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Historical Bluffton

If you thought DDT was dangerous...

Nitroglycerin accidents causing deaths in the 1890s

By Fred Steiner

Recently this column revealed that DDT was poured into Riley Creek for nearly 20 years.

An earlier chemical, dangerous for a different reason, killed many persons working on oil rigs in the Bluffton area in the 1890s and 1900s. While the oil boom brought prosperity to Bluffton, it also brought bad news in an extremely dangerous chemical called nitroglycerin. 

The Great Flood of 1913

By Fred Steiner

This flood became so devastating that it had a name: The Great Flood of 1913. It’s also called Ohio’s greatest natural disaster. And, Bluffton experienced it on March 23-26, 110 years ago this month.

Here’s a photo (at right, click to enlarge) of the swollen Riley Creek on Cherry Street at the height of the flood. How was this photo taken? In a boat? We don’t know.

The building slightly visible on the left today is Village Cut ‘N’ Curl, 207 Cherry Street. In 1913 the Cut ‘N’ Curl building and the building connected to it was the Ed Jones Furniture Store. 

The center building was the Phillip Wilch buggy shop. The two-story building on the far right was a Triplett storage building. 

Believe it or not, a fire occurred in the storage building during the height of the flood, believed to be caused by a short circuit. The Bluffton fire department somehow put out the fire.

The complete story and more photos are HERE.

Village sprayed DDT in Riley Creek for over 20 years

By Fred Steiner

If this doesn’t frighten you, nothing will. The Village of Bluffton (and probably many, many other municipalities), used DDT for over 20 years to kill mosquitoes. Here’s the account from the May 28, 1953, Bluffton News.

Bluffton’s annual war on mosquitoes was launched this week under the direction of Mayor Wilbur A. Howe, as work got underway on a control program, which has proved extremely successful over the last two decades.

Frequent rainfall, which has kept streams moving, preventing the accumulation of pools of stagnant water, has made control spraying unnecessary until this week, the mayor said.

During the normal summer of treatment of Bluffton’s streams, parts of quarries, the village dump, etc., the control required about 50 gallons of DDT and approximately 1,000 gallons of oil.

Click HERE for the rest of the story.

A grocery and bakery in 1900 with 2 delivery wagons

This Main Street building now houses a CPA office

By Fred Steiner

The J.L. Doty Grocery and Bakery was a thriving Bluffton business operating in the building today housing Sielschott, Walsh, Keifer, Regula & Sherer, CPAs, 113 N. Main St.

Know the Bluffton basketball player who scored 58 points against Spencerville?

By Fred Steiner

We’re putting it mildly to say Bluffton High School girls basketball teams experienced several excellent seasons in the 1920s and 1930s.

With several talented players, Bluffton HS girls teams won Allen County Class B tournament titles nine times from 1924 to 1934. These teams played under different rules than today, including competition on a half-court instead of a full-court.

One of the players, Olive Locher, actually holds a girls’ scoring record that stays in the books forever.

According to a 1927 Bluffton News story the Bluffton High School girls’ team won the Allen County Class B competition in Lima after defeating the Spencerville team 68 to 5.

Key player was Olive Locher who scored 58 of the points. The article continued that Locher ranked third in the state as best girl forward.

We have yet to discover what system was used for this ranking, but without a doubt, Locher was an exceptional player.

However, the 1934-35 school year was catastrophic for girls’ athletics in Bluffton and all of Ohio.

Bluffton drinks coffee here today

125 years ago this building housed four businesses

By Fred Steiner

Next time you have a cup of coffee in the Twisted Whisk Cafe, 101 S. Main St., imagine being in that building 125 years earlier. What would it be like?

In 1898, you wouldn’t have a cup of coffee in your hand. 

Instead, you might be talking with Andrews Hauenstein, who had the building constructed for his apothecary business. That’s an older word for a pharmacy. 

Or, you might be looking at possible wallpaper to purchase for your house.

Or, you might be looking at a musical instrument to purchase.

Or, you might be having a pocket watch repaired. 

If you had a reason to go to the second floor, you’d step into a room housing Bluffton’s first-ever telephone exchange.

At the turn of this earlier century, the Twisted Whisk was home to three separate businesses on the first floor and a fourth business on part of the second floor. These were a pharmacy, a wallpaper shop, a jewelry-musical instrument store and a telephone exchange.

Accompanying this story is a photograph of the building when it housed these businesses. Several things have changed since this photo was taken. But, the businesses occupying the building in 1898 are obvious.

First, the doorway is no longer in the center. It’s on the far right.

For the complete story visit Bluffton Forever HERE