Our County History
by County Historian Marion W. Coplen

A number of humorous stories have come down to us concerning incidents which have happened in our county. We want to relate one of them today which is said to have occurred in Warsaw back in the days before the railroads.

A gentleman representing a wholesale firm in Toledo drove up in his sulky to Popham's hotel in Warsaw an, ordering his horse to be taken care of, asked to be directed to a local hardware store. Mr. Popham sent him to the Chapman Bros. Hardware, which was nearby.

Clerking in this hardware store was a young man by the name of Eli Summy, well-known around town as a practical joker. When the hardware salesman entered the business establishment, Summy was working in the front of the store, and one of the owners, William Chapman was in the back. The stranger explained his business to the clerk. Summy told him that he would have to talk to the "boss", but that he would have to speak up because Chapman was very deaf. So the gentleman proceeded to the back of the store, opened his display case, and at the top of his voice gave the prices of different articles of merchandise.

The incident took Chapman by surprise for he is described as a mild-mannered man who could hear as distinctly as any person. According to the story, the loud talking of the stranger soon attracted quite a large crowd, among whom was Popham, the hotel keeper. Taking in the situation at a glance, Popham took the traveler aside and explained to him that Mr. Chapman was not deaf. Summy then admitted that he had played a joke on the stranger.

The next morning the salesman called on another hardware store in Warsaw. Isaac Whitehead, a man who was extremely hard of hearing, was the proprietor. He was sweeping the room when the traveler walked in and introduced himself. Not understanding the name, the proprietor cupped his hand behind his ear. This made the salesman very angry, because he thought that Whitehead had heard of the incident of the day before and was kidding him still further.

Although the traveling salesman left Warsaw in a rage that day, it is reported that the whole affair was straightened out on a later visit.

Warsaw Times-Union Sat. May 23, 1953