Tombstone Tuesday-John Shilling

John Shilling, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2012 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of John Schilling, located in row 8 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

John Shilling
Nov. 8, 1877
55 ys, 7 mo, 22 ds

John Shilling is not mentioned in Zion Schumm’s church records but I was able to learn a little about him from other sources.

John Schilling was born 17 March 1822, as calculated from his tombstone. At least 2 local newspapers recorded his untimely death and gave a little information about him. They mention that John lived about four miles east of Willlshire, had a brother Joseph Shilling who also lived near Willshire, that John Shilling moved into the area several months ago, and that widower John Shilling married a widow from Van Wert.  

Zion Schumm’s records indicate that a Mrs. Schilling was buried in the church cemetery on 8 July 1876. That record entry also mentions that Mr. Schilling was not a member of the church. This was likely John Shilling’s first wife, Catherine Stake/Sage, a member of Zion Lutheran Schumm, and this could be the reason John is not mentioned in the church records. He was not a member. It appears that the first Mrs. Shilling’s tombstone did not survive. [1]

John Shilling married Nancy L. (Beaty) O’Day (1835-1917) on 28 May 1877 in Van Wert County. [2] John did not live long after their marriage and his widow Nancy married Morgan Mumaugh in 1881.

According the Van Wert Times, 16 November 1877: On Thursday a week ago Mr. John Shilling, an aged farmer of Willshire Township, went to the town of Willshire, with his wagon and team on business, we are informed, and after transacting it, returned to his home in the evening. Soon after his return he complained of being exceedingly thirsty saying that he had eaten a herring while in town and supposed it caused his thirst, and to allay it, commenced drinking butter milk and continued doing so until he had taken nearly a gallon. But a short time after he had done this he died. It is said, in great pain and that his jaws were firmly clenched together. The above is the report given to us of the affair by some of the relatives of the deceased. He was a brother of Joseph Shilling, of this place, and was a worthy farmer of Willshire Township. Being a widower, he came here some months ago and was married to a widow lady of Van Wert. The cause of his sudden death seems to be a mystery as yet we believe unknown to his relatives and friends.

Van Wert Bulletin, 22 Feb 1878: On the 8th day of November, A.D. 1877, I was called to visit Mr. John Shilling a worthy farmer, living about four miles east of Willshire, in Van Wert County, whom I found laboring under a severe attack of congestion of the stomach, superinduced by excessive eating and drinking while in Willshire on the 8thof said month, of which he died on the evening of the same day that I visited him, and I will take the responsibility of saying that all statement intimating that any unfair means had been used with him, are without any foundation in fact and consequently untrue. Respectfully, J.F. Schaffner (Dr.)

Only two Schillings are mentioned in Zion Schumm’s records and they could be connected to John Shilling, although the name is spelled differently: Widow Anna (Schilling) Geissler died 8 April 1866 at the age of 59 ½ years. It appears her tombstone did not survive. The other Schilling mentioned in the records is the Mrs. Schilling mentioned above, who died 8 July 1876, very likely John’s first wife Catherine.

John Shilling, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2012 photo by Karen)

To trace John’s movements, in 1860 the John Shilling family lived in Marion, Ohio: John, 38; Catharine, 31; Margaret, 10; Mary, 8; Elizabeth, 7; Joseph, 6; Josephine, 5; Francis, 4; Lana, 2; and John, 6 months. [3]  

In 1870 the John Shilling family lived in Harden County, Ohio, with a Kenton postal address: John, 48; Catharine, 40; Mary, 18; Elizabeth, 16; Joseph, 15; Josephine, 15; Frances, 13; Lena, 12; Eliza, 10; and William, 3. [4]  

Both census enumerations indicate that John was born in Germany and that he was a farmer.

From looking around on-line it appears that some of John Shilling’s descendants are looking for the burial place of John’s first wife Catherine. I hope this blog post helps them out since it appears her burial is mentioned in Zion Schumm’s records.

[1] Find a Grave, John Shilling memorial no.36978571, indicates that John’s first wife was Mary Catherine Stake (1829-1876) and that they had a number of children born between 1849-1867. indicates her name was Catherine Sage and that they were married in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, 27 December 1848.

[2] Ohio, U.S. County Marriage Records1774-1993, Van Wert County, Vol. 4, p.528; John Shilling & Nancy L. O’Day, 28 May 1877; digital image,

[3] 1860 U.S. Census, Grand, Marion, Ohio, p.300, dwelling 466, family 455, Jno Shilling; digital image by subscription ( : viewed 4 Oct 2021).  

[4] 1970 U.S. Census, Goshen, Harden, Ohio, p.368A, dwelling 36, family 32, John Shilling; digital image by subscription ( : viewed 4 Oct 2021).

Another 1908 Willshire School Postcard

If this postcard looks familiar, you are not mistaken. I featured a postcard just like it last week and another one several years ago.

1908 Willshire Public School photo postcard to Charles Birkhold.

This was a very popular photo postcard in the Willshire area in the early 1900s. Willshire’s impressive public school was completed in 1901 and the community was proud of the building. There were many postcards of the new school circulating in the area at that time.

Yes, another Willshire Public School photo postcard, but with a different sender and recipient.

1908 Willshire Public School postcard to Charles Birkhold.

Postmarked Willshire, Ohio, 1 p.m. May 23 [?] 1908.
To Mr. Charles Birkhold
Columbus, Ohio
c/o Capital University

Message: I arrived home all O.K. Found the folks getting along fine. It has been pretty hot, especially working. I hope to get through planting corn sometime next week. It is as awful dry the ground works hard. With regards, B. B.

After doing a little detective work, I believe this postcard was sent to Charles Emmett Birkhold, written and sent to him by his younger sister Barbara Birkhold. Charles Emmett Birkhold (1881-1920) was born in Payne, Paulding County, Ohio, and became a Lutheran minister. According to Charles’ obituary he taught school for two years before attending Capital University in 1901. Charles graduated from Capital University in June 1906 and entered the seminary that fall, likely Trinity Seminary, which is adjacent to the Capital University campus. Charles Birkhold became an ordained minister in 1909.

This all fits perfectly with the date on the postcard.

Rev. Charles Birkhold married Onata Snellenberger in 1909 and they had 3 children. He was a Lutheran minister in Danville, Knox County, Ohio, between 1915-1920 and died near there from peritonitis in November 1920. He was 38 years old and is buried in Lehman Cemetery, Paulding County. [1]   

Charles Emmett Birkhold and his sister Barbara Birkhold (1886-1980) were the children of Charles D. and Margaret (Shrader) Birkhold, who lived in Benton, Paulding County, Ohio. [2] His sister Barbara Birkhold married Dennis Ankney. 

To be perfectly honest, I do not have this postcard in my possession. I purchased it a few weeks ago but it has not arrived. My expectations of receiving it diminish every day that goes by. It has apparently been lost in the mail and I probably will never get it. However, I did get these two screenshots of the postcard when I purchased it. Who knows, maybe the physical postcard will show up in my mailbox one day. At least I have these images.

[1] Rev. Charles E. Birkhold, Find a Grave memorial no. 55520537, Lehman Cemetery, Payne, Paulding County, Ohio. [obituary included in memorial]

[2] 1900 U.S. Census, Benton, Paulding, Ohio, ED 39, p.4, dwelling 78, family 82, Chas D Birkhold; digital image by subscription, ( : viewed 30 Sep 2021).

Tombstone Tuesday-Angel Symbols

Angel carvings are often used on tombstones and angel statues are frequently seen in cemeteries. Angels are agents of God, messengers between God and man, between heaven and earth. They symbolize spirituality. 

Union Cemetery, Darke County, Ohio.

Catholic Cemetery, Celina, Mercer County, Ohio.

An angel who is flying or ascending symbolizes rebirth and resurrection.

Union Cemetery, Darke County, Ohio.

Catholic Cemetery, Celina, Mercer County, Ohio.

An angel shown looking down with a drooping head or shown to be weeping symbolize mourning.

Kessler Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio.

St. Joseph Cemetery, Wapakoneta, Auglaize County, Ohio.

Greenlawn Cemetery, Wapakoneta, Auglaize County, Ohio.

The angel Gabriel is usually depicted with a horn and represents the Resurrection or Judgment Day.

Angel Gabriel with horn.

Angel Gabriel with horn, Elm Grove Cemetery, St. Marys, Auglaize County, Ohio.

A cherub may adorn a child’s grave.

Cherub on child’s grave, Greenlawn Cemetery, Wapakoneta, Auglaize County, Ohio

The Angel of Grief monument, located in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome, was sculpted by William Wetmore Story as a memorial to his wife Emelyn, who died in 1895.

Angel of Grief, Protestant Cemetery, Rome.

1908 Postcard of Willshire School

Today, another picture postcard, dated 1908, a photo of the newly built Willshire Public School.

1908 postcard of Willshire Public School, from Russel M.

This is a fairly common picture postcard of the school, which was completed in 1901. I have another picture postcard just like it but the message on this one was written and sent by a different person.

1908 postcard of Willshire Public School, from Russel M.

The message was written by Russel M., who appears to have been a schoolteacher or principal at Willshire Public School in 1908.

Postmarked 12 a.m., Willshire, Ohio, Nov. 24, 1908
Addressed to Mr. W. E. Binckley, Lafayette, Ohio

Dear Binckley,
Was ever so glad to hear from you. Am hard at work just now. H.S. entertainment tomorrow night. Willie Meyer [?] and Charlotte Jones [?] will be here. I now have 40 in High School an increase of 22 over two years ago. 14 Seniors. We have a dandy lab outfit. 2nd grade school etc. Miss Elsie Masen [?] holds down grades 8 & 9. What do you think of our building? I like it ever so much. Will be going through L- over [?] 8 Wed. night. Will not stop at Ada, however. Let me have [?] you. Russel M.

[written at top]: If I had more room I might write more.

Russel M. also wrote on the front of the postcard. He numbered a couple windows on the right side of the building to correspond with his description:

My room is back of the trees.

  1. Basket ball room
  2. Primary
  3. 2nd Primary

Cost of building, $26000.

The senior class Russel referred to was likely the class of 1909, which included Earnest Ayers, Alma Bowen, Helen Cowan, Jesse Ehrhardt, Sadie Foltz, Clarence Giessler, Archie Minx, Nann Simms, and Lou Weimer.

Construction on the Willshire school building was started in 1900 and completed in 1901. The first class graduated from the new building in 1902 with a three-year high school certificate.

In 1930 an addition was built that included a gymnasium-auditorium, office, indoor restrooms, cafeteria, science lab, home economics department, and a study hall. In 1953 another addition was built that included a two-story addition with eight classrooms and a combination cafeteria-library.

In 1961 the Willshire and Rockford districts consolidated to form the Parkway Local School District. The old Willshire School building was demolished in 2006.

The Willshire Alumni Banquet will be held tomorrow evening, after a couple of covid-related postponements.

Tombstone Tuesday-David Casto

David Casto, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2012 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of David Casto, located in row 8 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

David Casto
died May 10
aged 65 yrs
3 mo & 28 d

As calculated from his tombstone, David Casto was born 12 January 1782.

Although David Casto’s sandstone tombstone is located in Zion Schumm’s cemetery, there is no mention of his death or burial in Zion Schumm’s records. In fact, no Casto is mentioned in their records.

The only connection I have found between a Casto and Zion Schumm’s cemetery is a Casto-Hartzog connection. In 1856 Eliza J. Hartzog (1841-1880), daughter of Solomon and Susanna (King) Hartzog, married James C. Casto (1835-1904). Solomon and Susanna (King) Hartzog are both laid to rest in row 8 of Zion Schumm’s cemetery, buried next to David Casto, but the Hartzogs are not mentioned in the church records. Eliza J. (Hartzog) Casto is buried in Hileman/Smith/Hartzog/Alspaugh Cemetery, just down the road from Zion Schumm, and her husband James C. Casto, who remarried after Eliza’s death, is buried at Woodland Union, Van Wert. The surname Casto is not that common and there is likely some connection between David Casto and James C. Casto.

A couple Castos are mentioned in the Willshire/Duckcreek church circuit records. In 1879 D. Casto was appointed trustee at Willshire and Hila B. Casto married Leonidas G. Brock in 1882.

A few Castos are buried in local cemeteries, the nearest to Zion Schumm’s cemetery being Hileman/Smith/Hartzog/Alspaugh Cemetery, where Elizabeth B Casto (1865-1872), William Casto (1848-1866), and William F. Casto (1864-1866) are buried. There is likely a connection to David Casto.