It’s always fun to go back and catch a brief view of life many years ago. You can do that by reading old newspapers. Not only does it show you how prices have changed through the years, (Wow!) but also that perhaps things haven’t changed in human behavior. There were disagreements, lawsuits and crime as we have today.

I recently acquired a couple of old newspapers from 1874 and 1875. They were given to me by Mrs. Ilo (Clarence) Grubaugh. Mrs. Grubaugh’s father, Frank Wyandt, had them in his possession many years ago. As I read them I found many interesting tidbits I want to share with you.

These excerpts were taken from The Van Wert Times Friday, April 24, 1874.




“A fine farm northeast of Van Wert, 82 acres, 55 of excellent soil under cultivation, well fenced, good log buildings, pure water and large orchard of bearing trees, $2.500.”

“The street Commissioner is removing the hitching posts and racks from Main Street for the accommodation of the farmers and country people and putting them up in the commons where our county friends can hitch their horses free from the danger that they were liable to from runaway teams when hitched along the main thoroughfare.”

“The county commissioners give notice this through The Times to the people of Van Wert County of their intentions to build a Court House. The action of the Commissioners in this matter we hope will meet the approval of our citizens for what they have determined to do in this case is evidently demanded by the need of the county for the safe keeping of the public records and the necessary accommodations for the officials who are by law needed to fill the offices for which they are or shall be elected.”

The market report was quite different than today’s: Wheat, $1.27 per bushel; corn, $.65 ½ cents per bushel; while oats was $.45 ½ cents per bushel. A wool market was given with tub washed wool at $.55 per pound, a washed fleece was $.48 per pound, while an unwashed fleece sold for $.82 per pound. Another story read that “A man names Brooks has been arrested at Fremont for stealing wheat. He has made a regular business of stealing wheat of farmers at night and hauling it to market the next day.”

A story on a horse theft read: “On last Tuesday night two horses and a spring wagon were stolen from Henry Showalter’s barn eight miles west of town. The spring wagon was manufactured by the Shackley Wheel Company of Decatur, Indiana. The bay horse was hoof bound; the bay mare was three years old and branded on the left foreleg near the body. A reward of $50 is offered for the return of the property.”

An article made note of W.H. Himmelreich’s wagon works saying, “We this week passed thought W. H. Himmelreich’s extensive wagon manuafactory and was surprised to see the large amount of work being done. – The hands in his repair shops are kept busy every working day in the week in the repair of work brought in by his customers.”

An advertisement in the same paper noted the “Excelsior Carriage and Wagon Works” of Mr. Himmelreich’s would build to order and for sale all kinds of carriages, buggies, phaetons, piano boxes and light wagons on short notice.” It was located on North Washington near the railroad depot.

“Van Wert has a doctress. Mrs. Georgiana C. Glenn, M. D., has hung out her shingle in that place She is a ‘regular.’ Although quite a duck there is no quack about her.”

Middle Point news from the Van Wert Press of September, 1875 noted that “A valuable cow belonging to Henry Wright was killed on Monday night by a train No. 16.” Also that “two car loads of pine lumber arrived on Monday for the new school house.”

Harrison Township Grange news noted that “The Grangers of Harrison Township, Grange No. 171, had a feast Firday night notwithstanding the stormy evening; almost every member was present, the table extending the entire length of the room was loaded with choicest victuals and the grangers did them ample justice. There were four members initiated in the fourth degree, two gentlemen and two ladies. I think all present enjoyed themselves extremely well, for our feast was a grand success. Among the good things present were two very large raw potatoes presented by one of the brothers which was the source of great merriment. Our grange was organized last October. Since that time, it has more than doubled its number of members. The officers of our grange are as follows: W.M., Wm. Ingalls; W.O,. Jas Baxter; W.F,. Benj. Merris; W.S,. Wm Kyon; A.S.,Wm Everett; W.C., Isaac Balyeat; T., John Spahr; Sec. ,R. R., McDemut ; C., Mr. McKee; P., Mrs. N. A. McGill; A.S. ,A.V. Richie; F. L. Miss Jennie Everett. Our Grange is in a very prosperous condition, receiving new applications for membership every two or three weeks. If it keeps on the way it has begun, it will soon be as large as any in the county. We are always pleased to hear of other granges doing well as their interest is ours and all working together will sooner bring about an end for which we are aiming.

So, yes times have changed but as you read these old newspapers you still find quite a bit in common with today. Perhaps that is a comforting thought.