Findlay once had a toothpick factory

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.




Findlay once had a factory that manufactured toothpicks. It was in the late 1890s and early 1900s.

It was late in April 1891 that the Findlay Toothpick Co. commenced operations in a building on Garfield along the present Penn Central Railroad then the Toledo and Ohio Central Line. The factory building had previously been occupied by the I.W. Brown Novelty Works.

Between 35 and 50 worker were employed at the start of the toothpick factory. Charles Hoyt was president of the company, described in the old Morning Republican on April 28, 1894, as “one of our substantial citizens.” The manager was Levi Paulin, described as a “competent and experienced woodworker.”

The plant was capitalized at $6,000. The concern had orders booked far ahead and was turning out one railroad car load every four days. Special machinery including one unit that weighed 6,200 pounds was installed. Plans for the future included expansion into the chip basket field.

After a short time, the company, under new owners, moved from Garfield Avenue to a new location on Lima Avenue just east of Western Avenue on the south side. A planing mill property had been located on the second floor of the new location and its space was taken over by the toothpick firm. Hutton Bros. reel factory was located on the first floor. The Garfield Avenue factory was later taken over by the Hancock Manufacturing Co., which engaged in turning out wood supplies of all kinds for use in the oil fields. This was in 1904. The building was later sold and eventually disappeared.

The late Don Smith is the source of the toothpick data.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH each Sunday in its Sunday magazine section carries a feature entitled “Ohio Namesakes.” On a Sunday in July (1972), Hancock County’s Williamstown found itself paired with another Williamstown, located in Victoria, Australia. Featured in the article were reproductions of the postmarks of each Williamstown. The one of Hancock County’s Williamstown was dated Aug. 1, 1927. The one from Australia’s Williamstown bore the date of Oct 13, 1954.

The Dispatch gave the history of the “down under” Williamstown as follows: The Australian municipality and port of this name starts on the southwest shore of Hobson’s Bay at the mouth of the Yarra River five miles from Melbourne of which it is a suburb. It had naval dockyards, a railway works, a rifle range and (in 1958) a population of over 30,000.

“Australia’s Governor Bourke — Sir Richard Bourke, who died in 1855 — was responsible for the name. An able, but somewhat nepotic (favoritism to relatives) man, he personally thought the site to be better than Melbourne as the capital of the new and developing settlement. He named it Williamstown in honor of William the Fourth, then Britain’s reigning monarch.

“In earlier years, the locality was known to its Australian aboriginal inhabitants as K-rt boork-boork, meaning ‘the clump of she-oaks.'”

The Dispatch did not go into the background of Hancock County’s Williamstown. The Madison Township village was named for John W. Williams, who laid out the town April 23, 1834. He built a log structure and lived there for some time before moving to Kenton. He had an idea of making an entirely new county out of the surrounding area, with his new town as the county seat. He thought the railroad which was being projected between Carey and Kenton could be included to go through Williamstown, and when it followed a route through Forest instead, he gave up his idea and went to Kenton to live.

JOHN F. SMITH, principal of Findlay High School for many years and later superintendent, once received from E.R. Schoonover a memento of unusual interest, sent by mail from Massachusetts. It was a piece of bark from the so-called Washington elm at Cambridge, Mass. It was under this tree that George Washington on July 3, 1775, took the oath as commander-in-chief of the colonies’ troops in the American Revolution.

Mr. Schoonover asked Professor Smith to put the bark in some place where it could be observed by pupils and faculty at the school.


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