Seneca Searchers
January - February, 1998

Letter - Re: St. Francis, Smyser, Etc.

Our Readers Write. . .

I am a member of the society, inactive, as I don't go out at night, but I enjoy the Seneca Searchers, especially this past issue, because it hit home.  Starting on page 93, about St. Joseph's, which I have been a member since 1914, and still kicking!  First of all - In 1868 Rev. J. L. Bihn, not Bihu, established the religious Community near Tiffin.

When they started the orphanage, my father-in-law  Arthur Smyser, his brother George and his sister Martha Smyser were some of the first orphans to be taken in.  I found the history on them at St. Francis, and they were called Otto, Alphonse, and I can't remember Martha's name.  I can't explain this name situation.

Within the past 10 years, I met a man who saw this accident.  He was living at the orphanage also.  He grew up and married, and he and his wife lived in the home grounds for the elderly.  He told me the complete story, which was the same story I had always heard.

Being an orphan at age four made no difference.  You worked!  The Nuns only housed them; they had to earn their keep!  When they started schooling, as soon as school was over for the day, they worked until bed time.  Home work?  If they could sneak it in, great!

They did the work, and the Nuns fed them!  George and Martha ran away from the home.  Arthur stayed, and he eventually left when he had a job.  He married and had two children.  My husband Paul was first, and Ann came later.

Grampa Smyser bought some machinery and did custom work for farmers around the area where his home was, Cherry's Corner,  Melmore Road.

He felt the pain of those children at the orphanage, so to make the work-load for the boys lighter, he decided to give the convent a free day's work of harvesting and filling the silo.  At one point during the day, he told a 10 year old boy, "Crawl the ladder on the side of the silo and see how full it is."  That was his mistake!  The boy crawled the ladder, but he had his pitch-fork in his hand.  The boy dropped the pitch-fork and it came down on 33 year old Grampa Smyser's head, killing him instantly!  That was on Sept. 15, 1915.
Fr. Hultgen was a close buddy of Grampa's, and he had the funeral at St. Joseph's Church in Tiffin and sent Grampa off, royally!  Oh, he was a very handsome man, too.

Need a Kleenex?  I could use one about now.  But Gramma Smyser struggled and raised two children alone.

Henrietta Smyser
1652 E. C.R. 50
Tiffin, OH  44883
Editor's note - As Mrs. Smyser points out, it was Rev. Bihn, not Bihu, who was referred to in last issue's article on St. Francis Orphan Asylum which was taken from Baughman's History of Seneca County.  We used the name exactly as it appeared in Baughman's book, but we should have indicated that the correct name was Bihn.

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