Mar 22

Business & Money Matters in Willshire, 1904

Today, more about Willshire, Ohio, in 1904, from information taken from the 4 May edition of the 1904 Willshire Herald.

From this newspaper I learned that Willshire once had a canning factory, which was mentioned several times in the paper. They were trying to convince local farmers to grow tomatoes or sweet corn for the factory:

The Willshire Canning factory now has over 150 acres of sweet corn and tomatoes contracted. Better get into the band wagon while there is yet a chance to toot a lead horn.


 Farmers, Attention!
All persons desiring to avail themselves of the opportunity to raise sweet corn or tomatoes for the Canning Factory for the coming season, can contract with the processor, Chas. Nachbauer, on or after March 10, at the Hardware Store of Hurless & Brown, Willshire, O.

Professor Catchpole is going to put in his summer vacation superintending and caring for fifteen acres of corn and tomatoes, for the Canning Factory. How much better such a course is than to sit around like a bump on a log and croak against the Canning Factory and its success, as a number of our citizens are doing.

A couple testimonials:

Another Testimonial
This is to certify that I had out eight acres of tomatoes and raised 420 bushels to the acre, which made a profit of $52.00 an acre. This crop I raised in Lewis township, Clay County, Ind., in 1903, for the Clay City Packing company. I intend to raise another crop this year for the same company, as I consider it the most profitable kind of farming. If there is anyone who desires to inquire into this statement, I refer them to the Clay City Packing Co., Clay City, Ind. Yours truly, L. Phegley.

Willshire Herald, 1904


Read this statement from men who have raised material for canning factories and then ask yourselves this question: DOES IT PAY NOT to RAISE VEGETABLES for the CANNING FACOTRY WHEN YOU HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY? Following is the statement of one of them:

Clay City, Ind., April 19, 1904.
“We made a little over One Hundred dollars an acre off our tomatoes. So, you see, it paid us well for raising them. There are a number of others here who did as well. I will gibe you a few names of farmers around here who say that it paid them to raise tomatoes for the factory.

Wm. Liechty
George Williamson
Robert McKee
Mr. Phegley

And there are many others who would willingly add their testimony, but I think that it is not necessary to mention the names of others.

Yours truly, J.P. Scherb, Clay City, Ind.”
The above letter was written to Chas. Nachbauer, processor for the Willshire Canning factory.

Willshire Herald, 1904

One final item about the canning factory:

C.E. Detter is now at Oklahoma City, working up a $15,000 canning factory proposition. He says that city is a hustling, bustling place.

I wonder where the canning factory was located? Perhaps someone knows.

Willshire had a bank in back in 1904:

Willshire Bank
Willshire, Ohio

Henry Altheon, President
Alex Beall, Cashier
Do a General Banking Business
Collections Promptly Attended to
Banking Hours, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Willshire Bank, 1904

The following ad gives you an idea of home prices in 1904. William G. Hoffer was the man to see if you needed a home loan:

Who Has Money to Loan?
We can place at once $2,500 on First Mortgage.
$400 on a good residence property, located on a good street, worth $700.
$150 on a good residence property and one and a half acre of ground, worth, when house is completed, $900.
$600 on a good building lot, and house when completed, worth $900.
$500 on a good building lot, worth when house is completed, $900.
We have for sale, one residence property for $550.
Another for $1,000.
Another for $600.
Still another for $900.
And yet another for $1,350.
Wm. G. Hoffer,
Willshire, Ohio.

Wm. G. Hoffer, 1904 Willshire Herald

And William G. Hoffer could also set you up with property insurance:

Why Insure Your Property?
Because it is a business proposition.
Because the rate on residence property and household goods—three years for one per cent—is cheaper than you can carry it yourself.

Let Us Place Your Insurance
Because the commission don’t go out of town—you get a chance to get part of it back. You never do if you insure with an outside agency.

We represent the Anchor, Glens Falls, Connecticut, American Central, National, Commonwealth—all as good as the best and licensed to write fire insurance in Ohio—and James Watkins & Co., general insurance agents, Chicago, Illinois.

Place your next order for insurance with us.

Your truly,
Wm. G. Hoffer

Finally, the Willshire Markets in 1904:

The prices are much different than today’s prices, with some different items mentioned.

Mar 19

Tombstone Tuesday–Wilhelm C. & Ferdinand Bienz

Ferdinand & Wilhelm Bienz, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2019 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone bearing the names of two brothers, Wilhelm C. and Ludwig Eberhard Ferdinand Bienz, located in row 1 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. Wilhelm C. Bienz is inscribed on the east side and his brother Ludwig Eberhard “Ferdinand” Bienz’s name is inscribed on the west side of the monument.

Inscribed on the east side of the marker:

Hier Ruhet
Wilhelm C.
Sohn von
J. & M.
Gestorben 31
Mar 1879
5 M, 5 T

Here rests Wilhelm, son of J & M Bienz, died 31 March 1879, age 5 months and 5 days.

Inscribed on the west side of the marker:

Hier Ruhet
Sohn von
J. & M.
Gestorben 14
Feb 1876
2 Y, 8 M, 18 T


Here rests Ferdinand, son of J & M Bienz, died 14 February 1876, age 2 years, 8 months, and 18 days.

Ferdinand Bienz, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2019 photo by Karen)

According to Zion Schumm’s records Ludwig Eberhard “Ferdinand” Bienz was born 26 May 1873, the son of Johann Bienz (1823-1898) and Magdalena (Schueler) Bienz (1835-1916). He was baptized 2 June 1873 with Eberhard Zimmermann, Ludwig Schmidt, Ludwig Bienz, and Margaretha Bienz serving as his sponsors. [1]

Ferdinand Bienz died of diphtheria in Willshire Township on 14 February 1876, at the age of 2 years, 8 months. [2] He was buried on the 16th.  

WIlhelm C. Bienz, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2019 photo by Karen)

Ferdinand’s brother Wilhelm C. Bienz is not mentioned in Zion Schumm records, in neither their birth/baptism nor the death records. However, Wilhelm’s birth and death are both recorded in Van Wert County probate, but there is some conflicting information in the probate records.

According to the Van Wert County probate birth records Wilhelm C. Bienz was born in Willshire Township on 25 November 1878 to Johann and Magdalena (Schueler) Bienz. [3] That appears to be the only record of his birth. His birth can also be calculated from the tombstone inscription.

According to the Van Wert County probate death records Wilhelm Bienz died 13 March 1878, at the age of 5 years and 5 months. [4] His death date on this record (13 March 1878) has to be incorrect because since his probate birth record indicates he was born 25 November 1878, meaning his birth would have been 8 months after his death!

In addition, the probate death record indicates he was 5 years and 5 months old when he died, putting his date of birth at 13 October 1872, seven months after his brother Christian Andreas was born. Could be, but not likely.

The inscription on the tombstone is likely more accurate. It indicates that Wilhelm died 31 March 1879 at the age of 5 months and 5 days. That would make his date of birth 26 October 1878, a month earlier than his probate birth record indicates. Still little off, but more reasonable.   

Looking at the other children in the Johann Bienz family, a child was born every couple of years. Christian Andreas Bienz was born 12 Mar 1872. Ferdinand was born in 1873. Martin Gottfried was born in 1875. Magdalena Anna Margaretha was born in 1881. Wilhelm would fit right in there with a birth year of 1878.

The mother of these two boys, Magdalena (Schueler), was the daughter of Maria Katharina (Schumm) Schueler (1810-1838). Maria Katharina (Schumm) was the daughter of immigrant Johann Georg Schumm. Maria Katharina was an immigrant herself and married to Michael Schueler. Maria Katharina (Schumm) Schueler was the first person buried in Zion Schumm Cemetery.

Ferdinand & Wilhelm Bienz base, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2019 photo by Karen)

This tombstone is weathered and very difficult to read. We went to the cemetery last week to get a good photo of it and found the best way to read the inscription was by wrapping the stone in aluminum foil and lightly rubbing the foil with a soft-bristled brush. That method made the inscription fairly readable may be my new favorite method of reading a weathered tombstone.


[1] Ludwig Eberhard Ferdinand Bienz’s church death/burial record does not give his mother’s name, only that he was the son of Johann Bienz. However, baptism entries of some of their other children indicate that Johann Bienz was married to Margaretha Schueler.

[2] “Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001, database with images, ( : viewed 18 Mar 2019), Ludwig E F Bienz, 14 Feb 1876; Willshire Township, Van Wert County Deaths, 1867-1908, p.102-03.

[3] “Ohio, County Births, 1841-2003,” database with images, ( : viewed 18 Mar 2019), Wm C Bienz, 25 Nov 1878; Van Wert births, Vol. 1:266.

[4] “Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001,” database with images, ( : viewed 18 Mar 2019), Wm. C. Bienz, 13 Mar 1878; Van Wert County deaths, Vol. 1867-1908:130-31.


Mar 15

Willshire News, 1904

What was going on in Willshire, Ohio, in 1904? You can get a good idea from their town newspaper, the Willshire Herald, William G. Hoffer, publisher.

I am still going through the 5 May 1904 edition of the Willshire Herald that my great-grandfather Louis J. Schumm saved. I have so enjoyed going through this paper and I hope others also find it as interesting as I do. Today, more items from that 1904 newspaper.

The Willshire Herald, 1904.

Some items for sale:

For Sale—Covered ice wagon, one-ton capacity. Address Art Swoveland, Wren, Ohio, or inquire at the Herald office for particulars and price.

Saw Mill for SaleA complete saw mill outfit for sale, located 1½ miles north of Schumm station. The equipment consists in part of 30 HP engine and boiler, planer, re-saw machine, 42-inch gristmill burr, edger, grind-stone, 3 feet in diameter; emery gumming machine, cut-off saw, etc. Everything in good shape. Inquire of J.G. Grund, RFD No. 2, Willshire, or at this office, for price and terms.

For Sale—Oil lease, 1½ mile east of Willshire, L.G. Schumm farm, 160 acres. Also 60 feet 2 in. x 8 ¼ inch pipe and 386 feet of 53/8 inch casing. Call on or address S.G. Parks, no. 219 E. Market St., Lima, Ohio, or Wm. G. Hoffer, Willshire, Ohio.

I wonder if that could be my great-grandfather, but his name was Louis J. [Johann] Schumm.

Oil lease for sale, LG Schumm farm, east of Willshire, 1904.

Some of the terms used in this newspaper are archaic and rarely used today. I have added some definitions and explanations in the footnotes.  

There were some visitors to Willshire in the spring of 1904:

Billy Dorfer, of Dayton, representing the Cincinnati Delicatessen Supply company, of Cincinnati, was a Willshire visitor last Thursday and Friday, both in a business capacity and as the guest of Sam Stein. Mr. Dorfer is an old-time knight of the grip, and takes pleasure in mixing up with the boys of the towns he visits. He had a number of friends in this town who are always pleased to see him. [1]

L.L. Rigdon, jeweler, optician and newspaper owner and solicitor, was a Willshire visitor last Friday, between trains. He is rather pleased with the showing he is making as a promoter of a newspaper property, and it would not surprise us much if he was to drop all other lines and take up active newspaper work.

I wonder if the following story actually occurred:

Earl Stetler and Charley Tague sighted a strange looking water fowl on the river last Wednesday, right back of the old stone crusher, and immediately set about winging it. The bird was fired at half dozen times but kept on down the river, with Stetler and Tague in pursuit. They finally succeeded in planting a load of shot in it, when near the Pleasant Mills Bridge, and captured it. They brought the bird back to town, unable to name it. The trophy was exhibited to Ot Botkin, town Birdologist, who unhesitatingly pronounced it a Loon, remarking at the same time, that the town was full of loons, but that was the only one that had wings, and it is dead. Loon, you know is one of the dictionary names for rascal. [2]

A warning about hoboes:  

Pan-handlers and hoboes are becoming numerous—more so than for years—and all are heading for St. Louis and the fair. They are not the common run of tramps, but seem to be high-class artists in the fakir line. Our townspeople should give these wayfaring fakirs to understand that their room is preferable to their company, and the marshal should see that they pull out of town almost before they light. [3]  

News from the Pythians:

Hon. C.V. Hoke, the Happy Holligan of Van Wert County Pythians, has a large sized boom for election as Grand Outer Guard at the Grand Lodge meeting in Cleveland next month. Hoke is not only one of the most enthusiastic of Pythians, but he is also one of the most deserving. The Grand Lodge will bring honor on itself by elevating Mr. Hoke to the position for which the Fifth district Knights in convention assembled nominated him by unanimous consent. [4]

Construction going on in Willshire:

Stakes have been set for two new dwelling houses. When completed they will be for rent. These houses will be wooden structures and will occupy a portion of the site of that much-talked-of-but-never-to-be-realized-brick-block. Somebody ought to be ashamed of themselves for the fizzling out of that proposed venture. If ever a town stood in need of cement block, brick or stone business buildings, that town is Willshire, Ohio.

There is so much house building in sight that people are now beginning to quarrel over the laying out of streets.

Evidently there was some brawling in Willshire:

The Herald has been accused of “keeping quiet” on fights that have occurred in town the past month, but the fact is we knew nothing of them until long after they had been pulled off, and to tell of them now would not be news.

News about kids playing ball:

We saw five boys and a girl playing scrub ball Friday and you can bet the boys were doing the batting and the lone girl was acting as back-stop and fielder, while the boys all screamed at once: “Hurry up, can’t you!”


[1] Knights of the Grip: traveling salesman for at least a year and under 50 years of age.

[2] Ot Botkin: storyteller; not a real person; this name originates from the UK and was used years ago to attribute a story to someone, in this case a fictional character.

[3] Fakir: a religious ascetic who lives solely on alms; needy man; a Muslim or Hindu.  

[4] Knights of Pythias: a secret fraternal organization founded in 1864.

Mar 12

Tombstone Tuesday–Walter Bienz

Walter Bienz, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2012 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Walter Bienz, located in row 2 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

Son of
A.J. & P.C. Bienz
Died May 19, 1890
Aged 2D

According to Zion Lutheran Schumm’s records, Walther “Walter” Stephan Bienz was born 17 May 1890, the son of Adam and Pauline Charlotte (Germann) Bienz. Walter was baptized at home later that same day, with Jacob Bienz and his wife serving as his sponsors. 

Walter’s father Johann “Adam” Bienz was the son of Jacob and Elisabeth (Pflueger) Bienz, born 26 October 1858.

Adam Bienz married Pauline C. Germann in Van Wert County on 25 September 1887. [1] Pauline was the daughter of Johann Phillip & Mary Elizabeth (Jung/Young) Germann.

Walter Bienz had an older sister, “Mina“ Elisabeth Bienz, born 18 December 1888, two years before Walter was born.

Walter passed away on 18 May 1890 at 11:00 in the evening. This date disagrees with his tombstone inscription by one day. Walter was buried on the 20th and his funeral text was Mark 10:14.

Walter’s mother Pauline passed away on 5 August 1891, a little over a year after Walter’s death. She is buried in row 6 of Zion Schumm’s cemetery.

Walter’s father Adam Bienz married Wilhelmine Christiana Reinking in Adams County, Indiana, on 9 April 1893. [2]

Adam Bienz’s second wife Wilhelmine Christiana died in 1897 [3] and Adam married Christina Mathilda Bleeke in Adams County, Indiana, on 14 May 1899. [4]

Christina Mathilda Bienz died 22 April 1944 [5] and Adam Bienz died 16 January 1949. [6] They are both buried in Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery, Decatur, Indiana.

Walter’s sister Mina Bienz married Fred Geschwell. She died in 1952 and is buried in Lindenwood Cemetery, Fort Wayne, Indiana. [7]  


[1] “Ohio, County Marriages, 1879-2013,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : viewed 10 Mar 2019), Adam J Bienz & PC Germann, 25 Sep 1887; Van Wert County Marriages, Vol. 7:181.

[2] “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : viewed 10 Mar 2019), Adam J Bienz & Christiana W. Reinking, 8 Apr 1893; Adams County Marriages, Vol. F:478.

[3] Find a Grave memorial no. 106418617, Wilhelmine Christine “Lena” (Reinking) Bienz, Immanual Lutheran Church Cemetery, Decatur, Adams County, Indiana.

[4] “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : viewed 10 Mary 2019), Adam J Bienz & Christena Mathilda Blakey, 14 May 1899; Adams County Marriages, Vol. G:492.

[5] Find a Grave memorial no. 98917043, Christina Mathilda Bleeke Bienz, Immanuel Lutheran Church Cemetery, Decatur, Adams County, Indiana.

[6] Find a Grave memorial no. 98917041, Adam Jacob Bienz, Immanuel Lutheran Church Cemetery, Decatur, Adams County, Indiana.

[7] Find a Grave memorial no. 74129510, Mina B Geschwell, Lindenwood Cemetery, Fort Wayne, Allen County, Indiana.

Mar 08

Willshire, 1904

Today, more items from the 5 May 1904 edition of the Willshire Herald that my great-grandfather Louis J. Schumm saved.

Willshire was a thriving village in 1904, with quite a few businesses and many services offered, according to this 1904 Willshire Herald.

I have also been looking at Willshire in the 1900 census and it should come as no surprise to see that many of the people who advertised in this paper were also enumerated in the 1900 census. It is interesting to see their names, enumerated with their families, with some information about them.

Below is more about Willshire and some of its residents, from the 4 May 1904 edition of the Willshire Herald :

Evidently having a 100+ year-old newspaper was news back in 1904, too:

An Old Newspaper
Chas. Winans, the village photographer, left a copy of the Ulster County Gazette at this office last Wednesday for our inspection and perusal. It was published at Kingston, N.Y., in January 1800, and consequently is 104 years old. The paper is peculiar in its make-up and typographically it looks every bit as old as it is. The advertisements are odd in phraseology and not very artistic in construction. As an historical relic it is valuable and interesting, and Mr. Winans has had it placed in a frame, the better to preserve and protect it.

1904 Willshire Herald

As the above article mentioned, Charles Winans was the photographer in Willshire:

Winans Photography, 1904 Willshire Herald.

The advertisement below caught my attention. I had no idea what a Tonsorial Artist was until I looked it up and learned that it means related to barbering. Detter was a barber:

F.A. Detter, Tonsorial Artist.
Vance Building, West side State St.

1904 Willshire Herald

But another notice in the same newspaper indicates that Detter had very recently sold his business:

A Business Change
Geo. W. Rhoads has again engaged in the barber business in this town, having bought the equipment and good will of F.A. Detter. The transfer of the property was made Tuesday, too late to change the advertising card. Mr. Rhoads needs no introduction to the Willshire public.

The 1900 census indicates that George W. Rhoads, 25, was a barber in Willshire. So it appears he quit barbering for a time but started up again in 1904.

This newspaper contains some information about doctors, a veterinary, and some health incidents in the area:

Dr. C.W. Bobo. Physician and Surgeon. Office at residence on South State Street, Willshire, O., General practitioner. Calls given prompt attention. Phone 59.

1904 Willshire Herald

Dr. C.V. Connell, Veterinary Surgeon and Dentist, Decatur, Ind.
Graduate of the Ontario Veterinary College and Toronto Veterinary Dental School. Treats all Diseases of Domesticated Animals. Surgery and Dentistry a Specialty. Free examination of your Horse’s Mouth. Calls promptly attended, Day or Night.  Office: 2nd and Jackson St.

Residence S 4th St.
Telephone 102.

Dentist Coming, Maybe
Dr. A.D. Buffington, of Minster, Ohio, was in Willshire, Monday, looking over the ground with a view of locating in this village for the practice of dentistry. We don’t believe that he could select a more desirable location for his purpose, and we sincerely trust that he will make up his mind to pitch his professional and residential tent in our burg. Willshire has long needed a resident dentist and Dr. Buffington has the appearance of a man who will make a good citizen, and if he is a good dentist, he will doubtless prove a valuable acquisition to our town’s population. 

I wonder if Dr. Buffington ever came to Willshire or if Willshire ever had a dentist–a dentist for humans, not horses.

 A Painful Operation
Simeon Wells, living near Delphos, last week submitted to an operation for the removal of his right eye. Four years ago he became overheated and the eye was affected, causing him a great amount of pain, so much so that it became intolerable, and the operation was necessary. —Delphos Courant

It Might Have Been Worse
Dr. J.Q. Neptune is minus eyebrows and a few of his bangs as a result of an explosion in his office Thursday. He attempted to light a gas stove, and an accumulation of gas sent a puff of flame into his face and almost blinded him for a time. Fortunately the accident was not serious. –Decatur Journal
Dr. Neptune is a son of Mr. and Mrs. I. Neptune of this place.

D.O. Thorp, paperhanger, provided a service:

Now is the time to see D.O. Thorp
If you wish Painting and Paperhanging done. He has Sample Book to show the different styles and prices. From 8 cents to One Dollar a bolt. Will show samples free of charge. All work to be done in first-class style. See me before contracting. Thanks for past patronage, I ask for continuance of same.
Phone No. 80.
D.O. Thorp, Willshire, Ohio

According to the 1900 census, Dan O. Thorp, 68, widower, was a painter in Willshire.

Interesting that W.W. Parks Pharmacy, offered wall paper from 3 cents a single roll, “up to any old price.”

1904 Willshire Herald

The 1900 census shows that William W. Parks, 37, was a druggist in Willshire.


Older posts «