August G. Baumann Sr., a quarry owner in Germany, came to the United States around 1909. He bought a house in Link’s Hill (south Toledo). Around 1910 he purchased a 15-20 farm on Hill Avenue, just east of where Stone Oak County Club is now. At that time local property owners were German and Polish families. Jim is not sure if his grandfather owned the woods on the west side of the farm, where August Sr. would pick morel mushrooms in a secret spot he never shared with anyone.
The farm’s soil was dark and rich dirt in the front and sandy in the back. Aside from having farm animals (penned where a pond is now), August grew fruits and vegetables. August had strawberry patch and sold them commercially. One of Jim’s earliest memories of the farm was picking berries. On one occasion his mother and grandmother were wondering why all their boxes of berries were empty, until they found Jim eating out of one of the full containers.
One time Jim’s grandmother, Barbara, screamed because a rattlesnake was wrapped around a strawberry plant. Someone chopped the snake’s head off with shovel (I think Jim’s father) and Jim’s uncle took rattle where he kept a collection around the house.
Jim also recalls taking falls (apples fallen off trees) to a cider mill he thinks was east of Crissey Road to have fresh pressed cider..
Jim’s grandmother, Barbara, was his grandfather’s second wife. The first wife died shortly after Jim’s father, August Jr., was born in Germany. August Sr.’s second wife came from a wealthy family. This wife, along with August Jr. and his sisters, came to the Untied States on the USS Grant in 1910. According to one of Jim’s aunts, they landed at Ellis Island. While there, people were given fruit pies to eat that were so horrible, people just threw them on the floor and the conditions were filthy.
At Ellis Island, immigrants had to show they had the means to get where they wanted to go. Mrs. August Baumann Sr. took gold pieces out of the hem of her dress and showed the officials she did have wealth to get to Toledo. Jim thinks that his grandmother had enough gold to help purchase the farm on Hill Avenue.
While on the farm they made wine and kraut. His grandfather also did truck produce. August Sr. was an avid hunter and knew all the local farmers, as he hunted on their properties. Jim remembers a Bueche Garden Center on Dorr Street, just east of Little Flower Catholic Church is now, because he thinks they might have been one of his grandfather’s neighbors around Hill Avenue.
Jim’s grandfather died around 1939-40 and the farm was sold after that. Both Catholics, August G. and Barbara were buried in the Immaculate Conception cemetery by Bancroft and Rabb Road.
Jim’s father, August Jr., married Naomi Farber. Naomi’s family came from the Prague area. August Jr. converted to Lutheran and both he and Naomi are buried in Toledo Memorial Cemetery. Jim was born in 1935 and has two sisters, Ruth and Judy.
The house and farm buildings on Hill Avenue no longer stand. Currently there is a whit brick/stucco house one the property with a large pond in the back. Asking price is around $1.5 million.
Jim Baumann, Toledo, Ohio, January 18, 2009