Editor’s note: in conjunction with the 200th celebration of the establishment of Shelby County, the Sidney Daily News will be publishing a year long series about the county’s history.
FORT LORAMIE — Looking at the history of Fort Loramie takes us back to 1769 with the arrival of Pierre Louis de Lorimier, known to us today as Peter Loramie, and his father – Captain Guillaume de Lorimier. The older Lorimier was a French military commander in Quebec and also ran a trading post. It was with this experience he helped his son establish a trading post on the primary portage between the Maumee and Great Miami Rivers. This site being on the banks of a tributary of the Miami river. That tributary is today’s Loramie Creek, the connecting tributary to the Maumee being the Auglaize River. The trading post had only been established for a short time when Captain Guillaume de Lorimier died at age 65 in December 1770. This did not diminish Pierre Lorimier’s interest in operating his trading post and he continued on with his plans, along with his wife Charlotte Pemanpieh Bougainville. They were married sometime after Lorimier’s arrival in this area. She was French-Shawnee and her family lived in the Shawnee Village of Wapaghkonnetta.
This trading post in the Ohio frontier is the seed from which the town of Fort Loramie has grown. Lorimier ran his trading post until the evening of November 10, 1782, when it was destroyed by Captain Benjamin Logan and about 100 men, under orders from General George Rogers Clark. Lorimier and his family were not present at the time of the attack thus escaping harm. They spent the winter at the Shawnee Indian village near present day Wapakoneta. The following spring Lorimier and a large group of Indian followers headed west, eventually settling on the banks of the Mississippi River, the present-day city of Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
Ten years later General “Mad” Anthony Wayne was establishing a series of forts through this area as part of his plan to bring peace to the frontier and open this area for settlement. He selected the same site as did Pierre Louis de Lorimier and for the same reasons. It was strategically located between the rivers, at that time a very important means of transportation. One must realize that before the creation of Lake Loramie the creek carried much more water that it does today and was navigable by a bateau (French style flat-bottomed boat) for many months of the year.
The fort was built in 1794 and used until the end of the War of 1812. In 1815, at the close of the war the fort was no longer needed and was sold to James Furrow. He operated it as a trading post and post office until 1820.
By this time a slow stream of settlers was coming into the area, and by 1836 enough people had settled into the area that the first St. Michael Catholic Church was built. A small wooden structure that stood near what is today the alley along Brucken’s Pub. The church population was numbered at fifty-four families as parishioners. Records show that the town of Berlin was surveyed in 1837 for William Prilliman.
With the opening of the Miami Canal in 1843, the town and surrounding area grew quickly. Farm ground could be purchased for a little over one dollar per acre. This brought many German farmers and merchants to settle here.
By 1858 the first mill was built as were many other businesses. We had a hardware store, general store and millinery store. Along with a drugstore, several taverns and a hotel. By 1889 articles of incorporation were filed at the County Courthouse naming the village Loramies. Many of the older residents still called the town Berlin at that time. Finally, in 1917 the town was officially named Fort Loramie.
A listing of businesses in 1915 from the Fort Loramie newspaper The Progress shows the following:
Sherman Grain Co., Grain and Seeds
John Bramlage and Son, Flour Mill
August Wise, Planing Mill
Willman Bros., Department Store
John Romie, Harness Maker
Boerger and Barlage, Meat Market
J.D. Inderrieden, Hardware and Implements
Bernard Danzig and Son, Furniture and Undertaker
W.H. Quinlin, Druggist
Mathias Brucken, Dance Hall and Pool Room
Barney Krampe, Farm Implements
Peter Krampe, Blacksmith
Henry Lehmkuhl, Cabinet Maker
John Albers and Co., Hardware and Building Material
Dr. N.F. Ratermann, Veterinary
John B. Ratermann, Fire Insurance Agent
The Progress, Printing
H. Behrns, Merchant Tailor
H. Pleiman, General Store
John Seger, Carpenter
H. Tecklenburg, Hotel and Livery
Ben Vogelsang, Restaurant
Albert Anthony, Barber
H. Dickman, Creamery
M.R. Newman, Garage
Gregor Fleckenstein, Tile Manufacturer
Wm. J. Borchers, General Store
Joseph Saar, Shoe Repairer
Pete Rieger, Shoe Store
Herman Gaier, Bakery
Gerhard Tecklenburg, Insurance
Loramie Banking Co., General Banking
Wm. Combs, Auto Livery
Elmer Short, Legal Advisor
Dr. F. Raterman, Physician
Ben Olding, Blacksmith
Peter Kiefer and Son, Plasterers
Carl Freytag and Sons, Bricklayers
C.C. Wagler, Brick Maker
H.F. Barhorst, Louis Barhorst, Charles Gaier, Philip Barhorst, Henry Barhorst, Ben Gaier, Frank Couchot, Frank Larger; Threshers
Miss Margaret Kemper, Miss Emma Poeppelman, Miss Minnie Lehman, Miss Anna Kirsch, Mrs. Anna Schroeder, Mrs. John Gaier, Gariety Sisters, Inderrieden Sisters, Mrs. John Barhorst; Dressmakers
Costolo and Olding, August Kuck, Henry Larger, Ben Zircher, Louis Barhorst, Ed Batty; Horse Breeders
John Borchers, Hy. Broering, Joe Gaier, Harmon Seger, Anton Barhorst; Fertilizer Agents
In 1915 the population of Fort Loramie was just under 500, thus over 10% were operating a local business. It was not until the early 1970’s that the population increased to 750 and didn’t reach 1000 until 1990. Today’s population is just over 1500. (U.S. Census Bureau estimate)
Figures from U.S. Census Bureau
The writer is the Fort Loramie Historical Association president.