By JEANNIE WILEY WOLF
Some of what’s been lost in Hancock County has been found, thanks to author Teresa Straley Lambert.
Her book, “Lost Hancock County Ohio,” was recently published by The History Press/Arcadia Publishing. The 144-page softback volume includes tidbits of history that may not be well known.
For instance, there was once an underwear factory in town. There was also a time when tobacco grown right here in Hancock County was used to make cigars.
“I’ve lived in Findlay over 40 years. I had no idea that they had an underwear factory, for goodness’ sake,” Lambert laughed.
The retired teacher began researching more than a year ago. She’d previously put together a book titled “The ABCs of Gravestone Symbols” after photographing interesting sayings and symbols on gravestones at cemeteries throughout the United States and Europe.
“Originally I’d thought about a book on graveyards. That’s what I pitched, was the cemeteries of Hancock County,” she said.
However, the publishers felt that Lambert should explore the history of Hancock County and some of its “lost” landmarks and businesses.
Lambert talked to lots of people and scoured old newspaper articles. Her work as a docent at the Hancock Historical Museum also provided leads.
“That’s what got me into this, because I was doing the speakers’ bureau,” she said in reference to the monthly programs presented at area assisted living facilities and 50 North. “I was discovering things (doing these programs) I had no idea about.”
The book is comprised of five general sections: agriculture, factories, lumber and furniture, transportation, and entertainment. Lambert picked topics of interest to her, hoping they would also interest other people.
One of her favorite stories emerged from information she found on the Opp House Saloon, a two-story building in the 400 block of East Sandusky Street that housed a saloon and reputedly a brothel. The building was purchased in 1907 by the Rev. Thomas K. Leonard, who turned it into the Apostolic School and Temple.
Lambert found an article in the Republican Jeffersonian newspaper that told about the hotel’s transformation. The article reported that one of the large penny card slot machines was to become the church pulpit, while the other slot machine would reveal Scriptural quotations and religious cartoons instead of playing cards. A small nickel-slot machine was to be used for freewill offerings; card tables became communion tables; and billiard cues were turned into handles for the collection baskets that were made from the pockets of the pool tables.
Another story she uncovered was the history of the Glessner Medicine Co. According to Lambert’s research, the business was started by Leonard “Len” Cowles Glessner, a newspaperman who made home remedies as a sideline business. Glessner’s first tonic was called Dr. Drake’s German Cough and Croup Remedy, a formula that was guaranteed to cure croup, whooping cough, coughs, colds and hoarseness, according to old newspaper advertisements.
“When he started out, he made it in his basement and bottled it in the attic,” said Lambert.
She met a man living at an assisted care residence in Bluffton who said his father had worked for Glessner.
“He remembered going there as a child,” Lambert said. “He also had to take the medicine, which he said was horrible.”
Lambert thinks people will be surprised to read a few lesser-known stories about Findlay and Hancock County.
“I tried to pick some things that haven’t been told and told and told,” she said.
Historic photographs from the museum’s collection are included in the book, along with a few contemporary pictures.
The book is available for $21.99 from the author, at the museum and through Arcadia Publishing, as well as on Amazon. Lambert will participate in the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library’s author fair on Saturday. She will also do a book signing and reading at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 14 at the library.