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Friday, March 30, 2018

A Memory of Olan Smith

**An addition has been made at the end of the post.

Today one look at an old newspaper article brought back so many memories of times at Ney Junior High when Olan Smith served as principal.  As a new teacher there in 1973, it took awhile to catch on to his dry wit and solemn face, followed quickly by the smallest of smiles...a "gotcha" smile.  Very well liked by faculty and students, he had the respect of all, and most of the time, his big hand on a shoulder could quiet the most boisterous of students.

At the time, maybe because I was not from the area, I didn't realize what a full and multi-faceted life he had led up until the time he came to Ney Junior High in 1958.  Olan graduated from Sherwood High School in 1940 where he was an outstanding baseball and basketball player.  

He was a also a star basketball player at Defiance College.  His career was interrupted, however, when DC suspended athletics in 1943, while many of their male students were drafted or volunteered for the military.  Olan was one of them, serving in Europe two years with the 45th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army, earning a bronze star.

After the military, he came back to Defiance and gave Defiance College an outstanding basketball season during 1945-1946.  For two years running, they were the highest scoring college in the state and Olan one of the highest scorers.

He loved sports and played baseball for many years at all levels of the game.
On July 6, 1946, the Defiance Crescent News reported this:

Olan Smith of Sherwood today had signed a contract with the St. Louis Browns and is expecting to join the Browns farm club, Springfield, Illinois, in the Three Eye League soon.
Smith graduated from Defiance College this spring after starring in basketball on resuming a war-interrupted cage career.
He has been playing first base with the Fort Wayne City Lights this summer and had the impossible batting average of .498 when the Browns got his name on the dotted line."
This article from the Bryan Democrat, 1948, was recently sent to me, and it's a wonderful outline of his career prior to Ney Junior High and after the Browns.

 What a life he had before settling down and earning his Masters Degree at Indiana University and taking the job as principal!  He was gone all too soon - in October, 1974 - and he was sorely missed.

**AN UPDATE - September 4, 2018
Thanks to Deb C. who contributed this article written by School Superintendent at the time, D. E. Jones.  It appeared in the Fairview High School school newspaper, The War Whoop a few weeks after Mr. Smith's death in 1974. 

'Smitty was a great person.'  Those were the words that John Broden, former Fort Wayne baseball manager and coach, used to describe Olan Smith.  Olan had played baseball in Fort Wayneunder the watchful eye of Mr. Broden in the late 40s and 50s.

Mr. Broden's five word summary of Olan's life has been repeated many, many times in the past two weeks.  Olan was more than a teacher, coach, or school principal; he was a special type of person.

Olan was special in that he enjoyed making other people laugh.  His dry humor was always evident, whether it was in the classroom, on the athletic field, at the toastmaster's table or in conversation with friends.

Olan was special in that he had ore than just a flickering interest in young people.  He had a strong sense of dedication to the students who went through the  Ney Junior High School.  He knew the students, took an interest in their lives, and was always more than willing to give of his time, energy, and knowledge to bring about successful solutions to their problems.

Each student was something special to Olan.  He had a memory for specific events that took place in the lives of those students and teachers who were under his direction.  Without hesitation, he could relate humorous events that had taken place in the lives of students back to 1947 when he launched his teaching and coaching career at the Edon High School.

Olan was special in that he maintained a positive approach to life.  He was an optimist in every sense of the word.  The tendency for most of us in the day and age in which we are living is to be pessimistic, cynical, and critical of everyone and everything.  Olan could always see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.  He seemed to have the unusual ability of giving reassurance and security to those whose lives were in disarray.

We hear considerable comment that no longer do people take pride in their work and their accomplishments.  Here again, Olan was a special type of person.  He was enthusiastic toward his job and he took great pride in the accomplishment of the teachers who taught under his supervision and the students who learned under his direction.  'Smitty' was a proud person, but humility was the cornerstone of this life.

Olan will no longer drive his green truck into the FV drive, enter the office and say, 'I want all of you to know I have my specialist's degree.  Mr. Superintendent, do you have yours?'  No longer will he give the orders on the parking lot at the football games; no longer will he stand at the end of the gymnasium during the basketball games and give his weekly reminder to the superintendent that he was the first to be elected to the Defiance College Hall of Fame.

Yes, Smitty was a great person.  His life will long be an inspiration to the people who had the blessing of knowing him and working with him.  The greatest tribute we can pay to Olan Smith is to permit his humor, optimism, and humility to penetrate each of our lives.

In the weeks, months, and years that lie ahead, the name of Olan Smith will not fade into oblivion.  As time passes by, we will see that Olan Smith was a great teacher, an outstanding school administrator, and above all, a good Christian man.   D.E. Jones"

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The German Methodist Episcopal and Baptists in Defiance, Ohio

From the Defiance Democrat, July 26, 1894...an article describing the beautiful churches and cemeteries of Defiance, Ohio

The Baptist Church

"The first Baptist services were held in Defiance in 1846 by Rev. James French, who was a missionary sent out by the Baptist convention of the state of Ohio.  The church was organized April 15th, 1846, and on April 16th, Rev. James Ward was ordained pastor.  Rev. A. L. Jordan is pastor at the present time.

During the intervening years, a number of different ministers had charge of the church.  The Baptists are now building a new church which will be quite elaborate and beautiful when completed and will be located on Wayne street. "

First Baptist Church on Wayne Street - Historic Homes calendar 2011

"The German Methodist Episcopal church of Defiance was founded in 1850. Services were held previous to this in the school room.  The church was built in 1857 under the administration of Rev. Ruff and cost $700.  

The bell was presented to the church by the Presbyterian congregation.  The interior is quite neat.  The walls and ceiling are prettily papered.  The pews and pulpit are of oak.  In 1860 the parsonage was built at a cost of $300, Rev. J. Braun being pastor at the time."


Monday, March 26, 2018

The Defiance City Zoo

A zoo in Defiance?  Why not?  In the 1930s, Mike Schultz, who was eventually named zookeeper, Police Chief Karl Weaner, and fireman, Raymond Schultz began a city zoo "on the old canal property at the rear of city hall," according to one source.  
It seemed to be the project of the local fire department, but animals were donated to the zoo from many folks, both local and from afar.

Silver pheasant
One of the first animals obtained by Weaner and Schultz in 1936 was a hoot owl.  Later in 1937, a pair of silver pheasants were added, along with a pair of lovebirds.  The lovebirds were first housed in a cage in the police station, and were obtained from a friend of Schultz in Connersville, Indiana.

A local newspaper reported on November 13, 1937, that an enlarged cage was ready for "Tom" and "Jerry," two bears at the city zoo that were donated by the Hi-Speed Oil Company.  Their cage was made from steel railings from the old Second Street bridge.  Also a pair of foxes were given a hollow log as part of their new home.  In December, a black raccoon was donated by the Defiance Fish and Game, and Wayne Traxler of Delaware Bend donated a goat.

Black raccoon
In 1938, the Toledo Zoo encouraged
the Defiance group to start a zoo membership drive for the local zoo.  Nice membership cards were given out and punched at each zoo visit.  The local newspaper reported that 
"Considerable expense is involved in feeding and caring for twenty animals and twenty-five birds.  The zoo now numbers two black bears, three monkeys, two raccoons, two badgers, two foxes, two coyotes, one gopher and six guinea pigs.  Several beautifully plumaged pheasants are included among the birds"

Eventually that year, four alligators, a pair of bluejays and another monkey came to live at the zoo.  Fred Seghist, game protector of Fulton County, presented the two badgers to Mike Schultz.  Forrest Bidlack of Continental sold the zoo a rhesus monkey, named "Maggie," eleven months old.  At that time the zoo had one ringtail monkey, "Philbert," and three females.  Paul Degler, Clarence, Elmer and Charles Retcher, of Holgate, donated another fox.

At one time, the zoo had a lion cub that eventually was sent to Toledo Zoo when it became too large.
Still, in 1938, new animals were added and a new cage was built for a squirrel colony. But news of the zoo tapered off after that.  How and when the zoo met its demise is unknown right now.  

Rhesus monkey

Maybe someone can provide more information on that.  Please comment or email if you can!


Friday, March 23, 2018

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

Charles Crane was an adventurer in many ways, including serving an extended term with the U.S. Cavalry, and settling in the Ohio Veterans' Colony in Georgia.  Born in Warren County, Ohio, to Elihu Crane and Malinda Snook on April 20, 1845, his father died sometime between 1850 and 1860.

In the 1860 census of Union Township, Warren Township, Ohio, Charles Crane, 14, lived with his widowed mother, Melinda, 43, and seven siblings, ranging from age 23 to age 1.  It must have been a very difficult life for the family.  Perhaps out of sense of duty or maybe to help his family, Charles Crane enlisted at the age of 15 or 16 into the Second U.S. Cavalry as a Private.  He was definitely underage.

Enlisting on December 19, 1862, he served in Company L of the U.S. Artillery until July, 1864, reenlisted into Company A of the Second Cavalry and served there until November, 1865.  He served throughout the East, attached to different units. In July, 1863, the cavalry would be found in Gettysburg. On July 3rd, they attacked the Confederate right and rear for four hours before a heavy rain stopped the action.  A monument stands in Gettysburg honoring their participation.

At the end of the war, the U.S.4th Cavalry beckoned him to join on December 2, 1866 into Company I where he served until October 2, 1871.  The 4th Cavalry was sent to Texas where they protected the mail riders and helped settle the Indians.  In February, 1871, they fought against the Commanches and Kiowa in Indian Territory, hoping to place the Indians on their reservations.

On November 25, 1872, Charles enlisted into the 6th Cavalry, Company B and served until November 25, 1877, then reenlisting for the last time on January 2, 1878, and serving until September 8, 1878. Some of his enlistments were in the infantry; he was dedicated to being a soldier. He served sixteen years in the U.S. Cavalry, Infantry and Artillery through war and Western living, and he reported no disabilities on the 1890 Veterans Census.

Charles moved back home with his mother in Warren County, and that's where the census enumerator found him in 1880.  Charles was reported as 35, and he was not working at the time.  His brothers, Irwin, 31, and Walter D., 26, both worked as farmhands and also lived at home.

He married Rea Young on April 1, 1884, in Warren County, Ohio.
Charles signed his mark, not his signature.
This marriage was short-lived, as Rea apparently died sometime before 1886. On May 20, 1886, Charles married Margaret (nee Corrigan) Conway, a widow with children, in Warren County. 

Charles moved to Defiance before 1890, when he appeared in that veterans census.  Always the adventurer, he learned of a colony being formed in Georgia for Union veterans where they could clear land and probably obtain it cheaply.  Called the Ohio Colony, it appealed to the veteran who came home with little to build a life with, as it held promise for the ownership of a nice farm.  On October 15, 1895, the Defiance Daily Crescent reported:

"Charles Crane left this morning for Swan, Ga. where he joins the Ohio colony and will make his future home.  While enroute, he will stop at Atlanta and visit the Exposition.  Mr. Crane's many friends wish him success in his future home."  

His wife, Margaret joined him in early 1896.  The colony eventually failed because, despite all of the promises of the paradise of the south, the northern soldiers soon found out that the land was very poor, some swampy, the insects were a huge detriment to work, and it was expensive to clear the land and build. Mr. O. Dyerman and family of Defiance also went to this Ohio Colony, with Mr. Dyerman as the person in charge.

By 1900, Charles and Margaret were back in Defiance, living at 415 Summit Street.  She had six children and four living.   Charley Crane, 55, and Margaret, 53, were joined by Margaret's children - Mollie Conway, 30, a milliner; George Conway, 27; and Eddie Conway, 23.  Margaret died in 1905 and her obituary appeared in the Defiance Express on February 27, 1905.

 Mrs. Margaret Crane, wife of Charles Crane, died Sunday afternoon at her home on Summit street in the city.  She was born Margaret Corrigan in King's County, Ireland, in 1845.  When five years of age, with her parents, she moved to the United States, going immediately to Lebanon, Warren County where she resided for many years.
In 1862, she was married to Mr. Conway by whom she had five children, all now living.  They are Mrs. Charles Riley and Edward Conway of Youngstown, George Conway of Ashland, Wisconsin, and Mrs. Margaret Conway of Chicago.*
A sister, Miss Mary Corrigan, of this city, also survives her.
She was married to Mr. Crane eighteen years ago at Lebanon, but for fifteen years, they resided in this city.
Her death occurred after four months of suffering from a complication of diseases.  The funeral will be held tomorrow at. St. John's Catholic church.  Rev. Gloden will conduct the service.  The interment will be in Riverside Cemetery."

In 1908, Charles married Orpha (nee Todd) Roberts, another widow with children.  They settled into 624 Ravine Avenue, Defiance.

Charles and Orpha lived, in 1910, with her children, Orea E. Roberts, 20, who worked in a steel factory; Delia N. Roberts, 15, who was a turner in a mattress factory; and Lawrence Roberts, 12.  Charles had no occupation listed.

Charles Crane died the next year on July 28, 1911. His obituary could not be located. A funeral notice related his service was held at his home and then at the U.B. Church, with interment at Riverside Cemetery.  Pall bearers were Adam Hall, W. H. Ashton, C. G. Robinson, N. Hardesty, P. Osborne, and J. Krontz.

His third wife, Orpha Todd Roberts Crane married again at fifty to William E. Garrett on May 2, 1914, in Mt. Pleasant Michigan. 

(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, March 21, 2018

A Closer Look at the G.A.R. Marker

We probably have all seen the
metal markers of the Grand Army of
the Republic on tombstones in local
cemeteries.  They mark the service
of those Civil War soldiers who left
their homes and farms to fight in
the war.

Although there are some
different varieties of markers, the most common is shown below.  Sometimes the center of the star would hold the number of the GAR post, and occasionally the word "veteran" would appear, too.  But the star points remain the same.

Each point of the star contains symbolism marking the five arms of the military at that time.  Number 1 shows the crossed muskets to represent the Marines.  The Artillery is represented on point 2 by crossed cannons and musket balls.

The third point of the star stands for the Infantry, designated by the bugle.  The anchor on point 4 is the anchor for the Navy, and the last point, number 5, shows the crossed sabers of the Calvary.

The first G.A.R. commander declared in 1868 that every May 30 be known as Memorial Day to honor the deceased from the war.  It was not long before it became a day to value all the soldiers from every war and an annual remembrance.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Taking the Pontoon Bridge to Island Park

"Here is the pontoon bridge that connected old Island Park with the south bank of the Maumee River.  It was a pedestrian bridge that was removed in the winter.  The street car line came down to the bluff on the south side of the river where there was a wooden platform and stairs part way down the bank.

Photo donated for this article by Mrs. Roy C. Miller
If you look hard enough, you can see the trolley poles and a street car on the top of the bank.  Those who came in buggies tied their horses at the end of Buckeye St.  The street car track was just west of the present Children's home.

When the car was packed, which often happened during baseball games and the annual Chautauqua, folks had to get out and help push the car up the hill.  Nobody cared as the fare was only five cents.  That included the thrill of going over the Preston run trestle which was supposed to be unsafe, but is still there under the dirt of the fill.

ISLAND PARK was quite a resort.  It had an auditorium that seated 700 and in which stock companies frequently played.  The Chautauqua programs and various other events took place there.  William Jennings Bryan spoke from its stage.

There was a baseball park, a quarter mile race track, bowling alley, restaurant, penny arcade, and camping facilities on Preston Island.  The park was operated by W. P. Engel, who owned the Defiance Street Railway.

The 1913 flood wiped the park clean of all buildings and poeple stood on the bridge over the Maumee at Napoleon and watched the wooded horses from the Island Park merry-go-round go downstream."

Source: Lloyd Tuttle, "A Backward Glance," undated newspaper clipping from the Defiance Crescent-News.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Joseph S. Ash - G.A.R., Bishop Post

Joseph S. Ash spent his early years in Paint Township, Holmes County, Ohio, part of the large family of Josiah and Nancy Ash.  His father was a rather well-to-do farmer, according to the 1850 and 1860 censuses.  In 1860, Joseph, at 14, was one of ten children at home.

On March 5, 1865, he enlisted as a private in Company F, 19th Ohio Infantry. His time of service was mainly spent on garrison duty in eastern Tennessee, then New Orleans, and finally Texas.  He mustered out about a month before the rest of his unit at San Antonio, Texas in September, 1865

In 1866, he married Jane Swan and together they had five children: Ida, Olive, Emmet, Carry, and William Ohio, as listed on the 1900 census.  Joseph was a miller by trade and he traveled around while honing his craft before settling in at Defiance, Ohio.  In 1870, the family was in Sandyville, Tuscarawas County, and the 1880 census enumerator found the family in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County.

By 1900, he and Jane (also called Jennie) had moved into a house at 682 Jefferson Street with Edith (another name for one of the daughters) Gayman, 32, a widow, and her two children, Florence and Edmond, and Joseph's son, William Ash, 24, a machinist.  Joseph was a miller, in fact, the head miller at the Defiance Mills (also called the Maumee Valley Mills).  He became head miller in July, 1895, when the former head miller, John Heale, returned to Quincy, Illinois, according to one of the local newspapers.

In 1901, The Defiance Weekly Express reported on May 16: 
"Ernest Eitnier and a young man named Roehrig are having a hearing before Squire Costello this afternoon on a charge of assault and battery preferred by Joseph S. Ash, head miller of the Defiance Mills."  No follow up on this case could be found.

In May, 1901, also, Mrs. Jane (Jennie) Ash passed away from the "grippe," a term for influenza.

 By 1910, Joseph had left his home and moved in with Clyde and Florence Manchester at 802 Second Street.  Joseph, 64, was listed as a boarder.  Sometime between 1910 and 1920, he pulled up stakes in Defiance and went to Portland, Oregon, where two of his children had settled.  In 1920, he was enumerated on the census with his son, William, 43, and wife, Marie, and their two daughters in Portland, Oregon.

Joseph S. Ash died on January 28, 1922, at the age of 76 and was buried at the Multnomah Park Cemetery in Portland, Oregon.  A short funeral notice appeared in The Sunday Oregonian, Portland, Oregon, on January 29, 1922:

"ASH.  At 104 Holland Street, January 28, Joseph S. Ash, 76 years, father of Cora Stephens and W. O. Ash of Portland, E. H. Ash of Warren, Pennsylvania, and Mrs. Edith Bayman of Defiance, Ohio.  Funeral services will be conducted Monday, January 30 at 2 p.m. in the Grace Evangelical church, Sixth Third Avenue and Ninety Second Street Southeast.  Friends invited.  Interment Multnomah Cemetery.  Remains are at the funeral parlors of A. B. Kenworthy & Company, 5802-04 Ninety Second at Southeast in Lents." 

 (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, March 14, 2018

W. P. A. Cemetery Survey - Old South Ridge/ OLD St. Stephen's Lutheran Cemetery, Highland Township

In this series, some of the general surveys of Defiance County cemeteries will be shared, transcribed as written on the original W.P.A. reports, with a few punctuation and/or spelling changes for readability.  The surveys were probably done around 1936.

For more up to date information on the cemeteries, check out this chart on our website:

1. Name of cemetery:

The Old South Ridge Cemetery, Highland Township, so named from the South Ridge Glacier Moraine which passes through here.  This graveyard is in connection with the St. Stephen's German Lutheran Church, which is a quarter mile southeast of here.  Another new cemetery is now kept up by this same church, a half mile south of the church on the Ridge Road, called St. Stephens.

2. Location; how reached:

This cemetery is situated on a hill just off the south ridge road and is in section one, one and one half miles straight east of the hamlet of Ayresville in Highland Township and is reached on good, gravel roads.  It is also a mile and a quarter from the Henry County line.

3. Name and address of caretaker:

This graveyard is not kept up now, only that work which is done by relatives of those buried in it, since the new cemetery was started south of the church on the ridge road in 1898.  For information, see Rev. Schroeder, pastor of St. Stephens Church or John Boda, both addresses New Bavaria, Henry County, Ohio, Route #3.

 4. General description, size, appearance, etc.

South Ridge Cemetery sits on a small knoll near the road.  It is fenced in with wire and has an iron gate, but the grounds are grown up with weeds and shrubs.  It is not wooded - one tree only standing on the lot and covers about three quarters of an acre.  However, it has many nice, fine granite markers.  Also a lot of old mosiac slabs; most of the stones are inscribed in German.  Since the establishment of St. Stephen's Cemetery to the south of the church, this graveyard has not been kept up.  It is German Lutheran in denomination.

5. Name and date of first burial recorded:

The first grave was made in 1853 for John Troeger, one of the early German settlers of Highland Township. 

6. Names of important persons buried there:

Perhaps the most known persons are the Troegers.  A grandson of the first man buried is Fred Troeger, Auditor of Defiance County.  Other well known people are the Hohenbergers, Marchhouses (Marshaus), Schadts and Orts. 

7. Markers of unusual appearance:  None

8. Unusual epitaphs:

Most all of these stones are inscribed in German, even in German script, which is unusual in this county.  We have found quite a few inscribed in German, but most of them were in English script and German words only.

9. Is cemetery used for new burials?

We are told there are to be two more persons buried in this graveyard, relatives of one already resting here.  Otherwise, it is not used.

Cecil Cadwallader and Chas. Gish, Reporters
Consultant: Al. Logan,R.F.D. #6, Defiance, Ohio 

(The Works Progress Administration was formed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in reaction to the Great Depression as a means of employing Americans and stimulating the economy.  Established in 1935, one of the projects of the W.P.A. was to conduct Historical Records Surveys, one of which included finding information on cemeteries and the graves of veterans.  The W.P.A. was disbanded in 1943, but the historical information provided on these surveys continue to be of interest and are, thankfully, preserved.)