History of Auglaize County
German Township—New Bremen
The history of German township as now organized, and that of the village of New Bremen, are so closely interwoven that it is necessary to treat them together. We will here only refer to a few incidents by way of general introduction, as the first step towards settlement was the purchase of the village site.
The first record of township affairs is under date of March 5, 1838, and shows the following list of officers:—
Trustees.—Peter Opdyke, Jno. W. Roap, Hamilton Meyer, and J. B. Weslah.
Clerk.—H. H. Frazier.
The first election records show that on April 15, 1839, the following officers were elected:—
Trustees—J. H. Running, David Catterlin, and Gustavus Darnold.
Constables.—Jno W. Drees, F. L. Langley.
Clerk.—H. H. Frazier.
Overseers of Poor.—J. B. Fredericks, Parson Henderson.
Fence Viewers.—Peter Opdyke, Win. Benner, John Moherer.
Supervisors of Roads.—Antony Lears, J. H. Gosman, B. H. Borgmann, J. D. Allis, S. Catterlin, Jno. H. Neimeyer, J. L. Pohlmann, and Henry Dwinger.
(Signed.) H. H. Frazier, Township Clerk.
This township originally belonged, to Shelby County, but at and for some time after the settlement it was a part of Mercer County. In April, 1851, the township of German then comprising what is now German and Jackson townships was divided into a north and south election precinct, by Act of General Assembly. In 1858 the township was divided by the erection of Jackson township, being the south side of German township as previously organized.
On April 7, 18*79, at township election, 383 ballots were cast, and the following officers elected:—
Trustees.—H. F. Kuenning, F. P. Jung, Wm. Barth.
Assessor.—F. A. Frevert.
Clerk—G. H. Schmidt, Jr.
Constables.—Aug. Wehrman, and J. H. Schulenberg.
The township contains eighteen square miles; the soil is fertile and being rapidly drained and otherwise improved. The products are chiefly wheat, corn, and hogs.
With this general introductory we are prepared to approach the village of New Bremen, from which standpoint the review will be made.
In 1832 a company of Germans was organized in Cincinnati for the purpose of locating a town to be colonized by Germans. This company consisted of thirty-three members, prominent among whom were Philip Reis, Christian Carmann, P. Steiner, F. Neiter, and J. B. Mesloh. F. H. Schroeder and A. F. Windeler were appointed a prospecting committee to visit different parts of Ohio and Indiana and select a site for the colony. They examined the country north of Cincinnati and proceeded into Indiana, but finally returned to this State and selected the present site of New Bremen. They here purchased ten (10) acres of land from the government at one (1) dollar per acre, and secured the services of Robert Grant, the surveyor of Mercer County, to divide and plot the town. This site consisted of 102 lots, each 66 by 300 feet. Each member was entitled to one lot, and the remaining ones were offered at $25.00 each.
The selection was determined by lot in order to obviate any difficulty on account of supposed differences of value The town was named Bremen, and the plot recorded in Mercer County, June 11, 1833. Windeler then returned to Cincinnati to report, while Schroeder remained with the colony, as agent for the company. Immediately after the return of Windeler, six members of the association came on to Bremen. In the mean time Schroeder had made preparation for the accommodation of new arrivals by erecting a hut 12 by 14 feet in dimensions. The time occupied by these six in coming from Cincinnati was fourteen days. They all spent the remainder of their lives with the colony, the last survivors being Dickman and Moorman, who died a few years since. Land was then purchased at $1.25 per acre, and the erection of a log hut required the assistance of all the settlers within a radius of six miles.
These huts were covered with boards, and left so open on the sides that the deer were said to have approached them, and attempted to eat straw from the improvised beds, through the openings between the logs. It is also related that on one occasion while Mohrman was hewing one end of a log, a fox approached and stole a chicken which had hopped on the other end of same log. Like in other new settlements, much difficulty was experienced in obtaining supplies, as these were only to be secured at a distance of twenty-three miles. Even in the matter of flour, the settlers were sometimes compelled to resort to the use of a home-made tin grater, such as is sometimes used for grating horseradish. In 1833 new imigrants arrived and a building was erected at a cost of $40 to supply the place of both church and school. These settlers were all Protestants, whose first minister was Rev. L. H. Meyer. During the summer of 1833 several families arrived from Bavaria, among whom were Maurer, Paul, and Brawn. Thus the settlement had grown until the arrival of C. Boesel, who found thirty-five families within a radius of five miles. There were but six huts within the limits of the town. So insignificant was it that Mr. B. stopped to inquire of a wood chopper the distance to Bremen, and was told he was then in the town. The surroundings were so unpromising that he concluded he could not make a livelihood, and so went on to Ft. Wayne. After a period of nineteen months he returned and found very material improvement had been made, among which were separate buildings for school and church. Even at this time some of the farmers became discouraged by having their crops eaten by deer and other game. The community was still almost isolated, as it had little facility for communication. In support of this it may be related that a man named Graver walked to Piqua, a distance of twenty-three miles, and returned the same day, carrying a No. 7 plow the whole distance from Piqua.
In 1835 many of the settlers went to Indiana and worked upon the Wabash Canal, while the women took charge of the home farms. During this year the post-office was established, and the town name changed to New Bremen to distinguish it from another Bremen within the State. The only business at this time worth the name was a horse mill owned by Mr. Kuenning about one and a half miles north of town. Its trade commanded a radius of many miles. The towrn was incorporated under the provisions of H. R. Bill No. 374, reported by Mr. Bell, entitled "A Bill to Incorporate the Town of Bremen in County of Mercer," and passed March 23, 1837. This bill describes the site as follows: As much of German township as is embraced in south half of southeast quarter of section 10, township 7 S., R. 4 E., is hereby created a town corporate, and shall hereafter be known by the name of the town of Bremen. The following list exhibits the officers chosen at first election under the incorporation and held April 13, 1840:—
Mayor.—G. Klefoth, eight votes.
Recorder.—C. Boesel, eight votes.
Council.—G. M. Epperson, F. F. Bosche, F. Maurer, eight votes each. W. H. Long seven votes.
Judges of Election.—C. Boesel, F. Wehrman.
The following appointments were made immediately thereafter by the council:—
April 27, 1840.—J. H. Knost, Treasurer.
April 29, 1840.—H. Long, Marshall. F. Wehrman, Street Commissioner.
The opening of work upon the Miami Canal in 1838 gave an impetus to trade, which was sustained afterward hy the completion of this work, which formed the first means of commerce.
In 1840 a warehouse and water mill were established, adding greatly to the improvement of business and enterprise. Thus the community flourished until 1849, when the cholera appeared, making such ravages that one hunded and fifty of the seven hundred settlers were swept away. Thus through prosperity and calamity we are carried step by step in constant view of a flourishing growth, until, in 1875, we find the whole of German township organized into one union school district. The following year the present Board of Education was elected. Its first act was the erection of a commodious brick building capable of being arranged into eight departments. This was completed, at a cost of $17,000, in 1877, since which time five departments have been occupied. It is well furnished with modern appliances, and reflects great credit upon the village. In connection with this building are two separate school-houses north and west of the town, being ungraded departments under control of same board and superintendent. The whole system affords the township admirable educational facilities.
In 1877 the L. E. & W. R. R. extended its line from St. Marys to Minster, passing through Bremen. In order to secure this road the citizens of Bremen and Minster contributed $40,000 and the right of way. More than half this amount was given by the former town. This road when completed will furnish a direct north and south outlet to east and west lines. In 1879 a telegraph line was constructed along the banks of the canal across the State from north to south, which promises in the present year to furnish better telegraphic facilities than have hitherto been enjoyed. We have thus taken a cursory review of the growth of the town; have found it rising out of the wilderness of 1833 to the flourishing village of to-day, located upon the L. E. & W. R. R. and the Miami & Erie Canal, with telegraph lines.
These facilities have so far contributed to the growth of commerce that the grain and pork trade have assumed numerous proportions. The pork packing establishments alone handle about ten thousand hogs annually.
With this review nothing remains except to cast a glance at the religious institutions, the industries, and the officials.
From "History of Auglaize County, Ohio, with the Indian History of Wapakoneta, and the First Settlement of the County", Robert Sutton, Publishers, Wapakoneta, 1880