bill helped you.

F. Yeah, so I got a free ride the rest of the way. So then I came home and you know the rest of the story. I stayed here on the farm and helped my father and developed this into the size it became. My mother died at the age of 99. She was living in the Lutheran Home at the time. She fell and broke a hip. That’s the kiss of death on old people you know.

C. Yeah, I know. My grandmother was the same way.

F. And she was very accomplished and she still had a good mind at 99.

C. I remember even going to the hospital-they thought you went to the hospital to die.

F. I still think that. I even hate to take my 6-month examination.

C. I think your mind is unusually good. Now tell me, when you were in high school were we in WWII at that time?

F. Yes, I graduated in 1943. I got a year in Purdue before they drafted me.

C. How do you think high school was different because of the war?

F. Oh, a lot different. You couldn’t do a lot of things. We didn’t have any gasoline. You couldn’t go places. There was nothing to look forward to back in the ’30’s and ’40’s except the Service. What else could you do? You knew you were going to go. We lost several out of our class of ’43.

C. The fellows must have had to go almost immediately.

F. The luck of the draw you know: where you took your basic, where they wanted you and what you took. I remember there were some Marines in my class. Most of them didn’t come back. That was tough duty.

C. Where did they go-to the Pacific?

F. Yes. Of course it was the middle of the war and they could see that the Pacific was gonna be the thing. The one in Europe, we were getting that job done and so my bunch mostly went to the Pacific. The earlier ones went to Europe, you know, the classes of ’42 and ’41.

C. You have a lovely house on Huddle Road.

F. Yes. The builder was an engineer but he built it really heavy with a lot of concrete. Paul Rogey was his name. He was related to the Lippencotts. He was an engineer and that’s how he got into this area because Lippencotts built the first plant over here.

C. Oh, and that became Campbell Soup.

F. Theirs was the standard brand before Campbells. Rogeys grew tired of it and moved to Florida. They had this house and they had one in northern Michigan and so we bought this house.

C. You were lucky to purchase it.

F. Yes. It’s been a nice house for us.

C. You’re close to the fairgrounds. Do you notice a big change when the Henry Co. Fair is going on?

F. Oh, they cut off Huddle Road but we don’t get much traffic down here like they used to here years back. They cut off this road so they can use the parking lot on the south side there.

C. When will they have that Fair parade?

F. Sunday. They’ll open tomorrow. (casual conversation) Well, Mrs. Wangrin is there anything else you want to ask me?

C. I would like to know your opinions about some things regarding the area’s development. How do you feel? Has it lived up to your expectations?

F. Well I think basically-this county is basically an agricultural county and I think a great proportion of income depends on agriculture. They’ve kept everything rather nice around here and kept Napoleon up to date. But some of these little towns around here, like Malinta are getting less because there’s no industry in those towns; a lot of people try to get out of town. A small city like Napoleon is going to cost people a lot, lot of money to survive because industry is demanding things, government is demanding more, like sewage, surface water.

C. Of course we have our own electric plant. We’re fortunate that way.

F. We’d be a lot higher if we were on Toledo Edison because it’s quite a bit higher, but the Coop at Malinta, Tri-County is a pretty nice outfit and their rates are cheaper than Napoleon. But you can’t jump from one to another.

F. We own part of those windmills in Bowling Green now too.

C. That’s a good move!

F. They talk about putting more of those up. That’s cheap electricity.

C. What’s the problem about that? I heard something about the EPA (Environmental Protection Assn.).

F. Oh, the EPA, they give is all trouble. When I was farming these young college people think that they’re do-gooders. That’s O.K. but a lot of it is just asinine. The farmers here in this county: if we didn’t have so much lineage or knowledge in our upbringing we’d be out of the farming business by now, but the old German farmers: their education is in their eyes, you know.

C. I know. See it to believe it.

F. Well I’ve been around this old planet for many years now and I still think that these farmers here are the best. Of course that’s just my opinion.

C. Y’know I interviewed Dwight Huddle and found out that the way they got all their acreage was he and Hazel made this rule. They’d had one disaster and they would never give up their land and they would not go too heavily in debt for it. But that’s what they were going to do if they got any money ahead.

F. Well that’s the way my grandfather was. The story goes that he’d come home some days and say, “Well I bought a farm today.” Of course that was back in the ’20’s you know. When times got tougher you could buy it cheaper so he put quite a bit of land together when he died in ’32.

C. That was just before the Depression , wasn’t it?

F. Yeah, it was right in the Depression and times were getting tough. He was on a lot of bank boards and times were getting tough and a lot of them worried him. At that time bank directors were a lot more liable than they are now. Anyway, when he died my father went up to the banks. We owed lots of money on this land. He said, “What do you want to do?” And they said, “Just keep on doing what you’re doing. We don’t want your land.” So he just kept farming. Luckily World War II came along and that got us out.

C. People think Franklin Delano (Roosevelt) got us out but I believe that it was World War II when we had to start producing more.

F. Hoover was smart but he wasn’t very practical and Roosevelt was a top-notch politician, you know-a My folks before that were all Democrats but when Roosevelt told us we had to kill so many pigs we had on the farm and all that stuff it turned my grandfather against him and we were all Republican after that.

C. I wonder if that’s why this county is predominantly Republican now?

F. Basically before that it was all democrat. This county was a Democratic county.

C. Well, the area has a lot of room for growth. Now one question that came to my mind is: How could they get all that water out of the swamp? Wasn’t it hard to do?

F. Well the story was that first of all they dug drainage ditches and that got the water started moving. Then there was a demand for timber. It was beautiful timber. They’d clear it, and every year they’d take a little more out and pull the stumps. But the big thing was the drainage ditches. That they decided they’d put tiles all across the fields and run them into the drainage ditches. This country is some of the flattest country in the whole world. When they got this water out of this highly productive land that’s when they really went to town. We had no hills to contend with, and we had highly productive land, the old swamp. The secret was you had to get the water off. That’s the reason you see so many drainage ditches along the roads and they all fall towards the Maumee River.

C. Well I interviewed an old fellow at the Lutheran Home who called himself “a ditcher.”

F. Yeah. A tile ditcher, Elmer Cohrs is what his name is. His father was Herman. He did a lot of ditching for us. That’s where they got the big wheel and put tile down in the ground.

C. How did they do it with a wheel?

F. It had claws on it and it went around, and he had levels on it to determine how much fall it had. Before that they’d pound stakes in the ground . All these stakes had a cross bar and that’s how they got the fall. You had to have fall to make the water move. Nowadays they’re really tiling close. The faster you get water off this ground the better off you are, you know. This ground is what they call top quality but it’s slow drainage.

C. Is it clay mostly?

F. Yeah. Just south of Napoleon here along 108 is probably some of the best ground in the world
And there’s one just as good near Liberty Center where it’s black sand-west of Liberty Center. I’ve never seen ground any better than that in this country. I can’t tell you what they call it but the bulk of land in this county is what they call ‘Hoytville” soil and it’s highly productive but you gotta keep the water off. The old sayings is “A dry year will scare you to death but a wet year will kill you.” because crops can’t grow when it’s too wet but in dry weather this clay ground still holds a lot of water.

C. That’s why, when we had a minor drouth last year I thought, “Oh, what will this do to the crops?” but I never heard a farmer complain and they’re the first to do that. (laughter)

F Us farmers, we know how to complain. (lauighs)

C. Going back to your great-grandfather do you have any knowledge of how they happened to come?

F. I don’t know. They came out of Bremen, Germany. They came into New York out of Ellis Island and they came in to Cleveland, then to Lorain and that’s where my grandfather was born. That’s older country than we are here but he decided to come into this virgin country. They came into Defiance County according to these papers. My grandfather was raised Catholic and when he met my grandmother, Dora Schulte, she was Lutheran and so he became a Lutheran and when my father married my mother she was a Presbyterian so he became Presbyterian and I’m a Presbyterian. That’s the story of my upbringing.

C. That Section that your great-grandfather got?

F. He got that from the original land grant. Jim Funkhouser was my lawyer. He said, “You ought to see the old abstract.” I’d say it was in the 1800’s and I was trying to figure out who the President was at that time. According to Jim I think it was the President who signed it, I think it was Grant, but I’m not sure. You ought to see that. This land right here where I live in Napoleon was originally owned by the Erie Canal people. I don’t know why that was but they owned it.

C. They must have thought that they were going to. . .

F. Do something here, but the canal was on the other side of the river when I was a kid, the north side of the river.

C. Why would they buy land over here?

F. I don’t know why they would but the land that this house sits on-I’m not sure who owned it then. This area was developed by Junior Snyder.

C. Oh I see. They did have a house on this road.

F. They developed it.

C. Oh, that’s a nice way to make money too, I suppose.

F. Yeah. On that side was Huddle property. The original Huddle farm was there. Remember when the Luzny boy married the Reese girl? I asked Dwight if I could buy it

C. I have another question about the original couple. They married in Germany and came over here from Germany.

F. Yeah and as I’ve heard-now I’ve never been up there but great-grandfather August Pohlman was accidentally killed and he was buried on St. Michael’s Ridge.

C. That’s a strange place.

F. Well in those times they only farmed the Ridges because they were high, you know. And that’s the reason all the Indian trails were on the Ridges. We have some of the Ridges going through our land and we call it where Lake Erie used to be. That’s where you find your Indian heads and artifacts.

C. Wasn’t there a Lake Whittlesea-now I’m talking way back-a great big lake that covered this area?

F. It probably did because they’ve got all these ridges and we’ve got one in our back yard (1500 Ft. back); it’s called Weaver’s Beach.
(end of tape)
(Tape 2)

F. You said you had another question to ask.

C. I don’t think we got this recorded but what I wanted to ask was about the sons of German families that were not the oldest sons. The oldest, as I understand it, inherited the property but was supposed to care for the rest of the family. Did you ever hear anything like that?

F. Yes, the younger ones had to go out and get a job, and that’s the reason a lot of them came here to this country because everything was wide open here, and this area really worked well for those of German lineage. Of course it was awfully buggy with mosquitoes and everything else till they got all this water off. But they were used to hard work and that’s the reason this big black swamp got cleared off and got ditches.

C. Do you think the climate was similar to Germany?

F. I think it was, that’s right. These were northern Germans. My family was from Hanover, Berlin and northern Prussia.

C. And that’s where they spoke what they call ‘low German’ wasn’t it?

F. Yeah. I’m not sure whether it was high German or low German.

C. What they spoke here was low German.

F. That’s where they came from then. Wasn’t high German the formal language which they used in the churchs and the like?

C. Yes. That was the formal. They really were dealing with three languages: their native, and it’s so different from what they were using in the churches.

F. What was your maiden name?

C. My name was Whiteley.

F. That sounds English.

C. It is. Now, we were talking about this Lake Whittlesea here many many years ago and you were telling about these ridges.

F. This was when Lake Erie gradually died down and it left these sand ridges. You can go across from north to south and you can go over them. You go across one and a few miles down the road you see another one. That’s where for thousands of years there wasn’t any movement of that water so these beaches would form.

C. Oh, I see.

F. We’re all glacial here, you know. But you go down to the southeastern part of the state it’s rugged down there. But Old Mother Nature made this baby flat around here.

C. Do you think that was because it was the bottom of a lake or don’t you know?

F. Yes, it was the bottom of a lake; this was Lake Erie at one time, and of course it was glaciers way before that.

C. Maybe the movement of the glacier is what made this land so flat.

F. Oh yeah, it leveled it off. We wouldn’t be any different than southern Ohio if it weren’t for the glaciers. As they settled down it made this topsoil. And that’s the reason our land up here is basically lime. It’s sweeter soil here from limestone.


Dehnbostel, Earnest

Interviewed by C. Wangrin, April 2003

E. I was born just five miles west of the Courthouse. Do you know where the schoolhouse used to be? Well, katycornered from that was a little house there. My folks lived there about two years I guess.

C. What road was that on?

E. Bales Road. Then they moved to Ridgeville, about a mile and a half from Ridgeville, on the Rohrs Farm. We lived there awhile until somebody that owned the land got married and wanted it

C. So how old were you at that time, Mr. Dehnbostel?

E. How old was I? When we moved there I was two years old. We lived there about five years and my grandfather got his hand caught running through a husker. We don’t have that anymore. But he got his hand caught so they cut it off. They wouldn’t have needed to. They all got so excited. If they’d have turned that machine backwards he could have gotten it out. A little boy said, “Why don’t you turn the machine backwards?”

C. Isn’t that something!

E. I don’t know who that boy was. I don’t think it was me. (chuckles) Yeah. But I was about four years old at that time, I think.

C. I just got through interviewing five people from Ridgeville area: John Henry and his wife and Herold Bruns and Frieda and Louella Rentz. She was the Postmistress for a time.

E. Well you see, I didn’t live there. I lived out in Freedom Township until I got married.

C. Well, how old were you when the Depression hit, around 1930?

E. Oh, I was–the Depression started about–what year was it–the ‘20’s?

C. 1929 or 30, I guess.

E. Oh, I was a couple years older so I was probably 31 or 2.

C. What do you remember about it?

E. Well, we could eat where a lot of people couldn’t. We were on the farm. I don’t remember that we suffered very much. Only we couldn’t buy anything because we didn’t have no money.

C. Was that about the time you got married?

E. I was married then.

C. When?

E. That was–Oh Boy, I should know that but–I think I got marred in 1927.

C. Oh yeah, that was just before the Depression hit in the cities.

E. Yeah.

C. Now, John Henry told me that it hit in the farms before it did in the cities.

E. Oh yes. If you had something to sell you couldn’t get much for it.

C. So were you a farmer at that time?

E. That’s right. Well it belonged to my wife, 50 acres of it, and later on I bought another 50 right next to it. The farmer had a stroke and he was bankrupt. He was so deep in debt he couldn’t–what was it –$100,000, I guess. He bought that farm during the War, what war would that be?

C. World War II probably.

E. Yeah, and so he went bankrupt and then he had a stroke so he had to quit altogether. And I think I bought Well then the Depression came but we saved all the money we could and we didn’t buy anything and after the Depression–the bank had some kind of a–I don’t know–you could go there and make a report. And I had some money left that I just saved up and I laid that down and he pushed it back over the desk. He said, “You did better than all the rest put together.”

C. Is that right.

E. And I was honest. I didn’t cheat nobody and I didn’t let nobody cheat me.

C. So he gave it back to you?

E. Yeah. He said, “Nobody else brought back any money and they didn’t have as much debts as you did.” (chuckles) Well, that’s the way it is today yet. They have a good job and then they go broke. Yep. Well then-a when I was 14 my father kinda hired me out to a neighbor who had 165 acres of land. His wife really owned it. From home she got those 165 acres of good land, very good land, plus $10,000, and they took that $10,000 and built a new home. The old one wasn’t any good anymore. It’s still a nice home. Y’know, when you drive from Ridgeville to Okolona about a mile and quarter out of Ridgeville on the left hand side there’s a brick house and-uh, my father thought I’d ought to work there. It was near home and I got the job working there and Oh, I hadn’t been there maybe a month and this guy that owned it, he would be gone every day. He just wouldn’t stay home and he had car and nobody else did, and he had the best car you could buy. Well, what was I gonna say? I know he wouldn’t even put gas in it. I had to go out and do it. Anyway, he bought an old wood buzzer, wood saw. So he bought one that was wore out. So he got a job and he was gonna take that saw, and my neighbor said, “No, I won’t allow that. That blade on there is about ready to fly to pieces. Take my saw.” That’s how I lost my fingers. This guy, he was no buzzer, but he was bigger than anybody else and-uh he’s supposed to see–There’s a table that they’re on. Do you know what they’re like? Anyway, I laid my stuff on there and somebody fell carrying a big pole, one on one end and the other on that end, and it was cold. They wanted to do some work to warm up, and they fell and hit me in the back and pushed my hand right into the saw.

C. Oh my! Was that the bad saw that you were pushed into or the one the neighbor lent?

E. That was the good saw. Yep.

C. What did it do, take your thumb too?

E. Well, it cut it right through there. (shows hand) It came in from this way and there was just this much hanging on. If they’d have saved the thumb the Doctor said he probably could have put that back on or at least try it but they had buried it someplace. At least that’s what they said. So I’ve been a cripple most of my life. (laughs)

C. Well, you’ve done well thumb or no thumb, haven’t you.

E. That’s right. Well, I always liked to work and that helps. Want to know anymore? I don’t know anymore.

C. How long did you farm?

E. Hmm. I think 71 or 2 and then my son took over. Then I got a job over there across the street.

C. At Northcrest Nursing home?

E. Yeah. And then my wife went there about a week before and she could get a job anywhere she wanted and so one night she came home and she said, “They want you over there.” So I got the job. Well, she died about a year before.

C. Oh I thought she was still living?

E. Not that one. This is my second wife.

C. Then when did you marry your second wife, do you remember?

E. Oh my, I don’t know. Maybe it comes to me, about ten years ago. I don’t know exactly. And she can’t walk. It wasn’t very long after we got married that I had to get her out of bed and that’s what–she didn’t tell me that but so, one morning I got up and when she got up I said, “You’re about ready for the nursing home.” Or something like that. And it looked as if that’s just what she wanted to hear. And she’s been in a nursing home ever since.

C. Oh.

E. Her name was Fritz. She married a Fritz. I guess she had two or three husbands before me. Two I guess. Bauers and Fritz, that’s right, and then me. She’s now in the Lutheran Home.

C. Oh, that’s where she is.

E. Yeah. Well, she’s 97 years old.

C. Is she really? Well that’s a good long time to live. My mother lived till she was 99. She died across the street at Northcrest. She was pretty happy there.

E. Yeah. I worked there till there was a sale. This rich organization they wanted to buy it. Well, they wanted to steal it really, get it for nothing. I don’t know what but anyway that was about the time I quit. They brought a little boy along and told me that I should teach him my job. Y’know it’s almost insane some of those things that happened. I quit. I just couldn’t put up with that boy. I’d get a call someplace y’know, to fix something and he would run and beat me there and say, “All done.” And he hadn’t done anything. (laughs) Well, I got tired of it and I just walked home.

C. He was taking all the credit for what you’d done.

E. And the people he worked for. I ‘d like to tell you who there were but I can’t. It doesn’t come to me.

C. Charlie Bowman was the first owner wasn’t he?

E. Yeah. I knew him well. He used to buy my livestock till I found out he was cheatin’ me.

C. Oh, did he? That’s how he got so much money I guess.

E. One day a fellow had a cow he wanted to sell and he found out about it, how I don’t know, and he offered me $15 for it. And I said, “No. I’ve got a trailer and I’m going to load it on that trailer and take it to Archbold, to that sale–” You remember that place where they sold livestock? “I’m going to take her there and take what I get.” Well, it happened that she brought $115, a hundred dollars more than he offered me. That’s the way it goes. Y’know, Bauman, that’s the way he got rich. Did you know him?

C. Yes. He had a reputation for being a Wheeler-Dealer.

E. Well, I don’t know the name but he had a son–

C. Chalmer. He’s still living but not here.

E. I see.

C. Michael and the beauty shop near here. His son knows Chalmer Bowman.

E. I see. They lived out here, the second house from here.

C. Oh they did? Did you move into this house when you left the farm?

E. Oh no. This house was being built when I worked over there and I said to my wife, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to do all this driving?” We lived on West Maumee, on the other side of the river, 52 or 54 West Maumee. It was about the last house at that time. I have no car now so I would like to see that house, you know, so several weeks ago, I went with somebody and I said, “I’d like to see that house where we used to live.”
And so we go to it sooner than–it had been built on house after house–but it was one of the homeliest houses on the street. It had no siding on it; it had asbestos shingles and a lot of them were broke but there was enough shingles there that you could take those shingles out and put in a new one, something like that. And under the window there was a place, maybe that long, that they was all gone. If you hit the nails too hard they’d crack ‘em. I fixed it all up and then I started work out here and I don’t know some way or another there was five different people, and they wouldn’t sell unless one or the other would have to sell so they could take that place, buy that place.

C. Yeah, they do that now.

E. It all came about, just like a miracle. I don’t know whether that woman that bought my house, whether she’s still living or not. It’s beautifully painted, I guess. So, one day when we were living there–it wasn’t painted–I said, “Now I want you to look at these houses and see what you think you’d like, and so we went to Bryan and Evansport, Defiance, and she wanted green.

C. Oh, she wanted the house to be green.

E. Green, yeah. I said there’s no other houses around like that. That’s the way I painted it and it’s still that way. I guess it’s since been repainted. Did you ever go out on West Maumee? That green house towards the river on the right hand side.

C. Is it near where Dr. Harrison lived?

E. I don’t know.

C. What was the number of your house? 50? 552?

E. 552 I guess. The people who lived there last, young people they couldn’t fix anything and they had to leave because the water in the-uh–

C. Bowl? River?

E. No. By the refrigerator.

C. The sink?

E. Yeah. The sink. The water didn’t go down and then they just moved out. They couldn’t fix anything–young boys I guess. And I was handy at fixing things. Yep.

C. Pays to be handy.

E. Yeah. That basement–it was better to sleep in the basement than upstairs. I had a son and daughter-in-law. They lived some distance from here. And they slept down there. He said, “That’s a nice place to sleep. I slept better there than I have for a long time.” It was summertime. I don’t know. What else do you want me to talk about?

C. You’re doing a good job. Don’t even have to try. You probably were exempt from World War II, weren’t you?

E. Oh yeah. I had four children and I was farming. Having four children, that’s what kept me out. And then later we had another child. Four boys and a girl.

C. That’s what we had too.

E. The last one was a girl.

C. Our second one was a girl.

E. The oldest one lives in Archbold, the second one lives in the state of Florida, the third one lives in South Carolina and the other one lives on a farm. He don’t farm. He hauls water. Y’see that ad in the paper?

C. Bottled water?

E. They haul tanks of water.

E. That’s right.

E. Some people don’t have good wells or they’ve got sulphur so they load up at the waterworks and go to places like that and put water in cistern or water storage.

C. Is he living on your farm?

E. It’s not my farm anymore.

C. He bought it from you.

E. He don’t farm it because. . .I don’t know why he quit it. I guess because his wife was a city girl and that wasn’t her idea of makin’ a living. So they’re doin’ better now than when they were farmin’.

C. Well you can’t make a living with just 200 acres anymore. You need lots of acres I guess.

E. That’s right. Yep.

C. You were out on County Road P toward Ridgeville.

E. Bales Road.

C. That is County Rd. P. Did you know Frank Gerken? He lived on County Rd. P., Bales Road.

E. No doubt I did but right now it don’t want to come to me. That’s a long time ago. That’s 102 years ago when we moved away from there.

C. So how old are you now?

E. 104. (laughs) I celebrated it this week. They had this house filled up twice.

C. Is that right!

E. Yeah. It’s a pleasure when you see everybody, and you know my children didn’t even come.

C. Who put the party on for you then? Was that the Senior Center?

E. I don’t know as anybody put it on.

C. How’d you get all these people here?

E. They brought some food along once, and once I took them out, a few of them, one family I believe. But I didn’t think I’d be able to do what I do now. I’m here and I get my meals and I go to bed alone.

C. And that hand doesn’t bother you a bit anymore, I’ll bet.

E. No. I don’t know any better.

C. Well you’re doing real well to be able to take care of yourself.

E. I was goin’ to sue. It was carelessness but my father wouldn’t listen to me. He said we don’t owe nobody anything. So I’ll sue nobody.

C. Back in those days people didn’t sue very often.

E. Well I didn’t even know that. They told me I should sue this guy. I don’t know who you should blame for it, the two guys with the pole or the man who had the saw. The man who had the saw was responsible for it, for keeping that table pulled back until everything was O.K. But he didn’t do that. He said he got some sawdust in his eyes and he I think he lied when he said it but then that’s the kind of guy that he was. They’re all gone now. Maybe I shouldn’t talk about it but I didn’t mention any names.

C. I’m surprised that you wife didn’t go to this nursing home over here since she had worked there.

E. It’s a different wife. Oh, I think she’d have been better off if she’d have stayed with me. I could have helped her. But I just made that remark one morning, “You’re about ready for the nursing home.” I was just kidding but that’s just what she wanted to hear. That’s the way it seemed. I don’t know. You could talk to her about it. (laughs) But I would like to know. She’s in Room 125.

C. You ought to ask her sometime. See what she says.

E. You know her?

C. What’s her first name?

E. Clara

C. Clara Dehnbostel.

C. Did you help fix up the roads when you were a young farmer?

E. I helped some.

C. What was your job in it?

E. I was a township trustee. So when nobody wants to do it why I just went out and did it myself. Y’know these old plank bridges? A plank would be loose. I’d get a telephone call, “The planks on that bridge is pushed off or something.” I’d quick get in my car and away I’d go, fix it the best I could. Sometimes I wired it down, stick the wire through the slats, y’know, and twist it. It worked. This place that I’m talking about it was just a half-mile road, for the people who lived on it.

C. Did you have any covered bridges in your township?

E. No.

C. What else did the township trustees do? Did they have a meeting once a month?

E. Yeah. Once a month. Well we were responsible for, say crippled people or poor people, that didn’t make a living. We had to help them, take them to the courthouse, y’know, see that they got help. Very few ever came to me. I had a surprise. At that time there were no tar-bound roads like there are now. And there wasn’t any in the township that I know. And one of the trustees lived on the Ridge Road, out to Wauseon and they wanted him to get that road fixed up but he wouldn’t do it. I don’t know why. It comes to my mind that they asked him to improve that road but he wouldn’t do it. I don’t know what happened to him anyway. I guess he died. Yeah. And then they surprised me. That old road that I lived on was a gravel road, dusty, and all at once they decided to build on it. Some of them got together I guess and suggested that that roac be built, so it goes from the Ritz’, way down on Road S, in Freedom Township, no, Napoleon Township. Today yet I don’t know how that came about that that road was built. It’s three or four miles. That was Depression Days.

C. What sort of car did you have?

E. Oh, a Model T Ford.

C. Did you have to crank it to get it started?

E. One seater. No. It had a starter. It was a used car. A doctor had it. Now can I remember the doctor’s name, I don’t think so.

C. Was it Dr. Delventhal?

E. No. He was in Ridgeville. I can’t remember his name, oh maybe I would, maybe not.

C. We used to have a car that you had to crank to start. My father broke his wrist once when it kicked back.

E. Yeah. That happened to quite a few–break an arm, yeah. Things are different today.

C. Yeah. So your Model T was a one-seater. Did you have flat tires with it?

E. Oh yeah. I had a spare tire. There wasn’t even a place on it where you could put a spare tire but I fixed something on that to fasten it on it. I started to work in Toledo. Now it doesn’t want to come back to me. I lived right there in with them.

C. You mean you lived in ToledoK?

E. Just about six months. That was–why did I quit? I forgot. Something wasn’t going right and even the people there in Toledo, they wanted me to work there for them . They wanted me to help design, to lay out lots in a new section for them. They watched me y’know, the plumbing, and nobody had ever seen it done the way I did it. They liked the way I did it. But then I didn’t stay very long anymore.

C. Got homesick for the country, I’ll bet.

E. Yeah.

C. Let’s see, is there anything else we wanted to talk about? Did you ever ride in an airplane?

E. Oh yes. They’v got an airport out south of town, east there. I took a couple rides. One time when I come back and they wanted to land it got too low–telephone wires. (laughs)

C. Charlie Bowman’s place over here where the Beauty Shop is, they used to land planes there, didn’t they.

E. They had one of their own. The boys did.

C. Oh did he?

E. Yeah. I know they did.

C. He was a busy guy. He worked a lot of hours. He loved wheelin’ and dealin’, that’s all.

E. Quite a Charley.

C. I don’t know whether I ever told you but when Jude Aderman was flying a plane he and his wife flew to Columbus to an Ohio State football game and then when we came back (we’d all had quite a bit to drink, you know, but that didn’t seem to bother anybody) it started to get dark and he kept looking out the window. I said, “What are you looking for?” He says, “I’m looking for the river. When I see the river I know we’re home and I can land the plane.” He didn’t have any radio in there. It’s a wonder we ever got back. (laughs)

E. Yeah. It’s different than it used to be.

C. I guess they used to fly under the bridge with small planes.

E. I know they did it but seen it, I don’t think I did.

C. I never saw it either. I just heard about it. Can you think of any more questions?