O. L. MOWEN
O. L. MOWEN, member of the firm of Mowen Brothers,
general building contractors of Lima, and the pioneer firm of Allen
County in this line, was born November 5, 1859, in the city named and is
a son of J. R. Mowen, a settler of 1841.
Mr. Mowen was reared and educated at Lima, receiving his literary
training in its schools and his mechanical discipline with his father.
Like his brother, the other member of the firm, he almost grew up with
tools in his hand, and during his whole business life has been engaged
in the building line. The firm of which he is an important member has
been a large factor in the building operations of the city, and has
built many of the largest manufacturing plants, business blocks, schools
and churches of Lima. Some of the most important of these are mentioned
in the sketch of the senior member of the firm, Edward S. Mowen. The
firm justly claims to be the pioneer in its line in the city.
Mr. Mowen was married May 1, 1889, to May Belle Biddinger, of this
county, and they have two children: Hugh Lester and Herbert William.
Mr. Mowen belongs to Lima Lodge, No. 581, and Lima Encampment, No. 62,
I. O. O. F.; Modern Woodmen of America, Eagles and Tribe of Ben Hur.
ALMON E. SWINEHART
ALMON E. SWINEHART, vice- president of the Bluffton
Turned Goods Company, one of the leading manufacturing industries of
Bluffton, was born in Allen County, one mile south of Lafayette, July
20, 1861, and is a son of the Charles and Mary E. (King) Swinehart.
Charles Swinehart was born near Somerset, Perry County, Ohio, Augut
14, 1839, and now resides at Carey, Ohio, where he runs several pump
stations for the northern Ohio Railway.
He married Mary E. King, who was born near Van Wert, Ohio, January
8, 1844. Their children were: Almon E., Jacob E., of Rockford, O., Emma
V., deceased in infancy, and Ella Josephine, who is the wife of P, E.
Walborn, of Chicago.
When our subject was two years old, his parents moved to Van Wert
County. Almon E. remained on the home farm until he was 15 years old
and then entered a stave and hoop factory at Middlepoint, Ohio, where he
remained until 19 years of age. He then went to Delphos and worked on
the Northern Ohio Railway for twelve years; at first in the general
office of the auditor and then as station agent. In 1893 he located at
Bluffton and embarked in the sawmill business with his father-in-law,
Ira M. Townsend, which continued until the development of the present
The Bluffton Turned Goods Company was first established in 1902, and
is one of the leading handle and hardwood manufacturing concerns of the
country. It was incorporated in February, 1905, with Ira M. Townsend as
president; Almon E. Swinehart as vice- president, and Carl Balmer as
secretary and treasurer. The company makes a specialty of manufacturing
first-grade handles, farming tool handles, pike poles and logging tool
handles, a turns out hardwood lumber both for domestic and export use,
mostly second growth ash and oak. They cut their own timber and oversee
the work personally. All are men of capital and responsibility.
Mr. Swinehart was married June 22, 1887, to Vanch L. Townsend, who
was born in Bluffton and is the daughter of Ira M. Townsend. They have
three children, viz: Ira H., Harold C and Ella Josephine. Mr. Swinehart
and family belong to the Methodist Episcopal Church.
In political sentiment Mr. Swinehart is a Republican, although he is
more of a business man than a politician. He served one term on the
Town Council and has always done his part in promoting the welfare of
his fellow-citizens and in developing the resources of Bluffton. He
belongs to Bluffon Lodge, No. 371, I. O. O F., Modern Woodmen of America
and Tribe of Ben Hur.
JOSEPH TAPSCOTT, whose fine farm of 470 well tilled
and finely improved acres is situated in Perry Township, belongs to one
of the worthy old pioneer families of this section. Mr Tapscott was
born in Perry township, Allen County, Ohio, December 11 1850, and is the
son of James and Maria (Rankins) Tapscott.
Joseph Tapscott, the grandfather, came from New Jersey to Warren
County, Ohio, and lived there until his death. He took up 800 acres of
land in Allen County, but never moved here. His long life was spent on
his land in Warren County, which he improved as he had opportunity, and
which were divided among his children when he passed away. He was a man
of courage and enterprise and possessed many of the characteristics of
his hardy Scotch-Irish ancestors which made him a typical pioneer. He
married Annie Schenck, of the Schenck family of New Jersey, one which
for generations has been prominently connected with the affairs and
public life of southern New Jersey. They reared a family of nine
children, the eldest of these being James Tapscott, the father of our
James Tapscott was born in 1808 in Warren County, Ohio, and
continued to reside on the old homestead until 1848, when he removed
with his possessions to Allen County and settled on a 200 acre tract of
land, which his father had entered at an early day. He was a practical
agriculturist and cleared a large portion of his land, making a
comfortable homestead, where he spent a number of years. Subsequently he
bought the farm which is now owned and occupied by his son, our subject,
who also owns the old place, 470 acres in all. Mr. Tapscott was one of
the reliable and intelligent men of his community, and was elected to a
large number of the local offices by the Democratic Party, of which he
was a life- long member. He died in 1884.
On March 6, 1850, James Tapscott married Marie Rankins, who was a
daughter of George Rankins, one of the early settlers of Perry Township.
Of their four children our subject is the only survivor.
Joseph Tapscott spent his boyhood in attending school and assisting
in the work of the farm, which finally devolved entirely upon his
shoulders. For many years he has been looked upon as one of the
township's most successful agriculturists and progressive citizens, his
method being those of accepted scientific value. His large acreage is
not only productive under his management in an agricultural way, but the
discovery of oil on some portions of the estate has given increase value
to what was already considered one of the most valuable farms of the
Mr. Tapscott was married November 28, 1872, to Elizabeth A.
Crossley, who is a daughter of Ross Crossley of Lima, and they have
these children: Jessie, who married William Hardesty, son of Joshua
Hardesty, of Perry Township, and has five children; Mulford, who married
Mattie Brown, daughter of Henry Brown; and William, who married Margaret
Brown, daughter of William Brown. the family belongs to the Methodist
Episcopal Church, in which Mr. Tapscott has been very active for years,
taking a deep interest in both church and Sunday- school, and serving as
steward and as trustee.
In political sentiment Mr. Tapscott is a Prohibitionist. He has
accepted no Public office with the exception of a trusteeship of the
Allen County Children's Home. Fraternally he belongs to the Foresters.
C. S. LATHROP
C. S. LATHROP, general contractor, at Lima, was born
in 1858, near the city of Topeka, Kansas, and is a son of George D. and
Columbia A. (Hover) Lathrop, and a grandson of Rodney Lathrop.
The Lathrop family is of English extraction. Its American founder
settled in Massachusetts in 1638, having been banished from his own
country on account of his religious tenets. He is supposed to have died
at Barnstable, Massachusetts, as it is known he lived and preached
there. His son, Samuel Lathrop, was one of the founders of the town of
Norwich, Connecticut, and from him descended the branch of the family to
which C. S. Lathrop, of Lima, belongs. The mother of our subject
belongs also to an old colonial family, her ancestor, Thomas Adgate,
being a member of the colony at Norwich.
Rodney Lathrop, our subject's grandfather, was a master mechanic of
the Mad River Railroad at the time of his death from cholera in 1849.
George D. Lathrop, son of Rodney, was born in New York City and came to
Allen County at a very early date. In 1849 he went to California where
he remained five years, and then located at Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In
1856 he settled in Kansas, and as he was a Free State man he became
identified with many of the public activities of that period in that
section. Always a politician, according to old standards, he was also
an abolitionists as far as restricting the extension of slavery. In
1863 he returned to Ohio where he soon became a leader in Allen County,
and for 21 years he served as a justice of the peace, being elected to
the office in a community which, at that time, was overwhelmingly
Democratic. He was a man of sterling character and his fellow-citizens
showed that they appreciated his ability and integrity.
C. S. Lathrop was five years old when the family left Kansas and
returned to the old homestead in the extreme southwestern part of Allen
County. This was known as old Fort Amanda, which was built in the days
of Indian warfare, and its site was one of the first pieces of ground
entered in the county. In this historic old place out subject was
reared. He attended the common schools of the county, the Lima High
School and enjoyed two terms at the Ohio Normal University at Ada. Then
he returned to the old home and remained after his father's death, to
rear and educate his younger brother, whom he finally left in charge
During the time he remained on the home farm, our subject engaged in
contract work for the county in the way of bridge-building and
road-grading and later worked at the carpenter's trade. His first
houses were erected for himself in 1890, at Lima, and since then he has
been extensively engaged in contracting and building. Some of the
attractive and substantial structures built by him are: Mrs. M. A. Karn's
apartment building on the corner of Market and Pierce streets; the
Adgate Block; some of the fine residences on West Spring street; the A.
L. White residence on South Cole street, which is regarded by many as
the finest house in Lima; and others. He is also interested in a number
of other enterprises and also owns a fine farm which is located on the
line between Allen And Auglaize counties.
Mr. Lathrop was married on August 29, 1903, to Lelia G. McGuire, who
is a daughter of the late Elisha J. McGuire , and they have one son,
Rodney. Mr. McGuire served four years in the Civil War, was in early
life an engineer on the C., H. & D. Railway, and for 20 years was a
trustee of the poor in Allen County. Politically Mr. Lathrop is a
Republican. He served 12 years as a justice of the peace while living
in the country. He belongs to such leading fraternal organizations as
the Masons, Odd Fellows and the Modern Woodmen of America. As a
business man and as a citizen he enjoys a large measure of public
DAVID M. BREESE
DAVID M. BREESE, the patriarch of one of the old
pioneer families of Allen County, was born in Butler County, Ohio,
February 27, 1825, and is a son of Griffith and Mary (Mowen) Breese.
Robert Breese, the grandfather, was born in Wales and came to
America at an early day, settling in Pennsylvania with his children.
The grandfather settled in Hardin County, near Round Head, where he died
and was buried. The parents of our esteemed subject were married in
Pennsylvania, the father having been born in Wales and the mother in
Pennsylvania. In November, 1832, they came as pioneers to Allen County,
having previously lived in Butler County. The children of Griffith and
Mary Mowen were: Nancy, George, John, William D., David M. and Griffith.
The father of this family settled where Alva Breese now resides in
Shawnee Township. He cleared the land and developed a good farm. His
death occurred in 1848.
David M. Breese was seven years old when he accompanied his parents
to Shawnee Township. His education was secured in the pioneer
schoolhouses of the time and until his marriage he assisted his father
in clearing the farm. After marriage he settled in section 3, Shawnee
Township, on the Spencerville road, and occupied that place for 14
years. He came to the present farm in section 10 in 1863, having
previously erected a residence here. This was at the close of his
service in the Civil War. He enlisted for the three years' service in
the 99th Regiment, Ohio Vol. Inf., but was not accepted on account of a
bad knee. In 1864 he enlisted in Company B, 151st Reg., Ohio Vol. Inf.,
and was at Washington, D. C., at the time of Gen. Early's raid. He
performed his loyal duty during the term of his enlistment and was then
honorably discharged and returned to look after the interests of his
On January 1, 1849, Mr. Breese was married to Mary Valentine, who
was born in Champaign County, Ohio, March 23, 1827, and is a daughter of
Crane and Mary (Harper) Valentine. William Valentine, the grandfather
of Mrs. Breese, lived and died near Quincy, Ohio. In August, 1832,
Crane Valentine located on Elm street, Lima. His wife died here, and
later he removed to Berrien County, Michigan, where he died. The
children of Mr. and Mrs. Breese were: Mary E., living in Lima, marred to
Thomas Maltbie; George L., who lives on the homestead farm in a house
adjoining that of his parents, and has some excellent farm property in
sections 9 and 10; and Emmett, who died at the age of seven years.
Mr. and Mrs. Breese are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
Since 1862 Mr. Breese has been a member of Lima Masonic Lodge No. 205,
F. & A. M. Politically he is identified with the Republican party.
Visitors at the hospitable home of Mr. and Mrs. Breese find them
delightful entertainers. They both can recall so many interesting
events of a half century ago, when life was a little harder in Allen
County than it is to-day, and the listener carries away knowledge that
he could scarcely have obtained from other sources. Among other
interesting reminiscences, they tell of the days when a cook-stove was
enough of a curiosity in their locality at attract visitors from miles
away. As corn meal was a staple food and mills were far distant, it was
a custom to grate corn on a tin grater which, in all probability, had
been made at home. No road commissioners had yet looked after the
public highways and trips to and from the market towns were difficult to
make at some seasons of the year and frequently impossible. Mr. Breese
remembers his little Indian playmates to have been just as ready in
games as white boys and just as faithful in their attachments. Fame was
very plentiful and Mr. Breese had the reputation of being a "dead shot."
When 16 years of age he had a long-barreled cap gun given him by his
father, who had purchased it of a neighbor who did not know its age at
that time. It deserves a place among the county's historic archives.
Mrs. Breese remembers going to school and also to church, in the old
log Court House, built in 1832, just after the organization of Allen
County. Mr. and Mrs. Breese have a number of valuable household
properties which lovers of historic treasures would greatly value, one
of these being a sugar bowl which her people bought at Urbana prior to
coming here in 1832. The old family clock has ticked out the hours for
100 years and there are many articles of homely comfort that suggest an
old established family.
F. J. BANTA
F. J. BANTA, one of the leading business men of Lima,
a member of the firm of F. J. Banta & Son, manufacturers of candy,
confectionery and chewing gum, was born at Troy, Miami County, Ohio, in
1857, being a member of one of the old families of that section.
Mr. Banta was reared and educated in Miami County, began his
business career as a clerk in a grocery store and for five years was
interested in that line of business at Troy.
In 1881 Mr. Banta came to Lima and here entered the grocery field,
but finding it well occupied, one year later became a wholesale candy
manufacturer. He has established an enormous trade based on the
superior quality of his goods, the business expanding from a very small
beginning until at the present time it averages $150,000 annually. The
goods manufactured include choice chocolates and creams- daintily
prepared and on fine, pure flavors- and some eight of ten brands of
chewing gum, the leader being "Banta's Pepsin." The plant is located
at No. 122 West Wayne Street, and traveling salesmen visit the dealers
in the territory adjacent to Lima. In 1902, Roy Banta, a son of our
subject, was admitted to a partnership in the business.
Mr. Banta belong to the Elks and the Knights of Pythias. He is
ranked with the city's most enterprising and progressive business men.
G. W. HENSLER
G. W. HENSLER, one of the proprietors of the Kniseley
Shirt Company, at Lima, and an active business man of the city, was born
at Carysville, Champaign County, Ohio, in 1871, and is a son of Joseph
Hensler, who was an undertaker and furniture dealer for many years at
Rosewood, this State.
Our subject was reared and educated in his native place, where he
also gained a varied business experience. In order to fit himself more
completely for a business career he came to Lima, in 1892, and completed
a full course at the Lima Business College. After graduation he
accepted a position with the Kniseley Shirt Company and continued in
their employ until 1902, when, in association with Frank Schlupp, he
purchased their business. He has since continued in this line,
extending its scope and improving its output. This well-known house
does an immense custom trade, keeps 14 sales-men on the road, and
thoroughly covers Ohio, Eastern Indiana and Southern Michigan, while
orders come from every State in the Union and even from Mexico. Their
manufacture of shirts is for the custom trade only and they have also
established a large business in the manufacture of underwear, made to
In 1896 Mr. Henser was married to Ella Schlupp, who is a daughter of
his business partner. They have two children Dorothy Elizabeth and
Phillis Mae. Mr. Hensler is prominent in the Independent Order of Odd
Fellows, having been identified with that organization since he was 21
years of age. In politics he is a Democrat.
FHARMAN TRUST, the village blacksmith at Allentown,
was born in Paris, France, and is a son of William and Katrina
When our subject was 12 years old his parents moved to Saxony,
Germany, where he completed his education. When 14 years of age he was
apprenticed to learn the blacksmith's trade, his father making a
contract by which he paid $100 and provided his son with clothes for
three years, the youth to have no wages during this period. He was
thoroughly instructed and after his training was finished he went out as
a journeyman, according to the German usage, and worked his necessary
three years at different points, being then considered capable of
starting into business for himself. When 20 years old he entered the
army, according to German law, and served as a cavalryman for three years
in the flying artillery. He took part in the Franco- Prussian War, and
was on the battlefield at Sedan, when Napoleon was captured.
In 1875 Mr. Trust came to America and reached a strange country
without any capital. He was not discouraged, however, and walked the
distance between New York and Cincinnati, and from there to Chicago.
Subsequently he returned to Dayton, Ohio, and soon opened a shop at
Seven Mile, Butler County, Ohio. After one year at that point, he
removed to Champaign County, remaining there a year, and then to New
Bremen, Auglaize County, for 18 months, and then to Shelby County, Mr.
Trust operated his own shop there for nine years and then went back to
Germany for a visit. Upon his return to America, he worked for six
months in a sawmill in Washington, and then came east to Mercer County,
Ohio, where he rented a shop, during all this time having had his Shelby
County shop rented. One year later he went back to Shelby County, in a
few months closed up his business there, and then came to Allentown,
buying his present shop in 1888. He is a fine workman and has a large
Mr. Trust was 32 years old when he was married, April 21, 1881, to
Katie Wolff, of New Bremen, Ohio, who is a daughter of Philip and
Margaret Wolff. They have had seven children, the two survivors being:
William Philip Frederic, who was born March 15, 1885, and assists his
father in the shop; and Margaret Augusta Theresa, who was born April
27, 1888, and lives with her parents. The family belongs to the Lutheran
Church at Elida. Mr. Trust is not only a capable, reliable workman, but
a well- informed, intelligent man and good citizen.
WARREN E. PENNY
WARREN E. PENNY, hardware merchant and one of the
leading citizens of Lima, was born in 1850 in Miami County, Ohio, but
accompanied his parents, in childhood, to Darke County, where he was
reared and educated.
For a number of years in early manhood, Mr. Penny taught school in
Darke and Miami counties, entering business in 1877, when he established
a meat store at Van Wert. He continued there for two years and then,
for some five years, dealt in agricultural implements, thus becoming
connected with the McCormick Harvester Company. Later he became general
agent for this large company in Western Ohio, remaining in that capacity
for eight years, and then represented the State of Wisconsin for the J.
I. Case Thresher Company, of Racine.
On June 1, 1900, Mr. Penny came to Lima and, in association with a
nephew, established the hardware firm of Penny & Penny, one of the
city's large and prospering concerns.
Politically Mr. Penny is a Republican. He is president of the
Business Men's Association of Lima, and stands as a representative
Mr. Penny was first married, in 1874, to Francis Brown, who died in
1893, leaving three children viz: Aaron A., Russell L. and Velma Grace.
In 1897 he was married to Mrs. Anna (Bryant) Gillette. His church
affiliations are with the Presbyterians.