1960 Senior Merry Maids, Holmes County, Ohio

1960 Senior Merry Maids 4-H Club. Photo courtesy of Wayne Fair.  First row: Jane Irving, Maxine Bernard, Lee Patterson, Tina Norman, Lynda Lydic, Becky Martin, Patty Bailey, Jane Abderholden.  Second Row: Marilee Allison, Virginia Lydic, Ann Carey, Leslie Keller, Linda Poulson, Mary Straits, Joyce Mraz, Wendy Weiss, Jennifer Graham.  Back Row: Linda Hildelbrand, Betty Heinz, Sharon Winter, Darrylin Weiss, B.J. Smith, Judy Schie, Carol Pyers, Sue Fair, Cheryl Engel, Michelle Gerber, Clara May Close, Jean Uhl

1960 Senior Merry Maids 4-H Club. Photo courtesy of Wayne Fair.
First row: Jane Irving, Maxine Bernard, Lee Patterson, Tina Norman, Lynda Lydic, Becky Martin, Patty Bailey, Jane Abderholden.
Second Row: Marilee Allison, Virginia Lydic, Ann Carey, Leslie Keller, Linda Poulson, Mary Straits, Joyce Mraz, Wendy Weiss, Jennifer Graham.
Back Row: Linda Hildelbrand, Betty Heinz, Sharon Winter, Darrylin Weiss, B.J. Smith, Judy Schie, Carol Pyers, Sue Fair, Cheryl Engel, Michelle Gerber, Clara May Close, Jean Uhl

Categories: Uncategorized

Guest Post: The Ribbon Mystery, by Vera Marie Badertscher

The Ribbon Mystery

by Vera Marie Badertscher

(From an article that originally appeared at Ancestors in Aprons)

I was faced with a mystery. What was the Holmes County Loan Committee, 1888?

It all started with this ribbon, one of two used by my great-great-grandmother Emeline Cochran Stout in her crazy quilt.

My mother, Harriette Anderson Kaser, had told me that the ribbons belonged to my great-grandfather “Doc” Stout (1845-1910), a Killbuck, Ohio doctor. I jumped to the conclusion that he served on a fundraising committee for Holmes County’s centennial. But the date–1888– didn’t seem right. Holmes County was founded in 1825, not 1788, There was not even a state of Ohio until 1808. So what was this?


Library Research

I went to one of my favorite places on Facebook, the page staffed by the Holmes County Library’s Genealogy and Local History Department, called Our Town: A Holmes County, Ohio Local History Project. They had recently announced that they were compiling a list of events that took place in Holmes County, using the local newspapers from as far back as the 1800’s. I posted the ribbon and asked if they had information. Within hours, they had supplied photos, articles and some surprises.

An AHA! Moment

The first article the library posted described the meeting of the Holmes County Loan Committee in Millersburg.


Ah-ha! This was a women’s committee, and men were an afterthought. So perhaps the reason there are TWO ribbons in the Emeline crazy quilt, is that my great-grandmother, Hattie Morgan Stout (1842-1928), was on the original committee, and great-grandfather, Doc Stout, was a johnny-come-lately.

Harriett Emeline Morgan Stout
The Holmes County Loan Exhibit

Furthermore, we learn from the newspaper article that the Holmes County exhibit was part of a State Exposition. But what was being exhibited? Another newspaper article made that clearer.


This article, again from the Holmes County Farmer, says that the Centennial Loan would open on July 25 (1888) and continue for a week. All articles were to be in Columbus by August 8. Then we learn how enthusiastic the people of Holmes County were. By Monday evening there were more than 50 items loaned, including a Bible over 200 years old. The committee wanted “modern, new , pretty and interesting” things as well as antiques. The committee needed potted ferns (because heaven knows you could not do anything fancy in the 1800’s without a bunch of potted ferns).

Entertainment and activities for children were all part of what you’d get for your admission price of five cents.

In August, 1888, The Holmes County Farmer ran a sort of review of the Exhibit which had been held at the County Court House in Millersburg. “…one might well imagine that Cinderellas’s godmother had been there with her fairy wand, so great had been the transformation wrought in the last week.” Don’t you love the understated way newspaper reporters wrote in the late 1800’s?


On the north were ancient items, as old as 500 years old, “old, quaint, dainty, pretty, beautiful.” A large room had been divided into a hall, bedroom and parlor, each furnished with all sorts of beautiful household items. The next room featured a “dinning(sic) room” with complete table setting. Across from that modern dining room was another set up as it would have been 100 years before, and a horticulture exhibit.


Out of that room and to the left was an exhibit of old-fashioned costumes, and then ahead another room represented art and industry that was so overwhelming, the reporter gave up “…there is so much and so great a variety, we cannot hope to describe it. It must be seen to be appreciated.”


Then there was a pioneer room with old-time things. In Agriculture Hall, the large stage was most tastefully draped with American flags and buckeye branches. This stage held entertainment in the evening by musical groups and “the broom brigade”–synchronized marchers. During the day, ladies demonstrated how to “schutch, hackle, card and spin” flax and wool. In fact, the layout and the items on display make me think of the Smithsonian Institution’s original building (built just thirty years earlier).

I have gone into some detail here to impress upon you what a BIG DEAL the Holmes County Loan was. The County’s population at that time was just shy of 21,000, so a huge percentage of families must have contributed to the Loan.

But What Were They Celebrating?

If it was not the centennial of Holmes County, and not the centennial of Ohio, whose birthday was it? The mystery is revealed when another reference from the Holmes County library reveals that Holmes County is part of a 100th anniversary of the founding of the first settlement in Ohio, Marietta, a town on the Ohio River.

The Ohio Centennial Exposition in Columbus

Of course the Columbus exposition was even bigger, including a Civil War encampment of 100,000 veterans and 150,000 of their wives, children, and friends. They gathered in the state capitol, which at that time had a population of 120,000.


Now the ribbons in the crazy quilt mean so much more than they did originally. I learned from all of this that the former school teacher, Hattie Morgan Stout, and her husband, Killbuck doctor William Cochran Stout, were deeply involved in community affairs. The research reveals my ancestors’ involvement not only in an exciting county-wide project, but their part in a statewide project. And what a thrilling project it was.

Holmes County Ribbon

And by the way, does anybody know the meaning of “schutch” in spinning? (Hackle is a kind of comb, in case you needed help with that one.)

Information about the Holmes County Loan Committee and the Ohio Centennial Exposition celebrating the founding of Marietta Ohio, came from the  Our Town: A Holmes County, Ohio Local History Project, and includes articles from the Holmes County Farmer and from the book “Columbus 1860 to 1910,” by Richard E. Barrett .

The ribbon pictured at the top is part of a crazy quilt in the author’s possession, made by Emeline Cochran Stout.


Thank you to Ms. Badertscher for sharing this piece of research with us. If you have an article or essay you’ve written about something pertaining to Holmes County, Ohio history and would be willing to share it with the Our Town blog, let us know and we’ll consider it for publication.

Categories: Genealogy, Guest Post, Hardy | Tags: , , , , ,

Guest Post by Bruce Stambaugh: It’s Saltcreek, not Salt Creek

Photo by Bruce Stambaugh

By Bruce Stambaugh

It’s funny how much consternation a name can cause.

Take the name of the township in which I live and serve. Saltcreek Township, Holmes County, Ohio, United States of America.

It’s a simple, earthy enough name. Just why would such a straightforward title create confusion? That’s easy. It’s because of the way the township name is spelled, Saltcreek, not Salt Creek.

How do I know that it is one word and not two? Because, like my mother used to say, “I said so.” I should know. I am one of three duly elected trustees in Saltcreek Township.

The sign over the door to our office says Saltcreek Township. That is the official name we use.

Now, I know what you are thinking. Salt describes Creek. Two words. And you would be correct. Furthermore, there is precedence for spelling it that way. Southeast of us in our rural county is Walnut Creek Township.

Yet, go further east and you run into Sugarcreek in Sugarcreek Township, Tuscarawas County. Given these inconsistencies, we choose to use Saltcreek, as in a compound word like “something” instead of “some thing.”

Doubters might think “something” is fishy in Saltcreek if it is one word. But really, the intentional singular spelling is uncompromisingly pragmatic.

The insistence on Saltcreek may sound more rigid than practical. But it’s not intended to be. Nor are we trying to be obstinate or cute in the use of the Saltcreek moniker.

It just so happens that the entire northern boundary line of Saltcreek Township, Holmes County abuts the entire southern boundary line of Salt Creek Township, Wayne County. Can you see the conflict coming?

The common boundary is no coincidence. The two townships were actually one until Wayne County was downsized and Holmes County was born in the early part of the 19th century. For whatever reasons the deep thinkers used way back then, the adjoining townships kept the same name.

Paint Township, Wayne County, also was halved then, and the people in charge must have loved that name as well. The adjoining township in Holmes County was labeled Paint Township.

That all probably seemed perfectly clear to our forefathers. But in today’s complicated world, having a pair of identically named townships with shared boundary lines can be problematic.

Witness the fact that Saltcreek Township, Holmes County occasionally gets correspondence intended for Salt Creek Township, Wayne County. And vice versa.

So, to help differentiate the two governmental agencies, Saltcreek Township, Holmes County has chosen historically to be referred to as Saltcreek. In other words, Saltcreek is Saltcreek and Salt Creek is Salt Creek. That should clear up everything.

Of course, it doesn’t. Confusion still exists. Road signs ordered “Saltcreek” come labeled “Salt Creek.” We use them anyhow.

In fact, there isn’t even any uniformity among the various Holmes County governmental offices as to how to spell the township’s name. The recorder might use Salt Creek, while the board of elections prints Saltcreek.

Even the county engineer, the official we deal with the most, shows it both ways. It just depends which record is being used.

Clearly, then, we try to be as sensible as we are principled. We respond to and sign documents with the township’s name spelled either way.

So there you have it. We prefer Saltcreek, but if you insist on Salt Creek, we’ll still answer the call, unless it’s our neighboring namesake you really want.

Nov. 16, 2006

Categories: Uncategorized

Calling All Writers!

Downtown Millersburg, 1924Do you have a story, memory, or photo you’d like to share that relates to Holmes County, Ohio history? If you do, we’d love to help you get it out there!  We’re looking for people who want to write about people, events, or places from the region, whether it’s a profile on your great, great, great, great, great uncle Joe, an essay about the time you took your little brother sledding on your grandma’s farm, or a research piece on a local building or event, we’d like to share it with the world. Don’t worry about grammar and spelling; you can leave the editing to us. Just write, write, write, and we’ll get it all spiffed up and ready to post.

Categories: Uncategorized

Guest Post: Ancestors in Aprons

This guest post is from Vera Marie Badertscher and comes from her website Ancestors in Aprons. Thank you, Vera, for this wonderful post and the memories it evoked for Killbuck, Ohio folks! 

That big picture across the head of this website? That’s my grandfather Guy Anderson at the family restaurant.

My grandparents created a restaurant where they served up home-cooked food in grandma’s ancestral home in Killbuck, Ohio. Here is a more complete image so you can see some of the signs and paraphernalia. That’s the kitchen viewed dimly through the door on the left.

Anderson family restaurant

That’s my grandfather Guy Anderson, my grandmother Vera Anderson, and their two helpers, Mrs. Lanham and Miss Leckrone at the family restaurant.

The picture was taken around 1940, but I don’t know exactly when the family restaurant started. I do know that it had closed down by about 1944, because my grandfather, whom I called Daddy Guy, had heart trouble and could not work any more. He died in the summer of 1944 when he was 65 years old of an ailment that could probably have been fixed with a bypass or medication today.

It took me a while to figure out how that restaurant was laid out in the big old house that had been built by Vera’s father, Dr. William Stout, in the 1880s. But my cousin, Herbert Anderson, comes to the rescue when I have questions.  Herb is only a few years older than I, so he was young and doesn’t remember a whole lot, but he did straighten me out about the layout of the restaurant within the big old house. I’ll relate some of his other stories later.

I do know that more than ten years after the family restaurant closed, people would sometimes stop at my grandmother’s home. She lived in one side of the downstairs (the kitchen– see above through the doorway– had become her bedroom), and she rented out the other side and the top floor.

A few times when I was growing up, my family lived in one of those apartments for a short time. People driving through Killbuck, Ohio, before State Route 62 bypassed the community would knock on the door and ask what happened to the family restaurant that used to be there.

“Too bad,” they’d say when informed the restaurant no longer existed. “We always looked forward to stopping here when we were on the road.” Now that sounds like a GOOD FOOD restaurant.

I wish I had the sign from out front, or even a picture of the front of the house when it was a restaurant. Maybe there was no sign. Maybe there was no name (FLASH! Because the Facebook page Our Town: A Holmes County History Project published several Killbuck High School yearbooks, I learned that Anderson’s Restaurant did have a name (That’s it–Anderson’s Restaurant). And we now know at least that it was in business in 1937). And since Grandma was never one to keep old things around, I also have no menus, Coca-Cola signs, salt shakers, ice cream chairs, or any of the other fascinating things they used in the restaurant. I vaguely remember seeing some wire-backed ice cream chairs down in the basement of her house, but heaven knows what happened to them.

Grandma is not wearing an apron in the picture, not because she didn’t cook. She definitely was a fantastic cook and probably made all the Blue Plate Special lunches like roast beef, or ham steak, or pork chops with cooked apples (the last dish she prepared for us before she made her last trip to the hospital with heart trouble of her own).

Grandpa, on the other hand, made the biscuits and the pies. Grandma was fastidious about her appearance always. So I can imagine that when the traveling photographer came around to take pictures of the family restaurant, she did not want to be seen in an apron like one of the hired help.

Baking Christmas Cookies

Wearing Grandma Vera’s apron while baking her cookie recipe.

Grandma definitely did wear aprons when she cooked–many she made herself from flour sacks, and at least one I still have in my kitchen drawer. Hundreds of washings have worn the material as soft as the flour that coats it during baking. My youngest granddaughter wears my Grandma Vera’s aprons when she comes over to bake cookies with me.

See more memories about the restaurant here from Herb Anderson.

Pork Chops and Apples

Pork Chops and Apples

 Grandma’s Pork Chops with Cooked Apples (from memory)

  • Six loin pork chops
  • Fat for frying, add extra butter for the apples.
  • Salt and pepper
  • Two or three apples, peeled and sliced about 1/4 ” thick
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon

Melt a spoonful of fat in an iron skillet and brown the pork chops. Salt and pepper the chops. Remove the pork chops and keep warm, while you brown the apples long enough to soften (Add butter if you need to). Sprinkle the apples with sugar and cinnamon to taste and serve on top of chops. Note: Don’t come to Vera’s kitchen looking for health-food recipes. Grandma liked plenty of butter, salt, and sugar.

Did you know that flour used to come in cloth bags covered with pretty prints, and that our frugal ancestors made those bags into dresses, blouses, pillow covers and aprons? Do you have a flour-sack something in your house?

Categories: Uncategorized

Mysterious and Unusual Places in Holmes County, Ohio

By Denice Rovira Hazlett

Unidentified flying objects. Strange land structures. Intriguing underground tunnels. Things that go bump in the night. These and other things will be topics of public discussion at the Holmes County Historical Society’s Mysterious and Unusual Places in Holmes County.

Have you ever encountered a UFO? Ever stumbled upon a Sasquatch? Or maybe there’s an unusual building or land feature on your farm that you’ve always wanted to tell someone about, but you weren’t sure who. Then you’re the perfect candidate to attend the Holmes County Historical Society’s (HCHS) free program, Mysterious and Unusual Places in Holmes County, on Thursday, Sept. 5 at 7 pm in the meeting room of the Holmes County District Public Library in Millersburg.
Mark Boley, director of the HCHS, says he’s excited about the event and hopes people will come not only to listen to mysterious tales, but also to tell a few of their own.
“When the program committee met to plan things for the year, we tried to come up with ideas for programs that are not only informative, but create curiosity for people, because history can be boring if it’s not done right.”
Boley said the HCHS has investigated some unusual sites in the area, like the 2,500 year-old Adena Indian mound on the apex of Oak Hill Cemetery, the spooky legends of Panther’s Hollow, the glacial gold of the Doughty Creek, the ancient trees of Troyer’s Hollow, and the mysteries of the Murray Tunnel and Stony Crest, but he’s sure there are other things they don’t know about–and should.
“In the past, we’ve had reports of UFO and Bigfoot sightings, so we decided to throw it all together for one event,” Boley said.
The evening is also intended to elicit audience participation, giving opportunities for guests to share odd events, sites or sightings, beginning with a panel discussion highlighting things like Stony Crest, an unusual series of underground tunnels near Holmesville reported in the 1925 Holmes County Farmer-Hub.
“In our research, we’ve discovered there was once an Indian mound on top of that area, but it was removed in the 20’s,” Boley said. As far as the rock-lined tunnels and caverns, though, no one knows why they exist. “There are a lot of legends about it, and there are a lot of unusual features around the area. In fact, we have a letter from a woman who was in her 90’s at the time it was written who said she used to walk through the tunnels to school when it was raining.”
The reason the site is so unusual, Boley said, is that the mound builders–the Adena and Hopewell Indians–weren’t tunnel-diggers. So if there was a mound atop the tunnels, which came first? And why? The answers might never be found, since now, most of Stony Crest is no longer intact, largely damaged by those trying to investigate it.
The Murray Tunnel is another mystery, a man-made underground structure in southwest Holmes County extending 40 feet into a large, arch-ceilinged chamber. The fascinating part of the Murray Tunnel, Boley says, is the stones used to create it, so huge and perfectly placed. What methods could have put them there without the use of large machinery. Archaeologists and historical groups visiting the site not only disagree on the structure’s purpose, but it’s age, too. Some estimate it at 500 years old, while others have pegged it at nearly 5,000. Some contend it was a religious site, and others believe it was a storage facility for a whole colony, though Boley believes it’s much too elaborate for that. Like Stony Crest, there are other features in the area, including cairns–large surface-structures that can be seen by satellite–and underground cavities and caverns that could have all been part of a bigger picture.
But structures won’t be the only topics at the HCHS event. Unusual sightings will also be discussed. Take, for example, the possible UFO incident about fifteen years ago that left a 1/2″ deep, 7″ wide, 45′ diameter depression in a Monroe Township’s family’s front yard, though not a sound was heard except the unusual barking of the resident dogs. Others have seen objects with bright lights, flashing lights, and no lights at all. In fact, Boley himself has a tale to tell about his own close encounter, a silently hovering triangular object blocking out a building-sized area of bright stars on a moonless night south of Millersburg.
Boley anticipates that this event will spark enough interest to create an ongoing series. After all, he says, this land and its history go a long, long way back.
“A lot of time, the focus in Holmes County is on Amish and Mennonite history, but what’s more fascinating to me is what happened before that.”
For more information on the event, contact the Holmes County Historical Society at 330-674-0022.


Categories: Uncategorized

Mural Artist Tom Miller

The former Alpine Alpa in Wilmot featured the work of artist Tom Miller.

From the Walnut Creek Sesquicentennial History, 1827-1977:

Visitors traveling through the hills of Holmes and Tuscarawas counties always enjoy the scenery as they go. In recent years, an added attraction has been the artistry of Tom Miller which gave birth to a Swiss village and dots the surrounding countryside, lending atmosphere and beauty, providing enjoyment for both residents and vistiors passing through.

Although Tom began his young life on a farm between Walnut Creek and Trail, Ohio, he never liked farming, and from early beginnings, had it in his head to become an artist one day.

“I was always drawing in grade school,” says Tom,” and I never got less than an ‘A’ in drawing and art.”

Tom  was given inspiration and encouragement at an early age by an uncle who was a missionary to India and an artist.

“He used to send pictures back from India and I thought, ‘If I could only paint like that,’ and that’s what really gave me the inspiration, his paintings.”

Drawing came almost as naturally to Tom as did breathing. he remembers that when yet a boy, whenever he looked at something he always saw it as a picture.

“If you do that long enough, it gives you a photographic mind and you can put down exactly what you see. There were times I had trouble with my painting, but it always flowed together while I relaxed or lay in bed, and by the next morning, it was okay.”

Tom received his first paint set from Orpha Troyer when he was a freshman in high school and in return, he painted his frist painting for her, a scene which she still has. During high school, his talent were put ot good use as he was selected to paint all of the scenery for backdrops used in the plays.

Tom graduated from Walnut Creek High School during the ’30’s Jobs were scarce and an artist’s talents were not in great demand, so Tom felt fortunate to be working, even though there was nothing artistic about digging coal with a pick and shovel.

After spending three years with a pick and shovel in his hands instead of the paint brush he loved, Tom changed jobs. Running the pug mill at Claycraft Brickyard was not exactly what he would have liked ot have been doing with his life and was dingo nothing to further his career as an artist. He found himself with free time on the job and nothing to do to keep from being bored. His boss, Abe H. Mast, aware of Tom’s talents, encouraged him to do something with them while sitting ast his pug mill post. Tom took up carving to help pass the hours.

“Although I don’t carve much now, I carved a (to scale) replica of the Claycraft brick factory and steam engine. It is on display at my studio in Sugarcreek and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. It’s on of my most prized possessions.”

The model, which included men working at their jobs, moving in synchronization with other parts of the model, took two years for Tom to carve to completion.

During those seven years of work, Tom painted on weekends and evenings.

It was at this point Tom knew that he wanted to become a full time artist, but he needed an income until his work caught on and he could support himself and his family with his art. Tom spent the next four years working as an interior decorator  heading up a crew of eight men he had hired. He bought what is now the Gospel Shop in Sugarcreek and turned the little building behind the shop into his art studio.

“At that time, I put one ad in the paper for painting. I never had to do it again and I’ve been busy ever since. Now I’m always three or four months behind.”

Toms’ Swiss background allowed him to fit perfectly into the town of Sugarcreek, a Swiss settlement, and as a Sugarcreek businessman, he became a part of the planning of the first Swiss Festivals held by the community.

“We had had two Swiss Festivals and I thought, ‘Why not have a Swiss Village that people would really come to see.”

Tom designed the front of his building into a Swiss front, the first one in Sugarcreek, then kept encouraging one businessman, then another  until the entire town was transformed from a standard American village into an international attraction, a Swiss Village in the Tuscarawas valley. Most of the fronts of the buildings were designed by Tom Miller, one the more gratifying experiences of his career.

The Swiss designs gave way to more elaborate and intricate designs on Tom’s part as he painted scenes from the Swiss Alps on some of the buildings. Not content with a simple painting, Tom’s innovative mind made the painting come alive; a moving train going in and out of tunnels of the front of the Reeves Bank; skiers flying down a snowy slope on the Goshen Dairy; snowmobiles skimming the hills at Jim’s Sunoco Station.

“They became a real interest to the public, especially the children, and this led to the animated murals at Der Dutchman Restaurant in Walnut Creek, Dutch Valley Restaurant in Sugarcreek, and Alpine Alpa Cheese House and Doughty Valley.”

Tom also designed the fronts of Lehman Hardware in Kidron and Stuckey’s Restaurant in Wilmot.

“I have had the opportunity to put moving scenes on big restaurants in five different states, but never went because I have so much to do around here.”

The highpoint of Tom Miller’s career as an artist came this past weekend with the unveiling of his new mural at Heini’s of Bunker Hill, Ohio. The work of art is five feet high and forty feet long, painted on canvas with acrylic oils, and took nineteen weeks from start to finish. It depicts cheesemaking from its origin in 300 BC through the centuries and up to the present time as it is done at Heini’s.

Pete Dauwalder, who owns Heini’s and commissioned the mural, is the son of Swiss parents who had also been cheesemakers, and assisted Tom with much of the research material.

“To my knowledge, there is no other mural depicting the history of cheese, nor do I think there will be one painted exactly like this. The hardest hing after having the knowledge, was making it all fit together.

Tom, who never had na art teacher and accepts his talent as a “God-given gift,” finds his work very rewarding.

“When you complete something as vast as this mural ” says Tom, ‘it gives a great feeling of satisfaction knowing you have created a piece that has contributed to humanity.”

There is probably no individual in the history of Holmes or Tuscarawas Counties who has left a more indelible or more beautiful mark on the area than artist Tom Miller

Tom Miller and his wife Mary live on Cherry Ridge Drive and are life long resident of Walnut Creek Township.


From the Columbus Dispatch, July 2006:

Mural Majority

Tom Miller made his name creating scenes in Ohio’s Amish country

Published: Sunday, July 9, 2006

By Bill Mayr

Visitors to the rolling countryside of Holmes and western Tuscarawas counties snap photos of the Amish and their farms — and of buildings with Swiss-chalet facades and murals of Alpine scenes.

The murals, which helped put the quaint rural communities of north-central Ohio on the map, were created by self-taught artist Tom Miller.

Although his name might not be known throughout the state, he surely ranks among the most-viewed of Ohio painters.

“He certainly left a legacy,” said Leslie A. Kaser, director and curator of the Alpine Hills Historical Museum in Sugarcreek.

His murals occupy an odd but intriguing niche.

They pop up at much-visited sites, such as over the entrance to the Sugarlane IGA store, on the front of a Huntington Bank and along the drive-through lane at a McDonald’s restaurant, all in Sugarcreek. They are found, too, inside and outside restaurants and cheese factories.

Some, such as the one at McDonald’s, are even three-dimensional and mechanized.

Miller died a decade ago, on July 28, at age 85.

He wasn’t Amish but spoke fluent Pennsylvania German. He had been a commercial painter, painting houses, lettering signs and occasionally creating murals for homeowners, Kaser said.

His rise as the region’s muralist came as the area sought to promote its history.

Members of the Amish religious sect, with roots in Switzerland, had arrived in the region in the early 1800s. Later that century, Swiss cheese-makers settled in the region, using milk from Amish farms to produce their wares.

In 1953, boosters launched the Ohio Swiss Festival. (The annual event this year is scheduled for Sept. 29-30.)

Some years later, Miller, inspired by a trip to Switzerland, created an Alpine mural on the front of a building he owned in Sugarcreek.

Then, “all the cheese houses wanted him to do the murals,” said Mahlon Troyer, a commercial painter and artist and protege of Miller.

He produced a large mural on the exterior of Guggisberg Cheese north of Charm; he painted an

From Roadside America: photo of the cheese mural at Heini’s Cheese in Berlin, Ohio.

illustrated history of cheese-making inside Heini’s Cheese Chalet, home to Bunker Hill Cheese, north of Berlin.

His mural-making gathered momentum like a mountain avalanche.

“He never got caught up,” said Miller’s son, Phil Miller of Wooster. “People were waiting, maybe for years.”

Many of the large pieces were painted in the 1970s and ’80s, Troyer said.

How many murals and smaller paintings did Miller create?

“I don’t have any idea,” his son said.

“One fellow went to Indiana and started an Amish restaurant. He took Dad out there to do a bunch of murals. Dad was out there for months.”

Phil Miller said his father’s talent seemed intuitive.

“He’d see that whole picture in his mind before he even started. He’d start sketching quick strokes. Pretty soon he’d have the sketch done. And then he’d paint the same way — quick.”

Miller’s style is reminiscent of Grandma Moses, the self-taught artist who also specialized in pleasant rural scenes.

But while Grandma Moses became internationally famous, Miller’s work remained concentrated in Amish Ohio.

His biggest piece fills the upper part of the walls and flows onto the ceiling in the main dining room of Grandma’s Alpine Homestead restaurant on Rt. 62 in northeastern Holmes County.

The diorama, roughly 45 feet wide and 20 feet tall, depicts Arosa, a Swiss mountain village.

Miller sometimes created depth in his scenes by making wood cutouts, painting part of his scene on the cutout and installing it on the mural.

Some works are mechanized: a toy passenger train runs through the Arosa diorama, and a herd of Swiss dairy cattle moseys through a mural at Grandma’s Alpine Homestead. The cattle and trains are models that Miller built and affixed to belts that run in loops through the scenes.

When Dave Beachy opened Beachy’s Country Chalet in 1988, he asked Miller to paint a series of small, oval-shaped scenes on the ends of wooden booths. Covered bridges, dairy farms, mountain brooks and quaint cottages fill the Sugarcreek restaurant.

Miller, Beachy said, was a man of few words. But he didn’t mind people watching him work.

“He just loved the interaction with the people. People would love to gawk.”

In Walnut Creek, three murals grace the Der Dutchman restaurant a mile south of the small dairy farm where Miller grew up.

John and Joy Maxwell — along with Mr. Maxwell’s mother, Alathea — recently ate dinner in the restaurant beneath a scene of maple-sugaring.

Maxwell, who formerly operated a clothing store in nearby Millersburg, had shown Miller’s paintings in the store windows.

“I loved his paintings,” he said. “I never talked to anyone who didn’t like his paintings.”

Some of the works are weathering, with paint colors and images fading. Beachy said the exterior mural at his restaurant could stand touching up.

Troyer has repainted some scenes and said he’s available to work on others that have captured the lifestyle of Ohio’s Amish and their link to rural Switzerland.

Phil Miller acknowledges the vision and legacy of his father.

“He followed his dream. Yep.”



From a post in the Der Dutchman News blog from September 2010:

Inspired by the houses on a trip to Switzerland, local sign painter, house painter and self-taught artist, Tom Millerpainted a Swiss mural on a building he owned in Sugarcreek. After that, many businesses came to his door step with requests for similar murals.

The local families took considerable pride in their heritage and eventually businesses in Sugarcreek began an effort to model their downtown after the Swiss villages in the “Old Country”. Swiss architecture became commonplace with it’s chalet-style construction and decoration. With the addition of Tom’s murals, the movers and shakers of the early 1950′s began a push for a celebration of everything Swiss. The Swiss Festival was born in 1953, one of the longest running festivals in the state of Ohio.

By the way, if you plan to go “mural hunting”, you can still see many of Tom’s works at the businesses of Sugarcreek and Holmes county. They are still visible at the Sugarlane IGA, Huntington Bank, Dutch Valley Restaurant, Beachy’s Chalet, McDonalds (one inside, one by the drive-through) Sugarcreek Lumber and the former Goshen Dairy building. In Holmes County, you can see three murals at Der Dutchman Restaurant.

Categories: Township History | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Musical Life in Holmes County, Ohio from 1917-1960

The Willie Green Band on the steps of the Holmes County Courthouse. The band is seen here wearing their traditional green uniforms with white caps.

Musical Life in Holmes County, Ohio from 1917-1960

A Study of Three Important Ensembles

By Dr. Amy Gerber Doerfler

LOCATED IN Northeastern Ohio, Holmes County is a region with an interesting musical history. In the first half of the twentieth century, the community was entertained by three main groups of musicians. Beginning in 1917, the Willie Green Band, made up of over fifty local performers, orchestrated their own renditions of classical and popular band pieces, eventually traveling throughout Ohio. They also performed as The Willie Green Rube Band, offering various vaudeville acts. Another local group was the Harry Weiss Orchestra, formed in the mid-1920s by Holmes County sheriff, Harry Weiss. The band performed popular music of the 1920s and 1930s at grange halls and dances in Holmes County and mainly consisted of members of the Weiss family. The third important musical group for the county during this time was the “Pop” Farver Orchestra. The Farver family, led by Warner E. “Pop” Farver, was known for its many polkas and waltzes. The group was in demand for many local dances, and played throughout Holmes, Wayne, Tuscarawas, Stark, and Coshocton counties.In addition, Pop Farver wrote many original folk tunes that the family performed. Through their light-hearted entertainment, these three musical groups helped to enrich the lives of citizens belonging to a hard-working, farming community well into the middle of the twentieth century.

The Willie Green Band’s existence arose out of the tradition that began after the Civil War in which communities developed brass bands formed by ex-soldiers who had been in fife and drum corps. Formed by Cal Beatty and Floyd Reese, the Willie Green Band was active for more than thirty years in the first half of the twentieth century. They were headquartered in Millersburg, (which is the county seat of Holmes County), but they performed throughout the state. Each of the fifty musicians doubled on anywhere from two to five instruments, and the band maintained a wide repertoire of music. Their slogan was “Music For All Occasions,” and the members had five complete changes of uniform, one appropriate for any venue. The Willie Green Band was noted for its traditional band music as well as its programs of popular music. The band advertised itself as appearing, “either in Concert band, Rube band, Dance or Concert Orchestra.”

When performing as the “Hicktown Rube band,” the Willie Green members developed specific characters that their audiences expected to see. An early advertisement for the band describes performer Cal Beatty as “Grandpop Overpeck, direct from Possum Hollow…Drummer and Clog Dancer, doubling several different instruments.” Performer Owen Wengerd played “the title role of Professor Schultz, Banjos, Ukelele, Vocalist and Entertainer.” Myron Yakley was “Isaac Fizzlebaum. Accordion Soloist of both popular and classical music.” The pamphlet goes on to describe “Luther Wyler, Trombone Soloist of merit—black face comedian—playing blue or sweet.”The group had several specialty acts: a dog impersonator, accordion and banjo virtuosos, clog dancers, a vocal soloist, a black face comedian and a female impersonator.

The caricatures that the Wille Green Band used are disturbing today, though this type of entertainment was immensely popular not just in Holmes County at the time. The origins of the blackface comedian character found in the band began with blackface minstrel shows, which took shape in the 1820s. Performers like Thomas Dartmouth Rice (1808-1860) blackened their faces with burnt cork and created costumes to represent stereotypical African Americans: Jim Crow was a ridiculous, uncouth character in shabby rags, supposedly representing the rural black man. On the other hand, Zip Coon caricatured an urban, pretentious “dandy” dressed in a coat and gloves. When speaking of minstrelsy, scholar William Osborne says, “Ohio audiences devoured the product voraciously and several Ohioans played crucial roles in creating and marketing the phenomenon.” Performers spoke in crude dialects, played banjo and fiddle music, danced and used ugly, racist humor. According to Osborne, by the 1920s, the era of the minstrel show began to wind down. It is quite likely, though, that this type of entertainment was slower to lose its popularity in rural areas—the Willie Green band is evidence of this. In fact, Osborne claims that “vestiges of the practice survive in several Ohio communities,” and goes on to give a few examples of small towns that still support the tradition.

It is interesting to note, however, that, just as blackface minstrelsy had stereotypical African-American characters, the Willie Green Band posed similar caricatures of white Americans. The character Grandpop Overpeck (“direct from Possum Hollow”) is cast against Professor Schultz, similar to the “rural versus urban” dichotomy found in blackface minstrelsy. The band also caricatured women by including a man who posed as a woman in the comedic routine.

In spite of its distasteful caricatures that were typical of many bands in America at the time, the Willie Green Band was known for its organization and preparedness, both in its music and its management. Members were loyal, funding the organization through their playing while rarely (if ever) being compensated monetarily. They were a success throughout Ohio, not only in Holmes County, though it is there that they are perhaps most ardently remembered.

5.5A second influential musical group in Holmes County was the Harry Weiss Orchestra. Harry R. Weiss started the ensemble in the mid-1920s. Members of the community as well as four of his seven children played in the band. The instrumentation included a fiddle, a trumpet, two saxophones, an accordion, a banjo, piano and drums. They played popular music of the day, and were considered an essential element to any Holmes County social event in the 1930s through early 1960s.

The following picture was taken in 1947 of the Weiss Orchestra.

Holmes Co Music Early 20th Century

The Weiss Family Orchestra, circa 1947
Back: Earl Marchand, drums; Murray Gerber, accordion; Harry Weiss, Jr., saxophone
Front: Bill Weiss, trumpet; Darryl Weiss, saxophone; Harry Weiss, Sr., banjo; Evelyn Weiss Gerber, banjo/piano

On the far left, a friend of the family, Earl Marchand, is seated at the drums. The remaining players include: Bill Weiss (trumpet), Murray Gerber (accordion), Darryl Weiss (saxophone), Junior Weiss (saxophone), Harry Weiss (fiddle and banjo) and Evelyn Weiss Gerber (piano). This picture was taken at a time when the band was becoming well-established: sons Bill, Darryl, and Junior were home from fighting in World War II and Murray had recently joined the band after marrying Evelyn. Murray helped strengthen the band by becoming its vocalist. The band played popular selections such as “Melody of Love,” “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling,” “Whispering,” “Beautiful Ohio,” “I Want a Girl,” “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” and “I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover.”

Harry Weiss also served as Sheriff of Holmes County. When he was running for office, the band turned into his campaign committee. Since the family lived on a farm before he was elected, they wrote humorous skits as they milked the cows in the morning, and turned the lyrics of popular songs into humorous campaign slogans. Harry’s daughter, Evelyn, enjoyed composing tunes of her own and contributed to the election effort in this way, writing catchy jingles and teaching them to the band. On warm evenings, the family would pile themselves and their instruments into the back of a truck and drive around the county, singing their campaign songs. They were successful: Harry was elected in 1934 and served six consecutive terms as Sheriff of Holmes County. His political position increased the band’s popularity, and they would often travel to neighboring counties to perform.

A single night of playing for a community dance or a street carnival would provide anywhere from sixty cents to three dollars for each band member. New Year’s Eve was always a big night, and the band as a whole would earn as much as ten dollars. The group played nearly every weekend and sometimes through the week.

When the Weiss Orchestra played for square dances, Harry would act as “caller.” This was the person in the band who called out the sequence of steps for the dancers. Quite often, the dance steps were so familiar to the crowd that the Weiss family would let other callers who were there for the evening lead a few dances. In square dancing tradition, callers develop an individualized method of calling, which can include singing or speaking rhythmic patterns. Harry, his son, Darryl, and son-in-law, Murray would sometimes call pieces in three-part harmony.

The Weiss Family Orchestra, 1976: Harry Weiss, Sr., caller; Marion Mackey, guitar; Darryl Weiss, saxophone; Lola Moreland, accordion. Middle: Murray Weiss, piano; Mike Gerber, banjo; Evelyn Weiss Gerber, banjo.

The Weiss Family Orchestra, 1976: Harry Weiss, Sr., caller; Marion Mackey, guitar; Darryl Weiss, saxophone; Lola Moreland, accordion. Middle: Murray Weiss, piano; Mike Gerber, banjo; Evelyn Weiss Gerber, banjo.

Murray Gerber

As Sheriff, sometimes Harry Weiss would arrest prisoners who also happened to be musicians. If that was the case, the family would bring the prisoner along to their Saturday night venue and let him or her perform with the band. This “Mayberry-like” spirit was something that endeared the Holmes County public to the Weiss family; it also reflects what life was like in small-town America in the mid-1900s.

A third highly influential Holmes County musician was Warner E. “Pop” Farver. Like Harry Weiss, Pop Farver also formed a musical group with members of his family. In fact, these two bands existed at the same time and were equally esteemed by the citizens of Holmes County. Sometimes their members would sit in for each other if needed. Farver’s group consisted of his son, Wilfred, on banjo, guitar or accordion, his son, Earl (“Dutch”), on drums, bass, E-flat clarinet, or saxophone, and his wife, Nelly, on piano or accordion. Pop played the fiddle.

The Farver Orchestra also played for many social dances in Holmes County. Like the Weiss Orchestra, they were active into the 1960s. Unlike the Weiss family though, the Farvers frequently added a theatrical element to their playing. Earl, on string bass, would lie on the floor and rotate the instrument up around his head while playing, never missing a beat.

The Farvers are unique to the musical history of Holmes County because Pop Farver composed many original folk tunes and dances that the band would perform. The numerous dance forms he used to compose included polkas, waltzes, quadrilles, reels, schottisches, hornpipes, jigs, clogs, hoedowns, square-dances, two-steps and breakdowns. A self-taught performer and composer, Farver learned his craft by listening. He played first by ear then later taught himself to read music. He carefully organized his pieces into over fifty volumes with nearly fifty pieces to a volume. For each piece he compiled, he listed only the main melody. The music is similar to a lead sheet, though no accompaniment chords are listed.

Pop Farver kept several listening journals, in which he would listen to the radio and dictate popular folk tunes and love songs. He would then write his own arrangements of those pieces. He meticulously organized his listening journals, recording statistics such as the year he learned the tune, where he heard it, who wrote it or performed it or whether or not the tune originally had a name. For example, in “Radio Tunes, Vol. 2” under the 172nd tune he dictated, he typed:

“ ‘Black-Eyed Susie’ Arr. By W.E. Farver, as learned from Ridge Runners, on air WLS, Chicago, and Crockett Mountaineers, on air at WABC, New York City, (later Crockett Book) and from a record. 1929. Series Book 17—Radio Book II.”

Every transcribed piece has a similar label. It was through this careful listening that Farver learned the characteristics of the dance forms in which he began to compose.

The Farver Orchestra played many American tunes, some (but not all) dating back to the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. These tunes were still popular with the general populace at the time the Farvers performed them. A few examples include: “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain When She Comes,” “Liza Jane,” “When the Work’s All Done This Fall,” “Chinese Breakdown,” “Massa’s in De Cold, Cold Ground,” “The Battlecry of Freedom,” “Old Folks at Home,” and “When You and I Were Young, Maggie.” He listed these in separate volumes he titled “Copied Songs” or “From Sheet Music.”

The influence of the waltz on popular music is also witnessed in Pop Farver’s repertory. A dance in triple meter, the waltz became the most popular form of ballroom dance in the nineteenth century. It was accepted into many forms of musical composition and its influence is found in the theater, especially in operetta. Amongst Pop Farver’s collections of “Copied Songs,” he has a volume of waltzes that contains the famous “Beautiful Blue Danube” by Johann Strauss. In addition, the titles he gave some of his original waltzes reflect the form’s European origins, such as his “Venetian Waltz.”

Farver wrote many original waltzes, and this was a form for which his group was well-known. His waltzes were in binary or ternary form and he would frequently shift to the dominant or subdominant in the final section. He often titled his pieces after local, state or national places of interest, as is seen in the following example, a reprint of his piece, “Miami Valley Waltz.”

Holmes Co Music Early 20th Century

Modulation to the dominant or subdominant (as in this case) made for a smooth transition if the band decided to repeat the entire song, which frequently happened.

Another popular dance form Farver used was the breakdown (Example 4). The term “breakdown” can be a synonym for a “reel,” or refer (in general) to a high-spirited country dance. Farver’s “breakdown” was a form originating out of the lively song and dance numbers that concluded minstrel shows in the late nineteenth century. According to Pauline Norton, the concluding pieces in the minstrel show included “break” sections that consisted of short, two- or four-measure interludes of danced rhythmic patterns between the solo and verse and the chorus.

Holmes Co Music Early 20th Century

Farver’s One-String Breakdown exudes the energy and liveliness characteristic of this form. In this example, he modulates to the dominant in the second section.

In addition, Farver wrote many original polkas, to which he sometimes composed lyrics, like this “Polka-Time Polka.”

Holmes Co Music Early 20th Century

The polka is traditionally a couple-dance in 2/4 time. Like the waltz, it also became a popular ballroom dance of the nineteenth century. There is some dispute as to the origins of the polka, but its name suggests that it is of Czech origins. Certain German writers have claimed that it is no more than a schottische with a new name. However, traditionally a schottische is slower than a polka, although it has the same meter. (Farver wrote many schottisches as well, but the family band was better-known for its polkas.) The polka in Example 5 has all the characteristics of the traditional dance form. Farver’s compositions were equal in quality to the music the general public knew; in addition, his compositions used the same forms. Thus it is easy to see why Holmes County citizens were so fond of his family band.

All three of these musical groups helped to enrich the lives of the citizens of Holmes County in the twentieth century. Interestingly enough, they continue to do so to varying degrees. Though the Willie Green Band is no longer in existence, items relating to the band can be seen on display at the Holmes County Historical Society. The Weiss Family Orchestra, though now significantly smaller, contains members of the third and fourth generation. They play annually for a local nursing home’s Christmas party, (the Holmes County Home): a tradition begun in 1934 and upheld every year since.

Pop Farver’s music was recognized by the Holmes County Historical Society on an evening concert they entitled “ ‘Pop’ Farver Favorites.” For the program, four current Holmes County musical groups each learned three or four of Farver’s tunes. They then incorporated the tunes into their own musical styles and performed them for the public. One participating band was the String-A-Longs, a local bluegrass group led by Mike Gerber, a fiddle player who is also a third-generation member of the Weiss Orchestra. Other performers included Linda and Emilie Hershberger-Kirk, flute and guitar players, respectively, the Stockdale Family Band and Maidens III. Each of the groups presented Pop Farver’s tunes in their own musical language. Though none of the groups had the exact same instrumentation as the Farver Orchestra, the music was still well-received and the performances showed one way that Farver’s music could continue to evolve.

The musical life of Holmes County in the early to mid-1900s was represented by three main groups who played for local events and contributed to the social climate of the area. The Willie Green Band, a semi-professional band of over fifty members was extremely versatile in their programming and was able to cater to the entertainment desires of people not just in Holmes County, but throughout the state of Ohio. The Weiss Family Orchestra played locally, meeting the social needs of the small town community. Before Harry Weiss was elected sheriff, the band campaigned for him, endearing him to the people. After he was in office, the band’s position helped the community to view him as a “family man” and the Holmes County public enjoyed the Weiss’s musical entertainment for several years. Lastly, Warner “Pop” Farver and his Farver Family Orchestra were a staple at local gatherings. Writing in dance forms originating as nineteenth-century ballroom dances that crossed over into popular music, Pop Farver’s compositions enlivened social events. Indeed, the music of each of these groups, in some way or another, continues to enhance the lives of the people of Holmes County.

About the Author

The author with her grandmother, Evelyn Weiss Gerber, in 2000. The two played piano together at what is today Sycamore Run.

The author with her grandmother, Evelyn Weiss Gerber, in 2000. The two played piano together at what is today Sycamore Run.

A native of Millersburg, Dr. Amy Doerfler earned her Ph.D. in music theory and composition from Kent State University. She lives in Wooster with her husband, Matt, and their two children. She is active as a church musician and composer and is the great-granddaughter of Harry Weiss and granddaughter of Murray and Evelyn (Weiss) Gerber. She can be reached at adoerfl1@kent.edu. Special thanks to her uncle, Mike Gerber, for sharing the photographs from his personal collection.

The author, Amy Doerfler, with her husband Matt, and children Todd, and Luke Doerfler, Easter 2012

The author, Amy Doerfler, with her husband Matt, and children Todd, and Luke Doerfler, Easter 2012

No duplication of this article is permitted without approval from the author


Černušák, Gracian, Andrew Lamb and John Tyrell. “Polka.” In the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2d ed., ed. Stanley Sadie and John Tyrell, 20: 34-36. New York: Grove Dictionaries, 2001.

Conrad, Jan, general manager. Holmes County: A Pictoral History. Orrville, OH: Spectrum Publications, 1994.

Farver, Warner. ‘Pop’ Farver Favorites. Various local musicians. Holmes County Historical Society, 1CD.

Farver, Warner. 56 volumes of original and transcribed folk tunes, c.1920-1960.

Gerber, Mike. Interviews by author. 29 March 2007 and 5 May 2007.

Harris, Brooks F., ed. Holmes County: Historical Sketches. Walnut Creek, OH: Carlisle Printing, 2002.

Holmes County History Book Committee. Holmes County Ohio to 1985. Salem, WV: Walsworth Publishing, 1985.

Lamb, Andrew. “Waltz.” In the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2d ed., ed. Stanley Sadie and John Tyrell, 27:72-78. New York: Grove Dictionaries, 2001.

Norton, Pauline. “Breakdown.” In the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2d ed., ed. Stanley Sadie and John Tyrell, 4:298. New York: Grove Dictionaries, 2001.

Osborne, William. Music in Ohio. Kent and London: Kent State University Press, 2004.

Reese, F. L., mgr. The Willie Green Band: Music for All Occasions. Photocopy of original band program/advertisement, 3 pages, c.1925.

Ridenour, Harry Lee. Folk Songs of Rural Ohio. Berea: Baldwin-Wallace College: 1973.

Root, Deane L./Linda Moot, Pauline Norton. “Square-Dance.” In the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2d ed., ed. Stanley Sadie and John Tyrell, 24: 227. New York: Grove Dictionaries, 2001.

Categories: Local History Journal | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Ralph A. Hershberger, Cartoonist

Cartoonist born in Shanesville, Ohio, raised in Millersburg and Berlin, Ohio, graduated from Millersburg High School in 1907.

Cartoonist born in Shanesville, Ohio, raised in Millersburg and Berlin, Ohio, graduated from Millersburg High School in 1907.

This post is a transcription of an entry taken from the 1816-1966 Sesquicentennial History of the Berlin Community, author unknown. If you know who wrote this piece, or if you have any further information about Ralph A. Hershberger, let me know! Ralph A. Hershberger “Funny Business” Cartoonist Ralph A. Hershberger, former Berlin resident, gained international renown through his “Funny Business” cartoons. These cartoons, about 10,000 in number, were published in more than 500 newspapers, including over a dozen in foreign countries. He was born in Shanesville, Ohio, the son of Mr. and Mrs. John J Hershberger. His father taught school, both elementary and high school, for 30 years. He also served as county school examiner, with the late John A. McDowell and O.O. Fisher, for a period of 10 or 12 years after 1905. When Ralph was six years old the family moved to Berlin, where they lived until his father began teaching in Millersburg. Ralph received all his education in the Berlin schools, except his last year of high school. He graduated from Millersburg High School in the spring of 1907. On one of his personal appearances a few years ago, Hershberger commented, “When in my teens, I was more interested in medical business than in ‘funny business ‘ I had planned to go to Cleveland to begin medical training, but found that I was a year too young ot enter medical school. That was when I decided to go to art school.” His previous art experience had been of a practical nature–painting scene and signs on barns. Ralph Hershberger received his art education at the Cleveland School of Art, now know as the Cleveland Institute of Art, a nationally recognized school where his cartoon instructor was also a top-ranking cartoonist. His record of achievement reflects the professional instruction he received. In his own words, “I wanted to succeed in cartooning so I chose a successful instructor.” R.A. Hershberger Comic His professional career began on the Cleveland Press, where he served as cartoonist and staff artist. He drew a daily comic strip and the full page Sunday comic strip for “Dem Boys,” under the pen name of “Karl’s” for the former Cleveland Leader, one of Ohio’s largest dailies. The comic strip was distributed by the McClure Syndicate. He drew caricatures for the McMahon Syndicate and was art director for Artfilm Studios, of Cleveland, Ohio, makers of animated cartoons. Mr. Hershberger created, wrote and illustrated the popular comic panel “Funny Business” for nearly 20 years. It appeared in 465 daily papers in this country and also in foreign countries. It was distributed by the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA Service, Inc.) , a Scripps-Howard newspaper syndicate, one of the largest int eh United States. “Funny Business” appeared in such papers as the New York World Telegram, detroit News, Washing, D.C. News, Chicago Daily News, Houston Press, Denver Post, San Francisco News, Indianapolis Times, Cincinnati Post and many others. His magazine cartoons were printed in many of this country’s foremost magazines, such as: Redbook, Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, Life, Liberty, American Magazine, Country Gentleman, Judge, New York American, Screen Book, College Humor and Ballyhoo. In London, his cartoons appeared in such magazines and newspapers as Everybody’s Weekly, Passing Show, London Daily Mirror, Sunday Referee, London Pictorial News, Sporting and Dramatic, The Leader, Woman’s Companion, Guide and Ideas, Printer’s Pie and others. In India, the cartoons were popular in “My Magazine of India,” the country’s largest humor publication. The have also been reprinted in humorous publications of other countries, including “Lustige Blaetter,” of Berlin. Mr. Hershberger is listed in WHO’s WHO IN THE MIDWEST and in London, England in the DICTIONARY OF INTERNATIONAL BIOGRAPHY, and has for many years been a member of the National Cartoonist’s Society. He is listed as one of the Forty Famous Artists and Writers whose work appeared in “Printer’s Pie,” a London publication which accepts contributions by invitation only. He is listed with such prominent writers as H.G. Wells, Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Ferrier, Sir Phillip Gibbs, Gilbert Wilkinson, Lord Dunsany, A.C. Barrett, Rafael Sabatini, Ridgewell and others, a distinction never accorded another American cartoonist. The subjects of Hershberger’s cartoons invariably are people. Only on rare occasions did he use animals, birds or fish, endowing them with the gift of speech and human perception and portraying them in whimsical roles. During the personal appearance mentioned earlier, Hershberger explained that “most of the ‘Funny Business’ cartoons were drawn six weeks in advance of their publication. I have a four week advance supply deadline, but usually have a six-week reserve.” When contacted for information for this story, he wrote, “I retired from doing ‘Funny Business’ just recently although repeats will be running for some years. I stopped doing the series in order to devote my full time to my correspondence school, and to other publications.” Mr. Hershberger is presently Director of the National School of Cartooning in Cleveland, Ohio. He resides in Brunswick, about 20 miles from Cleveland, commuting between the school and his home.”

From Popular Science Magazine, April 1939.

From Popular Science Magazine, April 1939.

Further information based on genealogy research at the Holmes County District Public Library: Ralph Adlai Hershberger was born on December 18, 1890 to John J (April 20, 1862-Feb. 6, 1955) and Emma (Troyer) (1867-1951) Hershberger in Shanesville, Ohio. Ralph Hershberger was one of five children, along with siblings Miles, Vera, Elvara and Evora. He learned cartooning from the Landon School of Illustrating and Cartooning and married Opal A. (Dalby) Hershberger at age 25 (exact date not yet known). The 1930 Cleveland, Ohio directory places Ralph and Opal Hershberger at 1633 Bunts Road, Lakewood, Ohio. His 1942 draft card places him and Opal at 2166 Mars Ave, Lakewood, Ohio. According to census records, Ralph and Opal had no children. His 1917 draft registration card describes him as tall and slim with blue eyes and black hair. Opal Dalby Hershberger died at Lakewood Hospital on February 6, 1947. Ralph A. Hershberger died at Southwest General Hospital in Berea on March 6 ,1970 at age 79. There’s a blog post here by Allan Holtz about the Dem Boys strip, which Hershberger’s biography describes as his work created under the name “Karls.”

Ralph, Opal and both of Ralph’s parents are buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Millersburg, Ohio.

Categories: Berlin, Hardy | Tags: , , , , , ,

J.B. Lightcap Journal, Pages 11 and 12

J.B. Lightcap Journal pages 11 and 12From the week ending Oct 8.

Nothing very new has engaged our minds this week.

Business brisk most part during the week. Weather disagreeable  Much rain during few past days water raising. Bough 21 quarts of chestnuts from Sam Swinehart at 6 per qt making in all $1.25. Sold some of them at 10 per quart.

Nov. 14. We now commence to write our remarks for the week that is gone. My employer bought ninety six dollars and .94/100 worth of julery of J.S. Johnson with Chapman Pike & Co. After buying our goods, he presented me with a gold ring which is a very nice present to remember.

Saturday evening I went home to see my uncle and aunt from Richland Co and also uncle Adam Gilbert and his lady from Vanwert Co. Ohio. They were all well when they left home. this morning Father took them to Stark Co where they will remain for several weeks. We hope that the friends may receive them in wellcom and be glad.

November 15

An example of a sailor’s monkey jacket

Today we had speaching in the New Methodist E Church for the first time. It was a nice day for such an occasion. May people in attendance. The services were well adapted to the occasion. The sermon was preached by the Rev. Mr .Kenedy of Fredricksburg. His text is recorded in (?). Whom do men say that I am Peter said thou art the christ and the Lord said thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. 

Nov 22/57

Nothing very new for the week that is past and gone. Received a letter from G. Lightcap stating all in good health. Sent his wife in to Ohio on the 29 of October last.

Went to Lakeville on businesses had a pleasant ride on the cars. Got a red flanel monkey jacket worth two dollars and sixty two and a
half cents. Cut by H. Pissett (?) and made by Susan Smith for (?). Got a new silk velvet vest worth nine dollars and cost me at first cost and ten (?) cent carriage seven dollars and ___ cts.


Categories: Local History Journal | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.