John L. Jablonski/Jackson


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Early Years § South to Ohio § Big Changes § Blank Years § The Craftsman § Retirement

John L. Jablonski/Jackson was Bonnie Billick’s father.

Early Years

John Jablonski was born on Wednesday, March 16, 1898 when the family was living in Oconto County, Wisconsin. Census records indicate he completed a grade school education. His teen years might have been somewhat tumultuous. We surmise his mother passed away sometime around 1908 when he was just ten years old. He would have completed grammar school around 1912.

Just six years later, John’s life changed dramatically.

In September of 1918, John’s Draft Registration card shows him living in Chicago at 1116 Washington Blvd, an address just a little more than a mile from the Economy Fuse Company where he was employed as a machinist. The document also reports his father still living in Thorp, WI. What exactly drove John to move south the Chicago is not known

South to Ohio

Scarcely two months after filling out his Draft card, John married 19-year-old Dorotha M. Krotzer, the first-born of Alfred and Tillie Krotzer’s thirteen children. The Krotzers were living in Wood County, Ohio (probably Gibsonburg) but on their marriage license, Dorotha records her address as 23 19th Street, in Toledo. We don’t know how or where John first met his future bride or even what brought him some 600 miles from central Wisconsin to northwest Ohio nor why his young bride had relocated thirty miles north of her parents’ home town.

From his marriage license, we know that in November of 1918 he was living at 3521 Summit Street in Toledo,[1] and working as a machinist.

A bit of sports history took place in Toledo at this time. The famous Jess Willard-Jack Dempsy heavyweight boxing title fight was held in Point Place’s Bay View Park on July 4, 1919. Grampa Jackson several times mentioned attending that bout.

Sometime around 1920, John changed his surname to “Jackson.” In January of 1921, the first of John and Dorotha’s two children, Bonita Mae, was born; followed in July of 1922 by a son, John, Junior. Toledo city directories for the 1920’s provide a map of John’s employment and residences:[2]

1923 baker Lakeview Dr. 4, east of Bridgewater Dr., Point Place
1925 grocer Towers Rd., Woodville
1926 baker 113th E. Summit St., Point Place
1928 baker 2847 113th
1929 baker 2847 113th
1930 baker 2847 113th St., Point Place

I have no idea where Grampa Jackson acquired his knowledge of baking or if this was an occupational opportunity he just happened upon. I do recall my mother occasionally asking his advice about bread baking. And on trips back and forth to Gibsonburg, Grampa a few times mentioned that he had worked at the Wonder Bread bakery, whose sign we passed along the road near Rossford.

The 1930 Census shows the family still at the rented 113th Street location. Today, that address is a humble duplex: probably the same structure the family occupied nearly a century ago. It is also only about two miles south of Webber’s Waterfront Restaurant where Dorotha may have worked as a cook. John’s position as a baker may have been at the Continental Baking Company, on Summit Street in downtown Toledo which was where Wonder Bread was produced for many decades.

Big Changes

At some point before April of 1930, John and Dorotha’s relationship disintegrated. Although no official divorce document has been uncovered, by the 1935 John had moved to Gibsonburg, Ohio, with his then 13-year old son, John, Jr.  The 109½ South Main Street was likely the second floor, above a small business property. John was listed as “Owner.” The 1940 Census included columns for the prior year’s work and John is reported to have worked just 9 weeks with a total income of $210.

Daughter, Bonnie’s, whereabouts at this point is a mystery as she does not appear in the 1940 Census records for either parent.

Dorotha appears in the Toledo Census rolls, living with Joseph Schneider, reporting their marital status as “Married,” living at 2415 Rosewood Avenue, a locale just a couple of miles from the center of downtown Toledo. This appears to have been a four-unit rental property.

Blank Years

Following the move to Gibsonburg around 1940, John virtually disappears from official records. There is a brief mention in September of 1963 in the classified ads of the Fremont News-Messenger newspaper where John is selling his plumbing tools and Dodge pick-up truck. John turned 65 earlier that year and this might have been a nod to his retirement. At this time, he was living in a modest house at 410 E. Stone Street, overlooking Williams Park ball fields and the nearby quarry.

The Craftsman

John only had a grade-school education, but he was very skilled working with his hands. He grew up in a very rural area where farm folk had to be capable of making an array of repairs on their own. His first known employment was at the Economy (electric) Fuse factory in Chicago. This would have given him at least a basic knowledge of electric circuitry.

During the 1920’s, of course, he worked as a baker; and after moving to Gibsonburg he earned his living as a plumber.

To say that Grampa Jackson was “handy” would be a massive understatement. As a youngster, I saw Grampa repair all manner of devices: electric outlets, irons, dryers, automobile engines, gas stoves, fans, sewer lines, toilets, lawn mowers, etc. I never saw him reading a book but he never sat still for very long either: there was always something to fix.

☛  Grampa also had some background as a lumberjack. I recall his mentioning such activities on several occasions, specifically referring to the dangers associated with floating fallen logs into the river and off to the lumber mill. I have a very vivid recollection of Grampa, my father, and Uncle John (Jackson) cutting down a huge elm tree on our lot on Blackburn Road, probably some time around 1960 or so. They used a big two-man saw and axes. It was impressive to watch and even more remarkable now in the age of chain saws.


John passed his retirement years in a little home at 410 East Stone Street, in Gibsonburg, occasionally spending extended periods at Bonnie’s house in Toledo. He was quite ill the last two years or so of his life and spent some time in an extended care facility before he passed away on February 4, 1984. He was buried in St. Lawrence Cemetery, less than a mile from the East Stone Street house.

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[1] Wife, Dorotha Krotzer, listed her residence as 23 19th Street, Toledo.
[2] Tantalizingly, these directories also contain listings for a Frank Jablonski and a Stanley Jablonski. However, as noted early on, this is a common surname and there is no way to know if these individuals are John’s brothers.
{last update: 9-Mar-2020}