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July 18, 1985


PIX #1 - Iler's saw mill and those who worked there: From left, George Omwake, next unknown, William Omwake, Ira Omwake, next unknown, Lester Omwake, Russel Omwake on wagon. The Omwakes are all brothers and the mill was owned by William.

PIX #2 - One of the two bands Iler boasted...this being the last one. Top row, from left, Hunk Ritter (partly shown), Robert Keller, George Anderson, Ralph Dingelstedt, Joe Lopez, one of the Richard twins, Floyd Shellhouse, Olen Peeler, Leroy Grove. Middle row, Morris Anderson, Ray Kassing, Floyd Grine, Bill Byers by the drum, Harold Dicken, Edgar Leonard, Clyde Peeler. Front row, Ronald Dicken, Arthur Kissling, Paul Simons, Raymond Byers, Glen Hill, Edgar Leonard.

PIX #3 - Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church served residents in the Iler area for 114 years.

PIX #4 - Iler's Gun Club when it met in Fostoria for a contest July 4, 1900. Standing from left, unknown, a Brenaman, and the remainder of the row unknown except for Greely Warner on the extreme right. Bottom row, Clarence Hiserman, Jake Brenaman, unknown, Joe Chilcote, Albert Lambright, unknown, Harry Omwake, Ralph Gwiner.

(AUTHOR'S NOTE: Earlier in this series of articles about the village of Iler, mention was made of the Methodist Church which was located at the corner of CR 592 and CR 5. There was also mention of the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church which was west of Iler on CR 592. There was no elaboration in the article about Zion which served Iler and the surrounding area for 114 years. Further reflection prompts me to provide a brief review of that important religious institution which affected the lives of so many people in the Iler area. It is part of today's article, the third in a series.)


"Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cor- ner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste." (Isiah 28:16)

So started a condensed history of Zion Lutheran Church compiled by the Rev. George F. Pauschert, the church's 14th pastor. The history was compiled in marking the 100th anniverary of the church in 1938.

"The early settlers of Jackson Township found it a dense wilderness, portions of it were covered with lowlands and water, so he was obliged to seek the ridges for his dwellings. This also explains the beautiful location of our church today.

"Many of the early settlers were Germans, some coming from Perry County, Ohio, some coming from the east and others from Europe. They were mostly Lutheran and Reformed in faith. Their religion was a thing of the heart and they for- fot not their confirmation vow."


"On the 27th of March 1832, a child of Christian Foster died and the need of a cemetery was realized. So Christian Foster, Jacob Hoffer and Abraham Rine- bold, who owned the joining farms, agreed to give threefourths of an acre of land each, to be used as a cemetery and also to build thereon Lutheran and Reformed churches and schools.

"In the summer of 1835 the neighbors began the erection of a school house, also to be used as a church. It stood where the present church stands. It was not finished until the fall of 1836. The building was a log structure about 18X20 feet, with floor and seats made of split logs.

"Henry Stahl was the first teacher in this school as well as in this township. He received fifty cents a day and three months were devoted to school every year."


"As far as is known the first Lutheran pastor appeared about this time. It was Rev. Adolph Conrad, a member of the Ohio Synod and one of the first gradu- ates of our Seminary, also an instructor in the school. He lived in Tiffin. He preached a year or so before he organized a congregation, for the records the records show Feb. 9, 1836, he baptized six children: Susan Hoffer, Noah Swope, Joshua Stahl, Henry Hoffman, Rebecca Hampshire and Susan Rinebold.

"In 1838 he completed the organization of Zion's Evangelical Lutheran Congre- gation. The first communion was celebrated January 29, 1837, and seventeen partook. On the 24th of May 1840, he held his last communion when twenty- four communed. Rev. Conrad's work was soon ended for the Lord called him home to give him his reward."

In 1938 when the church had celebrated its 100th anniversary, 23 pastors had served the church: Adolph Conrad, J.J. Beilharz, Henry Lang, Edward Kornbaum, George Ueintz, M. Burkle, Rev. Graetz, William Braunworth, Rev. Doemenden, the Rev. Dubeal, the Rev. C.A.J. Cramer, George Dillman, Carl Ackerman, George Pauschert, W.E. Arnholt, R.E. Reed, A.L. Heyde, L.A. Hasselbach, Paul A. Adams, C.E. Clessler, K.E. Mohrhoff, W.H. Lehman and J.J. Baumgartner.

Up until about 1852 both Lutherans and Reformed worshipped together. The dif- ferences in the beliefs of the two groups then became more acute and the Lu- therans bought the full interest in the church property.

In 1875 First Hope Church, Fostoria, and Zion united. In 1889 the Zion Church building, shown with today's article, was built at a cost of $4,538.75. In 1890 Zion separated from First Hope.


In 1952 the Zion Church congregation again merged with First Hope and the rural church stood vacant until 1962 when it was demolished. The only physi- cal reminder of the church is the bell which summoned the members to worship. The bell is appropriately mounted on a brick structure across from the ceme- tery where early settlers as well as descendants are buried.

The cemetery is well kept and is visited by descendants from near and far. For more detail about the cemetery see the Potluck article dated Oct. 22, 1981.


Something else! The life in villages like Iler provided an atmosphere and ex- periences unlike city life.

Iler had a town hall which was used for the town's business sessions, grange meetings, socials and plays. The events were often attended by 100 or more.

About that band...actually there was once two bands in Iler. I was told there had been a band there earlier, but apparently there was some dissatis- faction among the group. When Jack Wainwright came to Fostoria he and Joe Lopez were persuaded to start another band in which some of Jack's students took part as is evident by the 20-piece band photo which appears with today's article.

The general store was the village's main center. It was where all food sup- plies and miscellaneous items were purchased. Folks in Iler proper or in the outlying areas who had eggs and homemade butter to see brought the items to the store to trade for other necessities.


Ten to 15 men, perhaps more, would assemble in the general store in the evening to discuss politics and local matters.

On holidays the Iler folks would congregate at various homes for homemade ice cream and listen to the latest records on the town's only phonograph owned by Bence Riffle. Helen Rouser told me Riffle took great pride in his phono- graph and every few years he would have the big horn which emitted the sound repainted with a floral figure. She said during World War I he had the Ameri- can flag painted on it.

The big horn referred to will be remembered by older readers as the trademark of Victor phonographs with a dog sitting on front, "Listening To His Master's Voice" was part of the trademark.

There were other activities for young and old. The men had a gun club that met with other shooters in this area to vie for honors. The photo with to- day's article caught the Iler group in Fostoria to meet competition.


Kids in the Iler are like to go swimming in Wolf Creek in the summer. However the pastime turned into a catastrophe one summer when heavy rains had swelled the creek and created a strong current. Two boys Nelson Prante and George King, were thrown from their homemade raft and drowned. Their bodies were found when they failed to return for supper and a search was made. The Wolf Creek swimming hole was located about one-half mile west of Iler's main street.

Back in the early part of this century Gypsy tribes frequently came through this area and had routes where they usually travelled. As a boy in the summer I saw the gypsy caravans of gaudily decorated horsedrawn vehicles moving east on McDougal Street. I never knew where they were headed.

I learned from Helen Rouser that they were headed for Iler. Their destination was unfortunate for that village, especially the general store. When the gypsies arrived in Iler all available adults would hurry to the store to po- lice it and keep them from cleaning out the merchandise. They would steal anything they could...foood, cloth, thread, needles...anything they could get their hands on.

Iler didn't have a hotel so anyone working in the village who did not have a permanent residence boarded with a family who had space. The transients in- cluded teachers and those who worked for the railraod and other factories.

(Continued next week.)

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