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Ghost towns featured at 2009 SAHC General Meeting

     The Stryker Area Heritage Council conducted its Fifth Annual General Membership Meeting on November 10 at the Stryker United Methodist Church with 75 members and guests in attendance, including Stryker Rotarians, who are celebrating their club’s 60th anniversary in 2009.
     After Pastor Crystal Goodnight of the Stryker United Methodist Church offered an invocation, attendees enjoyed a family-style dinner prepared by the Stryker United Methodist Women.PB100027
     SAHC President Terry Perkins called the meeting to order and introduced Village Council member Joan Ruffer, who welcomed everyone to Stryker.
Stryker Troop 79 Boy Scouts of America presented the United States flag and then led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance.
     Mr. Perkins offered the minutes of the SAHC Fourth Annual General Membership Meeting, held November 25, 2008, for consideration, which were approved.
Board Development Committee member Phil Short conducted the election of SAHC Trustees for the 2010-2012 term. Nominees were incumbents Don Allison and Sue Buehrer, along with Cathy Cooley. With no additional nominations, a unanimous ballot was cast for the proposed slate of trustees.
     Treasurer Sue Buehrer presented the annual financial report, noting highlights from the past year.
     Perkins provided an overview of the Stryker Area Heritage Council’s 2008-2009 activities and accomplishments, including the following:

  • Sponsored publication of the pictorial history book, “Images of America: Williams County” and the accompanying “Postcards of America: Williams County”
  • Hosted an historic photograph scanning workday in January 2009
  • Sponsored Myrna Grove’s “Abraham Lincoln in Illinois” presentation in February
  • Organized the Evansport Terquasquicentennial Committee to plan activities to commemorate the village’s 175th anniversary next year
  • Sponsored David Loffer’s “Bryan Postcard Company” presentation in April
  • Added an Evansport section to the SAHC website
  • Published a brochure on Evansport’s history
  • Cosponsored Richard L. Cooley’s and Kevin Maynard’s “Introduction to Williams County Ghost Towns” presentations in March and April with the Williams County Public Library, and published the pair’s presentation in booklet form
  • Worked with the Ohio Historical Society to prepare the “Stryker Area Historical Center Work Plan” for developing a museum in the historic Stryker depot, and initiated depot repairs in September
  • Continued efforts to complete a set of Stryker High School “Panthian” yearbooks at the Stryker Branch Library
  • Produced DVDs of the 2008 Stryker Summerfest local history panel and the 2006 Historic Driving Tour
  • Prepared a display at the 2009 Williams County Fair
  • Successfully applied for an Ohio Historical Marker honoring Evansport’s heritage. PB100044

     Keynote speakers Richard L. Cooley and Kevin Maynard provided an introduction to Williams County area ghost towns.
     Cooley defined a ghost town as a site formally surveyed as a village and recorded as such in the county records. Visiting the sites today, it may not be apparent that a town once existed at the location.
     Many factors influenced the towns’ creation and demise, including rivers, canals, roads, location of the county seat, railroads and highways.
Waterways were an early means of transportation, a source of food, and supplied power for sawmills and gristmills.
     Speculation that the Tiffin River might become part of Ohio’s canal system spurred the surveys of a number of ghost towns along Bean Creek, including Williamsport, Lockport and Southport. The “port” suffix in the towns’ names reflects the hope of these villages becoming thriving canal ports.
     When Williams County was created in 1820, it included most of what is today Defiance County, with the county seat located at Defiance. Debate in the mid to late 1830s about moving the county capital to a more central location caused the platting of a number of possible contenders, including the villages of Freedom and Williamsport.
     Lack of adequate transportation facilities such as railroads and highways led to many of the towns’ demise.
     The list of area ghost towns includes such unfamiliar names as Denmark, Freedom, St. Joseph, Lockport, Williamsport, Clarksville, West Buffalo, Edinburg, Parkersburg, Pleasant Hill, Southport, Hamer and Primrose.
     Booklets of the ghost town presentation are available for purchase for $10 for SAHC members and $12 for non-members. They may be purchased by contacting us at info@strykerahc.org.

 

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