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Friday, November 16, 2018

Defiance County Pioneers - John Kniss


Passing of John Kniss Who Started the First Shoe Store Here.

John Kniss died Wednesday morning at 5:30 o'clock, at his home, 1022 Harrison street, of old age.
The deceased was one of the oldest settlers of this section, having been a resident of this county for more than 65 years.

John Kniss was born in Armstrong County, Pa., Oct. 14th, 1814.  He came to this state with his parents when two years of age.  Later, in 1834, he came to Defiance where he resided until his death.

March 10th, 1839, he was married to Sarah Wells, of this county, who survives him.  To their union, twelve children were born, five boys and seven girls, five of whom are now living.  These are Mrs. A. Bruner, of this city, Frank Kniss of Liberty Center, Henry, Wesley and William Kniss of this city.
Fifteen grandchildren and four great-grandchildren are among the descendants of this pioneer citizen.

Mr. Kniss was next to the oldest settler in the county, Brice Hilton, of Brunersburg, alone being of longer residence.

Mr. Kniss was engaged in the boot and shoe business for 60 years, he and his
brother Jacob having opened the first shoemaker's shop in Defiance.

Mr. Kniss was a highly respected gentleman, at all times giving evidence of the possession of those qualities that make up the Christian man.

The funeral will be held Friday afternoon at 2 o'clock, from his late residence at 1022 Harrision street, Rev. A. Thomas and Rev. O. C. Wright officiating."

Defiance Democrat - October 27, 1898

Monday, November 12, 2018

Hugh Tomlinson - Bishop Post, G.A.R.

It was in the depths of winter, on February 14, 1836, when Hugh, the firstborn son of Jesse and Catharine (nee' Gaskill) made his appearance in what was then Pickaway County, Ohio.  Jesse was a farmer born in Maryland, and his wife, Catharine was a Pennsylvania native.

By the 1850 census of Union Township, Madison County, Ohio, Hugh, 15, was joined by his siblings: Leah, George, Melinda Catharine, Jesse and Albert.  Just seven years later, his father, Jesse would die on May 24, 1857, at the age of 59.  

Hugh was married by that time to Clara Eastman.  Jesse would have been 19 years old when the marriage took place on September 23, 1855, in Fayette County, Ohio.

Much searching led to a dead end as to the location of Hugh and Clara in 1860.  Their daughter, Alice Arabel was born on August 7, 1856, in Bloomingburg, Fayette County, Ohio.  

Hugh enlisted for three years service as a Private in Company K of the 90th Ohio Infantry, a unit consisting largely of Pickaway County men, on August 6, 1862.  A history of the 90th Ohio Infantry revealed that Hugh's short time in the service - only three months - was filled with hardships.  A little over 1100 men began with the unit and 468 of those were discharged with wounds or disease, a likely case for Hugh as he was discharged on a Surgeon's Act of Disability on December 18, 1862.  The unit actually lost 67% of its men before mustering out at the end of the war.

When Hugh began his journey in Kentucky, it was already cold and would only get colder. On September 3, 1862, the group marched 100 miles in 86 hours with only 16 hours sleep.  Men were forced to drink from stagnant pools of water causing illnesses.  Rations would not always arrive in time, so days would go by when they marched or survived on empty stomachs.  When the meager amount of food did arrive, they ate it all at once. 

A major snow appeared that year on October 22, leaving more than six inches of snow.  Many had no overcoats, having left them on a hedge during an early skirmish, and finding them gone later.  Many no longer had wearable shoes, and so rags were wrapped around the feet.  The unit history noted:

"Reader, imagine a day's tramp through a chilling wind, a scant supper prepared by your own hands, a short supply of firewood, a single, worn blanket to wrap around you..."

And so, Hugh returned home to his wife and daughters, Alice and Emma, in December, 1862, in time for Christmas.

 The 1870 Federal Census enumerator found the Tomlinson family in Blanchard Township, Hancock County, Ohio.  Hugh, by then 35, worked in a sawmill and his wife, Clara, was mother to three daughters: Alice, 13; Emma, 11; Elsie, 5. Elsie was born after the war in 1865.  The family had real estate worth $500 and a personal worth of the same.  

Clara passed away in 1879.  Hugh did not remarry until December 30, 1885, in Defiance, Ohio, when he married Amelia Barrack.  Together they had a daughter, Grace, born in 1890.   That same year, Hugh was enumerated on the Veterans Census in Defiance.  He did not list any disability.

Hugh was a faithful member of the Church of Christ and the G.A.R.  It was at a G.A.R. meeting that Hugh first became very ill, as the Defiance Evening News reported on October 7, 1895:

 Hugh could not overcome this stroke.  His obituary appeared in the Defiance Democrat on October 17, 1895.

An earlier obituary appeared in the Defiance Republican Express on October 14, 1895:

"Hugh Tomlinson was born in Pickaway County, Ohio, February 14, 1836.  He died at his late home on Seneca Street, Defiance, Ohio, October 10, 1895, being 59 years, 7 months and 26 days old.  He was married in Fayette County to Miss Clara Eastman in 1855.  To them were born three children who were present at the funeral.  They are Mrs. Williamson of Benton Ridge, Ohio; Mrs. Swinehart, wife of Rev. Swinehart of VanLue, Ohio, and Mrs. Church of Pomeroy, Ohio.  Mr. Tomlinson's wife died in 1879 at Benton Ridge, Ohio and was buried at Benton Ridge.

On December 10, 1885, he was married to Miss Amelia Barrack, of Defiance, who with one child, Grace, survives him.  The funeral services were conducted at the residence by J. W. Taylor, assisted by Rev. Pilgrim.  Interment today at Benton Ridge.

Mr. Tomlinson was a charter member of the church of Christ of this city.  He was faithful in the discharge of his Christian duties, as a fond and loving husband and father, and highly respected by all who knew him."

Hugh's wife, Amelia, lived until October 27, 1937, when she passed away in Toledo.  Her daughter, Grace, married Maynard Jordan.

(This is part of a series on Civil War veterans of Defiance County who were part of the G.A.R., Bishop Post, that headquartered in the city.  Formed in 1879, the post was named after a local man, Captain William Bishop, Company D, 100th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Army who died as a result of wounds received in battle.  The veterans' photos are part of a composite photo of members that has survived.  If you have other information or corrections to add to the soldiers' stories, please add to the comments!)

Friday, November 9, 2018

J. F. Singer's Store

For many years, Lloyd V. Tuttle contributed historic photos and information to the Defiance Crescent-News for his column, "A Backward Glance."

"ABOUT FIFTY YEARS AGO, the enticing aroma of roasting coffee pervaded downtown blocks.  It was Jake's Pride Coffee being roasted by the J. F. Singer Grocery Co. which occupied the room of the southwest corner of Clinton and First Sts.

Sometimes it was the aroma of roasting peanuts.  Whenever this happened, F. W. Cheney, who operated Cheney Lumber Co., across the canal from the rear of the store, hastened over and got a big bag of peanuts.

J. F. Singer operated the store for years.  In the picture are: E. T. Grube, who happened to come along; John  Reinemeir, the delivery boy; John Bresnan, a clerk; John Forst, who was a clerk at that time; J. F. Singer, Harry Wrede, meat cutter, and Charles Brown, a passer-by.

JOHN FORST purchased the business later and continued to roast Jake's Pride Coffee and peanuts.  He had a big rural trade and was noted for the fine eggs he sold.  He and his wife are now retired at their home on Jackson Ave..."


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

William H. H. Ramsey - A Civil War Soldier Buried in Farmer Cemetery

Farmer Cemetery

William H. Harrison (Henry Harrison?) Ramsey lived a short, but full life.  Born on September 3, 1838, little could be found on William's early life.

On August 23, 1861, he enlisted in Company I, 49th OVI.  Men in this unit signed up for a three year service.  The 49th participated in so many battles throughout the south after their initial appearances in Louisville, KY.  Shiloh - Corinth - Murfreesboro - Battle of Stone River - Chickamauga - Missionary Ridge - and Atlanta Campaign. Ramsey was promoted to full sergeant on March 3, 1863, and to full corporal on August 26, 1863.

 His, widow, Emma Ramsey, appeared on the 1890 veterans census with her deceased husband's name.  That record recorded his first duty  from August 23, 1861, to December 31, 1863 - two years, four days, nine months. His unit had a thirty day furlough home and at some point, Ramsey reenlisted into the veterans' army where he served from January 1, 1864, to November 30, 1865, another one year and eleven months.  After Atlanta, the unit was sent to New Orleans and eventually to Texas where the 49th was mustered out at Victoria, Texas on November 30, 1865.

Harrison Ramsey married Emma Foltz in Putnam County on February 29, 1864.
They applied for the license just a few days before.  It might be a guess that this was during his 30 day furlough from the war, as he was not mustered out until November 1865.

 By or before 1870, they were settled in Liberty Township, Putnam County, Ohio.  William farmed and they had one child at that time, Frank D., six months old.  Ellen Foltz, 15, lived with them - probably Emma's sister.

By 1880, the couple had settled in Farmer Township, Defiance County. He was listed on the census as W. H. Harrison Ramsey, 41.  Emma, 33, had her hands full with children: Frank, 10; Lulu, 9; Ella M., 7; Orie (Ora Alice), 5; Mable, 2; and Guy, 8 months.  Six children filled the house when the tragedy occurred - 
William H. H. Ramsey passed away on September 2, 1884. 

It would appear from tidbits in the newspapers and most of all, from the census, that Emma stayed on the farm.  In 1894, she sold 1/2 acre of ground in Section 10 for $225 to the commissioners for a gravel pit.  She built a new milkhouse, one Farmer reporter noted.  In 1900, the widowed Mrs. Ramsey lived on a farm she owned free with her children, Ella, 27; Mable, 22; and Guy, 20, all listed as farm laborers.  And Emma gave her occupation as farmer.

Her obituary, so short, does not give credit to the strength of Emma Ramsey.

"Emma Ramsey departed this life September 17th, aged 55 years.  The funeral was held at the home Friday afternoon. Rev. C. H. Davenport officiating.  Interment in the Farmer Cemetery." 
Defiance Weekly Express, September 25, 1902, p. 8

She had had a stroke in early August and could never recover. The Ramsey children lost their father at 46 years old, and their mother at 55.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Vintage Photos of Homes in Farmer, Ohio

Some of these homes may still stand, perhaps in a remodeled state.

The home of Clyde and Gertrude Norway

The home of Emery and Olive Shank

The Shank house, pictured above, is the first house on the right in this photo.
The home of Sylvester Close
The home and barn of A. C. (Andrew?) Biglow
Home of William P. Bayes
"The old Hutchins farm"
And for good measure, here is a mystery house.  Anyone recognize it?

Recognize this?

We'd love to know more about any of these homes.  Do they still stand?  Do they look nearly the same or have they had a facelift?  Please comment if you are in the know!  It would be fun to have a modern photo of the house, too.

Monday, October 29, 2018

J. J. Hale, Architect

Photo donated for use by Mrs. Tom Rath

"THIS PICTURE, taken in later years, is of J. J. Hale, the only full-time architect Defiance ever had.  His office and drafting room occupied the entire second floor of the two- story frame office building of the Tenzer Lumber Co. that once stood south of the plant.

It is thought this picture was taken about 50 years ago...

In the picture to the left is Mrs. Katherine (Andrew) Brown and to the right Mrs. Miriam (Andrew) Rath, grandchildren of Mr. Hale.

Architect Hale leaned toward the Queen Ann style of architecture."
Queen Anne architecture example

Source: Lloyd Tuttle, " A Backward Glance," Defiance Crescent News, August 31, 1964.

Looking around Defiance, expecially in the historic district, one might spot the characteristics of a Queen Anne home:

-Several stories, and usually with a wraparound or large porch
-Towers, often with cone shaped roof
-Turrent, a small tower that comes out of the top story or the roof
-A deep pitched roof with lots of irregular shapes
-Often gables and or dormer windows 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Louis Sitterly - G.A.R., Bishop Post

Louis Sitterly, born July 15, 1844, was German born and immigrated to the U.S. with his parents when just a boy.  .

In the summer of 1862, the 107th Regiment of the Union Army, Company K, was organized in Cleveland.  Almost all Germans, Louis must have felt that he would fit right in when he enlisted on September 9, 1862.  This unit was in some of the heaviest fighting of the war.  But it was at Chancellorsville that they suffered quite heavy losses of men through death, sickness and captures. 

 Louis Sitterly became one of the prisoners of war because of his capture there.  One would have to order his pension file to fill in the details of this capture.  Was he sent to a POW camp in Virginia, or paroled back to his unit with a vow never to lift arms against the enemy again, or was he in a prisoner exchange? 
A later report by him indicated that he was held as a prisoner, probably in Libby Prison.

If he was exchanged, and if he was physically able, he would have moved with his unit to Gettysburg where Lee was threatening on Northern territory.  The enemy pushed his unit back to Cemetery Hill, where they held steady.  Their losses numbered 550 men, but they captured the flag of the 8th Louisiana Tigers.


107th Ohio Infantry2nd Brigade 1st Division 11th Corps
This memorial is dedicated by the surviving members of the regiment to their fallen comrades Ohio’s Token of Gratitude

From the rear:
Principal engagements:
Hagerstown, Md. 1863
Fort Wagner, S.C. 1864
John’s Island, S.C.
Camp Finnegan, Fla.
Neck, S.C.
Combahee Ferry, S.C., 1865
Dingle’s Mills, S.C.
Statesburo, S.C.
Swift Creek, S.C.
The 107th Ohio Infantry
Left Emmitsburg at 8 a.m. and reached Gettysburg at 1 p.m. July 1. Engaged the enemy with their brigade, losing heavily. Subsequently fell back to Cemetery Hill, and there formed in front of Wiedrich’s Battery. Evening of July 2, participated in repulsing the attack of Hays’ Louisiana Brigade, Adjutant P.F. Young capturing the colors of the 8th Louisiana Tigers. July 3 remained on East Cemetery Hill, exposed to fire of sharpshooters and artillery. Early July 4, made a sortie to the town. Number engaged in the battle 400, killed 23, wounded 111, missing 77, total loss 211.
From the left side:
The 107th Ohio Infantry  was organized at Cleveland, Ohio Sept. 9, 1862 and mustered out of  service at Charleston S.C. July 10, 1865. Regimental commanders
Colonel Meyer
Lieut. Col. C. F. Yueller
Captain J.M. Lutz
Major A. Vignos
Captain E. S. Meyer
Lieut. Col. J.S. Cooper
From the right side:
Principal engagements
Hagerstown, Md. 1863
Fort Wagner, S.C. 1864
John’s Island, S.C.
Camp Finnegan, Fla.
Devereaux’s Neck, S.C.
Combahee Terry, S.C., 1865
Dingle’s Mills, S.C.
Statesburo, S.C.
Swift Creek, S.C.

Louis mustered out on July 19, 1865, at Charleston.  At the end of its term, the unit served picket duty in South Carolina, and from there captured a train, all of its cars with provisions and ammunition for the Confederates. How good it must have felt when Louis headed home after 2 years, 11 months and 23 days!  The only disability he mentioned on the 1890 census was "sunstroke, while a prisoner," which suggested time spent as a prisoner after his capture at Chancellorsville.

Louis, still a single man, returned home to his parents after the war.  At 25, he lived with his parents, Joseph, 57, and Elizabeth, 59, on a farm where he helped his father, according to the 1870 census.  On October 8, 1874, he married Miss Isabella Schoonover in Defiance, Ohio.

It seemed that Louis Sitterly remained in Defiance Township for the rest of his life.  In 1900, he and Isabel were settled into a rental farm with their three daughters: Sarah E., a school teacher, 23 and single;  Anna, at school; and Bertha, 14, at school.  Another daughter, Mary Antoinette (Nettie) would have been 24 and perhaps married and living elsewhere. 

 In 1916, their daughter, Bertha died at home at the age of 27.  The Defiance Democrat reported the obituary on October 19, 1916:

Miss Bertha Sitterly, age 27, died Saturday morning at 12:30 o'clock at the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Sitterly, four miles south of the city in Defiance township.  Funeral services will be held from the home Monday afternoon at 1:30 o'clock, and at 2 p.m. in the Oakland Methodist Episcopal Church.  The remains will be buried in the Myers Cemetery."

In 1920, Louis, 76, had retired as a farmer and lived with Isabell (Isibell) on the Defiance township farm.  He identified himself as an alien on this census, but in 1910, he reported he was naturalized.  Louis died on June 27, 1922, and was buried beside his daughter, Bertha, in Myers Cemetery.  His obituary appeared in the Crescent-News on June 28, 1922: 

Isabell lived about a year and a half longer, passing away on December 10, 1923 at the age of 77.  This notice appeared in the Crescent News on December 11, 1923.

 (This is part of a series on Civil War veterans of Defiance County who were part of the G.A.R., Bishop Post, that headquartered in the city.  Formed in 1879, the post was named after a local man, Captain William Bishop, Company D, 100th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Army who died as a result of wounds received in battle.  The veterans' photos are part of a composite photo of members that has survived.  If you have other information or corrections to add to the soldiers' stories, please add to the comments!)