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1977197819791980198119821983198419851986198719881989

PEDDLERS VISITED ILER
July 25, 1985


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PIX #1 - The residence of U.N. Keller family in Iler, and the Keller's first car, purchased in 1911. U.N. Keller seated in back and Robert Keller, son, in front. According to Helen (Keller) Seaman, daughter of Robert, provider of the photo, that car was the third one sold in Fostoria. They had to go to Norwalk to get it. Seaman said Ralph Pillars was the first owner of a car in Fostoria...Floyd Mowery was second and Keller was third.

PIX #2 - Remember them? They were the Omwake daughters of William and wife. Reading left ot right: Anna, Iris, Helen, Mary. The only two living are the two at the left, now Mrs. John (Mary) Striff and Mrs. Raymond (Helen) Rouser.

PIX #3 - The old swimming hole at Iler...Wolf Creek...where two boys drowned. The girls and ladies swam there too, as this photo shows. Males swam in the nude, but female wore clothes. None identified in photo, provided by Helen Rouser.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is the fourth of the series of articles about Iler, the smallest of the villages near Fostoria in Seneca County. There has been good reader response, some of which is included with today's article. It is unusual to have more photos to use than space available, but that is the case with this series.

Readers who once lived in Iler will recall the following people who frequented the village on regular schedule selling their wares: the Larkins man who peddled a variety of home remedies for rheumatism, cough syrup, salves and more; the fisht man; the rag man; the junk man; the Arabian lady who walked to Iler every year from Toledo carrying two big cases of needles, thread, lace and fabrics. If she was invited to stay overnight in someone's home she preferred to sleep on the floor. At the table she ate with her fingers refusing utensils.

Mable Zuelzke, a native of Iler but a Fostoria resident for many years, recalls that when her future husband was courting her he rode to Iler on the train. She said he missed the last train one night for his return trip and had to walk back via the rails. Mrs. Zuelzke still has the ticket Harry didn't use. The fare was 10 cents. Many readers will remember that the Zuelzke had the bottling works in Fostoria many years ago.

One humorous often told tale in Iler was about Samson Foster, the fifth settler there. Mr. Foster's barn was located where the railroad was going through. Foster is reputed to have said he couldn't open his barn door everytime a train came.

Sampson was part of the Foster family written about in an earlier Potluck article. They had settled on the banks of Wolf Creek many years before Iler became a village. His parents were labelled the "other Fosters" by me since they were not part of the Charles W. Foster family after whom Fostoria is named.

OWNS GERMAN BIBLE PRINTED IN 1702

In the process of collecting information for this series of articles and talking with Paul Burgbacher, 517 Burnam Drive, he shoed me the old German Bible that had been in the family for many years. It was probably brought to this country by the first Burgbachers to arrive here.

Mrs. John (Mary) Striff, 404 Glenview Drive, teleponed to tell me that she was also one of the living daughters of William Omwake, along with Carl and Helen Rouser. If her name was reported to me previously, I must have overlooked it. Sorry!

Mrs. Striff was also born in the house made from bricks from Omwake's factory. She remembers when her father would take them to the tile factory when they fired the kiln. She said he ordered a whole car of coal for that operation. They would go there at night to watch the hot kilns bake the tile and bricks. She said they made things out of mud and fired them in the kiln too.

Mrs. Striff is the youngest of the Omwake children.

"TOWN OF 30 HAS NO DEBT"

...that's the way the Toledo Blade described the village of Iler back on Feb. 5, 1915. The headline also said, "Village has band, but no crime".

"This town has the distinction of being one of the few towns in northwestern Ohio that is clear of debt, and this is due to a master stroke of finance".

"Although it only boasts a population of 12 families or 30 persons, it supported the town band to the tune of more than $1,300, according to Herman Bergbacher, the town's only merchant, and proud possessor of one of the community's three telephones. As the result of the concerts given by the town band of 12 pieces, or one musician for each family, the town paid off its debt of $1,300 and has more than $100 in reserve".

"Aside from its many distinctions, Iler, which is situated on the NYC near Fostoria, in Seneca County, has no officials and no crime. There have been two burglaries here since the village was founded about 30 years ago".

"There are no eletric lights in thw town", said Burgbacher, "but the railroad is expanding up this way. They're double tracking now, and employ three men at the depot, an agent and two telegraphers".

"What's more", added the merchant prince, "Iler is a town plum-full of contented folk, no want, no crime and brotherly love aplenty".

"The unique plan of wiping out the town's debts is credited to C.R. Anderson, bandmaster, and president of the grange. Agriculture is the town's sole excuse for this location.

SURPRISE CALL FROM MRS. JESS KELLER

A surprise telephone call from a reader after most the Iler series was written, prompted this paragraph. The caller was Mrs. Jess B. Keller, 810 Shore Drive.

Having read the first two installments, Mrs. Keller telephoned to identify herself as part of the Keller family that lived in Iler many years ago. Her deceased husband Jess was one of the children of Uzziah N. Keller and Mary (Bigham) Keller.

Mrs. Jess Keller is the great aunt of Helen (Keller) Seaman, 617 W. North St., and Ruth (Keller) Besserman, 450 Colonial Dr., both daughters of Robert F. Keller.

Mrs. Jess Keller, a Tiffin resident was Lelia Summer before her marriage. She and her husband had a metal stamping factory in Cleveland before their retirement and prior to moving to Fostoria. At that time they purchased the Pelton Quarry property and developed it in to a residential area, where she now lives.

Mrs. Keller has the original wedding certificate when Uzziah Keller and Mary Bighan were wed Dec. 27, 1877, and also other memorabilia of the family.

The old quarry is now a beautiful small lake surrounded by attractive homes, set amidst the trees and shrubbery. It is a choice residential area with no more space for additional homes.

Mrs. Keller recalls her earlier days in Tiffin, when Fostoria and Tiffin high schools were arch enemies and Fostoria usually won the football games. She also recalls the TF&E interurbans that connected Tiffin with Bascom and Fostoria...Meadowbrook Park, with its large pavillion for school, church and family reunions.

TELEPHONE CALL FROM MAINE

After the second of the Iler series appeared in print, I had a telephone call from Fred Iler, Westbrook, Maine. One of his kin still residing here had sent copies of the articles to him.

Although Fred Iler, is a descendent of the original Iler family, he was reared in Paulding County. However, he has visited Iler in the past, and recalled pictures shown and information in the articles.

Interested in geneology, Fed Iler has done considerable collection of family history. He promised to provide a "brief" on the original Ilers for use in this column at a later date.

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