German farms and the Wischmeyers

Warm sunny days and cool nights brought a migration of German people to North Dover Township in the 1850s. They purchased acreage from the Foote, Winsor, Aldrich, Eddy, Bassett and Hurst properties on the west end of Dover Township along Walker, Bradley and Bassett Roads.

Some farmed into South Dover (Westlake) extending down Bassett Road – which they called “the elbow,” as it made many right and left, 90 degree, turns around farmer’s fields – until it exited on Dover Center Road near the Center Ridge business area.

Germans who settled in North Dover included: Hagedorns, Daviders, Meilanders, Peters, Toensings, Kochs, Krumwiedes, Starkes, Wolfs, Albers, Dieterichs and Wischmeyers. They planted orchards of fruit trees and grape vineyards. Produce went to market in baskets called ponies, bushels, pecks, quarts and pints made at the Oviatt family basket factory.

They spoke German in their homes, wore wooden shoes, and read the German newspaper. They traveled in their farm wagons to Ohio City on the near west side to sell their produce and to attend church. They constructed St. Paul Lutheran Church and school on Detroit Road. They lived a quiet and structured existence.

On Link Road, today Ashton Lane, a German Mission Ground was built on property purchased from David Sites. It had a pavilion and bowling alley for their entertainment. The Krumwiedes, Daviders and Kochs were excellent carpenters and built many fine Bay Village homes. The Peters ran a sawmill at Bradley and Naigle Roads, and the Starkes were landscape designers with acres planted in chrysanthemums on Bradley Road. Many of their houses still stand today as century homes.

Henry Wischmeyer Sr. arrived in Ohio City in 1854. He met Regina Rentschler, and raised a family of eight. His life’s dream was to own acreage and grow grapes as his family had done in Germany.

He found just the right place on the old Humphrey and Gardner lands, Lot #96, in North Dover Township. Today, this is the Bruce, Russell and Douglas Road area of Bay. Henry started with a two-acre grape vineyard in the 1860s and erected a family home on the south side of Lake Road near Glen Park Creek.

By 1874, he had most of his acres in grapes and had built a 10,000-gallon wine cellar on the north side of Lake Road. As the family prospered, Henry added a 70-bed hotel, pavilion and boat house. Using the train and interurban, traveling salesmen and families came to the hotel for relaxation by the lake. The Wischmeyer girls cooked the meals, and the boys worked the farm.

In 1926, Bay council passed a law prohibiting businesses on Lake Road and the hotel closed. Henry Jr. began selling lakefront lots, and soon houses were appearing where grape vineyards once stood. The Metropolitan Subdivision was developed in the 1920s.

By the 1940s, with only Henry Jr. living, the grayed hotel with its many verandas stood empty. It was burned down in 1962 by the Bay fire department. Today, only the cook house and family home remain. The vineyard east of Douglas Road was developed in the late 1950s as the Bruce/Russell Road horseshoe.

One of our Germans, Frank Meilander, gave us our name. He said, “We are a village located on a bay.”