Monday, Jul 25, 2016
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Village prepares spotlight for local polar explorer

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Bob and Sherry Bauer, working in their yard, bought Dr. Paul Allman Siple's former home on Empire Street and have spent nearly two years restoring its wooden floors and uncovering its high ceilings.


MONTPELIER, Ohio - When famous Williams County residents are recognized, Bryan native and astronaut Col. Tom Henricks typically tops the list.

But local historians, who are preparing a variety of activities for Ohio's Bicentennial celebration this year, plan to put polar explorer Dr. Paul Allman Siple into the state spotlight as well.

Dr. Siple, who was born in Montpelier in 1908, is credited with creating the concept of “wind-chill factor.” He also was well-known for repeatedly traveling to the South Pole, with his first trip as a Boy Scout.

Still, the now-deceased explorer hasn't received major recognition in recent years: The last large-scale community event was in 1976, when Montpelier residents spun U.S. Bicentennial activities into their own Paul Siple Day celebration. Several years ago, an exhibit about him was placed into the Williams County Museum.


Siple: went to South Pole several times.


And while his name appears on village signs and monuments, and he remains popular among locals and Boy Scouts, some believe he's deserving of additional accolades.

“A lot of people in the area don't know the story of Paul Siple. We don't even have a street named after him,” said Sandy Damschroder, a Montpelier park employee who's been researching him recently. “Part of that's because he's been gone for so long.”

Dr. Siple, who died at 59 of a heart attack in 1968, also left Montpelier at age 11, after he did some of his first exploring along the banks of the nearby St. Joseph River.

Bob Bauer, who now lives in the old Siple home on Empire Street, said the Siple family left Montpelier, a community about 56 miles west of Toledo, and moved to Pennsylvania.


A sign notes Dr. Siple's primary claim to fame, though he also is credited with the concept of the 'wind-chill factor.'


But the home the explorer grew up in is still a community focal point - most people don't need the guidance of a sign that hangs on its porch.

Mr. Bauer and his wife, Sherry, are two residents who are preparing to properly recognize Dr. Siple this bicentennial year. After buying his somewhat run-down old home nearly two years ago, they restored its wood floors and uncovered its high ceilings.

Just this week, the home's exterior was completed, with 55 empty gallon cans of paint left as a result.

The Bauers said they hope to have their home open to the public in August, to coincide with another weekend county bicentennial event.

In addition, Ms. Damschroder with the village parks department has organized an evening walking tour at Montpelier's tree grove from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 25 and 26. That event, known as “Haunted Historic Tree Grove: Voices from the Past,” will spotlight some deceased individuals with ties to the area and Ohio, including abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe, two of the county's first settlers, and Dr. Siple.

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