Middle Point Old and New
By Rene Rae Hundley. (written in 1976)
The Village of Middle Point was laid out in 1852 on land belonging to S.B. Sykes and H.N. Sykes.
Then on Sept. 9, 1874, there was a meeting of the county commissioners where the action of incorporating the Village was started. They fixed Nov. 10, 1874 for the hearing of the petition for the organization of the incorporation of Middle Point. Those commissioners: Abraham Balyeat, N.H. Morgan, and Samuel Miller deemed everything alright and proper that the petition be granted. The books of the Recorders Office do not show these proceedings on record as law requires, though.
The Village was at first called Sykestown. The name Middle Point came about when a passenger riding on the train through the village asked just where they were. The conductor's reply was that they were at about the middle point between Van Wert and Delphos. Thus, the name, Middle Point.
Middle Point is surrounded by a good agricultural community, whereby it becomes a point of purchase and shipment of a large amount of grain and other farm products. This with some manufacturing and commercial enterprises gives to the village something of business importance beyond the average town of its size.
The population of Middle Point in 1880 was 442. The 1975 census put the population at 670. There have been new additions added to the town which has brought in many new homes and families. The West Addition was started in 1970 and presently has 32 new homes. Also, the Tompkins Addition, north of town, was started in 1968 and has 4 new homes.
The Village first homes were built by L.B. and H.J. Sykes, and John A. Estill.
John A. Estill was the first physician to practice in Middle Point. He died in 1877, there were three resident physician's: Dr. A.C. Beaghler, W.W. Small, and Dr. Worley.
There are many homes still present fron those early days, but only a few that haven't changed in structural appearance. There were approximately five houses that haven't changed in outside structure although most have been remodeled on the inside. One brick home is located on Normal St. owned by Gordon Brown and was once used as the presbyterian parsonage. Another home is the Reed Miller home, which then belonged to Dr. A.C. Beaghler. There was a Dr. Beaghler Sr. and Jr. One of the doctors was killed on the Main St. railroad crossing. It was at night when he was coming home, probably from a house call, when he fell asleep. His horse continued on home pulling the buggy with the sleeping doctor inside when it was hit by a train.
At one time, there was an unincorporated town by the name of Straughn just west of Middle Point on Dog Creek Rd. Straughn was established Nov. 17, 1852 by William Blake. There were 26 lots on the plot adjoining the Ohio and Indiana Railway. It was plotted here in the anticipation of the new railroad that was just being built. However, the railroad had a different idea. The question of water determined their decision. They built a water tank and a pump at the Little Auglaize River, so Middle Point became the station for the railroad. Straughn then passed into oblivion.
There are many long time residents living in Middle Point. Some of them are Mr. and Mrs. Hugh A. Neer, Mr. Jack Pollock, Mrs. Ethel Miller, Mrs. Clara Snyder, Mrs. Allie Good, and many others. These people have contributed alot to our towns history.
The Villages first mayor was William Foster; Treasurer, D.J. Davis; Clerk, D.J. Cook; Councilmen, Dr. A.C. Beaghler, Dr. J.A. Estill, A. Fife, George Fairfield, W.S. Nelson and G.S. Nutt.; Marshal, W.T. Manship.
One of the early industries was the Stave, Hoop and Handle Mill owned by Eldridge Pennypacker & Co. built in 1873. The mill burned down some years later. It was located at the end of Mill St. across the railroad on land which is now the Reed Miller property. Farmers would bring in enormous logs to be cut up to make staves for barrels, and would wait along the street for their turn.
Another industry was a flouring mill operated by S.N. Priddy and Dr. A.C. Beaghler, which bought and sold grain. The mill was described as a "new steam mill containing four runs of stone and a 48 horsepower engine." The original A.C. Beaghler home is the Reed Miller home on Main St. and the Priddy home is now the home of Mrs. Clara Snyder on Jackson St.
In 1905, there were three general stores owned by A.A. Manship, Baxter Bros. and W.Askin & Son; two drug stores owned by H.A. Mohler and P.W. Spekers; two grain elevators; one millinery; two meat markets; two barber shops; one hardware and implement; three coal dealers; one lumber yard; one saw mill; one printing shop; one livery barn; one undertaker; one telephone company; one real estate dealer who also carried fire ins. and pension; four churches which were the Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, and the friends (Quaker). In other years, there was a shoe repair run by Sam Neer; a tile factory, a wagon and carriage factory, a blacksmith shop, and a boot manufacturing firm.
At one time, there were three hotels in town. One was opened by A. Fife. Another called the Zellers' House owned by Henry Zellers and another called the Central Hotel.
The first hotel was owned and operated by several different people at different times. The first owners, I believe, was Lizzie and Delton Lehew. It was located in the building which is presently Hiles Market (Strawns Grocery). There were approximately eight rooms upstairs. On the ground floor, the restaurant, kitchen, and dining area were located on the north side of the building. A one room barber shop was on the south.
One of the hotels called the Central Hotel was located on the corner lot where the Marathon Station is now located. This hotel, started up by John Kelly, came several years after the first hotel. John Kelly was also a foreman at the France Stone Quarry. This hotel was cut in two and moved to lots located at the west end of Jackson St. on the south side, where they were made into homes.
In 1975, there are 2 groceries, Hiles Mkt. and Kriesel Store; a barber shop owned by Art Bauer; New Hardware owned by Bud Etzler; Marathon gas run by Mike Dickman; Fleet Wing gas managed by Jack Fraker; Southside Restaurant and Bar owned by Ruth Hellman; Crawfords Garage run by Charles and Bonnie Crawford; Pats Cake Corner owned by Pat Fraker; Morgan's Cabinet Shop owned by Gordan Morgan; Equity Exchange managed by Jack Williams; Middle Point Bank; Laundrymat owned by Gordon Thatcher; Don Putt Painting owned by Don Putt Jr.;Dairy Queen owned by Hilary and Val Friedricks; H&E Pallet Co. owned by Harold Stemen; McGinnis New & Used Farm Equip. owned by John McGinnis; Middle Point Home Telephone Co.;Snyder Electric owned by Dewaine Snyder; Sulphur Sales owned by Ted Brown; Sohigro Fertilizer operated by Norn Casterline;Whistlestop Restaurant owned by Rudy Dierks; Iren's Beauty Shop owned by Irene Ringwald; J&G Kennel owned by Judy Meyers; and E&R Trailers owned by Ervin Hesseling.
There are now 3 churches which are the Presbyterian, Lutheran, and the Methodist.
The first church and the first school were started in the same building. It was erected on land owned by David King and called King School. It was built in 1837 and the first church was organized in the same building in 1848.
Lutherans was first organized in 1853 by Rev. John Hall in Middle Point prior to the building of the railroad. Then the Village was still known as Sykestown. Their church services were held in members homes and communion was at the Methodist Church on Ridge Rd. Rev. Paul Stinewalt was their preacher for a short time followed by his brother, Rev. Julius Stinewalt. The first church building erected in Middle Point was the Lutheran. It was a frame building on Main St. in 1858. Presently, Eddie Hammonds lives on that location. It was built completely by hand by two brothers; Simon & Samuel Foster, who paid the entire cost of construction with the exception of $25. The first preacher in this church was Rev. Julius Stinewalt. The present Lutheran Church on Adams St. was completed on Oct. 9, 1887 and at the present time, there is no preacher.
The Methodist held their church at a school house northeast of town in 1872 before their church was built. Then in 1873, the Methodist Church on Mill St. was built with the dedicatory sermon preached by Rev T.H. Wilson on September 12. The following year Rev. Reuben Rauch became pastor and membership was increased to 114 and the parsonage was erected. The church in later years was lifter and turned to the present position. It was then that the basement was dug and additions were added to the east and west ends. The present minister is Rev. Alan Barone. Sabbath School was started in the spring of 1873 with D.J. Davis as Superintendent.
The Presbyterian Church on Jackson St. was built on Dec. 11, 1873. It's first minister was Rev. William Fuller and the present minister is Rev. Marie Hubble. Their first regular Sabbath School was organized at the house of Jeremiah Perry in 1886.
When Middle Point was incorporated in 1874, it became an Independant school district. A brick building was built at a cost of $7,500, known as the Union School. This building was located where Nellie and Bill Bowden and Ethel Miller homes now are. It contained three departments and had an average attendance of 130 pupils. The first principal was John Yost. When Union School closed, it was bought by the Redman Lodge for their meetings. Then in later years, Union was tore down after the Lodge had a brick building constructed. When their membership dropped and they could no longer pay for the building, they sold it to Mr. Kriesel for what they owed on it ($4,000). It is still known as Kriesel Store.
In 1885, the Normal School was established for the training of the professions. It was opened by W.F. Hufford of Ada and Lewis Fairchild of Angola. Many prominent Van Wert County persons recieved training here for successful careers in teaching and other professions. Attorney J.I. Miller and Dr. S.A. Edwards were two of its many graduates. The college was closed in 1903 and remained closed until 1906. It then became Middle Point School.
Centralization in 1930 closed all the county schools such as the brick building still standing out by the Van Del Drive-in on Middle Point-Wetzel Rd. The township was divided sending the east half to Delphos and the west half to the Middle Point School. The east annex was added on in 1930 and then in 1932, the original building was remodeled. The school published its first annual in 1931. In 1952, the Middle Point school system united with Ridge Township centralized system forming the Van Del Schools. Then in the school year 1960-61, the Van Del consolidated with York and Hoaglin Jackson School forming the Lincolnview School District.
In 1853, a railroad was built from Crestline to Fort Wayne and called the Ohio and Indiana Railroad. In 1855, it became the Pittsburg, Fort Wayne, and Chicago Railroad followed by many others. It is presently the Penn Central.
James G. and Adam Gilliland cut the first road from the Little Auglaize River to within 3 miles of Van Wert. It was then better known as the ole Sugar Ridge Road and now as US Route 30.
Additional means of transportation was provided by the electric interurban railroad known as the Fort Wayne and Lima Railroad in the early 1900's with its station located on the presently owned property known as McGinnis's Farm Equip. The cars would stop at every mile road crossing. This railroad worked on the same principal as trolley cars.
Middle Point also once had a newspaper known as the Middle Point Times published by Sam Teeple. Now, however, the news is supplied by the Times Bulletin, Delphos Herald, and the Lima News.
A fire in 1908 destroyed the railroad depot, a barber shop, general store, post office, and the undertaking establishment with the telephone exchange on the second floor and other downtown buildings. Nearby towns were summoned for aid and Van Wert loaded its "remodeled fire engine unsurpassed by any in its class" on a gondola railroad car and secured an order to stop an eastbound freight train to have the locomotive haul the fire engine to Middle Point.
Today, the Middle Point Volunteer Fire Department takes care of our town. The department consists of 24 active firemen with Dewaine Snyder as Fire Chief and Max Friesner as Assistant Fire Chief. Their equipment consists of a 500 gallon pumper, a 1600 gallon tanker, two emergency units, and a 1948 International Pumper Tanker Combination that is used also. The Village has its own fire alarm system and is also tied in with the countywide fire alarm system.
Then, with the fire department, there is the Ladies Auxiliary. It was formed in 1963 and is active in community affairs and helpful in the purchase of equipment for the fire department when needed.
Middle Point is serviced by Ohio Power, West Ohio Gas, and Middle Point Home Telephone. The water works was built in 1936 with an upground storage tank of 125,000 gallons. Then in 1963, the water softener plant was built.
At one time, there were three lodges in town. They were the Redman's Lodge, Oddfellows, and the K of P (Knights of Pitthians). Each of these lodges had a womans lodge.
The charter of the IOOF was granted by the Grand Lodge of Ohio on the 10th of May, 1877 and instituted June 20, 1877 by Henry C. Hedges, M.W.G. Master of Ohio. In 1882, the membership was 57 members in good standing. This lodge is still present with 30 members.
The Lions Club is also active in Middle Point. It recieved its charter in January, 1957. There are a total of 66 members with 11 of them charter members from its beginning.
On the west side of Middle Point is the France Stone Quarry. When it was in operation, it employed 60 men. It was one of the largest working quarries. It furnished stone for building and piking as well as for ballasting railroads. The quarry is now filled with water and no activities are permitted there because of the dangerous high water.
Every town has its celebrations and Middle Point is no exception. The Forth of July is a big doings at the ballpark with games and food throughout the day with one of the biggest and best fireworks displays in the county in the evening. This day is planned by all organizations who actively participate.
Another day celebrated is Halloween. The evening starts with the parade and the announcement of the Halloween Queen chosen from the classes from Lincolnview High School. Then the judging of the childrens and adults costumes followed by bingo and refreshments at the IOOF Lodge. Usually, there is a dance for the younger set after judging.
The Middle Point ballpark is located at the north end of town. There is a tennis court, basketball court, shuffleboard, and horseshoes besides the ball fields. There is aslo a shelter house and 2 new restroom facilities.
One of the biggest changes has not happened in just Middle Point, but worldwide. This would be the cost of commodities. In 1843, butter was $.04 a pound and now in 1975, it is $1.22 a pound. Cows were $8.00 a head and now they are approx. $225.00 a head and thats an old milk cow! Farm labor recieved $.25 per day except at harvest time; then it was $.50 per day. Now, the minimum wage is $1.90 per hour.
Yes, Middle Point has changed. There are no longer any blacksmith shops or notion stores, etc., but they have been replaced with other types of businesses. It's interesting to look in our past to see where we have been, but it's also necessary for us to look to the future to see where we are going.
Window to the Past
The Middle Point Stone Quarry
The France Stone Company started operations at the Middle Point quarry on Aug. 14, 1888, and ceased operations July 1, 1946. They had been in business for 58 years, and in the height of operations employed 60 people.
Between 90 and 100 acres of what some called the big lake, others a fisherman's paradise and many a familiar swimming spot since 1946, was pumped dry in 1957. Reports were circulated all over the area that a new crusher would be placed in the big hole, which would mean big business again for Middle Point.
In 1956, the owner, George W. France of Toledo, decided that the quarry should be pumped dry. The water averaged between 25 and 40 feet deep including a channel which ran through the area. Four Middle Point men, Harry Showalter, Robert Roodes, Allen Brown and Dale Kline, were assigned the huge task of emptying the hole. When they started, it was predicted that one year of continuous pumping would be required to empty the 78-acre quarry. Pumping took place around the clock with one elevating pump which poured out 2,200 gallons a minute and another pumped 1,000 gallons a minute. The job was completed in a little more than 10 months. The only water remaining in the quarry was in a drainage channel. The water pouring from the quarry was dumped into Dog Creek and finally into the Auglaize River. The pumping was good news to farmers along the stream since it made a clean water supply for livestock which grazed along the stream.
When the quarry was shut down in 1946, the quarry had an output of 50 rail cars a day, which was mostly to the railroads for ballast stone, and to the county commissioners for stone roads. The machinery contained in the huge cement-supported structure was removed in 1946-47. When the quarry went dry, workers were surprised at the small amount of debris found in the bottom. Some large bass which had outsmarted fishermen during the years, fell victim to the operation, while others managed to reach the channel which was nearly 25 feet wide and 20 feet deep and extended nearly a mile.
The total France site consisted of nearly 320 acres, divided by the Middle Point Road with the quarry on the north side. The area north of the main quarry was bisected by a double track main line of the former Pennsylvania Railroad and a small four-acre quarry located north of the railroad. When the quarry was in full operation, cars were filled with stone on a three-track siding.
Sometime around 1990, the quarry was considered as a possible site for a "mini-park." The state department's concept of a mini-park was one of about 1,000 acres, providing space for some recreational activities, but not on a scale of a large park of 5,000 acres.
This site has been posted against fishing and other activities by the France Company of Waterville, Ohio, for many years.
The above information was taken from "History of Van Wert County" by Floyd O'daffer.
In 1888, the Pennsylvania Railroad planned to lay a second track alongside the single track. The France Stone Company contracted to supply ballast for the railroad from Fort Wayne to Crestline. This was when they started the Middle Point Quarry.
Around 1914 or 1915, the Middle Point Quarry bought a large steam shovel which was used to help build the Panama Canal.
France Stone Quarry Near Middle Point 1910