Stanley Robert Smith: Frequent Flier Miles

The police were probably getting pretty sick of seeing Stanley’s face by now.  After somehow escaping prosecution twice over, he was back in the city jail for the third time in two weeks.

After stealing butter from the Findlay Dairy Company, Stanley had gone around town to various grocers, trying to sell on his ill-begotten goods.  On one such outing, he visited Jacob Frank, a man in his early seventies, at his shop on West Front Street.

Frank refused to purchase Stanley’s purloined products and, either in a fit of pique or unable to resist an opportunity,  Stanley stole one of Mr. Frank’s checks while the man was not looking.

All in the Family

Surprisingly, Jacob Frank was also a relative. 

Stanley’s sister, Clara Viola Smith, my great-grandmother, was married to Oliver Martin Arras. 

Oliver’s mother, Johanna, was born a Crates. 

Her father, Gottlieb, was the son of Johann Michael and Sibylla (Zehnder) Kroetz. 

Gottlieb’s younger sister, Caroline, married Johann Jakob Frank in their hometown of Oberurbach on August 28, 1859, a year after Gottlieb had left for America. 

Caroline and Johann Jakob’s son, Jacob Frank, emigrated to Findlay around twenty years later and established his grocery store.

If that all made about as much sense as trying to nail Jell-O to a tree, check out the chart below to clarify:relationship to jacob frank

All of this means that Jacob Frank, the victim of Stanley’s theft, was his sister’s husband’s first cousin, one time removed. 

While it is possible that Oliver and Clara were unaware of Oliver’s relationship to Jacob Frank, it is rather unlikely.  At least two of Oliver’s Crates uncles, Charley and Monroe, remained in contact with the family in Oberurbach.  After World War I, when Germany was suffering so heavily, they sent money to keep their German relations afloat.  With letters going back and forth so long after Gottlieb and Caroline had left their homeland, it seems unlikely that their children and grandchildren would be oblivious of one another’s lives in the same city.

With Obvious Regret

On February 20th–Yes, you read that right.  The same day Stanley must have been released from jail after his arrest on the bad check charges.  So much for remorse!–Stanley, the old charmer, wrote out a check in the amount of $19.10 to be cashed by “Lester Smith”.  He forged Jacob Frank’s signature and took the check to a bank to be cashed.

It all could have ended there, as the bank refused to cash the questionable check.  Instead, “Lester” handed the check over to a friend, who had it cashed at Bazley Market.

Bazley Market

bazley market location
The location of Bazley Market, now occupied by the Bistro on Main (seen here in October 2015)

Bazley Market, located at 407 South Main Street in Findlay, opened in mid-October 1928.  It was one of a chain of meat markets across the Midwest, owned and operated by Bazley Markets of Chicago, Illinois.  Given their ability to purchase meat in large quantities, the chain was able to keep prices low.  As a result, the Bazley Market in Findlay was open until at least 1969.

A delightful array of products available for purchase on 22 Jan 1929 (Findlay Morning Republican)


Stanley was arrested the 27th of February, accused of the crime of forgery.  This time he would not escape the swiftly turning wheels of justice.  The following day he was bound over to the grand jury by Mayor Groves.

Esba Lincoln Groves, who served six terms as mayor of Findlay, Ohio, between 1909 and 1932 (Photo from:

Unable to pay his bond of $1,000–an unimaginable amount of money for the man who couldn’t drum up $3 at the drugstore–he was transferred to the Hancock County jail.

Next Time:  The Hancock County Jail




The Family Photo Album: The Smiths, 50 Years Later



George Henry and Mary Lucinda (Rauch) Smith, my great-great-grandparents and the parents of Stanley Robert Smith, in the yard at their daughter Clara Arras’s house.  This photo was likely taken on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary, the celebration of which occurred 69 years ago today:

GH Smith 50th anniversary
Findlay Republican Courier, 5 Aug 1949

Ralph’s War: How it Began


Ralph Benington, age 30, and his wife, Bernice, age 20, were married May 29, 1918, by the Rev. A. A. Hundley, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Findlay, Ohio.  Little did the two suspect that they would have less than a month to settle into married life before fate would intervene.

Slightly less than a year previously, Ralph had been involved in the first national registration day following the passage of the Selective Service Act.  Upon the United States’ entry into World War I, President Wilson had asked that the Army be increased from its current size of about 121,000 to one million soldiers.  Six weeks later, only 73,000 men had volunteered for service.  The Selective Service Act, enacted May 18, 1917, required that all men between the ages of 21 and 30 register for military service.  On June 5, 1917, all men 21-31 had to report to a centralized location within their communities in order to fill out a draft card.


The following is the front of Ralph’s draft card:

ralphs draft card

The drawing of numbers began on the morning of July 20, 1917.  Each number was written on black-backed paper and enclosed in a gelatin capsule.  Secretary of War, Newton Baker, selected the first capsule, which contained the number 258.  All individuals in all districts who were given the number 258 would be required to report for service.  Ultimately, it would take about 18 hours to draw the 10,500 numbers required to meet the government’s quota.

Draft numbers were often published in the local newspaper, much like in this article from the Akron Beacon Journal the night of the first draft:

drafted names

In addition, a draft notice was sent to the home of the new recruit.  The following example was found in the digital collection of East Carolina University:

draft notice

The back of the notice listed the penalties for failing to appear at the Local Board when summoned to do so.

Ralph’s discharge paperwork indicates that he was inducted into the military on June 27, 1918.  If the previous draft notice is anything to go by, it appears that draftees were given about a week from the mailing of their draft notice to their date of induction into service.

While I do not know for certain that Ralph was drafted rather than volunteering for service, it seems rather unlikely that a newlywed would choose to leave his wife less than a month after their marriage.  Ralph had had plenty of time to volunteer prior to this date.  Do these look like people who couldn’t wait to get away from one another?

ralph and bernie

It would be possible to discover, without a doubt, whether Ralph had been drafted into service.  Each Local Board maintained lists of the men selected, including information on the date they were ordered to report, the mobilization camp to which they were sent and certification from officials at the camp as to whether the man had appeared as required.  These records are now held at the Field Archives branches in the appropriate regions.

Currently, what we know is that Ralph and Bernice were about to be separated for the first time in their very short married lives.  It is easy to imagine how upset they both must have felt, faced with this prospect.

Next time:  Camp Sherman