East Toledo’s “Man of Trees”

Louis Hirschy

Louis Hirschy


You’ve probably never heard of Louis Hirschy. But if you ever lived in East Toledo or spent any time there, you likely have enjoyed the product of his passion. His works of art, if you will. For Louis Hirschy, was a sculptor, an artist of landscape and his medium was trees. Lots of them. And this mostly forgotten Swiss immigrant who arrived in Toledo in the latter part of the 19th century, is credited with planting a forest of trees in East Toledo. Thousands of trees that helped to create an urban woodland on the east side of the river. These giants of Maple, and Oak and Elm and Sycamore were planted one by one, year and after year with Hirschy’s hand guiding each root stock into the earth with a love of nature that was deep and reverent. Today, more than a century later, many of those trees, or their offspring, still live today and tower above the streets as living legacy to this “Man of Trees.”



So who was Louis Hirschy and why did he do this? According to the research I’ve been able to pull together, Hirschy came to the United States from Switzerland at an early age in about 1875, and after living  in eastern Indiana, where he worked at various jobs and attended college at Valparaiso University, he and his wife Louise, eventually found their way to Toledo, settling into a wooden two-story home at 503 5th Street near Greenwood in East Toledo. Hirschy, despite his academic training and background, worked a number of years at the Toledo News Bee selling subscriptions and later, worked the rest of his life at the Toledo Shipyards on Front street as a laborer.

It now seems an odd career choice for a man like Louis Hirschy who was as enamored with books and literature as we was with trees and nature. In his 1936 obituary in the Toledo News Bee, he was called a “student of world literature” and was surrounded by a 1000 books in the study of his home where he was found dead by his two sons at the age of 78.

One of those books, was a cherished and rare Zurich Bible, printed in 1531, which he obtained while selling bibles in Indiana during his youth., gladly trading one of his new bibles for the early German language Zurich Bible, which Hirschy recognized as rare. He was correct of course, the Zurich Bible was the first printed Bible in recorded history.  It is a rare and precious example of early printing that is now in the Toledo Public Library’s Rare Books collection and can be viewed upon request. It is the oldest printed book in the

Zurich Bible printed in 1531 given to Toledo Public Library by Hirschy

Zurich Bible printed in 1531 given to Toledo Public Library by Hirschy

collection and may well be one of the oldest Bibles in the United States. There are even some handwritten notes in it, from Hirschy about the bible’s contents and the scores of stunning and rare block wood cut illustrations from artist Hans Holbein.

Ironically, while he was a religious man, Hirschy was also appeared to be a student of evolutionist Charles Darwin. I have found that this East Toledo shipyard worker published several scholarly articles in 1902 in defense of Darwin’s controversial writings and theories.

So perhaps, it is not surprising that Hirschy also embraced a love of trees and nature that went far beyond a casual hobby. An article published in the News Bee in 1923, called Hirschy, East Toledo’s “Man of Trees”, and praised his passions for tree planting like this:

“To Hirschy, trees are a religion. They are his friends and his companions. Almost it seems
they talk to him of their troubles and they answer to his care by growing straight and tall.”

The old sycamore now gone planted by Hirschy in front of his home

The old sycamore now gone planted by Hirschy in front of his home

If you walk the neighborhoods around Hirschy’s old house along Greenwood Street, you can still see many of those old trees, now thick and tall and gnarled with age. Planted as saplings by Hirschy himself. Also still standing, is Hirschy’s home, which also is not much more than a remnant of a distant past. Gone are the flowers and shrubs and the small “Garden of Eden” that he planted on the property. It was in this verdant paradise he created, that Hirschy was said to have frequently relaxed with a good book to read. Today, his sanctuary of nature, is gone. But for a few ancient old vines twisted around a fence, the only other vestige I could find of his private bower of greenery was the stump of an old sycamore that he once planted. and took great pride in. So proud of this towering tree, that he made his complaint heard at Toledo city hall after overhead linemen, cut away large sections of its upper branches in 1923.  To Hirschy, this was nothing less than an act of desecration and sacrilege. The axes of the workers had ruined the symmetry of the giant branches aloft and the normally even-tempered tree man let the Mayor know of his disgust for what the workers had done. That towering sycamore, by the way, survived its maiming and lived into this century. It was still visible in the photo of the house from the county auditor’s office a just a few years ago. Today, however, it is gone. Now, just rotting old stump of a tree between the sidewalk and street, shorn off by the teeth of a chainsaw blade.

Those trees are now just stump along Walden Avenue.

Those trees are now just stump along Walden Avenue.

Sadly, in a few years, most of the trees that this ardent arborist planted in East Toledo will also fall victim to the same fate. These, the last of the big trees that formed a perennial summer canopy of shade for decades over this area of town. There is one thing, however, that he did plant that will likely live longer than the trees. Not a tree, not a shrub, not a flower, but a “seed” harvested from the arbor of literature. That being the name of the street where he lived. For, when Hirschy moved to the neighborhood in 1894, it was still a rural crossroads and Walden Street was called Fifth Street. But, because of his appreciation for the writings of Henry David Thoreau about Walden’s Pond, Louis Hirschy along with other neighbors, went to Toledo City Council in 1905, and requested the name of his street be changed from Fifth Street to “Walden Street”. Council approved the idea. From then on, 503 Walden Street is where Hirschy called home, and lived out the balance of his abundant life. Specifically,  at the corner of Walden and Greenwood, a fitting name and place for Toledo’s “Man of Trees”.










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Filed under The Forgotten and no so famous, Uncategorized

Erie Street Market: The seeds of its future are buried in its past

Erie street market    Drove by the Erie Street Market/Civic Auditorium  the other day.  Looked past the grime and saw a gem. Hope others can see it too. And that with some foresight and planning the market,  which has occupied that place along the banks of Swan Creek for over a century, will not become just another a squandered piece of history and future opportunity for Toledo?  We can take some comfort from the good folks at Libbey Glass have opted not to abandon this historic jewel in the Warehouse District, otherwise some of the “all-too-eager-to destroy-old-things” crowd would have already flattened the site with bulldozers.  We are learning, however, that Mayor Collins is negotiating with someone to take over the building.  Good. Good? Maybe. Maybe not so good. Lots of questions linger. Like who?  Like what?  My attempts to get an answer from the mayor’s office has been answered, partially.  PIO Lisa Ward says she is still working on providing answers to my questions  (Lisa Ward’s full response is in the comments section) One of the many questions I have  begs an answer  and that is that if the city does sell or lease the ESM to a private entity, will it relinquish control of the property and any control over how it’s used in the future.

 Will the city try, in some way, to protect the historic and cultural value of the site? Or will we merely furlough the future of the historic marketplace to the fate of financial expediency? I hope not.



Civic Auditorium/ESM after city began using it for storage and offices



Civic Auditorium and Wholesale Market circa 1951

At the very least, whoever takes up residence in bays of that building, one might reasonably assume would be a local grocery or food merchant who can work in tandem with the current Toledo Farmers Market vendors and the concept of local food that is locally grown. And that they understand it’s not just about shopping, but it’s also about the person-person shopping experience.  That’s the central point of my concerns. The Erie Street Market and other public markets are not just about food shopping, they are about a cultural urban experience. Hopefully the city fathers and mothers of Toledo also get that point when they look for some future company  to take over the site.  It’s in their hands that they will do the right thing. And for those of us who think the market needs to perpetuate its tradition as a food market of some type, the choices are lean. Doubt if a Trader Joes or Whole Foods would set up shop there, however, there are few local food retailers who might be a strong complement to that concept. Anything short of that, I fear will not end well.

My first choice however, that Toledo not lease the property at all, but merely returns to its public market roots.

An indoor farmer’s market?

Indoors public market?

Yes, Indoors.

Yes, year around - at least six days a week.

Yes. A real “public market”  that offers the best and widest choices for fresh food anyplace in the city or region! Period.

Just like it used to be many years ago when the bays of the old Toledo vendors market would open and farmers would pull their wagons and trucks inside and sell their food and other healthy, home-grown, hand crafted, and home-made food supplies to a demanding and hungry public. Only this time, we add all kinds of local food vendors to the mix of merchants offering candies, meats, fish, poultry, pastries, pastas, ethnic foods, organic and specialty items.  All in one place. A place that the people of Toledo already own.

Outdoor stalls at Toledo Farmer’s Market. Photo credit-Kay Lynne Schaller

This time, perhaps we make it a real marketplace that enhances and embraces the already popular Farmer’s Market that draws hundreds of faithful food shopper every week to the outdoor stalls along Superior Street.

I know. I know. I can hear the groans and objections already.

We tried it before and it didn’t work!

Why should the city be in the food and entertainment business?

We should just bulldoze it!

My quick responses to those popular complaints.

Yes, we did try a public market before. Or something like it. And contrary to the popular notion of failure, it actually it did work. For awhile. Depends on how you measure success. When the Erie Street Market opened in the mid-1990′s in the large cavernous old auditorium in Bay 4, the first year or so, was promising. It offered dozens of vendors and was often crowded on the weekends with  hundreds of folks, (me included) who found it to be a pretty cool place to buy food and/or meet with friends.  It clearly was not just a place to buy food, but a place to celebrate food. Complete with a cornucopia of exotic and ethnic choices, a rich blend of aromas and tastes, placed in a setting of vibrant energy and excitement. Add to that a pleasant mix of like-minded people and what you got was a unique and welcome gathering place for a sense of Toledo community.farm mark 2

So why did it turn sour?  Management, most likely, (although they will disagree), which included a number of factors.  A study done in 2004 by Marketing Venture of Portland Maine attributed its eventual demise to too many management changes, lack of adequate marketing, poor design, less than desirable infrastructure, and a location too far removed from the outdoor farmer’s market stalls. You can read that study here.


Please note that the study does conclude that such a marketplace would be feasible with the right design and management of the venue.  In other words…. if you build it, and run it correctly—they will come.

Manage it correctly. That’s key. From my perspective, it seems that when the Erie Street Market began allowing flea market and T-shirt and non-food vendors into the venue, they lost the grand vision of what it was supposed to be. And once that happened, it was just a matter of time before most of the stalls were empty and the padlock crew moved in to do their work.

The second complaint I hear is why should the city be in the food business or the entertainment business? Always think this one is silly. Guess one can make the same argument about libraries, or parks, or golf courses, baseball stadiums, or events center, etc etc.  We should shouldn’t look at a public market as a financial opportunity but as a recreational opportunity in the broader sense of the word. This is where the city needs some leaders with vision and will. It seems far too often good ideas get KO’ed in this town by the pervasive naysayers who can’t see past the blind spot of limited government to recognize the value of anything  beyond street repair.  Or those cynics who think Toledo should just quit trying to build anything positive for the future.

Enough. This city was built on ideas and vision and determination. Ideas that were not often popular at the time, but leaders of the past were stubborn and headstrong. They made things work.  The rainmakers of labor, industry and politics often worked together with a infectious spirit to breathe life into their ideas, inventions and projects,  giving us the roots upon which this city still depends and survives.  We need to do the same. To understand there is economic value in creating opportunities that bring people together in the pursuit of nurturing a stronger sense of place and community.


The Toledo food market under construction

The other reason that Toledo should be involved in the creation of a real public marketplace is that it’s being done with great success in other communities, large and small, all across the nation.  I’m not just talking about outdoor farmer market stalls for summer and seasonal produce, but indoor venues that sell far more.  In Cleveland, the Westside Market is a treasure island for food lovers of all ethnicity and persuasion.  (Worth a drive to Cleveland to check it out) Same for the Findlay Market in Cincinnati, The North Market in Columbus, the Worthington Public Farmer’s Market. To the north of us in Detroit, the Eastern Market is yet another melting pot of people, culture and foods which features a new and expanded indoor market place where one can spend hours browsing the aisles taking in the sights and sound and smells of a unique experience. The list is long and getting longer of those cities where such indoor public markets are helping to increase the cultural awareness and urban vitality of the community. We need this for Toledo.

Over the years we have steadily abandoned downtown Toledo and with the constant drip of energy drained from the area,  little has been left behind to work with. But things change, and with the recent success of 5/3 rd Field and Huntington Center and Imagination Station and a growing popularity of downtown living venues, the growth potential here is obvious.

Adding to that synergy are the plans of Pro-Medica to breathe some new life in downtown Toledo with a move to the old historic steam plant on Water Street and the purchase of the Key Bank building. With those changes to downtown, plus the building of a new downtown riverfront Metropark, we are getting some much needed traction for downtown growth. Let’s build on that momentum.  Time to return to the future.

What do you think?



Filed under Old Places and Faces, Uncategorized

The Strange Story of Marie Lilly Bowers: Kidnapped and Found 14 Years Later in Genoa, Ohio.

Marie Lilly Bowers shortly before she vanished.

Marie Lilly Bowers shortly before she vanished.

Genoa, Ohio is quiet village. Not much noise, and not much big news.  So rarely does it ever make national or world news. It has happened, but not often. Once for the deadly tornado back in 1920, and another time for a sensational bank robbery nearly a century ago when the local druggist was shot to death. But perhaps the biggest local event that ever sent ripples beyond its village borders is one that few people today have ever heard of. It was a story so gripping that if it were to occur today, Genoa would likely have to endure a crush of TV crews and cameras all crowding each other to get the scoop. But there were no TV cameras back in the mid-1800′s, just newspapers and while they did report this story, its notoriety has faded along with the ink of the old news print.  The roots of this curious tale began to unfold in 1867 in Sandusky, Ohio with the kidnapping of a young three-year old girl by the name of Marie Lilly Bowers.

From family records it is written that on October 26, 1867, a neighbor asked Mrs. Martha Bowers if it would be okay of their three-year old daughter, Marie Lilly, could come to their house for a few hours to play. Her mother agreed and so Lilly left with the neighbor woman. She would never return. On her way home that afternoon, she vanished.  An immediate search was conducted by her frantic family members to no avail, and by the next day,  much of the city became involved in the search. It was recounted in family records that every “vault and cistern” was searched and even nearby “Sandusky Bay” was dragged for her body, but not a “single clue” turned up.  Days went by and still no sign of Marie Lilly Bowers.  Most of the major newspapers of the time carried the story of the missing child and the desperate search by her parents James and Martha Bower to find their precious “Lilly”. Many of the stories mention speculation that she had perhaps been abducted by a group of “gypsies” who were camped nearby.  Days passed into weeks and then months. Lilly was gone.

Newsartcle child lostMr. Bowers for years later would buy advertisements in papers around the country in a vain attempt to find his daughter. But to no avail.  Some leads were reported and followed, but in the end, all proved to be false.

Lilly's Parents. James and Martha Bowers

Lilly’s Parents. James and Martha Bowers

The only clues came in rumors and theories. The Bowers family even contacted Levi Stanley, the “King of the Gypsies” living in Dayton, and asked that he become involved, thinking he might be able to find out if any of “his people” had the child. Stanley reportedly became angry with the suggestion, although a child was brought forward as a possible candidate for the missing Lilly, but after Mrs. Bowers saw the girl, she knew it wasn’t her daughter.

The Bowers family, crushed and heart-broken, eventually left Sandusky, and moved back to the town of Hudson Michigan, north of Toledo, to a previous home where many of their children had been born.

What the Bowers’ family didn’t know, was that about 50 miles east of Sandusky, near the small Ottawa County village of Genoa, on the farm of James and Jeanette Calkins, an old “gypsy” man by the name of Jack Patterson began working for them about the time that Lilly had vanished in 1867.  Old Jack, the gypsy, would work during the day for the Calkins while leaving his own “tawny” children in a nearby hovel during the day along with a child of a much lighter complexion. It was Marie Lilly Bowers. As the story is passed down in the Calkins’ family records,

One day Mrs. Calkins hearing screams rushed into the hut and rescued Lilly from the stove where she had been placed by the other children because she had refused to do their bidding. Soon after this, old Jack brought the child to Mrs. Calkins’ home. She was clothed in nothing but an old coffee-sac. The Calkins adopted the child. She was given the name “Ida Bell”.

For the next 15 years, Ida Bell Calkins was raised as their own child, although, her new parents, James and Jennette Calkins always told her they were not her real parents and that perhaps someday she might find her real family, whoever and wherever they might be.

In the years that followed, Ida Bell Calkins grew up in rural Genoa and lived with her new parents, and her five step brothers on their 80 acre farm near the current intersection of State Route 51 and State Rt. 163. Because she was so young, probably about three years old, when she was abducted, she had no recollection of her own family or her name. Because there were no local papers at the time in Genoa, the Calkins family never saw the numerous stories about the missing girl from Sandusky.

By the time the young “Ida Bell” had grown to be a beautiful young woman of about 18 years, she had been schooled and raised to be a proper young church-going lady and traveled in “prominent circles” of friends. But Ida still wondered about her real identity and who her parents really were.  Strangely she always favored the name Lilly and wished that it had been hers. She loved the name so much that she often gave her pets the name of Lilly.

In 1882, as she was about to be married and assume a new married name, she was about to learn her real maiden name. The Gibsonburg Chrsistian Monthly of July 1910….wrote that Lilly’s real mother, Martha Bowers, still living in Hudson Michigan and, “never ceased to have faith that some day, somehow, God only knew when or how, Lilly would be restored to them. “

Then, seemingly out of the blue, Mrs. Bowers received word from friends in Sandusky that they had heard of a young woman in Genoa who might be the long lost Lilly.  Quickly letters were exchanged with the Calkins’ family in Genoa and Mrs. Bowers soon made the trip south to Ohio to test another moment of truth.  It was arranged that  during a picnic at the old GAR hall in Genoa(which still exists), Mrs. Bower was to look at a group of girls and see if she could identify her daughter. When she saw “Ida Bell”, she is said to have immediately picked her out as her daughter Lilly.  There was no reunion that day, however, for Mrs. Bowers was to visit the Calkins home the next day to reveal herself to the girl. When Mrs. Bowers was brought into the room with the girl..recognition was immediate.

“My mother”, repeated Ida. These were the first words Mrs. Bowers had heard her daughter utter since she was a toddler.

News Article from Reading PA, July 27, 1882

News Article from Reading PA, July 27, 1882

Further identification was verified by a birthmark on Lilly’s head and as Jeanette Calkins would later write,… “there was joy and weeping.” It was a miraculous mother and child reunion. After 14 long years, the misery and the mystery was over. Preparations were made at once for Marie Lilly Bowers to return to the family home in Hudson Michigan. Newspapers across the country began picking up the story and Genoa, Ohio was the place where this miracle story had taken place.

Within weeks after the reunion, Ida Bell, or Marie Lilly, headed back to adopted hometown of Genoa and to marry a local man by the name of Daniel Cunningham.  Curiously, within months, her biological baby sister, Edith Clara Bowers would also move from Hudson Michigan to Genoa to marry James Levi Calkins, Lilly’s stepbrother, with whom she had been raised.  Both sisters remained in the vicinity until their deaths many years later. Lilly and Daniel eventually relocated to Gibsonburg where they raised two children, while her husband Daniel worked in the oilfields of Sandusky County.  Lilly would later tell newspaper reporters  that she felt very fortunate having two caring sets of parents. While she was very happy to have reunited with her real parents, the Bowers, she held the “highest and tenderest” regard for the James Calkins family of Genoa and could not ever think of moving away from them and deserting them in their old age.  Marie Lilly “Ida Bell” Calkins-Cunningham lived in nearby Gibsonburg until she passed away at the early age of 45, in 1910 from a mastoid infection. She is buried at Gibsonburg along with her two children and husband.


Edith Clara Bowers Calkins, Lilly's sister.

Edith Clara Bowers Calkins, Lilly’s sister.


The Calkins family legacy does not end with Lilly’s passing, for Lilly’s sister, Edith Clara, who married James Levi Calkins, lived to be nearly a hundred years of age and died in the 1960′s in the Genoa area. She was well-known and well liked by all who knew her.

James Levi Calkns, Lilly's stepbrother in Genoa

James Levi Calkins, Lilly’s stepbrother in Genoa who would end up being her brother-in-law.

The Calkins family tree still stands tall in the Genoa area and still is growing. It now includes many well known local names such as Navarre, Early, Nagucki, Hesselbart, Schnapp and Bowland.

My Thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Leo Schnapp of Elliston for helping to track down this fascinating story of Genoa’s past.


Filed under Old Places and Faces, Strange Happenings, The Forgotten and no so famous

Toledo’s Street Theatre Rich in Characters

One thing I always loved about roaming Toledo’s downtown streets were the frequent encounters with those who marched to a different drummer. The street folk. The oddballs. The misfits. The strange and the idiosyncratic.  Those characters who provide a sort of social ambiance not often found in your suburban malls or upscale neighborhoods.  Downtown Toledo, like many cities has had its share. Like the Purple Lady. Nostalgia-for-downtown-2Who doesn’t remember the famous Purple Lady of downtown Toledo?  Covered, from head to toe in purple garb and carrying a purple staff, she was probably one the last of the colorful characters who performed daily on the streets of downtown Toledo.  This aging antique of a woman drew the stares of strangers and locals alike who watched the “Prophetess of Purple”, as she called herself, trek the streets, rain or shine, snow and ice, cold or warm, wearing her vestments of  purple that she held sacred.  If only for moment, she provided a distraction from our daily mundane rituals of life, as we wondered who she was, where she came from and why she engaged in this curious behavior?  By the way, to answer those questions: her name was Rachel Presha and she hailed from  Newport News ,Virginia and was a well-known street fixture there for many years before moving to Toledo. As written in a 1996 edition of the Daily Press of Suffolk Virginia…

    “.. until 1989, she lived in a tiny purple shack in the Pughsville area of the city and could be spotted pushing a purple mover’s dolly along Route 17 north of Churchland.   Besides her flamboyant attire, Presha also was known for painting telephone poles along Route 17 as high as her 5-foot-2-inch frame would allow. Legend has it that Presha painted the poles purple so her dead husband would know where she was.”

In 1989 Rachel Amelia Presha found Toledo, Ohio.  A town she said she became interested in because it was called “Holy Toledo” and Rachel considers her self a religious woman who follows the Bible. Described by those who knew her in Toledo and elsewhere as a kind and gentle woman, she is now 88 years old at last report. She lives with family back in Virginia who plan to open a Purple Lady Tea Room is her honor.

Rachel Presha, The Purple Lady, in Virginia with family

Rachel Presha, The Purple Lady, in Virginia with family

 I’ve come to the conclusion after watching so many of these conspicuous characters who populate our streets and the streets of many cities over the years, that their lot in life, may not be without some redeeming value for the rest of us. For the gift they give  — is a raw form of street theatre. Little slices of drama and character studies that may be more powerful than what we could witness in a theater seat. It’s a  chance to witness their unscripted, quirky, and eye-catching behavior that often provides the full arc of personality played out under the proscenium of life, be it humor or anger, sweetness or sorrow, or the foul and the fearful.  And from these poignant performances, we are left to ponder, for long after.   For even after they have exited the sidewalk’s main stage, we still remember them and their indelible roles..  And  what more could  you want as an actor,  but to be ponderous and memorable?

And many have certainly been memorable. The cast list is long and old in this makeshift urban burlesque that has playing nonstop for decades, if not centuries.  How many reading this remember, Toledo’s most famous bag-lady, Elaine Higgins? She was so well-known for her many layers of ragged clothing and her foul odor and scolding tongue that even the Toledo Blade wrote a tribute editorial upon her passing in 1992. As the Blade noted, Mrs. Higgins became a symbol of homelessness and her role was to drive home the point with those who took notice of her, that such life on the streets is neither romantic or heroic.

There were others, who also directed the spotlight of notoriety on themselves. There were of course the countless and ubiquitous street preachers who delivered their fiery sermons to the  legions of shoppers and busy people who marched along Madison Avenue, trying not to make eye contact.  That was back in the day when there was a crowd on  Toledo’s streets to preach to. Today, with so very few people out on the downtown streets at lunchtime, even the street preachers have given up  and have gone elsewhere. One of them went to jail.  Charles “Slim” Lake, who brought his self-styled ministry to the Toledo streets for many years, vacated his street pulpit when he was charged and sent to prison for food stamp fraud and money laundering.

Long before Elaine Higgins, or the Purple Lady, there were other characters who had roles of remembrance on the streets of Toledo. In the once notorious skid row of ‘Suicide Flats” at Summit and Cherry Streets, was a man known simply as “Moses”.  As Blade reporter Al Goldberg recalled in 1968, Moses was always clad in an ankle length overcoat and who took “tin-type” photos of the “willing passers-by” for a dime. And as Al wrote  “he amassed of a small fortune of $40,000 which he willed to his landlady when he died in the 1930′s. She, as the story went, gambled it all away”.

Goldberg also wrote of a another street preacher who was seen daily on St. Clair Street for 40 years and became a favorite sidewalk philosopher of the day.  And “there was also a hat-passing harp player who carried his taller-than-he-was instrument over his left shoulder as he moved from store to store and bar to bar.

Not all of the stories of Toledo’s strange characters are as harmless and innocent.  In 1921, on June the 9th, the “Tinman”, a one time street preacher in downtown Toledo, who was as peculiar looking as he was in action, ended his battle with the demons inside him by taking the lives of two Toledo Policemen.tinman

It was a fierce gun battle that played out at 611 Walnut street near Huron Street that day,  one of the most spectacular eruptions of violence  in Toledo crime history.  John Kelley, the known eccentric who lived at the address was always a “strange” sort of man who walked with an unusual and stiff gait, earning himself the nickname of the “Tinman”, especially from the neighborhood kids who frequently followed and taunted him as he passed by. Kelley was also a self-styled street preacher is said to have been familiar to many in the downtown area and in Bowling Green where he lived before coming to Toledo.  But on this particular day in 1921, when his landlady called police because Kelley refused to pay his rent, no one knew what lay in wait. Kelley, it seems, had been stockpiling guns and ammo for years,  and barricaded himself inside his tiny apartment and opened fire on the police officers who responded.  Patrolmen Harry Dowell and Harold Mossburger were shot to death by Kelley within minutes after arriving at the scene.  The killings touched off  a two and a half hour gun battle between Kelley and an army of Police who even brought out a mounted machine gun to the site and opened fire, as thousands(five thousand according to press reports) of neighbors watched the spectacle unfold. In the end, the two Toledo Police officers lay dead, and John Kelley was found dead in his bed from what police later said was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Perhaps that’s what intrigues us about these mystery characters of the street, is that we really know little about them or their personal stories and what baggage or thoughts they carry with them. As with John Kelley, little did people know what monster raged within the heart of this bent and broken man.

News Bee writer, Elmer Williams, a great observer of the city’s odd folk that lived on the streets of Toledo during the 1920′s, introduced readers to one of them in 1928 with his tribute upon the death of “The Socialist Kid”. His column on January 28th, told of how this young soap-box orator often appeared at Superior Street market to raise his voice against the capitalist “greed” of the merchants and money-changers and to extol the virtues of living in a socialist society where everyone was equal. he became a regular voice rising above the din of the Toledo marketplace, only to be hauled off to jail when some of the merchants felt his attacks had become too personal.  It was from Williams’ column that we learn of other street characters of Toledo, like the man he dubbed “The Sleeper”, who he shared a cigarette with one day on the lawn of a park on Spielbusch Avenue and while listening to the raw faced old Mexican with the penetrating and contemptuous eyes and the large scar across his face, he learned that this man was raised in England for most of tis life and had been a horseman when his father moved the family back to Mexico.  As he told, Williams, he joined the army of the Mexican renegade Pancho Villa and became a commander in is band of insurgents. He said he eventually gave up his involvement with that revolution and moved north. And so on that summer day..this man of mystery and Williams shared some time and watched the clouds race across the summer sky.

The newspapers of yesteryear were good repositories of information to find some interesting nuggets regarding those peculiar personalities of the past who colored Toledo’s streets and piqued our curiosities.  A 1925 Toledo NewsBee story..titled “Be Odd If You Wish”, offered the story of the man who was known to stand in the lobby of a downtown building and peer through the window of an adjacent restaurant watching the diners eat at lunchtime. If someone got up and left a newspaper behind, this stranger would run into the restaurant, grab the paper and run off with it and was often seen walking around with an armful of recovered newspapers.  There was also a man who used to watch diners eat and when they left any food on their plate, he’d run into the restaurant, plop down at the table and finish the person’s meal. The writer of this story also tells of the woman, who in 1925, had been wearing the same Gibson girl hat and fur coast in Downtown Toledo since 1907.  He reminds readers that she doesn’t care so why should you?   Or the man in the Ohio building who drinks 5 quarts of milk a day, or the Toledo druggist who can smoke a cigar, eat chocolate and chew tobacco, all at the same time.

There was hardly any era in Toledo when the streets were not filled with such eccentric souls who lived their lives the way they wanted, regardless of how it might be viewed by others.  Before the 1920′s, when Toledo’s notorious  “Tenderloin” district was running rampant with the vices of gambling, prostitution, drinking, drugs and dancing, the streets on what we now call the “Warehouse” district and 5/3rd field, must have been havens for the hordes of hard-bitten who patrolled those seedy streets, trying to get a meager meal, or just get some meager attention any way they might.

In the 1940′s, a Toledo woman by the name of Grayce Milton got some attention – as the “Snake Lady”. Thrust into prominence and jail when she would show up at local downtown stores with a live snake wrapped around her neck like a scarf.  In January of 1946, Grayce, a Cherokee Indian, sent shoppers into hasty retreat at one downtown store when she wanted to find a purse to match the skin of her favorite pet, Nokomis, a six-foot King snake whom she had brought with her as a fashion accessory that day. Grayce was subsequently arrested for creating a panic and disturbing the peace, which she gladly did once again when she brought her snake to court with her in a glass bowl. When the six-foot long snake tried to escape from the confines of the bowl, the courtroom emptied and Grayce and her snake were thrown out of court. Grayce would later leave Toledo and  moved to Detroit with her 39 snakes and was arrested again in that city in 1947 when she took Nokomis on a shopping trip to downtown Detroit.  Mrs. Milton said she used Nokomis to help her get seats on buses and she saw no harm in having a reptile as a traveling companion.  The judge in Detroit agreed and  ruled that Grayce was not violating any laws and could continue taking her snakes with her.

Whether it’s the Snake Lady or the Purple Lady or the Bag Lady, Toledo has never been without its share of colorful and conspicuous characters of the street.  Who arebag-lady those that you remember? I’m sure I’ve only touched on a few and that over the decades, there have been many others who have commanded our curiosity.  Whether motivated by mental, emotional or social challenges, or by harnessing their own free will to live as they choose, they are the players who create a spontaneous street carnival for all to see and absorb, often becoming memorable symbols of the Toledo experience.

I want to hear about those that you remember.






Filed under The Forgotten and no so famous, Uncategorized

A Tesla Treasure -Lost In Toledo?

Did WBuhlbook1956ScienceFairTeslaCoiloodward High School in Toledo once have a real scientific treasure, and if so, where is it?   For those of you familiar with the famed inventor Nikola Tesla, you  already know that this Serbian-American genius was considered by many to be one of the greatest inventors and most brilliant minds of 20th century physics.  His legendary innovations include everything from alternating current, the radio, the induction motor, the neon light bulb and many others.  What you may not have known, according to a 1937 Toledo News Bee article, is that Woodward High School in Toledo was reportedly in possession of one of Nikola Tesla’s original Tesla coils that he used in his controversial laboratory in Colorado Springs, Colorado around 1900.  The article from April 20th, of 1937, reports that a Woodward High School electric and radio teacher, Alpheus Bitter, had acquiredtesla coil article one of the ten original Tesla coils from Colorado from a “garageman” who was selling them.  The high elevation city of Colorado Springs, at the foot of Pike’s Peak,  is where Tesla spent a number of years in a laboratory, (now the site of the city’s Memorial Park), developing a system to transmit electricity without the use of wires.  It was Tesla’s quest. His long held belief that electric current at high voltages could be transmitted through the air and distributed without the cost of building wired networks.  It sounds wacky, but Tesla was not to be taken lightly, he was after all,  the man who invented,  and is credited with, the development of alternating current and the hydro-electric station at Niagara Falls, New York.   He was eccentric yes, but whether he had lost touch with reality with some of his ideas, is still up for debate. Historical records, for example, show that it was Nikola Tesla, and not Guglielmo Marconi who actually invented the radio, even though the latter is usually credited with fathering that major communication breakthrough.  


Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla

But it was Tesla’s later efforts to find a sort of “wi-fi” system to transmit electric current through the air that brought skeptical attention to him.  Many thought he had gone off the deep and had become the prototype of mad scientist, working alone in his laboratory using a system curious looking towers, antennae and large coils to shoot out bolts of lighting across the night skies. The heart of those experiments involved his now famous “Tesla Coil”,  which can emit large bolts of artificial lightning by sending current through the air towards a grounding tower at the receiving end.  (Every good sci-fi movie of the 1950′s included at least one Tesla Coil scene.)

The coil became the working symbol of Tesla’s concept and his name has been indelibly coupled with the device. By the 1930′s, however, Tesla’s famed laboratory in Colorado has been taken down and Tesla had long since moved away back to New York to continue his experiments there. 

Tesla working in his Colorado Springs Lab circa:1900

Tesla working in his Colorado Springs Lab

It was in the 1930′s that Toledo, Ohio teacher, Alpheus Bitter, is reported to have purchased one of the last remaining original coils from the Tesla lab that could generate up to a half million volts.  Bitter, according to the article in the News Bee, brought it to Toledo for use in his electricity and radio classes at Woodward High School.  And this particular news clippings says it was being displayed to the public for a special demonstration.

If the Toledo News Bee article is accurate, and Woodward High School did hold in its grasp one of the greatest science artifacts of the 20th century, where is it?  I asked a Toledo Public School spokeswoman who says she was not aware of it, but would look into it and see if she could answer just where the large coil may have ended up.   “It would be a find, indeed,” says Ottawa County antique dealer, and electronic hobbyist, Ernie Scarano, who owns Mantiques, a specialty antique store in Elmore. The centerpiece of his store, which features antiques for more masculine taste, is a working Tesla coil that he built himself. Ernie says that to his knowledge, no one in the world has an actual Tesla-made Tesla coil. There are thousands of Tesla coil winders around the world who are tinkerers and hobbyists, but he is not aware of anyone who actually owns a “real” Tesla coil. He thinks its value would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. “Lots of people around the world would want this, museums would want it.” But, once again, the question arises. Where is it? Did it get sold or salvaged, or stolen? Or it is gathering cobwebs in a forgotten closet. Woodward_High_School

Sadly, we may never find the answer to this mystery, as the historic Woodward High School building was taken down by wrecking crews a few years ago and the answer may have been buried deep in the rubble and carted off for salvage or junk.

As for the teacher who bought the Tesla Coil in Colorado and took it to Woodward High School, I have learned that Alpheus Bitter was not just a hobbyist-teacher who liked to tinker, but that he too was a brilliant engineer of electronic communication and had the credentials to prove it.  In his 1992 obituary in the Toledo Blade,  It is written that Bitter taught at Woodward High School until 1945 and influenced many young men to enter the field of electrical engineering. And that he was also responsible for helping put many Toledo TV and radio stations on the air, including WOHO, WTOD, WTOL, WSPD and WGTE-TV.   Alpheus Bitter’s resume also included a long time stint as a consultant for Willys Motors in Toledo, in the 1940′s and 50′s, in their attempts to build television equipment, and designed the electronic glass cutting process for Owens-Illinois. In his later years, he lectured on electronics at the University of Toledo.  Alpheus Bitter was 88 years old when he passed away from cancer at the Golden Haven Nursing home in 1992.  he was well known and well respoected, but there was no mention in his obituary of the novel Tesla coil or what may have happened to it.  He surely knew its value and perhaps he sold it to someone else who understood that this was, in the science world, as precious as a piece of art from one of the masters.  Mr. Bitter may have taken the knowledge of its whereabouts to his grave. We can only hope that someone, somewhere is still holding Mr. Tesla’s holy grail in safekeeping, maybe here in Toledo.ntesla2





Filed under Old Places and Faces, The Forgotten and no so famous, Uncategorized

Whatever Happened to the Mistress of Odeon Island UPDATE WITH NEW INFORMATION

odeonMistress story (  I first published this story a few days ago asking readers of the Toledo Gazette to help me find out whatever happened to Lillian Poupard ,one of Toledo’s last hardy fisherwomen living on tiny Indian or Odeon Island just off the northern most tip of Point Place. A 1934 News Bee article about Lillian prompted me to ask more questions about this interesting woman and her husband Bill Poupard who lived a very quiet and happy life on this small island eeking out a meager living from the fishing trade.  I am pleased to report that Barb Burgess of Wooster, a local history buff and researcher was able to find the information I was looking for. Sadly though, that new information informs us that Lil and Bill Poupard’s life together after the News Bee story appeared was short-lived. Lillian died a few years later, on September 28th of 1937 of cancer, at the age of 42.   As the article states, she was of German descent and had been born Lillian Reusher, to her parents Herman and Sophia (Reichter), both born in Germany. Lillian Poupard is buried at Forest Cemetery in Toledo. And, as I was to disover, Bill’s life also tragically ended a few years after his beloved Lil.  She and Bill apparenty had no children.  Thanks to Barb Burgess and others who worked to find the information help fill in the blanks on this story.  We are still trying to disocver more the couple and more about Bill and Lillian’s early lives in the area.)

A story that caught my attention while I was researching my book, Day by Day in Toledo, was that of Lil Poupard, a woman that the Toledo News Bee dubbed the “Mistress of Odeon Island”.   In an 80 year old article from August of 1934, the News Bee featured Lil and her husband Bill Poupard who were two hardy souls that lived on this little spit of an island just off Point Place and made their living catching and selling fish.  They resided there on the tiny island, not just in the balmy and gentle days of summer, but throughout the year, even in the “bleak” days of winter, living in a small wooden structure, a shanty they called home. They were the sole inhabitants along with Bill Poupard’s brother Fred who is said to also have lived on island.

The story piqued my interest on a number of levels, first I was curious as to the whereabouts of Odeon Island. You won’t see it on a map today, but what you will find are Indian and Gard islands, just off the northern most tip of the Point Place peninsula at the mouth of the Ottawa River.  I am told by area historian Buzz Achinger of the Lost Peninsula that Odeon Island was the first name for what is now Indian Island.

” It is a distinct island of its own. It is less popular than Gard and the other surrounding islands because it can be treacherous around its shores. There are shallows that can trap boaters in the summer and springs & soft spots that cause havoc for snowmobiles and ATVs when the area is ice-covered in Winter. It is a natural island, not man-made like a few other island nearby.”   Buzz also tells me that not much is there these days and that he doubted if the old wooden structures of the Poupard’s remained.

I have placed an historic USGS map to show you the relative placement of the island just off the mouth of the Ottawa River.


The other question raised in this faded old story was about Lil Poupard herself. Described as being an attractive, good natured, blond-haired woman in her early 40′s, she was of German descent and had been living on the island for the past 20 years as a “fisherwoman” with her husband Bill, and was the last of the area women who made their living as “fishwives”.  Virginia Nelson, the author of the News Bee story writes;

” She is the last of a hardy and picturesque line. Years ago when fishing was really good around the Point, there were a number of women who earned their living this way. But fishing has fallen off a great deal in the last two or three years. For one reason or another the women have given it up. But to Lil Poupard, life according to any other design would be unthinkable. She is known in the parlance of the fisherfolk as a fishwife but there is nothing of the screaming harridan about her that is usually associated with the word.”

Nelson goes on to tell us that Lil defies the stereotype, and while she does wear hip boots while working side by side with the “men”, when she is not working, she wears nice dresses and keeps her hair washed and styled as she and Bill live a quiet, simple and contented life on their private island.  Even in the wintertime, Lil Poupard tells Nelson, “ People think the winters out here would be bad but we don’t mind them. We bring out plenty of coal and groceries and we have a radio.  We along fine. There seems to be a lot of trouble in the world but it doesn’t seem to bother us out here.”

Nelson continues to paint that picture of the Poupard’s little paradise on Maumee Bay, by writing of how their humble home is set in a grove of tall trees and Bill often plays long lazy ballads on his mouth organ out in the yard with an assortment of cats and dogs and other animals running around. Says Lil of this spartan lifestyle,

” I wouldn’t trade this life for all the card parties and picture shows there are.”

But eventually something did change for the Poupard’s. Just when and how, I have been unable to discover,  and perhaps you or someone you know can shed some needed light on this story’s dark evolution.  What I have been able to determine from Blade and News Bee articles is that sometime between 1934, when the News Bee feature appeared and the Spring of 1939,  Bill Poupard would find another woman to share his life with on the island, a much younger woman than Lil.  And whatever plans they had for matrimony were cut short But by tragedy. According to a newspaper article, the body of 21-year-old Jean Brown was found in the waters of Maumee Bay near Odeon Island by two duck hunters. the article says she had been missing for several days when her body was found.  The news story  also states that the body of 46-year old William Poupard was found nearby by relatives of his who had been searching for him. Poupard was described as the caretaker of Odeon Island. The story says that the Poupard and Brown were on their way to mainland from Odeon Island when their duckboat overturned.obit on William Poupard

(See new information at beginning of the post)

I suppose, we could leave the story there. But my curiosity always trumps indifference. I really wanted to know what happened to Lillian Poupard, what was her maiden name, her real background and the remaining chapters of her life story?   So far, my efforts have hit the proverbial brick wall.  Lil’s story seems to have left no footprint, at least not a digital footprint, that can be followed.  Searches of obituary indices and ancestory, newspaper databases have offered not a trace.  So far.  I did have  a bit more success in finding some information about William Poupard, including his date of birth, June 11, 1895 and that he was born in Toledo and registered for the World War I draft in 1916. He was listed as a fisherman at that time. Beyond that, not much else except for some listings in the Toledo city directories along with other Poupards, also listed as fishermen living in the 3500 block of North Erie Street.   It must be noted however that the Poupard name was and is not a rare name  in both Lucas County and Monroe County over the years, and there were a number of Poupard men with the first name of William.

Not sure if it is relevant, but some research of census records does indicate that two brother, by the name of William and Fred Poupard, born around 1895 were residents of the Miami Children’s Home about 1903. And both boys listed their parents as having been born in France. Could this be the William and Fred Poupard who once lived on Odeon island, with Lil Poupard in 1934?  Maybe so, maybe not.

If you know, or know someone who knows more about the “Mistress of Odeon Island”, and the Poupards,  I’d like to share that story with the Toledo Gazette readers. For Lillian Poupard, according to the 1934 News Bee story appeared to be good person, a gentle soul,  and someone whose life was probably much larger than an obscure article in a faded newspaper.  Someone worth knowing.


Filed under Lake Erie, Old Places and Faces, The Forgotten and no so famous, Uncategorized

Tragedy No Stranger to Toledo’s Fire Fighters

Memor1bThe news that two Toledo Firemen have died in an apartment blaze has struck the city hard.  It’s a body blow. Takes the breath out of us when we hear the news. Stops us in our tracks and makes us think and makes us feel. Sometimes makes us cry.  It also makes us wish there is something we could do to help ease the pain of the families and friends and co-workers of these brave firefighters who have answered the last alarm.  Yes, it’s an inherent danger of the job, but one we often forget about until we are  reminded when the Mayday call echoes too close to ignore.  And so it was Sunday, January 26th, for Stephen Machcinski and James Dickman, members of Engine 3′s crew who did what firemen are paid to do, run into the face of danger and not away from it. On this day they paid for that expectation of duty with their lives. Our gratitude should be indelible and so too our remembrance.


As we remember and honor them…it may be a proper time to reflect on the other Toledo fire men who have lost their lives in the line of duty over the past 142 years of service to our community.

From Toledo Fire Museum’s website, here is an honor roll of those for whom the bells must toll.

James Welch (Pipeman) – December 15, 1872
Fell from a ladder at a fire at Ottawa and Lafayette.

John Viebrook (Pipeman) – July 31, 1883
Fell from the top of a hose drying tower.

CAPATIN JAMES FRASERCapt. James Fraser – January 3, 1894
Burned to death at King Elevator fire, on current site of Promenade Park. His body was never found.

WillsCapt. Oscar S. Wills May 22, 1898
Killed by falling walls at Down & Snell Wholesale Grocery at Superior and Jefferson Streets.

JohnGallagherCapt. John M. Gallagher – September 19, 1900
Died while fighting fire at a Junkyard warehouse at the
Corner of Vance and 13th.

David D. Young (Pipeman) – October 24, 1901
Died from injuries sustained when he fell through the
pole hole at #13′s Engine House

JohnWardCapt. John B. Ward – December 24, 1901
Killed while responding to a false alarm when his Hook and Ladder collided with Oak Street car at Collingwood and Dorr Streets.


Ralph H. Westfall (Pipeman) – January 30, 1902
Died of injuries received at Henry Rosen Junk Warehouse fire that occured on September 19th.

Thomas J. Smith (Pipeman) – December 9, 1902
Killed by falling walls at Keifer Bros. Furniture Store, on Dorr St.

Richard Donnelly (Pipeman) – December 11, 1902
Killed in blaze at Keifer Bros. Furniture on Dorr Street.

William Croke (Fireman) – April 11, 1908
Died of injuries received in an accident at #8 engine house.

JohnKaintzJohn B. Kaintz (Fireman) – February 24, 1915
Died of complication of a broken leg while slidin down pole to answer an alarm to the Walbash Railroad Roundhouse

JohnTimmersJohn C. Timmers (Fireman) -April 20, 1916
Died when run over by an engine at the corner of Erie and Adams.

AlbertUrieAlbert T. Urie (Fireman) – December 11, 1916
Killed at the Paddock Merchandise Company fire, 114 St. Clair St.

EdwardWelchCapt. Edward J. Welch – December 11, 1916
Killed at the Paddock Merchandise Company fire, 114 St. Clair St.

 PaulQuigleyPaul J. Quigley (Fireman) – February 14, 1931
Killed at #18 station house when he fell during a ladder drill.

CaptFlynnCapt. Andrew J. Flynn – January 31, 1932
Died of injuries received when his ladder truck was involved in crash with a Community Traction Bus.

BernaBernardOrzechowskird A. Orzechowski – January 31, 1932
Died of injuries received when #16′s ladder was involved in an accident with Community Traction Bus.


Edward Radunz (Fireman) – June 21, 1932
Died after fall at Willys Parkway and Berdan.

VannerWendtDistrict Chief Vanner E. Wendt – December 25, 1933
Died when he was hit in the neck by a nozzle fighting a fire on Suder Ave.

Steven Fekete (Fireman) – September 15, 1936
Collapsed and died of of a heart attack in the seat of No 6′s ladder truck after returning from a house fire.

EhmannDistrict Chief George J. Ehmann – October 29, 1937
Killed in a traffic collision at Lincoln and Lawrence Streets while responding to fire at Libbey High School.

Clemons P. Willacker (Fireman) – September 23, 1939
Died of heart attack fighting a warehouse blaze at Lagrange and Water St along the riverfront.

HowardRippelHoward C. Rippel (Fireman) – February 17, 1943
Burned to death at fire in 1000 block of West Woodruff Ave.

FitzgeraldRobertRobert L. Fitzgerald (Fireman) – October 13, 1943
Heart attack while conducting Civil Defense Drill

blade colony fireJames P. Fakehany (Fireman) - January 12, 1944
Killed when he fell through the floor while fighting major fire at Colony Shopping Center.

TimothyMorrisseyTimothy J. Morrissey (Fireman) -  February 15, 1945
Died of heart attack fighting house fire at 1128 Dorr St.

Emil M. Steck, Jr. (Fireman) – November 16, 1947
Died of injuries received in accident on November 13, 1947 involving #1′s pumper.

JoePietkowskiJoseph Pietkowski (Fireman) – June 6, 1950
Died of heart attack while fighting fire at 310 Bronson St.

ChiefScheidlerDepartment Chief Karl B. Scheidler – November 2, 1952
Died of heart attack fighting a large marsh fire on November 1, 1952.

EdStapletonEdward Stapleton Jan 1st, 1953  Died of heart attack while in duty.

DonTimmineyDonald W. Timiney – February 20, 1953
Died from effects of a fire on Mayo Street. The same fire, the day before had claimed the lives of two children.

John M. Jacoby (Fireman) – March 18, 1955
Died of heart attack suffered at fire February 7, 1955

KenWilliamsKenneth Williams (Fireman) – September 20, 1958
Killed at fire at S&S Distributors, 1100 W. Central Ave.

The Anthony Wayne Trail Fire Tragedy in June of 1961

TRail fire1235342_564541283583089_206480289_n

RobertHarrisonRobert G. Harrison (Fireman) – June 15, 1961
Died as a result of burns received at explosion of gasoline truck at Anthony Wayne Trail and Vinton St.
on June 10, 1961.

GlennCarterGlenn E. Carter (Fireman) – June 23, 1961
Died as a result of burns received at explosion of gasoline truck at Anthony Wayne Trail and Vinton St.
on June 10, 1961.

WilliamGensonWilliam G. Genson (Fireman) – July 10, 1961
Died as a result of burns received at explosion of gasoline truck at Anthony Wayne Trail and Vinton St.

EwaldBodeDeputy Chief Ewald Bode – July 28, 1961
Died as a result of burns received at explosion of gasoline truck at Anthony Wayne Trail and Vinton St.


ChesterRybarczykLieutenant Chester A. Rybarczyk -September 2, 1967
Killed in fire at PeeWee’s Bar, on Suder Ave.

LouisFuhrLouis W. Fuhr (Fireman) – March 22, 1969
Killed responding to a false alarm when his pumper truck was struck by a car at Jackman and Laskey Rd.

ClaudeWilloughbyDeputy Chief Claude E. Willoughby – May 7, 1969
Died of heart attack while fighting multiple alarm fire at 916 Lagrange st.

 RobertPietrasCapt. Robert J. Pietras – June 21, 1969
Died as a result of injuries received fighting a fire on Lawton Street on June 10, 1969.

RalphArthurRalph Arthur (Fireman) – January 9, 1971
Died from heart attack resulting from exposure trying to rescue his two children from Maumee Bay after
they broke through the ice in a snowmobile accident.

DonnieCathcartDonnie Cathcart (Fireman) – May 19, 1981
Died as result of fighting a fire at Bell and Fernwood on May 18, 1981

MikeDarringtonMichael J. Darrington – February 27, 2009
Died as the result of a heart attack while on duty at Station #14.

May we remember and respect


Filed under Old Places and Faces, Uncategorized