Evansport people were a hardy bunch according to new history book author at SAHC annual meeting
The early living conditions in this area were so formidable that Rachel Booth, a native of Evansport and author of a new book about the community, is surprised at the lengths people would go to settle there. She pointed out that Jacob Coy, one of the founders of Evansport, left Greene County close to Dayton with three other family members in 1831, traveled up through the state by canal to Cleveland, across Lake Erie to Toledo, down the Maumee River and up the Tiffin River in order to found a town at Evansport. And after all her research, she’s still not exactly sure why.
Booth, show in the photo on the left, said that the Great Black Swamp area in northwest Ohio was such a miserable place in the early days that even the Native Americans didn’t like to live here. Yet, at one time 21 members of the Coy family lived in a tent in the swamp before they could build the homes they needed. It is hard to conceive people doing that today, she said, but it was the hardy stock of people like the Coy’s who were determined to settle here and form a town to became their home that made it happen.
Booth’s comments were made to an audience at the annual meeting of the Stryker Area Heritage Council at the Evansport United Methodist Church on Thursday (Nov 9) as she spoke about a history book she wrote about Evansport. She said her new book, “Little Port in the Corn Field,” captures details of the heritage of the community from its early settlers to the businesses and merchants, including the mills, the lodges and historical tales involving its residents.
“Fires were one of the main reasons the town didn’t grow,” Booth said. In the early years they didn’t have a fire department. There was a pump in the downtown to get water, and they would form bucket brigades and use wet blankets to try to put out fires. However, when they needed help, they had to send someone on horseback to Stryker or Defiance. That took too long to get help back, so they often lost buildings to fire and it was too expensive for the owners to rebuild.
The town has been subject to flooding through the years with Booth reviewing the three main floods that hit the town in 1887, 1913, and 1937.
Booth said she got interested in writing the book because she had heard that Francis Scott Key had lived in Evansport and had a tobacconist shop. It didn’t turn out to be quite the case. It seemed that at one time Francis Llewellyn Key, a first cousin to the writer of America’s national anthem, lived in Evansport and ran the shop. Booth said she traced the Key family history and included the family tree involving the Evansport side of the family in the book.
Booth said she particularly remembers the late Floyd Rodgers, who was her next door neighbor when she was growing up in Evansport. Rodgers collected many of the historical stories of the town and she enjoyed listening to him share the stories with her.
Her research was not an easy task. While she had lived in the village from her 7th grade year until she was a senior, today she lives in northwest New Hampshire, which meant a drive of 820 miles every time she wanted to come to the visit the area to do more research. It proved to be a long and arduous process, but a relief now that it is finished.
Aside from her own research, she also credited Tanya Brunner, Patty Fruth and Kevin Maynard with information for her manuscript.
While her 200-page book has been completed, Booth said if someone has a nice photo or interesting story to share with her, she could still juggle things around to include it. Once she delivers the book to her publisher, she expects it to be published right after the first of the year.
The Stryker Area Heritage Council is covering the cost to publish the book, and is taking preorders of the book for $20 a copy. People can contact the council at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a copy.
Terry Wieland, Denise Blevins and Anna Marie Sprow were all re-elected as trustees to the council for three-year terms during a short business meeting prior to Booth’s presentation. In the photo on the right seated from left to right are SAHC president Terry Wieland, vice president Judy Keller, and trustee Helen Bell. Standing are trustee Fred Grisier, treasurer Sue Buehrer, secretary Anna Marie Sprow and trustee Bill Priest. Missing from the photo are trustees Denise Blevins and Patsy Mealer.
A tribute card honoring long-time SAHC member and past president Rose Burkholder who passed away last year was given to each guest at the meeting.
Council treasurer Sue Buehrer reviewed the activities of the council over the past year. They included a visit to the Sturgis, Michigan, historical society’s recently renovated railroad depot filled with multi-media presentations, accepting a donation of a dry sink from an Evansport family, hosting the Stryker Summerfest parade and putting a display of historic photos in the fire hall, working with village on depot maintenance and giving tours of the depot upon request.
Aside from printing the new Evansport book in the year ahead, Buehrer said the council would like to use donated bricks to build a patio around the depot if they can find the help to do it and are looking at a marker project at the grave of William Knight in 2018.
SAHC joined in the fun at the Stryker Summerfest!
Many people enjoyed a beautiful day to celebrate the annual 2017 Summerfest celebration in Stryker on Sat., Aug. 26, and the members of the Stryker Area Heritage Council joined right in the celebration!
Once again, SAHC was asked to organize the parade. They also opened up the historic depot and they had a booth in the offices of the fire hall to show off some of the history that the town celebrates!
The Summerfest parade kicked off at 3:00 p.m. with a fly-over by the Life Flight helicopter from Wauseon. The copter then landed by the fire hall for people to see after the parade.
There were entries from the police, fire departments, the high school band and the new football team.
There was a float from Quadco Rehabilitation Center picturing the Lockport bridge north of the village (shown in the photo on the left), some local businesses showed off their equipment and the United Brethren Church were dangling fishing poles as fishers of men as they walked through the parade.
And, of course, it wouldn’t have been a usual parade had it not had to pause a couple of times for trains to go through!!
SAHC appreciates all the help they received from the organizing committee members that made it a very smooth, and enjoyable event.
The History Center at the depot was open after the parade, and they were glad to welcome the visitors who came by.
Ernie Etoll, shown on the right, brought a framed photo to donate to the museum of a Norfolk and Southern train captured in the winter as it chugged by the Stryker depot. The photo was from a national calendar that he noticed at his work. It was from a trucking company that also offers the movement of goods by rail.
Etoll said company officials posted the calendar in the office, and he walked up to his fellow workers and pointed to it saying, “I have stood in that spot a thousand times.”
At first they didn’t believe him, but they took the calendar down and looked at the back of the photo, where it said it was taken in Stryker!
His wife, Mary, also got a surprise when she visited the depot. She was looking at a display of Stryker artifacts, and said, “I have a bowl like that.” When she looked closer, she said, “I have a bowl JUST like that! It was made by Ruth Ann Smith!”
The bowl was a donation from local history buff Tim Kays, but no one knew for sure who had made it. There is an inscription on the bottom that says “Stryker, Ohio,” but nothing of the artist.
SAHC members felt it was probably by Smith, but weren’t sure. Etoll confirmed their suspicions by saying her bowl is signed by Smith, who was known for doing many ceramic dishes.
Old time photos were a hit at the SAHC booth at the fire hall. Here in the photo on the left, Colin Blosser and Suzanna Hausch talk to SAHC Trustee Patsy Mealer as they look at the old pictures on display.
Sue Buehrer had some prints made of old photos and displayed them at the booth. People looked over a couple tables filled with the photos as well as some in the booth. SAHC also offered William Knight Commemorative Coins, Stryker Depot commemoratives and memberships at the booth.
Thanks to all who made the 2017 Stryker Summerfest such a great event this year!!!
Fred Grisier receives Stryker Good Neighbor Award
A man who has been actively involved in the Stryker community through his 80 year life, received the town’s award for being such a good citizen Saturday night as part of the 2017 Stryker Summerfest activities. There was a full crowd at the Stryker Fire Hall as the town’s mayor, Joey Beck, announced Fred Grisier was receiving the annual Good Neighbor Award.
Mayor Beck pointed out that Mr. Grisier can trace his family’s history in the town before Stryker was formally established. He told the well-wishers that “He’s one of those individuals who seems to have his hands in a little bit of everything, helping anyone and everyone. He’s a businessman, and he’s been part of the Rotary, as well as a Mason.”
Grisier pointed out that he couldn’t have done it all had it not been for the support of his wife, Helen, as they both ran Grisier Funeral Home in Stryker for many years and she covered things when he was involved in a local project. Today he assists his sons taking care of the business.
A long-time historian, he remains an active trustee of the Stryker Area Heritage Council, and a member of the Stryker United Methodist Church.
As many of his family members gathered around, he told the crowd, “Folks, this is really an honor. Our family has been here since prior to Stryker. My great, great grandparents immigrated from France in the early 1840’s, and Lordy day, we’ve been here ever since.”
Grisier said it has been his pleasure to have been active in a lot of organizations in the community and raise his family in the town.
“It’s been wonderful. We’ve raised four wonderful sons. We’ve had eight tremendous grandchildren. And we’re about to get our first great grandchild, which is going to be a boy, too!” he said.
Even though he’s been a very active part of the community for many years, Grisier says he continues to enjoy it.
“At my age, I’m having a lot of fun. We have a very strong family, and wonderful, wonderful friends in this community and the surrounding area.”
Mayor Beck finished the presentation saying the community is grateful for Grisier’s contributions through the years.
“I think Stryker is especially privileged to have someone like him. And it wouldn’t matter if it were Stryker, Archbold, Bryan or someplace in Indiana…any village, any city, town, or community would be lucky to have a Fred!” he concluded.
Stryker Civil War hero remembered a century after his death
By Lucas Bechtol, Bryan Times Reporter
Used by permission
One hundred years ago, Stryker buried a local war hero. On Saturday, he was honored nearly 100 years to the day of his death.
William Knight, a Stryker native, was a veteran of the Civil War and took part in the famous Andrews Raid in which several Union soldiers stole a Confederate locomotive. He survived and became one of the first recipients of the Medal of Honor.
On Saturday (Sept. 24, 2016), community members gathered for a daylong celebration and remembrance of Knight, which included several talks from Jonathan Scott (shown at left), curator of the Southern Museum in Georgia.
Another aspect was a ceremony at his gravesite at Oakwood Cemetery, where a new American flag was hoisted and a special Medal of Honor flag was raised beside Knight’s grave.
“I wonder what (Knight) would be thinking knowing that a group of people have gathered 100 years from the time he passed, still remembering what he did in the Civil War and remembering that group of people who put their lives on the line,” said Bill Priest (shown below right), a trustee with the Stryker Area Heritage Council. “I often found that people don’t always know they are making history when they chose to volunteer.”
See more of the story and photos from the event by going to the “Knight 100th” page on this website.
William Knight Commemorative Coin now available
A commemorative coin about the famed engineer during the Great Locomotive Chase has been struck by the Stryker Area Heritage Council. The coin was introduced in Stryker at the commemoration ceremony held for William Knight on the 100th anniversary of his death. The beautiful double-sided coin features a rich red, white and blue theme about the famous Stryker resident who received the first series of the Medal of Honor from President Abraham Lincoln
The coins are available for $20 each from the SAHC. Those who wish to receive one by mail, should add $1.00 for shipping and handling. Those interested in a coin may contact Sue Buehrer, or the SAHC, P.O. Box 180, Stryker, OH 43557 or at email@example.com.
Depot military room has emphasis on William Knight
A collection of military paraphernalia is now on display at the Stryker Area Heritage Center, the former depot.
The display features a good amount of items relating to Stryker’s own Medal of Honor recipient William J. Knight.
Noted local Civil War historians Bruce Zigler and Fred Grisier (shown in the photo) put the display together featuring some wonderful photos of Knight and his compadres from what is often called “The Great Locomotive Chase.”
There is also a nice replica of “The General,” the locomotive the men stole behind Confederate lines at Big Shanty, Georgia.
Visitors can see the display when the depot is open for public events or by contacting SAHC Trustees to schedule a tour.
Stryker parade features refurbished depot cart
Those who went to the Stryker Homecoming parade on August 17 got a real historic treat. When the float for the Stryker Area Heritage Council went by, there was a piece of Stryker’s history riding on it.
A baggage cart that is supposed to have come from the Stryker depot was displayed on the float, along with some other local memorabilia.
The cart was obtained by SAHC during the sale of Short’s Hardware, and it was just refurbished by Virgil Frank. Several council members remember Jim Short saying that the cart came from the Stryker depot and the council was eager to obtain the piece that was a part of the workings at the local train station.
The cart had a few issues. The boards on each end were not in very good shape and the bearings to turn the wheels needed to be replaced, among other things.
Virgil Frank restored the wagon, also giving it a good paint job.
After riding in the parade, the cart was returned to the depot so that it can now be displayed.
Items on the cart also had historical ties to Stryker. The “hump back” trunk, on the left in the above photo, once belonged to Blanche Vernier. The shipping box has Dr. Goll’s name on it and the other box once belonged to J. P. Lantz of Stryker.
Thanks to all of the council members who again helped with the parade!!!!
Yes, there was a cannon! But where are the cannonballs...
There have been several people who told us they remember a cannon in the boulevard that we have been showing here on the website (see the story below), but no one had a photo to share...until now.
Rose Burkholder traveled to Bryan to the library and looked in their photo archives. Sure enough, there was a photo of the cannon. It turns out it was a German cannon from the “War to End All Wars - WWI.”
Actually, the library had a photo that had been cut out of the Bryan Times, showing the cannon from bygone days.
The caption underneath the photo says,
“STRYKER - This World War I cannon was located in the grassy median strip (boulevard) that existed for many years down the center of Stryker's South Defiance Street . The cannon, which sat just south of Short Street , likely was melted down for scrap during World War II. (Photo courtesy of the Williams County Public Library Photographic Archives)”
Rose was excited by her find, but, alas, she turned the photo all around and no cannonballs were anywhere to be seen.
We have been told there were cannonballs that sat next to the cannon. They would not have been for the WWI cannon, but more likely of Civil War vintage.
So, Rose asked the kind people from the library if she could get a scan of the cannon so we could run a nice clean picture of it on the website.
They searched back and found the negative. Guess who they got it from? Stryker Area Heritage Council Trustee Fred Grieser! If only we had started with Fred!
Anyway, our thanks to the Williams County Public Library Photo Archives and Rose Burkholder for tracking down the cannon.
Now, does anyone have a photo of the cannonballs that supposedly used to sit next the cannon? Did anyone ask Fred?
Boulevard photos of early Stryker bring back memories...and prompt more questions
A recent donation spurred SAHC Trustees to see what could be remembered about the boulevard that ran down the middle of South Defiance Street.
There was a cannon that used to sit in the boulevard, believed to be facing south. It is also believed that there was a group of cannonballs next to it.
Trustees were hoping that they would be able to find a photo of the boulevard to answer the questions about the cannon and cannonballs.
Alas, to date, no cannon photos have turned up (If anyone has one, we would love to see it.).
However, the photos that have turned up have created their own questions.
SAHC President Terry Perkins has two postcards of the boulevard. The one shown above is looking north. The 1912 school can be seen a bit between the trees on the left.
It was thought that perhaps the small black spot above the sign might be a part of the cannon.
However, when that section of the photo was enlarged, as seen to the left, it showed the piece was actually part of the sign. It appears to hold a globe above the sign.
It promoted speculation that the globe may have been a light at night, maybe so people wouldn’t run into it with their Model T.
The blown up section helps us be able to read a portion of the sign. It says “PUBLIC SCHOOL” at the top and underneath that it says “DRIVE SLOW.”
The rest of the sign is too difficult to read (Can anyone else help us out?).
Also on the left of the sign in front of the school, there is what appears to be a white stone or monument. That section of the photo was also blown up and is shown on the right.
The Trustees are unsure about what that might be as well. Perhaps one of our Stryker natives can assist us with that.
Mr. Perkins also has a postcard showing the boulevard looking south.
The printing of that card is considerably different and is much more difficult to expand.
In it, it is easy to see the brick street in the bottom lower left of the photo, some people enjoying a stroll on the right hand side with the spire of the Methodist church showing in the background.
It also shows the sign on the north end of the boulevard. It is presumably the same as the one on the south end, and it also appears to have a globe at the top.
But no cannon or cannonballs on this end either.
Perhaps there are other photos of the boulevard that others can share with us. I you have one or have more information, just let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until then, we’ll just have to enjoy the view and wonder where the cannon and cannonballs went.
Early “watering hole” featured on historical photo page
A photo of an early saloon in Stryker has surfaced. The photo and some information on it is included in our Historic Photo of the Month page.
However, there is still some more information we could use on it, and we’re hoping there are some viewers who will help us..
If you would like to look it over, please click here. Be sure to let us know if you have more information on it!
SAHC presents annuals to libraries in Bryan and Stryker
People doing research at the Local History and Genealogy Center in the West Annex of the Williams County Public Library in Bryan will be able to check back in some of the annuals from Stryker High School. Several trustees from the Stryker Area Heritage Council recently took some of the extras annuals donated to the group to the center so that future generations will have them to check.
From left to right in the photo on the right, SAHC Trustees Sue Buehrer, Terry Perkins, and Helen Bell pose with Jany Kelly of the history center as they show the stack of annuals that will now reside at the Bryan library.
Trustees also took some annuals to add to the collection at the Stryker library. The collection at Stryker is the most complete, but there are stsill some annuals that are needed there. Annuals from 1925, 1940, 1943, 1944, 1989, 2003 and 2006 are still needed at the Stryker library. Anyone who would like to donate a copy can contact any SAHC Trustee or e-mail us at email@example.com.
There are also a number of years needed at the Bryan library, and a list will be made available soon of those years.
Thanks to everyone who has donated an annual that is making these collections possible!!
William Knight remembered in Stryker on 150th anniversary of
“The Great Locomotive Chase”
Descendants of William Knight, on the left, came to Stryker and the community remembered the exploits of the Congressional Medal of Honor winner and his companions known as Andrews’ Raiders on the 150th anniversary of the event that would forever seal their bravery.
On April 14, the town of Stryker hosted a day-long commemoration of the “Great Locomotive Chase.” The day was filled with historical programs, Civil War re-enacters, displays, participation for William Knight’s descendants, and displays of priceless artifacts.
The Stryker American Legion started the day off with a hearty breakfast, while the hall was full of displays of artifacts about William Knight, who lived in Stryker for many years, “The General,” and other memorabilia related to “the Great Train Robbery.” The Stryker Heritage Council had a number of souvenirs, including t-shirts, photos, bookmarks and buttons available. Programs had been printed by the Bryan Times.
John Marquis, well-known local train historian shown on the right, delighted the crowd with his tale of how “The General” was stolen twice in its career. The first time was during Andrews’ Raid, and the second time was when the Louisiana and Nashville Railroad slipped the train engine out of its 70-year storage area in Chattanooga and whisked it away one night. The railroad refurbished it in the early 1960’s and it began a tour that included the 1964 World’s Fair in New York.
The city of Chattanooga eventually went to court to be able to keep the train once again in their city. A Federal judge ruled that the train belonged to the state of Georgia, and the state said the train could be kept at Kennesaw. Kennesaw used to be called Big Shanty, the site where William Knight and his compatriots stole the General from the Confederates and tried to get it to Union forces at Chattanooga. The train resides there now in a fine museum.
Mr. Marquis spoke of how the train had been renovated by the South Louisville shop of the L & N Railroad, and he was on hand when the engine was ready to make its first trip after the work was completed in 1962.
According to his recollection, the first official run after the work was in October of 1962. He said the railroad had “The General” parked behind the L & N offices for a week. They steamed up the engine to take a group of VIPs for a trip down the Bargetown Branch, a single-track branch that wouldn’t interfere with the mainline traffic.
He said he had his Army greens on and the engineer offered to take him with him on the ride. However, Marquis said his folks were with him, and he didn’t want to leave them for what would be a 6-hour trip. He said he often regrets not taking the ride.
He said neither “The General” nor “The Texas” could be run on rail lines today without extensive renovations due to Federal railroad regulations. He said that he felt those kind of changes would ruin the historical significance of the locomotives.
Over by the Stryker depot, the Civil War re-enacters did some drills for those in the crowd who watched, invited children to learn more about their work and opened up their tents for those who were curious and perhaps wanted a souvenir or two.
After a delicious lunch served by the American Legion, descendants of William Knight spoke to the crowd about the former Stryker resident. One of them brought the original Medal of Honor that had been pinned on his chest by President Abraham Lincoln. Stryker historians were ecstatic when he turned the medal to its back, exposing an inscription showing that it was individually made for Mr. Knight.
A grand highlight of the day was when Joe Rath, shown here holding William Knight’s Congressional Medal of Honor, recreated the talk that William Knight used to give across the country about the “Great Locomotive Chase.” Dressed in a tuxedo complete with top hat reminiscent of Mr. Knight, Mr. Rath captivated the audience for almost 2 hours as he used Knight’s presentation coupled with historic references he has added to the program to give the listeners a true understanding of the way the event occurred from Knight’s perspective.
Those attending the program also got a real treat as the Williams County Historical Society loaned their copies of drawings that William Knight used as backdrops when he gave his presentation across the country.
Visitors to the day’s event were invited to tour the Stryker Heritage Center in the depot and view displays of area history including the “Great Locomotive Chase.”
A TV program about the day was done by TV-26. It featured an interview with Bruce Zigler, one of the re-enacters, some of William Knight’s descendants and local historian Fred Grisier about the special commemoration. The program was aired on their “All Around Northwest Ohio” program, and those who missed it can see it on their website at www.tv26.net.
Stryker Summerfest was a great day
Summerfest had wonderful weather and lots of people took advantage of it.
The community had a host of events including the parade, coordinated by the Stryker Area Heritage Council. Lots of units turned out for the parade whose theme was a commemoration of the 175th anniversary of the birth of William J. Knight.
The Stryker Heritage Center was open after the parade, and a good number of folks took the opportunity to walk through the museum in the depot.
That included Kamie Weber of Stryker pictured on the left and Jeannie Forry of Archbold on the right who are shown looking through the display of Stryker school memorabilia.
There was a special display about William Knight, who was one of the first Congressional Medal of Honor recipients.
The new depot replica were available for purchase that day and will now remain on sale (see story below).
Thanks to everyone who stopped by, all of those who put an entry in the parade, and to everyone who helped to make the Summerfest a great day!
SAHC hosts Regional 1 Meeting of Ohio Local History Alliance
Attendees at a recent regional meeting of the Ohio Local History Alliance learned about native Americans of northwest Ohio, talked about challenges and interesting programs they are doing, and toured the Stryker Heritage Center.
Meeting at the Stryker American Legion on April 21, the group was welcomed by Randy Brown, Alliance Region 1 Representative and Curator of the Wood County Historical Society, SAHC President Terry Perkins and Stryker Mayor Dan Hughes.
The group first heard from Pete Wilhelm, shown talking about the Nettle Lake Indian Mounds in the photo above, professor of history at Northwest State Community College.
He gave a very interesting session about the early territory and its native settlers.
For instance, Indian mounds are found in every Ohio county but one. Can you name that county?
He spoke about the influences of the British and the French, particularly the missionaries who came to be with the native Americans. Some chose to stay and live with the natives and some only stayed the length of their commitment to minister to them and returned home.
He mentioned Johnny Logan, the only Native American buried with full U.S. military honors in Ohio. His burial has a special marker by the Fort Defiance area.
He talked about the influences of native American leaders such as Pontiac, Tecumseh and Little Turtle.
About 30 representatives from area historical societies also heard about interesting ways to spread the word about their programs in a presentation moderated by Janet Rozick, a Region 1 representative and visiting assistant professor at the University of Toledo.
At the afternoon business meeting, Jackie Barton, Director of Education & Outreach for the Ohio Historical Society, said information and guidelines about grants for historical groups will be available by July 1.
Matt Strobel, Civil War 150 AmeriCorps member, reminded members of the group to let him know of events they are holding about the Civil War so they may be included in a statewide list.
There was a roundtable led by Joy Armstrong, Alliance Trustee and Director of the Sylvania Historical Village, where each person gave a couple examples of the outstanding things their organization had done and an issue with which they struggle
In the photo above, she holds up the proof of a map of the Maumee Valley region being considered as a way to promote the rich heritage of the area..
At the conclusion of the program, the representatives toured the Stryker Heritage Center at the depot. In the photo to the left, SAHC President Terry Perkins explains some of the work that was done at the depot for the museum.
A big thanks to the Stryker American Legion for having both a delicious breakfast and lunch for the people on hand and all of the Stryker area merchants who donated items for goody bags for each attendee.
And in case you were wondering, it is Mr. Wilhelm’s home county, Henry County, that is the only one of Ohio’s counties that doesn’t have any documented Indian mounds.
Some commemorative items still available from Saturday’s fete of William Knight and 150th anniversary of Great Locomotive Chase
There are still some souvenirs to remember the celebration when the town of Stryker remembered William Knight and his comrades on the 150th anniversary of the Great Locomotive Chase.
The Stryker Area Heritage Council commissioned several commemorative items perfect to remember the occasion.
There are two different styles of t-shirts that are perfect keepsakes of the day.
One style is shown on the left with a prominent picture of the General, and the other, as shown on the right, has a picture of the Medal of Honor that William Knight received along with the other members of the special unit. The final shirts are to have blue lettering and may have a blue background.
There are also some commemorative buttons with pin or magnet backs highlighting the daring escapade of Andrews Raid, as well as sets of bookmarks.
There are some copies of select photographs including William Knight that are great souvenirs to show to family and friends depicting the brave people who were a part of Civil War history and who were the first Medal of Honor recipients.
Crowd fills Legion Hall to hear T & I Railroad program,
First sets of T & I DVDs sell out before program starts
There were plenty of "passengers" for the trip back in time on the electric interurban railroad during a program hosted by the Stryker Area Heritage Council on Saturday, Feb. 18.
A crowd of about a hundred people turned out at the Stryker American Legion as Dr. Sterling King, noted Toledo and Indiana Railroad author and historian shown on the right in the photo above, served as their conductor on a trip along the line that operated through northwest Ohio.
Dr. King showed rare photos he has collected through the years of the train system that began operation in 1903 running from Toledo eventually expanding to Bryan.
From the first cars that began running down Dorr Street in Toledo, he showed photos of trains going down the main streets of Swanton, Delta, Archbold and Bryan, and some of the stops at Pettisville, Wauseon, Peckham Loop and downtown Toledo. There were also shots of trains going over the bridges at Beaver Creek and the Tiffin River and running through the underpass of the line of the New York Central east of Bryan.
The railroad provided an important route of travel through the area in the early days of the 20th century. There were no paved roads when the train system was formed. The new automobiles could only go about 20 miles per hour and the roads could prove an obstacle when they were muddy or covered with snow. The trains, however, moved much faster, able to clock up to 60 miles per hour out in the country. So they were popular with passengers and with people who wanted to get their products to market and receive supplies from outside the area.
During the program, Dr. King remembered a number of the people who worked on the line and drove the trains along the tracks.
Dr. King also gave interesting sidebars when he talked about the popcorn wagon in Stryker that used steam to pop the corn, the Christmas star built by T & I workers that is still displayed in the south park at Wauseon, and the two specially-made cars with filled wicker chairs and decorative curtains on the windows.
Ridership dropped off as automobiles improved and roads were paved through the area. The train line lived off of its freight business the last years, shuttling fuel cars for Cities Service.
The program drew to a close as Dr. King showed photos of the car that traveled the route on the last day of the line’s operation in 1939.
A new 2-hour DVD set about the T & I went on sale that day. The DVD is being offered by the heritage council and is narrated by Dr. King showing many of the photos he included in his presentation.
The first sets of DVDs were sold out before the program started. Orders for more copies are being taken and will be filled in a short time. Copies are $10 for SAHC members and $12 for SAHC non-members.
Huntington Bank donates original Wickey drawing
by Don Allison, Senior Editor of the Bryan Times and SAHC Trustee
Looking for original artwork created by Stryker native Harry Wickey?
For starters, you can visit the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Library of Congress, or the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
Or if traveling that far isn’t to your liking, you can visit the Stryker Area Heritage Council’s museum.
Wickey’s name may no longer be a household word, even in Stryker, but during his life he was widely known for his etchings, lithography, paintings and sculpture.
Thanks to a donation by Huntington Bank, the Stryker Area Heritage Council has its requisite piece of Wickey artwork, an original charcoal drawing dated 1916.
The drawing depicts an African American woman and boy.
The drawing was presented to the Stryker Area Heritage Council in January. Shown in the photo above (from left to right) are SAHC Trustees Bill Priest, Terry Perkins, Sue Buehrer, Helen Bell, Don Allison and Huntington Bank Stryker Branch Manager Vicki Grimm. In the photo below, Vicki Grimm and Barb Marlin from the Huntington Bank Stryker Branch pose with the drawing and SAHC Trustee Helen Bell
According to Sue Buehrer of the Heritage Council, the drawing was presented by Wickey to Harry Bruns of the former Stryker Exchange Bank. Buehrer said she discovered the drawing years ago in the attic of the former Stryker Farmer’s Exchange Bank, later purchased by the First National Bank of Northwest Ohio. The drawing changed hands with a succession of bank purchases, and ended up in Huntington’s Stryker branch.
Now it will hang in the Stryker Area Heritage Council’s museum in the former Stryker railroad depot. The 1916 drawing is among Wickey’s earlier works.
A quick Internet search will yield images of Wickey’s artwork and notes on his life story.
Wickey spent time in Detroit and Chicago, and eventually moved to New York City. He studied at the Detroit School of Fine Arts and the New York School of Industrial Art, and was both a student and teacher at the Art League of New York.
His first prints were published in 1919. Throughout his career his favorite subjects were rural scenes, based on his experiences in Stryker, as well as images of New York and its inhabitants, and landscapes.
By 1935 the fumes of nitric acid used in his etching plates affected his eyesight, and he eventually turned to lithography and sculpture.
He received a number of awards during his career, including recognition from the Society of American Etchers in 1934, the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1939 and the American Institute of Arts and Letters in 1949. Wickey and his sculptures were featured in the Feb. 23, 1942, edition of Life Magazine.
A detailed account of Wickey’s life is contained in his autobiography “Thus Far,” published in 1941 as part of a series on prominent artists inaugurated by the American Artists Group. In“Thus Far” he wrote at length on his upbringing in Stryker.
“It was on the fourteenth of October, 1892, that the stork came flapping over Stryker, Ohio, with me as a passenger, and I was deposited in a little house in the end of East Lynn Street,” Wickey wrote.
“There was no choice in the matter, but if there had been, I know I would have given his old tail a jerk and said, ‘You may let me off here, please,’ for, as I look back over my childhood and early youth it is with memories that are warm with affection for that environment and all it had to offer.”
He wrote about his early life in Stryker, and of his parents, Victor E. and Alice (Besancon) Wickey.
Harry described his father as a kindly man, but with a severe bearing. “My father was a hard-working man, honest in the extreme, and reserved in temperament, with little to say to us after he had finished his day’s work. He was kindly and thoughtful of our welfare, and we were never wanting in the fundamental physical comforts ...
“He was adamant in his purpose of raising my brother and me in the ways of self reliance, and left no stone unturned to secure that result.
“My mother was of a temperament almost exactly opposite of that of my father,” he wrote, “and I have often thought that the only things my parents had in common were my brother and myself.
“She was vivacious and talkative and, as she loved us more than any other living creatures, was constantly trying to do things to please us. She also desired nothing more than that we should turn out well and be a credit to ourselves and the community and, in her own way, did everything in her power to produce these results.”
Wickey was a frequent visitor to the rural Stryker farms of his grandparents, Mary and Thomas Wickey and Clementine and Charles Besancon, and his exposure to farm life found outlet in his later work.
The Stryker of Wickey’s youth, as he described it, “was a very busy little place ... with two saw-mills, grist-mill, hoop and tile factory, oar finishing works and harness shop, and some two dozen general stores, meat markets and saloons.”
“Stryker was,” he explained, “at that time the trading center where farmers could sell their timber, stock or farm produce, and as the radius from which it drew was fairly large, it got to be a busy little place.”
Wickey left Stryker after his high school graduation, moving to Detroit. With the help of his uncle he landed a job with the Lake Shore railroad as a car checker, and he began his art studies in Detroit.
After the outbreak of World War I, Wickey — like many young men of his day — was drafted into the U.S. Army. He was detailed to the front-line trenches in France, but soon was selected for officers training school.
He returned to Stryker briefly after his army service, then embarked on his career in art that earned him widespread acclaim. Twice married, he apparently left no direct descendants.
Although Wickey died in 1968 at Cornwall Landing, N.Y., his work remains popular with collectors today.
used by permission of the Bryan Times
Community gets a look at the Heritage Center
The doors were opened on the afternoon of the Stryker Summerfest June 4 for anyone interested to take a peak at the new Stryker Area Historical Center lodged in the former Stryker train depot.
From 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. people from the area walked through the displays of local historical artifacts that have been given or loaned for display in the center.
Displays featuring the local depot itself and items from one-time local businesses such as the mineral springs bathhouse or Werum Novelty Works were shown. Frank Middleton (left) and Duane Jolly are shown in the photo above looking over some of those pieces.
There is a case that came from the Stryker school that was full of memorabilia of the school, class pictures, old uniforms and some annuals.
A section on music was shown that included a violin that was played by famous artist and Stryker native Harry Wickey.
Another case showed pieces that belonged to the Evansport Masonic Lodge that began in Evansport and moved to Stryker, where it ran for many years.
A typewriter that belonged to Stryker native Ralph Goll was shown and those who walked by could perhaps conjure up an image of him sitting at a desk typing one of the manuscripts he wrote for The Lone Ranger or a story about a murder case he was covering for a newspaper or magazine.
The walls are covered with large old-time photos of Stryker including some trains that have been a large part of the village’s history.
In the photo to the right, Stryker Area Heritage Council President Rose Burkholder (right) and SAHC Trustee Helen Bell (left) give Village Reporter reporter Alexis Stamm (second from left) and her friend April Short some of the significance of the items in the school case display in the center.
An interview on TV-26 was also done that day and will be airing soon on the Defiance station that is also carried by area cable TV systems.
The center was also recently opened for a group that attended the annual Stryker Alumni gathering at the end of May
Mrs. Burkholder says while the center does not yet have any regular hours it is open, it can be opened for any groups that are interested in a tour if they contact the Heritage Council.
Donations of items or items that could be loaned for display are still being accepted by the SAHC. Anyone interested may contact the SAHC through this website or one of the Trustees.
A big round of thanks to all of those who have helped through the last several years to get the depot ready for the visitors, those who worked to prepare the center for guests during the Summerfest and those who helped meet people during the opening!
The Stryker Area Heritage Council
The Stryker Area Heritage Council was formed to record and preserve the rich history of the Stryker area. Located in the very northwestern corner of Ohio, Stryker, Evansport and Lockport have all had interesting histories surrounding their development. Some of the early growth was due to their location along the Tiffin River.
Stryker has had a significant part in the development and operation of several railroad lines. From 1905 to 1939, Stryker was the home to the car storage, maintenance facility, and electric generating station for the Toledo & Indiana (T & I) interurban electric train line.
For more than 50 years, long pans of water were placed in the track for some of the steam locomotives going through the town. It saved trains a stop if they could pickup water to replenish their boilers along the way. During the winter, men were hired to break up the ice in the pans so the trains could continue to scoop up the precious liquid as they made their way along the route.
Several people of significance have come from the area. William J. Knight was among the first group of men honored with the Congressional Medal of Honor for his part in the great train robbery during the Civil War. Harry Wickey was a famous illustrator, sculptor and author. Ralph Goll was a writer on the famous Lone Ranger radio series and had several of his episodes turned into TV shows. Sam Hornish, the winner of the 2006 Indianapolis 500, lived in Stryker when he was a young boy.
We hope you find this website of interest and if you have questions or would like to join the group in collecting and preserving this rich history of the Stryker area, please contact us at the Stryker Area Heritage Council.