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Sauder Village ABC

We are highlighting our Sauder Village collections, animals, and buildings, from A to Z! We hope you’ll learn something new from this alphabetical look at Sauder Village! #SauderVillageABC


This 1947 Pontiac Streamliner is on display in our Museum Building. Erie Sauder purchased this Streamliner new in 1947. The family used the 4-door Sedan for many years including some vacation trips.
The 1947 Model featured the new body design created following the end of World War II. The last re-design had been in 1941 before automobile production stopped during World War II to allow those plants to manufacture needed war production. The 1947 Pontiac model had two designations: the streamliner and the torpedo. Although both were very similar, the Streamliner had a slightly longer wheelbase.

The streamliner came with grey striped cloth upholstery, dual sun visors, automatic dome lights, cigar lighter, ashtrays, and an inside hood release. In addition, the 1947 Pontiac had a large variety of options such as the Venti-heater, 3 radio choices, turn signals, back up lights, lighted vanity mirror, electric clock, non-glare rearview mirror, foam rubber seat cushions, bright wheel trim, and white-wall tires. This car, with its extensive list of options, sold retail for $1,645 before options. Pontiac sold 245,419 during the model year.


 B – BED KEY  Bed Key
“Good Night, Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite.” Have you ever wondered about the origins of this bedtime rhyme?Sleep tight refers to sleeping on a tight rope with the body evenly supported, or to sleep in comfort. A BED KEY is a tool used to facilitate the tightening of the ropes on a rope bed used in the late 1800s. The forks of the key were placed to straddle the rope between the pegs of the bed rails. The bed key was then twisted to increase the tension on that part of the rope. It was necessary to adjust the tension on the ropes periodically, as often as once every few days. If the tension wasn’t adjusted the ropes would become loose and the mattress would sag.

As for the rest of the rhyme, “don’t let the bed bugs bite,” one theory is that it relates to the mattresses which were often with straw and feathers (and perhaps some bugs that might bite!)


C - COMPASS    Compass
This particular compass is from the mid-1800s. This small compass belonged to Erie Sauder’s great-grandfather, Joseph Sauder. Joseph used this compass to find his way here when he moved from Pennsylvania to Northwest Ohio in about 1840. He was one of the first pioneers to settle in this part of the Great Black Swamp, now known as German Township.


D - DISTRICT 16 SCHOOL 2020-06-24 081  400x279
The building called the District 16 School at Sauder Village is actually the Chesterfield Township District #3 School and was originally known as the Maple Grove or Roos District. It has been also referred to as the Rosehill School. The school house was built in 1898 by A. L. Gunthrie for a cost of $687 and was located north of Wauseon near the Michigan border. It was built on land donated by Halloway Beatty for which he was later compensated $25.00.

Most schools of this time period in Fulton County were brick. This is one of the few remaining wooden structures. The school was used from 1898 thru 1916 when the new centralized school was built. In April 1916 the one and two-room schools in Fulton County were sold at auction.

This building is called the District 16 School in recognition of the one-room school attended by founder Erie J. Sauder.



Erie Sauder was born on his family’s farm south of Archbold to Daniel and Annie (Schrock) Sauder on August 6, 1904. As the oldest child, and only son, Erie worked on the farm from an early age. However, his true love was working with wood. At the age of 16, he built a wood lathe to use in the workshop on the farm. When you visit Sauder Village you can see that same lathe in the original shop from the Sauder farm now called Erie's Farm Shop. His reputation grew and neighbors would often bring woodworking jobs to him.

In 1927 Erie married his neighbor, Leona Short, and started a family. He worked several years at the Archbold Ladder Company, but in 1934 he decided to start his own woodworking business in a small building behind their home in Archbold. Leona, who probably intended to be the traditional housewife and mom, took a correspondence course in accounting and took on that job for the Sauder Woodworking Company until she passed away in 1974. The company suffered two serious fires, one in 1938 and a very devastating one in 1945. Erie’s uncle William Sauder died in that fire. Having lost everything in the fire, Erie was hesitant to rebuild. But the local bank and other businessmen in the community encouraged and supported the rebuilding process. Today, Sauder Woodworking is the largest maker of ready-to-assemble furniture in the United States and ships its product to many countries around the world.

As Erie’s sons, Maynard and Myrl, took on more responsibility in the business and Erie was looking towards retirement, his genuine love of his community and its history came to the surface. He worried that future generations wouldn’t understand the hard work and sacrifices that our pioneer ancestors made in coming to settle in this swampy area in northwest Ohio, known as the Great Black Swamp. Erie believed that people would understand history from interacting with knowledgeable and welcoming guides in historic buildings far better than just reading it in books. In 1969, he purchased an initial 15 acres of the Grime farm to establish his living history village, which opened to the public on June 14, 1976. In February of that year, he married Orlyss Short, a widow from Stryker, Ohio, and she became his partner and a volunteer costumed guide in the historic village. Erie could often be seen working with his maintenance crew out in the village, but he was never too busy to stop and answer questions from guests of all ages. He especially enjoyed seeing the thousands of school children come on their class field trips.

Erie Sauder’s generosity extended far beyond his local community. He was one of eleven businessmen who formed the Mennonite Economic Development Association (MEDA) in 1953. After World War II, Russian Mennonites fled to Paraguay. MEDA’s initial mission was to help these refugees establish new lives there. In the process, Erie made 18 trips to that South American country and worked with the natives there by teaching them basic skills that could lead them to self-sufficiency. Erie often said that his work there was the most fulfilling of his entire life.

Erie continued to dream and build at Sauder Village into his 90s. When the Sauder Heritage Inn opened in the fall of 1994, Erie and Orlyss moved into a small apartment at the Inn where they lived until he died on June 29, 1997. Sauder Village is his living legacy for the community and the region.


F – Fire Station
The advent of the motorized engine for fighting fires in the early 1900s was a major technological advancement from the horse-drawn or human drawn fire equipment used since the early 1800s. Housed at the Fire Station on our 1920s Main Street is a 1923 Ford Model T fire truck and an 1893 hand pumper, both gifts of the Central Mutual Insurance Company. While innovations continued to advance in firefighting techniques, manual hand pumpers continued to be used in rural areas into the early 1900s.

Firefighters were ready at a moment’s notice for the sound of the fire alarm gong. The gong connected to a telegraph system alerted firefighters to a local fire. With this sound, they quickly grabbed their rubber jackets, fire equipment, and started their Ford fire truck. When not on a fire run, firefighters took the utmost care of their fire trucks and fire station. A spotless fire station and a smoothly running fire truck were signs of a capable firefighting team.


G – Grist Mill
One of the most urgently needed businesses in a newly established settlement in this country would have been a Grist Mill. Grains were a staple of the everyday diet of the early settlers. As soon as they could clear land, they began to grow wheat and other grains. As more settlers came in and more land was turned over to farming, the demand for mills increased. Shortly after those early settlers arrived at Lauber Hill, John Harter established a grist mill about 19 miles from Lauber Hill in 1835.

A water-powered mill with only one set of stones could grind up to 105 bushels of grain a day. The carefully grooved stones grind the grain into meal or flour of the desired texture. After 1880, nearly all new grist mills built in the United States were equipped with roller mills. By 1900, steam and electrical power were rapidly replacing the simple water wheel.

In our Grist Mill at Sauder Village we share the history of mills and grind corn into meal which we sell and use for our cooking.. We hope you’ll stop by the Grist Mill this season to learn more (and take a few pictures by the waterwheel . . . a beautiful site!)


Down on the Farm
Hands-on History
Explore the Outdoors
In the Kitchen
What Is It?
People from the Past