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Fostoria's Past: A Century of history in the making
By Gene Kinn
Staff writer (The Review Times)

1899- (More about the year)

The big story in 1899 was a happy one, the arrival in Fostoria of the 90 members of Company D, 6th Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry. They rode a train into town on May 26, following the end of the Spanish- American War.

A large parade and a reception were held in honor of the soldiers who had been away for approximately 13 months. The streets were jammed as the parade moved west on High Street and down Main Street from High to Center Street where the welcoming ceremonies were held.

The reception was held at the Odd Fellows Hall on June 1.

Three members of Company D had been killed in the war. They were W. W. Dale, Roscoe Kistner and Armitage Green.


1900- (More about the year)

In 1900, an explosion, which occurred in the powder room of the Columbia Firecracker plant, rocked the community.

The plant was located on Sycamore Street, just off South Union Street and employed 66 people. The 18-by-20-foot building was destroyed and at least seven men and boys were severely burned. One of the victims, 25-year-old Delano Eberhardt, died the following day.


1901- (More about the year)

There was no hospital here in 1900, but on Aug. 19, 1901 a semi-public hospital was opened by Mr. and Mrs. C. Fletcher, at 645 N. Main St., in the house adjoining England's grocery store.

There were fifteen large airy rooms in the house and they were supplied with all the (then) modern conveniences.

Mr. and Mrs. Fletcher both had considerable experience in nursing and were prepared to furnish nurses for any kind of trouble.

They received the assurances of the physicians of the city that such a place was greatly needed and that the doctors would send them all the business they could.


1902- (More about the year)

The fire department was called to the U.S. Signal Co. plant, on the local fair grounds, on July 11, 1902.

Their quick response saved the filling room, but the finishing room building was burned to the ground with its contents including about 250 gross of torpedoes, 30 gross of fusees and a considerable amount of stock. The loss was estimated at about $1,000.

Six days later, the fire fiend again visited the plant site leaving the three remaining buildings and their contents in ruin. This time, the damage was estimated at over $7,000. The plant was owned by M. M. Carr and Phil Peter.

Later that same year, on Dec. 9, fire destroyed the Fostoria Glass Specialty Co., leaving only the furnace standing.

The company had been organized the previous summer and had given employment to 125 people.

The site of the plant seem to be ill-fated as it was the third glass factory to have burned at that spot, the Calcine plant having been twice burned.

The loss was estimated at between $40,000 and $50,000.


1903- (More about the year)

Probably the worst accident in the history of Fostoria occurred on Feb. 16, 1903 when an explosion took place in "the bullet factory," a building, just north of the B & O tracks on South Main Street, occupied as a facility for the manufacture of explosives used in the Fox Magazine Cane. Eight workers were killed in the blast including two sisters, Alice Mompher, 19 and Jennie Mompher, 16. A ninth person died the following day.

The cause was not known, but plant manager Robert Short laid the blame on a new fanning mill, recently put in and being run experimentally.

Several of the badly burned rolled in the snow to quench the flames and were then taken into the Hotchkiss saloon where medical aid was called for them.

The eight who lost their lives in the fire rushed for the front door, which opened inward. Their bodies were all found huddled about the door.

Oh yes, the Columbia Firecracker Co., which had rebuilt after the earlier fire, was again destroyed by flames earlier in the year.


1904- (More about the year)

Still another fire, in January of 1904, destroyed most of the Ohio Normal College building on College Avenue, with the exception of the one-story portion used as a chapel and lecture room.

When firefighters arrived, the fire was confined to the music room, the northeast room of the building. The department responded as quickly as conditions of the streets would permit, and in comparatively short time, had the flames under control. They were almost ready to desist when flames broke out in the third story.

Had the institution not been destroyed by flames, it was among the leading contenders to become the site of a new college in northwest Ohio, which instead located in Bowling Green.

The building was erected in 1879 and was known as the Fostoria Academy, erected by the United Brethren Church as a denominational school.

Another sad blow for the city that year was the death of the Hon. Charles Foster on Jan. 9.

The former governor and secretary of the treasury was stricken with paralysis shortly before midnight at the home of a friend in Springfield. The two men intended to go to Columbus the following Monday for the inauguration of Governor-elect Herrick. Mr. Foster was born in a log cabin, on a farm in Seneca Township, near Tiffin on April 12, 1828, and came to this area with his parents at the age of 4.

He was Fostoria's first treasurer and held other local offices before defeating Edward Dickinson for congress in 1870. After eight years in the congress, and four years as governor, he was secretary of the treasury in the cabinet of President Harrison.


1905- (More about the year)

A meeting of stockholders of the new Seneca Wire & Manufacturing Co. was held on Nov. 20, 1905 in the rooms of the the Columbia Club.

It was decided to select the site of the old Seneca Glass Co. on Vine Street as the location for the new plant. The company was capitalized at $100,000.

Less than a month later, ground was broken for a 60-by-64-foot main building plus engine and boiler room and a packing house, to be constructed by J. H. Jones at a cost of $10,000.


1906- (More about the year)

The big story of 1906 was the March 12 train wreck at Godsend, five miles west of the city.

Two freight trains and one passenger train were involved. Two men were killed and 16 passengers were injured.

A snow storm, the worst of the winter, was the probable prime cause of the wreck as it not only prevented the train men from seeing any distance ahead, but made the tracks so slippery that their efforts to stop in time were to no avail.

First reports reaching Fostoria indicated about 50 killed or injured and the services of all the physicians in the city were requested. A switch engine was hastily hitched to a box car and six doctors were taken to the scene.

Many of the passengers were brought to town and taken to the Sherwood Hotel. Two ambulances and a number of cabs were awaiting them.

By this time, there was a steady stream of horse and buggy rigs making their way out the ridge road. The snow was beating in the faces of the drivers, almost blinding them, and the roads were in such condition that few would have cared to have made the trip for anything less urgent. From 500 to 1,000 people must have visited the scene.

The train's fireman and a postal clerk were listed as fatalities.

One of the injured, an express messenger, closed a bad scalp wound with postage stamps.


1907- (More about the year)

The worst gas accident in Fostoria was reported on Jan. 17, 1907.

Three people were dead and one was apparently in dying condition. The dead were 52-year-old Clement Leidy, 26-year-old John Kreais and Kreais' 17-month-old son. Mrs. Kreais was barely alive.

The victims were discovered by the Kreais' son-in-law Lon Shuman. Two gas jets from the cookstove were on.

Shuman summoned a neighbor and Dr. A. E. Watson. They threw the doors and windows open wide, but no one thought to shut off the burners until Dr. Watson realized that the fumes were not diminishing and finally turned off the gas.

Superintendent Frey of the Logan Gas Co. visited the home and found the stove pipe and chimney also completely filled with soot. The family had been burning gas for about three months, changing from coal without cleaning out the chimney.


1908- (More about the year)

Another tragedy was listed in 1908 when three young children burned to death on July 25. The victims were Lillie, 5, Goldie, 4 and Benjmin, 15 months, children of Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Doke who lived on East Tiffin Street just outside the city limits. The father was working and the mother had gone for groceries when the flames broke out. The cause of the fire was not known.

Goldie was blind and crippled as a result of an attack of scarlet fever two years earlier.


1909- (More about the year)

In 1909 Fostoria had two mayors at the same time and neither would give up his duties.

Carl Anderson, who was elected mayor in November of 1907, was elected to the position of congressman from Ohio's 13th district in March of 1909 and left for Washington.

By act of Fostoria City Council, Anderson was disposed from the office of mayor and Vice Mayor Frank Gebert was declared to have succeeded to the duties of the office. The resolution declared that the office of mayor was abandoned when Anderson left Fostoria to assume his duties in the nation's capital. Anderson refused to give up the local office claiming that he could fill both positions. He fired off a telegram to the council saying, "Have not resigned, do not intend to."

Anderson authorized Justice J. R. Bradner to hold criminal court here in Anderson's absence and his lawyer filed suit to recover any monies paid to Mr. Gebert. Both Gebert and Anderson appointed a member to the board of public service.

Several courts refused to consider the matter saying they had no jurisdiction in the case. Finally, in July, Judge Baldwin of Seneca County issued a temporary injunction restraining Mr. Gebert from interfering with Mr. Anderson in the performance of his duties as mayor whereupon Mr. Anderson appointed Clyde Johnson to act in his stead while he was in Washington. Anderson also appointed N. Burtscher as director of public service and Peter Gardner as director of public safety.

Information courtesy of William Cline



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