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Gillian Family Papers - MS 1173

Introduction | Biographical Sketch | Scope and Content | Series Description | Inventory


Originally offered to the Wood County Historical Society, the Gillian Family papers were transferred to the Center for Archival Collections on May 15, 2012. The papers were subsequently donated to the Center for Archival Collections, via a signed instrument of gift, dated May 24, 2012, from Frances Hottinger and Stephen Hottinger, of Huron, Ohio. The 1/4 linear feet collection consists of materials relating primarily to Joseph Gillian’s time as a student in the Portage Village School district and spans from 1933 – 1957, with the majority of materials dating from 1933 – 1943.

A second donation by Stephen Hottinger was received by the Center in August 2012. The new material concerns Sidney B. Gillian, father to Joseph Gillian. The majority of the addition to the family collection is comprised of legal and financial documents related to the purchase and transfer of property. It also includes insurance policies and other assorted items. The addition spans from 1914 – 1957.

This register was prepared by undergraduate student archival assistant Rebecca Denes and Dana Nemeth, Library Associate II, in June 2012. It was updated by Rebecca Denes in November 2012.

 Biographical Sketch

Joseph Gillian was a resident of Portage, a small rural community located in Wood County, OH, where he was educated within the Portage Village School District. Per the Social Security Death Index, Joseph was born to Sidney B. and Flossie Gillian on November 10, 1925 in Portage and passed away on October 31, 2008 in Bowling Green. He was a veteran of the Armed Forces, having served in the Army during the Korean War. He remained a resident of Portage until his death and was an active member of the community and the Christ United Methodist Church.

The contents of this collection are from his child and teen years as a student and basketball player in the Portage Village school district. The various materials follow Gillian from age seven through age seventeen. There is a single item dating to 1957, a bracket for an unnamed tournament, but it provides no context into Gillian’s life at the time. His name appears on the rosters and in several of the newspaper articles related to the district’s basketball program from 1938 – 1943, and it is clear that basketball was an important part of his childhood and adolescence.

The Portage Village school district began as a single one-room schoolhouse in 1833 and grew throughout the decades. The village operated its independent school district until 1950, when the district was absorbed into the larger Bowling Green City School District. It is difficult to determine how many buildings comprised the school district at the time Gillian attended. As the district was small and it has been several decades since it was in operation, very few details about the Portage Schools are currently available. In researching the history of the district, a picture of Gillian in second grade was found and added to the research file at the end of the collection. It is known that Gillian attended Portage Center School from the years 1941 – 1943, but it is unknown if he was educated in any other school buildings within the village. The last remaining school building in Portage closed its doors at the end of the 1965 – 1966 school year and was demolished in 1984.

Joseph’s father, Sidney B. Gillian, was a local business man and member of the Portage Village council. He was born to Carmel and Pluma Gillian on July 15, 1887 and passed away on June 28, 1971. Along with a partner, he co-owned Wood County Implement Company and was a sales manager for the business until his retirement. Unfortunately, there is little biographical information about the elder Gillian available in the materials. While searching for information, an undated photograph of Sidney and his wife Flossie was found on and added to the collection research file.

 Scope and Content

This collection presents a small portion of small-town Northwest Ohio educational history, as well as a view of the Wood County home-front during the Second World War. The majority of the newspaper clippings and the scrapbook included in the collection deal primarily with the basketball programs in the Portage Village school district. Gillian was an active member of the program and collected a great deal of the information regarding regular season and tournament play that was available through the media at the time. Other printed sources provide more general information about life in Portage during the time period and give context to the social history of Northwest Ohio.

The materials related to Gillian’s education are an invaluable resource for educational researchers. The inclusion of four report cards, spanning from grade five through grade eight, provides the ability to form comparisons between modern education and education during the 1930s. Gillian’s report cards not only trace his progress in several taught subjects, but also contain evaluations of personality and citizenship.

The four newsletters from the Portage Schools contain a wealth of information related to the social history of the area. In the column for alumni news, the surname of the former student is not used, indicating that the community was small enough that only first names were necessary. Advice columns are also particularly interesting, providing a social commentary that seems antiquated in modern times. In addition to a handwritten roster of the eighth grade basketball team that Gillian was a part of, a scrapbook that was included in the donation of the collection is especially important to those interested in the history of Portage basketball program.

The scrapbook, which appears to have been created and maintained by Gillian, contains news clippings and handwritten annotations regarding the basketball program from 1941 – 1943. The first page of the scrapbook is a handwritten roster including coaches, team members and positions, and substitute players. An updated handwritten roster can be found on page eleven. Along with articles cut out of unnamed newspapers and glued into the pages, penciled annotations of game scores and details are found on several pages. Several news clippings contained within the pages all relate to the 1941 – 1943 Wood County high school basketball seasons, with the majority of them being about the Portage team specifically. As Portage is not the only team discussed in all of the news articles, they also stand as a source of information for high school basketball in the county as a whole during the time period.

The scrapbook exists in the collection only as a scanned images and printed copies of the images. The original scrapbook was damaged by mold and mildew and had to be disposed of. It should be noted that Portage Village yearbooks from the Hottingers covering a similar time span as the Gillian papers were accepted into the Wood County Historical Society's collection in May 2012.

Though World War II is not a focus of this collection, it certainly exists in the background, particularly when reading through the school newsletters. While the primary concern of the newsletter editors revolved around the school and the community, the shadow of the war can be seen in many of its pages. An item in the advice column in the December 1942 issue of the "Portage Press" article makes references to young women talking to soldiers; the single piece of correspondence in collection discusses a repayment of "meat stamps" and is written on stationary from the "Office for Emergency Management, War Manpower Commission, United States Employment Service." These are only two of several items in the collection that provide insight into life in Wood County during wartime.

The materials added to the collection in November, 2012 include a notification of Selective Service Exemption for Sidney B. Gillian. He was exempted from conscription due to being the sole provider for his wife and two children. This is particularly notable because of its 1917 date, which places its origin during the First World War.

 Series Description


October 23, 1917 and July 7, 1943
2 folders
One letter addressed to Joseph Gillian regarding a repayment of rationing stamps. One letter addressed to Sidney B. Gillian regarding Selective Service exemption.


1935 – 1939
2 folders
Four report cards for Joseph Gillian from the 1934 – 1935 school year through 1938 – 1939 school year, covering grades five through eight. Handwritten roster of the Portage eighth grade basketball boys basketball squad, likely written by Joseph Gillian. Arranged chronologically by type.


1939, (n.d.)
3 folders
One handwritten "Salutatory Address" by Joseph Gillian in 1939; appears to have been written for the eighth grade commencement in that year. One annotated script for a school play, no title or dates given. "All Through the Night" sheet music annotated with the names of Joseph Gillian and Alfred Duetschman and "Ode Triumphant" sheet music annotated with Joseph Gillian’s name. Arranged by type.


1914 – 1957
10 Folders
Two real estate Bills of Sale, one where Sidney B. Gillian is the seller and one where he is the buyer. One dwelling lease with Sidney B. Gillian as lessee. Warranty deed from Carmel Gillian (father of Sidney) to Henry and Lucile Higbie. Information relating to three separate insurance policies held by Sidney B. Gillian. Mortgage paperwork between Sarah Smith and David Burgoon (relations unknown). Arranged chronologically by type.


1914 – 1957
7 Folders
Promissory notes from Sarah Smith to David Burgoon. Six Wood County Implement Company Common Stock certificates. Final Accounting and Settlement paperwork for Wood County Implement Company. Assorted receipts for tax and other payments. Completed application for United States Treasury Bonds. Documents relating to the execution of the estate of Martha Wolfe (Aunt of Sidney). Arranged chronologically by type.


1941 – 1943
1 folder
Color copy of scanned scrapbook pages from "Portage Center Basketball Games 1941 – 1942, 1943," two sheets of color copies of scanned loose articles from the scrapbook, and a CD-R containing .jpg files of all scanned pages and articles. The scrapbook was likely created and maintained by Joseph Gillian. Arranged by page order.

3 folders
Four color copies of scanned articles from the Daily Sentinel-Tribune regarding the Portage basketball program from January. Full newspaper pages featuring the article were found within the scrapbook but only the relevant articles are included in the collection. Three assorted clippings related to Sidney B. Gillian and Wood County Implement Company. Arranged chronologically.


1942, n.d.
4 folders
Four school newsletters: "Portage Press," December 1942 & n.d.; "The Panther Scream, " and untitled school newsletter. Arranged chronologically.

1 folder
Four small name cards, possibly from graduation announcements and one napkin with names written on it in pencil.

1934, 1939
4 folders
Two "Certificate of Achievement" awards presented to Joseph Gillian for Spelling and Arithmetic during the 1933 – 1934 school year. One "Certificate for Promotion of Promotion to High School" presented to Joseph Gillian on May 26, 1939 and signed by County Superintendent Chas. S. Harkness. "The Order of United Commercial Travelers of America" membership certificate for Sidney B. Gillian. Wood County Village Council Member certificate for Sidney B. Gillian. Arranged chronologically.

1 folder
Unnamed tournament bracket from 1956 – 1957. Neither the tournament nor the sport are named.

2 folders
Two programs, arranged chronologically. "1943 Wood County Basketball Tournament, Bowling Green State University, February 18, 19, 20 – 24, 26, 27," contains details and team rosters of participating schools, including Portage, as well as annotated tournament bracket. "Portage Township School Thirteenth Annual Commencement Exercises, May 18, 1943," includes Gillian’s name under list of graduating seniors.


Box 1


  1. Letter to Joseph Gillian from Joe Ryder, July 7, 1943
  2. Portage Village report cards, 1934 – 1935 through 1938 – 1939
  3. Portage Village 8th grade boys basketball roster, 1938 – 1939
  4. Annotated school play script, untitled (n.d.)
  5. "Ode Triumphant" and "All Through the Night" sheet music. Former annotated with Joseph Gillian’s name, latter annotated with names of Joseph Gillian and Alfred Duetchsman (n.d.)
  6. Salutatory address handwritten by Joseph Gillian, event unknown (n.d.)
  7. Scrapbook (copy), “Portage Center Basketball games,” 1941 – 1943
  8. Newspaper clippings related to Portage basketball program, 1948
  9. Newspaper clippings related to Portage basketball program, (n.d.)
  10. "Portage Press" school newsletter, December 1942
  11. "The Panther Scream" school newsletter, December [19—]
  12. "Portage Press" school newsletter, February [19—]
  13. Untitled school newsletter, (n.d.)
  14. Graduation Favors. Four small name cards and one napkin with names written on it, (n.d.)
  15. Certificates presented to Joseph Gillian , Wood County Schools “Certificate of Achievement” in Arithmetic and Spelling, 1933 - 1934
  16. Certificate presented to Joseph Gillian, State of Ohio Department of Education “Certificate for Promotion to High School” May 26, 1939
  17. Wood County basketball tournament program and annotated bracket, February 1943
  18. Portage Township School commencement program, May 18, 1943
  19. Unnamed Tournament schedule, sport undetermined, 1956 – 1957
  20. Collection Research File—“Doors Will Close at Portage School” newspaper article from Daily Sentinel-Tribune, June 7, 1966. Photocopy of Portage Township Village School class photos, 1930 and 1931, showing Joseph Gillian in second grade in 1931. Images found in CAC MMS 1020. Obituary for Joseph Gillian from the Sentinel-Tribune, November 1, 2008. Undated photo of Sidney and Flossie Gillian found on URL is included on printout.

Box 2


  1. Selective Service Exemption Notice for Sidney B. Gillian, October 23, 1917
  2. Real Estate Bill of Sale from Charles Whitacre to Sidney B. Gillian, September 1, 1914
  3. Real Estate Bill of Sale from Sarah A. Smith to Sidney B. Gillian, January 20, 1916
  4. Dwelling lease in which Sidney B. Gillian is lessee, March 20, 1917
  5. Preliminary Purchase Agreement for property, July 7, 1919
  6. Warranty Deed from Carmel Gillian (father of Sidney) to Henry and Lucile Higbie, April 2, 1947
  7. Saint Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company policy paperwork with transfers of coverage, 1914 – 1916
  8. The Order of United Commercial Travelers of America insurance policy paperwork, April 17, 1915
  9. Continental Life Insurance Policy brochure and identification card for Sidney B. Gillian, September 23, 1926
  10. Chattel Mortgage paperwork between Sarah Smith and David Burgoon, June 22, 1915
  11. Release of Mortgage form, October 17, 1927
  12. romissory notes from Sarah Smith to David Burgoon, 1915 – 1917
  13. Wood County Implement Company common stock certificates, 1937
  14. Final Accounting and Settlement for Wood County Implement Company, January 23, 1957
  15. Assorted payment receipts, 1915 – 1916, 1926
  16. Wood County property tax receipt, July 20, 1923
  17. United States Treasury Bond application, September 28, 1918
  18. Financial documents relating to the estate of Martha Wolfe (Aunt of Sidney), March, 1941
  19. Assorted newsclippings relating to Sidney B. Gillian and Wood County Implement, [1957], n.d.
  20. The Order of United Commercial Travelers of America membership certificate for Sidney B. Gillian, April 17, 1915
  21. Wood County Village Council Member certificate for Sidney B. Gillian, November 8, 1949

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