The West Milton COVID 19 Relief effort is still functioning, being a big help to those living in our two senior living facilities. The number for anyone needing assistance is 937-698-1600.
A few Union Township cancellations. West Milton’s Memorial Day Parade has been canceled. The downtown West Milton concert by the Tipp City Alumni Band scheduled for June has been cancelled. Those planning the Fourth of July parade are waiting a little longer to decide. Hoffman United Methodist Church’s 14th annual Art Show scheduled in July has been rescheduled for Friday, July 30 through Sunday afternoon Aug. 1, 2021.
More stores and businesses in Milton are opening up. When at all possible Union Township residents are asked to shop locally and remember to take all precautions for your safety and all those around you.
The brand new Dollar General in Laura has opened! What a convenience for those living in Laura and the surrounding area. Laura is our next stop covering Union Township history. Two sources have been used for the following information. One is “History of Laura and Area 1977” written by Gale Honeyman with assistance from his mother, Evelyn Honeyman, and the Laura Community Recreation Council as well as community members. The other source is a DVD of the Laura Oral History recording session. Those on the panel were Wilmadeen Netzley, Alice Beck, Gene Baker, Jean Baker (husband and wife) and Gale Honeyman.
In 1807, Thomas McCool settled on a farm on State Route 721 just east of what became Laura. More recently it has been known as the Dr. Randolph Farm. In 1882, the railroad came through the southern area of town. At one time almost every lot on the two main streets had a business on it. And almost every house had a barn.
Panel members remembered the following businesses. Babe Carroll had a general store The W. C. Mote and Son Elevator at the south end of town burned to the ground in 1962. There was a lumber company and a canning company. A switch board operated phone exchange, the Green Lantern restaurant, a blacksmith shop, a bakery, two barber shops, a stove shop, tin ware shop, and Joy Cain’s gas station that served the best milk shakes ever, and Ward Jones garage and Chevy dealership, to name a few.
For entertainment there was the remodeled barn where dances were held on Saturday nights. Where Laura Circle is now was a ball diamond where games were played two and three nights a week. Teams from other towns played as well as some professional teams. Roy Gibbs was the star pitcher.
There was also the local billiard room called Casey Hall. Several ladies in town got tired of their husbands spending so much time there drinking, playing cards and pool. They stormed the hall destroying everyting in sight. Several community members still have pool balls from this event.
Laura also had a three-room school. Grades first through third were in one room, fourth and fifth in another and six, seven and eight in another. For several years free movies were shown on the back of the building. People brought blankets and chairs and sat on what was then another ball diamond. The school was torn down in 1967.
When Milton consolidated rural schools people in Laura did not want their children bused and refused to consolidate. On Thanksgiving in 1937, the custodian, Noel Honeyman, stopped by the school to see that the stove was stoked and the desks had been removed from all three rooms. They also found this in the Potsdam and Ludlow Falls schools. This so angered the residents of all three communities that for two years they bussed their kids to Pitsburg (now Franklin-Monroe) rather than allow them to attend the M-U schools. The bussing cost was covered with personal funds from a local business owner.
I will share a short history of Roark Furs. Harold and Mary Spitler bought the Roof Building at auction, a former hotel. In 1936, they moved the Spitler Fur Shop into the building. They lived in the former hotel rooms and provided housing for his aging parents, Esta and Vinnie Spitler. With the help of their twin sons, Floyd and Lloyd, they had a cement vault constructed that would hold up to 2,500 fur coats. A 2-ton vault door was brought from a Chicago bank. It was the largest vault in the midwest at the time. It was filled to overflowing without a telephone on the premises or any advertising, with folks traveling as far as 100 miles. In 1945, they sold the business, being able to spend their winters in Florida.
The business was purchased by Hob Roark and renamed Roark’s Furs. When Hob retired, it was bought by the Goldberg Family followed by several other owners. The most recent owners were Linda Long and Larry Day, opening in Marcch 1996, keeping the Roark name and fur storage along with producing a number of special order items. Tom Wagner had bought the building and was very supportive by renting to them so the fur shop could continue. Linda and Larry decided to retire and closed the shop on Feb. 28, 2017. Tom, of Wagner Paving, expanded his office space to include the empty fur shop area. The building was recently remodeled, but the Spitler block and the Roark Furs signs are still on the building on the northeast corner of Pike and Main streets.
For an indepth reading of the many interesting stories and facts about Laura you can find a copy of the Laura history book in the Milton-Union Library history room as well as the Troy History Library in downtown Troy.
Got Union Township area news to add to this column? Contact columnist Susie Spitler at 698-6798 or email her at email@example.com