Hancock County History
Collections of Ohio
COUNTY was formed April 1, 1820, named from John Hancock,
first President of the Revolutionary Congress. The surface is
level; soil is black loam, mixed with sand, and based on
limestone and very fertile.
Its settlers were generally of Pennsylvania origin.
Area, about 540 square miles.
In 1887 the acres cultivated were 169,013; in pasture,
44,809; woodland, 77,310; lying waste, 1,569; produced in
wheat, 567,704 bushels; rye, 38,264; buckwheat, 764; oats,
491,677; barley, 1,376; corn, 1,667,873; broom-corn, 2,000
pounds brush; meadow hay, 26,271 tons;
clover, 10,351 bushels seed; flax, 2,839 pounds fibre;
potatoes, 74,601 bushels; butter, 686,107 pounds; sorghum,
3,544 gallons; maple syrup, 16,598; honey, 14,803 pounds;
eggs, 647,165 dozen; grapes, 11,445 pounds; sweet potatoes,
363 bushels; apples, 10,435 bushels; peaches, 486 bushels;
pears, 652 bushels; wool, 206,987 pounds; milch cows owned,
census, 1888, 11,316; teachers, 274.
Miles of railroad track, 129.
of Hancock in 1830, 813; 1840, 10,099; 1860, 22,886; 1880,
27,784, of whom 23,102 were born in Ohio, 2,209 Pennsylvania,
270 New York, 252 Virginia, 143 Indiana, 35 Kentucky, 882
German Empire, 89 Ireland, 76 France, 64 England and Wales, 47
British America, 11 Scotland.
central and southern part of this county is watered by
Blanchard’s fork of the Auglaize and its branches.
The Shawnee name of this stream was Sho-po-qua-te-sepe,
or Taylor’s river.
We state on the authority of Col. John JOHNSTON that
Blanchard, from whom this stream was named, was a tailor, or
one that sewed garments.
He was a native of France, and a man of intelligence;
but no part of his history could be obtained from him.
He doubtless fled his country for some offence against
its laws, intermarried with a Shawnee woman, and after living
here thirty years, died in 1802, at or near the site of Fort
Findlay. When the
Shawnees emigrated to the West, seven of his children were
living, one of whom was a chief.
In the war of 1812 a road was cut through this county,
over which the troops for the Northwest passed.
Among these was the army of Hull, which was piloted by
Isaac ZANE, M’PHERSON and Robert ARMSTRONG.
in 1846.—Findlay, the county-seat, is on Blanchard’s
fork, ninety miles northeast of Columbus.
It contains one Presbyterian and one Methodist church,
one academy, two newspaper printing offices, thirteen
mercantile stores, one foundry, one clothing, one flouring and
one grist mill, and 112 families.
A branch railroad has been surveyed from Cary, on the
Mad river railroad, to this place, a distance of sixteen
miles, which probably ere long be constructed.
Findlay derives its name from Fort Findlay, built in
the late war by James FINDLAY, who was a citizen of
Cincinnati, a colonel in the late war, and afterwards a member
of Congress. The
fort stood on the south bank of Blanchard’s fork, just west
of the present bridge. It
was a stockade of about fifty yards square,
block-houses at its corners and a ditch in front.
It was used as a depot for military stores and
9 o’clock one dark and windy night in the late war, Capt.
William OLIVER (now of Cincinnati), in company with a
Kentuckian, left Fort Meigs for Fort Findlay, on an errand of
importance, the distance being about thirty-three miles.
They had scarcely started on their dreary and perilous
journey, when they unexpectedly came upon an Indian camp,
around the fires of which the Indians were busy cooking their
by the noise of their approach, the savages sprang up and ran
towards them. At
this they reined their horses into the branches of a fallen
the horses, as if conscious of the danger, stood perfectly
still, and the Indians passed around the tree without making
any discovery in the thick darkness.
At this juncture OLIVER and his companion put spurs to
their horses and dashed forward into the woods, through which
they passed all the way to their point of destination.
They arrived safely, but with their clothes completely
torn off by the brambles and bushes, and their bodies bruised
all over by contusions against the trees.
They had scarcely arrived in the fort when the Indians
in pursuit made their appearance, but too late, for their prey
town of Findlay was first laid out by ex-Gov. Joseph VANCE and
Elnathan CORRY, in 1821, and in 1829 relaid out, lots sold,
and a settlement systematically commenced.
In the fall of 1821, however, Wilson VANCE (brother of
the above) moved into Findlay with his family.
There were then some ten or fifteen Wyandot families in
the place, who had made improvements.
They were a temperate, fine-looking people, and
friendly to the first settlers.
There were at this time but six other white families in
the county besides that of Mr. VANCE.
Mr. V. is now the oldest settler in the county.
For the first two or three years all the grain which he
used he brought in teams from his brothers’ mills in
Champaign county, about forty miles distant.
To this should be excepted some little corn which he
bought of the Indians, for which he occasionally paid as high
as $1 per bushel, and ground it in a hand-mill.
are some curiosities in the town and county worthy of note.
At the south end of Findlay are two gas-wells.
From one of them the gas has been conducted by a pipe
into a neighboring dwelling and used for light.
A short distance west of the bridge, on the north bank
of Blanchard’s fork, at Findlay, is a chalybeate spring of
excellent medicinal qualities, and from which issues
inflammable gas. In
the eastern part of the town is a mineral spring possessing
similar qualities. Three
miles south of Findlay is a sycamore of great height, and
thirty-four feet in circumference at its base.
Ten miles below Findlay, on the west bank of
Blanchard’s fork, on the road to Defiance, are two
sugar-maple trees, thirty feet distant at their base, which,
about sixty feet up, unite and form one trunk, and thus
continue from thence up, the body of one actually growing into
the other, so that each lose their identity and form one
county-seat of Hancock, about 85 miles northwest of Columbus,
about 45 miles south of Toledo, is on the L. E. & W.; T.
C. & S.; and I. B. & W. railroads.
The largest natural-gas wells in the world supply
manufacturers here with fuel at a nominal cost; private
consumers pay fifteen cents a month per stove while in use,
and for illuminating purposes five cents per month per burner.
Oil is abundant, is piped elsewhere, and some refined
officers in 1888: Auditor, William T. PLATT; Clerk,
Presley E. HAY; Commissioners, Isaac M. WATKINS, George W.
KROUT, Calvin W. BROOKS; Coroner, Jesse A. HOWELL; Infirmary
Directors, James M. CUSAC, Alexander R. MORRISON, WM. R. McKEE;
Probate Judge, George W. MYERS; Prosecuting Attorney, James A.
BOPE; Recorder, John B. FOLTZ; Sheriff, George L. CUSAC;
Surveyor, Ulysses K. STRINGFELLOW; Treasurer, Andrew J. MOORE.
Officer in 1888.—Wm. L. CARLIN, Mayor; Jacob H. BOGER,
Clerk; Jacob HUBER, Treasurer; J. W. BLY, Marshal; Jas. A.
BOPE, Solicitor; Godfrey NUSSER, Street Commissioner.
Democratic, Fred. H. GLESSNER, editor and publisher; Jeffersonian,
Independent Republican, A. H. BALSLEY, editor and publisher;
on this page - not included
E. D. LUDWIG, editor; Republican,
Republican, E. G. DeWOLF, editor; Star,
Independent, HAMMAKER & BEECH, editors and publishers; Wochenblatt,
German Democratic, WEIXELBAUM & HEYN, editors and
Roman Catholic, 1 Lutheran, 1 Methodist Episcopal, 1
Disciples, 1 Evangelical, 1 Presbyterian, 1 Reformed, 1
Congregational, 1 United Brethren, 1 English Lutheran, and 1
Church of God, sometimes termed the Winebrennarian Church.
The church of God College is located here.
National, Peter HOSLER, president, J. G. HULL, cashier; First
National, E. P. JONES, president, Charles E. NILES, cashier.
and Employees.—The Union Brass Co., brass goods, 13
hands; Findlay Woollen Mills, woollen goods, 25; BUSHON &
CRAWFORD, sash doors, etc., 9; PALMER & ARNOLD, flour,
etc., 6; Findlay Lumber and Wood-working Co., sash, doors,
etc., 12; W. H. CAMPFIELD & Son, sash, doors, etc., 12;
The Eagle Machine Works, general machine works, 4; A. BOEHMER,
Excelsior, 5; E. B. HARTWELL, handles, 8; The Columbia Glass
Co., table-ware, 177; The Western Rapid Type-Writer Co.,
type-writing machines, 12; Geo. E. GOBRECHT & Sons,
architectural iron work, 4; Findlay Rolling Mill Co.,
bar-iron, etc., 113;
The Findlay Window Glass Co., window glass, 113; C. D. HAYWARD
& Co., planing mill, 15; Buckeye Window Glass Co., window
glass, 50; The Findlay Iron and Steel Co., bar-iron, 126; W.
P. DUKES, sash, doors, etc., 7;
The Bellaire Goblet Co., goblets, etc., 312; DALZELL,
GILMORE & LEIGHTON Co., table glassware, 270; Model Flint
Glass Co., crystal and colored glass, 192; Findlay Clay Pot
Co., glass-house pots, 12; Findlay Hydraulic Pressed Brick
Co., pressed brick, 115; Findlay Stave & Handle Co.,
handles and heading, 25; Findlay Church Furniture Co., church
furniture, 9; Findlay Table Manufacturing Co., dining-room
tables, 63; VANCE & BIGELOW, sash, doors, etc., 12; Ohio
Lantern Co., lanterns, etc., 43; VINTON, JONES & WERNER,
castings, 6; J. J. BRADNER, bee-keepers’ supplies, 3; David
ROUND & Son, chains, 31; SHULL & PARKER, sash, doors,
etc., 32; FUNK & LATSHAW, tanks, etc., 5; ADAMS Brothers,
general machine work, 35; American Mask Manufacturing Co.,
masks, 45; Findlay Iron and Boiler Works, boilers, 22; WALTZ,
BARR, & Co., grain elevator, 3; The LIPPENCOTT Glass Co.,
lamp chimneys, 130; John SHULL Novelty Works, ironing tables,
etc., 8; McMANNESS & SEYMOUR, rakes, 31; The Ohio Window
Glass Co., window glass, 50; McMANNESS & SEYMOUR, linseed
oil, 4; 102; The Findlay Bottle Company, bottles, etc., 102;
David KIRK, flour, etc., 12; The WETHERALD Wire Nail Co.,
steel-wire nails, 136; Ireland and McCOUGHROY, oil-well tools,
etc., 8; The HIRSCH-ELY Window Glass Co., window-glass,
1880, 4,633. School
census, 1888, 3,404; J. W. ZELLER superintendent.
Capital invested in industrial establishments,
of annual product, $741,000.—Ohio
Labor Statistics, 1887.
Census, 1890, 18,674.
JAMES FINDLAY, from whom Findlay was named, was born in
Franklin county, Pa., in 1770, of an eminent family.
“About the year 1795 he removed to Ohio, by way of
Virginia and Kentucky, eventually settling in Cincinnati.
There he for a number of years filled the position of
receiver of public moneys in the Land Office.
In 1805-6 and in 1810-11 he served as Mayor of
the war of 1812 he served as colonel of a regiment, and was
present at Hull’s surrender of Detroit.
For his meritorious conduct in the war he was shortly
afterwards promoted to the rank of brigadier-general of the
Ohio State militia, in which capacity he served for a
considerable period. He
erected Fort Findlay, from which Findlay was named.
Naturally reserved in manner, he presented to
strangers an air of austerity, but he was the soul of
kindness and geniality; had great decision of character and
an unsullied reputation.
He died in Cincinnati in 1835.
died at Findlay, May 12, 1856, at the age of 68 years,
ANDREW COFFINBERRY. He
was born in Virginia; came to Mansfield about 1808; after
the war he studied law there with John M. MAY, and then for
nearly half a century
practiced in nearly all the counties of Northwestern Ohio,
beginning with their organization.
He was, says KNAPP, conspicuous among the old-time
lawyers of the Maumee valley, and beloved by his professional
brethren and by all with whom he came in contact.
obtained the soubriquet
of the good Count COFFINBERRY by reason of his kindly nature,
genteel address and extra ordinary neatness of dress.
When traversing the circuit from county-seat to
county-seat, the journeys always being on horseback, he
carried considerable apparel.
From his resemblance to the German Count or Baron
Puffendorf, he was sometimes called Count Puffendorf.
Many comical stories are told of him.
1842 the count came before the public in the role of a poet in
a small volume printed by Wright & Legg at Columbus.
It was entitled, “The
Forest Rangers: a Poetic Tale of the Western Wilderness in
1794, connected with
and comprising the march and battle of General Wayne’s army
and abounding with interesting incidents of fact and fiction,
in seven cantos.”
scene of the book is of course the “Black Swamp Region,”
the Maumee country, wherein the words of the poem:
strong the Kas-Kas-Kies,
and the Miamies,
Delawares and Chippewas,
Kickapoos and Ottawas,
Shawanoes and many strays
almost every Indian Nation,
joined the fearless congregation,
after St. Clair’s dread defeat
to this secure retreat.”
main subject is the story of the capture, captivity and final
rescue of the maiden Julia Gray and the wedded Nancy Gibbs.
The poem gives personal narratives, dialogues, Indian
speeches, drinking-songs of Waynes’s soldiers, death-songs
of savages, etc. It
also describes natural scenery wherein Hog creek for the
purposes of euphony appears under the name of “Swinomia,”
Blanchard to Swinomia, he
o’er to see, who there might be.
make it true to nature the illiterate frontier characters
speak their own vernacular in doggerel rhyme.
For instance, Mrs. Nancy Gibbs, who states her
“maiding name was Nancy Jarred,” in describing her
courtship by Gibbs, says:
ways was all so dreffle nice,
maiding could reject the splice?”
book stretches out for 200 pages, and is such a curious
conglomeration of intensely realistic jingle, and as a whole,
is such a strange eccentric conception that any allusion to it
in the presence of those acquainted with it seldom fail to
bring a twinkle in their eyes.
His old friends on the bench and at the bar, and they
were a host, at the time of its appearance, now nearly half a
century gone, enjoyed it hugely, for it brought the good count
and his oddities so vividly before them.
GAS WELLS OF FINDLAY.
our first edition as among the curiosities of this region we
said, “At the south end of Findlay are two gas wells.
From one of them the gas has been conducted by a pipe
into a neighboring dwelling and used for light.”
The public did not imagine that the little obscure town
stood over a great reservoir of natural gas and petroleum,
which, on discovery, was to render it one of the most famed
spots geologically considered on the globe.
The following history of its discovery and the
development at Findlay up to May 20, 1887, is copied from
carefully prepared articles by Mr. Frank B. LOOMIS, published
at the time:
tendency of people to grasp with frantic eagerness every
business or social sensation that presents itself is
powerfully illustrated by the widespread interest which the
recent discovery of natural gas in large quantities has
attracted. A few
years ago no geologist or practical driller would have advised
a friend or patron to put down a well in Western Ohio.
But conditions change with dramatic celerity in this
country, and today Northwestern Ohio is the scene of an
intense and contagious excitement.
few days ago the largest gas well in the world was struck near
daily output of gas is 20,000,000 cubic feet. There are in the
aggregate forty-five wells in and about Findlay.
Together they pour forth 100,000,000 cubic feet of gas
daily, an equal amount in heating capacity to 3,000 tons of
Ohio natural gas is said to be richer in heat producing
properties than the Pennsylvania gas by fifteen per cent,
according to the tests and estimates of scientific men.
is a very important and significant geological fact in
connection with the Ohio gas and oil discoveries.
Both fluids come from the Trenton limestone, a
of the lower Silurian age.
In order that gas or oil may be given forth in valuable
quantities there must always be some structural peculiarity in
the Trenton limestone formation so that an arch will be formed
to serve as storehouse for the fluids to accumulate in.
The town of Findlay, which is the centre of the gas
region, is built over such a fold or arch in the limestone.
The western extremity of this arch is coincident with
the north and south line made by the Main street of Findlay,
so that a well may be drilled anywhere east of that street,
and dry gas will be found in abundance at a depth of about
1,150 feet. A
person cannot dig a cellar or well without setting some gas
free, and it is said, in jest, that difficulty is found in
setting fence posts on account of the pressure of gas from
people of Findlay saw indications of gas for half a century
without suspecting the remarkable treasure underlying them.
One man in the town, a German physician named Charles
OESTERLEN, read the signs with an intelligent and prophetic
eye. Forty years
ago he became convinced that and enormous reservoir of natural
gas lay beneath the town of Findlay.
He told his belief and was scoffed at—men called him
the “gas fool,” and until 1884 he was regarded as a vain
patience and perseverance at last prevailed, and three years
ago he succeeded in organizing a stock company to drill for
gas. The well was
a successful one, and when the gas gushed forth with a panting
roar and shot a column of flame sixty feet into the air,
people were alarmed for a time.
But the faith of Dr. OESTERLEN was vindicated and the
truth of his theories established.
was a small and almost unknown town when gas was struck.
It took a year for the news of the wonderful
discoveries to spread, and it was not until 1886, when the
great Karg well, with a capacity of 15,000,000 cubic feet
daily, was struck, that the attention of the public was
arrested by the developments and possibilities at Findlay.
great Karg well was discovered on January 20, 1886, by a
boring of 1,144 feet. The
gas was conducted forty-eight feet above the ground through a
six-inch pipe, and when lighted the flame rose from twenty to
thirty feet above the pipe: with a short pipe the flames
ascended to the height of sixty feet.
The gas leaves the well with a pressure of 400 pounds
to the square inch, and with so much force that it has raised
a piece of iron weighing three tons more than 100 feet above
is difficult to imagine the magnificent effect of this burning
well at night. The
noise of the escaping gas which, at the rate of forty million
cubic feet per day, is like the roar of Niagara or like the
thunder of a dozen railroad trains, drowning all conversation.
On the nights of the first winter it was opened the
ground was frozen and the people not being used to it within
the radius of half a mile were disturbed in their slumbers,
especially when there was a change of wind.
The sound under extraordinary conditions of the
atmosphere had been heard fifteen miles away, and on a dark
night the light reflected on the clouds discerned for fifty
G. Frederick WRIGHT, who visited on an evening a month after
it was opened wrote: “Although the snow had covered the
ground to a depth of several inches, in every direction for a
distance of 200 yards in circumference the heat of the flame
had melted the snow from the ground and the grass and weeds
had grown two or three inches in height.
The crickets also seemed to have mistaken the season of
the year, for they were enlivening the night with their
cheerful song. The
neighborhood of the well seemed also a paradise for tramps.
I noticed one who lay soundly sleeping with his head in
a barrel, with the rest of his body lying outside on the green
turf, to receive the genial warmth from the flame so high up
in the air.” Cold
as it was he slept in perfect comfort, with no danger of
suffering so long as he was within the charmed circle.
daily amount of heat from this single well is said to equal
that from the burning of one thousand tons of soft coal.
cost of drilling a well is about $1,500, but gas is supplied
so cheaply to consumers that no one thinks of drilling a well
except for a factory or mill.
The city owns a number of fine wells and has pipes
under all the streets. Gas
is furnished to consumers for fifteen cents a month for each
grate or stove, and the consumer is permitted to burn as much
or as little as he chooses.
gas has a distinct and penetrating sulphuric odor, so that it
safer for household use than manufactured gas, as it cannot
escape without being quickly detected.
Gas is a great luxury as a fuel.
There is no smoke, dirt or expensive manipulation
connected with it. It
is easily managed and burns with a beautiful blue flame that
emits an intense heat which never varies in degree.
was a great deal of speculation in farms in the gas belt, and
one agent told me he had sold the same farm ten times.
Hundreds of farmers have been made rich, but I cannot
think they have gained as much in contentment as they have in
wealth. One odd
character sold his farm for $75,000 and came to the town to
live. He brought
with him three strapping daughters, and this strange quartet,
in garments cut in styles that were popular a quarter of a
century ago, wander about the streets in a helpless and
hopeless sort of way, wondering what to do with their money
now that they have got it.
The land which Senator SHERMAN paid $30,000 for has
advanced in three months to $150,000 in value.
The population of Findlay has grown from 5,000 to
15,000 in a year.
GREAT NATURAL GAS JUBILEE
the second week in June, 1887, three days—Wednesday,
Thursday and Friday—were given to celebrating the first
anniversary of the practical application of natural gas to
the mechanical arts in Findlay.
It was on the 9th of June, 1885, that the
Biggs Iron and Tool Company first welded iron and steel
together in Northern Ohio with natural gas.
It was a novel occasion—the first jubilee of its
kind in history.
thousand visitors poured into the town to participate in the
natural gas jubilee. The
bustling city was ablaze with light and decorations, radiant
in all the glory of flags, evergreens, bunting, and flowers.
The main street was spanned by fifty-eight arches,
bearing jubilant mottoes illuminated by the flame of
thousands of gas jets.
Thirty thousand such jets were burning all over the
city and turning night into day.
The first day (Wednesday) was devoted chiefly to the
reception of distinguished guests.
On Thursday morning the exercises consisted of the
laying of the corner-stones for four new manufacturing
establishments, in addition to those which had been laid the
day before. Early
in the day Senator John Sherman and other dignitaries
arrived, and in the afternoon Gov. Foraker, accompanied by
Adjutant-General Axline and staff, and the regular army
officers who were to act as judges of the military contest,
reached the city, and were accorded a most hearty reception.
Other arrivals were about 1,000 uniformed members of
the Knights of Pythias from Springfield, Toledo, Dayton,
Cleveland, Sandusky, Bluffton, and other points, all
accompanied by bands of music.
The $1,000 prize drill, later in the day, attracted
day long the burning gas on the street arches flared in the
light rains. It
was cheaper to let it burn than to employ men to put it out
and light it again. In
the evening there was a grand banquet, at which appropriate
addresses were made by Senator Sherman, Gov. Foraker,
Charles Foster, Murat Halstead, Gen. Thomas Powell and
evening’s illumination was a grand success.
Hundreds of sheets of flame leaped from the arches,
and the brilliancy of the burning gas flooded the city in a
blaze of light. A
continuous display of fireworks was made from seven
o’clock until midnight, while 70,000 people packed
roadway, walks, windows and roofs, and manifested in
repeated applause their admiration of the spectacle.
Friday, the last day, was occupied with processions,
military parades, prize drills, band contests at the Wigwam,
the laying of various corner-stones, and of the first rails
of the belt and electric railroads; the festivities
concluding in the evening with the awarding of prizes and a
display of fireworks. In
the drill the first prize of $1,000 was won by the Toledo
Cadets, while the State University Cadets won the second
prize of $500, and the Wooster Guards the third prize of
BLANCHARD is 10 miles southeast of Findlay.
It is on the line of the C. & W. Railroad.
It is in a fine farming and wool-growing district,
and oil and gas are found in abundance.
Churches: 1 Methodist Episcopal, 1 Methodist
Protestant, and 1 Presbyterian.
Population in 1880, 285.
is 85 miles northwest of Columbus, 40 miles south of Toledo,
and 116 miles west of Cleveland, on the line of the N. Y. C.
& St. L. and McC. D. & T. Railroads.
It is surrounded by fine farming lands.
Oil and natural gas are found in abundance.
S. B. DAVIS, editor and publisher.
Churches: 1 Presbyterian, 1 Methodist Episcopal, 1
Disciples, and 1 German Lutheran.
Industries: Manufacturing handles of all kinds, planing
mills, etc. Population
is 1880, 417. School
census, 1886, 337; H. Walter DOTY, superintendent.
on the L. E. & W. and N. Y. C. & St. L. Railroads,
is 9 ½ miles northeast of Findlay.
It has 1 Methodist, 1 Presbyterian, and 1 Lutheran
in 1880, 396.
on the I. B. & W. Railroad, 10 miles east of Findlay.
Population in 1880, 364.
School census, 1888, 142.
BUREN is on the T. C. & S. Railroad, 7 miles north of
in 1880, 130.
RIDGE is 8 miles southwest of Findlay.
Population is 1880, 179.
School census, 1888, 96