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
There were many small towns along the line of the old Findlay, Fort Wayne and Western Railroad which was just about the straightest railroad ever built in the United States. It became known as the “Tangent Line” because of its characteristic in this connection. It was in 1888 that the road was constructed between Findlay and Fort Wayne, Ind.
One of the stops on the Tangent Line was a town called Grover Hill in western Paulding County. The railroad went right through the center of Grover Hill. No evidence of the railroad exists today within the town. But the village, numbering nearly 600 inhabitants, has other interests to occupy its attention.
One of them is a 400-page history of Grover Hill and adjoining Latty and Washington townships. It is just about the most complete historical account of any Ohio community ever put together.
The authors are Lawrence R. and Ruth I. Hipp. They and their families have been Grover Hill people for a long time. They have been business leaders in the town down through the years. Right now, they conduct the Hipp Store, an establishment right in the center of town, engaged in a variety type of merchandise. Mrs. Hipp is the editor of the town’s weekly newspaper, the News.
There is Findlay interest in the historical work, aside from the railroad connection. Mention is made of various individuals who have or have had ties in both Findlay and Grover Hill.
Mr. Hipp is a good friend of Findlay’s postmaster, G. Fred Graf. They served together in World War II in the 37th Division in the South Pacific. Author Hipp is a lieutenant colonel, having been promoted from the rank of major in December 1950. He saw service in Korea and later in Japan in the Korean War.
We paid a visit to Grover Hill and Author Hipp this past summer (1971), discussing his monumental historical work with him for some time. He said he had some 900 of the volumes printed by a Defiance printing concern and the supply was exhausted. More are wanted to fill continuing demands and he is weighing the matter of printing and selling additional copies.
Col. Hipp said his father, Grover C. Hipp, who is now 87 years old, told him of a Findlay connection Grover Hill possesses, and which is in the book. S. Robert Fish, for a number of years a Findlay resident, was mayor of Grover Hill for two years starting in 1900. There is a picture of Mr. Fish, shown in connection with a memorial service in a church for President McKinley after his assassination.
The elder Mr. Hipp is still active and on the day we were there he was preparing for a trip to South Carolina with a friend. He once ran the Grover Hill Reporter.
Honors have come to Col. Hipp as a consequence of his book. The Associated Historical Society of Ohio awarded him a citation in April 1972, and the Lions Club of Grover Hill presented him with a certificate of merit and gratitude.
“It’s been a labor of love,” said Col. Hipp as he conversed with the writer and Allen P. Dudley on our Grover Hill visit. “I wanted to provide an account of our town and the adjoining townships of Latty and Washington for the benefit of the community and its residents. The task took some 10 years’ time, but I feel it was eminently worthwhile.”
The exhaustive nature of the work astounds all who examine it. There are pictures by the hundreds, lists of all those buried in the cemeteries, a roster of the town’s soldiers who have gone to the wars and just about everything that is required to tell the full story of Grover Hill and the adjoining townships.
The town newspaper, the News, of which Mrs. Hipp is editor, is printed in Decatur, Ind. once a week. She gathers the news and the advertising matter in Grover Hill and forwards it on to Decatur across the Indiana line, for the printing process.
The Findlay, Fort Wayne and Western Railroad had as one of its promoters an Ottawa leader, Charles N. Haskall, who was to become the first governor of Oklahoma when it was admitted to the Union in 1907. Haskall was in Findlay often in connection with the promotion and construction of the railroad. When a former Findlay man who had moved to Toledo was indicted by the grand jury there for some alleged offense, he decided to “take off” to Oklahoma, where he felt a friend of his earlier days in Findlay would protect him and keep him from being extradited back to Ohio. The friend was Oklahoma’s new govenor. The man went to Oklahoma and his surmise was correct. Ohio’s efforts to bring him back via the extradition route failed.
The Tangent Line was a popular travel route for Findlay folk. The railroad promoted extensively its connection with the Clover Leaf railroad at Cloverdale in western Putnam County, a few stops east of Grover Hill. Passengers could leave Findlay and make connections with the Clover Leaf at Cloverdale for points in Indiana and Illinois as well as Missouri, on the Clover Leaf route, which ran between Toledo and St. Louis.
The father of the current writer of this account, I.N. Heminger, had an interesting Tangent Line experience. He once boarded a Tangent Line train here for Ottawa. Upon arriving there, as he walked past the locomotive at the railroad station, one of the huge drive wheels toppled over onto the ground.
The Findlay, Fort Wayne, and Western Railroad, first known as the American Midland, went into the hands of the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railroad a couple decades after its origin. The CH & D then was absorbed by the Baltimore and Ohio.
The Tangent Line was not taken over by the federal government, as were many other railroads in World War I, and this contributed to the financial troubles that caused it to be discontinued around 1920.
The line had its general offices in Findlay for a long time, located in the Argyle block. On its clerical staff at one time was H.B. Hovis, of Findlay, now in his 90s here. He had just received his Findlay College diploma.