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Friday, January 29, 2016

Augustus Kesselmeyer - Civil War Veteran


Not much was found on the early years of Augustus (August, Gus) Kesselmeyer, son of Joseph Kesselmeyer, until his enlistment in the Union Army on June 5, 1861.  He was about 21 years old when he joined Company K, 8th Regiment, Ohio Infantry as a private.  He was discharged on December 10, 1862 for disability at Alexandria, Virginia, after having been in West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland in numerous battles. In September, he saw action at Antietam and spent guard duty at Harper's Ferry.

The 1890 veterans census indicated that Augustus had a total disability which included rheumatism and a hernia.

Pension card
His death date on his tombstone was August 27, 1894, while his pension card made it a month later.  He was not married, and he was not found in either the 1870 or 1880 census.

Augustus Kesselmeyer Passes Away

Augustus Kesselmeyer died suddenly Thursday at the home of his brother on East Hopkins street.  His death is due to heart trouble.  He was apparently in good health last evening.  In the morning, he arose and soon after returned to his bed.  His relatives took steps for his immediate relief, applying such remedies as they had at hand.  His condition was not regarded serious, and he was left alone for a short time.  On returning to him, William Kesselmeyer, his nephew, found him dead.

Dr. Stevens had been summoned, but arrived too late.  
The deceased was 54 years old.  He was unmarried.  He had made his home with his brother for many years.  Mr. Kesselmeyer had many friends, as he was of a genial disposition.  He was quite a musician, being a proficient violin player.

The funeral occurred last Sunday at the residence of Charles Kesselmeyer on Hopkins street at 2 o'clock, Rev. B. W. Slagle officiating.  The remains were interred in Riverside cemetery."


The funeral of Gus. Kesselmyer occurred Sunday from the residence of his brother, Charles Kesselmyer on East Hopkins street, where the deceased had made his home for the past eighteen years.  The funeral was a large one, many friends and relatives being present.

Thought Mr. Kesselmyer was not at the time of his death a member of the Bishop G.A.R., the members of that order attended the funeral in a body because he was a comrade.  The members of the U.V.U. and of the Ft. Defiance band also attended.

The floral offerings were most lovely.  The funeral discourse was preached by the Rev. B. W. Slagle.  He preached a most eloquent and touching sermon.  After the sermon, the funeral train moved to the Riverside cemetery, accompanied by the solemn notes of the funeral march, where the body was interred.

He left many sorrowing friends and relatives to mourn his death.  Those present from abroad were: Mrs. Ackerman, his sister, and Henry Shoemaker, of Columbus; John Kesselmyer and wife from Deshler, and Mrs. Hendershot of Chicago."     

Defiance Democrat- October 4, 1894

From Records of Headstones of Deceased Union Veterans, 1879 -1903


(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!)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Crary School, Milford Township

The Crary School was District #8 in Milford Township.  Its exact location is unknown at this time. (Maybe someone knows out there?)



Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Murder of Michael Smith

A tragic story that one just couldn't make up...

 Daughter of Mike Smith Kills Herself By Eating Spiders

The following press dispatch will be of interest to the acquaintances of Michael Smith, who was born and reared in Defiance, and who was poisoned by his wife and daughter a few years since:

 Des Moines, Oct. 11...

Cora Smith, who murdered her blind father, Mike Smith in Des Moines, in 1894, by putting rough on rats in his coffee, committed suicide at the Anamosa penitentiary by eating spiders.

She was serving a life sentence with her mother, Betsy Smith, for the crime.  A paper bag of spiders was found in the cell after her death and a post mortem examination revealed the spiders in her stomach."

Defiance Democrat
October 13, 1898 

Now for the back story with a few more details...  Chronicled in The Davenport Democrat and Leader, Davenport, Iowa on May 11, 1894:

Fiendish Murder Committed by a Woman at Des Moines.

Des Moines, Ia., May 11 - Without doubt the most brutal and fiendish murder in the history of the city has just come to light by the confession of the sister of the murderess, who is said to have killed her husband by slow poison.  

Michael Smith was a railroad engineer and was in the way of his wife.  There was $3000 insurance on his life.  Mrs. Ida Scoville, the sister of the wife of Michael Smith, confessed to the grand jury that her sister had given the husband, who died two weeks ago from the effects of poison, arsenical doses three times.  The first was in a pie and the second in a dish of oatmeal and the last and fatal dose in a capsule.

The fatal dose was given in the evening, and the wife left the house, returning about midnight almost drunk.  The sister who made the confession wanted to send for a doctor, and got a young man with whom Mrs. Smith was intimate and with whom she had said she would start a saloon after her husband was out of the way, to go for a doctor.  The wife went after the messenger, and brought him back, refusing medical aid to the dying man, who was screaming with agony.  

He died five hours after.  Mrs. Schoville is under arrest for the murder.  She confesses to a knowledge of the poisoning, but nothing more."

And on June 27, 1894, in the Lincoln Daily News, Lincoln, Nebraska:   

Mrs. Betsey Smith Found Guilty of Murdering Her Husband.

Des Moines, June 27 - Mrs. Betsey Smith was found guilty of murdering her husband, Michael Smith, and sentenced to life imprisonment by the jury.  
Mrs. Smith poisoned her husband, Michael Smith, a blind Rock Island engineer, to get his $3000 life insurance, so that she could live with her lover, Frank Bellaire.  She laid the crime upon her sister, Mrs. Ida Schoville, but the latter gave the whole story away and Mrs. Smith was convicted." 

BUT...what of the daughter, Cora?  What was her role?  Almost a year will pass before the truth comes out.  Read on...

From The Perry Daily Chief, Perry, Iowa on March 30, 1895:

Cora Smith, An Omaha Woman, Confesses to Giving Her Father Poison in Des Moines.

Omaha, March 29 - Cora Smith, formerly a resident of Des Moines, but who has lived in this city since last September, was arrested last night on information received from Des Moines and held for the crime of murder.  The Smith woman was found in the Tremaine girls' house of prostitution, and shortly after being taken to the police station, she confessed to having assisted in murdering her father last May.

Mike Smith was the murdered man's name and previous to the last and successful attempt to kill him by poisoning, an attempt was made by shooting.  The ball passed through the head just back of the eyes and from the effects, he was blinded.  It was not proven who fired this shot, and Smith could not be led to believe that members of his family were plotting to kill him, but insisted that it was a man who was an enemy of his.    

Not long after the shooting incident, poison in small doses was administered from the effects of which he died last May.  The wife and daughter were arrested, charged with the crime, and in June the wife was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Iowa penitentiary. 

Cora was discharged when taken before the police judge for a hearing, and, after remaining in Des Moines for a short time, she came to Omaha and entered a house on the row.  Her associates noticed that something was continually worrying her and that she could not sleep, but were not aware of the cause.

After her mother was sent to the penitentiary, she began writing to her, and in one of the letters she told her mother how she had assisted in poisoning her father, and at the same time implicating her aunt, Mrs. Ellen Leader.  This letter fell into the hands of the detectives, as did all the correspondence following.  

In her confession last night, she said that the poison which was used to kill her father was purchased by her aunt, Mrs. Leader, and that Mrs. Leader administered several doses, but the one which caused her father's death and the last one given was by her own hands.
The object of the murder was to secure $6000 life insurance."

By the end of April 1895, the gig was up for Cora Smith.

"Des Moines, April 24 - Cora Smith was today sentenced for the murder of her stepfather to life imprisonment at Anamosa.  On receiving the sentence, Cora fainted and was carried from the court.  
Miss Smith's guilt was determined by her own confession as to the perpetration of the crime"

A communication was left by the unfortunate woman addressed to Attorney General Remley. Its verbatim contents are as follows:
"Anamosa, Iowa, Oct. 4, 1898 -- Confession by Cora McCamly. Mr. Milton Remley. Dear Sir: I will write you these few lines, as I want everything clear. I have repented for all of my sins and I feel as if they was forgiven. My health is failing so rapidly I know I am going into consumption. I want to tell you the truth about my mother's case as it will go before you. Ellen Scoville and myself poisoned my stepfather Michael Smith. Ellen made a peach pie for supper and put rat poison in it and also in his coffee, and that night I put rat poison in a glass of water and he drank it. I have never been sorry that I told the truth, but God knows I hope you will do all you can for my dear mother, for she is suffering for something she never done. It breaks my heart. I want to tell the truth about everything; my dear mother is innocent of what she is charged. I cannot stand to see her suffer so; it worried me dreadful. This is the truth as sure as God is my creator, and I repeat once more that my mother is innocent, so do all you can for her. I am not sorry for the confession I made, but I am ready to die, so I ask you again to help my mother. No one knows that I am going to do anything, but my life is a misery to me to see my mother suffering so, and to know that it is for nothing. This is the God's truth.
Yours truly, Cora McCamley.
Mr. Hunter, please see that this is mailed to Mr. Milton Remley. Cora."

Friday, January 22, 2016

Charles Kesselmayer - G.A.R., Bishop Post


Charles Kesselmeyer (Kesselmayer, Kesselmyer) was married and a father of at least four children when he enlisted to fight in the Union Army.  Enumerated in the 1860 census of Pleasant Township, Henry County, Charles, 26, and his wife, Rebecca, 26, were farming and raising their children.  Originally from Bavaria, Charles had acquired real estate valued at $600 - 80 acres, according to the agricultural census that year, 10 acres improved and 70 unimproved.

But, on December 16, 1861, he first enlisted in Company B of the 68th Regiment, Ohio Infantry.  His first discharge was at Washington, D. C. on October 1, 1862.  However he reenlisted on October 20, 1862 in Company H, 10th Regiment of the Ohio Cavalry where he served until July 24, 1865.  The 1890 veterans census listed his disabilities as a hernia and diarrhea, a chronic disease among these soldiers.

Pension card for Charles Kesselmeyer
After the war, he farmed for awhile, improving his Henry County farm until in 1870, he had improved 40 acres, had livestock and was raising wheat and corn.  But by 1874 when he was about 40 years old, he had given up farming and moved to Defiance.  Eventually, he acquired a grocery business and saloon.  

The Defiance Democrat of December 21, 1882, gave insight into the potential risks of the saloon business for Charles:

"Last Saturday afternoon about 2 o'clock, a young man named William Blakeslee entered Chas. Kesselmeyer's saloon on the Ottawa and Defiance Pike in East Defiance and called for something to drink.  He became somewhat under the influence of liquor.  The bar keeper, John Kesselmeyer, thought it best to refuse him, stating that he had already had a goodly supply.  This so enraged the young man that when Charles Kesselmeyer approached him, entreating him in a mild manner to desist from asking for more drinks, he dealt a furious blow at his head with a large stave knife.  Mr. Kesselmeyer evaded the blow and caught the knife with his right hand, sustaining a terrible gash in the palm of the right hand.  Then Blakeslee attempted to attack other persons present, but was finally cooled down at the muzzle of a revolver.  Blakeslee was arrested and placed under custody, but was afterward released under $500 bond.  His trial will take place next Saturday.  Kesselmeyer's hand is doing well under the circumstances."

The 1900 census taker found Charles, 65, and Rebecca, 66, living in the Fourth Ward of Defiance.  Charles was still working as a saloon keeper.  They reported having eight children in their forty-four years of marriage, and eight were still living.  Finally, by 1910, Charles, 74, and Rebecca, 76, were living with their daughter, Mary E., 43, and her son, Gerald E. Myers, 14.  Mary E. had been widowed.  Charles noted that he was the President of a mineral water works - still the entrepreneur.  

Charles died in January, 1917, while Rebecca lived on until 1928.

Pneumonia Proves Fatal to Man Who Served Four Years in Civil War.

Charles Kesselmayer, aged 81, veteran of the civil war, who was stricken with pneumonia last Sunday, was unable to withstand the ravages of the ailment and on Monday evening at 8 o'clock, he breathed his last, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. H. E. Myers, 521 Park avenue.

The deceased fell one week ago while enroute to his bed room, and he suffered a severe jar.  Lumbago set in and that weakened the venerable man to such an extent that he proved a ready victim when the more serious ailment - pneumonia - developed.

Mr. Kesselmayer served four years in the civil war and he participated in some of the hardest campaigns and battles that marked that destructive struggle.  He was with the gallant command of union soldiers who marched with General Sherman on that memorable route to the sea.

Served Two Enlistments.

The deceased served as member of the 68th O.V.I. and when his term of enlistment expired with the war unsettled,he re-enlisted in the 10th Ohio Cavalry.  He was a member of the G.A.R.

Mr. Kesselmayer was born in Baden Baden, Germany, April 23, 1835, and with his parents, came to Cleveland 10 years later.  His father was a medical practitioner in the Forest City.

The deceased went to School Creek, Henry County, in 1856, and there was married to Miss Rebecca Herman Deckrosh, who survives him.  The family lived on the Henry county farm until 1874, when Defiance became the place of residence.  In this city, Mr. Kesselmayer was, for many years, engaged in the grocery business.  He retired from active business several years ago and had lived a retired life ever since.  At the time of his death, Mr. Kesselmayer was interested in a local mineral water establishment.

In addition to the aged widow, there survive the following children: Henry Kesselmayer of Cleveland, Mrs. H. E. Myers and Josper (Joseph) Kesselmayer of Defiance and Mrs. Rose Hendershot of Detroit.

The remains were taken to the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Kesselmayer on Hopkins street this afternoon, and from that home, funeral services will be held Wednesday afternoon at 2 o'clock.  Members of Bishop Post, G.A.R. will have charge of the services."

Defiance Democrat - January 18, 1917

Brothers-In-Arms Carry Remains to Final Depository.

Funeral services for the late Charles Kesselmayer were held Wednesday afternoon at 2 o'clock at the residence of Joseph Kesselmayer, on Hopkins street, with many relatives and friends in attendance.

The last rites were conducted by Rev. Mr. Kiess of St. John's Lutheran church who dwelt to some extent on the excellent war record of the deceased and his many fine traits of character as disclosed during his long residence in this city.

Selections appropriate to the occasion such as 'Abide With Me' and 'Rock of Ages' were sung by Mrs. Gertrude Sutphen and Miss Bess Woodward, with Mrs. Marie Friedlich presiding at the piano.

At the conclusion of the regular church service, members of G.A.R. post conducted the beautiful ceremony prescribed in the ritual of that order for departed members.  Men who had been his brothers during the Civil War carried the remains to the final resting place at Riverside cemetery."

Defiance Democrat - January 25, 1917


 (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!)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Brunersburg School, Noble Township

The Brunersburg School, sometimes known as "The Burg," was located in Brunersburg on Haller Road in about the middle of Section 15.  District #5 (Later District #4) had several different locations in Brunersburg.  The one room school that was there was relocated and rebuilt after a tornado went through on March 28, 1920. The small school was completely destroyed.  In 1921, four lots were purchased from Charles Smith and the ground was made ready for a new school.  

Four transcriptions taken from souvenir school booklets:

Brunersburg School, District No. 5, Noble Township, Defiance County, Ohio
Summer Term Commencing April 6, Ending June 26, 1897

John F. Dowe, Director
S. I. Gruner, Teacher 

Girls - Alice Leaders, Flo Dowe, Stella Goddard, Nellie Goddard, Minnie Smith, Emma Smith, Ella Felley, Anna Ashbaugh, Grace Chaney, Mary Mack, Alice Lero, Cora Beck, Georgia Lower, Beatrice Dowe, Hazel Hilton, Carrie Dowe, Deetta Goddard, Loda Myers, Ida Pfeifle, Pearl Dowe, Carrie Haller, Hattie Worthington, Fern Mack, Rena Hayward

Boys - Charley Smith, David Lower, Johnny Beck, Alvie Beck, Joe Lero, Will Lero, Clarence Felley, Earl Goddard, Charley Lehman, Roy Lower, Dick Hilton, Harry Lower, Johnny Ashbaugh, Charley Dowe, Frank Smith, Joe Brown, Joe Brown


Brunersburg School, District No. 5, Noble Township, Defiance County, Ohio
Term - Oct. 2, 1899 to Feb. 23, 1900

John F. Dowe, Director and Member of School Board
James Haller, Sub-Director
F. W. Smith, Sub-Director
Frank L. Wisda, Teacher

Girls  - Vidia N. Gyer, Mary M. Hiler, Bea Dowe, Grace Cheney, Anna L. Mack, Carrie Dowe, Stella Goddard, Mable L. Myers, Cora Shaffer, Emma Speaker, Ida May Mock, Emma C. Smith, Myrtie Gyer, Hazel Hilton,Georgia Williamson, E. Louisia Jordan, Carra Haller, Pearl Dowe, Josephine Hiler, Katie Lero, Mary G. Mack, Alice Lero,L. Deette Goddard, Fern A. Mack

Boys - Joseph Lero, Marriett E. Schoonover, Dick H. Hilton, Maynard H. Jordan, Joseph A. Brown, Sylas Williamson, Grover Castner, Karl T. Schoonover, Walter Arnholt, John Lero, Charlie Dowe, Earl F. Goddard, Frank A. Smith, Charles Smith, Fred Mack, William Lero, Walter Smith, Frank W. Gyer

Tornado damage in Brunersburg, 1920


Brunersburg Public School, District No. 4, Noble Township, Defiance Co., Ohio
1909 - 1910

Helen Ashbacher, Teacher

1st Grade - Ferne Hetz, Frank Mattocks, Helen Dowe, Lester Hanna, Agnes Hiler, Clifford Harmon, Helen Helfrich, Lester Hetz, Henry Lers, Dorothy Grogg, Alma Hanna, Olive Grogg, Eugene Decker, Carrie Leaders

2d Grade - Ellen Leaders, Gertrude Kehnast, Elsie Mattock, Frederick Ratzlaff, Claude Buckmaster, Louis Aschbacher, Mary Figley, Blanche Fokler, Nellie Miller, Charley Ratzlaff, Hillard Koeppe

3d Grade - Clara Helfrich, Gladys Hanna, Edward Shaffer, Leone Leaders, Tony Hiler, Clarence Helfrich

4th Grade - Eli Clark, Louis Hanna, Marie Figley, Caroline Lero, Mary Goddard, Clarence Hanna, Paul Koeppe, Margaret Hiler, Clara Ratzlaff, Helen Mattoch

8th Grade - Hazel Clark, Mildred Chaney, Clayton Shaffer, Louisa Goddard, Howard Deckrosh, George Lero


Brunersburg Public School, District No. 4, Noble Township, Defiance Co., Ohio
1910 - 1911

Helen Ashbacher, Teacher

1st Grade - Marv Ratzlaff, Harmon Leaders, Helen Potterf, Mabel Shaffer, Bernard Decker, Hazel Acus

2nd Grade - Carrie Leaders, Helen Helfrich, Dorothy Grogg, Nellie Miller, Lester Hanna, Raymond Acus, Eugene Decker, Oliver Grogg, Alma Hanna, Helen Dowe, Agnes Hiler, Gladys Miller, Clifford Harmon, Clarence Acus, Arthur Fokler, John Potterf

3rd Grade - Ellen Leaders, Gertrude Kenhast, Louis Aspacher, Claude Buckmaster, Mary Figley, Allen Royer, Charley Ratzlaff, Fred Ratzlaff

4th Grade - Leone Leaders, Mary Goddard, Anthony Hiler, Edward Shaffer, Gladys Hanna, Clara Helfrich, Clarrence Helfrich, Clarence Potterf

7th Grade - Albert Mack, Charley Royer, Clarence Hanna, Clara Ratzlaff

8th Grade - Hazel Clark, Mildred Chaney, Marie Figley, Mary Boyer, Clayton Shaffer, Eli Clark  

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Catching the Wool Thieves in Farmer Township

When wool and grain began disappearing in Farmer Township in 1898, Mr. Tomlinson decided to try to set a trap to catch the villains.  Did it work?


The Petty Thieves Take Wool From Mr. W. S. Tomlinson

When Marketed It Was Identified and a Family of Heretofore Good Standing Are Charged With the Crime. 

Farmer township farmers have been trouble for some years past with petty thieving, and now they have a case on hand which bids fair to prove serious for the alleged thieves.

On the 8th of May, during the night season, someone broke into the granary of W. S. Tomlinson and stole a number of fleeces of wool.  On the 31st of May, Mrs. James Crary, of that neighborhood, and her daughter, Grace, drove to Defiance and marketed some wool at H. P. Miller's.  They sold that wool in the name of Brown and had the check given by Mr. Miller in payment drawn to Grace Brown.  On the same day, Mrs. Crary and daughter sold a small amount of wheat to the Maumee Valley Milling company and that transaction was conducted in the name of Mrs. Brown.

The Crarys were suspected of having stolen the wool, and accordingly, Mr. Tomlinson and his neighbor, Mr. Beattie, came to Defiance last Thursday to investigate.  They called upon the H. P. Miller company and related the circumstances and stated that they believed it was Mr. Tomlinson's wool which had been sold there by the Crarys.  They further explained that when Mr. Tomlinson sheared his sheep, he wrote his name upon slips of paper and placed one of the slips inside of each fleece.  They then looked over the stock of wool and picked out some fleeces which they believed had been stolen from Mr. T. and opened them, when, sure enough, they found the tell tale slips of paper bearing his name inside each one.

Mr. Tomlinson then went before Justice of the Peace, Edwin Phelps and made affidavit, upon which warrants were issued for Mrs. Crary, her daughter, Grace, and son, Hugh, on the charge of burglary and larceny.  Sheriff Elser was directed to serve the warrant for the arrest of the accused and he at once drove up to Farmer township and placed them under arrest.  

Today they came before Justice Phelps and plead not guilty and were held in the sum of $300 to appear before the next grand jury.  Mr. Crary was sent for to come down and sign their bond.

It is not thought that Mr. Crary is in any way connected with the crime.  He was up in Indiana at a little lake fishing on the day the wool was brought here and sold.  

The Crary family are prominent and quite well-to-do farmers of Farmer township, having heretofore gone in good society and their accusation creates quite a sensation."

Defiance Democrat - June 9, 1898

The gossips carried the news and in the same paper, the Farmer Center reporter sent in this account of the uproar.  Why would the Crarys risk their good reputation?

"Williams Center is all torn up over the arrest of Mrs. James Crary, daughter and son, Hugh.  W. S. Tomlinson had some wool stolen the night of the eighth of May.  Mr. Tomlinson had before suffered from wool thieves and prepared for them this time by marking his wool,and the marked fleeces were found to be the ones sold to H. P. Miller, of Defiance, the 31st of May by Mrs. Crary and daughter Grace.  Mr. Crary owns a good farm and is in good circumstances.  Why will people jeopardize their characters for such paltry sums as a few fleeces of wool would bring?  Or why at all?" 

It appeared that Fred Crary (who may or may not be the same as Hugh Crary) was the one responsible for the thefts, but his mother and sister then marketed the goods.

The Young Man Who Stole the Wool Is In Jail.

Fred Crary, the young man who was indicted by the recent grand jury on the charge of burglary, in taking wool from the granary of W. S. Tomlinson, of Farmer township, a few weeks ago, came into the city Tuesday morning (and) delivered himself up to Sheriff Elser, who placed him in jail to await trial.

The Sheriff has been pretty warm on the track of young Crary for several days past, which undoubtedly caused the latter to decide upon his course.  He saw that his capture was inevitable and a matter of but a little time, and therefore concluded to end the chase.

His case, and that of his mother and sister, who were indicted for receiving and selling the stolen wool, will probably be disposed of at this term of court."

So far, the fates of Mrs. Crary and Grace have not been discovered, but Fred paid a dear price.

"Fred Crary, the young man who stole the wool from W. S. Tomlinson a few weeks ago, pleaded guilty of burglary in Common Pleas Court this morning and was sentenced to 18 months in the penitentiary."


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Garman School, Defiance Township - 1932-1933

The Garman School was located in Section 10 of Defiance Township.  The photo depicts how it appeared in 1932-1933.

 The teacher in 1932 - 1933 was Velma Shuler.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Defiance County Pioneers - Martha Rethmel Sullinger


Mrs. Martha Sullinger, daughter of Ezra and Mary Rethmel, was born in Lycoming county, Penn., July 21, 1829, and died August 27, 1899, aged 70 years, 1 month and 6 days.

When the subject of our sketch was but a child, her father died, and when 13 years old, she came, with her widowed mother, Mrs. Mary Rethmell and family to Tiffin township, then Williams county, Ohio, to the farm where Mrs. Rethmell lived until her death in 1867.  They moved from Lycoming county, Penn. to this place in a covered wagon drawn by a team of three horses.  It was before the canal was completed or a railroad was ever thought of being built, and except along the rivers, there were but few clearings in the dense woods that covered the northwestern part of Ohio

The journey occupied about four weeks.  As was the custom then at the close of each day, stopping at some house where the tam could be fed and where they could have the privilege of cooking their own meals and buying provisions when the supply they had with them gave out, as occasion demanded.  Bringing in bedding from their wagon and spreading it upon the floor of those old fashioned hospitable homes for comfortable rest for the women and children, the boys sleeping in the wagon.  Sometimes these householders would ask small pay for their trouble; at other places accepting nothing, feeling rewarded with the conversation and the news and incidents of the journey related by the travelers.  Such hospitality was extended to other home seekers by Mrs. Rethmel at her home in Tiffin township,  and by her son, Thomas Rethmel on the same old homestead, especially had the travelers no money to pay at other places.  This was the case with all of the old pioneers along the Maumee and Tiffin Rivers, welcoming every newcomer as their kin, knowing the hardships each had to bear.  

Food must be procured by toil from the earth partially cleared,many stumps of trees standing in the few small fields, or in hunting game in the woods, taking the grain to the mill long distances, there being one grist mill at Brunersburg, another on the St. Joseph, and then having to wait their turn, perhaps requiring a second journey for a bushel or two.

Clothing must be provided by care of and watching the few sheep that escaped the depredation of the many wolves and by sowing flax.  After the shearing of the sheep, the wool must be picked free of dirt by hand, corded, spun, dyed and made into garments, of warmth and goodness all at each home.  The flax, cut and tendered, broke and hatched, spun for thread and woven into cloth of coarse and fine quality.  So the men and women of those days in this township and country were inured to toil.  

The country, being undrained, the water soaked the ground every summer and fall, there was much sickness.  Then those kind neighbors would again as one family aid in ministering to the sick and sorrowfully bury their dead.  The every day life of the hard working Pioneers was enlivened by a gathering at a log rolling or a house or barn raising when all were invited.  The women to help cook the dinner, and the men to work, which they did with good will.  The few schools of short duration, two or three months in the winter, perhaps six weeks or none in the summer.

Consoled by the word of God, read in every house, preached in dwellings or school houses at long intervals, and discussed and understood as doctrines of scripture by the Pioneers taught and obeyed.  Their religious life was shown in the performance of duty showing love to God and neighbor.

The youth of Mrs. Sullinger was passed amid such scenes, and since she was married, living in the village of Evansport, she has seen the wonderful change made in the advancement of over half a century of progress.

Her husband, Rolla D. Sullinger, to whom she was married, Aug. 5, 1847, and died Sept 19, 1874, was also one of the pioneer families and was noted for an attendance at funerals.  When there was a death in the neighborhood, he was generally called on to dig the grave; cheerfully leaving his work without any desire for or expectation of pay; he felt that it was an act of pity and therefore gave his service to aid the bereaved.

Through her long and wearisome illness at her home with her daughter, Mrs. R. S. Heatley, everything had been done that the kind attention of her children and grandchildren could do, aided by willing friends and physicians to alleviate her distress and soothe her pathway to the grave.  During her life while in youth and health, she gave her soul into the keeping of Christ and her name to the M. E. church in Evansport 55 years ago.  Her life has been that of a consistent Christian woman in all her relations.

Not much can be read on this old tombstone located in Evansport Cemetery.  www.findagrave.com

She departed this life leaving two children, Mrs. R. S. Heatley and Mrs. W. R. Replogle, a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren and a large circle of friends to mourn her departure."

Defiance Democrat -  September 7, 1899.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Monday, January 11, 2016

Salome Nicely, Confederate Soldier

After reading about Salome Nicely's burial and eventual exhumation on Dave's History Blog, my interest was piqued.  I had to know more about this Confederate veteran of the Civil War who ended up in Defiance County, Ohio, buried in Moats Cemetery near Sherwood.

Salome was actually born in Virginia on September 6, 1831, and lived there along with his parents, Jacob and Elizabeth Armentrout Nicely.  A native of Rockbridge County, Virginia, Salome attended the Virginia Military Institute for one year.  According to the VMI archives, Salome was in the class of 1860.

Virginia seceded from the Union in April, 1861.  On July 6, 1861, Salome enlisted in Company H, 25th Virginia Infantry, at Richmond Mountain, West Virginia.  He was 23 years old and listed his occupation as farmhand.

His service was cut short by a wound in the left leg, obtained in the Battle of Allegheny Mountain on December 13, 1861.  

  The Confederates were at the summit of the mountain at  Camp Allegheny where they could protect the road that went up deeper into Virginia.  The Union was in sight for months before the actual battle erupted in December.

Confederate loss, 20 killed, 98 wounded, 28 missing, total 146. Read about the battle here.

In the 1861 records for Private Nicely, he was said to be slightly wounded.  Eventually he was sent home and throughout in the records, he is marked as absent. 

By this 1863 record, it is noted that he lost his leg because of his wound.  

After being wounded, Salome returned to Virginia and is enumerated there in 1870 with his parents at Kerrs Creek, Rockbridge County, Virginia.  Jacob and Elizabeth, 61, his parents were joined by Salome, 30; William, 22; Jacob G., 18, and Jane Stuart, 21, and Alice Robinson, cook.

 In 1873, Salome, along with his father, Jacob, and brother, William P. (William Philander), went to California and registered as voters there in Tulare County, Farmersville.  All three were listed as farmers. At some point, Salome, at least, returned home.

By 1880, he was living in Washington Township, Defiance County, Ohio with Mary Byers, 41, and her children: Harriet, 22; Frank, 17; John, 12 and Clara, 10.  Salome Nicely was single, aged 39, and working as a farmer.  Mary was listed as keeping house. Neither was listed as head of the household, although it would be assumed Mary was, as she was listed first.  

Next door was Jacob Nicely, 27 and his son, Oney, 1. The age difference between Jacob and Salome determined by the 1870 census, indicated that this was probably Salome's brother.  Why was Salome staying with Mary, rather than his brother?  Wouldn't that have been rather scandalous for the times? Or did the enumerator make a mistake?

A few years later, Mary and Salome were married on December 26, 1882.  It was reported in the Defiance County Express on January 5, 1883, that Salome Nicely had married Mrs. Mary E. Byers of Sherwood, Ohio.  Once again, Salome was ready for a move.  The couple moved to California and Salome was listed as a voter in the 1888 Ventura County Voter Registration Book.  Salome Nicely, 50, born in Virginia, a teacher, lived in the Santa Paula precinct.

What happened to this marriage?  Did Salome want to come home and Mary did not?  For whatever reason, Salome did come back to Defiance County and he filed for divorce in 1894. Mary stayed in California. The legal notice appeared for six weeks in local newspapers.
"Mary E. Nicely, whose residence is Santa Paula, county of Ventura and state of California, will take notice that on the 26th day of September 1894, in the court of common pleas of Defiance county, Ohio, where that action is now pending, being case No. 6104, the undersigned, Salome Nicely, filed his petition against the said Mary E. Nicely, praying for a divorce from her, alleging gross neglect of duty and wilful absence of the said Mary Nicely from said complainant without just cause for three years past..."

Salome Nicely died on August 6, 1899, alone..  

 Mary stayed in the Santa Paula, California home and ran a boarding house there.  She appeared in both the 1900 and 1910 censuses there as a widow.  By 1910, she had only one child living.

Salome Nicely was mentioned in the May 31, 1923, Defiance Democrat, when his grave was decorated for Memorial Day.  In 1940, an application was made for a military headstone for his grave.

Defiance Democrat, May 31,1923