A trip back to Sylvania's past.
This entry is a compilation of a series of articles Kathryn Keller wrote in the summer of 1977 for her Sylvania Sentinel column called "Sylvania Chronicles."
Kathryn M. Keller was a local historian who wrote for the Sylvania Sentinel from the late 1940's thru the 1980's. According to Gayleen Gindy, a Sylvania-area historian, Keller taught grade school at St. Thomas Aquinas School and the former St. Teresa's School. She also served as supervisor of art in the Adams Township schools. During the 1950's and 1960's she authored Ohio Cues, a newsletter for Ohio elementary school students. She served on the editorial board of the Northwest Ohio Quarterly, the publication of the Maumee Valley Historical Society. She also lectured and wrote local history articles for The Blade and national publications. She wrote several Lucas County tour guides and led bus tours throughout Northwest Ohio. She provided historical summaries for a radio public service announcement series called "Bicentennial Notes" and "Bicentennial Memories" in the mid-70's. In later years she concentrated on compiling histories about cemeteries and helping children with genealogy research.
Kathryn Keller died at the age of 86 in 2000. According to her obituary notice she was born Kathryn M. Miller and was the daughter of Herman M. Miller of Dorr St. and Secor Road. In 1940 she married Gordon Keller, the son of Mr. and Mrs. William Keller of Sylvania-Metamora Road. She was a graduate of Ursline Academy and Teachers College in Toledo and Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Thankfully, much of Keller's works survive today and are used as important resources to help tell the story of Sylvania. Much of Keller's work is available to view at the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.
The next time someone stumps you with a reference to an 'old-timey' Sylvania place name, turn here to reference Keller's "dictionary" to connect the dots.
By Kathryn M. Keller
Time after time I find myself writing Chronicles that have more than their share of parenthesis. Example: The parades used to go down Division Street (Main St) and continue on Ohio Ave. (S. Main St.) until reaching Depot Grove (Southbriair) where they headed west on Clark St. (Convent Blvd). Copy like this looks a little bow-legged ( ) ( ) but it did nudge me into the idea of assembling all these parenthetical, old-time place names into dictionary form. With history attached to them I thought this might make different and light summer reading for you. So let's start off the series:
ADRIAN ROAD - N. Main St. and U.S. 223 to Ottawa Lake and beyond into Michigan. Also called the Cottonwood Swamp Rd.
ALLEN JUNCTION. On the north side of Sylvania Metamora Rd. west of Mitchaw Rd. stands the red brick building that used to house a rotary converter on the Toledo and Western R.R. This marks the location of Allen Junction where the car line from Adrian and the other from Pioneer joined to go east into Sylvania. There used to be a small passenger station here for people transferring from one route to another.
AMBROSE'S WOODS. Sleepy Hollow. This was part of Beebe Comstock's farm. Mr. Comstock came to Toledo by lake boat in 1834 just in time to find work "carrying the chain" for the surveying of Toledo. He bought land in Sylvania, adding more through the years till he had 260 acres on either side of the present Erie Street. His first farmhouse was on the Sleepy Hollow side where his son, Ambrose Comstock, eventually made his home with a large wooded tract behind the house. Ambrose was a Civil War veteran, active with the G.A.R. and headed the annual Memorial Day parade with his drum.
BACK ST. - Summit St. Although officially Summit St. from the first, on Gen. White's plat of Whiteford, it probably came to be referred to as Back St. because it was back of the main business block -- perhaps it was because the town had grown westward from the General's sawmill which dated from "back in the 1830's."
BANKS BRIDGE. Silica Drive crossing of Ten Mile Creek. Jim Banks, a nearby resident, used to seine in so many fish at this point that he sold them by the barrel.
BATTERY F. West side of Silica Drive between the high school and Convent Blvd. This post-World War I installation was officially the 135th Field Artillery Battery with a stable full of horses, barns, barracks and a meeting hall where civilians converged for years for Saturday night square dancing.
BERKEY RD. Sylvania Metamora Rd. Also known as the Plank Rd. and the Indiana Territorial Rd. See these in later entries.
BLANK ST. - Maplewood. One block between Main and Summit was not named on Gen. White's plat. Being blank on the map, it became Blank St. until 1923 when it was official named.
BURNHAM'S LANE. - School Drive [today: this lane changes its name each year to honor the winner of the Marathon Classic golf tournament held at Highland Meadows Golf Club]. This well wore route from Monroe St. to Maplewood passed through Henry Burnham's property.
CADWELL'S MILL. On the north side of Ten Mile Creek along the west side of Harroun Rd. This was the first gristmill in town operated by Aaron Cadwell. It was water-powered from a mill race that was brought across the flats from Gen. White's dam at Monroe St. In times of low water oxen were hitched to a turnstile to create some "horsepower" for turning the mill stones.
CARPENTER'S PLACE. - Farm on the south side of Monroe between the railroad and Silica Dr. When the Bittner family moved in from Whiteford Twp. Mich. and bought the place in the early 1900's, it became the Bittner Place.
CEMETERY LANE. - Ravine Drive from S. Main along the cemeteries but not all the way through to Harroun Rd.
CLARK ST. - Convent Blvd. Owen Clark, an Irish immigrant, and his son, Barney had homes at the northwest corner of S. Main and Convent with a barn along the railroad tracks where they butchered and processed meats. At one time Peleg T. Clarke, son-in-law of Gen. David White, owned the land that is now the convent grounds. Sometimes it's spelled Clark St. - other times Clarke St. - it honored one or the other family, maybe both.
COLLINS FARM. Sylvania Northview High School. Harry Collins, a Toledo businessman and horse fancier, raised and trained riding horses here. The farm buildings were built into the side of the hill overlooking the creek.
COLUMBIA OR WILDERNESS SCHOOL. Site of the church of the Nazarene, McCord and Sylvania Ave [today: Rite-Aid].
COMMONS. Site of Sylvania Savings Bank, Main and Monroe [today: Key Bank]. Open lot where boys played scrub ball games. Medicine shows and photographers set up shop in their wagons there.
COTTONWOOD SWAMP. West and north of Sylvania city. Heavy timbered land with little natural drainage. Once cleared and "dried out" became fertile, heavy, black soil farmland. The trees furnished lumber for not only Sylvania's mills but Toledo's as well.
COTTONWOOD SWAMP ROAD. See Adrian Rd.
CRESCEUS. A Toledo & Western Railroad stop at the Ketcham Farm on Alexis Rd. Cresceus, a record breaking trotting horse, was foaled on this farm about the same time the T & W began to run. The stop was at or near Manley Lane which was the main driveway into the farm.
THE DAM. Across Ten Mile Creek, west of Main St. water was impounded for use in the steam boilers of the Toledo & Western powerhouse. Many years before that there were two other dams, one opposite Burnham Bldg., and the other across the little creek at Monroe St. put in by Gen. White.
DAMICO'S. Toledo Steel Tube site, Centennial and Central [SE corner]. The Damico family lived in the house that had been built by the Bairds in the late 1860's or early 1870's. Some distance back on the farm were the feeding lots for cattle and a slaughter house.
THE DEPOT. DEPOT GROVE. [Today: Southbriar shopping strip]. The south side neighborhood was almost a little community in itself with the railroad station and water tower, stores, mills a blacksmith shop, a school, Clark's meat business and a bandstand in the grove.
DEVILBISS BRIDGE. Central Avenue bridge at Wildwood Preserve replaced the rough stone bridge that was named for Thomas DeVilbiss. Toledo inventor and businessman, who in the 1920's purchased hundreds of acres along Central Ave. and Corey Rd. The Wildwood tract and the DeVilbiss Boy Scout Reservation were part of his holdings.
DIAMOND HILL. - Stranahan School. The Diamond family lived here with a natural spring on the hill-side just north of the farmhouse. A neighborhood Sunday School used to meet here under the guidance of the Rev. Solon Haughton from the Holland area. Every wagoner knew and dreaded Diamond Hill for the deep yellow sand on the road going by that farm was all but impassable.
DIVISION ST. - Main St. north of the creek. The dividing line between Gen. White's plat of Whiteford and Judge Wilson's plat of Sylvania. Bob Wyandt in his research of old council records found that Division St., Ohio St., Maumee St., and the Adrian Rd. inside the village limits were combined into one thoroughfare called Main St. in 1923.
DYNAMITE BRIDGE. - A small dynamite mixing plant once stood in the wilderness where the Blue Cross building is. It blew up, as such uprising businesses are wont to do, toppling chimneys over on Central Ave. and leaving one workman a bit shaken himself when a scale weight went through the hat he was wearing. The "works" were never rebuilt but its name lingered on for quite a few years, on the section of Sylvania Ave. from Monroe St. and out beyond Holland-Sylvania Rd.
EAGLE'S NEST. Dorr and Holland-Sylvania intersection.
ELDEN'S. - This once referred to the neighborhood around Alexis and Whiteford Rd. where the Elden family lived and ran a store. Later it referred to Elden's Coal Yard and Building Supplies located on Monroe St. (6426 Monroe).
ERIE AND KALAMAZOO R.R. - Penn Central route from Toledo to Adrian. This pioneer railroad was chartered by Michigan and ran for a short time with horse-drawn equipment. It became part of the Michigan Southern R.R. then the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern, then New York Central and now "the old road" of Penn Central's system [today: Norfolk Southern].
GIN AND SUGAR CHURCH. - Armstrong's barn on Summit Street [today: parking lot of Reeb Funeral Home - NW corner of Maplewood and Summit]. It was built near its present site, probably named the Christian Church. Its nickname might have been suggested by the more demonstrative services of a later congregation whom more staid Sylvanians considered somewhat akin to behavior while under the influence. Abandoned as a church it was moved north on Summit to serve as a barn. Dr. E.E. Armstrong bought it and moved it up to his corner to serve as barn and stable.
GINGER HILL, GINGER HILL SCHOOL. - Prehistoric lakes that once covered the Sylvania area left beaches of yellow ginger sand. Flanders Rd. was laid out on such a formation and the locality was referred to as Ginger Hill, with a school by the same name south of Alexis.
GLANNTOWN. - Silica. H.G. Glann owned the northeast corner of Sylvania and Centennial Rd. where he took out stone to use when he graded and stoned Central Ave. This was about 1912. The community that grew up there during the glass sand discovery and excitement became known as Silica--the chemical name for sand.
GUARDIAN ANGEL DAY SCHOOL. - Site of St. Joseph Church. An elementary school established by the Sisters of St. Francis during the depression years when the St. Joseph parish could no longer support a school. The four classrooms of this tuition school building moved the church building with the original St. Joseph school building moved around to the west side. The statue of the Guardian Angel which used to stand over the main entrance of the school now stands on a pedestal put up on the north side of the present church. The parish again has its own school in a new building.
HALLETT'S CROSSING. Central Ave., viaduct of the Penn Central R.R. The Hallett family lived near here, hence the name.
HARMS PLACE. Sylvania Northview High School. Before this property became the Collins horse farm the Harms family cultivated the place - the best known of their crops, to young mischievous boys, at least, was watermelons.
HARROUN FARM. [Today: Flower Hospital Complex.] Three Harrouns were among the earliest settlers in the Sylvania area. David Harroun, Jr., established his family farm along the present Harroun Rd. It was to become one of the first dairy farms in Sylvania with blooded cattle - Holstein Friesian. The property was held by succeeding generations of the Harrouns and around the early 1930's was sold to Randolph Burnard who kept the name Indian Knoll Farm for the estate he developed there.
HASTY FARM. East side of Hasty Rd. The Hasty family were early settlers, their name being given not only to the road but to a schoolhouse which still stands on Bancroft St., near the Langenderfer Contractors yard. Mr. and Mrs. Al Reuben kept the name Hasty Farm for the property where they lived in the farmhouse and raised and trained horses that became world-famous. The name will continue in a projected housing development in that area.
HI PARKER'S PLACE. Highland Meadows Golf Club. The Parkers were early settlers and related to the Comstocks who lived on the farm adjoining theirs. It is said that the name Highland Meadows was derived in part from Hiram Parker's name. Mr. Parker lost his life in the tragic collision of a T & W car and a steam railroad engine at the Phillips Ave., crossing in West Toledo.
HOTEL CORNER. Maplewood and Main. A hotel occupied the northwest corner from Sylvania's earliest years until 1915 when the Hotel Victor burned to the ground there, taking the lumberyard and several houses with it. It next became Fred Myers' Auto Sales and Garage in the building that still stands there [Today: Inside the Five Brewery].
HUNDRED ACRES. Huntington Farms.
INDIAN ROAD. Corey Rd., Indian Rd., in Ottawa Hills together with Corey Rd. was an Indian trail following Ten Mile Creek on the high ground. Corey Rd. was known for years as Indian Rd. and was renamed for one of the pioneer families that settled along the route who spelled their name incidentally, without an "E".
INDIANA TERRITORIAL ROAD. Sylvania Metamora Rd. Maplewood Ave., Main St., Monroe St., to Alexis Rd., Michigan Territory of which the Sylvania area was a part passed legislation that provided for the surveying of a road to begin at Vistula (later Toledo) on the Maumee River to the Indiana line. Because the road was to reach Indiana and because it was a work of Michigan Territory, it was called the Indiana Territorial Rd. Actually it was the first road heading westward to Chicago in northern Ohio. It was really little more than a surveyed route with very little clearing done and no drainage but it was used heavily by settlers heading west and into the lower tier of Michigan counties. In the late 1840's there was an attempt to improve the road by the Plank Road Co. to which many individuals and most of the communities along its route subscribed. Sawmills were moved in that work over the felled trees to make the planking which was laid on stringers. A little grading was done, but still no drainage. The green planking curled up or snapped in two making it hazardous for horses. The toll gates set up along the way didn't collect enough to keep up the expenses of repair work, to say nothing of turning a profit for the company. After a few years there was nothing left of the road but just a muddy, winding trail, some sunken plank that turned up when Main Street was paved in Sylvania, and two blocks of village street still called Indiana. This was Maplewood Avenue, part of the old Territorial Road that was renamed in 1923.
KEELER ROAD. Central Avenue. As late as 1875 Central Avenue was not a continuous road from Toledo to the Lucas-Fulton County line. It stopped at the railroad crossing near Reynolds Road and began again at about King Road - head westward once more. It is my supposition that because Central Avenue at the Toledo end passed close to the Farm of Major Coleman I. Keeler on Collingwood Avenue it took its name, Keeler Road from that Major Keeler was an early lumber dealer in Toledo, the first one to so advertise and perhaps in the clearing of the forests out this direction left his name on the route used to bring timber to the settlement around Toledo.
KETCHAM'S FARM. See Cresceus.
LAKE SHORE & MICHIGAN SOUTHERN R.R.. See Erie and Kalamazoo R.R.
MALLETT'S CORNERS. Trilby. Intersection of Alexis and Secor. The Mallett's were early settlers there.
MAPLE GROVE. The Lathrop-Vogt house on South Main Street. Elkanah Briggs built the house and died shortly after. It passed into the hands of Lucian Lathrop pioneer settler west of Sylvania, and his son Miles. Many other people have lived in the house, among them the Crandall and Fallis families. At one time a Miss Heckman ran a tea room here, at which time it was known as Maple Grove.
MAUMEE ROAD. South Main Street. Holland-Sylvania Road.
MILL HOUSE and MILL POND. The mill pond was on the South Side about where the bean packaging building it. (Today in 2006 carpet storage building). It afforded water for the grist mill the heading mill and the saw mill located in the vicinity. The Chudzinski home on South Main Street was usually occupied by one or the other proprietors of the different mills - the Chamberlains and Bordners in the grist mill business and the Burns family connected with the sawmill among them.
MILLER'S WOODS. The heavily wooded area of Secor Park.
MILLION DOLLAR HIGHWAY. Monroe Street. So called at the time the road was widened and paved from Sylvania into Toledo. About this time Monroe Street, which dead-ended at Silica Drive was extended to meet Erie Street.
MITCHAW. Mitchaw and Brint Roads. A crossroads community with a general store, saloon, postoffice, one-room school, Methodist church and Grange Hall which faded from the map with the T & W R.R. went through a mile north of its siphoning off the trade, and the introduction of Rural Free Delivery estimated the need for the postoffice.
MOORE'S CORNERS. Central and Centennial. See Damico's. The Moore's who lived here raised ponies, so it is sometimes referred to as the old pony farm.
OAK GROVE and OAK GROVE SCHOOL. Corey Road. Oaks of all kinds stood thick along the old Indian Trail. The little brick school that still stands was often referred to as Corey School but some local residents preferred the name Oak Grove. Neighborhood news printed in early Sylvania papers came under the heading Oak Grove.
OHIO AVENUE. South Main Street from the creek to St. Joseph Church. See Division Street.
OLD STONE BLACKSMITH SHOP. Site of office building just north of Chandler's Hardware. Built as a carriage works with two stories by J.J. Richie in the 1850's. Its stone walls were cut down to one story after the fire which destroyed the original hardware store burned the roof off the carriage shop. It served as a blacksmith shop for years until the coming of automobiles when it became Cooper's Tire Shop. The whole thing was raised to make way for the Sylvan Theatre in about the 1930's. Television closed many theatres, the Sylvan among them. A pharmacy occupied the building for a time. Since then it has been completely remodeled for use as an office building.
OLD COUNCIL BUILDING. Photomat lot [today Ace Hardware parking lot] northwest corner of Monroe and Main. The village council met in rented quarters of the old Masonic Temple which stood on Monroe Street about where the Van Shop and Fleetwing Station are today [today: Sylvania Park, SE corner of Monroe and Main Street]. After 30 years of meeting here the Council, in March, 1898, appointed a building committee headed by Mr. Calkins. Bids were taken and the contract was awarded to Michael Smith of Smith's Siding for $1,325. As Sylvania grew, this old town hall became more crowded and more dilapidated. So it was replaced by the Municipal Building. The Old Council Building was pulled down shortly after.
OLD STATE LINE. The Ohio-Michigan boundary line which the Territory of Michigan recognized is the line of Old State Line Road which runs from the western county line to Crissey Road - about 6 miles. Extended eastward it would make this old state boundary run through Holland, O. Swan Creek Park, the Medical College of Ohio and the Toledo Zoo, thus putting all of Sylvania Township and the greater part of Toledo under Michigan jurisdiction. A state had more influence in the U.S. Congress than a mere, non-voting territory. So blind justice tipped her scale in favor of the State of Ohio, ruling the present line which is just a little north of us as the official boundary.
OLD STONE ACADEMY. Sterling Store and Lane's [today Element 112] on North Main Street. Early Sylvanians formed a company to finance the building of a two story stone schoolhouse to house the elementary and high school scholars - to be called the Sylvania Academy. This served Sylvania for a little over a decade when the building was taken over by the public school system. In 1868 a new brick school was built on the same land to replace the old stone academy. That new building serving until the Burnham Building was put up and occupied in the 1920's
THE ORCHARD. Between Monroe Street and the creek in the vicinity of the Burnham Building [today: Maplewood Elementary School]. The T & W R.R. laid its track right through the fruit trees that were part of the Carpenter and Burnham orchards. Motormen on the cars always spoke of "coming through the orchard."
OTTAWA CREEK. OTTAWA RIVER. TEN-MILE CREEK. NORTH FORK. Even today no one knows for sure which stream you're talking about when you mention any of these names. Here's the problem. Detroit Avenue running from the Maumee River at Maumee and heading north to Detroit was the route of the Indians' Great Trail. After Gen. Wayne's victory at Fallen Timbers, the American soldiers laid out a military road on or very close to the Great Trail. The point where this road crosses Ten Mile Creek, near its intersection with Cherry, is 10 miles from the Maumee River - hence the name, one of the oldest place names in the county. At some time the mouth of this stream became the Ottawa River - and that name has been creeping up-stream ever since. Some folks seem to think the name Ten Mile Creek is rustic and somewhat demeaning to the property through which it runs. Would you want to send your son or daughter to the University of Toledo on the Ottawa River or the University of Toledo on Ten Mile Creek? Now the stream must be officially the Ottawa River as far as Central Avenue at Wildwood Preserve because I've noted that the sign put up at the new bridge states that you're crossing the Ottawa. The latest Lucas County map makes no cut-off point, but does mark the stream near Maumee Bay as the Ottawa River, and puts the label Ten Mile well out in the country west of Silica. Now that little creek along Summit St, has its problems. In 1875 it appears on a Monroe County map as the North Branch of the Ottawa River. In between times its been called Ottawa Creek. It came from Ottawa Lake, and the North Fork. We really should contact the U.S. Board of Geographical Names to find out where we stand, stream-wise. It was simpler in the old days when Sylvania was just called "The Forks".
OTTAWA STREET. Monroe Street from Main to Silica Drive.
PLANK ROAD. See Indiana Territorial Road.
PLEASANT POINT SCHOOL. Monroe and Corey. The schoolhouse was on the north side of Monroe Street.
POP POLLEY'S SALOON. Monroe and Main [today: the Ace Hardware parking lot]. This saloon might have been a landmark for many reasons, but it became a landmark in Sylvania history because of the 1887 fire that "burned the town down" - an overstatement, for actually it was only the west side of the business block between Maplewood and Monroe that went down. Beginning in Dr. Hank's Drug Store the fire leaped from one small frame building to the next. The citizenry succeeded in keeping it from jumping across Monroe Street to the buildings on that side by pulling down Pop Polley's saloon in advance of the fire. Presumably, this corner stood vacant until the Council Building was put up there in 1898.
POWER HOUSE. Now a city storage building between the creek and Sautter's parking lot [today: an additional parking lot for Sautters]. Electricity for the T & W R.R. was generated in this building. Until just recently the Toledo Edison used it for storage. As first built the structure was larger but some parts were torn off for some reason after the T & W went out of business.
PRAIRIE or PRAIRIES. The area south of Sylvania, roughly in the line of Bancroft and Dorr Streets from Holland-Sylvania westward to almost Raab's Corners or Marygrove.
PUMPING STATION. Yankee Road at U.S. 223 in Michigan. When oil began to be pumped from oilfields across the country to refineries in underground lines, pumping stations were necessary along the way to give the oil a "boost" to the next station. The Buckeye Pipe Line Co. built the Yankee Road pumping station and some large storage tanks in the early 1900's. At one time the tanks caught fire which made a spectacular display that is still recalled by old-timers in Sylvania. The station has been inoperative for several years and is being dismantled.
RAAB'S CORNER. A community on the Raab Road between Bancroft and Dorr Streets named for the Raab family that lived there. An earlier name for the place was Six Mile Woods. The name comes up in Sylvanians' reminiscences of the tornado that devastated the western edge of Sylvania Township in the 1920's, for the storm hit Raab's Corners first leveling among other buildings the brick Catholic Church there. Tales of that incident usually start out, "The time that Raab's cyclone hit Sylvania".
RATTLESNAKES CORNERS. Central and Holland-Sylvania. This locale is part of the sandy oak openings country with its typical poor soil, poor drainage, abundant trees and long, long ago, abundant snakes - some of them rattlers. I don't know which came first the name or the saloons that popped up there with none too savory a reputation. If the name came first it was only reinforced by more sighting of rattlesnakes - and pink elephants - than were actually resident thereabouts.
RAY WEST'S HILL. On the south side of Ten Mile Creek in the vicinity of the St. Joseph east parking lot and the Vogt home. [Where Harroun Park is today]. It's remembered by everyone who grew up in Sylvania, for sledding down this hill was the ultimate in wintertime thrills. Not having been brought up in Sylvania myself, and rather hesitant about prowling around people's backyards on historical explorations, I can't say whether Ray West's Hill and Suicide Hill are one and the same or two separate topographical marvels that brought you down screaming into the creek flats and maybe even across the creek itself.
RHEUDI'S TILEYARD. South side of Sylvania-Metamora Road, east of Mitchaw and at the back of the McCormack and Holmes property. Suitable clay was available here for making red tiles so important in the draining of the cottonwood swamp in this area. Henry Rheudi ran the tileyard about the turn of the century.