The Jolly Shoemaker and His Family

By Stephen J. Hartzell

1939 Photo
Top Row - Robert, Eugene, Victor, Paul & Ellen Hartzell
Bottom Row - Regina, Mary, Thomas & Rosalie Hartzell

Tom Hartzell - Early Years
Growing Up At St. Francis
Tom & Rose
471 West Perry St.
The Neighborhood & Friends
Incidents Of Family Life
Tom & Rose Remembered

See also
A biography of F. V. Reiniche, Rosalie's Father
Memories of Home - by Mary L. (Hartzell) Elchert
The Apple Orchard - Remembering Grandma - by Helen L. (Hartzell) Guinther
Seneca County, Ohio, Hartzell Reunion 2000
Brother Cesaire - Paul Charles Hartzell

Thomas Hartzell was born on April 21, 1875 in Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, the son of Harrison & Ellen Hartzell. His birth record shows the name “Reuben L. Hartzell.” The reason for this discrepancy is not known. Tom was the second oldest child, the oldest being Harrison Jr., born in 1873 in Hammilton County, Indiana.

By 1875 Harrison, Ellen and the two boys moved back to Ohio, and by July the next year the family was back in Tiffin. Harrison’s Civil War injuries were a constant source of problems, even to the point of affecting his ability to support his family. December 20, 1877 the family fell on hard times. On that day they entered the Seneca County Infirmary in a destitute condition. With Christmas just around the corner they were penniless. Ellen was 8 months pregnant and Harrison Jr. was very ill with diphtheria.

Christmas came and went, and the new year did not hold much promise. On January 15 Harrison Jr. died. Seven days later Ellen gave birth to a son, John Michael Hartzell. The baby was healthy, but Ellen had developed Undulant Fever, a uterine infection. She died on February 3. Harry must have been crushed. His wife and oldest son were dead, and he was destitute and unable to care for two very young sons alone. He was forced to make some very difficult decisions.

John was taken in, and eventually adopted by Michael and Adilaide Briedenbach, a German Catholic couple who were unable to have children of their own. Tom was taken in by a man named Martin. Harry then turned to his father, who was in the process of getting a divorce. Shortly Reuben became ill with Typhoid Fever. With Harry probably at his side Reuben died on May 5, leaving Harry very much alone.

Reuben’s estate was divided 3 ways, to be distributed between Harry, Israel and Mary. Harry never saw his 1/3 share. He was sued by L. Lebo for an old boarding debt in Hammilton Co. Indiana, where he and his young wife made their first home.

Israel and Mary left Tiffin for good. With nowhere to turn Harry left town for the next couple of years. The family of his youth and that of his adulthood were now only memories and graves.

Young Tom stayed with the Martins until April 6, 1880 when they returned him to the Infirmary. Those who stayed at the Infirmary were largely responsible for it’s upkeep. One day in 1882 Tom was assigned to mowing. While leading the horses his left leg was struck by the mowers. The leg could not be saved and was amputated. Tom remained at the Infirmary for two more years.


February 1, 1884 Tom Hartzell was taken in at the St. Francis Orphan’s Asylum. He was admission #233.

The history of St. Francis dates back to 1867. As pastor of St. Joseph Church, Fr. Joseph Bihn asked for volunteers to help in the work of starting a home for orphaned children and the aged in Tiffin. Four women answered the call, including widow Mrs. Elizabeth (Greiveldinger) Schaefer. This was the beginning of a new order, the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis. Mrs. Schaefer then became Sr. Mary Francis, cofounder and first Mother Superior. The institution was incorporated in 1869. Fr. Bihn purchased some land in Clinton Township. Sr. Mary Francis sold her farm in Seneca Township for $4000 and used the proceeds to help finance the first buildings. By 1878 the Home had grown to 27 sisters, 72 orphans and 23 aged persons.

The Home was located on 400 acres of excellent farmland. The older boys and some brothers of the order tended to the farming. This accounted for the main support of the community. The Home sought to teach the orphans a trade that gives them the ability to function on their own in their adulthood. Their stated goal is to educate the children, instruct them in their religious duties and leave them with the ability to earn their own livelihood.

Tom Hartzell had many fond memories of his time in the Home. He remembered Sr. Mary Rose Schlereth (1850-1948) who carried him up the stairs to his room at night. He spoke fondly of Fr. Bihn, remembering how he used to say “It does my heart good to see my boys working.”

Another former resident, admitted in 1882 had recollections of her time at the Home. Mrs. Catherine (Councelmann) Boner, 2 sisters and a brother were admitted after the death of their mother. At age 91 Mrs. Boner remembered Fr. Bihn and Sr. Mary Francis. She described them as very strict, but pointed out that it was necessary in those days because so many children were being cared for with only primitive means.

Washing was done with tubs and washboards and ironing with flat irons. They used tin plates and cups and their furniture consisted of handmade tables and benches. Most lights were candles or kerosene lamps, but there were a few gas lights. There was no electricity in any of the buildings. The classes were limited in scope but there was a strong emphasis on religious instruction. The food that stood out in Mrs. Boner’s mind was bread and molasses made from sugar cane raised on the farm.

Christmas also stood out. Mrs. Boner remembered, “I loved the crib, the singing at mass and the children dressed like angels.” It was the one time of year when a few extras were added to their rather plain lives. They always received cookies, popcorn balls, apples and a few simple toys.

St. Francis was like a little world of itself. Most children had few contacts outside the institution and seldom left for visits. Also memorable was the fire which destroyed the original frame convent in 1890.

Fr. Bihn and Sr. Mary Francis both died in 1893. After their deaths the Home suffered a period of relative turmoil. Fr. Seraphim Bauer was then named by the bishop to continue the work.

Also that year Tom Hartzell turned 18. He then made a visit to the home of his father. Harry had remarried in November, 1884 to Catherine Shuff, a housekeeper who was not previously married, but had a son at the age of 16.

Harry was delighted to see his son and offered to let him stay in a room above the outbuilding at the rear of the property. Upon hearing of this offer Catherine insisted that it was just not a practical idea. Tom was devastated. He remembered “I went out behind the grape arbor and cried my eyes out.”

He then returned to St. Francis. Fr. Seraphim, recognizing that Tom could not support himself in the physical trades that were taught at the Home, decided that he required further training. In 1894 Tom was released from St. Francis and sent to the Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, an orphanage and trade school of the time that exists today as a Seminary. There he learned the trades of barber and shoemaker which served him well for the rest of his life.

Tom Hartzell never forgot St. Francis. He returned at least once a month, in later years, to repair the orphan’s shoes. Nearly all of Tom and Rose’s family picnics were held there. His children enjoyed going there to play with the orphans. To Tom Hartzell, an outing to the grounds at St. Francis was very much like a homecoming.

The orphanage remained in operation until 1936. At that time all dependent children were placed in St. Anthony’s Orphanage in Toledo, Ohio, or in foster homes. St. Francis is still in operation today as a home for the aged with the Sisters of St. Francis still in residence there. Some of the old buildings still survive, including the chapel and the convent. A retired priest is kept as it’s chaplain. It was on these same grounds that Tom’s wife eventually died at the age of 99, in 1984, 100 years after Tom was admitted as an orphan.

See also a biography of F. V. Reiniche, Rosalie's Father
At about age 21 young Tom set out on his own, having completed his occupational training. He spent the next several years as a rolling stone, wandering from place to place.

In the summer of 1900 he was at the boarding house of John and Mary Rich in Jackson Township of Sandusky County near Burgoon. Mr. Rich was the son of Swiss immigrant Victor Rich who also lived at the house together with John’s 4 sons and 1 daughter, ages 3-17. Other boarders were Ohio natives Henry Haubert and Edward Adman, and Canadian Eugene Coyle.

By 1903 Tom had returned to Tiffin. He lived for the next couple of years in an apartment above a grocery store at 109 (now 124) S. Washington St. a half a block south of the Courthouse. There in downtown Tiffin he made a living as both barber and shoemaker.

About 1905-06 Tom went to Defiance, Ohio. There he stayed in the boarding house of Isaac and Annie (Reiniche) Lalonde, located above “Ike’s Saloon.” Taken by the spirited young man, Mrs. Lalonde then told her youngest sister Rosalie Reiniche about the jolly young man who was staying in the house.

This jolly disposition was without question his most memorable trait. It was obvious to Annie Lalonde in the same way as it was to virtually everyone who ever met the man. Here was a man who struggled his entire life. Although he had every reason to feel sorry for himself, he never let the world bring him down, and he maintained a remarkable sense of humor his entire life.

Tom Hartzell met Rose Reiniche and their courtship began. It wasn’t long before Tom proposed to her, but she consistently turned him down. Her family had serious concerns that with his disability, he could not properly support a family. But Tom and Rose continued to date, and Tom continued to pop the question on every date. Rose often recalled their courtship. She remembered with a giggle how Tom would reach over and turn off the parlor light, only to have Rose turn it right back on. But she was always quick to point out that he was always a gentleman.

At some point Tom returned to Tiffin. He instructed Rose that if she should decide to accept his proposal that she should write him and he would return right away. In time she did write, and he quickly returned. They were married on May 21, 1907 in Delphos, Ohio.

Their first home was an apartment above 38 (now 42) S. Washington St. in Tiffin. (This building was later occupied by the Marinis Candy Store, and was demolished in 1997) At that time Tom Hartzell ran a pool room at 69 East Market St., and also was in partnership with Eddy Bender in a business engaged in the manufacture of cigars at 73 East Market St. (Eddy Bender later established a grocery store near Six’s Corners that remained there for many years.)

In 1908 the family relocated to Defiance, making their home at 425 Clinton St. There Tom made his living as a shoemaker.

On May 30, 1908 their first child was born, Victor Francis Hartzell. He was named for Rose’s father, Francis Victor Reiniche who had died 8 years prior.

Harry Thomas Hartzell was born January 13, 1910, named for his father and grandfather.

On September 19, 1911, Harrison, eager to see his son settle in Tiffin, gave to Tom “30 feet off of the west side of lot #15, Phillip Wentz Addition.” This land was right next door to his own home. He gave him this land to build on with the understanding that it was not to be sold while Harry and Catherine were still living. So Tom built a home at 475 West Perry St. Part of the lumber used to finish the home was salvaged from Bacon’s Island after the great flood of 1913.

On February 20, 1912 Eugene Thomas Hartzell was born. It is said that he was born near Adrian, Ohio. He was named for Rose’s sister Eugenia (Reiniche) Sauber.

The first of their children to be born at 475 West Perry was Paul Charles Hartzell, born February 8, 1915 at 9:30 PM.

During the years that Tom lived next door to his father they did indeed become closer. For the first time in his life Tom was able to have the kind of relationship with his father that had eluded him for 37 years. It was a period of time that was clearly treasured by both men. Harry spent his last years tying up the loose ends of his difficult life. He bought tombstones for the graves of his oldest son and his first wife, many years unmarked. He attended the 50 year anniversary celebration in Gettysberg in July, 1914.

At this point I feel that it is appropriate to insert a few stories about this time period. One evening Harry was lamenting to his son about a recent hangover from which he had not yet fully recovered. He looked up to the heavens and picked out a star. To that star he promised that he would never drink again. Whether that promise was kept is not known.

Harry was known to be in the frequent habit of talking to himself. On one occasion he was standing near the parlor stove warming his hands and, of course, talking to himself. Standing next to him was his grandson Victor Hartzell. Finally Vic looked up and asked, “Grandpa, why do you talk to yourself?” Harry responded, “Never mind, at least I know I’m talking to a sensible person.”

Living a couple of houses west of Harry was John Ridgeway, who was a veteran of the 1st Virginia Cavalry, a Confederate regiment in the Civil War. These two men were well known to be bitter enemies and had no use whatsoever for one another. Several of Ridgeway’s daughters remained in the neighborhood their entire lives.

Harry died on June 3, 1917 at his home at 471 West Perry. For a time after his death Catherine continued to live in the house. Tom and Rose frequently sent their children over to stay with her. She did not like Automobiles at all. Every time one would pass by the house she said, “Darn those autobees!” She too died on May 19, 1921. After her death Tom became the sole heir to his father’s estate

Mary Louise Hartzell was born on November 23, 1917 at 12:30PM at 475 W. Perry. She was named for her grandmother, Mary Louisa Reiniche.

Robert Joseph Hartzell was born on November 11, 1921 at 1:00 AM. The reason for his name is said to be at the urging of one of the older children who suggested, “Let’s name him Bobby!” And so it was.

Ellen Rose Hartzell was born on June 30, 1924 at 10:45AM. She was named for her mother and grandmother.

Regina Marie Hartzell was born on January 19, 1928 at 5:05AM. She was named for Sister Regina Marie, daughter of Anna (Reiniche) Lalonde, Rose’s sister. Robert remembers coming home from school the day Rose was in labor. Mrs. Randell saw him coming up the street and called to him, “Hey Bobby, come here. Your eating with us today.”

And so was born the last of their children. The family continued to live at 475 W. Perry until the fall of 1932 when they moved next door to 471.

471 WEST PERRY STREET, Tiffin, Ohio

The house on the left, 471 W. Perry, was built by Harrison Hartzell in the 1880’s.
The house on the right, 475 W. Perry, was built by Thomas Hartzell 1911-13.

This house was indeed a modest one. It was located directly across the street from the house that I grew up in, at 472 W. Perry.

Here is the way I remember it.

As you cross the street and walk up the sidewalk you pass a huge old Maple tree in front of the house. As you ascend the steps you see two metal chairs directly in front of you on the porch. You make a right turn. You are then looking directly into the seat of a porch swing suspended from the ceiling by two chains with springs at the top. There is a large window next to the swing. Every evening after supper my dad could be found on this swing with one foot on the floor and the other leg propped up across its surface.

To the left is the door. You enter it and walk into the front room, one of modest decor. It contains a couch on the south wall, a comfortable chair with broad arms on the east wall. There is another chair with wooden arms and legs on the north wall and misc. tables and stands around the room. This room and all the others is decorated with pictures and religious articles on the walls and on the tables. There is a clear plastic mat on the floor which leads you past the chair towards the living room.

Walking through the doorway you are now standing on a large furnace grate, which is the only one in the entire house. Just beneath the grate is a round deflector which is suspended above the working center of the furnace. On some days there may be a collapsible clothes rack set upon it to dry a few pieces of laundry, and in the winter there may be a pan of water to help humidify the air.

In the southeast corner near the doorway to the master bedroom is an old, fairly broad rocking chair, cocked and pointed toward the center of the room. This was grandpa’s favorite chair, and when he died it’s cushions were kept warm by my grandmother. She rarely sat anywhere else, but I always seized the opportunity to sit in it when grandma laid down to take her afternoon nap. From this chair she could easily sit and watch through the window as the traffic flowed up and down West Perry St., or she could watch for her son Bob to pull into the driveway to the garage, which he had been using since the early 50’s when his dad was no longer able to drive.

Above the chair hung the large portrait of Tom’s mother, Ellen (Clark) Hartzell. It was one of my grandpa’s most prized possessions, and he made his descendants promise to always see to its proper care.

Between the bedroom and the kitchen, on the south wall is a large couch. On the north wall between the furnace grate and the bathroom is a telephone stand with a built in seat. Upon its small table is an old black telephone, under which is the phone book. Also on the north wall between the furnace grate and the basement door is a small bookcase. On top of it is a radio. It was always turned on in time to hear the news or “sound off” on WTTF. Above the bookcase is a framed copy that reads “Please be patient. God is not finished with me yet.”

Against the west wall is the television which sat on a stand beneath the stairway. The stairway was open with a wooden railing. The opening was sealed off with cut-to-size plaster board in the winter.

Walking past the stairway you then enter the kitchen. To the right is the refrigerator, which always had a well stocked cookie jar on top of it. To the left, against the east wall is a metal cupboard with a white baked enamel finish. Its hide-away table top was its most useful feature, and this is where Grandma normally ate her meals. To the left of it was the kitchen sink. Across from the refrigerator was the kitchen table. Its surface was often covered with fresh egg noodles, put there to dry out.

On through the door on the south wall you reach the back porch. Its most imposing feature was the large old cobblers bench. It had cupboards above its surface and drawers beneath it. At this bench Grandpa repaired many a pair of shoes for his living, and for his own family.

Behind the house is the old grape arbor, planted there in the 1880’s by Harrison Hartzell. Its branches bore plenty of fruit to restock the whole family’s yearly supply of grape jelly.

This is the home as I remember it. Today it is all gone.

There were things within its walls that you could always count on. The bathroom always smelled like Ivory soap. You could always count on finding grandma sitting in that old rocking chair, often tearing old bedsheets into 4 inch wide strips to be rolled up and sewn together to make bandages for the missions. Or after dinner you could count on Grandma pulling out the board and laying it across the arms of the chair to play solitaire on. And when you were dating someone new you could bet that grandma would ask if that person is a Catholic.

Every Sunday one of us was permitted to go over to Grandma’s house for dinner. I was always quick to volunteer. Those dinners were among the best I have ever eaten. Just when you thought you were full she offered you more. When you declined she responded with “Oh nonsense”, and proceeded to pile it on.

You always felt welcome and loved in that old house, and I for one dearly miss being able to go there.


After Catherine’s death in 1921, the house at 471 West Perry was rented to Benny and Edna Chaffee, who with their son Glen, continued to live there until about 1928. To the west at 483 was Herbie and Flora Imler, and across the street at 484 was Mr. and Mrs. Frank Clingman and their young sons Ray and Arnold. West of the Imler’s at 489 was still John and Martha Ridgeway. By 1928 the house at 471 was rented to Mr. and Mrs. Fred Randell, and 484 was occupied by R. D. Focht.

Across the street from 471 was a hollow, which filled with water after a hard rain. The children of the neighborhood then had a temporary swimming hole. This hollow was later developed and became the home of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Hartzell. As of the date of this writing they still live on this same piece of land. A sewer inlet in the middle of the lot prevents it from filling with water. To the east of this hollow was a vacant lot that was used for many years as a "victory" garden, particularly to grow the year’s supply of potatoes, until finally it too was developed into housing.

Across the hollow at 324 Wentz St. was Eugene and Irene Fredritz. Irene was a hard talking, swearing lady who was easily heard throughout the neighborhood. One day young Bobby was walking past the Fredritz home. As he walked by he saw Irene through the window. Seeing him looking in her direction she barked out, “Yea, look ya son of a bitch, look!” A startled young Bobby turned and ran away just as fast as his little legs could carry him.

Now Tom Hartzell was well known to be one who enjoyed his beer. (Imagine that!) When Prohibition came along he quickly learned to make his own, despite his wife’s objections. He kept a large barrel along with his bottles safely tucked away in the basement. Knowing her objections were to no avail, Rose chose instead to sneak down to the barrel and pour a portion of it’s contents down the drain. She then replaced the void with water to decrease the brew’s potency. She retold this story many times after Tom’s death, and she always insisted that he never knew about it. Tom had other friends who also had home brewing setups. He often left for a while and returned home with a snootfull, but he always came home with the same amount of money with which he had left. It was not unusual to see Tom’s friends come to call. Typically he said something like, “Say, I need you to come down to the basement and help me with some boxes.” They were normally down there for a while, with no boxes having been moved. But the barrel was always a little lighter when they finally emerged.

At this point I will give some information about some of Tom’s known friends, most of whom were considerably younger than himself.

Peter Dunn was admitted to St. Francis at the same time as Tom, and they were very close friends for the remainder of their lives. He later lived in Ottawa, Ohio, but they made frequent visits to one anothers homes.

Edward Zeiser and his wife Elizabeth were both raised at the St. Francis Orphanage. Ed was admitted in 1893 after his parents had died. Ed died about 1929.

Howard M. Suver was born in 1899, and was a veteran of WW1. He lived at 549 East Market St. with his wife Bertha Marie. He was a carpenter by trade and was employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad. His older brother Clarence (1890-1973) lived with him for a time. Howard normally did the repairs on Tom Hartzell’s Model A Ford. Howard died in 1947 and his wife in 1969. They were buried in Greenlawn Cemetery, and were survived by a son, Howard Jr.

Edward L. “Eddie” Bender was born in 1894. He and his wife Wilhelmina lived at 122 Second Ave. At one time Eddie and Tom were partners in the manufacture of cigars. They also ran a Poolroom on East Market St. It is said that this Poolroom also ran slot machines in the back room. Eddie later opened Bender’s Market on North Washington St. near Six’s Corners. The market remained in operation until the mid 1980’s. Eddie died in 1950 and his wife in 1961.

Thomas S. “Tommy” Frankhart was born in 1897. He and his wife Alice eventually lived in that familiar red building at 496 West Perry St. Here he operated a well known upholstery shop. I remember this shop, and I can still see Tommy seated at that old pedal operated Singer sewing machine, which was next to a large window. As a young boy I once broke that same window with a baseball. Tommy normally had a Camel cigarette dangling from his mouth. He usually chose not to use his ash tray, opting instead to flick the butt out the front door and onto the concrete slab. We as kids saw these butts fly out the front door. We then snuck over to get them while they were still lit. He never seemed to mind when the neighborhood kids wandered in and out of the shop and roamed freely around. He occasionally stopped his work long enough to give us candy and gum. Tommy died in 1979 and his wife in 1947.

Dan Morrison lived at 350 Wentz St. His brother lived in a very small house on the east side of the lot, at 336 Wentz St. Dan was reclusive and rarely left the house. His hair and beard grew beyond control. Noticing this, Tom Hartzell began to pay him regular visits to do his much needed barbering. Dan allowed Tom to come over at Christmas time to cut a branch from the pine tree near the house. This was the family Christmas tree. Neither Dan nor Bill was buried in Seneca County, and it is not known what ever became of them.

Other friends include Jimmy Ranker, who had sons named Bob and Merlin. Also Doug, Royal and Gilbert Hoover of Fostoria St., and the McIntires who lived for a time next door to Tom & Rose, at 465 West Perry St.

Incidents Of Family Life

Along came the 1920’s, and the older children were growing fast. In 1923 the Tiffin Catholic High School began it’s first year of operation, and Vic Hartzell was among it’s first class. The following year the school fielded it’s first football team. Vic was eager to try out, and he became the school’s first quarterback. (Please see, “Calvert Football, The First Season”) He always preferred that his mother not attend the games. As Rose put it, “He was afraid that if he ever got hurt, I would run out onto the field and say, ‘Now Victor, you get home right this minute,’ and I probably would have.”

On October 20, 1925 Vic’s bicycle was stolen from Little Hedges Park. I don’t believe that the bike was ever recovered. The police report appeared in the Tiffin Tribune the following day.

Vic dropped out of school after his junior year, but he returned the following year. Because of this he was declared ineligible to play football for his senior year. But that did not prevent him from getting involved in other extracurricular activities. That year he founded the popular “Nutty Club.” I believe that the name speaks well of it’s function. Also that year, since he could not play football, he became one of the squad’s cheerleaders. In those days male cheerleaders were very common.

Just prior to graduation the school, now named Calvert High School, staged a production of “Daddy Long Legs” at the Grand Theater on May 14, 1928, before a packed house. The Tiffin Tribune wrote, in part, as follows.

“The audience soon found itself forgetting that the players were boys and girls, so true to life and clever was their acting. The players went into the actual performance without a single dress rehearsal and with only a few rehearsals of the entire company. There was not an idle moment in the show. Miss Mary Wagner excellently played the part of Judy, while Victor Hartzell starred as Daddy Long Legs. Upon these two characters hung the success of the performance. A matinee showing was held at 3 o’clock for the benefit of the school children.”

Vic’s sister Mary never forgot the matinee. He seized the opportunity to embarrass his sister while announcing the second act. “I want to dedicate this act to my little sister who always takes the biggest piece of pie.” Mary wrote about this incident much later in her book “I Love You Mom.” “Every one of my classmates turned around to look at me and grin, and I didn’t know if I should be proud for the recognition or ashamed because what he said about the pie was true. So I just sat there blushing.”

Vic went on to graduate in Calvert’s second class. He was the first, and only one in his family to do so.

On Saturday June 1, 1929, a terrible accident occurred near the intersection of Nelson & Perry Sts. A young boy was hit and instantly killed by an Interurban Car.

Seeing what had just happened, Mrs. Randell was instantly convinced that the unfortunate lad was Bobby Hartzell. Slowly she approached the Hartzell home and knocked on the door. Rose Hartzell answered.

Mrs. Randall stood as white as a sheet, preparing to perform the sad duty of conveying the worst of news. She no sooner said the words, and soon to her astonishment there was Bobby, safe and sound. Mrs. Randall was obviously greatly relieved, and embarrassed at her mistake.

In fact that poor boy was Earl Hushour. He and Bobby were friends, and on that day they were wearing nearly identical clothing. Later that evening the Tiffin Tribune reported the story, in part as follows.

“Earl Hushour, a six year old son of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Hushour, 464 West Market St., fell from a bicycle in front of an Interurban car this afternoon and was instantly killed. He was seated on the handlebars of a bicycle which William Kuhn, an 8 year old companion, was riding, when he toppled off in the path of the car on West Perry St. His head was crushed. The Kuhn boy, a son of Patrolman Joseph Kuhn, was turning from Nelson St. into West Perry St. when his little friend lost his balance and fell on the rails as a Toledo, Fostoria and Findlay car, Fostoria bound, approached.”

It had always been the custom each spring to scoop out the “contents” of the outhouse pit with honey buckets and pour it into a trench around the garden. Clearly, this was not a pleasant job and was always dreaded. Finally the east leg of the front porch was enclosed and converted into a bathroom. I would guess that this was cause for much celebration. Gone forever was the foul odor of the outhouse, with the Sears catalog inside, which was used one page at a time. Also gone were the slop jars that were placed in each bedroom to avoid having to go out in the freezing cold to “do your duty” in the middle of the night.

During the 1920’s Tom Hartzell became employed at the Kuebler-Burger Shoe Store. He did shoe repairs in a small room in the back of the store.

One lady remembered, “I can still see him working back there in that little room, no bigger than a closet. I never knew he had an artificial leg. I thought that he was just crippled.” He continued to work in that shop until the mid 1930’s when he opened his own shop at 205 East Market St. The Hartzell Shoe shop remained here only a few years. In his later years he performed his trade from the back porch of his home.

Rose Hartzell became the housekeeper at the Ursuline Convent where she remained employed for a number of years. She was very strict in her duties. Mrs. Helen (Kirian) Miller remembers encountering her there occasionally. “As a girl, before I got to know her, I used to think that she was just a mean old lady. But now I know that she was just doing her job, and she really was a very nice lady.”

Agnes Rose (Hartzell) Welling, daughter of Robert Hartzell, remembered Tom and Rose in this way.

“As a child, I remember what a jolly, friendly guy he was, like he never had a care in the world. He serves me as a good role model. I have his and grandma’s picture in my living room and whenever the world gets me down, I think of how he would be handling it. You know, I think he and grandma still look out for all of us. Grandma Rose told me she prays for me and all her grandkids every day, and I still think she does. I reached my goal as an R. N., and on her birthday I graduated. I don’t think that was an accident. I think it was God’s way of telling me and all of us she’s still looking out for all of us.”

Richard Paul Hartzell, son of Eugene Hartzell remembered the following.

“One of the things that stands out is Grandpa used to chew tobacco and when he was done with his tobacco he would pull the plug out of his mouth and throw it in the side yard where (Robert) used to park his car. Needless to say one side of (Robert’s) car never really looked good. I also remember Grandma’s egg noodles, she used to fry them for me for breakfast. I LOVED THEM!!!! When I was 16 grandpa sold his Model A. My heart was broken because I wanted to buy it from Grandpa.”

Charlene (Hartzell) Sandidge, son of Eugene Hartzell lived with Tom & Rose for about a year when she was about 9, and related these memories in a letter to Robert Hartzell at Christmas time in 2001.

"I loved that house too. (471 W. Perry) It was a very happy year of my life. I remember Grandpa teasing me when I was playing jacks by that big heater grate in the middle of the room, he always tried to tell me there was a jack somewhere when it wasn't. He thought it was great fun when I finally figured out that he was joking. I remember the spittoon & the big ball of gum (tobacco) he always chewed on."

Thomas Harrison Hartzell died in Mercey Hospital on October 5, 1955 at the age of 80 years. He had suffered with Cerebral Thrombosis, with which he was striken 2 days before his death, and Arterioscerotis Cardiovascular disease for 20 years. Dr. Walter A. Daniel attended to him for the last four years of his life. He died in the company of his family, and was greatly missed by his wife. The Pahl & Nemith Funeral home was in charge of the arrangements, and the funeral was held at St. Mary’s Church. The burial was in the Parish Cemetery.

Tom Hartzell in his favorite rocking chair about a year before his death.
The noodle soup box beside the chair contains his spittoon.

I have taken a particular interest in researching his life because he died 3 years before I was born. This was my way of doing something that I had always wanted to do, get to know my Grandpa. In some small way I feel like I’ve accomplished that goal.

Rosalie Reiniche Hartzell died on August 17, 1984, about 4 months short of her 100th birthday. She died at St. Francis Home in the company of her family. I remember visiting her the day before she died. Although she could not respond, I leaned over and said a few last words to her as she lay there struggling for every breath. I remembered the times in those last few years when she frequently asked, “Who is this?” On each occasion, after I spoke my name she said, “ Oh yes, you always used to mow my grass and trim my grape arbor for me.” And she always spoke highly of her children. Many were the times she could be heard saying “I’ve got such good kids!”

Rose Hartzell in the mid 1950's

Even at the end when her family stood around her bed praying the Rosary, she appeared to be making an attempt to pray along with them. At the funeral home the atmosphere was not somber or weepy. It was festive and alive, a celebration of sorts. There were hugs and laughter abounding; as though every person in that room was sure that this wonderful lady had truly gone to her eternal reward.


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1998-2002 by Stephen J. Hartzell
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