No Compromise: Mosquitoes & Mayhem in the Great Black Swamp; The story of the Reservoir War

Tim and Renee Boss portray Oliver and Emily Applegate in JPHS’s reenactment of the Reservoir War. More pictures at

The John Paulding Historical Society presented A Taste of History on Friday and Saturday evening, October 5 and 6 at the Museum in Paulding. Renee Boss directed this encore production of “No Compromise: Mosquitoes & Mayhem in the Great Black Swamp; The Story of the Reservoir War” that was written by Jane Nice. Pianist for the play was Donna Hibbard. Many local residents filled out the cast of this reenactment of one of the most hidden pieces of Paulding County history. This historical melodrama is based on the real events of the Reservoir War that happened in Paulding County Ohio right outside of the Village of Antwerp in April of 1887. 

Area residents and past residents were in attendance both nights to be entertained by the murder mystery dinner theater that was also a local history lesson. Guests were served their meal by the cast members and were encouraged to inquire about the facts of the history surrounding the Reservoir War – for a price! This was a fundraiser for the museum after all! The guests were also participants for portions of the production as soldiers and train riders. Murder suspects were voted on by the tables’ guests to try to solve this fictitious mystery of the day.

Cast members included the following:

Bargain Bin ladies – Eileen Kochensparger and Rhonda Smalley; Ohio Gov. Foraker – Max Hibbard; John T. Norris, detective – Gene Olwin; Private Reeves – Tyler Boss; Sheriff Deputy – Tito Diaz; Honorable John L. Geyer – Judge Michael Wehrkamp/Judge Tiffany Beckman; Emily Applegate – Renee Boss; Oliver Applegate – Tim Boss; Joseph Champion – Don Crossland; Alzeda Champion – Ruby Crossland; Dr. Millholland – Jay Dachenhaus; Mrs. Harrison – Haley Boss; Frank Lamb – Greg White; Anna Lamb – Nancy White; H.H. Gordon – Walter Lang; Rev. McClusky – Scott Strahley; Warner Ryel – Katie Diaz; Worden (Henry) Sperry – Justin Boss; Henry Harris – Clint Vance; John Zuber – John Pier; Mary Zuber – Bonnie Pier; Charles Henry Graves – Dan Wilder; Minnie McCabe – Susan Pieper; Ona Applegate – Shannon Ruschel; Francis Shaw – Fred Pieper; JPHS President – Kim Sutton; Newspaper Girl – Delaney Dachenhaus; Special Guest Appearance – The Fark Sisters.

The Great Black Swamp covered this area of Northwest Ohio and its west edge is Rd 77 east of Antwerp. Illnesses were blamed on the mosquito infested reservoir – ague and typhoid at the top of the list. After a bill to get rid of the canal and reservoir failed in the State House due to a delegation from Defiance who needed the canal (and its reservoir) for transporting lumber for their business, a new delegation was formed… a secret delegation – the Dynamiters. They made plans to blow up the reservoir and disperse the disease laden water and its mosquitoes. And the rest is history…

The John Paulding Historical Society members is dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of Paulding County Ohio for future generations.

JPHS has hit a winner with this reenactment of a piece of the history of Paulding County. The next venue should be the Antwerp High School stage!

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