Early offenders did hard labor

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

 

A look at a newspaper file of 1869 — The Weekly Jeffersonian — produced some exceedingly interesting information as to life in Findlay 94 years ago here.

City council had just passed some new ordinances. Evidently the city fathers decided that it was time to “get tough” with law offenders. So they provided that if they could not pay a fine of $50, when convicted of certain types of misdemeanors, they should be made to perform hard labor. Males, the ordinance said, should have a ball and chain attached to their leg when at such labor.

The types of offenders to face such punishment were listed as vagrants, disturbers of the peace, pickpockets, gamblers and thieves. There also was another “occupation” mentioned, which us difficult to understand in these days. It was “ball game players.” Just why they should deserve arrest and punishment we don’t know in these days. But that’s what the ordinance said.

Findlay’s volunteer fire fighters were proud of their abilities in those days.

The newspaper contained a challenge issued by Findlay’s “Young America” fire team to Tiffin’s fire extinguishers for a contest, to be held on neutral ground at Carey, to see which could raise a fire ladder the fastest.

The two crews were to run 40 rods with their mobile equipment and then raise a fire ladder of 30-foot length by hand only and put a man on top, with an ax weighing not less than three pounds. A prize of $100 was put up for the winner. “The money is ready,” said the announcement of the contest.

Just how the contest came out, if the challenge was accepted, we didn’t see in subsequent issues.

“The new E.P. Jones home on E. Sandusky St. is about ready for occupancy,” read an item.

This of course was the imposing four-story dwelling constructed for the president of Findlay’s new bank, the First National, which had just been established in 1863 and which is now approaching its 100th birthday here.

The home, located at 313 E. Sandusky St. was occupied by Mr. Jones and his family for many years. After the death of Mr. and Mrs. Jones, it became a convalescent or rest home. He was the grandfather of the late Miss Gertrude Jones, who died a few years ago in Italy.

“The home will be one of the neatest in this section of Ohio,” said the newspaper item.

The First Methodist Church had just completed its new church on West Sandusky Street. This edifice replaced another which had been erected on the same site two decades before, but which proved unsatisfactory, resulting in a decision to raze it and build anew. The cost of the 1889 structure was given as $32,000. This church burned down at the turn of the century and was replaced by the present building.

A few weeks after dedication, the Central Ohio conference of the denomination held its annual conference sessions here. The Rev. Isaac Newton was the pastor. J.D. Cory, a well known Findlay businessman, was the chairman of the board of trustees.

There was a hack service between Findlay and McComb in those days. This was before the present Baltimore and Ohio railroad was built connecting the two towns.

N.W. Apger was the owner of the hack line, which on certain days went on to Leipsic.

The hack left the “Old White Corner” at 1 p.m. for the trip to the neighboring village. This corner is located at South Main Street and Court Street, just across from the court house.

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