Apr 15

Tombstone Tuesday–Oscar J. Scaer

Oscar J. Scaer, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2012 photo by Karen)

Oscar J. Scaer, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2012 photo by Karen)

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

Oscar J.
Oct. 17, 1906
Nov. 9, 1992

Oscar Johann Scaer was the fifth child born to John and Elizabeth “Lizzie” (Schinnerer) Scaer, born 17 October 1906 in Willshire Township. He was baptized 28 October 1906, with Joseph Gunset and Wilhelm Schumm as his sponsors.

Oscar was a grandson of Friedrich Schinnerer, the miller and farmer, and the brother of my grandmother Hilda (Scaer) Schumm.

John and Lizzie Scaer lived in Allen County, Indiana, when they were first married but moved to Van Wert County in about 1903. They lived a couple miles east of Willshire on Willshire Eastern Road, first living in a frame house and later building a brick home.

John Scaer home east of Willshire, c1904. Willie, Elsie, Hilda, Edna Scaer.

John Scaer home east of Willshire, c1904. Willie, Elsie, Hilda, Edna Scaer.

Oscar never married and lived in the brick home his father built the remainder of his life. He gave his occupation as a farmer in the 1930 and 1940 censuses. Oscar died 9 November 1992 in Van Wert, Ohio. He is buried next to his parents.

Home built by John Scaer, east of Willshire.(2001 photo by Karen)

Home built by John Scaer, east of Willshire.(2001 photo by Karen)


Oscar J. Scaer
Oscar J. Scaer, 86, a lifelong resident of rural Willshire, Ohio, died Monday, Nov. 9 in Van Wert Manor Nursing Home, Van Wert. He had been seriously ill for the last two months.

He was born October 17, 1906 in Willshire, Ohio to John and Elizabeth (Schinnerer) Scaer.

Survivors include two sisters, Mrs. Hilda Schumm and Mrs. Elsie Roehm, both of rural Willshire; six nieces and two nephews.

Services were held Wednesday at Zion Lutheran Church, Schumm with the Rev. Michael Roth officiating. Burial was in Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Willshire.

Preferred memorials are to Zion Lutheran Church Improvement Fund. [1]


Oscar J. Scaer, c1981.

Oscar J. Scaer, c1981.

[1] The Photo Star, Willshire, Ohio, 11 Nov 1992, p.3.

Apr 11

The 1969 Mercer County Grange Drill Team

Last week I wrote about the local Farmers’ Institute meetings and that me reminded me of another rural organization that our family belonged to in the 1960s–the Chattanooga Grange.

The Chattanooga Grange meetings were held at the old Parish Hall east of Chattanooga on Tama Road. In addition to the monthly meetings the Chattanooga Grange sponsored and participated in a couple big events every year.

One event was the Strawberry Festival. Once a year, in the spring, the Chattanooga Grange would prepare a meal that revolved around the dessert–fresh strawberry shortcake. It was a big event that drew a crowd of people from miles around and the food was delicious. Grange members know how to cook! I remember cleaning crates and crates of strawberries the morning of the meal and waiting tables that evening. It was a lot of work, it was fun, and it was a major source of revenue for our organization.

Back in the 60s there were five or six individual Granges in Mercer County and each was responsible for decorating a booth at the Mercer County Fair. The displays were judged at the fair and ribbons were awarded. A specific theme was assigned each year and booth displays had to adhere to that theme. I remember one year the theme revolved around a pair of hands. My dad made a mold of his cupped hands, cast them in plaster, and painted the finished cast a gold-color. It was creative. I wish I had some photos of those fair booths.

In 1969 the youth members from the Mercer County Granges formed a drill team and we won the Ohio State Grange Drill Team competition. The Grange drill team had to adhere to many required movements and formations. One of the required formations was a cross. We practiced our formations and our marching over and over. We crisscrossed across the stage and made sharp turns. I recall that our drill lasted about 10 minutes. Rosella (Dull) Vining accompanied us on the piano with a lively march. The women wore black jumpers with white blouses and the men wore black trousers and white shirts and black ties.

This photo was taken right after we won the competition:

Mercer County Grange Drill Team, State Champions, 1969. [1]

Mercer County Grange Drill Team, State Champions, 1969. [1]

We chartered a bus to take us to the competition, held in Ashville, Ohio, about 20 miles south of Columbus. We were confident about our drill but were nervous before going out onto the stage. We marched very well that night and when the drill was over we knew that we had nailed it. We had won the state Grange drill championship.

But the evening was far from being over. On the way home we had bus trouble. In a time before the idea of cell phones ever existed, the driver had to walk for help, leaving us stranded on the bus. We sat in the bus, somewhere on the side of some road, in the dark, for hours and hours. We did not get home until about 6:00 a.m. the next morning. But Mercer County had won the 1969 State Grange Drill Team Championship.

Mercer County Grange’s Youth Drill Team journeyed to Ashville Saturday and won the state championship in competition with seven other district contest winners. The local group collected 98.5 points of a possible 100 to top second place Stark County which earned 96 points. Fairfield County was third with 95.5 points while Erie County placed fourth with 95. The local team will perform at the State Grange convention in October. Team members are, left to right, front row, Pam Gilmore, Nancy Laffin, Karen Westerberg, Vicki Gause, Marge Gause and Karen Miller; middle row, Mrs. Rosella Vining (pianist), Ron Miller, Bob Willrath, Janet Howell, Susan Canary, Dorothy Hoenie, Angela Thurston, and Jun Hoenie; back row, Ray Gilmore (director), Jerry Laffin, Wayne Doner, Dave Stephenson, Ken Doner, Bruce Felver and Gail Grunden.


[1] The Daily Standard, Celina, Ohio, Monday, 31 March 1969.

Apr 08

Tombstone Tuesday–Lydia A. Schinnerer

Henry F., Louise M., Lydia A. Schinnerer, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2012 photo by Karen)

Henry F., Louise M., Lydia A. Schinnerer, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2012 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Lydia A.  Schinnerer and her parents, located in row 4 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio.

Their marker is inscribed:


Henry F.

 Louise M.

 Lydia A.

I featured this tombstone a few weeks ago and wrote about Lydia’s parents Henry F. and Louise (Schumm) Schinnerer.

Lydia is buried next to her parents and her name is inscribed on the right side of the marker. This post includes Lydia’s obituary.

Lydia Amalia was the third child born to Henry F. and Louise (Schumm) Schinnerer, born 21 November 1897 in the Schinnerer family home about a half mile east of Willshire. She was baptized 5 December 1897 at home, with Mrs. Rosine Germann and Amalia Schinnerer as sponsors.

Lydia and her brother Fred resided in the Schinnerer family home all of their lives. It had once been the home of Ansel Blossom and Lydia’s grandfather Friedrich Schinnerer purchased it from him in about 1878. Lydia died there 29 December 1985, at the age of 88 years, 1 month, and 8 days.


Lydia Schinnerer
Lydia A. Schinnerer, 88, route 1, Willshire, died unexpectedly Sunday, Dec. 29 at her home, the same house in which she was born in November 21 1897 in Willshire Township of Van Wert County.

The daughter of Henry F. and Louisa Schumm Schinnerer, she never married. She was a housekeeper and a member of Zion Lutheran Church at Schumm.

Survivors include a sister-in-law in Fort Wayne, Martha Schinnerer, and several cousins in the Schumm area. Two brothers are deceased: Fred and William Schinnerer.

Funeral services were held last Friday in Zwick-Boltz and John Funeral Home, Rev. Gary A. Luderman officiating. Burial was in the church cemetery. [1]


[1] The Photo Star, Willshire, Ohio, 8 January 1986, p. 3.

Apr 04

The Farmers’ Institute

Years ago there was an event many people in our rural community looked forward to during the dreary winter months. It provided something for everyone, young and old, rural and village dweller.

It was the annual Farmers’ Institute.

I had never heard about this locally-held event until recently, but some of you might remember attending the institutes.

To learn more about the event I talked to my neighbor Dorothy Jean and did a little research of my own. Dorothy Jean grew up in Chattanooga and has many fond memories of the Chattanooga Farmers’ Institute.

The Farmers’ Institute was a society governed by the Ohio State Board of Agriculture. The rules for the society were set down in 1890 and declared that twenty or more residents of any county in the state could organize themselves into a Farmers’ Institute society, with the purpose of teaching better methods of farming, stock raising, fruit culture, and all branches of business connected with the industry of agriculture. Societies would adopt a constitution and by-laws agreeable to the rules and regulations of the State Board of Agriculture. Each local society would elect their own officers and committees, who would plan the local institute. [1] The events featured speakers from the state.

Institutes were established as early as 1877. The earliest newspaper account I saw was that of a Farmers’ Institute held in Cambridge, Ohio, in 1877. [2] Some Ohio counties still hold Farmers’ Institutes today.


Chattanooga Farmers' Institute, 1936.

Chattanooga Farmers’ Institute, 1936.

In 1937 Mercer County Farmers’ Institutes were held in Montezuma, Chattanooga, Marion, Neptune, Wabash, Celina, Rockford, and Mendon. [3]  As time went on some counties held only one institute. Other states also held similar rural institutes.

In the early years the prime objective of the institute was to teach the farmer how to best cultivate the soil and how to secure the best returns from the farm with the least expense and without increasing the labor. [4] Early topics focused on preserving the forests, raising livestock, and growing crops. Later institutes included home and agricultural exhibits as well as topics on other timely issues such as Social Security.

The Farmers’ Institute was held once a year and lasted two days. Institutes were usually held in the winter, often February, most likely because the farmers were busy working around the farm during the warm months. The program consisted of lectures by professional state lecturers, discussions, entertainment, and prayer.

The whole family would attend the Farmers’ Institute and the children looked forward to it. There was something there for people of all ages.

The Chattanooga area had their own Farmers’ Institute, usually held at the Parish Hall, or what I always knew as the Grange Hall, located on Tama Road, about a mile east of State Route 49. This building was once part of St. Paul UCC Church.

Dorothy Jean vividly recalls some items on the Chattanooga program: prayers by local minister(s); speakers; school children from Chatt, Deitsch, and Landfair schools who were allowed to skip school to attend; a ciphering contest and spelling bee for the children; judging of posters made by school children; plays presented by the youth of a local church; and food prepared by a local church and sold at the “food stand”

Farmer''s Institute program, Chattanooga, Ohio,1936. Program courtesy of Dorothy Jean (Leininger) Hellwarth.

Farmers’ Institute program, Chattanooga, Ohio,1936. Program courtesy of Dorothy Jean (Leininger) Hellwarth.

The following are three examples of local Farmers’ Institutes.

The Chattanooga Farmers’ Institute was held in the Evangelical Church, Chattanooga, Wednesday and Thursday, 28-29 February 1912. Highlights of the institute:

The opening address was given by R.R. Morrison and prayer was offered by Rev. E. H. Jones.

Music was provided by the band; Mr. & Mrs. Egger; Hazel Tague; Misses Kuhn, Baker, and Betzel; Fay Dudgeon; Mrs. DeArmond and sister; and the Pifer sisters.

Lectures: Tile Drainage and Manure; Live Stock vs. Grain Farming; The Home and Its Surroundings; Land Owner and Tenant; Public Claims on Private People (by Zion Chatt’s Rev. L. Loehr); The Home and Its Influence; Landlord and Tenant; The Horse, Hog, and Sheep; Problems of Soil Fertility; Tuberculosis (by Dr. E.H. Alspaugh); What Do You Think of Yourself (by Rev. S.A. Beall); Agriculture in the Country School for Scholars (by John H. Kable).

Round Table Discussion Topics: Cheap Lands in Ohio; Extension Schools; Social Life on the Farm; Uses of the Gasoline Engine; Why the Decrease in Rural Population; Orchard Demonstrations; Why the Decline of Country School and Church; Farm Book-keeping; Government Aim for Good Roads; Uses of Cement on the Farm; Clover Boosts and Thistle Knocks; Beautifying Country Homes; County Fair Exhibits; Community Buying and Selling; How to Raise More Wheat, Corn, and Clover. [5] 

In 1937 the Chattanooga’s Farmers’ Institute was held 5-6 February at St. Paul’s Parish Hall. The event included morning, afternoon, and evening sessions that provided educational lectures and entertainment.

The Institute began with Community Singing, lead by Zion’s own Rev. Carl Yahl, followed by ciphering in grades 3-8.

Musical numbers were presented by Vera Mae Andress and Betty Hunziker, Robert and Betty Lou Marbaugh, Lowell Weitz, the Zion Lutheran Quartet, the Methodist Quartet, Betty Branstetter, Melvin Gehm, Minnie and Kathryn Brehm, Tillie Gehm (accordion solo), Eugene Caffee, and Pauline and Marguerite Wendel.

The Chattanooga Institute concluded Saturday evening with a three-act play, Sitting Pretty. Actors were Kathryn Brehm, Pauline Wendel, Ralph Bollenbacher, Goldie Baumgartner, Ruth Andress, Martin Fahncke, Lavaun Koch, Lois Heffner, and William Rothaar. [3] 

Willshire held its Farmers’ Institute that same weekend in 1937 in their school auditorium. Their event also had morning, afternoon, and evening sessions and promised to provide “entertainment and instructive talks on subjects of general interest to everyone.” There was a poster contest for school children of all grade levels.

School children from Miss Wolf’s Room, Miss Winkler’s Room, and Mr. Edwards’ Room provided entertainment. Other musical entertainment included a piano duet by Rosella Dull and Kathleen Detter, a piano solo by Phyllis Hoblet, and a number by Rosella Dull, Katherine Bilderback, Kathleen Detter, and Betty Althoen.

Actors in Willshire’s comedy play included Fred Voigtmann, Herbert Brandt, Kenneth Dellinger, Ruth Mercer, Mildred Wolfe, Geraldine Strickler, Lois Geisler, and Deloris Schumm. [3]

Some of these names are familiar and I even knew some of these folks. I remember Rosella (Dull) Vining, my elementary music teacher, who also played piano for our Grange drill team. Herb Brandt and Gene Caffee attended Zion Chatt.

It is also interesting to note that we still have some of the same concerns in rural areas today as they had back in the early days of the Farmers’ Institute.


[1] “Law Governing Farmers’ Institute Societies in Ohio,” Passed 26 April 1890 and Amended 27 April 1896, Annual Report of Ohio State Board of Agriculture, 1899; Google Books, (http://www.google.com/books?id=bHkSAAAAYAAJ : accessed 3 April 2014), p. 159-60.

[2] “Squibs from Washington,” Cambridge Jeffersonian, Cambridge, Ohio, 1 March 1877, p. 3; digital images by subscription Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 2 April 2014).

[3] The Willshire Herald, Willshire, Ohio, 28 January 1937, p.1, 5, 6, 8.

[4] “The Fifteenth Annual Farmer’s Institute of This County,” Marysville Journal—Tribune, Marysville, Ohio, 31 January 1895, p. 1; digital images by subscription Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 2 April 2014).

[5] “Big Institute,” The Rockford Press, Rockford, Ohio, 23 February 1912.




Apr 01

Tombstone Tuesday–Fred H. Schinnerer

Fred H. Schinnerer, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2012 photo by Karen)

Fred H. Schinnerer, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2012 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Fred H. Schinnerer, located in row 10 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

Fred H.
Mar. 8, 1904
Oct. 2, 1984

Friedrich Heinrich Schinnerer was the fourth child born to Henry F. and Louise (Schumm) Schinnerer. According to Zion Schumm’s records he was born 8 March 1904 and baptized 20 March at the family home just east of Willshire. Sponsors at his baptism were Fred Schinnerer I, H.F. Schumm, and John Scaer.

Friedrich resided on the Schinnerer family farm his whole life. The Schinnerer home place was the former Ansel Blossom farm, purchased in 1873 by Friedrich’s grandfather Friedrich Schinnerer. Friedrich H’s father Henry F. purchased the homestead from his father Friedrich (1824-1905) in 1894. Friedrich H. never married.


Fred Schinnerer
Fred H. Schinnerer, 80, route 1, Willshire, a retired farmer who lived his entire life on the same farm, died Tuesday, Oct. 2 in the emergency room of the Van Wert County Hospital shortly after arrival. He had been in failing health the last several years.

Born in Willshire Township, Van Wert County, on March 8, 1904, he was the son of Henry and Louisa Schumm-Schinnerer.

Survivors include a sister, Miss Lydia Schinnerer, route 2, Willshire; and a sister-in-law, Mrs. Martha Schinnerer, Fort Wayne. One brother, William, is deceased.

Services were held Thursday at Zwick, Boltz & Jahn Funeral Home. Burial was in Zion Lutheran Church Cemetery, Schumm. [1]


[1] The Photo Star, Willshire, Ohio, 10 Oct 1984, p. 3.

Older posts «