Gerald, Ohio

Gerald, Ohio at the Turn of the Century

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.

Trains would come through Gerald nearly every half hour. Gerald was a flag stop for passengers. If you wanted a ride you would wait in the train sta­tion. Upon entering Gerald the engi­neer would give one toot. You would then have to run out and wave franti­cally. As soon as the engineer would see you, he would give two toots, his signal to you that he would stop.

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, stockyards, 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.

There are many homes located in Gerald today, and one of them is my parental home, a place of many pleas­ant and happy carefree days.

A saloon was also located east of my father’s house. It was built in the early 1900’s and owned by J. H. Badenhop. It was operated over the years by Her­man Bockelman, Carl, and Wm. Precht. In 1936 it was purchased by George Badenhop, and in 1939 pur­chased by John F. Gerken, who demol­ished it. Gerald also had a Telephone Co. operated by Charles Sworden, Charles Frysinger, and in the 1940’s by Alvin Miller. In later years it was oper­ated by Wm. Kruse and Otto Behn­feldt. It has since been merged with United Telephone Co.

Demaline General Merchandise

Henry Homan, D. H. Gebers, Henry Meyer, Herman Haase, and George Gerken were a group of men instru­mental in constructing several store buildings at the turn of the century. They built, leased, and then sold them to their occupants. So, in 1897 they built the Demaline General Merchan­dise Store in Section 26. This building, complete with living quarters in the rear, and a second floor was first owned and occupied by John W. Demaline, the subject of the above picture, cour­tesy of his daughter Mrs. Hugo (Gla­dys) Dishop. A general line of house­hold staples was sold and gasoline was dispensed out front. This prop­erty, located just west of the railroad tracks, also included a large barn in the rear. Mr. Demaline also operated a seed store west of his grocery store. John bought wool from area farmers and sold clover seeds, etc. In winter he started a roller skating rink where many children first learned to skate. They also held dances and Schutzen­fests there. This frame building was sold to William Von Deylen who tore down the frame building and put up a new modern brick building to house a farm machinery sales agency. This brick building was later sold to the Gerald Elevator when both parties needed more room. The Von Deylen Agency is now located east of the rail­road tracks.

Other people who later owned the General Merchandise Store included: Harmon Meyer, Ferd Riefers, Harry Von Deylen, Melvin Mahnke, William Kruse, Otto Behnfeldt, Harlan Yant, Merlin Moll, and Dwight Penrod. In 1967 the owners removed the grocery storefront. Very little evidence is left of it ever having been a center of local grocery shopping.

The above articles were written by Marlene Patterson, and are reprinted from Henry County, OhioVolume 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. 152-153.

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