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Bluffton's brush with history

Several area residents who knew or met famous people

A Bluffton News item from Oct. 29, 1896, states that J.S. Jennings of Armorsville received a letter from his cousin, William Jennings Bryan, Democratic candidate for president.

Point of interest: Armorsville no longer exists. It's a ghost town located on the County Line Road between Bluffton and Ada.

The interesting connection between this Bluffton area resident and a famous politician put us on a search of other residents with similar brushes with history.

Here’s what we found, each printed in the Bluffton News:

June 1896 - Henry Reiter, of this place, has the distinction of having been a school mate of ex-Gov. McKinley, Republican candidate for president. Mr. Reiter was personally acquainted with the whole McKinley's family and says that McKinley's mother was known throughout the whole neighborhood as "aunty" McKinley.

Oct. 31, 1907 - George Lewis returned Monday from Washington where he attended the postmaster’s convention. Of course, George shook hands with Teddy Roosevelt.

Warren G. Harding

July 29, 1920 - Many local Republicans journeyed to Marion Thursday to see Senator Warren G. Harding accept the nomination for the presidency.

Making the trip were M.M. Murray, John Rogers, Roy Rogers, J.A. Thompson, Fred Tripplehorn, Edgar Jackson, Lloyd Murray, Hod Murray, George Lewis, A.C. LaPort, Dr. and Mrs. R.E. Hughson, Robert Hughson and Mr. and Mrs. Edgar Hauenstein.

March 4, 1937 - Captain Rene R. Studler, son of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Studler of South Jackson Street, was recently presented to King George of England, at a reception held at St. James Palace in London.

Captain Studler is assistant military attaché at London. He was presented with members of the diplomatic circle.

Other members of the Royal Family present were the Duke of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent, the Marquess of Carisbrooke and the Lord Louis Mountbatten.

March 16, 1950 - A former Bluffton woman, the only one who appears in “Who’s Who,” celebrated her 87th birthday anniversary last Thursday. She is Dr. Helen Barnes, now of Findlay. She was a member of the Bluffton High School’s first graduating class in 1881.

She is beyond a doubt, Bluffton’s most traveled woman, having crossed the Atlantic by boat 13 times three times around the world during her years as international secretary of the Y. W. C. A.

Madam Chiang Kai Shek

Her acquaintances extended to noted world figures, including the former Queen Mary of England, the three Chinese Soong sisters, when they were students at Southern Methodist College at Macon, Georgia, one of whom later became Madam Chiang Kai Shek, wife of the Chinese generalissimo and nationalist leader.

Other friends were Helen Gould and Mrs. Russell Sage, at one time rated as the first and second wealthiest women in the nation, aw sell as Fannie Gamble, wife of a prominent soap manufacturer.

1955 - As a Coast Guard specialist in athletics during World War II, Ike Geiger, a 1920s-era graduate of Bluffton High School, served as an assistant to Jack Dempsey at the Manhattan Beach Training Station, Brooklyn, N.Y.

It was through his work with Dempsey that prompted the former heavyweight boxing champion of the world, to recommend Geiger for a position at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Jack Dempsey

Geiger was named an assistant professor of physical education in January, 1949. He held many posts during his tenure at MIT, where he eventually became athletic director, a position he held for seven years.

Jan. 7, 1957 - Bert Smucker, son of Mrs. B.D. Smucker, helped Vice-President Richard Nixon play Santa Claus recently when he was visiting Hungarian refugee camps in Austria.

Smucker, a CARE official normally stationed in Berlin, was transferred to Vienna in mid-October when the Hungarian revolt broke out. During his last week there he met Nixon, who was on an inspection tour at the time, and participated in a huge Christmas party thrown for the refugee children.

The children displayed a great amount of affection for Nixon, who gave them presents handed to him by Smucker. In a letter to his mother, Smucker reported that many of the children even crawled up to kiss the youthful vice-president.

Richard Nixon

1989 - Charles Hilty sat with American diplomats in the office of Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt. Four days earlier he was part of a Codel to Jordan and met King Hussein, also in a private session.

Hilty was the staff organizer of the visit, responsible for selecting and arranging for ceremonial gifts. The gifts were limited 50-copy printings of a book on the history of aviation, bound in fabric from the original Wright brother’s plane.

1 Comment

Mary Karen Hansgen
Mary Karen Hansgen
Apr 25, 2023

Thank you so much for all you do to give us this amazing information and history.

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