The West Milton COVID 19 Relief effort continues according to coordinator Scott Fogle. To date, the volunteers in the West Milton area have delivered groceries, supplies or medications to 16 residents with a total of 30 trips, as individuals have requested deliveries several times since March 21, when this relief effort started, Fogle said. One of the volunteers also worked with Highland Brethren Christ Church and Robin Bowman with their food bank to deliver Easter baskets of food, produce and meat to the individuals in the community that called requesting support. There was a team of three families that delivered the Easter baskets to their doorstep on Good Friday. This has turned into a great community effort during this very difficult time in our lives, Fogle said. Fogle thanks to all the volunteers that have stepped up to help out.
All Union Township residents are encouraged to support those local businesses that are able to be open. Whether restaurant delivery or pick-up, groceries, garden seeds/supplies, home hardware or repair emergencies — if you can purchase it locally please do so. We also need to be aware of and see to our neighbor’s needs and safety.
As our communities are pretty much shut down, I thought your readers might find some Union Township history interesting. I will start with the little village of Potsdam. To get there you just have to take State Route 571 west out of West Milton, turn left onto Milton-Potsdam Road at Coate’s Burial Vault, past our “new” school and continue several miles right into Potsdam.
There are still only two streets in Postdam. They intersect with a four-way stop in the middle of town. It used to be quite a busy spot with one of the most well known businesses being Tim’s Barber Shop. Tim’s son Harry put together a 32-page booklet titled “Tim’s Barber Shop and Community 1902-1980.” A copy of this history, and a CD of the oral history recording of Potsdam, can be found in the genealogical room at the M-U Library.
In 1902, James Henry “Tim” Timmins migrated from Iowa to Postdam. He rented space from the wealthy Ammon family and opened his barber shop. At that time barbers did many things including removing objects from people’s eyes and removing teeth. He also had a bath tub in a back room and men would pay a quarter for a Saturday night bath.
Several years later he met and married Cora Ditmer, a Darke County girl. They had four children: Ralph, Everett, Harry and Madge, raising them on 15 cent haircuts and paying for an $800 house.
Tim got up at 4 a.m., built a fire in the shop, heated water on a kerosene stove and opened at 5 a.m. staying until 10 or 11:00 p.m. Cora took in men’s dry cleaning, mending and pressing. Harry says she could dry clean a whole suit with a tooth brush and mend a tear so you couldn’t see it. She made the children’s clothes.
Tim’s motto was “to always treat your customers the way you would like to be treated, and don’t over charge.” He outlasted four other barber shops in town. He rented three places before building his own shop with $750 from selling his car — a new 1927 Oldsmobile. He raised his price to 25 cents during World War I and never charged more until his death in October of 1944. All three boys began working in the shop at very young ages. Ralph and Harry kept the shop open into 1980. They have every Thursday off, no boss, and have made many friends over the years.
At one time there were three blacksmith shops, an old German buggy maker, Wilbur Bright operated a hardware store for 25 years, L.C. Norris & Sons operated an automotive agency several years before moving to West Milton. There were several auto repair shops, one of which was operated by a blind man who could “tear a car apart and put it back together.” A shoe repair shop, several restaurants and a watch repair shop whose owner died in his sleep leaving many watches torn apart.
There were six cream stations (page 8 explains all about the cream stations). Every Tuesday and Friday a truck would pick up the cream. Those two nights the streets would be parked full. Parents would go to their choice of three large grocery stores to spend their cream checks. The wives would sit around reserved tables to visit and the children would play tally ho in the streets. On Wednesday nights there was a large community sale, attracting big crowds.
Potsdam had a three room elementary school housing eight grades. For a short time there was also a high school and a college!
There were three churches in Potsdam. A Mennonite, later the United Missionary Church, Dunkard Church now Church of the Brethren, and EUB Church now the United Methodist. One Methodist pastor played piano and musical saw. All three buildings are still there and have been remodeled through the years.
When the library opens up again I hope some of you will stop by and read through this little booklet and view the CD. There are so many funny stories and interesting facts that tell of a time and a way of life that will never be again.
Got Union Township area news to add to this column? Contact columnist Susie Spitler at 698-6798 or email her at email@example.com