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.

Mar 28

Chatt Merchants vs. Willshire, Baseball 1933

It has been one long, cold, snowy winter. Although the calendar tells us that it is spring, it still feels more like winter.

However, there are other indications that warmer weather is on its way. Most of the snow is gone and it only snowed one day this past week. Temperatures have been in the double digits for over a week. The robins and buzzards have returned to Mercer County. My daffodils are shooting up  from the ground. The Reds opening day is this coming Monday, 31 March. Yes! Baseball season is about to begin.

We are Cincinnati Reds fans here and nothing beats sitting back and watching a baseball game after a long day at work.

Baseball has always been a popular pastime in Chattanooga, Ohio. Bruno Betzel was born in Chatt in 1894 and he played in the major leagues. Several others from the Chatt area played in the minor leagues.

Over eighty years ago, in 1933, Chatt had a baseball team called the Chattanooga Merchants. One of their opponents was a team from Willshire, a town about eight miles to the north.

Who was playing on the Chatt and Willshire teams back in 1933?


A baseball game between Willshire and Chattanooga will be played in the Chattanooga Ball Park Saturday evening, July 8.

The game promises to be a hard fought exhibition as both teams are entering the contest with “blood in their eyes.” Chattanooga has a strong team of young players and haven’t lost a game this season. Willshire, however, is determined to turn the trick on them July 8.

The game will be called at 6 o’clock and a small entrance fee will be charged.

Willshire Lineup: Geisler, 3rd base; L. Detter, shortstop; Price, catcher; Bump, left field; R. Detter, center field; Passwater, 2nd base; August, 1st base; Shell, right field; Lawrence Beuchner, pitcher; Easthom, Slusser, Marbaugh and Leo Beuchner, utility.

Chattanooga Lineup: Huffman, 3rd base; Fisher, shortstop; Gibbons, catcher; Rothaar, left field; R. Bollenbacher, center field; White, 2nd base; C. Bollenbacher, 1st base; A.  Bollenbacher, right field; Raudenbush, pitcher; L. Heffner and Baker, utility. [1]

Who won the game?


Raudenbush pitched another winner for Chatt Merchants Saturday evening against Willshire team, the score being 6-2. Chatt got the lead in the game during the first inning when they made 3 runs. The other three being made in the 2nd and 5th innings. Willshire made their runs in the 4th and 6th innings. Slusser struck out 5 men and Raudenbush struck out 9.

Willshire is planning on making a good come-back at Chatt ball park Sunday, July 16, when they will again play the Chatt Merchants.

A summary of the game:

Willshire: Spahr, 1 hit; L. Detter, 1 error; August, 2 hits; Geisler, 1 run, 1 hit; Marbaugh, 1 hit; Easthom, 1 run. Passwater was the substitute pitcher.

Chatt: Huffman, 1 hit; Fisher, 1 run, 1 error; Gibbons, 2 runs, 2 hits; Raudenbush, 1 run, 1 hit; Rothaar, 1 hit; White, 1 run, 1 hit, 1 error; R. Bollenbacher, 1 hit; C. Bollenbacher, 1 run. L. Heffner substituted for C. Bollenbacher at the 4th inning. [2]

Unfortunately the newspaper did not include the first names of the players. I wonder where the Chatt baseball park was located. Maybe someone knows.

We look forward to the the 2014 baseball season and some spring weather. Please!

And good luck to the Reds!

[1] The Willshire Herald, Willshire, Ohio, 6 July 1933.

[2] The Willshire Herald, Willshire, Ohio, 13 July 1933.



Mar 25

Tombstone Tuesday–Charles & Catherine E. Bollenbacher

Charles and Catherine (Baker) Bollenbacher, Kessler Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio. (2014 photo by Karen)

Charles and Catherine Bollenbacher, Kessler Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio. (2014 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Charles and Catherine E. (Becker) Bollenbacher, located in row 6 of Kessler Cemetery [aka Liberty Cemetery], Liberty Township, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:


Catherine E.

Their Record is on High


Charles was the youngest son born to George and Henrietta (Alt) Bollenbacher. He was born in Bedesbach, Kingdom of Bayern, on 18 October 1845. In 1852, when he was six years of age, he immigrated to America with his family. The family immediately came to Liberty Township, Mercer County, Ohio, where they purchased land. Their farms were located a couple miles south of Chattanooga. [1]

About that same time the John Becker family moved to Liberty Township and the two families crossed paths. The Becker family attended Zion Lutheran Church in Chattanooga and their name was recorded as Becker in the early church records. Other records, later records, indicate the name was Baker. I do not know if the name was eventually changed to Baker. Maybe someone can share some information about their surname.

Zion’s records indicate that John Becker immigrated from Rhine-Bavaria in 1833 and married Barbara Wiedmann in Northampton County Pennsylvania in 1836. Other records show her name as Wittman. A couple children were born to them in Pennsylvania, before they moved to Piqua, Ohio. They had several more children in Piqua before moving again, this time to Mercer County.

Charles Bollenbacher married Catherine E. “Baker” on 13 May 1865 in Mercer County, Ohio. Her name was recorded as Baker on their marriage record. [2]

Catherine Elizabeth Becker was born 1 July 1845 in Shelby County, Ohio, to John and Barbara, their fifth child. [1] Catherine was mentioned in last week’s post, A Wild Man in the Woods.

Brothers married sisters in Mercer County. According to Zion’s records, Charles’ brother Jacob Bollenbacher married Catherine’s sister Louisa Becker on 30 October 1862 by Zion’s Rev. George Heintz.

Charles Bollenbacher (1845-1923).

Charles Bollenbacher (1845-1923).

Catherine Bollenbacher (1845-1917).

Catherine (Becker/Baker) Bollenbacher (1845-1917).












Charles and Catherine Bollenbacher lived on their farm south of Chattanooga all of their married life. Their large brick home, built in 1886, was located on Oregon Road, between State Route 49 and the Indiana State Line. Brother Jacob Bollenbacher owned the farm immediately to the west and lived in what appears to be an identical brick home. A third brick home with the same design stands about a half mile away on State Route 49. They were probably all built about the same time. Over the years the homes have had some porch additions and a few window changes, but they their basic design is the same.

Charles Bollenbacher home on Oregon Road, Mercer County, Ohio.

Charles Bollenbacher home on Oregon Road, Mercer County, Ohio.

While Charles’ primary occupation was farming, he pursued other endeavors and was active in local affairs. From 1885-1893 he manufactured bricks. He was a township trustee for six years, served as township treasurer, was a county commissioner from 1897-1902, and was a school director and supervisor.. The Bollenbachers were members of the local Evangelical Protestant Church. [1]

Catherine died 9 May 1917 in Liberty Township, at the age of 71 years, 10 months, and 8 days. She died of chronic myocarditis and was buried on the 11th. Bierie & Yager, Berne, Indiana, was in charge of the funeral arrangements. [3]

Charles died in Liberty Township on 26 January 1923, at the age of 77 years, 3 months, and 8 days. He died of carcinoma of the colon and was buried on the 27th. S.S. Egger was the undertaker. [4]

The couple had ten children:

John C. (1865-1940) married Phoebe Schaadt
Henry George (1867-1958) married Sophia Kessler
Caroline L. (1868-1941) married William Kessler
Anna H. (1870-1872)
Mary Louisa (1871-1897)
Margaretha H. “Nettie” (1873-1952) married Anton Andrew Schaadt
Anna Maria (1875-1881)
William F. (1878-1882)
Maria K. “Katie” (1880-1960) married John J. Schaadt
Hulda M. (1883-1979) married George A. Koch


[1] Mercer County Chapter, OGS, Mercer County, Ohio, Combined 1888, 1900 Atlases and 1876 Map of Mercer County, Ohio, (Mt. Vernon, Indiana : Windmill Publications, Inc., 1999); 1900 Atlas Biographies, p. 12, 84-85.

[2] “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XZGF-P29 : accessed 19 Mar 2014), Charles Bullenbaugh and Catharine Baker, 13 May 1865; citing Mercer, Ohio, United States, reference Vol. 3, p 86; FHL microfilm 914956.

[3] “Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1953,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/X8LZ-6ZG : accessed 23 Mar 2014), Kathryn Elizabeth Bollenbacker, 09 May 1917; citing Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, reference fn 62060; FHL microfilm 1984114.

[4] “Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1953,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/X8TX-TQ9 : accessed 23 Mar 2014), Charles Bollentacher, 26 Jan 1923; citing Liberty Twp, Mercer Co., Ohio, reference fn 5091; FHL microfilm 1992182.



Mar 21

A Wild Man in the Woods

The news of this incident, which occurred near Chattanooga, Ohio, made it all the way to Cincinnati in 1886.

Dateline Decatur, Indiana.

A Wild Man in the Woods
Special Dispatch to the Enquirer
Decatur, Ind., July 9
[1886]—The citizens of Chattanooga, Ohio, and vicinity are very much excited over the appearance of a crazy or wild man in the woods adjacent to the town. Mrs. Charles Bollenbaugh was working in a field two miles from Chattanooga yesterday when she discovered a man approaching her who was entirely naked, except hat and boots. As soon as she saw him she ran for an adjoining field, where there were some men at work, and gave the alarm. The men started after him, and he ran for an adjoining woods and disappeared in the thick underbrush. To-day the farmers in that region have all stopped harvesting and are in search of the crazy man, and expect to capture him before the sun goes down to-night. The women and children of that section are afraid to venture outside of the house while he is at large. It is supposed he has escaped from some insane asylum. [1]

"A Wild Man in the Woods," The Cincinnati Enquirer, 10 July 1886, p.9.

“A Wild Man in the Woods,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, 10 July 1886, p.9.

The woman described in this clipping was most likely Catherine E. (Becker/Baker) Bollenbacher, wife of Charles “Carl” Bollenbacher.

Catherine Bollenbacher (1845-1917).

Catherine Bollenbacher (1845-1917).

The Charles Bollenbacher farm was located south of Chatt. on Oregon Road, between State Route 49 and the Indiana State Line. Their large brick home was built in 1886. [2]

Charles Bollenbacher home on Oregon Road, Mercer County, Ohio.

Charles Bollenbacher home on Oregon Road, Mercer County, Ohio. (bef. 1900)

What a scare that must have been for Catharine Bollenbacher. I wonder if they ever found the wild man?


[1] “A Wild Man in the Woods,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, 10 July 1886, p. 9; digital images by subscription, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 19 March 2014).

[2] Mercer County Chapter, OGS, Mercer County, Ohio, Combined 1888, 1900 Atlases and 1876 Map of Mercer County, Ohio, (Mt. Vernon, Indiana : Windmill Publications, Inc., 1999); 1900 Atlas, p. 12, 84-85.


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