Newly Digitized Richland County Newspapers

The Mansfield-Richland County Public Library has partnered with the Mansfield Memorial Museum, The Ohio Genealogical Society and the Richland County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society to digitize newspapers from Richland County, Ohio.  The project was made possible as a result of a $7,885 grant from the Gorman Foundation.  Those looking to research the newspapers can access the content from anywhere; there is no membership or login required.  This service is completely free to those interested.

Simply go to the address,, and enter in your search criteria.  This could be anything from a person, place or event.  The collection includes over 40,000 pages covering the years 1823-1923 and includes Mansfield newspapers in addition to newspapers from Bellville and Butler.  Any articles of interest can be “clipped” and saved to your computer or printed out.  Simply select the crop icon at the top of the page. Drag it around the desired article and select the arrow at the bottom right corner.  Follow the onscreen prompts to download or print the article.

As always it you have any issues or need assistance stop by the Sherman Room or give us a call at 419-521-3115.

Also, check out the Sherman Room page on the library website to find other useful digital resources.

We hope this will be a helpful resource for the community and look forward to working with other organizations in the future to make more content available.


What happened to Jacob Garver?

On March 2, 1908, Jacob Messmore Garver went missing after leaving a bar in Bellville, Ohio.  The town was in shock and it was one of the most mysterious disappearances in the village to date.  Garver was a respected man, had no known enemies, and his only known flaw was indulging in the drink.   On August 24, 1890, he married Huldah Ellen Bibler in Marion County, Ohio and the couple had 5 children with one on the way.  Garver worked on the farm of Ernest E. Niman about 2 ½ miles from Bellville.  The newspapers during the time of his disappearance say he had a harmonious marriage, provided for his family, and there was no reason he would want to leave.  There was a report from a railroad man that a man fitting Garver’s description had boarded a train that night, but nothing came of the story.

garver marriage

Jacob Garver and Huldah Bibler marriage from Marion County, Ohio

1900 garver census

1900 Census from Cardington, Morrow County, Ohio showing Jacob, Huldah and Children Clifton, Albert and Orpha.

Most residents believed Garver had drunkenly fallen into the Clear Fork River and that the mystery would be solved when the water receded.  That was until March 12 when a day book belonging to Garver was found by Glenn Maglott and Harvey Vaughn in a gulley one-half mile northeast of Bellville.  This brought with it suspicions of foul play, since the book did not appear to have set in the gulley for almost two weeks but was dry and still in good condition.  It was at this point the citizens of Bellville signed a petition in order to ask the county commissioners to assist in the search and offer a reward.  A $400 reward was offered for information leading to the arrest of the individual responsible for the murder of Jacob Garver.

Nothing was found for almost two months.  Huldah Garver, convinced her husband was dead, had sold everything in Bellville and moved back with her parents in Marion.  A woman in the village had a dream of a man being murdered and his body being thrown in a cistern.  The cisterns in the village were checked, but nothing was found.  No new evidence came to light until 62 days later when a body was found in the Clear Fork River “50 yards east of the main street bridge” by James Howard.  The body was found about 18 inches below the surface.  Many residents rushed to see the body as it was hauled to the bank by Dick Wills and Frank Patterson for Coroner Goodman to examine.  Ernest Niman identified the man as Garver.  Garver was buried that night in Bellville Cemetery.

The coroner ruled Garver’s death an accident, but residents of Bellville were not convinced.  Many rumors developed about the incident, including that Garver was found with his skull crushed in and a wire around his leg.  Coroner Goodman denied all of them and no evidence was found to support the idea of murder.  Residents asked the that the body be exhumed and another autopsy be performed, but Goodman denied the request.  Nothing else was discovered, other than a story in early 1909 out of Mt. Gilead where a boy said he was told of Garver’s murder and threatened with death if he repeated it.  The boy claimed the body was hidden under the floorboards of a saloon in the neighborhood before it was deposited in the creek.  The boy had 3 names and it was reported a grand jury would take up the case.  This was believed to be gossip and not collaborated by Richland County officials.

1910 garver census

1910 Census from Grand Prairie, Marion County, Ohio showing Huldah and children Clifton, Albert, Orpha, Blanche, Clarence and Ida.

The true story of Garver’s death was never discovered.  Huldah Garver never remarried and died on April 15, 1919 at the age of 52 and is buried in Grand Prairie Cemetery in Marion County, Ohio.

Richland County Ghost Stories


In October many people come into the Sherman Room looking for information on The Ohio State Reformatory, the Bissman Building, or the Ceely Rose House.  These, among others, are ghost stories and haunted locations which many of us who live in the area are familiar.  This interest in the paranormal isn’t a new phenomenon; ghost stories have circulated in the community since settlers first planted roots in the rich soil in which Richland County got its name.


After the War of 1812, Native-Americans returned to Mansfield and attempted to live with the growing population of settlers in Mansfield.  It was reported that one night two Native-Americans, Seneca John and Quilipetoxe, came into town and began drinking at Williams Tavern, located of the south-east corner of Central Park, where the Southern Hotel once stood.  The account was that they became drunk, increasingly agitated and, as they left the tavern, swore “vengeance against the whites.”  Five men reportedly followed them east towards Ashland Hill and a battle ensued.  The two Native-Americans were killed and buried in a ravine which became known as “Spooks Hollow.”  It was reported that one could see two apparitions of the murdered men lurking in the shadows at night.

Throughout the 1800’s, reports of apparitions taking the form of big black dogs were seen near Zeiter’s Cemetery north of the city.  It was reported in 1911, in The Mansfield News, that the cemetery which was located on the Joseph Flora farm, and later owned by Perry Kohler, was the site of a murder by the Flora Family.  It was rumored a peddler who had been stopping at the farm was killed and buried in an unmarked grave.  The story was never proven or disproven, but was the source for many of these stories throughout the years.  The author of the article in 1911 claimed to have stayed there alone one night and never saw the dog, nor heard its growl.

In June of 1881, The Ohio Liberal reported a ghost being seen near the Gold Mine in Bellville.  It was told a doctor and his wife was returning home when their horse stopped in the road and refused to proceed.  The doctor got down from the buggy to see if a tree had fallen, but found nothing.  On his way back to the buggy his wife screamed and, upon looking up the gully, about fifty yards from the road stood the outline of a figure.  The figure became more visible and the doctor said it was a man of about 35 years of age, moderate build with dark hair and whiskers.  Upon looking closer the man appeared to have blood on his hands and looking down towards its feet lay another man with a gaping wound on his head, who had clearly been murdered.  Mr. Z, as the paper referred to the man recounting the doctor’s story, said the doctor was unable to move until the apparition faded away.

There were also ghostly encounters reported in the city.  In 1905 it was reported that the house at 258-260 North Main Street, next to Schwier’s Saloon, was haunted.  Allegedly the sprawling home, that a Mrs. White was currently running as a boarding house, had been the site of at least three tragedies.  In the late 1870’s, a man living in the house fell from the porch and was killed.  Later, his wife hung herself from the stair banister and, a few years prior to 1905, a man was burned to death by gas in the front parlor.  Mrs. White claimed she heard a door being opened, which she was sure was locked, knocking and the swish sound of a lady’s dress as if she was walking across the floor.

Finally, in 1907, in The Mansfield Daily Shied, it was reported that John W. Soule heard footsteps in the downstairs hallway of his East Sixth Street home.  The family that lived in the home before the Soule’s also reported strange happenings and said a woman dressed in white would pace the hallway.  Rumors began to circulate that this woman was murdered and she was seeking to clear up the mystery of her untimely death.  It was suggested by the Shield that “several brave ones spend the night in the haunted hallway and endeavor to see if there is any truth to the strange tales.  A party of iron nerved young men would be most acceptable and the question of spirits could be solved once and for all.”

This question may never be solved, and as long as people search for answers to the unknown, new stories will emerge and replace the one’s we know today.

A Romantic Marriage, Mysterious “Death” and Continued Absence

A strange and mysterious event happened in Bellville, Ohio almost 120 years ago.  The marriage of Ida B. Thrailkill and George C. Rundelle was believed by many in the community to be a happy affair.  The couple had reputably met through an advertisement in the Cincinnati Enquirer, but accounts vary on whether Ida placed the ad or answered it.  It was reported in The Mansfield News that they agreed to meet in Mansfield, Ida wearing a sweet pea dress and George was to have a carnation in his buttonhole in order to be recognized.  They attended a performance at the casino and their brief courtship followed.   Ida’s foster parents, B. Frank and Sarah Thrailkill, consented to the early marriage.  Records show that on September 1, 1898, Ida Bowser Thrailkill and George Courtney Rundelle were married in Richland County, Ohio.


The Richland Shield and Banner, 02 SEP 1898

rundelle bellville 8 sep 1898

The Bellville Messenger, 08 SEP 1898 (article says 1897, most likely typo, as article was published in 1898)


According to The Mansfield News “a great many handsome presents were received, among them some silver.”  The couple was to go on their honeymoon in the east and return to their new home in Cleveland.  They weren’t in Cleveland more than a week when, according to Ida, George was called to Chicago on business indefinitely and Ida returned to Bellville to live with her parents.  The Daily Shield reports that a week later Ida received word that her husband was dying in a Cleveland boarding house.

When Ida arrived in Cleveland, she was rushed into a room where her husband was said to be dying.  The room was dark and she could hardly see the face of the man lying in the bed.  The man said her name, but according to Ida it did not sound like the voice of her husband.  She ran from the room screaming, more in fear then in sorrow.  Sometime later she was told her husband had died, but was denied a request to see the man’s face again.  The next morning she was told the body had been shipped to his parents in New Jersey.

Ida, feeling that she was the victim of some kind of fraud, returned home, stayed in Bellville for three or four days and left never to be seen again.  By 1901, when this story was reported, her parents had feared she had killed herself.   The Mansfield Evening News reported that sometime in 1901 a George C. Rundell had been imprisoned in Columbus for having multiple wives, but no further information was found on his life.


Tombstone in Bellville Cemetery

This may have been the last time anyone in Bellville had seen or heard from Ida and her foster parents, B. Frank and Sarah Thrailkill, passed away in 1912 and 1920 respectively.  They are buried in Bellville Cemetery in Bellville, Ohio.  Thanks to sites like Ancestry and, we are able to add one more piece to the puzzle.  On November 11, 1907 Ida turns up in Porter County, Indiana getting married to a R. William Hall.  On the marriage license application, she is calling herself Ida M. J. Rundle, stating she was born in Richland County, Ohio on September 21, 1876 and her parents are Benjamin Thrailkill and Elizabeth Bailey.  She also indicates that she was married before and that her husband passed away September 28, 1898.

ida rundle

Marriage Application for Ida M. J.  Rundle and R. William Hall

Did George C. Rundelle die that night in Cleveland? Was he taking advantage of a young woman looking for love, or was Ida involved in the nefarious deed as well?  Finally, are Benjamin Thrailkill and Elizabeth Bailey Ida’s biological parents, or are this simply names she put on the application, not knowing the identity of her parents? Like many genealogical questions we are left with more questions than answers.

The Peculiar Story of a Bellville Young Woman. The Mansfield Evening News. 18 Sep 1901.
Mock Death: Strange Story Told by Bellville Woman of Husband. The Mansfield Dailey Shield. 26 Sep 1901.