EDITOR’S NOTE–This is another article on Findlay-area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier. This particular article is the first of six dealing with H.R. Page’s “Findlay Illustrated,” which appeared in 1889. The book was reprinted in 1986 by the Historic Preservation Guild of Hancock County.
By R.L. HEMINGER
“Findlay Illustrated” was published in 1889 at the height of the oil and gas boom, locally. H.R. Page was the publisher. The book is a sizable one, containing many illustrations of Findlay, including pictures of a number of home within the community. There is a description of Findlay at that time, with a full account of the boom’s significance.
The author, after telling of the early discovery of oil elsewhere in the world, says:
“The city of Findlay stands out the most prominently of any locality in this connection and more attention has been drawn to it and more inquiries made regarding the discoveries within its borders than any man not acquainted with the facts could conceive to be possible.
“Not only are there inquiries from all parts of our own country, but England, France, Germany, in fact all Europe are sending inquiries in regard to this fuel which nature has stored so abundantly in this vicinity and also to the adaptability to all kinds of manufacturing — some with a view to locating their works so as to take advantage of the cheap fuel and others with a view of promoting discovery elsewhere.
“THE CITY HAS BECOME in a measure a kind of Mecca and men journey from long distances to view its wonders, even as the Queen of Sheba visited Jerusalem to behold the wonders of the temple and hearken to the wisdom of Solomon. But few people who come from afar to visit the city, unless they have become acquainted with its history, would imagine that it had a history dating back about a century. Everything looks as new and is so expensive, the evidence of thrift is so apparent on every hand, that the stranger imagines it to be a city of yesterday, with a growth so rapid and a development as sudden as the magical cities of the far west.
“The city has one of the widest and prettiest Main streets to be seen in northwestern Ohio and it has recently been connected with the north side by a handsome iron bridge 100-feet wide. It is divided into right and left compartments, while through the center, passes the track of the Main Street car line which extends from Chamberlain’s Hill on the south, where a number of beautiful and costly residences have been erected, notable those of Ex-Senator David Joy and R.E. Peabody to the Bigelow Hill, west of the Wetherald Wire Nail Works, a distance of about four miles.
“This elegant thoroughfare, especially south of Lima Street, abounds in fine residences on either side. They are elegant homes, surrounded by pretty grounds which in a few years will transform into bowers of beauty.
“Among these residences will be found those of Ex-Senator William L. Carlin, E. Barnd, G.W. Galloway, Dr. J. A. Kimmell, W.H. Campfield, Gage Carlin, J.B. Wagner, J.S. Patterson, G.W. Myers, M. Gray, E.L. Entrikin, John Poe, Esq., John Adams and Dr. Boger.
“On this thoroughfare in the heart of the city will be found the splendid store building of W. and W.R. Carnahan and on the corner of West Main Cross Street stands the handsomest Court House without exception in northwestern Ohio.”
“THE BEAUTIFUL FOUNTAINS which adorn the grounds in front are the gifts of public spirited citizens, the largest and most expensive having been given by Dr. Bass Rawson, one of Findlay’s first citizens, and the other by Benjamin F. Hyatt, a wealthy and retired businessman.”
There is a brief account of the establishment of Hancock County and of the construction of the two earlier courthouses.
Publisher Page also tells of the first discovery of natural gas in Findlay on South Main Street on a lot now occupied by the Marathon Oil Co. The gas was found in a well which had been drilled for purposes of water. Nothing came of the discovery though at the time, which was in the 1830s.
The volume then goes into the finding of natural gas on a commercial basis in the 1880s and the resulting boom. We will reproduce this account in future columns. The story is told in a most fascinating manner, with many angles not heretofore brought out to any great extent.