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Samuel Finley Oberdorf


Samuel Finley Oberdorf was born on Oct. 14, 1848 in Grand Rapids, Wood County, OH, the son of Samuel Stanwood Finley and Catherine (Van Horn) Oberdorf.

On the third day of the new year in 1877, at the age of 19, he married Mary Ann Davis ( ? - ? ). The nuptials were officiated by justice of the peace J.B. Hill in Wood County. 

Their three known children born to this marriage were Robert Vernon "R.V." Oberdorf Sr., Sylvia Valentine and Dee Oberdorf.

The couple first lived in Cloverdale, Wood County.The 1900 federal census enumeration shows the family in Bowling Green, Wood County, with Samuel working as a building mover.


Corner of Summit and Cherry Streets, Toledo, with the Steadman monument


Later, the Oberdorfs made their home at 743 Chesbrough Avenue in Toledo, Lucas County, OH.

Suffering from chronic kidney disease, hardening of the arteries and senility, Samuel died at the age of 83 on April 29, 1932. Burial was in Bowling Green, Wood County. Son Dee Oberdorf signed the official Ohio death certificate.

Mary Ann outlived her husband by almost 11 years. She passed away on April 15, 1943.


~ Daughter Sylvia (Oberdorf) Valentine ~

Daughter Sylvia M. Oberdorf (1879-1902) was born in Sept. 1879. 

On Aug. 26, 1897, in Wood County, she wed Arthur F. Valentine ( ? - ? ). Rev. J.M. Crim officiated.

Together, the Valentines produced one known son, DeWee J. Valentine.

The couple's address in 1900, at the time of the United States Census, was on Fourth Street in Bowling Green, Wood County. Arthur earned a living at that time as a house plasterer.

Tragically, Sylvia is believed to have passed away from a miscarriage on June 11, 1902, in Bowling Green, at the age of 24. 

Arthur is thought to have survived her by several decades and to have died in the 1930s.

Son DeWee J. Valentine (1898- ? ) was born in February 1898 in or around Bowling Green, OH.

~ Son Robert Vernon "R.V." Oberdorf Sr. ~

Son Robert Vernon "R.V." Oberdorf Sr. (1888-1967) was born on March 8, 1888 (or 1890) in Cloverdale, Wood County, OH. 

He grew up in Bowling Green, Wood County.

When he was age 21, he married 18-year-old Hattie M. Neier (1891- ? ) on June 10, 1909 in Wood County, OH. C.M. Eberly led the nuptials. 

Following his father's occupation, R.V. was a building mover and lived in Bowling Green, Wood County. Hattie was the daughter of Lewis and Elizabeth (Myers) Neier and at the time of marriage lived in North Baltimore, Wood County. 

They bore together one child, Robert Vernon Oberdorf Jr. 

Trouble began about 18 months into the marriage, with Hattie's father circulating allegedly slanderous comments about R.V. After 18 months, Hattie moved out on June 5, 1912, and sued R.V. for divorce. A story in the Perrysburg Journal said that R.V. had treated Hattie with "extreme cruelty" and "was in the habit of ridiculing her and of telling her of his exploits in questionable places." The father in law then came to the house and removed all of the furniture and household goods. R.V. countered by suing the father in law for $10,000 in damages, with the news reported on the front page of the Perrysburg Journal. The divorce went forward and was granted. 

Now single again, R.V. made his home at 608 Erie in Toledo, OH.

On March 5, 1921, in Lucas County, OH, R.V. wed a second time, to Verdie Viola (Fairchild) Wren, daughter of Seth H. and Idea B. (Stevens) Fairchild. Verdie also had been divorced previously, from George Wren, and supported herself as a laundress. Both husband and wife were age 31 at the time of the second marriage.


Robert Jr. and Kathryn Oberdorf

The couple moved to White Cloud, MI, where R.V. continued his line of work as a farmer.

During World War II, the Oberdorfs grieved when receiving the shocking news that their son Robert had been killed during the Battle of the Bulge in Europe. 

Verdie died on Jan. 10, 1954, possibly in White Cloud, with burial in Goodwell Township Cemetery. 

Robert passed away 13 years later, on June 23, 1967.

Son Robert Vernon Oberdorf Jr. (1910-1945) was born in 1910 in Wood County, OH. After his parents divorced, he relocated to White Cloud, MI, where his father and step-mother lived. There, he worked as a truck driver. He married Kathryn Morgan (1912- ? ) n about 1937. During World War II, Robert was drafted into the Army and was assigned to the 319th Infantry Division. While in action during the Battle of the Bulge in Luxembourg, a victory for the Allies, he went missing. He was officially recorded as missing in action on Feb. 11, 1945, and was declared dead on July 2, 1945. Whatever remains may have been recovered were placed at rest in the Hamm Cemetery in Luxembourg.


~ Son Dee J. Oberdorf ~

Son Dee J. Oberdorf (1898- ? ) was born on Feb. 15, 1898. 

He learned the occupation of masonry, and as an adult lived at 3636 Torrence Street in or near Toledo, Lucas County, OH. In 1930, he boarded in the home of Thadeus and Mayme Tillotson on Torrence Drive in Toledo, working as a brick mason. 

He did not marry until he was age 41. On June 17, 1939, he wed 37-year-old divorcee Margaret (Wyman) Underwood, the daughter of Charles F. and Carrie (Schill) Wyman. Rev. John C. Gieser officiated. (Her previous husbands were Fred Klaus and George Underwood.) At the time of marriage, Margaret earned income as a seamstress.

Margaret had been married previously and brought a daughter to the second union, Margaret Underwood.

They did not otherwise reproduce. 

The family is known in August 1937 to have attended a Lawn Social presented by the Ladies Aid of Winthrop Harbor, IL. The news was published in the gossip columns of the Zion (IL) Community News.

When the federal census enumeration was taken in 1940, the Oberdorfs lived in Toledo. Also residing under their roof were stepdaughter Margaret, Dee's 87-year-old widowed grandmother Mary Oberdorf and Margaret's widowed mother Carrie Wyman.

Margaret died after just seven years of marriage, on Sept. 13, 1946. 

Dee survived her by more than a quarter of a century. He died in Toledo on Feb. 23, 1972.

Stepdaughter Margaret Underwood (1922- ? ) was born in about 1922 in Ohio. She grew up with Dee Oberdorf as her stepfather and lived in Toledo as a teenager.


Copyright 2015, 2021 Mark A. Miner

Photo courtesy of Karl Oberdorf.