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Window to the Past — A Van Wert County ex-slave PDF Print E-mail
Friday, February 14, 2014 9:00 PM

Among the early settlers, a young colored man, William White, came to Willshire, Van Wert County. He had been a slave and because of his wonderful physical development, his master decided to have him train as a prize fighter so as to make money on him in the prize ring. He soon became a scientific boxer so quick of eye and motion that soon his best trainer could not stand up before him. His master found an antagonist who was considered the champion of the south.

They entered the ring with the betting largely in favor of White’s antagonist but the contest was short. White, with his wonderful strength and quickness, forced his right hand past his adversary’s guard and hitting him on the shoulder, broke it so completely that he had to be carried from the ring. White then told his master that he would never do another prize fight, that he might send him south to the cotton fields, or do anything else with him, but match him in the ring. His master soon gave him his freedom and he came to Willshire. White, as a young man, used to come to Van Wert to see Nancy Young, who afterward became his wife. He was over six feet tall and weighed about 250 pounds, all muscle.

At one time, he and some of his neighbors had gone to the Grand Reservoir to enjoy some fishing. A party from Auglaize County was there and hearing White’s name, called saying, “Are you the White they say is the best man in Van Wert County?” “Oh no,” said White, “There are plenty of men better in the county.” “Well,” said the man, “I have whipped the best man in Allen County, Auglaize County and Mercer County and now I am going to whip you and I will be the champion of four counties.” White told him he would not fight him. The man said, “take off your coat, you will have to fight.” White only laughed and replied that he guessed not. The man said, “Prepare yourself” and struck at White, who dodged and caught the man’s arm and threw him about 15 feet into the reservoir. His friends had to jump in and help him out and the man carried his head to one side for several weeks; the jar nearly dislocated it.

At one time, White had hauled five barrels of coal oil from Van Wert to (Casto and Eyler) and drove into the alley back of the wareroom, there were posts set so he could not drive nearer than 10 or 12 feet of the warehouse. Eyler was getting a plank to roll them, when White said, “You do not need that;” taking out the end gate, he took the first barrel, walked with it to the wareroom, set it down and, turning around, said, “Roll out the next.” This continued until the five were safely deposited in the warehouse, apparently without any effort.

He would not use a common axe but had one made to order, weighing six pounds, and would swing it all day with apparent ease. He would put up his six cords of wood with as much ease as other choppers would two or three.

At one time during the War of the Rebellion, White came to town and two toughs that were the terror of the community determined that they were going to fight him. White could have picked them up and cracked their heads together but instead stayed in Swineford’s grocery until they were tired of watching for him. Some of the citizens urged him to go on the street and if attacked, to give them a good thrashing, but he said it would not be right as that would be inviting the trouble and while they deserved it, if he avoided it, it was better.

He lived to a good age, was a good neighbor and respected by everyone.

From History of Van Wert County by Gilliland.


Festivities Mark

Flight of First Plane

The state, nation and delegates from foreign countries joined the city of Dayton today in honoring Orville Wright and his late brother, Wilbur, who made the first successful airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C., 25 years ago.

Today’s festivities marked the beginning of a week of celebration in observance of the flight and later this week, Orville will be the guest of honor at an international celebration in Washington. A pilgrimage to Kitty Hawk will conclude the observance.

First delegates to the celebration arrived yesterday when six giant tri-motored planes carrying representatives and diplomats from foreign countries swooped down out of the skies from Chicago. Hundreds of aviation admirers of the Wright Brothers arrived by train and scores by automobile and plane.

A busy program was arranged for today. The delegates were taken to Fairfield and Wright fields, after which they visited Huffman dam which leads to the site proposed for a $1,000,000 memorial to the Wright Brothers.

Delphos Herald,

Dec. 10, 1928


Poor Service

Uncle Sam is tired of the poor service of the N.O. Railroad.

A notice has been put up at the post office advertising for bids for carrying the mail from Delphos to Vaughnsville and return, each day except Sunday, via Rushmore and Rimer. Sealed bids will be received by Postmaster Weger until Nov. 29 and the lowest approved bidder will be given the contract for the star mail route for six months, commencing Jan. 19, 1899, and ending June 30, 1899.

Similar routes will be established all along the line of the Northern Ohio railroad from Delphos to Akron, as it is the intention of the government to take away the mail service from the Northern Ohio, on account of their poor train service, only one train each way a day, and that a very slow one, connections being frequently missed, it is said.

Delphos Herald,

Nov. 12, 1899


New Arrangement Affecting

Dispatching of Mail

Beginning Monday, a change was made in the dispatch of mail from the Delphos post office. The pouches for Clover Leaf east-bound train No. 6 due at 6:25 a.m. and for east-bound P, Ft. W. & C. train No. 6 due at 6:50 a.m. are now closed at 7:30 p.m. standard time. Under the old arrangement the mail carrier very seldom had time to get to the post office after the Clover Leaf train arrived to get mail for the Penna train and the mail clerks did not have time to give him the mail for both trains when he went to the Clover Leaf.

To relieve this seeming embarrassment in the dispatch of mail, the Delphos office has made arrangements to pouch on east-bound P., Ft. W. & C. newspaper train No. 18 at 8:00 a.m. every day except Sunday. The pouch is closed at 7:15 a.m. standard time. The early rising businessman who receives a letter requiring an immediate answer can get his letter off at once through the pouch service on No. 18.

P.S. (This article is 1 year later than the article above it. R.H.)

Delphos Herald,

Dec. 5, 1899


Outdated Ordinances

San Francisco: When police recently stopped a theater performance after midnight under terms of an almost forgotten ordinance, they started something. A newspaperman started to find out what city laws were more honored on the breach than in the performance.

Here are just a few of the things illegal in San Francisco.

Playing ball in the street.

Begging on the street.

Beating carpet on the street.

Playing poker in a bar room.

Distributing circulars or dodgers on the street.

Clairvoyance, palmistry and fortune telling.

Minors attending dance halls or appearing on the street at night unaccompanied by parents.

Wearing hats in places of amusement - only skull caps and tight lace coverings are permitted.

Riding another person’s horse without permission.

Carrying packages on a pole over the shoulder.

Delphos Herald,

Dec. 8, 1928

(Continued in

next Saturday’s paper)


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