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This and That - Stories from very old newspapers PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, May 25, 2013 12:31 AM

A couple weeks ago I went on a genealogy road trip with two of my good friends……Donna Osting and Evie Martin. We spent several hours at the Putnam County Library in Ottawa.

Both ladies are very good at digging up the family tree on the Internet. I’m still learning of all the websites available. My daughter has so I hope to do some searching on that.

Evie has and several other genealogy sites that you pay a fee to use. One of these is loaded with old newspaper articles. She found newspapers dating back to 1803. This site is:

From the Daily Ohio Statesman of 16 June 1851 she found a story “Sufferings of an Emigrant” about the family of Michel Ridenhour, one of the early families of Putnam County. It follows:

“In 1847, previous of the gold discovery in California, Michel Ridenhour, of Putnam County, in this State, took the Oregon fever, and, with his family, set out for that distant bourne across the plains. On the way over five of their children were carried off by the measles and whooping cough. The balance reached their destination, chastened with their great loss, which saddened their stay in the new country, and rendered them discontented. They sighed for their Ohio home, and, after four years absence, sought it. By way of the Isthmus they reached Louisville, and then another child was taken from them. At Dayton, almost the last drop of the bitter cup was drained——the mother died! One more dark shadow was in their path——arrived where they had started from, the seventh child followed the spirit of its mother!—-Cin. Enq.”


Another story was from the Lowell Daily Citizen and News (Lowell, MA) of 30 April 1858. It is as follows:

“An elderly man named Recker, near Fort Jennings; Putnam County, Ohio was murdered last week by his wife, who is now in jail, having confessed the crime. The circumstances were horrible. It seems that Recker was affected with a disease of the eyes, which often made it painful for him to come in contact with the light, and that while in this situation, there having been some misunderstanding between him and his wife, she dealt him a blow on the head with an iron wedge. She then sprang upon him and continued to beat his head till life was extinct.”…..”After horribly mutilating him, it is reported, that afraid that he might still be alive, she poured over his person boiling water to ascertain if there was any sensation left. Another report says that the scalding water was used to wash off the blood, and remove traces of the cause of his death. The murder was not discovered until evening, when their son, a boy about sixteen or seventeen years of age, returned from fishing, when he was requested by mother to assist her to carry the body out and bury it in a fence corner. This he refused to do, but gave immediate notice to some of the neighbors, who summoned Hon. H. J. Boehmer, Esq, to the spot. At first the murderer claimed that he had fallen down stairs, and broke his neck, but Mr. Boehmer, after examination, becoming satisfied such was not the fact, dispatched a messenger for the Coroner, to whom Mrs. Recker acknowledged her guilt. She was then taken into custody, brought to Kalida and is now in jail awaiting her trial.

Kalida Sentinel. (At that time the court house was still in Kalida.)


Two more stories dealt with the severe winter of 1842-43 in northwest Ohio. From 15 Apr 1843 Albany Evening Journal (Albany, NY) it follows:

“Famine Among the Beutes in Ohio”

“The unprecedented long and severe winter has been the cause of great suffering and death among the swine and cattle. It is estimated by well informed persons that no less than 300 head of cattle and 6,000 head of swine, in one county alone have perished of actual starvation. The Editor of the Kalida Venture made a tour through a portion of Van Wert County, and the number of dead and dying hogs that met his eye along the route, exceeded anything of the kind ever heard of. The wild game, deer, turkeys, etc., have all suffered with the rest. The farmers’ stock of hay and grain is nearly exhausted, and if the cold weather continued much longer, and there was no intermediate prospect of its abatement — ‘the garden of Ohio’ will be compelled to import hay beef and pork for next years use.”


From the Hampshire Gazette (Northampton, MA) on 18 April 1843 it is as follows:

“Destruction of Cattle and Swine”

“The unexampled and long protracted severity of the winter, has been attended with destructive effects in the northwest counties of Ohio. The Kalida Venture says that in Putnam County alone, ‘It is estimated by well informed persons that 300 head of cattle and 6000 swine have perished by starvation.’ The editor adds: ‘We made a tour through a portion of Van Wert County last week, and the number of dead and dying hogs that met our eye along the route, exceeded anything of the kind ever saw or heard of. The wild game, deer, turkeys, etc., have also suffered with the rest.’ The Porcupine, published at Lima, confirms the statement with respect to Allen County——the woods were full of dead hogs, which have usually subsisted without any aid from their owners.”


A story from the Pennsylvania Freeman (Philadelphia, PA) Sept. 16 1847:

“Ohio has 83 counties — 1279 town ships, and 1332 villages, towns and cities. Hamilton county land is valued at $51.62 per acre, the highest in the State. Van Wert County is valued at $2.08 per acre, it being the lowest in the State — and the average of land is $13.86 per acre.” (At that time, Ohio had only 83 counties, compared to 88 today.)

Today, as you are reading this, Evie and I will spend time at the Delphos Public Library where Evie will show me how to dig up the family tree on the Internet. We have mutual ancestors by the names of Grothaus and Suthoff. John Grothaus married Mary Suthoff in 1866 at the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Fort Jennings. Just lately Evie found the marriage of Mary Suthoff’s parents in Hamilton County in 1840. These ancestors at one time lived on what is now Road T-23 (at one time known as Paradise Road) in Jennings Township, between Delphos and Fort Jennings. This property is still known as “Bunker Hill”, the name given to it by John Grothaus, after having served in the Civil War.


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