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Four Short Features


Edith Switzer Smith’s Undated Letter

Grandfather Henry Gilbert was a cattle drover. They followed the Yellowstone Trail—Routes 2 and 37. He said an Antwerp gang stole the cannon at the corner of Main and High Streets. The Hicksville gang got it back. They fired it on a special occasion. It killed one. Then one night, the cannon disappeared. Grandfather told my sister, Minta Allen, they dumped it into the well on the corner of High and Main. Now the mystery is solved for the location of the cannon.

I remember when the sidewalks were wooden planks, and the streets were paved with brick. They had a water wagon which had a sprayer back of the big tank. It was pulled with horses and used to clean the streets.

One Fourth of July, they had a celebration. A hay wagon was loaded with fireworks and parked in front of Seeley’s Bakery across from the U. B. Church. Sparks fell into the fireworks and set them off. There was a panic. My mother and I were at the entrance of the drug store. It was the second store from the inferno. A rocket went through the window only 3 or 4 feet from me. A girl fainted and my mother tried to help her. My father came running down the street with his suspenders hanging down. He said a woman grabbed hold of it. Strikes me as funny now.

Buffalo Bill Cody had a show at the Hicksville Fair. I remember him very well. He was tall, curly blonde hair, with a Van Dyke beard. White buckskin suit with fringe. Fancy boots and white felt hat. A handsome man. I told my brother-in-law about him. He said he went to see him at Fort Wayne because the show was so close.

I am only 90 now, but I have a lot of memories. My brother Howard Switzer owned the schoolhouse at Six Corners. Remodeled it into a store and home. His daughter Helen and Lowell Bussinger live there now.

Who was Marie de Larme?

Who is Marie de Larme and why is a creek named after her? Research has not revealed much beyond a brief reference in the 1928 Historical Pageant book. According to the book, Marie De Larme (also De Larimie) saved Johnny Appleseed’s life after he tried to take some meat from the fire of Indians living in the area. The daughter of a French boatman father and Native American mother, Marie convinced the old brave and younger Indians to spare Appleseed. In return, Johnny promised to plant and tend six apple seedlings near the fire.

If you have more information, we would love to hear it!

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The Antwerp Pike — (1/27/1916)

The Antwerp Pike was finished in the year 1846 I think. On the occasion of its completion, a jubilee was held in Hicksville characterized by a ball at Bunnell’s Hotel and the firing of an anvil on the street as Hicksville had no cannon at that time.

The pike was considered a great enterprise calculated to facilitate trade and commerce with the outside world. It was a rail road [corduroy road], but the rails were of split wood and laid across the track of the road and covered with earth taken from each side of the track, the excavation leaving ditches. The promoters of the enterprise thought the rails would stay in place and hold a wagon. The wheels would cut down through the mud to the rails beneath. When the frosts of winter acted upon the road, they heaved the rails up to the top and the mud settled to the bottom making travel difficult and dangerous.

The toll collector at Hicksville was Wilson Palmer, a wagon maker. His shop stood 20 rods from the toll gate on an elevated situation where he could view the arrival of teamsters who desired to pass through. He continued to occupy this position of toll collector for some time after the road became impassible, and this feature resulted in a great deal of animosity. Palmer received more curses than cash at times from indignant travelers. Sometimes wrathy travelers deliberately tore down the gate and drove through. Finally the obnoxious gate was removed and the pike became a public road.

My grandfather from “York State” visited us in Hicksville in 1846 via the Erie Canal from Buffalo, thence on steamboat on Lake Erie to Toledo, thence W. & E. Canal to Antwerp, thence on foot to Hicksville.

The last link of his journey was described as a tragedy. The pike was not finished at that time. The roadway was cut out but encumbered with logs, brush, and mud. He had one of the most strenuous experiences of his life in making the trip—jumping from log to log, “cooning” it where possible, and wading mud where not possible to coon.

I judge the tenacious adhesiveness of the clay along the Antwerp Pike is second to none in the United States. The swine who roamed through the woods at that time living on acorns and nuts were of the long legged, long snouted, slab sided, alligator breed and huge mud balls collected on their tails from the gradual secretions of mud which dried on in summer and froze on in winter. It was said these swine by turning their bodies half over could slip through the crack of an ordinary fence, but after getting their bodies through, they were suddenly halted when it came to pulling their tails through. The mud balls were too large to go through and held them imprisoned until some Good Samaritan came along and smashed the ball or severed the tail and liberated the captive.

Land was then worth $2 per acre; now $200 per acre. This grew out of the labor of the pioneers who settled the land and learned to labor and wait.

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Hicksville in Literature and Film

Hicksville has had its place in the world of the arts since the days of Mark Twain. Although Twain’s presence in town was never confirmed, he has been traced to South Bend, the train trip believed likely to have passed through or near Hicksville. Twain mentions Hicksville, Ohio, in his classic tale The Adventures of  Huckleberry Finn, Chapter XXXIII. Hicksville is also named in Terry Ryan’s book The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio. On television, WBGU includes Hicksville in its salute to the Buckeye state, giving credit to the town as the birthplace of Daeida Beveridge who named Hollywood. And Hollywood itself has included Hicksville in the following films: American Reel (scenes filmed here), House Arrest (mentioned and Village Realty sign used), and Follow that Bird (name on map). Are there more? Let us know!


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