Black Creek & Willshire Radio Set Owners in 1930

A few years ago I did some research for someone and the one piece of information that the client found most interesting was that his relative owned a radio in 1930. Yes, question number 9 on the 1930 census asked if the family owned a radio set.

1930 Census, Black Creek Twp, p.3A, Radio Set, question 9

By 1930 radio broadcasting had been around for a decade. Live musical performance was popular in the early years of radio and dramas, comedy acts, talk and educational programs became popular soon after.

Some of the most popular shows included Amos ‘n’ Andy, Abbott & Costello, The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, Bell Telephone Hour, Burns & Allen, The Danny Kaye Show, Dick Tracy, Dragnet, Eddie Cantor, Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch, The General Electric Concert, The Green Hornet, Guiding Light, Hallmark Playhouse, Hopalong Cassidy, Jack Benny, Kraft Music Hall, The Life of Riley, The Lone Ranger, Maxwell House Showboat, Mercury Theater on the Air, Our Gal Sunday, Palmolive Beauty Box Theater, The Pepsodent Show, Perry Mason, Philip Morris Playhouse, Queen for the Day, Red Skelton, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Roy Rogers Show, Tarzan, Dinah Shore Show, Ed Sullivan Show, This is Your Life, Truth or Consequences, Waldorf-Astoria Orchestra, to name a few. Many of these radio shows later became TV shows. Radio news came to the airwaves during World War II.

It was the Golden Age of Radio.

In 1930 it is estimated that 40% of households owned a radio. That statistic was fairly accurate for our rural area, too. Below I have copied the radio set owners in Black Creek Township and the village of Willshire, as reported in the 1930 census, with the spelling of names pretty much as indexed on In Black Creek Township, 78 of the 224 households (35%) owned radios and in the village of Willshire, 62 of 139 households (44%) owned radios.

Perhaps your family owned a radio in 1930.

Those who owned radios (and their age) in Black Creek Township in 1930:
Chancy A Gephart, 54
Wilbur M Smalley, 38
John B Fleming, 50
Orvil R Brookhart, 34
Homer Buchanan, 45
Alfred Miller, 43
Emanuel Hurles, 46
C Leroy Pifer, 38
Ruben Witter, 51
John Leistner, 43
Charles H Sample, 55
Dessie Morrison, 54
John Dellinger, 39
Fredrick Kidd, 49
Jesse King, 31
Solomon King, 54
John Myers, 62
William E Hamrick, 39
Earl Case, 48
Frank Garwood, 45
James P Riley, 56
Auston Evens, 79
William G White, 31
Emanuel Stetler, 49
Jess A Pickering, 48
Melvin Stetler, 59
Floyd Hill, 34
Albert Hamrick, 29
James Figley, 45
Dillan Jordan, 44
Michael Kallenberger, 59
Wilber C Stover, 26
John McGough, 55
Thomas J Dellinger, 54
Otto A Brandt, 56
John M Byer, 58
Anton M Jones, 43
Gale Hook, 47
William H Hoblet, 51
Fredrick Hartzog, 65
Carl C Kessler, 37
Fredrick W Becher, 43
Augustus Bollenbaugh, 51
Martin Affolder, 41
Fred Diener Jr, 39
Lewis G Baker, 63
William R McDougle, 55
Emma Graubarger, 51
William F Detro, 67
Walter G Detro, 34
John H Kettering, 47
Willets U Carr, 58
Oscar Pifer, 56
J Calvin Figley, 72
Herber Martz, 35
Charles A Branstetter, 50
Charles A Kuhn, 52
Elmer Haver, 50
Adam Alt, 50
William Hoverman, 44
Otto Growth, 56
PT Spangler, 48
Jess E Crabtree, 35
Ernest S Statter, 52
Elara E Rogers, 54
Otto Linn, 36
Nellie Cross, 42
William D Andrews, 41
Cloyd E Stover, 39
Ralph R Stover, 22
William B Rumple, 44
Pearl D Spitler, 50
Russell Stetler, 31
Clyde Johnson, 27
Frank H Springer, 61
Andrew Harb, 66
Jack L Brasher, 28
Arthur H Bailey, 56

My grandfather Carl Miller, who lived in Black Creek Township, did not own a radio in 1930.

Those who owned radios (and their age) in the village of Willshire in 1930:
John Young, 26
John Knott, 52
Charity Brown, 54
Floyd Strickler, 31
Mary E Beam, 74
Sherman Liming, 34
Henry Dellinger, 42
Garey D Mercer, 62
James G Bilderback, 62
George J Buckley, 37
Grover, C Inman, 45
Price McClure, 35
Walter Stetler, 35
Charles H Miller, 45
Ralph L Peden, 41
Thomas Jones, 35
Earl Stetler, 34
Clarence Hoblet, 47
Foster Coil, 25
Frank A Miller, 51
William H Ayers, 73
Russel O Dull, 37
Steve F Buchanan, 81
Elijah H Alspaugh, 52
Dale Cowan, 42
Dale Clouse, 22
Grant Strickler, 61
Clarence Laughrey, 30
Walter Scott, 41
Miles Ross, 31
Logan Wolf, 58
Ottis P Spitler, 554
William Spitler, 58
Herman Myers, 30
Frank Detter, 57
Harriet Colter, 53
Frank Cronister, 40
Roland Detter, 27
James H Frye, 88
Chalmer Edwards, 27
Mary Snyder, 54
Rosa Price, 61
Jerome Morrison, 27
Joseph M Winkler, 56
Clarence Giessler, 39
Hattie Koontz, 59
John Hoblet, 84
Samuel Dellinger, 35
David Morrison, 64
Felix Yoss, 32
Lawrence Dellinger, 25
Jess Spitler, 29
Ira E Huber, 34
Glen Spitler, 31
Elihu Johnson, 73
Chauncey J Fisher, 47
James Buchanan, 67
Ward W Acheson, 44
Harry Workinger, 28
Daniel Geary, 63
Lillian Cowan, 54
William Counterman, 55

I can visualize families and others gathered around the radio in the evening, listening to live entertainment shows and their other favorite radio programs.


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    • Deborah Jones on August 19, 2022 at 8:50 am
    • Reply

    I wonder if owning a radio was dependent on having electricity in the home. I doubt whether battery powered radios were available back then. I notice that the list doesn’t contain any Miller’s or Caffee’s – maybe that’s because they didn’t have electricity available on their roads. I recall my dad talking about Grandpa Howard Caffee setting the poles himself to bring electricity from State Road 707 to their house on State
    Line Road in the 1940’s. It was likely a similar situation on Sipe Road where your grandfather lived.

    1. That is a very good question. I don’t know when Sipe Road got electricity. I should ask my uncle, although he was born after 1930. However, some of their neighbors had radios in 1930: Jess Pickering, who lived around the corner on the State Line, and Emanuel Stetler and William White, who lived north of Sipe Road, on Stetler Road. So the question is, when did Sipe Road get electricity? Or, maybe the Caffee/Miller clan just wasn’t ready for this new-fangled invention! Thanks for writing!

    • Steve Crabtree on August 26, 2022 at 5:57 pm
    • Reply

    My grandfather, Jess E Crabtree, listed in Black Creek Township, had a radio for as long as I can remember. There was an old Crosley Radio-Record Player console in the living room that was passed down to my father, Jesse Crabtree Jr, and mother, Virginia (Schumm) Crabtree. Radio still worked in late 50s and 60s, record player not so good. When Grandpa lived nearby in a smaller home, he had an early model Arvin transistor radio on top of the refrigerator.

    1. How interesting! You sure have a good memory! I am sure those old radios provided a lot of enjoyment and entertainment for the family. Thanks for writing!

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