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June 21, 1984


Pix #1 - Tiffin's first Water Works, shown by this photo taken in the early part of this century.

Pix #2 - In 1883, the founders of the Tiffin Edison Electric Illuminating Company contracted with Edison Eletric Light Company of New York City for the installation of incadascent lighting in Tiffin. The photo shows the first electric power generating plant built in Ohio (the third in the nation) built at the rear of the property presently occupied by the Ohio Power Co. office at 45 S. Monroe St., Tiffin. In the 40-foot by 60-foot building there was a 100 horsepower boiler, a 120 horsepower engine and two dynamos, each with the capacity of lighting 500 lightbulbs.

Author's Note: This is the second in a series of articles about the formation and growth of Seneca County including the carious villages which were initially formed, some of which are still in existence. Watch for the articles as they appear in intervals.

Tiffin fast became the center of growing business and industry to serve the thriving agricultural area. In 1884 the various commercial and manufacturing establishments numbered 412, and by 1888 the number exceeded 650.

In 1888, three railroads served Tiffin. These were The Indiana, Bloomington & Western; The Baltimore & Ohio, and the Northwestern Ohio of the Pennsylvania System.

By then the streets in Tiffin were lighted by gas and there was an electric light plant built by Tiffin Edison Eletric Illuminating Co. which developed and furnished electricity for stores and residences. There was also a waterworks system with a pumping capacity of 3,000,000 gallons in 24 hours.

The town had a street railway system and a paid fire department. There were good schools including a high school. Heidelberg College had been operating since 1850.

There were churches representing nearly all denominations. And there was the Catholic Ursuline Convent.

Tiffin's population in 1880 had reached 7,879 and by 1888 it exceeded 12,000. Several daily and weekly newspapers were serving the community.


The following are just a few representative names from the more than 600 businesses, indutries and professionals which would make up the total list. Those selected from the reference file were chosen because they included addresses. This will make it possible for readers to place the locations and compare with today's replacements at those locations.

* William Heller - merchant tailor, 23 Court St.
* C. Hatcher - coal, hay, straw, etc., 58 Adams St.
* C.B. Herr - carpets, notions, toys, etc., 59-63 Washington St.
* Singer Manufacturing - D.M. Eastman, manager, 137 S. Washinton St.
* Wm. Gallup - jewelry, 55 N. Washington St.
* W.H. Bloom - agricultural implements, 103 Main St.
* The Lang House - T.A. Yund, proprietor, Market Street
* Smith Manufacturing Co. - bent wagon hounds, West Market St.
* Robert Lysle - insurance agent and notary public, Commercial Bank Block
* Fiege Brothers - furniture and undertakers, 109 S. Washington St.
* George Spiess - musical merchandise, 236 S. Washington St.
* Lewis Harman - watchmaker and jeweler, 102 Washington St.
* Wm. Lawbert - groceries and provisions, Sandusky and Market Streets
* George Ernest - tin, copper and sheet iron ware, 115 Washington
* B. Wolfing - meat market, 2 W. Market St.
* L.W. Zimmer - bookseller, 78 Washington St.
* George S. Yinglings - wholesale cigars, 55 S. Washington St.
* J.J. Green - agricultural implements, 33 E. Market St.
* Joseph Harter - marble and granite works, Water Street
* Phillip Scheib - merchant tailor, 119 S. Washington St.
* G.A. Corthell - hats, caps and furnishing goods, 114 S. Washington St.
* John Metcalfe - veterinarian surgeon, 35 E. Market St.
* B. Hepp - wagon and buggy manufacturing, West Market St.
* F.L. Emich - picture frames and books, Market Street
* Holtzberger & Oder - groceries and provisions, Jefferson and Coe Streets
* Lewis Selle - merchant tailor, 68 Washington St.
* M. Morcher - vienna bakery, 82 Washington St.
* John Balmer - meat market, 228 S. Washington St.
* Jerome T. Swope - blacksmith, 175 W. Market St.


A popular amusement spot in Tiffin 100 years ago was Empire Park which opened to the public in 1876. The park was owned and managed by Billy Benner, often termed the "P.T. Barnum of the west".

That entertainment center was combined museum, zoological garden and roller rink. It was located in the 2nd Ward, just five blocks from the court house with the main entrance on Railroad Street.

The two-story main building housed the skating rink on the second floor, while the ground floor contained a large collection of birds, animals, vegetables and minerals gathered from all quarters of the globe. The park also had a fine restaurant, billiard and pool tables, bowling alleys and a shooting gallery.

During the summer months the park was a favorite point for excursionists, picnics pleasure parties from all parts of northern Ohio.


Author's Note: This is a true story, extracted from records, the property of Edna Risdon Neary, Plano Texas, granddaughter of David Risdon.

John Anthony and his wife Catherine Rosenberger and their children came to northern Ohio as part of a wagon train from Shenendoah County, Virginia, in the autumn of 1820. They settled on land northwest of Fort Ball, now part of Tiffin. There they built their two-story log house.

During one of the winters after they settled there, they ran short of food supplies. The whole family set out for Fort Ball in their home made sled, drawn by their team of horses. Their trip there was without incident and they loaded the sled with supplies.

On the way to their home a pack of wolves picked up their scent, and soon they heard the howl of the wolves as they drew closer. When the wild pack was within sight, Rosenberger fired upon them, killing several, which slowed up their persuit, since the animals stopped to devour the dead ones.


Even though Rosenberger drove the team of horses as fast as possible, the wolves caught up again and it was then that he threw his supplies overboard for the wolves to eat, and thus slowup their pursuit. The sacrifice delayed the pack sufficiently to allow the family to reach home safely...but the trip was a failure because all of the supplies were gone.

Presumable the ingenuity and perseverance of those early settlers prompted them to eke out an existence by hunting game and catching fish from the streams. Supplemented with meal for bread and wild fruit and berries, they must have made out. The later records show that the Rosenbergers moved on west to Iowa County, Iowa, in 1853, to join David Risdon and others from Seneca County who had already arrived and settled there.

This short story from the records of Edna Risdon Neary, provides a glimpse of early America and hose this country came about. Other "glimpses" will be provided from time-to-time.

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