Pioneer Days: A First-person Account by John Schatzel

John Schatzel

John Schatzel (circa 1900)

In the late 1890s and early 1900s, George W. Wilkinson, the editor of the North Baltimore Beacon, encouraged elderly local residents to write about their experiences in the settling of Henry Township and the founding of North Baltimore, Ohio. He then published their letters in a series of articles which he titled “Interesting Pioneer Sketches.”

The following is an article written by John Schatzel. In it he describes North Baltimore (then called New Baltimore) as he found the village upon his arrival there in May 1874. This article is directly transcribed from the North Baltimore Beacon of August 30, 1901.

This is the third and final article in the series of Beacon pioneer letters researched by members of the North Baltimore Historical Society. The first article in the series by Mrs. B. L. Peters described the settlement of the northern portion of Henry Township and the beginnings of North Baltimore in the 1840s. The second article was written by Samuel Slaughterbeck in which he describes the settlement of Henry Township east of Rocky Ford Creek (then called the Portage River) in the 1830s and 40s.

Interesting Pioneer Sketches.

Prepared for the “Beacon” by Old Residents of This Vicinity


What Composed North Baltimore at That Time

13 Houses in All—Some Persons Associated With the Town’ Early History–Barber Shop Under a Tree–The Town Incorporated in 1877

I came to North Baltimore in the year 1874 arriving here with my family on the 15th of day of May. I had been here before and bought the lot where the Opera house now stands and contracted with a carpenter for a building which not being completed I was compelled to find lodging at a boarding house kept by one James Craun on the lot in the house now occupied by Lewis Cost our present marshal, on north Second Street. This was North Baltimore’s first boarding house.

When my house on North Main St. was completed I moved in and opened up a shoe shop, which I conducted until the fall of 1875, when I built the first brick block in North Baltimore, which block is still standing and occupied by M. Ghia’s fruit store. This block I rented to the firm of Magrum & Houldsworth, who opened a shoe store and into whose employment I entered.

When I came to town we had no fine houses, no fine well equipped stores, and in fact no luxuries of any kind. Indeed we were very well pleased if we had the bare necessities of life. The surrounding country was but little better than a swampy wilderness whose name of Black Swamp was very appropriate. We had no roads through the country and visitors were few and far between. Our only outlet was the B.&O. Railway whose tracks were built westward as far as Deshler but no passenger trains had been run as yet. We got our mail at B. L. Peters’ store and went to Findlay and Fostoria for flour and feed.

The first post office was built just south of the present location of the Hughes block with Mr. Len Hudson as postmaster. The other businesses here were two general merchandise stores, one on the site of Gibson block owned by B. L. Peters and the other on the site of the Hughes block owned by Paterson & Winder and conducted by Mr. Eb. Poe, these being in both frame buildings. The only grocery store in town was conducted by James Filson in the same building now standing across the alley south of the Cramer block on South Main Street. John Reid Porter conducted a hardware store in a frame building where the new Beacon block now stands, and in this store room Lewis Arnold started his harness business, late building a block where his block now stands and removing into it. This was the first harness shop in this town. Levi Coleman had a blacksmith shop in the same building on Second St. now occupied and carried on by his son Cost Coleman, it being the first blacksmith shop here. Paul Hough and John Witherow conducted a saw mill where the house of M. Lanfrom now stands. Wm. Mullet conducted a butcher shop on the site now occupied by the Beverlin block. Those were the only business open when I came here and there we only about 13 houses in all.

The only physician was Dr. A. G. Henry who had and office where Mr. Northrop’s store now stands on North Main Street. The Dr. rode over the almost impassable roads and endured hardships which well entitles him to the prominent position he occupies among North Baltimore’s citizens.

The first grist mill in this place was erected by Dr. H. P. Easton on the present site though enlarged and carried on by G.G. Rockwell at the present time. The first hotel was erected by Wm. H. Zarbaugh and Samuel Harry and is at the present at the same location, known as the Baltimore House. The first barber shop was started in the waiting room of the Baltimore House.

An amusing incident occurring in the connection with that shop will perhaps be remembered by some of our citizens. It seems that the business didn’t pay and the barber was set out on the street, whereupon he removed his outfit to the west side of Main Street on the B&O ground and under a peach and two cherry trees proceeded to shave several customers, but the next day left town.

The first school house was on the corner where Netzorg’s store now stands, but is now on Margaret Street occupied by A. J. Fisher and family.

The year 1875 was perhaps the beginning of our town’s prosperity, for quite a number of businesses were opened up that year and have proven to be permanent additions to the town’s advantages. The town was organized and incorporated in the year 1877 with B. L. Peters as the mayor and Wm. T. Thomas as clerk. The first council were: N. B. Houldsworth, Sol Zarbaugh, John Tarr, Dan Dillinger and Dr. A. McClaren. Sol Zimmermand was the first city marshal.

The first agent for the B.&O. was B. L. Peters, but the business was conducted by John Wells who now lives in Archer, Florida. The first photographing done in town was in a wagon owned and operated by John Cramer and was located on the B. & O. ground on the west side of Main Street. These are the beginnings of North Baltimore’s business history and through many struggles the town has advanced and built up until now she ranks not less than second in importance in Wood County. Not wishing to take up more of your valuable space and thanking you for your kindness I remain respectively.

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