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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Ice Skating on the Maumee - 1888

Oh, yes, those icy days
are coming soon enough, with cold winds and plummeting temperatures.
How many of us have 
ever thought about taking a
little skate down the 
Maumee River ice ...for a few miles?

In January, 1888, Tom Wight, Dave King,
Will Dolke, and Will Helpman
took some wagers and off 
they went.  Who was successful?  

The Defiance County Express reported the adventure on January 5, 1888:

"Several of the court house officials made a wager of fifteen dollars with Tom Wight Wednesday that he could not skate down the Maumee river to the Elliott road, a distance of three miles, and back in one hour and a half.
At the same time, Dave King made a wager of five dollars that he could beat Will Dolke to the dam on skates.  

All necessary arrangements were made for the contest, and at 3 o'clock, they went to the foot of Jefferson street and made the start.  Four persons went in buggies down the river road to see if they went to the designated places before turning to come back.  Will Helpman accompanied Wight on skates.

Wight won the wager, making the trip in 59 minutes.  King failed, not going further than Marshal & Greenler's factory.  He fell four times in that distance, and carried his skates home.  He worked to a disadvantage, having on a pair of newly ground skates, the edges being so sharp that he could not guide them on the rough ice.

Dolke made the distance and back in the same time as Wight and Helpman, stopping to rest, and once to adjust his skates.  The obstacles to overcome in the skate was the rough ice and a heavy wind to face on the return trip."

Who's game?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Sherry School, Defiance Township, District # 7

The Sherry School is the school that was moved to Auglaize Village as an example of a one room school house.  Its original home was on the corner of Power Road and Krouse Road.  

We have a number of photos from this school, but none have identified people in them.  This is where the readers come in!  If you recognize someone, please comment and tell which photo and which person you are naming.
(A good reminder for ALL of us to label our photos!) 

Undated photo - Miss Wilhelmina Miller, Teacher   -  Supt. Manahan
Sherry School, December 11, 1912 - Miss Eva Nestlerod, Teacher

Crescent-News - May 14, 1921

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Shellenbarger or Fair School, Delaware Township

District #1 in Delaware Township was the Shellenbarger (Fair) School in Section 11 at the corner of Buckskin and Flickinger Roads.  This photo was taken in the 1910-1911 school year, and although we have a list of students and grades, they are not linked to the specific students in the picture. Maybe you can help?

Teacher - J. J. Langdon

First Grade - Murl Speiser, Ollie Babinger, Addie Wickersham, Harley Lieby

Second Grade - Garnet Lentz, Bertha Myers, John Shock, Paul Clinker, Clara Babinger, Orland Shock

Third Grade - Ethel Speiser

Fourth Grade - Clara Frolich (bottom row, 4th from right), Florence Speiser, Paul Lavergne, Ray Myers, Pearl Lentz, Ruth Lavergne, Isidore Mack

Fifth Grade - Victoria Mack, Vada Sisco, Washington Myers, Cyrus Lentz

Seventh Grade - Albert Babinger, Basil Lavergne, Gladys Speiser

Eighth Grade - Bertha Mack, Eugenia Lentz, Ruby Lentz

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The End of the Defiance Democrat - 1844 - 1920

After many years as either the only or most dominant newspaper in Defiance, the editors decided to put the Defiance Democrat to rest as the Crescent-News began to rise in readership.  After over seventy-five years in print, it must have been a difficult decision.

In the last paper, a history of the newspaper in Defiance was written by U. G. Figley, Washington Township.


'Well Done, Thou Good and Faithful Servant.'

And so the good, old Defiance Democrat has reached the parting of the ways.  It must depart from the activities of this mundane sphere for the more congenial celestial clime where profiteers and H. C. L. enter not and other thieves break not thru and steal.  It has fought the good fight,it has finished the course, it has kept the faith.  It is resting peacefully with the ages along with old companions long gone before and to other struggling competitors, it can truly say: 

'Remember, friends, as you pass by,
As you are now, so once was I.
As I am now, soon you shall be.
Prepare for death and follow me!' 

The writer sincerely regrets the passing of the good old paper, so long read by hundreds and thousands of people in Defiance county and elsewhere, and many of whom were of an opposite political faith.  The writer feels competent to say some words about the demise of the old family standby.  His paternal grandfather came to Defiance county from Crawford county in March, 1841, living one year in Lyman Langdon's log cabin on the back of Bean Creek, in Noble township (then a part of Defiance), even as Defiance county was a part of Williams.  In 1842, he moved to his own quarter section in Section 30, Tiffin township, where he lived nearly all his life and which farm is yet in the family. 

Said grandfather was one of the first subscribers to the Defiance Democrat which made its appearance Wednesday, July 17, 1844, and to this day, reaching to his great-grandchildren, the paper has been in the different branches of the family, even as on the maternal side, and we think that is a pretty good record, one to be 'pointed to with pride.'

Abraham H. Palmer, who started the Democrat, had a very fine office supply for those days, the material having been used in printing the 'Register' at Toledo.  It was a seven column folio, and had the first page devoted to a staving good story and general interesting paragraphs as was the custom with pioneer papers, and not much attention was made to news, mostly births, deaths and marriages, and occasion reference to very important occurrences of various kinds.  The price was $2.00 per year.

Beginning with the 34th number, March 1, 1845, J. W. Wiley assumed possession of the paper, and May 28, 1846, Samuel Yearick bought an interest.  In May, 1847, Wiley sold out, having been appointed second lieutenant in Co. B, 15th U. S. Inf. or the 'New Regulars,' and before the war closed, was court martialed and dismissed from the service for fighting a duel with another officer in Mexico.  He, for a time, then published a paper at Olympia, Wash.  

March 3, 1849, Mr. Yearick sold the Democrat to Jacob J. Greene, who published it till Dec. 3, 1873, when he sold it to Elmer White and Wm. G. Blymer, two young men from Tiffin.  Mr. Greene made a fine newspaper for those days.  During the war, like the apparent majority of northern Democrats, he favored peace, and many fiery and scathing articles and discussions were carried on in the paper, one of the most prominent contributers being 'Webb Run Democrat' from the confines of Tiffin township. 

Mr. Greene located his printing office on the banks of the raging canal, just across the street south of the present office, and where the paper was printed till 1880 (?) when it was moved to Clinton street, up-stairs, cata-cornered from the court house.

Along with Mr. Greene's newspaper work, he found time to act as district member of the State Constitutional Convention of 1850-51 and 1873-74.  He was mayor of Defiance 1861-63.  He was elected probate judge in 1853 and served continuously till 1885.  He also held other offices, was a prominent Mason, helped organize the Episcopal church, and died June 27, 1894, aged 7_.

White & Blymer at once enlarged the paper to a nine column folio, and devoted a great deal of space to general and local news and in a few years, made it a seven column quarto, and Feb. 28, 1877, issued a 23 page paper containing an unusual amount of historical and pioneer matter.  

They sold the paper in July 1878, to Geo. Platter Hardy, of Paulding, a son of Hon. Henry Hardy of Defiance, who changed the paper back to a nine column folio, selling it back to White & Blymer in April 1879.  He printed the first daily in Defiance, the Daily Democrat, a four page folio, from March 3, 1879 to April 9, 1879, his local editor being Sardis Ray Williams, a former Bryan newspaper man.  The price was two cents a copy.  Twenty eight numbers were issued.

In July, 1881, Mr. Blymer sold his interest to Frank J. Mains, and in October started an eight column folio.  The Democratic Times, with the late Chas. H. Rowland, editor. He sold this paper out to White & Mains in February, 1884, went to Charlotte, Mich., and published the Leader for a few years, then came back to Defiance in 1887 and was manager of the Express, when Joseph Ralston owned it, and on its sale in 1892 to C. J. Thompson, went to Mansfield and conducted a job printing office and died March, 1904, aged 60.

In 1886, Elmer White, who had served two terms as state senator, sold his interest to the Democrat Printing Co., Mr. Mains retaining his interest,his brother, Charles W. Mains, being editor.  For a time, under Mr. White's management, the office had a small stereotype outfit which was used especially in getting up the printing (official) for the county.  

Mr. White went to Toledo where he had bought an interest in the Bee, was president of the Bee company for a time, and finally sold out and went to Los Angeles, Cal. where he died some years ago.  He had a brother, Lieut. Com. Edwin White in the U. S. Navy and Wm. A. White, the famous writer, we believe, is another brother.

In 1889, Messrs, Wm. B. and Russell T. Dobson assumed control of the paper, selling out Jan. 31, 1891 to Ralph D. Webster and Frank J. Mains, and in January, 1894, Ed. E. Hall bought an interest.  In March, 1891, the Defiance Daily News was established with Chas. B. Hoadley as editor.  A. F. Schrack, who started the Daily Crescent in the fall of 1888, died Aug. 29, 1898, and the paper was bought and incorporated as the Crescent-News, though just when change was made, we are unable to say.

Nelson R. Webster came up from Paulding and bought Mains & Hall's interest in the paper.  In those times, the paper was a fine eight column quarto.  In 1903, the Websters sold out, N. R. purchasing a paper in Muskogee, Okla. and later buying back the Paulding Democrat, and a company was organized by the famous James L. Patterson, and the Crescent Company was incorporated, the fine big print shop was erected along the 'raging canawl,' the up to date linotypes and presses were established, and since then there has been a number of changes in the personnel of the company and its management, too many for us to keep track of.  

Needless to say, the Democrat came out regularly, made up from the daily, sometimes six pages, sometimes eight pages, seven column sizes and for some time was printed twice a week.

Since the development of the daily newspaper business, and the reasonable price of the Crescent-News, many ceased taking the Democrat, and now the H. C. L. striking the newspaper business so hard, it is thought to be good business to discontinue the weekly.  We are sorry to see it go, and hope that the name of the paper may in some way be perpetuated.  Aged 75 years, 5 months, 16 days, peace be with it henceforth and forevermore.  So be it.
G. Figley, Washington Township." 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

H. S. VanVlerah - G.A.R., Bishop Post

Photo taken in 1910 (according to Bishop Post minutes)


Born in 1838, Henry Van Vlerah enlisted in the Union Army on April 24, 1861 for a three month term.  He was discharged on August 12, 1861 after 3 months and 16 days.     

Henry was a private in Company K, 21st Infantry, better known as the Dennison Guards.  Men from Hancock and Defiance Counties were the largest part of this unit which was under Captain Strong.  The mustering in point was Camp Taylor, Cleveland, but before leaving, a farewell party was held for the local men here in Defiance, sponsored by the Methodist Church.  The ladies presented the men with a flag, fed them well, and those in attendance escorted the men to the depot.

After mustering in, Henry served under Captain Jesse Norton.  The group marched to Gallipolis and camped along the Ohio River at Camp Carrington.  After several months, they crossed over into Virginia where they joined McClellan and fought the Battle at Scary Creek on July 17, 1861.  It was a five hour battle in which 9 of the group were killed and 17 wounded.  Their captain, Norton, was captured but later exchanged.  

On the 1890 veterans census, Henry noted a disability from his service, but it was illegible.  He was a married man when he joined the Ohio Infantry, having married Angeline Boucher on January 14, 1858.  

After the war, he and his family were enumerated on the 1870 census: Henry - 32, Angeline - 30, and children- Viola - 11, Iva - 9, Lloyd - 7, Robert - 4, Estella - 2 and General W. - 0.  He had acquired real estate valued at $1000 by that time and he was farming.

Henry continued to farm and serve his community and the G.A.R. in various offices.  He attended G.A.R. company reunions and events and accepted jury duty when called.  

In 1910, he was still farming at the age of 72.  The census noted that he and Angeline had six children, with four living at that time.  By 1920, Henry had retired and was 82.  Angeline died in 1928 and Henry in 1929.  He lived to 91 years, a well-respected man in Defiance County.  

His obituary:

Defiance Crescent-News - July 15, 1929


Henry S. Van Vlerah, 92, died at his home in Defiance township, a mile and a quarter south of the Power Dam, Saturday at 3 p.m. due to the infirmities of old age.  He had lived on the farm on which he passed away for more than 65 years, although for the past three years, his son-in-law, Theodore Keller, has lived on the farm with him.
Mr. Van Vlerah was a Civil War veteran and a member of Bishop Post of the G.A.R. at Defiance.

He was born near Ulrichsville, Tuscarawas County, Jan. 8, 1838, and came to Defiance county in 1854, settling first in Highland township, where he married Miss Angeline Boucher in 1858.  Mrs. Van Vlerah died Dec. 17, 1928, less than a month before the celebration of their seventy-first wedding anniversary.

Mr. Van Vlerah held a number of township offices, such as trustee, assessor and land appraiser.  He also taught school seven years and carried mail on horseback between Defiance and Delphos for four years.

His father lived to the age of 98, and other relatives also reached ripe old ages.  He was the last of a family of 12 children.

Three of his children are surviving, as follows: Mrs. Theodore Keller, Mrs. Clara Kramer and Mrs. Agnes Beall, all living within a short distance of the home farm.

Mr. Van Vlerah has subscribed to the Defiance Democrat and then the Crescent-News for more than 70 years without a break.

Funeral services will be held at the home at 10 a.m. Tuesday, then at the Mansfield Funeral Home at 10:30 a.m.  Burial will be made in the Myers Cemetery on the Ottawa-Defiance pike."

(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!)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Shady Corners School, Mark Township

The Shady Corners School was located at the corner of Williams Center-Cecil Road and Fountain Street, in the southeast corner of Section 22, Mark Township.  This was an extra school in the township, formed because of the large number of students who lived in the immediate area.  

The school burned in 1911 when a threshing machine stopped in front of the school with engine problems.  As the driver revved his engine, sparks flew out of the top of the machine and landed on the roof of the school, starting a fire.  That year, the children finished school in someone's chicken coop because only a short period of the school year was left.  (Interview with G. Donson, 2000.  Her mother attended this school.)

Defiance Daily News - Tuesday, March 7, 1911

Was School House Near Mark Center.

Children Escaped in Safety But Buildings and Contents Were Completely Destroyed.

Sparks from a passing engine set fire to the country school house at Shady Corners, one mile south and one mile east of Mark Center Monday afternoon.

The building and contents were completely destroyed.  The insurance on the building amounted to $500 and on the contents, $150.  At a special meeting of the board of education of the special district held Monday evening, it was decided to rebuild at once.

School had just been resumed for the afternoon when the teacher noticed fire breaking through the ceiling.  The room was quickly vacated, and no sooner had the children made their exit than the entire structure burst into flames.  It was found impossible to save any of the contents.  The building, which was a frame structure, was burned to the foundation."

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Cornelius McGuire - Bishop Post, G.A.R.

Photo taken in 1919 (according to Bishop Post minutes)


Cornelius McGuire was Irish by birth, born there on March 14, 1840 and traveling to America in 1860 as a 21 year old.  

The new immigrant enlisted in the Ohio Infantry, Company K, 12th regiment first on April 25, 1861.  He served a three month term, and he was discharged on August 18, 1861.

Later, he re-enlisted in Co. K, 10th (11th?) regiment Ohio Cavalry and this time served 2 years, 4 months and 18 days.  He enlisted on March 3, 1864, and was discharged on July 21, 1866.
On the 1890 veterans census, it was noted that he had fallen from a horse and was disabled in his left knee.

In the spring of 1864, that particular company was just reorganizing itself after losing its horses to starvation in 1863.  Company K was involved in the Atlanta campaign, charging the Rebels at Resaca, Georgia with high losses in the battle.  They marched with Sherman to the sea, fighting the enemy all the way, and then moved north through the Carolinas.  They were in active service until the end of the war.

Cornelius's pension card

After the war, Cornelius settled with his wife, the former Rachel Beavers, in Defiance and worked as a day laborer.  The couple had five children, but four were living at the time of the 1910 census: Mary E., Christena, C. Henry, and Claud.

Several references were made to Cornelius in the local papers.  On April 18, 1890, the Defiance County Republican Express reported:
"While Cornelius McGuire of East Defiance was removing dirt from his lot Wednesday, an Indian skeleton was unearthed.  There were gold bracelets on the wrists and gold ear rings near the head.  A tomahawk, pocket knife, and bullet moulds were also picked up and were in a good state of preservation."

On April 4, 1891, The Defiance Daily Crescent noted this court news:
"This morning Cornelius McGuire was arrested at the instance of Mrs. Andrew Baker of East Defiance and charged with the malicious destruction of property.  The trouble grew out of a line of fence which separates the complainant and defendants lots.  The trial caused considerable excitement and was heard before the Mayor.  There was evidently some misunderstanding on behalf of the prosecuting witness, for after hearing testimony, Mr. McGuire was discharged as it was proven he had not infringed on Mrs. Baker's premises."

It was interesting that in May, 1906, Cornelius ran for street commissioner and did not receive a single vote, according to the Defiance Daily Crescent.  Perhaps there is a story behind that?

In the 1920 census, Cornelius reported himself as a widower, as his wife had died on November 15, 1919, at the age of 85.  She was older than he was by about five years.  Cornelius was living at 425 Auglaize Street, a home that he owned.
Cornelius died August 9, 1921, while visiting or staying with his daughter in Mansfield, Ohio, and his obituary appeared in one of the papers.


Cornelius McGuire died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Crossland at Mansfield.  The body arrived over the Baltimore and Ohio railroad this afternoon and was taken to the home at 425 Auglaize avenue.  He was a member of the Bishop Post of G.A.R.

The funeral services will be held  tomorrow at 9 a.m. from the St. Mary's church with Rev. Fr. Merickel in charge.

Members of the G.A.R. and American Legion will be pallbearers.  Members of Bishop's Post are asked to meet at Mansfield's Undertaking establishment so as to attend the services in a body." 

Defiance Crescent-News, August 1921

Riverside Cemetery - www.findagrave.com

(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!)

Monday, November 9, 2015

The "New" Mark Center School -

A summary of the story of the school by guest blogger, Gladys Donson -
"The Mark Center School
 The Mark Center High School was erected in 1922 in the northwest corner of Section 22 in Mark Township, Defiance County, Ohio, across the corner from the two story wooden structure which housed the previous high school and district elementary school.

The land was transferred from D. F. Openlander and wife to the Mark Township Board of Education on November 15, 1921, being eight acres.  As is often the case, feelings had run high at the time the additional levy was on the ballot to provide money to build the new school.  Some considered it progress and necessary.  Others thought it a waste of money.

The Board of Education in 1920-1921 consisted of: George Stuckman, President; R. D. Dunson, Vice-President, Perry Horn, Charley Wonderly, Burt Blackburn, and Lavon A. Elder, Clerk.  By 1922-1923, the Board had almost completely changed to: Edgar Haver, President; Elmer Lobdell, Vice-President, Lavon A. Elder, Henry Gecowits, Walter Burd, and H. O. Beltz, Clerk.

Thomas D. McLaughlin and Associates were the architects from Lima, Ohio.  Baker and Shindler Contracting Company of Defiance were the general contractors.

The building housed grades one through twelve until the fall of 1958 when consolidation was implemented and the high school was moved to the Farmer building temporarily, until the Fairview High School was completed.  In the fall of 1967, the seventh and eighth grades were removed to the Ney building until a junior high building was added to the Fairview High School.  

From this time until the building was closed at the end of the 1989-1990 school year, it housed only kindergarten through sixth grade.  The elementary children were divided between the Farmer and Sherwood buildings after Mark Center was closed."

G. Donson, July 26, 1993

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Old Mark Center High School Commencement - 1909

 The old, frame building that was first the Mark Center School had the high school on its second floor.  Located at the intersection of State Route 18 and Farmer-Mark Road, it sat in the midst of the first location of the town of Mark Center.  In 1909, the high school had five graduates.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Friday, November 6, 2015

Defiance County Pioneer - Nancy Ann (Coy) Snider


Mrs. Nancy Ann (Coy) Snider, daughter of John and Mary Coy, was born in Green county, O., near Xenia, Sept. 12, 1814.  She remained with her parents until December 30, 1830, when she was married to John Snider and in 1831, they emigrated in company with the Coys and Halls to Defiance (then Williams county). 

 They came as far as Ephriam Doty's, now known as the Rohn farm; from there to the farm they settled on, cutting their way as they went.  They were the first white people to cross Tiffin river and before crossing, they had to cut the bank so they could ford the river.

Amid the new and unbroken forests surrounded with the trials and burdened with the hardships incident to Pioneer life, she and her husband commenced to make for themselves a home.  They done their trading at Defiance, traveling the distance of 12 miles mostly on foot, but afterwards, they built a boat to transport their produce to market.

When they came to this country there were plenty of Indians and Grandmother Snider has related many interesting stories to her grand children and great grand children, seen in this vast wilderness of 1831.  Then the home of the Red man gave way beneath the ax and strong arm of the White man and in their place is seen beautiful homes of American Citizens. 

Mrs. Snider has been a member of the Methodist church about 65 (?) years.  She became a devout Christian when churches were unknown in this country and worshiped the God of her Creator with a fervent spirit until the last moment.  The courtesies of her home were ever open to the pioneer ministers, and services were held many times at her home.  She was ever found at her post of duty in the church, never missing services of any kind until infirmities compelled her to remain at home.

1883 History of Defiance, Ohio
 She was an exemplary citizen without an enemy in the world and beloved by all.  A kind and most courteous wife and an indulgent and painstaking mother.  Bidding sorrow and care depart, with words of consolation and cheer for all about her.  No stranger knew what it was to go from her door cold or hungry.

She departed this life September 13, 1897, leaving 10 of her 13 children with 27 grand children and a host of friends to mourn her loss.  Funeral services at 1 o'clock p.m. Sept. 16, conducted by Rev. L. E. Wilson of Stryker, after which the remains were interred in the Evansport cemetery."


From the Defiance Democrat - September, 1897

As to Mrs. Mary Conrad (Coonrod) in the photo above, she may have been the first wife of Nancy's brother, John Coy, who died very young.  Mary married a second time to Woolery Coonrod (Conrad) who died in 1847, also young. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Early Schools in Defiance, Ohio - Part 2

From the Defiance Democrat - January 10, 1895
Continued from Part 1, here.

When the settlement increased in numbers and the old, log school house became too small, a district school was organized and taught in the court house for many years. During Court, which was six or eight days of each year, the school would take a vacation.  One E. C. Betts taught in the court house.  His certificate authorized him to teach reading, writing , spelling and arithmetic as far as the rule of three.  Wm. A. Brown also taught in the court house. His assistant was Miss Stowe, afterward Mr. Brown's wife, and who now resides in this city with her daughter, Mrs. Dr. Scott.  Mr. Edwin Phelps also taught in this building.

The second school in what is now the City was on the bank of Coe Run near where the canal is now.  It was built of logs by the settlers along both the rivers. This school was first taught by Brice Hilton.

In 1840, after the county seat of Williams county was moved to Bryan, the old court house was sold and fitted for a dwelling as a new school house had to be provided.  In 1841 the third school house was built in Defiance on the west side of Wayne street, between Fourth and Fifth streets.  It was a two story brick and was built by Timothy Dame, who had succeeded Seamans and Wason in the brick yard. At first the lower room only was finished.  Part of the time there were two teachers and usually over one hundred pupils.  
In 1849 the district was divided, that part East of the Canal being No. 1 and that West, No. 5. A lot was purchased in January 1850 on the North side of Fifth street, just East of where the railroad now is, and a school house was built there.

In 1851, the Union school was organized and the districts consolidated, then the upper room in the brick building was completed, another school house procured and Francis Holenbeck employed at Superintendent, and teacher for the high school.
The present school was kept in a building owned by E. L. May  on the west side of Wayne street near the river, and a few years afterward was moved to the building at the corner of Court and Wayne streets that had been built and used by Dave Marcellus as a carpenter shop and which was rented and used for years as a primary school.

About this time, the Baptist church and a large unfinished frame building where the Carter homestead now stands were used as school houses.  The secondary school, as it was called, was kept in the school house of District No. 5. This building is now used as a dwelling. There was also an overflow school taught in a small building just north of the one last named, Lot fronting on Fourth street.  These were all school houses between the rivers until the Central building, which was commenced in 1866 and completed in 1868.  This building has since been greatly enlarged by adding wings and another story.

In the 4th Ward, a district school house was built about 1858 on the Ottawa Pike just south of the B & O R.R. track, called the Kahlo school house.  It was a frame building, and Miss Southworth, E. H. Gleason, Abijah Miller and others taught there.  In 1875, a brick building was built, which was lately replaced by the splendid Fourth ward building.  In 1875, the present Second ward building was built.

On the north side of the Maumee river was school district No. 2.  The first school house was built in 1851 on Water street, just east of the Wabash railway.  It was a little, frame school house.  Samuel Stacy was the first teacher.

Afterward, E. H. Gleason, John H. Crowell, B. F. Southworth, Mary Bridenbaugh, now Mrs. Kiser, and others taught here.  Before the war, Mr. Southworth was reputed as a normal teacher of great ability, and his school was so popular for young teachers that the directors built an addition to the house and secured an assistant to teach the lower grades.  When Capt. Southworth went into the army, no less than nine of his old pupils went with him and many more followed. On his return from the army, Colonel Southworth again taught here.  In 1866, this district was made part of the Union schools of the town, and in 1874, the ole brick building was built and is now replaced by this beautiful, modern building.

The people of Defiance have never parted from the faith and example of the early settlers.  They have always been liberal in the support of schools; and now our city is guarded at every point on the compass by magnificent school buildings.  They are a wise investment.  They are the city's best defense..."

Monday, November 2, 2015

Early Schools in Defiance, Ohio - Part 1

From the Defiance Democrat - January 10, 1895
(Parts are summarized in blue.)


Interesting Paper Read by Henry B. Harris.

Interesting History Concerning Our Schools Read at the Dedication Exercises at the Third Ward School Building 
on New Year's Day.

Henry B. Harris has kindly furnished the NEWS with the manuscript of his address on our early schools delivered at the dedicatory exercises at the Third ward school building Tuesday.  The article contains much valuable history that will be of interest to everyone." 

The first part of the address discussed the establishment of the New England Colonies and their establishment of a common school system.  Then the Continental Congress of 1785 regulated the survey of land and provided for a place for a school in the townships.  After the treaty with the Indians in Northwest Ohio in 1817, Ohio passed an act which, among other things, formed the county of Williams and established a land office at Piqua in 1820.  At that point permanent settlers began to come to the area.

"The town of Defiance was laid out in November, 1822, though there had been an Indian trading post here before that time. In 1825, the village consisted of a small store, a tavern and five or six families.  But even before that, in 1824, the first schoolhouse was built in Defiance..."

The settlers went about a mile above the town and cut and hewed the logs, sending them down the river to a point about where the canal meets the Maumee. There the logs were loaded and driven by a yoke of oxen driven by Brice Hilton, then a young lad.  Brice was directed by his father, Joshua Hilton.

"The schoolhouse was a boxed log building about 21 x 28 (?) feet in size.  It stood on the fractioned lot on the northwest corner of Perry and First streets, facing west.  This school house had one door and several small windows, at first without window frames or glass.  It had a plank door and a clapboard roof held in place by poles.  Oiled paper served the place of window glass.

An immense fire place about twelve feet long supporting a stick and mud chimney was the heating apparatus and gave the pupils an opportunity to burn on one side and freeze on the other.  One row of desks was around against the walls, the seats were made of slabs with four stakes in auger holes for legs.  There were no nails or iron used in the construction of the building, even the hinges being of wood and the floor pinned down and the desks pinned up in a primitive, but substantial manner.  The lumber was sawed at Brunersburg at Joseph Perkins' saw mill, then the only mill within forty miles of Defiance.
This is the one room log school house at Lincoln's New Salem Village near Springfield, Illinois, and a good example of the first frontier schools.  (www.angelfire.com)

At the time there were no wagon roads and not a wagon in Williams county.  The first wagon being brought by Wm. Travis in 1825 as far as St. Mary's, when the road seemed impassible and the wagon was taken to pieces, loaded on a boat and floated down the river, while the oxen and horses were loaded with part of the supplies and driven over land, or rather, through the swamp.  In those days, all supplies were brought into the settlement by pirogues, packed on the back of horses, or dragged along the Indians' trails through the forests and swamps on travoix.

The first teacher in this section was Wm. Seamans, who taught two or more terms.  There were about 35 or 40 pupils.  The teacher received $2.00 per term for each pupil which was paid by the parents.  The second teacher, William Edmondson, who taught three or four terms, is reputed to have been a five scholar and an excellent teacher. Afterwards, Wm. A. Brown and others taught there.

In 1826 or 1827, the rival village of Brunersburg wanted a school.  So they built a log school house on the west side of Bean creek on the Speaker Bottoms, about midway between the Dey and Brunersburg bridges and employed Brice Hilton as teacher, who had so improved under the instruction of Seamans and Edmondson that from employment as a drive of oxen in the building of the school house, he had come to be the master at a rival school.

From the time of the formation of Williams county to 1824, the people had to go to Perrysburg, Wood county, to attend court.  From 1824 to 1829, court was held at Defiance in some private building, generally in a room over Mr. Levell's store, in the frame building lately owned by Mr. Myers, the painter, just west of the fort ground.

In 1826 and 1829, the first court house in Defiance was built just north of the Presbyterian church on Wayne street.  William Preston had the contract for building this house, but the brick were made and laid by Wm. Seamens and Robert Wason, who were both brick makers and masons.  Their brick yard was where Washington street now is between Third and Fifth streets, that they were master masons is evidenced by the fact that the house still stands with sound and solid walls.  
After this, Mr. Seamens was justice of the peace and studied and practiced law.  When I was a little boy and had just come into the possession of my first slate, Mr. Seamens, then a guest at my father's house, congratulated me on my acquisition and said that he had chopped five cords of wood for the first slate he ever owned.  He neatly scratched the letters of the alphabet and the figures around the edge of the slate and said he hoped I would learn to make them as good as the copy before I broke the slate.  So that Mr. Seamens was one of my first teachers, and my figures resemble his to this day.  His son, of the same name, a Defiance boy, inherited his father's physical and mental stature and is now a professor of chemistry in the Ohio Wesleyan University, and a teacher and author of international reputation."

To be continued...