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 story of Findlay’s industries of other days especially during the gas boom days of the late 19th century is an exceedingly fascinating one. Below will be found more about them.
During the gas boom days a plant was established in Findlay to manufacture barrels. Findlay’s glass factories needed barrels for shipment of their products and the new plant was designed to supply the need. The plant had a production of more than 100,000 barrels annually. J.P. Campbell was the owner of the plant.
Excelsior became a Findlay-made product in 1887. The glass industries also need excelsior in their business and the Empire Excelsior Works which had been established in 1874 in nearby Delphos was moved to Findlay. The plant was located on East Main Cross Street, just beyond Blanchard Street on the south side of the street.
Nails were manufactured in Findlay during the boom days. The Wetherald Wire Nail Co. was organized by A.S. Wetherald and began operations in its plant along the old Toledo and Ohio Central Railroad in northeastern Findlay. The company was later reorganized as the Salem Wire Nail Co. and gave employment to 180 men. On the site of the company plant, scraps of metal from the manufacturing process can still be observed (1970).
Another boom-time plant was the American Nail and Machine Co., which had been organized in 1884 in Ashtabula, Ohio. The firm built a substantial plant in southeast Findlay at the corner of Yates Avenue and Bank Street in the general area of today’s (1970) Remington Arms and Hancock Brick and Tile plants. The new firm started operations in January 1889 and employed 30 workers. A.P.F. Good was president; John A. Scott, well-known Findlay citizen, was vice-president; and R.E. Peabody was manager. The firm produced special machinery and did general machine and foundry work.
Mr. Scott was engaged in wholesale liquor business in Findlay, his place of business being across from the courthouse on South Main Street. He was an active leader in Findlay’s industrial efforts during the war and helped establish a number of such operations here, becoming an officer in a number of them.
Mr. Peabody built the large home at the northeast corner of South Main Street and Edgar Avenue, now (1970) the residence of Dr. R.J. Wertheim.
The plant eventually discontinued business here. Findlay almost became the home of a plant intended to manufacture railroad cars. When the Tangent Line Railroad was secured for Findlay, its repair and car shops were located here in West Park. It was intended that they should also build railroad cars, but his phase of the business never came into being.
In 1873, Findlay obtained a new industry, the Findlay Robe Factory, which was established in north Findlay by C.E. Seymour, Andrew Bushong and H.M. Vance. The factory was destroyed by fire in May, 1880 and a new building was constructed but this time on East Crawford Street.
The firm underwent quite a few changes through the years. Mr. Vance sold his interest to Paul J. Sours in 1875 and three years later Mr. Seymour became the sole owner, Mr. Bushong having sold out also. In 1882, Lemuel McManness joined Mr. Seymour in the firm.All the partners were well known Findlay citizens. Mr. Seymour also was in the lumber business. Mr. Vance was a son of the Wilson Vances, his father having laid out the town of Findlay in the early 1820s. Mr. Sours came here in 1834 from Pennsylvania and became Hancock County auditor in 1847, serving two terms. Mr. McManness came to Findlay in 1856 from Pennsylvania and in 1884 was elected sheriff of the county. He engaged in the milling business for some years. McManness Avenue is named for him.