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The Place on Jennings Creek PDF Print E-mail
Monday, March 28, 2011 7:45 AM

Book reports were not among my favorite assignments in high school.  Maybe it was the books we were assigned to read.  I always enjoyed reading the Nancy Drew books but they were not included for book reports.

Recently I read “The Place on Jennings Creek” by Leslie C. Peltier, sometimes referred to our most famous Delphos resident.  I felt the urge to inform everyone in Delphos and our area about this fascinating person and their home on the Jennings Creek. In wider circles, Peltier is known as “the most famous amateur astronomer in America.” He even has a comet named for him.  As a youth he became interested in nature and science, particularly in astronomy, in which field he has discovered and co-discovered 12 new comets and two Novae and has made some 130,000 observations of variable stars.

At age 5, he watched his first remembered stars, the Pleiades, through the east window of their kitchen window on the farm. Five years later, through that same window he saw the shimmering form of Halley’s Comet, just before dawn in May 1910.

My curiosity was aroused about the book when Jack Adams and his wife purchased this beautiful Peltier home on Bredeick Street in Delphos. They are considering making it into a bed and breakfast.  How wonderful! It would be a wonderful “resort” to sit and relax and enjoy nature. Out of town visitors could enjoy that while they take in the Miami-Erie Canal, The Delphos Canal Commission Museum, The Postal Museum, The Lincoln Highway, our Veterans Memorial, our beautiful churches and the many other points of interest in Delphos.
This book is filled with interesting bits of information on nature and science. My grandson, Nolan, was approached by one of the FJHS teachers, “Mrs. A” who asked “Does your grandma have anything on Leslie Peltier?” She wanted to introduce him to her students.  Naturally, I was pleased to respond to her wishes. I have the above mentioned book and an autographed copy of his autobiography “Starlight Nights.” I could also send along several articles on this famous gentleman. The Delphos Public Library has a huge three ring binder on Leslie Peltier.

When Mrs. A returned the book, I decided to read “The Place on Jennings Creek” instead of just returning it to the bookshelf.  Since then I have read and re-read parts of it.  I became fascinated with the book.  It is a must for all students in the Delphos schools….a good one for the parents and teachers also.

When our oldest son, Bill, was in Cub Scouts, we were privileged to view the moon through Peltier’s telescope in his home observatory. It was a real thrill!  Memories of this experience returned when I viewed the “Super Moon” last Saturday night.

In the opening chapter Peltier describes Brookhaven inside and out.  Although the Jennings Creek is not a brook, that was the name given to the home and it’s surroundings by a previous owner.

On one special November afternoon, Leslie’s wife, Dottie, called him at his workshop – office of the Delphos Bending Co. She excitedly told him that Realtor Bill Jones had the old Moenning place on the Jennings Creek listed.  This beautiful Victorian house stood amidst a huge wooded area, with the back yard bordering the Jennings Creek. There were 32 trees in the front lawn alone. By the time Peltier arrived on the scene, Dottie had already fallen in love with the place. This unspoiled rural setting was just inside the western Delphos city limits.

This beautiful home with all its gingerbread and porches was built by Henry Moennig in the late 19th century.  Henry came to America from Germany with his family in 1843.  He was 13 at the time.  Henry helped his family clear the land for their farm. At the age of 27, he married Mary Bredeick, daughter of Ferdinand Bredeick, one of the founders of Delphos.  Henry became a very active business man in town, with one street named for him. Henry and Mary had eight children. Three died in their first year and three others died rather young. Two surviving children, Elizabeth and Otto, moved to California.

From 1938 on, Brookhaven had three owners.  The first being a Catholic priest, by the name of Dr. John L. Sassen (or the parish), then Harold Wolfe and Collin M. Doyle. Doyle had horses and dogs while living there. They also added a swimming pool and golf course to the front yard. After purchasing Brookhaven, the Peltier family used the pool until the boys went off to college.
Mr. Peltier mentioned that he wished everyone would keep a journal. He often wondered how the previous owners passed the time while living at Brookhaven.

“The Place on Jennings Creek” is really a nature book. In the book, the reader can wonder all over the grounds and enjoy the many varieties of trees on the property. Scattered all over the front part of the lawn was an assortment of old trees — oak, ash, sycamore, maple and catalpa, with a grouping of tall pines near the house. Leslie and Dottie often took walks around the property, stopping to sit on a log or two. The whole property covered about a dozen acres. They referred to the South Woods and the North Woods. Here they could enjoy almost every species of tree found in Delphos. Among them was cottonwood, willow, buckeye, hawthorne, hackberry, box elder, Austrian pine, Norway spruce, honey locust, redbud, apples, peach, wild black cherry, an ancient red cedar and a lone chestnut tree found in the South Woods. Peltier noted that at one time he estimated that there were 4,100 silver maples within the corporation limits of Delphos. He noted that if they were all sugar maples, the cash value of their average yield would by about $10,250. People planted silver maple because they grew faster. Peltier described Johnny Appleseed as if he knew him in person.

Peltier refers to the quarry across the creek from his property. He describes the rock formations of the limestone quarry and how those walls and the limestone formations under his property can tell a lot about how our area was formed. He wrote about the granite boulders which came down 10,000 to 25,000 years ago with the glaciers that once covered much of Ohio. He describes the Black Swamp, Ten Mile Woods and the Miami – Erie Canal. He mentions how Indians like Tecumseh and Little Turtle once roamed the area. It was Peltier’s great-grandfather, William Scott, who was one of the men who cut the first road from the Auglaize River through the wilderness to Van Wert. Scott lived to the age of 102.

Peltier describes the house with its Trindows, which are three panes of glass, with two inches of space between each pane.
He had a special room upstairs, with bookshelves filled to capacity. He could also walk out on to the roof to view the stars, if he didn’t want to walk out to his observatory on the north side of the estate, nearer the railroad.

Peltier describes the many wildflowers on the property, such a trilliums, wild blue phlox, Dutchman’s breeches, blue Hepaticas and bloodroot. Naturally they also had golden rod and ragweed. They could listen to the night sounds of the crickets and katydids and the hooting of owls. They found a hummingbird nest in one of the trees. The nest was about the size of a dime, with two eggs, the size of garden peas. They enjoyed the many birds and wild animals. They were visited by herons, song birds, raccoon, rabbits and many other little creatures. He said Dottie made very good applesauce and he didn’t spray the trees because he didn’t mind sharing an apple with a worm, who got there first.

Peltier also mentions the many bike trails that were in the South Woods.  He said that was OK until the motor cycles came too. 
The author writes that he and Dottie thought they found the Promised Land, when they arrived at Brookhaven. He comments that:
“May we, its trustees, administer it wisely and may its dividends accumulate as blessings for those who, one day, shall inherit this good earth.”

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, November 06, 2012 3:21 PM
 

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