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Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Allen Hotel in Farmer, Ohio

The Allen Hotel was built around 1850 in the midst of Farmer Center, Ohio, at the corner of Routes 2 and 249, and was there just short of one hundred years.  
The earliest owner was William Gilchrist. It had several owners and was once known as the Farmer Hotel; it may have had other names, as well.  
The 1870 census of Farmer named Ethan Whedon as a hotel keeper in Farmer, and in 1880, it was William M. Lord and his wife, Louise.  Whether these two were involved with the same building is unknown.

Ephraim Clay Allen bought the hotel around 1880, according to Serendipity, a publication by the Country Cousins Homemakers Club.  Before that time, Ephraim lived with his parents, Darius and Harriet (Rice) Allen in Farmer Township.  They were natives of Lawrence, New York, the home of many early Farmer settlers.  By 1870, his father had passed away, and he lived with his mother, as the farmer on the home farm.

Ephraim, sometimes called "E.C.," married Margretta Lucinda Bradley on January 1, 1872 in Defiance County when he was 25. 

According to one county history, Ephraim rented the hotel to others until his family moved there in 1896.  "The hotel did a big business and drew people from miles around.  Margretta served delicious meals."

Ephraim C. Allen owned a large amount of land in Farmer Township, some he owned alone and other plots were divided with sons, Oney and Darius.  The 1890 plat book revealed that the Allen men owned over 550 acres in Sections 16, 21 and 28 collectively.

Ephraim, 52 years old, in the 1900 census, referred to himself as a farmer, and all his children - 7 at the time - were named as farm laborers.  Margretta reported that she had twelve children all together, but only seven were living.  Perry Burns and John Cannan, physician, lived with them.  Perhaps Ephraim left the hotel for Margretta to handle, while he continued to farm as his age and health allowed.

In 1910, Ephraim said he was a landlord and only one child was at home, Emma.  Emory Martin, a house painter, was in residence, along with Hazel Moats, 17, a domestic servant for a private family which would turn out to be the Allens. 

Ephraim died on April 19, 1912.  The Defiance Democrat briefly stated in its April 27th paper: "E. A. died Friday at his  home in Farmer after a long illness."
He was buried first in Farmer Cemetery, but was moved to the Fountain Grove Mausoleum in Bryan after Margretta died.

 After Ephraim's death in 1912, Margretta ran the hotel, serving family style dinners with her renowned home cooking.  Twenty-four people could fit at her dining table. Serendipity reported that there were 13 beds upstairs in the hotel for visitors, while the family lived on the first floor.  Adjacent to the hotel was a livery stable, and a windmill and public water trough available through a side entrance. Part of the windmill and stable may be seen in the above photo, date unknown.

 The ladies from the larger photo above were identified as:
Dot Headley, Mrs. Velma? Headley, Kit Allen, Margaret Allen, and Hazel Moats

 In the 1920 census, Margaret, 67, a widow, lived with her son, Oney, who farmed; her son-in-law, Wallace Buda who was a janitor at the school; Mona, her 16 year old granddaughter, and a teacher/boarder, Mr. Lever.
It was a notable day when Margaret Allen was alone in the hotel.  The Defiance Crescent News of October 30, 1924, reported in community news for Farmer:
"Mrs. Margaret Allen ate her dinner alone in the hotel Saturday, the only time since moving off the farm more than 25 years ago."  

But, in truth, Margaret had a passel of children and grandchildren to keep her company.  On June 28, 1934, the Crescent News again mentioned Margaret as it was time to celebrate her birthday.
"Mrs. Margaret Allen was surprised recently by a gathering of her children and grandchildren in her home upon her return from an afternoon at her sister, Mrs. Bird Ames, in Butler, Indiana.  Mrs. Mona Cook sent in a cake and three freezers of ice cream.  Cake and another cake were consumed in the evening.  Those present included Mrs. Dace Allen, Mr and Mrs. E. C. Allen and children, Mr and Mrs. Bert Nichols and children, Mr and Mrs. Homer Oliver, Mrs. Bird Motes, Velma Headley, Peter Kline of Adrian. Michigan, Oney Allen.  Saturday was Mrs. Allen's birthday."  Margaret would have been about 80 years old at that time.

 Margaret/ Margaretta died on October 22, 1936, and she and Ephraim rest in the mausoleum at Fountain Grove Cemetery in Bryan.


The Allen Hotel was partially demolished and the remaining part moved in 1958.  What a landmark it was for Farmer Center! The Allens mentioned in this article were the sons of Ephraim and Margaret.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Walter Hilton - Bishop Post, G.A.R.

Walter Hilton was a hometown boy, born and raised in Defiance, mainly Brunersburg, with his parents, Brice and Sophia Hilton.  His household was always full with boarding workers and domestic servants.  In 1850, when Walter was 5 and his brother, Ezra, was 3, the household also contained five other people, including the Donleys, Hugh and Henry, William Donty (Douty) and Mary Edings.
The same held true for 1860.  

Walter was out of school and defined as a laborer in 1860.  Born on February 12, 1845, he was 19 when he enlisted into Company D, 140th Illinois Volunteer Army on May 5, 1864.  All sources agreed on the enlistment in Illinois.  Had he gone there to work outside the home and then enlisted?  He served a little over five months, being discharged on October 27, 1864. His entry on the 1890 census of Defiance County noted no disabilities.

Walter came back from his short time after the war and moved back in with his parents: Brice, 62, and Sophia, 50.  In 1870, Brice had real estate worth $47,850 and a personal worth of $11,000, so he was doing quite well for himself.  Walter, 25, listed his occupation as bookkeeper - rather for his father or some one else is unknown. The family had expanded to add two more brothers, Lyman, 11, and John, 9. Three farm laborers lived with them and one domestic servant. 

Sometime between 1875 and 1880, Walter married Margaret Fox Moore, called Maggie.  No official record of the marriage could be located online or in the Defiance marriages.  By 1880, they were settled into their own home in Noble Township with their only child, Eva M. (Evelyn Moore Hilton), 3.  No occupation was listed for Walter at the time, but the newspapers indicated that he jumped right into the work of a merchant and a public servant.

Walter Hilton was a strong Republican and served on committees for the party.  He was County Treasurer for awhile and, in 1882, ran for Postmaster.  He also served as a collector for the canal and was a candidate for Recorder.  The Defiance County Republican and Express of July 18, 1890 noted,

"Walter Hilton is a merchant in this city and like all the rest of the Hiltons was never known to work for or to vote anything but the Republican ticket.  He has been associated with the leading Republican workers in the county for years and is well posted on political affairs."

He (and his father) also had a booming business at 316 Clinton Street where he sold clothing.  
Defiance Democrat, December 1, 1882

The doors of the store were
closed in January, 1894, and Mr Hilton's house went for auction in March, 1895.  Walter had creditors who wanted their money, and his business apparently was not doing well.  In addition, his wife was in poor health.  
So at some point between 1895 and 1899, he and his family moved to Washington, D.C.

 The Defiance Express reported on March 2, 1899, that someone from Defiance had visited the Hiltons in Washington, D. C. 

"Walter Hilton was also visited.  He is looking well, and has a position in the paymaster's department of the Second Auditor of the Treasury.  All the payroll of the 6th regiment and Co. M pass through Mr. Hilton's hands.  Mrs. Hilton and daughter, Eva, are pleasantly located at a cozy home withing a few blocks of the Treasury Department, and Mr. Hilton says he enjoys his new home very much.  Mrs. Hilton's health was quite poor at the time she left Defiance, is much improved."

In 1900, the Hiltons lived at 1234 North Carolina Avenue in Washington, D.C.  Walter's job was government, while Margaret, 52, and Evelyn (Eva), 22, did not work.  Their boarder, Beulah Boggs, 19, worked as a clerk in the railroad office.  

By 1910, Evelyn (Eva) had married Benjamin Boon, also a U.S. clerk.  Now Benjamin, 27, was the head of the family, and he and Evelyn had a son, Thomas S.  Walter, still a clerk at 65, and Margaret, lived with them on Park Street. 

Walter was 74 and Margaret was 72 when the census enumerator came around to Monroe Street, N.E. in Washington, D.C. in 1920.  They lived still with Benjamin and Evelyn and two children, Gordon, 9, and Corinne, 1.  Benjamin was an officer in the Salvation Army.

At some point after this census, Walter and Margaret moved to Tucson, Pima County, Arizona, and that was where Walter died on August 1, 1924.  His death certificate cites uremia or kidney failure as the cause of death.
In a "Do You Remember?" column in a Defiance newspaper of 1925 remembered Walter Hilton this way:

No obituary could be found for either Walter or Margaret, who passed away in 1928.  They were buried at the Evergreen Memorial Park cemetery in Tucson, Arizona.

 (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, July 15, 2018

Three Hastings Brothers of Farmer Serve in the Civil War


 This stone standing in Farmer Cemetery has two small stones beside it for Father and Mother, Harvey Hastings (1809-1891) and Sarah Ann Conkey (1820 - 1885).
The Hastings family were part of the exodus from New York to Farmer Township. The Hicksville News reported on October 4, 1883:

"Mrs. Sarah Hastings came to Milford (twp.) with her husband, Harvey Hastings, in 1837, and in 1842, removed to Farmer, where she continued to reside till her death on the 14th or 15th of August this year.  Mr. and Mrs. Hastings were the first settlers in the Farmer farm."

The family was in Farmer Township for the 1850 census; Harvey was farming on a farm worth $200.  Three of the oldest children were born in New York: Emily, 13; Charles, 12; and Ellen, 9.  The rest were born in Ohio: George, 8; Mary, 5; Delos, 3; and Cornelia, 1.  This indicated that the family probably moved in 1841 or 1842.  Later the family would add twin boys - Albert and Alfred - and a youngest brother, Orville.

Three of the older sons - Charles, George, and Delos - would enlist and serve in the War of the Rebellion and survive.

 In 1860, Charles, at 23, lived apart from his family with the Stone family in Farmer Township. He was a laborer with a personal worth of $30, working on the farm of C. Stone and his wife, Ellen, Charles' sister.  Stone had land valued at that time at $1800.  
Charles' own parents, Harvey and Sarah, still lived in the Farmer area with land valued at $2000,and Charles' brothers, George and Delos, were still at home, along with the younger children.  

On December 9, 1863, Delos, who was probably about 16, enlisted into the 111th regiment, Company F of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He served in the Atlanta campaign and throughout Tennessee and North Carolina.  On January 1, 1865, he was promoted to full Corporal in Company D of the 183rd Regiment.  He mustered out on July 14, 1865, having not been wounded in battle.

When the 25th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Company B, came home on a 30 day furlough in February, 1864,  they were on the lookout for new recruits.  All the veterans had reenlisted, but recruits were needed to fill the losses they had suffered after serving three years in the war.  Charles Hastings was one of the soldiers who enlisted into the company as a private on February 27, 1864. He rose quickly in the ranks as he was promoted to full corporal on March 16, 1864, and full sergeant on February 1, 1866.  His brother, George, enlisted on the very same day into the same company and regiment.

Company B was sent to near Hilton Head, South Carolina via New York and Washington D.C.  The first summer was rather easy, reported Captain Luther Mesnard in his diary.  In the fall, they passed inspection with praises for the fine group of disciplined soldiers they were, and just like that, they were sent to face their first battle at Honey Hill.  They were ambushed as they marched along a fairly open road, and it was a startling awakening for many of the soldiers.  Mensard reported:

My boys had been under fire but once before and then at long range when at Spanish Wells, and not worth mentioning, and now, they were very much affected.  Two or three vomitted from sheer fright, while all, even the old veterans, looked very solemn.  We deployed and were in the second line of battle as we advanced.  It soon became hot and the colored regiment in front hesitated.  I suggested to Colonel Haughton that we take the advance which we did through dense timber and bushes where we could see nothing.  It was hot,the shell over head and the bullets like hail, and soon a line of rebs seemed to rise in front of us, give us a volley and run.  This staggered my company and one or more companies to our right...
The loss in my company was five men killed or wounded and twenty men wounded, a loss of fifty percent of the men engaged.  Loss of our regiment, 126, killed or wounded, including Major and Adjutant killed."

This was the first real taste of war for Charles and George.  The regiment would fight mainly in South Carolina with the occupation of Charleston in 1865, as one of their major duties.  George later was transferred into the 86th Ohio Infantry, Company E.

No 1870 census entry could be conclusively matched with this particular Charles Hastings.  But, in 1880, he was found in York County, Nebraska, at the age of 42.  Farming next door to him were his two brothers, Delos A.and George W.  Charles was single, and actually no marriage of record was ever found for him.  One source noted that their brother, Albert, also went to Nebraska - Chester County - and he died there.

The 1880 Agricultural Census of York Township, Nebraska, listed four brothers there.  Delos had 120 tilled acres and a farm valued at $2000, while Charles had 130 tilled acres with a value of $1500.  Both also had undeveloped land.  Albert and Alfred, the twins, were also living there, both having farms with much less land tilled - 11 acres for Albert and 37 for Alfred.  They all grew corn, wheat and barley and had a few poultry.  On the 1880 Federal Census, George was living with Delos, both unmarried.

The www.findagrave.com researcher noted that Delos went to Nebraska in 1872 and built a sod house there which he lived in for ten years before building a better frame home for his family.  He married Laura Fightmaster, and was a very successful farmer there.  He died and was buried in Arbordale Rural Cemetery, York County, Nebraska.

It appeared that Charles, however, moved on to Colorado where he was located in the 1900 U.S. Census of Buckhorn, Larimer County. He rented a farm and lived alone at the age of 62.  And that is where the trail ended.  All attempts to find a date of death or burial place were unsuccessful, but it is most probable that he was buried out west somewhere.  

Brother George married in 1884 and lived in Walnut Creek Township, Webster County, Nebraska by 1900 with his wife, Alice, born in Indiana.  George, 54, and Alice, 41, lived with their children: Nellie, Mamie, Walter, William T., George.  In 1910, they were in the same place, but the census noted that it was George's second marriage.
Chester Cemetery, Thayer County, Nebraska

Five Hastings brothers obtained undeveloped land in Nebraska through the Homestead Act of 1862.  All went to the Land Office in Lincoln, Nebraska, to make their claims (applications on Ancestry)  Charles and Delos arrived there and made application on December 13, 1875; it was 1876 before it was processed and the land received.  Albert and Alfred arrived in 1878, Alfred applied in March 16 and Albert on March 28.  George waited until December 16, 1878 to make his claim.  The men were entitled to 160 acres (1/4 section) of undeveloped land.  They were required to file the application papers, pay the filing fees, and improve the land within five years - building a dwelling and starting to farm.  After that time, they could file for their deed of title.

Much remains to be learned of this Hastings family, but it will be left to the family researcher to verify the information above and add to it.  Mysteries remain to be solved!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Defiance County Pioneer - Gabriel Fish

"Gabriel Fish was born in Austentown, Mahoning Co., Ohio, July 14, 1837.  He came to Defiance county more than half a century ago.  On the 10th day of November, 1860, he was united in marriage with Martha G. Miller.  Five children were born to this union, two of whom preceded their father in death.

Son, Carlos (Carl) Fish died on August 10, 1905. (Note on the tombstone, the Knights of Pythias shield and vine with five pointed Bethlehem stars indicating divine protection and guidance.) Another of Gabriel's children, Albertie, born in 1867, died in 1876. 
He has bought timber and been engaged in manufacturing for more than 30 years, in which business he was very successful, the present plant furnishing employment to a greater number of men than any other industry of our city.  He has meant a great deal in a business way to Hicksville and community, especially.  His familiar form will be missed greatly, as has been frequently expressed during his sickness and since his death.  He was a member of the K of P lodge for more than 20 years.  He has also been a member of the Masonic order for a brief period of time.

He began his religious life before his marriage when a very young man.  He has held membership since in the Presbyterian and United Brethren churches, being a member of the latter at the  time of his death.  His religious life was not without its failings, but perhaps none were more conscious of his failures than himself.  One day in the house of worship, he publicly referred to his mistakes, but expressed his purpose to strive on, saying, when he fell, he would get up and go on again.  To his pastor and some of his relatives during his recent illness, he bore positive testimony of his reconciliation with his God, saying, he was not lost and that he was prepared to meet his Savior.

His death, which followed 18 days of severe affliction, was due to a complication of difficulties which no medical or surgical skill could remove.  He passed away from us Friday morning, December 4, 1908, at ten minutes past seven at the age of 71 years, 4 months, 20 days, leaving as near relatives, his faithful wife, 3 daughters, two residing here and one at Palisade, Colorado, ten grandchildren, 2 sisters, Mrs. Gilbert of Hicksville, and Mrs. Noble of Ft. Wayne, 3 brothers, namely, Watson Fish of Detroit, Michigan; Simon Fish of Nebraska; Joseph Fish, of Hicksville; with many other relatives and friends who mourn his removal.

Funeral services were held at the U. B. church Sunday afternoon at 2 o'clock, conducted by Rev. J. F. Miller.  The spacious building was crowded and many were unable to get in.  The employees of the Fish-Miller factory attended the services in a body as did also the Masonic order and the K. of P. lodge, the former holding a service at the church, and both orders observing their ritual at the vault where the mortal remains were deposited."

www.findagrave.com  - Forest Home Cemetery, Hicksville, Ohio

The three daughters who survived their father were Orpha, Alda, and Anna.  Alda was in Colorado with her husband, Ulysses Grant Meek, at the time of her father's death.  His wife, Martha, lived twenty more years and is buried beside him.

Source: Obituaries: Pioneers of Northwest Ohio, Volume 1.  Carma Rowe Estate (Johnson Memorial Library).  No date.  p. 207.
 Copies available at Defiance Public Library and Hicksville and Sherwood branch libraries.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Let's Have Some Buckeye Beer

 A Fourth of July Special ...

For many years, Lloyd V. Tuttle contributed historic photos and information to the Defiance Crescent-News for his column, "A Backward Glance."  Defiance has had several breweries in its day, but Tuttle wrote on December 23, 1963, about Buckeye Beer and the bottling company here.

"WITH 70 places selling beer in Defiance back in the old woodworking days when the town's population was about 7000.  There was a large per capita consumption of beer in the community.  The town had a brewery which was large for those days, but it also had a thriving bottling works as shown in the picture.

This plant was located at the southwest corner of Perry and 1st Sts. where the two story building of the Bowden Chevrolet is located. It was operated by the Widmer Brothers.  The picture was taken in 1881.

ON THE SEAT of the horse-drawn wagon is Dan Widmer.  Holding the left horse is John Widmer, and holding the right horse is the brewing company agent (unidentified).  On the seat of the mule drawn wagon is William Dirr, and holding the left mule is Barney Frank.  On the right of the mules on the sidewalk is the dog, Nero.  Standing in the one-horse wagon, back of the mules, is John E. Widmer.  The boy standing on the platform is Alva C. Widmer and the man standing on the platform is Sam Winkler.

The data was furnished by John E. Widmer, Jr.  The picture was brought in by Virgil E. Widmer, 428 Nicholas St."