P.O. Box 443, Napoleon, OH 43545

Henry County, Ohio, Historical Society


[Editor’s note: this oral history includes a written family history.]

Interviewed by C. Wangrin

I’m Mary Spangler; my husband is Eldon Spangler. His parents were Grover Cleveland Spangler and Clara May Spangler. . . . (a lot of geneological data omitted here)

When we were first married we lived in a trailer on Rt. 5 in the Deshler area and when David was five years old we built our home, started building it. We built it from scratch. We brought the lumber home from Four Gills in Ottawa, Ohio and as we could afford it we would put pieces together till we finally had our home made.

We’re members of Jehovah’s Witnesses. We go to the Napoleon, Ohio congregation there and our children are all followers of that religion.

We survived the Blizzard of 1978 in January of that year and we had snow covering almost—the majority of the house. We had a little swing set in the back yard which had just a tiny little red tip showing; it was so deep in that area. My daughter had wanted to come down. She said, “Mom, there’s a storm coming on and I want to do some sewing.” So early that morning they got in and the wind was blowing and it was terrible. And when they got here, the next thing we knew the electric was off and the electric was off—let’s see, I believe that was on a Wednesday, and the electric was off until Saturday afternoon sometime and so she didn’t get any sewing done. (chuckles) We didn’t have any heat other than our gas stove in the kitchen and we all laid on the living-room floor wrapped in blankets and that but we had plenty of food, We could always have hot food because we had a gas stove that we could always light it with a match if no other way, so we managed to stay warm.

We had a little fish in a fish tank and we was wondering how we were gonna keep him alive so we put him in a little bowl by the stove. He survived and did very well and about two months later after everything was all fine, here our cat jumped on the top of his tank and turned the heater up and burned him up. So we lost our fish.

We did survive the tornado of 1953 and I was pregnant for our oldest son David at the time and we lived in a tiny little trailer there on the farm on Rd. 5. It looked really dark. My husband looked down the lane and he came running in the house and he said, “Get to the cellar. There’s a tornado coming.” Well by the time we reached the door the tornado had for some reason lifted over the woods that was in the back of the farm, and we turned around and watched it go into the east then and we saw it go down in the corner by Rte. 65 and Rd. 5 and we saw it snap off trees like they were little sticks.. And after that time is when it went on and got really really severe and it killed, I think it was a family of four over in Wood County someplace.

We lived in our little trailer on Rd. 5 and that is at the family farm, and that is where Grover Spangler and Clara lived and where the children were raised and we lived there until we built—well first we lived in our little, well it was on Rd. 5 just down from Rd C, not quite on the corner because his brother Paul built a house on the corner. That is where his brother built a house on the corner but we were the next house down and then in 1954 we bought us a big trailer which was 40 feet long and 8 feet wide. (laughs) That was big to us and we lived in that until we started to build our house and we lived over here on C754 on Rd. 3 which is where we live now. This in rural Deshler. Well actually we live in the city limits but we’re right on the edge of it on the west side.

I love to garden, especially flowers and I do have a lot of flowers and we try to have a regular garden but it seems like the rabbits just chew everything up and this year it’s flooded out. We’ve had lots and lots of rain. We’ve had—what was it—six inches within a week maybe and so the yard’s still very very wet. I love my flowers. We have lots and lots of trees. Every tree we planted—when we came here there was one tree, I believe it was a mulberry, and every tree we have here we planted ourselves, and we’re still planting. (laughs) We have seven acres of ground. We’re right by the B & O railroad, what used to be the B & O, now it’s CYXCX (?) railroad. Anyway we’re still listening to trains at night honking at all hours. We drive to Napoleon to church two times a week, on Thursday evening, then on Sunday morning.

Our oldest son David is self-employed. He does roofing, building, fixing things up for people. Bonnie works at Defiance, Ohio at the eye clinic and she works with Dr. Brunswick there. Cathy works at the Napoleon hospital, secretarial work, I guess you’d call it. She works not in the hospital but in the annex and Timothy lives in Napoleon but he works in Defiance. He’s the manager at Auto Zone. And Eldon is retired. He worked at Metal Forge for 33 years. I never worked outside the home (laughs) but I’m not retired yet. And since his retirement we haven’t traveled a great deal, just a little bit. Generally when we did go somewhere we go with other friends. During the winter we did go to Florida but it was because our sister-in-law had died, and then about two months later we went to Missouri because his brother had died. That was Melvin and Paul’s wife Louise in Florida.

We were married March 6, 1951 inToledo at the south Jehovah’s Witnesses. We’ve been married 52 years. (continues on with geneological info)

And I think that takes care of it at this time.

(end of tape)


(Written about May 2003)

Eldon’s parents were Grover and Clara May (Dittman) Spangler. They were married February 26, 1914. He was born December 21, 1886, died August 9, 1973. Clara was born February 17, 1888, died September 15, 1970. Grover’s father was Levi Franklin Spangler, his mother Ivy Alberta Smith, born March 22, 1859. They came to Malinta in 1881 where they operated a grocery store and barbershop. August 21, 1885 Levi was appointed the second postmaster of Malinta. Levi died October 21, 1922. Ivy born March 22, 1859, died March 13, 1935. They were parents of twelve children, nine sons and three girls.

Grover was a farmer, living on County Road 5 in Bartlow Township. He and Clara had eight children. Stanley Russel, born July 28, 1915, married Laura Dyer in June 1953. They had two sons, Steven Grover born September 11, 1959 and James Phillip born November 23, 1961. James died in a car accident on December 12, 1985. Steven married Raina Rasmasson, October 20, 1984; two children: Drew born 1995 and Taylor Rose in 1997.

A daughter Evelyn, born October 1918, died when 12 days old.

Dorothy Louise born January 22. 1920, has one son Leslie William born September 11, 1944. Dorothy and Leslie still reside at the Road 5 location.

Paul Wendell was born May 21, 1921. On September 14, 1950 he married Mary Louise Ryder. She died December 31, 2002. They had five children: Phyliss Lorraine, born December 21, 1951. She married David Kiefer, October 8, 1977. No children. Cynthia Kay born July 31, 1955, married Victor Moths July 27, 1974. Two children were born to them: Nathaniel and Angela. Carolyn Jane born December 26, 1956. She married Douglas Tinning, no children. Stephen Paul born September 3, 1959 married Sue Grambeck October 4, 1980. They have two children, Brandon and Tiffany. Loretta Ann born September 15, 1967, is not married.

Melvin Robert was born July 12, 1922, died February 26, 2003. He married Verna Mendenhall in 1960, she died June 16, 1998. They had two daughters: Evelyn born October 1962, she married Larry Lange. They had four children: Robert Lori, Ruth and Levi. She later married Jeff Truman. They have a son Wayne Michael. Their daughter Sanda married Jeff Spencer. They have two daughters. Ashley and Chelsea.

Velma Ruth born April 13, 1925, married Glen Leon Dolman on February 5, 1944. He died August 5, 1976. They had two adopted children, Tom and Dan. Tom and his wife Cheryl had two boys, Douglas and Kevin.

Richard Raymond born February 18, 1927 married Shirley Smith, no children. He later married Ann. They had four children: Douglas, Michael, Jeanette, and Sara Ilene.

Eldon Eugene born May 11, 1928 married Mary Huff March 6, 1951. Mary was born April 15, 1931. They have four children: David Eugene born June 19, 1953. He married Linda Powell September 9, 1972. They have three daughters: Michelle Nichole born October 11, 1975. She married Gary Meters. They have two children: Hanah and Jackson. Jennifer Lynn born June 2, 1979 married Jeff Dix August 28, 1998. A baby boy is expected May, 2004. Candice Elaine born November 20, 1984 married Randy Dix, brother to Jeff on November 27, 2002. On September 11, 1999 David married Teresa Sanderson. She has a son Kyle Klakamp and daughter Kristy Bash.

Kathleen Sue born December 30, 1955, married to Michael McGraw July 9, 1977 Michael born February 21, 1953. No children.

Bonnie Jean born April 20, 1962 married Joseph McGraw (brother to Michael) April 28, 1984. Joseph born July 19, 1960. They have three children: James Philip born September 27, 1985, Erin Leigh born June 17, 1988 and Andrew Joseph born May 22. 1993. Timothy James was born October 29, 1965. He married April Stinson June 9, 1991. They have a daughter, Alyssa Ashley born November 24, 1995 and a son Dakota David born November 12, 1998.

David is self employed, a contractor. His wife, Teresa, works as a loan processor in Findlay, at Bank One. Kathy works at Henry County Family Physicians. Mike is a self-employed dry wall contractor. Bonnie works at Defiance Clinic Eye Center. Joe works at Isaacs in Defiance. Tim is the manager at Auto Zone in Defiance. His wife, April, is Human Resources Generalist at Alex Products in Ridgeville Corners.

Some history about Eldon and Mary. When first married we lived in a small trailer on the farm on Road 5. When David was five, we built our home on Road 3. We brought the lumber home from Borgelts Lumber Co. in Ottawa, a few pieces at a time as we could afford it.

Eldon retired from Metal Forge Co. in June, 1994. We enjoy our grandchildren, gardening, and spending time outside during nice weather. We ride our bicycles, sometimes five or six miles in the summer. We have seven acres of land we bought in 1958. When we first moved on the property, we lived in a mobile home while we built our house. We have lots of trees. When we moved there, only a mulberry tree was on the property. We planted every tree there. Some small seedlings we brought back from Melvin Spangler’s farm in Missouri. These have reseeded and as we found one, would transplant it. We are still planting. It seems the small seedlings like to start in my flower beds!

We are Jehovah’s Witnesses and especially enjoy talking to others about the Bible and the grand promises it holds out for the future. We look forward to the time when God’s Kingdom brings peace to the earth. We attend the Kingdom Hall on North Scott Street in Napoleon.

When the tornado went through this area in 1953, we still lived on Road 5. It was very frightening. We were ready to eat supper, when it got very dark out. Eldon went outside and saw it coming up the lane right toward us. He no sooner said, “Get in the house. It’s a tornado!” and it lifted up, went over the top of the woods and landed across the road. It left a path through the wheat field. We watched as it broke off trees on the corner of Route 65 and Road 5. Large branches were torn off as though little sticks. After that, it got more powerful, heading east into Wood County where a family lost their lives.

During the blizzard of 1978, the snow was so deep it covered most of the house. I recall only a small area of the children’s swing set was still visible. Our daughter Kathy and her husband Mike lived on the north side of the river. She called and said, “Mom, there’s a storm coming. Can we come down? I want to do some sewing.” Early that morning they finally got here. The weather was terrible. They were here only a short time when the electric went out. Later the phone, too. From Wednesday night until Saturday we were without electric. Our only heat was the kitchen gas stove burners. We all slept at night on the living room floor. We closed off the rest of the house. We had plenty of good hot food and good association. After the worst was over, Eldon walked to work across the field. Mike and Tim built a snow house. We have a friend, Tom Spillis, who lives in Napoleon. He called to see if he could come down. We warned him it was still dangerous. (He lived in town and had no idea what it was out in the country.) He got to the Road 3 and found it still impassible, so he drove to Blue Flame and parked his car and decided to walk here. There was a train across the track parked. He squeezed through, lost a boot and finally got here, nearly frozen. Our door would only open a little way. Fortunately we heard him on the back porch. We bundled him up good when he left; however, when he got back to Blue Flame, his car had been moved.

We had a fish tank with one red tailed shark named Wally. To keep him from freezing, we put him in a small bowl and kept him close to the warm stove. Well, he survived. However, later the next summer our cat Frosty jumped on his tank, hit the heat control and that was the end of Wally.