Looking Back at Findlay in 1901

Excerpts from the Findlay Enterprise in 1901


Fine School System

Few villages of it size in the state have a better school system than does the Village of Findlay.  From the earliest settlement of this community the citizens have taken a lively interest in educational affairs, and this interest today finds expression in educational equipment that any village in the land might be proud of. 


The present brick structure was built in 1895.  This handsome school building is an illustration of the rapidity and thoroughness of modern progress.  Findlay has grown, and her requirements along educational lines have kept pace with her growth.  These requirements have been catered to by a public spirited, patriotic and enlightened citizenship.


The faculty consist of four teachers who are directing the material growth and development of 140 of the rising generation, guiding their feet in the pathway that leads to the goal of useful manhood, womanhood and good citizenship.  The roster is as follows: E.C. Graybill, principal; Miss Fayette Kuhl, grammar; Miss Mary Shanks, intermediate; and Miss Rena Cavender, primary.


The affairs of the school are directed by a board of education, consisting of two members and a president.  Following are the members of the board: President, Mrs. Frank Brown; secretary, Elmer Earp; and Alonzo Gardner.


The magnificent results attained by the public in the past year is largely due to the wise management and foresight of the progressive principal, Mr. E. C. Graybill.  He brought to these schools just what was needed to set in motion idle wheels.  He took advantage of every privilege that the state grants to live scholars, which has resulted in an enviable school system, and one to which every resident of the village may point with pride.


The school was regarded last September by E.C. Graybill, and many changes made that work well.  The High School course was put in shape to be placed on the accredited list of a number of colleges in the state.  This gives permanence and value to the diploma which will be given next year to from six to nine graduates.


The high school course in mathematics leads through higher arithmetic, algebra, plane and solid geometry to trigonometry.  The language work consists of advanced grammar, rhetoric, actual composition, literary work and literature course comprises four months of sight-reading practice, four months of special reading, four months of American literature and four months of English literature.  The science work includes botany, zoology, physical and mathematical geography, natural philosophy and tests.


Bookkeeping is taught four months in the junior year’s work. Choice of one or two year’s Latin is given to each class graduating.  A special course of four months is given in physiology in the high school course.  The history work in the high school consists of one year of United States history followed by ancient medieval and modern peoples. 


Findlay has eight months school each year.  A number of tuition pupils attended this year.  Two of the high school pupils, W. Shanks and Ada McVay are already holding certificates to teach.


Families with children of school age to whom they desire to give every educational advantage find the Findlay school is far better adopted to their requirements than the average.  We are proud of our schools.


(This school building had a stove in every room and outdoor toilets.  There were three years in high school and then added the fourth.)


The First Telephone

The first telephone service in Findlay was in a grocery store.  To call out of town or to receive a call, the message from the caller was given to the operator who relayed it to the person being called.


A list of numbers was printed in the Enterprise because with only 16 telephones there was no telephone book. 


Those having telephone numbers were: Gould Bros. & Co., E.S. Combs Office, S.B. Melcher residence, Merchant & Farmers Bank, Will Melcher residence, James Dazey residence, Dr. Askins office, Davis Bros. Livery Barn, Central Hotel, N.F. Keim Store, Stumpf & Earp store, G.M. Dickson Store, Enterprise Office, Frank Brown residence, W.B. Wallace residence and G.M. Dickson residence. 


In a related article same day: William Melcher ordered goods from Springfield, Ohio Monday by telephone.  The conversation that passed between them was plain and distinct showing that the phones are in good shape.


Queen of the Prairie

Findlay has been justly termed the queen of Prairie Villages.  The deep, black soil surrounding furnishes ample foundation for the permanent and continued prosperity.  It is the natural centre of one of the most prolific corn producing regions in the grand old State of Illinois, which nature has graciously endowed with a wealth of advantages that make it a most desirable spot for a thriving business and manufacturing centre.


There is no soil richer than ours, and go where you will you cannot find a spot on the face of the earth that so generously provides for all the wants of mankind.  The climate is mild and delightful, which furnishes to those who reasonably obey nature’s laws, the safest insurance against sickness.


The writer has traveled in almost every state in the Union, by rail, coach and foot and has made careful observation as to the producing qualities of the soil and the healthfulness of the people; he has noticed the radical climate changes and their effect upon health; he has found vast regions of arid sun-dried plains and marshy swamps within a distance of a few miles, where the very air reeked with poisonous odors; he has seen beautiful homes and growing crops, the hope and pride of their owners totally destroyed by the unerring hand of nature within the period of a few hours; he has tasted the glory of the sunny south with her tropical fruits and verdant flowers and felt the winter’s chilling breezes in the far north, but for the absolute enjoyment of man, the full and free exercise of all his facilities the proud state of Illinois stands majestic and alone the grandest spot in the world, and Findlay, with the beauty and wealth of her surroundings, claims equal honors with any other portion of this great commonwealth. 


We have a perfect natural drainage outlet in the Okaw River and her tributaries and the thousands of miles of tile that underlie the vast acreage around us and the streets of our village insure us perfect sanitary conditions.  Good water in abundance is found at an average depth of 75 feet.  Coal in paying quantities is found at a depth of 116 feet, and the wooded lands bordering the river furnish us an abundance of wood.


Many of our homes are using natural gas for both fuel and lighting purposes, which is found at a depth of 100 feet, and rich petroleum deposits are beneath us, but as we treat on this subject in a lengthy article elsewhere, we will not go into details here.  Just beneath our six to eight feet of rich black soil lies a strata of blue clay which is the exact substance of which fine tiling for mantles are made.  It is also valuable for flooring, as when burnt it has a smooth, glossy surface.  In fact, the soil upon which we are living is pregnant with natural products that need but the torch of the magic hand of capital to turn them into gold.


With all these natural advantages is it any wonder that this is the home of so many thrifty and go ahead people, and that both business and dwelling houses are in such constant demand?  This is not a boom town and never has been, but has enjoyed a steady and uninterrupted growth from its incorporation in 1892, and while it has grown rapidly our people have worked upon the idea that it was necessary for a village as well as a child to spend a few years crawling before it attempted to walk, and this precaution was a wise one, for it has resulted in many advantages that could not otherwise have been.


To begin with, our streets were made wide and spacious, and every detail for comfort and convenience of future generations was carefully guarded.  We might say that Findlay has not yet advanced to her walking stage, and is still clad in infant’s clothing, for most of our business houses are frame structures.


However,  this is no reflection upon the thrift of our businessmen, but rather a compliment to their business foresight, for about 80 [?] years ago when the majority of our business structures were erected the village did not give much promise for much more than an ordinary cross-roads town and our merchants (most of whom own their buildings) erected such structures as would accommodate their business at that time, and they have since been enlarged as it became necessary, until now such store rooms are no longer adequate and a general movement is on foot for blocks of substantial brick business houses that will be modern in every respect, to take the place of the wooden structures.


It is a well known expression that “a town must have two or three big fires before it amounts to anything,” but the fallacy of this is proven in this case, for we have never had a fire of any consequence [but there were big fires in 1911 and 1929], but the man who gets off here 12 months from now will find some buildings that would do credit to a town many times the size of Findlay, and if he seeks business he will find a class of businessmen who are abreast of the times and who, from long experience with the people of the community, know just what to handle and how much of it they can use.  This is the kind of men what will make any town grow, and it is the class of which Findlay is composed. 


The people of the surrounding country have found out that when they come to Findlay to d their trading they are served with just what they want at prices that are less than they would have to pay in other towns for what the merchants had bought a few seasons back and been unable to sell.  Such methods upon the part of our businessmen have received the volume of business coming to the town from year to year, and the increase will be greater as the years go by.