EDITOR’S NOTE: The following 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.
By R.L. HEMINGER
Adam W. Wagnalls, of the famous Funk and Wagnalls publishing firm, belongs to Findlay’s past. A visit he paid to his old home town back in the summer of 1902 is remembered by some local people. He was famous by then, although still in his 50s.
When he was here for a brief visit in August 1902 he called on some of his old school friends whom he knew when he was a pupil at the old Number Nine School, located where the present Lincoln Elementary School is situated.
He also viewed two Findlay homes which the Wagnalls family built here, one the old W.P. Black residence on South Main Street on the west side between Lima and Lincoln streets. The other was the Dr. Clark W. Thomas home on the Fostoria Road, just beyond the junction with Tiffin Avenue. The Black home was razed some years ago to make way for the new central fire station. The Thomas home was relocated on a street almost directly behind where it once stood.
A few years ago, in a letter to the writer from the east, Mrs. Emma Galloway-Cole, formerly of Findlay, recalled the 1902 visit of Mr. Wagnalls to Findlay. She was a young girl then.
“I remember it well,” Mrs. Cole said. “He was so fashionably dressed and so distinguished appearing. He hired a rig and drove about the city with a driver. He seemed to greatly enjoy renewing friendships and recalling other days when here.”
He was born in 1843 in Lithopolis, Ohio, where a daughter constructed a library in his honor.
Funk and Wagnalls published the well known “Literary Digest” for a long time and also were in the book publishing field.
When Mr. and Mrs. Robert Magoon, 416 College St., visited England in 1971, they bought a book written by a Britisher entitled “A Concise History of the United States,” wishing to see how the British viewed our country today and also what they had to say about the loss of their colonies in the Revolution, among other things.
To their surprise, they discovered a half page picture of natural gas street-lighting in Findlay, in 1885. The scene was Findlay’s South Main Street from Sandusky Street north. There was a single sign, denoting the Ruhl Hardware Store, which stood on the east side just beyond Sandusky Street.
The natural gas flame was atop long pipes which stood along the curbing at regular intervals. On the west side could be observed the Hancock County Courthouse, which was the one which preceded the present county building. There was no text beyond the single line below the picture.
Only a couple pages in the history are devoted to the Revolutionary War. The work is replete with many illustrations.
The village of McComb took an especial interest in its Civil War Veterans.
In November 1902, a Veteran’s Easy Chair association was formed in McComb, to minister to the comfort of those who had returned from the battlefields. The association’s purpose was to provide easy chairs for the veterans and the first to receive such a gift was Elisha Todd on his 78th birthday.
The association was active for some years, with W.D. Porter as secretary.
The H.H. Griggs dry goods store, a large Findlay retail business at the northeast corner of South Main and East Crawford streets, where the First National Bank of Findlay now stands, had unusual ways of attracting interest and attention.
In the fall of 1902, the store brought to Findlay a man and wife billed as “the smallest married couple in the United States.” The man was only 36 inches tall and his wife 35 inches. They were in their early 40s.
In connection with the graduation of the 100th Findlay high school class this week (1972), it is interesting to recall the expansion of the high school curriculum that took place in the 1900-1910 decade, marking the first changes of importance in school courses since the very early days of the high school.
Not many years after the turn of the century, Miss Charlotte Fields became the first teacher of music in the Findlay schools. Miss Bertha Bowen was employed as the first instructor in art. Manual training was introduced in 1909, with C.E. Littell as the teacher and a domestic science department was added in 1910, with Miss Madge Garhart as the instructor. About that time, too, a commercial department was instituted with R.R. Holcomb as head.
All these departments have now expanded into substantial units in the school program at Findlay High.