Mansfield’s Chinese Laundries

The photo pictured below show’s Charlie Wing’s Laundry located at 246 North Main Street in 1925.  Chinese Laundries were prevalent in the United States during this time, with 1 in 4 Chinese immigrants working in the industry.  New York alone had as many as 3,550 Chinese laundries at the start of the 1930s.  Many Chinese men came to the United States in the 19th century to work in mines during the California Gold Rush. They were also instrumental in the building of railroads in the American West.  As more immigrants came, anti-Chinese sentiment rose, forcing many into the laundry trade.  Washing and ironing were considered “women’s work” at the time and therefore, not a threat to the traditional male worker.[1]

Wing’s wasn’t the first Chinese laundry in Mansfield.  The 1900 U.S. Census shows Sing Lee running a laundry at 113 North Main Street (later 121 North Main), with partners Charlie Sung and Yung Lee.  Around 1906 Louie Sam took over operation of the laundry at 113 North Main.  A 1909 article in the Mansfield News mentions Louie Sam and his unnamed employee were the only two Chinese in Mansfield at the time.[2]  In 1910 Charley Fong took over operation of the laundry and the 1920 U.S. Census lists his employees as Charlie and George Wing.

The Mansfield News, 24 August 1910, p. 7.

Even though some of the men were listed as married in the census, there were never any women listed, which suggested that they sent money back home to China to their families.  City directories also suggest the men lived in the back of the business.  Around 1923-24 the Wings took over the laundry business and it grew like never before, opening at the 246 North Main location.  The 1926 city directory lists four locations: the two on North Main and others at 26 West Third and 10 East Second.

Often Chinese immigrants would arrive from China knowing little English.  William Wing Ng arrived in 1935 at the age of 14.  The young man came to live with his brother, James Fook Ng, and was placed in the first grade at West Fifth Street school. The teacher, Miss Elizabeth Zimmerman, said he would probably advance three grades in his first year.[3]   William would go on to served in World War II as a medic and Chines interpreter in Burma[4] and the laundry business would be named William Wing’s Laundry until it closed.  The business was run by his partner, Paul Wong, for a number of years.

The Mansfield News-Journal, 27 November 1947, p.14.

Paul Wong arrived in Mansfield around 1922. A 1956 article in the Mansfield News-Journal reports on his 18-year-old  son, Wong Sic Quen,  arriving in town.  Paul Wong had not seen his son and wife since his son’s birth in 1938.  By 1969, the only Chinese laundry listed in the Mansfield city directory was William Wing Laundry at 121 North Main St.  Wing Laundry stayed in business until the death of Paul Wong on March 11, 1976.[5]  By the end of 1976, Wong’s estate was being sold. The following year the building, which housed Mansfield’s Chinese Laundry for 76 years, was demolished.[6]

The Mansfield News-Journal, 28 June 1956, p. 28.

The Mansfield News-Journal, 05 January 1947, p. 24.


Sources:

  1. https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2015/09/04/chinese-laundry/
  2. The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 21 January 1909, p. 9.
  3. The Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 25 October 1935, p. 1.
  4. The Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 05 January 1947, p. 24.
  5. The Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 12 March 1976, p. 8.
  6. The Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 24 August 1977, p. 10.

What Was There: The News Building

William Shakespeare Cappeller started The News Printing Co. in Mansfield around 1885, while still living in Cumminsville, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati.  The company published The Mansfield Daily News and promoted itself as an independent newspaper, even though Cappeller had strong ties to the Republican party.  The following year in March of 1886, Cappeller purchased the Democratic Newspaper the Ohio Liberal.  Cappeller announced the new title would be The Weekly News and Ohio Liberal and be strictly a Republican newspaper.  The name was quickly changed to The Weekly News.  In addition to the weekly newspaper, Cappeller continued to publish his daily newspaper, the Mansfield Daily News.  This paper would later merge with the Mansfield Journal, creating the Mansfield News-Journal in 1933.  The Mansfield Daily and Weekly News operated out of the former Ohio Liberal headquarters on the southeast corner of Fourth and Walnuts Streets.

Mansfield Daily and Weekly News on the southeast corner of Fourth and Walnut

Another Democratic newspaper in Mansfield was far from happy with the work of Cappeller and often used their paper to print any scandal they could find on the newspaperman.  The paper often referred to him as a blackmailer, swindler, and criminal and, at one point, denounced him for working on the sabbath for publishing a Sunday edition.  They even referred to his offices on Fourth Street as “the smut factory.” [1]   Capeller seemed undeterred by this and, in 1890, started construction of a new office and print shop for his newspapers.  This was one of the most complete newspaper plants in any city of its size in Ohio at the time.  The new structure would be located on the northwest corner of Fourth and Walnut.

The News Building from the Mansfield News, February 8, 1891, p. 1.

The site for the new building, which was 60 x 130 feet, was purchased from the Cope estate for $8000.  After excavation of a few feet of earth, a foundation of sandstone was hit.  For many weeks the site on the corner of Fourth and Walnut looked like a quarry, and much of the sandstone cut was used in the foundation of the building.  This gave a solid foundation for the printing presses and machinery used in the press room.  Jacob Wolfarth finished the basement masonry, which extended 100 feet down Walnut street and which resulted in the North end of the building being level with the street.  The front of the building along Fourth Street extended 21 ½ feet.  The front of the building was finished by Hancock & Dow with buff Amherst stone and the Walnut side of the building was constructed of cherry-colored Zanesville pressed brick with white mortar.  The structure was finished off with a clock tower built by the McCoy Brothers.  At the base of the clock tower, a bay window provided a view of the clockworks and the 750-pound weight which ran the Seth Thomas clock.  The distance from the pavement to the top of the flagstaff on the clock tower was 119-feet. The total cost of construction was $10,000.[2]

In 1950 the Mansfield News-Journal moved into its new building on the corner of Fourth and Mulberry Streets.  The old building stood for another 15 years before wrecking crews removed another landmark of Mansfield’s past.[3]

The News Building shortly before being razed, 1964 (Photo by Eileen Wolford)

Sources:

  1. Richland Shield and Banner (Mansfield, Ohio). 23 July 1887, p. 4.
  2. The Mansfield News. (Mansfield, Ohio). 08 February 1891, p. 1.
  3. The Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 04 April 1965, p. 1.

Hebler’s Bakery

There is no doubt that Katharine Hebler was a strong woman.  Her husband died at the age of 35 shortly after the couple started a bakery business in Mansfield.  Katharine, or Kate as she was known, turned this into a successful business, but the hardships continued.  She continued to persevere through the deaths of 3 of her 5 children, paying off the bakery’s debts and constructing a building, which still stands today on the corner of East Fourth and North Diamond streets.

Katharine Schroer and her husband John Hebler were German immigrants.  John was born in Hessen on June 10, 1840[1] and Katharine, born October 9, 1840, hailed from Elmstein, Bavaria,[2] which is today in the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany.  It’s not certain when they married or arrived in the United States.  The 1910 U.S. Census states Katharine’s immigration year was 1861, but no other records confirm this.  Marriage records also show a John Hebelea and Katy Schrear/Schrere being married in Richland County, Ohio on October 23, 1864,[3]  but no other records confirm this is the same couple.  We know they were in Richland County by 1870.  The 1870 U.S. Census shows them living in Mifflin Township, Richland County, Ohio with two children: John Jr, born in 1866 in Virginia, and Emma, born in 1868 in Ohio.[4]  Newspaper records also show that Katharine’s brother Charles, a furniture maker and founder of Charles Schroer & Sons, was in Mansfield as early as 1865.[5]

The next few years were promising for the family.  They moved to Mansfield on the corner of East Fourth and North Diamond and opened a bakery.  John and Katharine had 3 more children: Louis, born in 1870, Catherine, born in 1873, and Mary, born in 1875.   A dark cloud came over the Hebler family on the evening of April 4, 1877 that would seemingly never leave.  On that evening, Katharine’s husband, John, was lowing a barrel of molasses into the cellar when the rope slipped.  The barrel fell on him, causing internal injuries, and he died the following day.[6]  Katharine Hebler was left a widow at the age of 37 with 5 young children to care for on her own.  Life went on and Katharine continued to raise her children and successfully run a business.  City directories list her as the owner of the Habler Bakery until 1886-87, when her son John took over, though it appears Katharine still had a controlling interest.  On March 19, 1889, tragedy struck again when Emma, the oldest daughter died due to diseases of the liver and kidneys.  She was only 20 years old.[7]

Katharine continued to work, erecting a new building on the corner in the 1890s.  On January 15, 1899, the Mansfield news wrote about the new building and Kate’s character saying, “the fine-appearing,  three-story, brick building at the northwest corner of Fourth and Diamond streets, shows ‘what a woman can do.’  About 22 years ago John Hebler died … but the widow, Kate Hebler, continued the bakery business, and by hard work, perseverance and admirable management, raised her family, cleared their little property of debt and within the past few years erected a building of which any capitalist would well feel proud.”[8]  Katharine’s two youngest daughters were married in 1894, Mary to William Hill on April 19 and Catherine to Willaim A. Mull on October 17.[9]  Her sons, Louis and John, never married.

Inside Hebler’s Bakery

In the early hours of August 15, 1900, tragedy again befell the Hebler family.  Louis, unable to sleep went downstairs to the bakery, remarked to the baker that it was too hot, and went outside to cool down.  About ten minutes later,  around 2:30 in the morning, Marshall Henry Lemon heard moans coming from the stairs leading to Henry Griesinger’s saloon in the basement of the Blecker Block on the corner of East Fourth and North Main Streets.  Louis had fallen down the stairs, causing internal injuries.  He died a few hours later.[10]  Another Tragedy was narrowly avoided in 1905 when the Hebler delivery wagon, driven by William Mull, was hit by a streetcar.  The wagon was destroyed, but Mull and the horse avoided serious injury.[11]

Mull again made news on June 25, 1907, when he was involved in a scheme with Joshua Kneeland where the two procured $800 and skipped town.  Mull had recently purchased the bar of John Lurscher, which was on the corner of North Diamond and Sixth streets.  It was customary at the time for breweries and banks to loan money to saloon keepers to cash worker’s paychecks.  Mull and Kneeland, the bartender, made off with $800 belonging to the Renner and Weber Brewery and headed west.  A few days later, their horses and buggy were found in Butler, but there was still no sight of the men.  In the first week of July, Catherine received a telegram from William stating he was out west and Kneeland sent postcards to friends in Mansfield which stated he was in Utah, but they were postmarked from Los Angeles, California.  The two had apparently split up in Chicago and Kneeland continued to head west.  Mull stayed in Chicago where he claimed to be drugged and robbed.  When he regained consciousness, he was on a train headed to Denver.  The two men were back in Mansfield by late July and all charges were dropped.  Mull and Catherine would become estranged and Catherine would later file for divorce.  Mull moved to West Virginia, remarried, and died on December 20, 1912, the same day as his newly born daughter passed away.  William was buried with his only child, Wilhemina, in his arms.[12]

On July 10, 1910, John Hebler Jr. died of acute nephritis, formerly known as Bright’s disease.[13]  A year and a half later, on February 3, 1912, Mrs. Katharine Hebler died at the age of 71 after suffering failing health for the past few years.[14]  Katherine left the bakery business to her daughter Catherine and the property to Mary.[15]  Her son-in-law, William Hill, was left to manage the bakery.  Later that year, on August 31, 1912, an explosion rocked the Hebler Bakery.  William had gone down to bake bread, but, unknown to him, a small gas light had been extinguished filling the room with gas.  When he lit the big gas burner, a roll of flame came from the oven.  He quickly covered his eyes, but his head, face, and arms were severely burned.  Luckily the collection of gas was small and no damage was done to the bakery.[16]  Hill continued to run the bakery until 1918 when the family decided to close due to new government regulations in the selling of bread, ending nearly 50 years of business in Mansfield.[17]

The location of Hebler’s Bakery today at 39 East Fourth St.

Sources:

  1. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/120618210/john-hebler
  2. Bavaria, Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1556-1973; Custodian: Zentralarchiv Der Evangelischen Kirche Der Pfalz, Speyer; Film Number: 1457538
  3. Richland County, Ohio Marriage Records 1813-1871, p. 170.
  4. Year: 1870; Census Place: Mifflin, Richland, Ohio; Roll: M593_1261; Page: 232A; Family History Library Film: 552760
  5. Richland Shield and Banner, published in Mansfield, Ohio on Wednesday, December 20th, 1865, p2
  6. Richland Shield and Banner, published in Mansfield, Ohio on Wednesday, Arpril 7th, 1877, p2
  7. Daily Shield and Banner, published in Mansfield, Ohio on Wednesday, March 20th, 1889, p4
  8. Mansfield News-Journal, 15 JAN 1899, p. 9
  9. Richland County, Ohio Marriage Records 1872-1900, p. 140.
  10. Mansfield News-Journal, 15 AUG 1900, p. 4
  11. Mansfield News-Journal, 25 APR 1905, p. 3
  12. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/149566231/wilhemina-alice-mull
  13. Mansfield News Journal, 08 JUL 1910, p. 4.
  14. Mansfield News Journal, 03 FEB 1912, p. 4.
  15. Mansfield News Journal, 03 May 1912, p. 3.
  16. Mansfield News Journal, 31 AUG 1912, p. 6.
  17. Mansfield News-Journal, 10 JAN 1818, p. 4.

What Was There: The Caldwell & Bloor Building

If you’ve been to the main library recently, you may have noticed renovations being done on the Caldwell & Bloor building located behind the Chamber of Commerce at 80 West Third St.  The 96-year-old building, designed by Mansfield architects Althouse & Jones, was originally built to house a Dodge dealership owned by A. M. Colby.  Colby made significant progress in the automobile business since arriving in Mansfield in 1919.

Alfred M. Colby in the 1906 Adytum (Denison’s yearbook)

Alfred Mansfield Colby was born on October 20, 1882 in Dayton, Ohio to Massachusetts natives Henry Frances Colby and Mary Lizzie Chamberlin.  In 1905 Colby graduated from Denison University where he was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity.  A short time after graduation, he obtained a job as an inspector for The Broadstreet Co. in Dayton.  Colby’s World War I draft registration card shows that by 1918 he had made his way to Cleveland, Ohio, and was working as a sales representative for the Dodge Bros. Motor Cars.   Colby first appears in the Mansfield newspapers the following February of that year, opening up a Dodge Bros. dealership at 14 E. Dickson Ave. behind the Vonhoff Hotel in the old J. T. Blizzard and Son Livery.  By June of that same year, Colby had moved to 31 East Third St.  It didn’t take Colby long to build his own building and, by January of 1920, preparations were being made to construct a new Dodge Bros. dealership at 70-72 North Diamond St.  Colby moved into his new location in November of 1920.

The Mansfield News 22 FEB 1919, p. 8

Three years passed and, in January of 1924, Colby announced that he was building a new three-story, plus basement, fire-proof building designed by Althouse & Jones.  Nine months later construction was completed and Colby moved in.  Colby was in this building for nearly 20 years, leaving around 1942.  He set up headquarters at the corner of North Main and Sixth where Colby & Earick, as it was then known, had their used car lot.  In 1944 Quality Furniture would move into the building after a fire destroyed their building on North Park Street in February of that year.  They stayed in the building until 1949 when they went out of business.

The Mansfield News 14 SEP 1924, p. 8

In 1950 G. L. DeYarmon, owner of the building, leased 80 West Third to Al C. Boyer.  Boyer intended to open a parking garage at the location for approximately 40 cars.  The garage opened in March of 1950 and, four months later, Boyer announced the garage was closing.  A. B. Grafton was next to move into the space, using it as a body shop for his Lincoln-Mercury dealership located at 99 Park Avenue West.  Grafton was there until 1955 when the Caldwell and Bloor Company leased the building and began remodeling in September.  Caldwell and Bloor stayed at the location for nearly 50 years before moving out to 1283 South Tremble Rd in 2004.  In 1960 Caldwell and Bloor opened The Apothecary Shoppe at 80 West Third St, which was marketed as “a real, honest to goodness, pharmacy and something more.”  In 2009 Caldwell and Bloor was purchased by DiaMed USA LLC.  The company had been in Mansfield since 1890, originally operating on the corner of Park Avenue West and North Main Street where the Park National Bank building is today.

The Mansfield News Journal 24 MAR 1950, p. 14
The Mansfield News Journal 02 MAY 1960, p. 9

According to his obituary, Alfred M. Colby retired in 1951.  During his life, he was active in many civil and social organizations.  Colby was a charter member of the Rotary Club, on the board of education, a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, a 32nd degree Mason, and a Denison University trustee, just to name a few.  On April 10, 1957, Alfred’s wife Mary L. McKibben, who he married on March 31, 1921, in Bronx, New York, died at the age of 69.  On December 1, 1960, Alfred Colby was hit by a car in Granville, Ohio, where he had been living the past 18 months.  He would never fully recover from his injures and died on June 3, 1962 at the Northside Manor Rest Home in Mt. Vernon, Ohio.

From Alfred M. Colby’s obituary 04 JUN 1962, p. 11 (Mansfield News Journal)