Willshire Depot & Rail Service in the Early 1900s

Chicago, Ft. Wayne, Fostoria, Findlay, Cleveland, Buffalo, New York, Boston and all points East and West reached most quickly and comfortably via the Nickel Plate Road… That is part of an advertisement in the 5 May 1904 edition of the Willshire Herald.

Traveling by rail was a big thing in 1904. It was the best and fastest way to travel any distance back then.

The ad goes on—Three Express Trains every day in the year. Thru Pullman Sleeping Cars to Chicago, New York and Boston. Comfortable high back seat coaches and modern Dining Cars serving meals on Individual Club Plan ranging in prices from 35 cents to $1.00. Also a la Carte service.

Colored Porters in uniform to look to the comfort of first and second class passengers and keep cars scrupulously clean.

Direct Connections with Fast Trains at Chicago and Buffalo.

All Agents Sell Tickets via this Popular Route, Write to C.A. Asterlin, Trav. Pass. Agent, Ft. Wayne, Ind.

May 1904 Willshire Herald

Willshire had a Nickel Plate train depot and the train would also stop at Schumm as needed. I figure the Willshire depot was located somewhere near where the grain elevator is today, on one side or the other of route 33 going to Decatur. Maybe someone reading this knows for sure. 

Below is a photo of Willshire’s Nickel Plate depot, date unknown:

Willshire’s Nickel Plate Depot, unknown date.

I found an interesting postcard among some old family papers, a postcard dated 5 September 1907 and addressed to my great-grandfather Jacob Miller, RFD #1, Willshire, Ohio. It was sent from Fort Wayne and it appears that Jacob was to pick up someone at the Willshire depot. Written on the postcard:

Dear Friends, Mamma and papa are coming Saturday. Please get them at Willshire. I don’t know just exactly what time between 2 and 3 o’clock. Come along with them or else come back with me when I come. Emma Keller

1907 postcard to Jacob Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio.

I do not know who Emma Keller was or what she meant regarding the details of the meeting. Although it does not specifically mention the train depot, I would imagine that a train was their mode of transportation from Fort Wayne to Willshire. Also the fact that they needed someone to “get them.”

There were quite a few railroad ads in that May 1904 Willshire Herald.

An ad for the Toledo St. Louis & Western “Clover Leaf” Railroad Company:

May 1904 Willshire Herald

The Clover Leaf had Special Low Excursion Rates in 1904:

May 1904 Willshire Herald

The Erie Lines, Chicago & Erie Railroad:

May 1904 Willshire Herald

Cincinnati Northern Railroad Co:

May 1904 Willshire Herald

1914 Railroad map, part of Van Wert & Mercer Counties:

1914 railroad map, Van Wert & Mercer Counties.

Also from this newspaper:

It Is the Right Stand
President Shonts, of the Clover Leaf, has issued strict orders to employees that they must pay their debts. When an employee’s wages are garnished it means dismissal.

What fun it would have been to take a rail excursion! It would be fun to take a train to Chicago, something that is doable to this day.

Now I just need to figure out who the Kellers were…



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    • Sondra Samples on March 1, 2019 at 2:20 pm
    • Reply

    I think I remember the Willshire Depot building sitting on the south side of the railroad tracks, a little way east of 33. There was also a high elevated water tank that was used to replenish water for the steam engines. One time my Mom ordered room-size braid rugs from some catalog, and they had to be picked up at the depot.

    1. So you remember the depot. I wondered about how long the building was there. Thank you for these details. You are a wealth of knowledge about Willshire!

    • Tom Reichard on March 1, 2019 at 3:30 pm
    • Reply

    I agree with Sondra Samples. The depot and water tank were east of U.S. 33 about half way to the railroad bridge that crosses the St. Marys River. I recall going with my Dad to the R.E.A Express Office (that was located within the depot building) to pick up a typewriter he had ordered. I am pretty sure that Ivan Wyer was the Agent that worked in the depot building. I recall a Willshire Elementary school trip where our class was bussed somewhere (Lima, OH.?) and rode the train back to Decatur (thru Willshire).

    1. Thanks for that information Tom! That gives me a good idea of the location of the building. I didn’t realize it was there and used that recently. I remember Ivan Wyer! I must have missed that school trip, although I am not that much younger than you. I do remember one train trip, though, but I think it was around the Van Wert area or north. Maybe a similar trip? Thanks for writing!

      • Doug Roebuck on March 28, 2019 at 6:07 pm
      • Reply

      Interesting! Ivan was our school janitor at the Willshire building in the 70’s-80’s.

      1. I remember Ivan, too. Good school memories.

    • Janet Goodwin James on March 3, 2019 at 10:38 pm
    • Reply

    Sondra was correct about the depot location. I remember being down there a few times with my older brother John who was good friends with Mr. Evans, who ran the depot in the late 40’s. Mr . Evans was very kind to John and even bought him a new bicycle (Cadilac emblem on it, I think) He wasn’t married, I think and lived with his sister Rachel who later married a man with last name Banta. Mr. Evans liked woodworking and made sister Martha and I a doll bed and painted it red. I still have them. They both crocheted and made us doilies of colorful thread. Also doll bonnets. Such nice people. I remember their home, front enclosed porch and the grape vines growing on the trellis out the back door. Their home was on the north side of town east of the Brodbeck home and s. e. of Edna Avery’s home/beauth shop.

    1. Thank you for this great information Janet. I appreciate when people write and share their memories and knowledge. How special to still have the doll bed and other items! I love that sort of thing! Sounds like they were very nice people indeed. Thanks for writing.

    • Janet Goodwin James on March 3, 2019 at 10:41 pm
    • Reply

    Our class of 1960 took the train to DC & NYC for our class trip. We got on the train at Ohio CIty.

    1. Interesting. There were several tracks in or near Ohio City.

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