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 discovery of natural gas here in December 1884 could have been expected to lead to the establishment of businesses associated with the utilization of the new fuel.
The R.C. Brown history of Hancock County, published in 1886, says Samuel D. Houpt, a Findlay dry goods dealer with a flair for inventions, put on the market a “natural gas burner” which he had invented. “He had added materially to the use of natural gas” through his stove, the history says.
Recent months (1970) have brought to light information bearing upon the local manufacture of gas-burning stoves.The Republican-Courier received a long distance telephone call recently from Fullerton, Calif., where an individual was seeking some information in connection with a gas-burning cooking stove which he owned bearing the name of the “English Stove Company, Findlay, Ohio.” He said he had bought the old stove at a sale when he was in the east and then had taken it to California. The individual was Cliff Stayman in Fullerton.
He described the stove as having three Bunsen-type burners and table-type construction.
In response to his inquiry, he was told we know nothing about the English Stove Co. It may have been that Mr. Houpt’s manufacturing enterprise had this name, of course.
Then, a few weeks after the call from California there appeared in the classified columns of the Republican-Courier the following advertisement under the heading “antiques for sale.”
“Antique gas stove made in Findlay by John Adams. Patented, 1886.”
Mr. and Mrs. Claude Vandersall, of Rural Route 1, Findlay, inserted the advertisement. The round stove is about 12 inches across with seven 3-inch pipes extending to the outside. The Vandersalls acquired the Findlay-made stove some time ago.
Further information regarding Mr. Houpt’s gas stove is contained in William D. Humphrey’s “A Brief History of Oil and Gas in Findlay.” Mr. Houpt’s business was known as the Union Brass Co. and was established in Findlay in 1888 to manufacture natural gas fixtures and specialties, with a capital of $10,000, according to Mr. Humphrey. The plant was located on South Blanchard Street between East Main Cross Street and the old Big Four Railroad tracks near East Lincoln Street.
The Brown history says Mr. Houpt gave considerable attention to “experimental inventions” in his lifetime. He invented what he termed a “carbon transmitter or microphone” for utilization in telephoning. Mr. Houpt has gone down in history as the individual who introduced telephone service to Findlay.
In a small building on East Crawford Street not far from Main Street he built Findlay’s first crude telephone exchange, which initially served 80 customers. This was more than four years before natural gas was found here.
When Mr. Houpt opened his Findlay telephone business, the advent of Alexander Graham Bell’s first telephone in the world had only happened four years earlier. The telephone in Ohio made its first appearance in 1879, so Findlay’s introduction to this modern convenience came only a year later, making Findlay one of the first Buckeye cities to go into this field.
Mr. Houpt sold his telephone business to the Midland Telephone Co., of Chicago, in 1882. This was one of the early Bell companies.
He was born in Seneca County in 1841 and came to Hancock County in 1860. He served in the Civil War and upon returning went into the general merchandising business. A partner for some of the time was his father-in-law, Henry Byal, a prominent Findlay citizen.
A brother, Thomas Houpt, was the originator of the Hancock County rural route system in the late 1890s. Samuel D. Houpt was a member of the Democratic national convention which nominated Grover Cleveland of New York for president in 1884. Cleveland won the election, defeating James G. Blaine, of Maine.