Log CabinOne-Room School HouseBloomfield HouseCarriage House

The Henry County, Ohio, Historical Society

Historically Speaking

New Monthly Article - March-April 2014

Good morning, and welcome to this month’s edition of “Historically Speaking”, sponsored by the Henry County Historical Society.

Well, it’s spring—have you noticed?  While the weather hasn’t fully cooperated up to this point, we have to believe there are good things just around the corner.

With the arrival of spring, you’ll notice lots of activity surrounding the Bloomfield House and our buildings at the fairgrounds.  We’re fortunate to have a team of dedicated volunteers who will be cleaning and manicuring the properties in the upcoming weeks, readying the buildings for our May opening.

Thursday April 24th will be our annual banquet.  We have some changes this year, so be attentive!  Our location for the meeting will be Emanuel Lutheran Church, located on the corner of Scott and Clinton Streets in Napoleon, right across from Family Video.  Handicap access to the basement, and parking are located on the Clinton Street side of the building.  Members with paid membership may begin voting for trustees at 5:15.  Dinner will follow at 6:00, and we will conclude with our annual meeting.  Pre-dinner and dinner music will be provided by Angela Tonjes.  Reservations are $12 per person, due and payable to the Henry County Historical Society by April 17th.  Complete information and a reservation form can be found in the April newsletter.

Trustee candidates for 3 year terms include Sue Bockelman, Lois Hanna, Tom Jenny and Russell Patterson.  Biographies of the candidates can also be found in the April newsletter.

As stated in last month’s program, we are highlighting the early businesses of Napoleon in recognition of our city’s 180th birthday.  Last month we introduced you to John Powell and Hazel Strong, who established Sayger’s Saw-mill in 1843.  In 1864, next to the Saw-mill,

John Thiesen started the Thiesen & Hildred Planing Mill.  Thiesen-Hildred & Co. remained in business for a number of years at their location between the canal and the river.  They also had product and inventory located where the current Central Middle School parking lot is today.  When you buy today’s edition of the Northwest Signal, be sure to look at the “parking lot” picture, and take note of the Union School in the background.

Another early business in 1850 was a flour mill owned by John Ritter.  As with the sawmill, the flour mill was also powered by the important Miami-Erie Canal.  Then in 1853, a Frenchman, Augustin Pilliod, founded the Napoleon Flouring Mill.  Keep the name of Mr. Pilliod in the back of your mind as we will be referencing him again—he was an important man in our local history!  In 1864 Mr. Pilliod sold the Flouring Mill to John H. Vocke, whose descendents are still residents of Napoleon.  The Vocke family operated the mill for decades, and it stood like a giant sentry on the north side of the river bridge.  Mr. Vocke was instrumental in building one of three bridges which crossed the canal.  He did this at his own expense, and added to the continued success of his business.

This concludes today’s edition of “Historically Speaking”.  Two quick reminders:  be sure to buy today’s edition of the Northwest Signal and enjoy the pictures that go with today’s historical business spotlight, and members are reminded to send in their reservation forms for the annual banquet by Thursday April 17th.  As always, we thank you for helping us keep history alive.

The content that used to be here on the homepage can now be found HERE. We wll make it easier to find in the near future.

The Henry County Historical Society was formed in 1970 to perpetuate the history of Henry County, Ohio, to learn about and preserve the artifacts of the county, and to generate interest in the past of the county. Our primary focus at this time is the completion of the restoration work on the beautiful Dr. John Bloomfield Victorian home, built circa 1879. This house is located at the corner of West Clinton and Webster streets in downtown Napoleon, across from the Napoleon Public Library. The house has been completely restored and is decorated with authentic period furnishings. Work is in progress on the carriage house and gardens. The home is open for special events, educational programs and private tours. We welcome new and old members alike to lend a hand and help us in our many programs and activities.



You are visitor

Open House 2012


Fair Preparation 2012


Strawberry Festival 2012


Ice Cream Social 2011


Open House 2011


Photo Gallery


Typists and interviewers for our oral history project. Contact Charlotte at:

This site is proudly sponsored by Spengler's Restaurant, Napoleon, Ohio.

Wine and Cheese Parties

Visit our photo gallery for scenes from past events at held by the Henry County Historical Society.