Early judge was also merchant, civic leader

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.




John Ewing, for many years one of the leading merchants in Findlay, came here from Pennsylvania in 1833 and at once engaged in merchandising. Not long after he arrived, he erected a three-story brick building just south of the present courthouse at the corner of South Main Street and Court Street. The building, which still stands (in 1960), became known as the “White Corner” and occupants of the structure long advertised their location as in the “White Corner.” The late W.E. Snyder, for many years a well-known Findlay businessman, conducted a dry goods store in the location for a long time. He was the father of Bernice Snyder, who became a well-known Broadway stage star and who recently (1960) died, leaving a substantial sum to the Hancock County Children’s Home.

Mr. Ewing was elected associate judge and served on the bench for seven years beginning in 1842. He was elected a member of the state constitutional convention which sat in 1850 and 1851. This was the first such convention held after Hancock County was organized. Mr. Ewing represented the senatorial district of which Hancock County was a part. The district included Seneca and Wyandot counties, in addition to Hancock. It was this convention which abolished the office of associate judge in the counties. Under this judicial system, three laymen were chosen in each county to join with an elected lawyer to preside over the common pleas court of each county.

During Mr. Ewing’s residence here, the route of the Pennsylvania Railroad was being established through Ohio and overtures were made to Findlay as to the matter of taking the route through this city. Historical records say that Judge Ewing was one of the leaders of the opposition to the railroad coming through Findlay. It was subsequently taken through Upper Sandusky, Ada and Lima.

Judge Ewing left Findlay in 1860 to go to Springfield, Ohio, and afterwards to Wisconsin. In his 27 years’ residency here he became one of the community’s leading citizens.

Joseph C. Shannon, a native of Ireland, came to Findlay in 1831 and in 1832 he was appointed county auditor to fill a vacancy caused by a resignation. He was elected to succeed himself in the fall election. He married a sister of Judge Robert L. Strother and died in 1836 while in public office.

E.D. Nightengale, arriving in 1831, also resided here many years. He was a repairer of clocks and described as a “jack of all trades.” He left the county about 1848.

Christian Barnd arrived in Findlay via Van Buren, where he first settled. He operated a tannery here for some time and was elected sheriff in 1834 and re-elected two years later. He later started a grocery store. He died in 1847.

John W. Baldwin, a cousin of Dr. William H. Baldwin, the city’s second doctor, came here in spring of 1832. He opened a general store. He was named associate judge in 1835, but resigned later. He went to New York and later lived in Springfield.

Paul Sours and John Campbell both located here in 1834. The former, a native of Pennsylvania, served two terms as justice of the peace and later as county recorder. In 1855 he became cashier of the Citizens’ Bank, which he held until his death in 1873. Mr. Campbell operated the Vance and Cory grist and saw mills, which he later sold to Squire and Parlee Carlin.

William Porterfield came here from Knox County, Ohio, in 1835 and entered the merchandising field. He became Findlay’s second mayor. He later moved to Williamstown and then to Fremont, Neb.

B.L. Caples began business in Findlay in the spring of 1836, coming from Ashland, Ohio. He established a store here and later moved to Fostoria.

John Engleman and Joshua Baldwin were pioneers of 1836. Mr. Engelman followed the carpenter’s trade and helped erect many of the buildings in Findlay. He was one of the builders and first proprietors of the Eagle Mills. He and his wife raised 13 children. Mr. Baldwin came to Findlay from Zanesville to be near his two sons, Dr. William H. Baldwin and A.C. Baldwin, and daughter, Mrs. Charles W. O’Neal.



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