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July 11, 1985


PIX #1 - William Omwake He operated Iler's brick and tile factory, lumber mill, cider mill and coal yard.

PIX #2 - Charles Marion Walters, son of Michael and father of Dorothy Walters (Koons).

PIX #3 - A.W. Schuster, teacher at Iler school in 1897-1898.

PIX #4 - Michael Walter and wife Sarah (Ridley) Walters. Birham and Walters had Iler's first general store before the Burgbachers took it over. Walters was Iler's first postmaster.

PIX #4 - This is the 17-room house which was built for the William Omwake family, the bricks for it coming from the brick and tile factory owned by Omwake. The house still stands, lived in by Mr. and Mrs. Carl Omwake. Carl is the son of William. It is the house for which William's wife, Lorena, dug the basement.

PIX #5 - This house was one of the early ones in Iler, being the residence of Jacob (Jake) Iler, after whom the village was named. The house was also the birthplace of Fostoria Dorothy Walters Koons, residing at 656 Cherry St. The man at left was Jake Iler, and next to him his sister Elizabeth. The others are unknown, according to Mrs. Koons.

(Author's Note: This is the second in a series of articles about the village of Iler. Many readers are aware of the promotional advertisements that appeared about the Iler series. The promotion produced a telephone call from Mrs. Dorothy (Walters) Koons, 656 Cherry St., which, if there had been suffi- cient time, would have called for alterations in the first article of the series.

Briefly, her call informed me that Jacob (Jake) Iler, mentioned in the first article had a sister, Elizabeth, from which came the Walters family. Koons also provided photos that had never come to my attention and logically be- longed in the first article. Two of those photos are with today's article and others will appear later.)

In last week's article, Messers Bigham and Michael (Mike) Walters were cre- dited with being the first owners of Iler's general store, with Walters also the first postmaster.

I learned from Mrs. Koons that Walters was a son of one of the Ilers who settled near Iler in 1932 and was her grandfather. She also told me that she (Koons) was born in the old Iler house shown in the accompanying photo and lived her early years in that village, remembering the general store shown with last week's article.)


Hay wasn't the only product produced in Iler. The factory was owned by William Omake, father of Carl and Mrs. Rouser.

Clay for the tile works was dug from a nearby pond. When the business ceased to exist, the excavation was used by the village to dump trash.

Bricks from the factory were used to build William Omwake's 17-room house for his new bride, according to Mrs. Rouser. "It is the house where all of us Omwake kids were born and raised," Mrs. Rouser said. It is also the present home of Carl Omwake, her brother, and his wife.

Mrs. Rouser told me that when her mother was pregnant with her first child, she singlehandedly dug the basement for the large, new house, aided by a horse to move the dirt. This is one example of the sturdy, hardworking pioneer womenfolk who helped build this country.

The William Omwake family consisted of wife Lorena, and children Anna, Iris, Mary, Helen and Carl. The last two named are the only survivors.

Iler, in its prime, had a grain elevator, owned by Charles Ash, who resided in the neighboring village of Amsden, and it was operated by Oscar Leonard.


The only remembrance of those days is the elevator's smoke stack, shown by a photo with this series.

The village boasted other important activities, all necessary for the good of the community. The blacksmith shop, run by John Heller, was of prime impor- tance. Farmers often had to "make do" with tools and other devices that they could make themselves or be made by the village smith.

Located near the hay barn was Iler's stockyards, run by a Mr. Flack. It was a pen with a loading ramp and used for containing the livestock he bought from farmers and resold in the surrounding villages.

There was plenty of standing timber in those days, and Iler had a saw mill where the logs could be turned into a variety of lumber for houses, barns, gates, troughs, etc. The mill was run by William Omwake.

Farmers had apple orchards...the fruit used to make apple butter and cider. Iler had its own cider mill, run by Omwake too.

Frank Kimmet had an ice house, well insulated with sawdust from the mill to preserve ice cut in the winter from Wolf Creek, which ran through that area. The ice was used to preserve food and for making ice cream.


Houses, school and church were first priorities in America's early communi- ties, and Iler was no exception. That village's first one-room school was built one mile west of town, and continued as the center for instruction for the children in that area until 1922, when the building was abandoned and the students were bused to the newly erected centralized school at Amsden.

I was told by Helen Rouser that Edna Gilhuly, Burnham Drive, is the only living teacher who taught there.

Strange as it may seem by today's standards, the children educated in country schools took their place along side their counterparts that went to the city schools, and made their marks...sometimes higher. True, some of those country kids went on through high school and college. Yet some of them made high marks in their chosen professions with only the common school education.


A grade card that came to light among researched material provided information about subjects taught in the Iler school in 1907-08. The grade card was for pupil Ross Burgbacher. Harry Leonard was the teacher.

Subjects taught were reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, language, history, civics, geography, spelling, literature and agriculture.

Ross Burgbacher's grades for the school year, October through May, were in the high 80s and 90s.

Teachers in those rural schools were required to teach all grades, first through eighth.

Another piece of school memorabilia was submitted by Mrs. Koons, it being one of the printed cards given to all pupils at the end of each school term, showing the list of pupils and the teacher's picture.


The card for that year, 1897-98, was courtesy of A.W. Schuster, teacher, and U.N. Keller was the school director.

Here is the list of pupils:

Bruce Bigham, John Bigham, Perry Bigham, Charles W. Good, Ralph Hastings, Wilber Hastings, Oscar Iler, Robert Keller, Pearl Keller, Emerson Keeton, Edgar Leonard, Oscar Leonard, Harry Leonard.

Lee O. Morrison, Dow Morrison, Harry W. Omwake, Lester Omwake, Russel Omwake, Charles Puffenberger, Danny Shaulll, Henry Shaull, Charles Sellers, Howard Trumbo, Charles Wertz, Virgie Anderson.

Ethel Bigham, Nora Bigham, Pearl Good, Myrtle Good, Virgie Leonard, Allie Puffenberger, Maud Sellers, Gladys Sellers, Edith Stone, Ida Yochum, Dorothy Yochum, Ethel Young and Harry Stone.

Continued next week.

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