EDITORS OF “THE TOWPATH”
“The Towpath” as we know it today, had very humble beginnings. The New Bremen Historic Association was organized in late 1973, but there was no type of “newsletter” until April 1975. It consisted of 2 pages and was probably written by Janet Fledderjohn, who replaced the original curator, Greg Parrott, in August 1975. The newsletter was published on an irregular basis as a side job of serving as curator.
In the fall of 1977, Janet left her post temporarily to complete her studies at Wright State University of Dayton and get her degree in history. During this time, Rosemary (Koeper) Heitkamp served as Curator and she and others wrote the newsletter.
In the April 1978 issue, it was suggested that the newsletter needed an identifying name and members were asked to think of something appropriate.
The February 1979 issue stated: “At the January meeting, the trustees chose a name for the newsletter. The name ‘Towpath’ was sent in by Robert Heinfeld of Ada, Ohio. He felt some reference to the canal-town history was appropriate. A towpath also indicates a sense of continuity with news backward and forward – a newsletter should have the same purpose.”
In March 1980, Janet Fledderjohn returned as Curator and Editor of the newsletter, which had recently been named “The Towpath”. In 1986, Janet married Karl Wisner and she resigned the Curator and Editor positions again, although she continued to fill them until she and her husband moved from New Bremen.
In October 1987, Marjorie Lietz became the new “Towpath” Editor and in April 1989, Vernita Scheer & Dottie Boesel became the new Curators.
Janet (Fledderjohn) Wisner died January 18, 2002 at Columbia, Missouri.
Paul A. Lietz was the son of Herman C. Lietz and Alma Sophia Heil. He was born July 1, 1921 in the house at 34 S. Herman St. and still lived there when he died August 7, 1996. Marjorie Lucille Lietz was born January 4, 1918 to Arnold C. Gieseke and Elsie Jane Awrey. After graduation, on June 15, 1935 she married Carl L. Conradi and they had two children, Dr. Edward C. and Genevieve, who provided Marjorie with five granddaughters. Carl died of a cerebral hemorrhage on March 18, 1944 and Marjorie was left to raise her two young children alone. On April 3, 1975, Marjorie and Paul were married. They were quite active in preserving the history of New Bremen. Marjorie Lietz became the Editor of “The Towpath” in the fall of 1987 and served through March 1996 when Lucille Francis took her place.
Paul Lietz was a Lifetime Member of the New Bremen Historic Association and assisted his wife, Marjorie, with the quarterly publication of “The Towpath”. Paul and Marjorie spent their entire married lives of 21 years working to preserve the history of New Bremen.
Paul became interested in photography at the age of fourteen when his parents gave him a dark room kit for Christmas. His mother encouraged him to photograph New Bremen as his great-uncle, Fred Gilberg, had done. Paul did so for over sixty years, taking thousands of pictures, home movies and videos of New Bremen architecture and community events and activities. Paul and Marjorie also re-photographed many old pictures in order to preserve them. Many of these were printed in “The Towpath” over the years. A 10-page segment of the 1983 New Bremen Sesquicentennial book is devoted to Paul's photos taken from 1935 to 1983.
Paul’s father gave him his first tool kit at the age of 4 and Paul became an expert wood-craftsman, as was his father. He was always willing and able to be Mr. Fix-it whenever there were any jobs to be done at the Museum and was an enormous help in keeping things in shape. In 1989, Paul and Marge were designated as Grand Marshals for the Bremenfest parade.
On November 24, 1999, the day before Thanksgiving, Marjorie L. Lietz passed away. She had served as Editor of “The Towpath” for 8˝ years, building up the membership from a scant 200 members to about 450 due to her ability to write stories of wide-spread interest. Starting in October 1988, Marge and Paul were instrumental in having “The Towpath” printed professionally by Lee’s Printing, giving the paper a much better appearance. In March 1996, Marge was no longer able to continue due to Paul's and her own illness. Even after Paul's death, however, she continued to serve as a mentor whenever there were questions.
Marge was a Charter Member of the New Bremen Historic Association and later also became a Lifetime Member. She always looked forward to the Historic Association's annual Christmas Tree Festival and the last year of her life was no exception. She tried to come up with an idea for a unique display for 1999’s event. She thought that everybody would have 25 silver bells on a Christmas tree to represent our theme - "Silver Bells - our 25th Year" so she wanted to do something different.
Marge and Paul spent many happy hours together taking pictures, putting together slide and video programs, and taking them "on the road" to show them to various organizations and also to the school children, thereby providing all of us with much entertainment and a better knowledge of our home town, New Bremen. They also took up polka dancing. In her eulogy, Marge's granddaughter, Dr. Elaine (Conradi) Eustis, said that she pictured Marge and Paul together again, going polka dancing. My image of them is together again, "doing alleys" as they called it, both with cameras around their necks, looking for some new and unusual photo opportunity.
Paul & Marge wrote in the 1983 Sesquicentennial book: "We hope you have enjoyed the photos of some of the happenings in New Bremen the last fifty years. We have enjoyed sharing them with you."
Today, the tradition of preserving history has passed down to the next generations. Marge’s daughter, Genevieve, is our Historian and is responsible for designing our gift item, the Canal Board Game. Genevieve’s daughter, Johanna Schroer, is responsible for creating and designing our first web page, www.newbremenhistory.org. Other work was also done by Marge’s son, Dr. Ed Conradi, to preserve the many slides, etc. that Paul & Marge left as their legacy. Unfortunately, Ed passed away October 7, 2006 before he could complete this project.
EDITOR OF “THE TOWPATH” - April 1996 to July 2011
Lucille M. Francis is the oldest child of Lafe W. Topp and Marie A.E. Otte and was born February 28, 1938 in German Township. She has a sister, Kathleen, and a brother, Stanley, both of New Bremen. Lowell J. Francis is the son of Frederick F. Francis and Florence A. Bonie and is a native of Russia, Ohio. He was born December 15, 1928, the eighth of eleven children. Lucille and Lowell were married July 1, 1961 and live in New Bremen. Lowell retired in March 1991 after 21 years with Crown Equipment Corp. Lucille had worked on genealogies for over 15 years when she was asked to take over as Editor of “The Towpath” in April 1996 and had published genealogy books of the Topp family and the Luedeke family (her paternal grandmother’s side) in the 1980s. She also is a Trustee who keeps up the lot and burial records for the German Protestant Cemetery Association at Lock Two and is often asked to give burial information to inquiring genealogists.
Lucille 'retired' as Editor of "The Towpath" with the July 2011 issue after 15˝ years. The new Editors are Genevieve Conradi, daughter of Marjorie Conradi Lietz, and Joyce Ruedebusch. Lucille is spending more time on genealogy work on the Find A Grave website. To search that site, see http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gs&. To contact her about genealogy questions, email her at NBHA/FAG: Genealogy.
Lucille Francis (12/1/2011)
[“The Towpath” – July 1996, October 1996, January 2000, April 2002, October 2011]