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. This column was first published on March 10, 1973.
By R.L. HEMINGER
The general area of Broadway — the space extending south from West Front Street to the municipal building — is rich in Findlay history. Further history is ahead for the area with plans for its utilization in connection with plans to raze some of the existing buildings and erect new government units thereon.
It was in this area that the community saw some of its first settlement, particularly between Main Cross and Front streets. Here some of the town’s first places of residence were constructed. They were small, but they served the purpose of housing in those pioneer times.
The first brick building to be built in the new town went up on the east side of Broadway, just north of Main Cross Street. It was built in 1834 by William Taylor, one of the town’s very early leaders. The structure stood intact for many years, extending over a century. It is now gone and a sandwich establishment is on the site.
Mr. Taylor came to Findlay in 1828 from Richland County (Mansfield). He lived here until 1867, becoming one of the prominent citizens who figured in Findlay’s early development.
Hancock County had just been formally established by action of the state legislature when Mr. Taylor decided to make its county seat his home. He made a brief trip to Findlay from Richland County and engaged Matthew Reighley to build a log house for him and his family on South Main Street about halfway between Main Cross and Front streets, not far from Squire Carlin’s log structure at the Front Street corner. He returned to Mansfield and in a couple of months returned with members of his family to occupy the building which had been constructed for him.
He soon enlarged the structure and established an inn, providing for visitors to the new county seat who were appearing in increasing numbers.
In 1834, Mr. Taylor bought from Edson Goit, Findlay’s first lawyer, a lot facing on Broadway and here he built his brick building, the community’s first of this nature. The brick was made locally.
The building was at the rear of what is known as the Gray-Patterson block, facing Main Street. The block’s name comes from kin of Mr. Taylor.
Mr. Taylor’s next move was to purchase a lot on the corner of South Main and West Main Cross, where the Ohio Bank and Savings Co. is now located. Here he build a two-story building, conducting a store in the corner room. In subsequent years, the present four-story building was erected and became known as the Karst block. The building now belongs to the bank.
The D.B. Beardsley history of Hancock County, published in 1881, says Mr. Taylor engaged extensively in the fur trade with the Indians and trappers in the area.
“Mr. Taylor was energetic and industrious with good judgment and great discernment, of pleasing nature, and with these qualities, he soon commanded a good business and accumulated quite a fortune, becoming the owner of much valuable property both in town and in the country,” said the Beardsley history.
“Mr. Taylor was Hancock County’s first county surveyor, a county commissioner and state representative, as well as one of Findlay’s early postmasters. He was one of the organizers of the First Presbyterian Church here.
“In all these positions he acquitted himself with honor, discharging every duty with fidelity,” continues the Beardsley history.
Two daughters of Mr. Taylor became wives of prominent Findlay leaders. One, Minerva, married Joseph S. Patterson, who became the well-known Findlay merchant, founding the Patterson store. Another, Charlotte, was the wife of Milton Gray, who headed one of Findlay’s banks, the Farmers National Bank. The two daughters resided in adjoining residences, the Pattersons at 823 S. Main St. and the Grays at 829 S. Main St. Findlay’s Gray Elementary School on West Lincoln Street was named for the Grays. It preceded the present Lincoln School.