–by Gayleen Gindy
PUBLICATION DATE: MID JUNE 2020
Crossing Mitchaw Road, the first house seen on the north side of Sylvania-Metamora Road is the 1903 built home currently owned by another Smith (This is part of the Smith Mile that I have been telling you about).
In 1889 Michael Smith purchased 160 acres across the street, on the southwest corner of Sylvania-Metamora and Mitchaw roads, but his land also included a pie-shaped piece of land that crossed over Sylvania-Metamora Road to this northwest corner. In 1901 the Toledo and Western (T &W) Railway tracks were laid through Sylvania and they went directly in front of Smith’s two corners. He took full advantage of this and opened a store he called “Smith’s Siding” on the north side of this street, right at the corner. As soon as he did this the T & W officials made this north corner one of their “stops,” also known as a “siding,” where they could pick up and drop off passengers and freight.
The Smith Siding store was just to the east of our subject home, and was a country store, which also handled the sale of train tickets and served as a freight office and depot. The store was one of the first in the area to have a telephone and electric lights with power purchased from the T & W. There was a freight house, coal yard, hay scale and cattle pens outside. Farmers from all around brought their milk, cream, butter, cheese, fruit and produce here to be taken to Toledo on the T & W.
However, the main attraction was across the street where Mike Smith had sectioned off five acres at the corner and created baseball diamonds, complete with a grandstand and bleachers. The T & W brought people from all over northwestern Ohio and southern Michigan to Smith Siding in Sylvania Township. Every Sunday afternoon at Smith Siding visitors could find a ball game being played by the area baseball teams.
In 1903, just two years after the T & W tracks were laid, this featured house was built by Michael Smith. He was known to have lived on the Mitchaw Road portion of his 160 acres, so he may have built this home for one of the 11 children that he had with wife Catherine (Raab) Smith. The recorded owners of this home and property over the years include only Smiths:
- 1889 – Michael Smith
- 1923 – Edward L. and Elnora A. Smith
- 1942 – Elwyn L. Smith
- 1943 – Elnora A. Smith
- 1964 – Elwyn L. & Mavis C. Smith
- 1998 – Mavis C. Smith
- 2019 – Mavis C. Smith
Michael Smith was also a very well-known builder, and was responsible for constructing the original village council building that used to sit on the northwest corner of Main and Monroe streets, among many other structures throughout Sylvania. He was also known for having the largest barn in this part of the county on Mitchaw Road, but it was destroyed by a tornado in 1920.
Since this home was built in 1903, the first census record that shows who was living in the home is the 1910 census. In that census Smith’s daughter Mary, who had just married William Keller the year before, was listed as renting this home. Keller was 34 years old and working as a farmer. She was 21 years old, and they had a son, Harvey, who was listed as two months old. Family records say that Mary worked as a clerk at the Smith’s Siding store. Soon after, William and Mary Keller purchased their own land on another corner close-by, and she continued to operate the store.
Michael Smith’s son, Edward, was married to Elnora Bird in 1913, and by the 1920 census they appear to be living in this home and listed as follows: Edward L. Smith – renting home – 28 years old – employed as a thresher with his own machine; Elnora E. Smith – wife – 24 years old; Lyla H. Smith – daughter – 5 years old; Marvin E. Smith – son – 1 year old; and William S. Bird – father-in-law – 77 years old – widowed – no occupation.
Before Michael Smith died in 1924, he sold this home and the property to his son and daughter-in-law, Edward L. and Elnora Smith, in 1923. In the 1930 census Edward and Elnora Smith are shown still living here. He was listed as 39 years old, owned the home valued at $1,200, and was employed as a fireman for a gasoline refinery. Elnora was listed as 35 years old. Also living in the home were their children: Lila – 15 years old; Marvin – 12 years old; and Elwyn – 9 years old, and a boarder named Arnold Bachofner – 73 years old, widowed and working as a laborer at the cement plant.
As of the 1940 census Edward and Elnora Smith were still living here. He was 49 years old and working as a fireman for a furniture factory. She was listed as 44 years old, and living at home was Elwyn – son – 19 years old.
Edward Smith lived in this home until he died in 1972 at the age of 82 years. His obituary notice said his residence was this address, that he retired in 1955 and his latest employment was 13 years as a stationary fireman at Flower Hospital. There was no mention of Elnora, and I was unable to locate an obituary notice for her. Edward had already transferred the home into his son and daughter-in-law’s name in 1964, so they continued to own the home after Edward passed away.
In 1964 Elwyn and Mavis Smith took over ownership of the home. They were married in 1946. As of this year this home has been in the same Smith family name for 117 years.