Volume 38

The Building of History: Small Towns In Northwest Ohio Made Big Heroes In American History


  • SmallTowns

We are celebrating the 200 anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie for the next 12 months and it was towns like Fremont, Tiffin, Perrysburg, and of course Put in Bay who carried the American torch against the British. It was also the small towns of Williston, Curtice, and Oak Harbor that provided the solid and patriotic young men to defeat the Nazi’s in World War II.


In our last edition I focused on the incredible heroics of Oliver H. Perry and his leadership of our nations small (557 sailors) but efficient Navy (nine ships’ carronades) to stop the British involvement in the control of one of our most valuable assets—the Great Lakes. The communication between Oliver H. Perry and William Henry Harrison and the US Army at Fort Meigs in Perrysburg was done through “runners” to Fort Seneca (Tiffin) and Fort Stephenson in Fremont. The key to the communication between our Army and Navy leaders was a group “runners”—much like the Roman Empire (marathoners)—footrunners as they were called, were more efficient than horseback thru the “Black Swamp” mud and wooden roads. One such runner was Peter Navarre (Rt 2 in Oregon, Ohio is named after him)—connects Toledo with Port Clinton and the Islands.


Small towns along this “highway through the Swamp” grew. One small town where I grew up, on a short cut (Rt 579) from Rt 2 to Route 51 (goes right thru Toledo to Fremont and Rt 20) was Williston, Ohio. There were many men and women that gave their lives and services to our military through the years. I want to mention 6! Three of them were members of my family (Paul Sutter, my father—fought in the Figi Islands, Wallace Dunn—who never fought but was a founder of the Allen Township VFD) and his son Arnold Dunn—(my namesake and Uncle) who gave up his life for his country on the last day of World War II in Italy as an Army chaplain. A close friend of my Uncle Arnold’s was Bob “Smoke” Helle who still lives and shares his life’s skills as an electrician. He stops often to tell of his life in this small town and his relationship with my Uncle (“Ducky”)Arnold. Two other “Williston Love Birds” were Betty and Virgil Roecker. Betty served in the Pentagon during the Korean War and Virgil was a member of President Truman’s Honor Guard at the White House in Washington. This “Greatest Generation” as Tom Brokaw would call them really were incredible in their unselfishness and great entrepreneurship in creating small businesses after WWII.


The Western Basin of Lake Erie has plenty of history to be proud of, and especially the men and women that made it great!



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