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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

William Hoffman - Furniture Dealer in Defiance

From the Marckel Scrapbook ... 1920


"Wm. Hoffman,the oldest businessman in Defiance, veteran furniture dealer and manufacturer of Northwestern Ohio and one of the most prominent and respected citizens of Defiance county, died at 11:45 o'clock, Friday night, Oct. 22, 1920, at his home on Perry Street. Death was due to the weakness of advanced age and followed an illness of but a few hours.  He visited his place of business in the morning as was his usual custom and seemed to be in his usual good health.  About 6 o'clock Friday evening,he became ill and peacefully passed away a few hours thereafter.

Mr. Hoffman was 90 years old and has been identified with business, social activity and progress in Defiance since 1859.  He has witnessed the town grow from a small village to its present proportions, and during this time, had remained one of the leading figures about the town, visiting his business daily and taking interest in all things pertaining to Defiance and surrounding territory.

News of his death comes as a great shock to all who knew him.  Business men who have been associated with him for the past fifty or more years sorrowfully received the announcement of his death.  He had lived an honorable and useful life and was a man of high standing in business and religious circles.  He is what the world is pleased to style a self-made manHis boyhood was full of the struggles and privations which contributed much to his making.  He never forgot the stern lessons of industry and economy to which he applied himself in youth.  He disliked ostentation and debt.

History of His Life

Mr. Hoffman was born in Wurtemberg, Germany, Feb. 15, 1830.  He received his early education in the public schools of Germany and learned the cabinet trade in Stuttgart.  In 1854 he emigrated to the United States, being on the voyage on the Atlantic sixty days, arriving in New York, July 20, 1854.  

Mr. Hoffman's residence in Defiance dates from 1859 when with Mr. C. Geiger as a partner, they entered the furniture business under the firm name of Hoffman & Geiger, doing a wholesale and retail business on Perry street.  The site has since been sold to the Defiance Machine Works.
Defiance Democrat, April 2, 1870
In 1871 they purchased the lot on the corners of Clinton and Fort Sts. and in 1873, built thereon the brick block for a salesroom, at that time the finest in town.  In 1883, the firm dissolved partnership, Mr. Hoffman retaining the retail business, which for a number of years has been managed by his son, Edward.
Defiance City Directory, 1920

Mr. Hoffman was married in 1856 at Edgerton, Ohio to Katherine Koerner, who preceded him in death four years ago.  Six children were born to them.  They are Mrs. Henry Seither, Katherine (deceased) Mrs. Wm. Martin, Chas. C. Hoffman, Edward W. Hoffman, and Miss Gertrude Hoffman.  Besides the children, Mr. Hoffman is survived by five grandchildren, Clinton and Leonard Seither, Ransom Hoffman, Ruth Scott and Richard Martin, also nine great grandchildren.

Mr. Hoffman in politics was a Republican, and was a member of the German Methodist church, serving on the Board of Trustees since 1860.

Funeral services were held this afternoon at 2 o'clock from his late residence, Rev. Henry Maag, his pastor, officiated.  Interment was made in Riverside cemetery."


Friday, February 20, 2015

Never Too Old to Vote - Anna E. Ralston

The whole idea that women should have the privilege to vote in the United States began back in the late 1840's with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, but the real push came later.  When the Civil War was over and former slaves received the right to vote, the women's desire for that right began to intensify. 
It was not a quick process, by any means. In Ohio, it was 1885 before the Ohio Suffrage Association was formed, and it was 1920 before Ohio was the fifth state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. 

In Defiance, one woman definitely took her privilege seriously.  From the Marckel Scrapbook, this clipped article is undated, but might be by assumption, October 31, 1920.  It tells the tale of Anna E. Ralston, her pioneer life and her intention to vote "the straight Republican ticket."  One will find some Defiance city history in the article, as well.


"Mrs. Anna E. Ralston, better known to Defiance folks as 'Grandma' Ralston, celebrates her hundredth birthday at her old homestead on 'Quality Hill,' North Defiance, the eve of election day, Monday, November first.  To wait a century before casting her first vote has not in the least dampened 'Grandma's' enthusiastic desire.  She will make the journey to the polls Tuesday, and, if she has her way, will be 'an early morning' voter.

When asked concerning politics, then centenarian's eye brightens and she at once becomes much interested. 'If God permits, I'll go sure, and vote the straight Republican ticket,' she always states when questioned.  'I do not care so much as far as myself is concerned about the honor of voting at this age, but it is for old 'Quality Hill' that I am desirous of going.  Then when that is done, I don't care how soon I must go,' she continues, telling that she will be willing to pass on and let someone else take her place.  However, she is in fair health in spite of her advanced age and, no doubt, will enjoy a much longer life.

From the newspaper
She is now living in the old homestead on Ralston Ave., which was named after the family.  At this place she has lived 71 years of her one hundred.  The last years of her long, happy life are being spent with her son, one of seven children, Lake E.

During the century of life she has spanned, great changes have come to this community.  She remembers when Ralston Ave. of which she is so proud, was but a path thru the uncleared woods.  Later she viewed the road as a corduroy, bordered by tossing fields of Indian maize.  Then still later, its other improvements, until now it is the leading artery to and from Defiance.  When she moved into her present home, she named the place, 'Quality Hill,' for it overlooked the beautiful Maumee River and canal about which nestled the budding frontier town.

When reflecting concerning those days, a far away, satisfied look brightens her eyes and she speaks of them as 'happy days.'  She says, 'We were all so happy.  There were only a few of us and we all knew each other.  We had house warmings and various social events when friendliness appealed to all.  Then we would take lanterns to church and we lived contentedly together.'

Mrs. Ralston has but few senile characteristics.  At times she is light hearted and given to wit.  While speaking of the changes that have come to Defiance, she said, 'I saw the first lights that were brought here, the first improved means of conveyance, then the churches, banks, etc.  Yes, I have even seen the Maumee river double itself' (referring laughingly to the change that resulted from the erection of the State Dam.) ' In those days the river was crossed by ferry at the foot of Clinton street.'

Moreover, altho she is delightfully enthusiastic about those days of happiness, she has said that she is satisfied to pass on now after achieving her hundredth year and be content that others enjoy the benefits that have come to this territory through improvement.

The aged woman accredits her hearty life at this advanced age to be due to her sturdy out-of-door life.  She was one of ten children, many of whom died of lung troubles.  She tells that she worked in the woods with her husband.  Interesting are the tales she relates of her first years in Defiance county.  Coming from the east, her husband desired to return for household goods, but feared to leave her alone with her children.  However, she urged him to go as she would be capable of caring for those left behind.  During her husband's absence, she would remain awake thruout the nights and keep a fire in order to scare the wolves away from her log cabin.

Her life was truly that of the sturdy American pioneer.  Until the last year, she has been able to get about the home quite well, but is now bed-ridden altho still vigorous.  Most of her faculties are well- preserved.

She was born in Stark county, O., November 1, 1820.  Her parents were from Frederick county, Maryland.  She married Joseph Ralston, a native of Dauphin county, Pa., June 22, 1839.  He had come there, with his parents in 1832.  In October, 1843, they concluded to come to Northwestern Ohio.  They went by canal boat from Massillon to Cleveland, with their first child, the late Dr. Wm. Henry Ralston, (and) after a somewhat stormy passage on Lake Erie, they arrived in Toledo, on the old steamer, Superior.  The trip from Toledo to Defiance was made on the canal boat, 'Red Lion' and ended October 10, 1843.

Here they met an acquaintance, the late Samuel P. Cameron, who induced them to settle in Washington township.  They occupied a log cabin on Mr. Cameron's land, now owned by Wm. H. Baker, in the north part of Ney.  The Ralstons bought 80 acres of the southwest corner of Tiffin township, on Mud creek and became the first settlers along that stream.  They cleared the land and prepared for cultivation.  As the season was very wet, their help had to be gathered for the fifth time before the work could be accomplished.  All the laborers were called from two to five mile distances.

They lived but a few years in Washington township before coming to the present homestead situation on Ralston Ave."

Ann E. Ralston died a few years later and was buried in Old Riverside Cemetery near the Ralston family monument.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Marckel Scrapbook

Some of the posts on this blog will be attributed to the Marckel Scrapbook.  Given to Fred Marckel by his aunt, Doris E. Marckel Bates, the book is dated on the cover, March 11, 1906.  Although newspaper articles have been clipped and pasted in it, most are undated and unsourced. 

From reading through the articles, we have determined that the earliest clippings are from about 1895 and the oldest from the 1920's.  Sometimes the date is included in the text of the article, allowing us to date it.  The clippings are largely obituaries, or reports of family reunions, weddings, accidents or other newsworthy events of the family or their acquaintances.  Some would be very helpful to anyone researching a family history.

When we post articles from this scrapbook, the scrapbook photo will appear.  Thank you to the Marckel family for their donation of a copy of this scrapbook to the organization!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

I. A. and A. I. Thompson - World War I Twins

From the Fort Wayne Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Indiana - April 13, 1918

The brothers were part of the 146th infantry group that was sent to France in 1918 where they probably participated in the battle at Meuse-Argonne and then in several battles in Belgium.  Luckily, they both survived and came back to Hicksville to spend the rest of their days.  They kept the names the military had given them because the names Aden and Iden appeared in the census records, although from the article, it seemed the folks in Hicksville kept their initials as their names.

In the 1920 census, the boys, at 25 years old, were still single and living with their parents, Tally and Mary Thompson in Hicksville.  Both men had jobs at the handle factory.

By 1930, both fellows were married and both rented separate homes on Arthur Street.  Iden married Zelma and had three children at that time, and he was working at odd jobs.  Aden was married to Lucille and was a laborer in a factory...maybe still the handle factory.  His father, Tally, lived with them, and they had no children.

The last census available was 1940, where both men listed as their occupation, "War Veteran."  Iden lived on Meuse Argonne Road and had five children, all at home.  Aden still lived on West Arthur and he and Lucille had no children.

Both were buried at Forest Home Cemetery in Hicksville.  Aden I. Thompson died in 1946, and the name Aden appeared on his tombstone.  (October 28, 1894 - September 14, 1946)

Iden A. Thompson was buried with his wife, Zelma M. Whitman, and an infant daughter.  He died in 1952 and the military assigned name, Iden, also appeared on his stone. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

News on Valentine's Day in Sherwood, Ohio, 1884

From the Hicksville News, February 14, 1884

The weather report looks very

Sadly, overcrowded churches aren't a problem, and the 
temperance man probably would not have much of an audience either. 

The overly zealous salesman is probably making no friends.

Maybe you recognize an ancestor on the Honor Roll?

We appreciate your comments!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Defiance College - World War I


(Special to the News.)
HICKSVILLE, O.  Sept. 14 -
By government action, Defiance college has been made a unit of the students army training corps, and will now be under the direction of the war department.  A regular army officer will be stationed there, and the students will wear the khaki uniform of Uncle Sam.

Sisson Hall has been converted into a barracks and a portion of the new Tenzer science hall will also be utilized for that purpose.  Over 100 young men have already registered there for military training, and prospects that the number will be doubled before the month ends."

Fort Wayne Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Indiana - September 14, 1918

Defiance College, 1918.  Photo from the digital archives of the Defiance Public Library Ohio Memory Project.

Monday, February 2, 2015

A Duel in Hicksville, Ohio - 1897

From The Fort Wayne News, Fort Wayne, Indiana - Monday, August 16, 1897

"GOT MIXED.  And the Twin Brothers Then Fought a Duel.

Hicksville, O., Aug. 16.
Dep and Gill Ackley, twin brothers, both barbers, cannot be told from each other, both being married and each having a family.  Some time ago a barber at Maysville wrote Dep to come and work.  Gill obtained Dep's letter by mistake through the post office, and took his brother's position.  Gill, having worked in Defiance county, was notified by mail to come and get his salary.

Dep received Gill's letter, went to Defiance and drew Gill's money.  Both brothers meeting this afternoon, after indulging in intoxicating drinks, fought a duel on High street near Kleckner's barber shop.  Gill fired a shot a Dep, but missed him, tearing the sleeve out of F. O. Farnsworth's coat.

Dep started to run, going up High street, followed by Gill, both being too drunk to gain much headway, and Gill, having lost his revolver in the crowd, pulled a knife on his brother, cutting his right arm severely.

Another chase followed through the drug store to an alley, when Dep turned on Gill, hitting him with stones and handy articles, until citizens took him off Gill, who now lies at the home of his mother in a critical condition.  Dep made good his escape to the woods, followed by a posse of men and boys."

"LIKE A FIEND.  Poss(e) Captures Dep Ackley After a Desperate Struggle.

Hicksville, O., Aug. 17.
Dep Ackley, who almost murdered his twin brother in a duel yesterday and afterward made his escape to the woods, was captured between 5 and 6 o'clock yesterday, and after a chase which lasted all night and yesterday.

He was captured in a cornfield south of a small town named Knoxville by a posse.  He fought desperately with a knife and club and before finally overcome, he succeeded in cutting a man named Backus over the heart.  Backus cannot recover.  He was not captured until his clothes were torn into shreds and he had been clubbed into insensibility.

Gill Ackley, the brother and victim of the man captured, is still unconscious.  After an examination it was found that the carotid artery in the neck had been cut, making a fatal wound.  The citizens are greatly aroused over the affair and if Gill dies, Dep will be roughly dealt with."

This story was printed in newspapers from Los Angeles, California and Salt Lake, Utah to Pennsylvania and beyond. In the 1900 census, Dep Ackley (Dell) was a prisoner in the Allen County jail on Calhoun Street in Fort Wayne, whether for this crime or another.  He was 30 years old and his occupation was still listed as a barber. 
 The Williams County, Ohio genealogy blog has an even more detailed account of the lives of these twins.  Please check it out!