NOTICE: This site will go offline July 1st, 2024.
Please contact if you are interested in maintaining this site after July 2024.

History Articles


User Rating:  / 0
Community Calendar
Social Groups
Web Links


August 1, 1985


PIX #1 - The original Bigham home on County Road 592, still in existence, is home to owners Mr. and Mrs. Claude Hummel.

PIX #2 - The Herman and Louise (Brian) Burgbacher family included, front left, top row: Louise, Herman, Berlin, son; Victor, son; front row: Rose (Leonard), daughter; Perry, son; Mable (Zuelzke), daughter, the only one in the family still living.

PIX #3 - Uzziah N. Keller, left, and his wife, Mary (Bigham) Keller, flank Mary Keller, their granddaughter. The younger Mary Keller is now Mrs. Dunaway and sister of Helen Seaman and Ruth Besserman.

(Author's Note: Today's article is the fifth in the series about the village of Iler. The smallest of villages in this area, the amount of information and old photos of Iler available to me was surprising.


Earlier in this series of articles, references were made to various Iler families. The following are those that can be presented at this time.


Herman Burgbacher, son of Squire John (Johannes) and Susanna (Koenig) Burg- bacher, was born in Chatfield Township, Crawford County, on March 15, 1860, and died Aug. 14, 1925.

Herman was wed to Louise Brian on Nov. 28, 1890. His wife was born June 8, 1870, in Riechen Amt Eppinger, Baden, Germany. Her parents emigrated to the United States in 1881, settling near Lykens in Crawford County.

To Herman and Louise Burgbacher were born six children: Victor F., Rose L., Perry A., Mabel M., Berlin V. and Harry. Rose married Edgar Leonard, followed by Louis Grimm. Mabel married Harry Zuelzke. Victor married Florence Won- ders. Perry and Berlin married sisters--Grace and Helen Bookman. Harry died soon after birth.

The life story of the Burgbacher family goes back to the village of Burgberg, Germany, the birthplace of Hans Burgbacher in 1613.

John Burgbacher, son of Perry (deceased) and his wife, Marjorie, have visited the area of Germany where the Burgbacher ancestors originated. John has con- structed a complete genealogy of the family that includes many interesting tales and photos of his findings.

From his compilation, the above brief family history has been excerpted. A longer article later will be presented in this column to inform readers about the people who helped build this country.


Lorena Louise, the oldest child of Rosina and Jacob Briegel, was born in the farm home of her parents on June 30, 1878, in Chatfield Township, Crawford County. She and her brother and sister were the grandchildren of John and Susanna Burgbacher.

Lorena came to Iler to assist her uncle Herman and aunt Louise Burgbacher during the birth of their son, Berlin. While in Iler she fell in love with William Henry Omwake and they were married Jan. 13, 1901.

They resided with her husband's widowed mother until they were able to build a large brick home in Iler. The house still stands, and is owned and lived in by Mr. and Mrs. Carl Omwake.

William Omwake was an ambitious man. He purchased the Iler Tile Mill from a receivership, and paid for it by selling brick and tile until the purchase price of $1,500 was paid off.

The brick used to build his home came from the tile mill. He expanded his business to include a sawmill, cider press and coal business, and he bought a 300-acre farm.

He was a born bargainer and would sell or trade anything if he could make a few dollars' profit on the deal.

His wife, Lorena, was also very efficient and managed her household skill- fully, sewing, gardening, cooking and baking for a family of eight. She also gave room and board to the school teachers, telegraph operator and the hired men that William employed over the years, plus a brother and nephew.

Six children were born to them:

Anna--married William Hitchings, and to them were born four sons, Robert, Ray- mond, William and Jim;

Iris--married John Baldwin, and they had two sons, Jack and Duane. After John died, Iris married Ronald Dicken;

Helen--married Raymond Rouser, and they adopted two daughters, Beverly Jo and Judy Kay;

Mary--married John L. Striff and they had two daughters and one son, Ruth Ann, Janet, and John Jr.;

Leon--married Louise Moore, and they had a son and daughter, Susan and Leon Jr.; and

Carl--married Forrest Lawless and they had three daughters, Wanda, Barbara and Patricia.

Lorena passed away Sept. 11, 1941, and was buried at Pleasant Union Cemetery, Old Fort.


Mary E. Bigham (1857-1942) was the daughter of John and Jane (Clark) Bigham. Her parents moved from Crawford County to Jackson Township in 1870, where they became owners of 180 acres of land and made it a fine farm with a nice house.

Uzziah Nelson Keller (1851-1944) was the son of John and Mary (Downey) Keller of Tiffin. U.N. Keller's father was a captain in the cavalry in the Civil War.

Mary E. Bigham and Uzziah Nelson Keller were married Dec. 27, 1877. They had four children who died within three months of each other, from Nov. 22, 1886, through Jan. 20, 1887, all having diptheria. The youngest child was three months, the oldest 7 years and 10 months. They resided next to the Bigham homestead.

The family then purchased land and moved to Iler where three sons were born: Robert F., 1888; Pearl H., 1890; and Jess B., 1894.

Adam Dicken lived in one of the houses on the Keller farm and did the farming. In 1919, Robert F. Keller moved from the Wood County farm to the Iler farm and farmed until 1939, when his son Robert N. took over.

The family home was sold in 1948.

U.N. Keller was a school teacher at the Iler school. He was a member of the Seneca County school board for many years. He also served on the board of directors for the Bettsville Banking Co. He helped organize the Seneca County Farm Bureau in 1918 and served on the executive board. Keller was also one of the ticket agents for the Nickel Plate, as it was known back then.


John Bigham of Jackson Township, Seneca County, was born in Knox County on March 1833. He moved to Eden Township in July 1834, accompanied by his par- ents, remaining there until March 1855. He then went to Washtenaw County, Michigan, where he became acquainted with Jane Clark, a native of New York, but for many years a resident of Michigan. They were married on Sept. 4 of the same year, the ceremony having been performed at Jackson.

After the wedding they remained in Michigan about a year, returning to Ohio in 1856, and settled on a farm in Crawford County, where they resided until 1864.

They again returned to Seneca County the same year, remaining, however, only a short time, when they purchased another farm in Crawford County. After staying there about six years, they finally located permanently on the farm in Jackson Township, Seneca County, in the fall of 1871, where they spent the rest of their lives.

The family consisted of three children: the eldest, Mary Eliza, was born July 25, 1857; the second, Robert, was born Oct. 29l, 1858; and the third, Martha Jane, June 23, 1869. They were all born in Crawford County.

The children of Robert and Jane (Clark) Bigham were Ted, Nora, Ethel, John, Bruce and Perry.

Mrs. Ted (Bea) Bigham, 511 W. Culbertson St., whose husband is deceased, pro- vided information for this biography.

The Bigham farm, close to Iler, on County Road 592, is now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Claude Hummel, and they reside in the remodeled home.


In addition to names in the foregoing genealogies and others already named in this series of articles, there are names that need to be added to the list of people who lived in and around Iler in the past and present. The following are the names that have become available. There may be still others that should be added, and will be, if called to my attention.

George Hammers, Martin Hammers, Sampson Foster, Bob Gwinner, Ethel Gwinner, Tony Burns, Arthur Dicken, Millers, Edith McEntire, Wilfred Earl, King McCullough, Snyder, John Baldwin, Paul Siebenaller, Roger McDonald, Stephen Siebenaller, Mark and Mike McDonald, Baldersons.

Millers, Colemans, Groves, Myers, Prantes, Michael Teil, Bill Hitchings, Lawrence Beckman, Joel Siebenaller, Roy Few, Bob Young, Russell Omwake, Dean Border, Barbey Naugle, Harry Kile, John Grove, Ben LeJune, Lawless, Armons.

(Author's Note: I am grateful for the information, photos and assistance from many individuals who assisted in the preparation of the Iler series. I will note name them, fearful that someone may be overlooked. Thank you!)

Top of page



Hosted by Noguska Computer Center Serving Fostoria's computer needs since 1973!