Biographical sketch of William J Myers, Ohio farmer

The following biographical sketch was based on notes from The Dilbones of Ohio, by O.L. Myers (unpublished):

WILLIAM JAMES MYERS: William was the first born child of Lafayette Myers and Elizabeth nee Leslie Myers. A birth certificate prepared on November 21, 1942 to allow him to work in a defense plant during World War II states that he was born July 31, 1886 in Hale Twp., Harding County, Ohio. A copy of this record signed by a sister to his mother and a brother to his father is believed to be correct, although his obituary states than he was born in Logan County, Ohio. Willie, as he was called by his mother, spent his early youth in and around the lake at Russels Point, Ohio. This lake had been constructed as a feeder to the Erie Barge Canal which connected Cincinnati and Toledo, Ohio. Sometime prior the age of twelve his family moved to Middlepoint, Ohio where his father was employed at the France stone quarry. He attended school only through the fourth grade and at about the age of 10 he was hired as a stone quarry waterboy at the rate of 25 cents per week. In his later years when he coughed Willie would often say, “bless the old stonehole anyway.” While his formal education ended early he continued reading and working on his mathematics and was a capable teacher to his children through their elementary grades. Being a large man he did some boxing in his youth and remained active in the social activities of the community. William was married twice. His first wife was Mattie Albright. A son, Eli Albright and daughter, Eva Lucille were born to this union on Sept. 5, 1911 and May 8, 1917, respectively. Mattie developed a bloodstream infection after giving birth to their daughter and died a week later. William was overwhelmed with grief and his weight fell drastically – the doctors also feared for his life. His family believes that Mattie’s death caused him to renew and then rely on his religious faith put his life back together. He remained active in his community churches for the rest of his life. In 1918 William met Ethel Leota Dilbone, a young telephone operator in Rockford, Ohio who would always call him Will. They were married the next winter. Will continued to farm until economic conditions of the early 1920’s forced them off the farm and back to Middlepoint, Ohio. He found work as janitor for a Normal School. After their first child, Owen Lafayette, was born in 1921 they moved to Celina, Ohio where his father-in¬-law operated a farm and dairy business. While working in the dairy he joined his brother-in-law in owning and operating a meat market in Celina. However, when an opportunity arose for them to get jobs in the Fort Wayne, Indiana shops of the Pennsylvania Railroad Will moved his family to Maples, Indiana. His daughters Margaret Louise and Mary Helen were born there in 1923 and 1925, respectively. Unlike his brother-in-law who was a railroad employee for another 40 years, Will remained a farmer at heart and in early 1926 he returned to farming. His oldest son, now 15, Ethel and he worked side by side with the goal of raising enough cash for their own farm. The first year they were tenant farmers in Allen County, Indiana, the following year farmed near Monroeville Indiana, and in 1928 returned to rent land near the village of Wren in Van Wert County Ohio. The next Spring they moved to work a farm owned by his mother’s widowed sister in Ridge Twp, Van Wert County, and the following two years made smaller moves to other farms in the same township. The family would remain at this last farm for the next 4 years. A fourth child, James was born there. The economic crisis of 1929 swept over the nation and the Great Depression began. Banks failed, shops and factories closed. Land prices fell, then fell again and many Ohio families lost their farms and homes. Will and his family were fortunate – the bank that held their savings did not fail. So in the worst of times, 1931, he and Ethel were able to purchase their dream, an 80 acre farm in Union Twp., Mercer County Ohio. Despite the sheriff’s sale price of only $23.33 an acre now he had both seven children and a mortgage on the farm. They delivered fresh to the stores in nearby Mendon where it sold for 5 cents a quart. Beef and hogs were butchered and sold door to door from the back seat of a ten year old car. By the outbreak of WWII the mortgage was paid. Five of the children were now gone from home and Mr.and Mrs. Myers begain to deal in real estate. They sold their Union Twp. Farm and both worked at the Lima, Ohio Tank Depot during the war. Over the next 15 years of semi-retirement Will farmed a little, but spent more of his time buying, renovating and then selling several farms and houses in and around Mendon, Ohio. They finally retired in Van Wert, Ohio where they purchased a frame house that had been built by their son Owen in 1950. Even then they were not far from their farm roots – the floor joists in the house were salvaged lumber from one of Will’s barns. They raised vegetables in their backyard garden, canning what they could not eat fresh. In May, 1969 Will fell from a stepladder while retrieving the canning supplies from storage and fractured his tibia. His fracture healed uneventfully, but on June 8, the morning after removal of his leg cast he suffered an acute and fatal pulmonary embolus and died at home.

Will Myers and a granddaughter, 1956

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A Winter of interrupted sleep

The Bluecircle has not slept well this Winter, with only short periods of snowcover interrupted by warming winds and rains. The heavy lake-effect snows of 2009 and 2010 have been absent, and today it looks and feels like March. The grapes will winter well, but so will insects that routinely fail to survive dry, cold weather.
The perimeter of the farm was posted “No trespassing” as a rather unneighborly way to keep snowmobiles at bay and avoid damage to fledgling trees.  Since the ground remains soft and relatively warm snowmobiles will not be a significant threat this year.  Groundhog day approaches – I wonder if the land will notice its shortage of restful slumber.