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
The village of Mount Cory, which is now (1972) in the midst of its 100th anniversary celebration, can lay claim to various distinctions that set it apart and give it especial recognition.
While it is one of the smallest of Hancock County’s villages, it still possesses attributes that entitle it to high esteem among the communities that comprise our county.
Mount Cory’s early recognition of the importance and significance of good education has always won for the community the highest tributes from educational leaders. They have found much to praise in the fact that the Mount Cory area moved out in front courageously and bravely to provide its children with the best in educational facilities. The little one-room red schools in the Mount Cory area left the educational scene ahead of all the others within Hancock County because the region’s patrons saw the need for better schooling.
The original centralized school in Hancock County, built in Mount Cory now long after 1910, as the first such school in the county, still stands in Mount Cory and is now the grade school building for the local area, the high school students attending the Cory-Rawson school on the old Dixie Highway.
It took a dozen or so years for the remainder of Hancock County to follow the Mount Cory lead and install centralized systems. It was in the mid-1920s before all the little red schoolhouses were abandoned across Hancock County.
Mount Cory possesses another distinction. Some years ago, the Iron and Steel Institute of the United States put its geographical experts to work and discovered that it was within the village of Mount Cory that the exact geographical center of the iron and steel foundry operations within the nation was located east the of Mississippi River.
The roots of a goodly number of Findlay’s citizens are to be found within the village of Mount Cory and the surrounding area. Some have achieved leadership status.
The Crouse family, which figured prominently in Findlay annals, came from Mount Cory. This included Hiram Crouse, who was editor of the old Morning Republican from the mid-1880s to 1900 and whose son Russell Crouse became a famous playwright as a co-author of “Life with Father,” “Sound of Music,” “Arsenic and Old Lace,” and so forth. The father of Hiram Crouse was the Rev. E.B. Crouse, who was pastor of St. Paul’s Evangelical church here around 1890. Father and son are buried in Maple Grove Cemetery here.
Milton Harpster, Findlay architect for some years before and after the turn of the century, came from Mount Cory. He and his partner, William L. Kramer, were the architects who drew the plans for the present St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, the old Central High School, the former First Presbyterian Church, among other local structures. Milton Harpster’s son, when a student at Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh, achieved fame as a football star and was the quarterback of the All-American team of that day.
John W. Zeller, superintendent of Findlay’s public schools from 1877 to 1909, was born in Union Township, not far from Mount Cory. He became state school commissioner in 1909 by the vote of the people of Ohio, and later was a member of the faculty of Bowling Green State University.
The individual who originated night football in the United States came from the Mount Cory area. He is Russell Guin, now (1972) living in Danville, Ill., where he is a prominent publisher. He was a teacher at an Indiana school when he introduced the first night football as an innovation that proved highly successful.
Mount Cory this week is observing the 100th year since the laying out of the village into lots, but it is also marking another anniversary — the centennial of the completion of the first railroad through the village. It was during September 1892 that the old Lake Erie and Western Railroad finished its tracks through Mount Cory to help connect Findlay and Lima. The road had been running trains between Findlay and Fremont since the winter of 1859-60, but it was to be a dozen years yet before the rails were laid on to Lima. In early September 1872, the tracks reached Rawson and before the month was over they had been out down through Mount Cory and Bluffton. Lima was reached in November 1872.
The line was not completed until people along the route contributed funds to the work and the various townships and the county provided funds. Findlay furnished $78,600, Liberty Township $5,000, Eagle $10,000 and Union Township $20,000.
On Nov. 29, 1872, a dinner was held in Lima to celebrate the completion of the Findlay-Lima track, after a special train — the first on the new line — was operated between Fremont and Lima through Findlay, Rawson, Mount Cory, Bluffton and Beaverdam to carry leaders from those towns to the Lima event.
“Though the weather was very cold,” says the Brown History of Hancock County, “every station along the line was crowded to witness the loaded train as it sped on towards Lima.”
Mount Cory, of course, was one of those stations which witnessed the train speeding along on that November day back in 1872.
While Mount Cory was not laid out until 1872, it was not the last of the various Hancock County villages to be established. Jenera was the last in 1883.
Mount Blanchard was the first of the Hancock County villages. It was laid out in 1830, about a year after Findlay’s lots were laid out.
Other villages were laid out as follows: Van Buren, 1833; Benton Ridge, 1835; Arlington, 1844; Vanlue, May 1847; McComb, August 1847; West Independence, 1849; Houcktown, 1853; Rawson, February 1855; Arcadia, July 1855; Mount Cory, 1872; Deweyville, 1880; Shawtown, 1882; North Findlay, March 1883; Jenera, April 1883.