The Baxter Stove Company Comes to Mansfield

Thomas Baxter first arrived in Ohio in 1843, being persuaded to move from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania by his friend, grocery store clerk, Charles Atwell.  Upon his arrival in Hanover Township, Columbiana County, he started a tin and stove business.  He later sold that business to Vineca & Pritchard and moved to Salem, Ohio in 1859.[1]  In 1867, with the firm Baxter, Boyle & Co., Thomas Baxter started the Perry stove works in Salem, Ohio.  The company was incorporated in 1870 as the Perry Stove Company with $60,000 in capital.  On August 12, 1872, a disastrous fire would destroy the plant.  It was rebuilt that year and added to over the following years.[2]  This would not be the last time fire played a role in Baxter’s business affairs.  Thomas and his wife, Isabella, had 9 children, all boys, while in Columbiana County: John (b. 1841), James (b. 1843), Robert (b. 1845), William (b. 1847), Thomas (b. 1850), Emmett (b. 1853), Cassius (b. 1856), Edwin (b. 1858), and Asberry (b. 1860).

Around 1882 the Perry Stove Works began looking to move their operation to a city where there would be room to expand.  Canton, Ohio was considered and the company requested four acres of land be donated near the railroad[3]  This never materialized and Mansfield, Ohio jumped at the opportunity.  On March 8, 1882, a letter arrived in Mansfield from the Perry Stove Works offering a proposition.  If the city could furnish $3,000 or $4,000 and 3 or 4 acres of land, the company would move to this city and begin operations as soon as possible.  A few hours later, a telegram was sent to the company saying that this could be arranged.[4]  Two weeks later, John and Emmett Baxter arrived in the city to check out the available land.  They were impressed with what they saw[5] and returned to Salem to make a decision.  In August of 1882, John, this time with brother Asberry, or Berry as he was called, visited Mansfield again to select a site.  A site on the Hedges property was selected and donated by the Hedges’s heirs to the company.[6]  The works would be located on Bloom Street, today East Fifth, past the tracks once the street was extended.  In September construction began.

The entire Baxter family, minus brother’s Robert and William who died in 1861 and 1873 respectively, would move to Mansfield to work for the new Baxter Stove Company, which was incorporated May 31, 1883, with a capital stock of $60,000.[7]  Thomas, head of the family, remained president of the company; Berry, vice president; John, secretary; Emmett, treasurer; Edwin, superintendent; Cassius, traveling salesman; James, foreman of the warehouse, and Thomas Jr. was assistant foreman of the moulding room.  About 75 or 80 men were initially employed, many of whom followed the Baxters from Salem.  Moulders would make $3 to $4.50 per day, mounters $2 to $3.50, pattern makers $2 to $3, and other laborers $1.25 to $2 per day.[8]  In August of 1883, the company sent its first shipment, containing 62 stoves, to Fort Wayne, Indiana.[9]

Fires would continue to plague the factory.  On Thanksgiving Day 1890, the first occurred and another happened in 1893.  John L. Baxter, then head of the company after his father’s death in 1892, rebuilt the factory after the disastrous 1899 fire, only to have another one nearly destroy the factory in 1910.  They never fully recovered from the 1910 fire and, by 1916. the decision was made to close the plant.  Two years later Westinghouse would move into the former Baxter factory.

To read more about the 1899 fire check out this previous blog post.


[1] History of Hanover, Columbiana County, Ohio, 1804-1908, p. 76-77.

[2] History of Columbiana County, Ohio and Representative Citizens, edited by William B. McCord. P. 142.

[3] The Stark County Democrat. [volume], March 02, 1882, Page 5

[4] Page  6 of Mansfield Herald, published in Mansfield, Ohio on Thursday, March 9th, 1882

[5] Page  6 of Mansfield Herald, published in Mansfield, Ohio on Thursday, March 23rd, 1882

[6] Page  3 of Mansfield Herald, published in Mansfield, Ohio on Thursday, August 31st, 1882

[7] Page  3 of Ohio Liberal, published in Mansfield, Ohio on Wednesday, June 6th, 1883

[8] Page  2 of Richland Shield and Banner, published in Mansfield, Ohio on Saturday, August 4th, 1883

[9] Page  3 of Richland Shield and Banner, published in Mansfield, Ohio on Saturday, August 18th, 1883

The Davey Brothers Arrive at the Steel Mill

The Davey name was well established in the steel industry before a group of 8 brothers arrived in Mansfield, Ohio in 1914.  Their father, John Davey, began his apprenticeship in the mills of Wales around the age of 18. When his sons came of age, the elder Davey would make them his helpers and teach them the trade.  In 1888 Davey came to America and entered the mills here.  A short time later his family joined him and his oldest sons, who were already skilled laborers, entered the mills as well.  They were first employed at McKeesport, Pennsylvania at the Demmler Bros. Sheet Mill.  After six years, they went to Niles, Ohio working for the Falcon Tin Plate Co.  William H. Davey would return to McKeesport to become superintendent, with a substantial pay cut, but he felt the experience would be well worth it.   William would eventually go to Canton, then Massillon, Ohio where he became associated with A. B. Clark and helped with the construction of the Massillon Rolling Mill Co., where he remained until 1914.[1]  It was in Massillon where all the brothers reunited after working in different mills and talks of opening their own plant became serious.


The Davey Brothers in the Mansfield News, 24 SEP 1914

On June 18, 1914, John Davey Sr. died after spending 47 of his 65 years in the steel business.  It was his wish that his family would stay close and work together for the common goal of owning their own plant.  It wasn’t long before the dream was realized and, on September 24, 1914, it was announced in the Mansfield News that W. H. Davey and brothers were to purchase the former National Rolling Mill Co.  They had the support of the Chamber of Commerce, in particular secretary Edwin G. Slough, who was determined that the Davey brothers should run the Steel plant in Mansfield.  The brothers mortgaged their homes and scraped together every cent they could.  Their mother, though not thrilled with the idea of being located in Mansfield, risked her last cent as well.  The National Rolling Mill Co. had gone bankrupt a few years prior and was currently owned by the American Steel Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The plant was originally built in 1908-09 and formally opened in June of 1909 as the National Sheet Steel Co.  A few months later, the company was reorganized as the National Rolling Mill Co.[2]

davey brothers1918

From The Iron Trade Review, Vol. 62, 1918

The brothers were involved in every aspect of the operation.  Their father said they should “know [their] trade thoroughly,” and at the dedication ceremony of the Mansfield Sheet and Tin Plate Co., the brothers took their stations at the mill and put the first heated steel bar through the rollers.  The business expanded quickly and a year later it was a “rapidly growing concern that is making good far faster than even the most sanguine of its backers anticipated.”[3]  In September of 1916, it was decided to expand the mill.  The company sold $300,000 in stock certificates to raise money.  The stocks were quickly secured by residents, with many making this their first venture into investing.  Construction began the following year of a new building which was designed by one of the youngest brothers, Frank Austin Davey.  At this time, William H. Davey was president and general manager of the plant, Albert I. Davey was secretary, and Samuel Davey was assistant general manager.  John Davey was superintendent of the old plant and Harold Davey took charge of the new plant.  Frank A. Davey was the construction engineer and James and Thomas Davey were employed in the hot mill department.[4]

hot millcoldroll

Tragedy struck on October 17, 1918, when Thomas John Davey, the oldest brother, died of pneumonia after influenza.  The firm continued to grow and, by the end of 1919, they had done $20,000,000 in business and were expected to do $10,000,000 in 1920 alone.  The company wasn’t only lucrative for the brothers; they were also pouring one and half million dollars into the local economy in wages to their employees.  It was said the brothers were healthy, vigorous, and proud of their skills.  They never drank or smoked and demanded respect, but were still approachable.  During the steel strike of 1919, the Mansfield plant continued in operation without losing a single man, while other mills closed.  This speaks highly of the character of the brothers and their ability to settle grievances.[5]


The plant continued to grow and, in December or 1927, a merger was completed involving six plants in Mansfield, Ashtabula, Niles, and Cleveland.  W. H. Davey remained president of the new corporation, which was named Empire Steel.[6]  Davey would resign as president of Empire Steel on July 18, 1930, but remained as chairman of the board of directors in an advisory capacity.  A few months later, Davey would buy the Falcon Tin Plate Co. in Canton, Ohio.  The mill was renamed the Canton Tinplate Company and was headed by William with his brother Samuel as vice president.  A few years later in 1933, W. H. Davey purchased the Empire Rolling Mills plant in Cleveland and renamed it the W. H. Davey Steel Company.[7]  It was around this time that William and his family moved north settling in Shaker Heights, Ohio.  They sold their Mansfield mansion dubbed “Gwenwilmar,” the first home built in Woodland at the intersection of Marion Avenue and Woodhill Rd. William would retire in 1937 and would die in his Shaker Heights home on March 3, 1960, after an eight-month illness.[8]  William and his wife Gwendolyn are interred in Knollwood Mausoleum in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.  William’s parents, five of his brothers (Samuel, John, Albert, Harold, and Thomas), and his four sisters (Elizabeth, Thurza, Agnes, and Mary) are all buried in Mansfield Cemetery.  James Garfield Davey was buried in West Lawn Cemetery in Canton, Ohio, and Austin is buried in Florida.


[1] How Eight Brothers Run Big Steel Mill. The Iron Trade Review, Volume 62, Penton Pub., 1918, p. 52-56.
[2] Directory of Iron and Steel Works of the United States and Canada, Volume 18, American Iron and Steel Institute, 1916, p. 224.
[3] The Mansfield News.  29 NOV 1915, p. 6
[4] How Eight Brothers Run Big Steel Mill. The Iron Trade Review, Volume 62, Penton Pub., 1918, p. 52-56.
[5] Mother Davey – And Her Seven Sons, The American Magazine, August 1920, p. 66.
[6] The Mansfield News, 29 DEC 1927, p. 1.
[7] The Mansfield News-Journal, 04 NOV 1933, p. 1.
[8] The Mansfield News-Journal, 05 MAR 1960, p. 7.

The 1899 Baxter Stove Co. Fire

It was cold this past week, but 120 years ago Ohio recorded it lowest temperature.   On February 10, 1899 a temperature of -39 ⁰F was recorded in Milligan, Ohio, a small community in Perry County, Ohio.  The day before that, Mansfield Fire Fighters battled one of the worst blazes Mansfield had seen in -20 ⁰F temperatures.

10FEB1899 MDS p5

Mansfield Daily Shield, 10 FEB 1899

The Baxter and Monarch Stove Companies were located on East Bloom St. (now East Fifth).  Around 6:15pm, employee Robert Hartman placed a load of new stoves in the Japanning oven and went outside to talk to the night watchman, George Banks.  A few moments later, the entire east side of town was rocked with an explosion.  At 6:20pm, alarms were sounded and the Fire Department quickly made it to the scene.  Firefighters bravely fought the blaze in frigid temperatures, but were hindered by low water pressure.   Many residents had kept their water running to prevent their pipes from freezing.   The fire spread quickly through the factory, even jumping across the road to the Humphryes Manufacturing Co.  This was quickly extinguished and fire fighters went back to work on the Baxter building.


1897 Sanborn Map featuring The Baxter Stove Co.  Across E. Bloom is The Humphryes Manufacturing Co.


From The Mansfield News, 10 FEB 1899

The mist of the water coated the fire fighters until they looked like “animated icicles.” Captain Mosey, knowing that many would suffer frostbite, had cabs sent to the scene of the fire to bring men back to the station to warm up.  Many refused to leave and had to be forced into the cabs.  Many suffered frostbite in their hands and feet.  Firemen Philip Bidel and Emil Myers became stiff from the cold while on the roof and fell 20 feet to the ground.  William Bell had his right foot crushed by a falling wall and had to be taken to the station.  The firehouse had the appearance of a hospital by the end of the night.  By the next morning, most had recovered from the experience, including the nearly 3,000 spectators who came out to watch the fire.  The total loss was estimated at $100,000.  The Mansfield Daily Shield noted it could have been much worse had the wind been blowing from the east as the lumber yard of S. N. Ford & Co. was just to the east of the Baxter works.  Had the fire reached the lumber yard, much more of the city could have been lost.


A group of men pose in the ruins after the fire, 1899

This was not the first or last fire at the plant.  On Thanksgiving Day 1890, the first occurred and another happened in 1893.  John L. Baxter rebuilt the factory after the 1899 fire, only to have another one in 1910.  They never fully recovered from the 1910 fire and by 1916 the decision was made to close the plant.


The ruins after the 1910 fire.

The Aultman & Taylor Machinery Co.

The Aultman & Taylor Machinery Co. started in Mansfield in 1867 and continued into the 1920s, but who were the men behind the names Aultman and Taylor?

After these brief biographical sketches are some photographs of The Aultman & Taylor Machinery Co.

Cornelius Aultman

Cornelius Aultman was born March 20, 1827, in a log home west of what is today East Canton, Ohio.  His father, Jacob, died a few years after his birth and his mother, Elizabeth, remarried a farmer named John Miller.  Cornelius was first employed at Wise & Ball, a local machine shop, where he met his wife Eliza Wise.  This is also where he would begin to experiment with making agricultural equipment more efficient.  In 1849 and 1850, Cornelius, along with his wife and financial backer Michael Dillman, headed to Plainfield, Illinois to sell reapers based on a design by Obed Hussey.  Upon hearing of their success, Hussey went to Illinois to demand royalties.  Soon after, Aultman returned to Ohio.

Aultman returned to Ball & Wise and quickly became partner in the business, which became Ball, Aultman & Co.  They would eventually buy property in Canton where they built threshers, reapers and mowers.  Ball sold his interest in the company and went out on his own in direct competition against Aultman.  By 1865 Ball was out of business and C. Aultman & Co. was selling thousands of pieces of equipment annually.

It was in 1867 when Cornelius Aultman located his new company in Mansfield, the Aultman, Taylor & Co.; this new venture had no relation to his company in Canton other than Aultman’s involvement.   Aultman enlisted Michael D. Harter to run the Mansfield plant, which proved successful for many years.  On December 26, 1884, Cornelius Aultman died suddenly of apoplexy in his home in Canton.  In 1891 Aultman, Taylor & Co. was reincorporated and became the Aultman & Taylor Machinery Co.

Henry Hobart Taylor

Henry Hobart Taylor was born in Durhamsville near Oneida Creek, New York in 1835.  When he was 10 years old, his father moved the family to Chicago, Illinois.  While there, Taylor worked in his father’s mercantile business as a clerk.  In 1854 the family moved to Freeport, Illinois and Taylor made his way to Cincinnati, Ohio to study pharmacy.  Two years later, Taylor returned to Freeport.  It was upon his return that he first became associated with Cornelius Aultman when he became an agent for C. Aultman& Co.

Taylor made his fortune through real estate in Chicago.  He had the foresight to purchase land relatively cheap in a rapidly growing city.  With his financial resources, Taylor became involved in many enterprises, including the Commercial National Bank, the American insurance Company and the Elgin Watch Company.

In 1864 Taylor married Adelaide Chatfield, a native of Orriskany, New York.  The couple had one child, H. C. Chatfield Taylor, who was an American writer, novelist and biographer and considered a top authority on Molière.  Also in 1864, he became associated with the Nichols, Shepard and Company of Battle Creek, Michigan.  He then set up an agency in Chicago to sell equipment manufactured by C. Aultman & Co. and Nichols, Shepard and Company throughout the northwestern states.

While individuals like Aultman were mechanics and inventors of many of the devices their companies produced and sold, Taylor was an astute and shrewd business man who made important decisions at opportune times.  He saw many of these inventions as business opportunities and that is what brought him to invest and become a cofounder of the Aultman, Taylor & Co. in Mansfield, Ohio.

On November 9, 1875, Henry Hobart Taylor died at the young age of 40.  In the “years prior to his death Taylor suffered from a complication of diseases and during the last month of his life became totally blind … with indomitable courage and energy he attended to his business until the day of his death. The cause was kidney failure and Bright’s disease,” a disease involving chronic inflammation of the kidneys.

Images of The Aultman & Taylor Machinery Company, Click on Image for a larger view and to see description.



Bixler, L. E. (1967).  Cornelius Aultman, C. Aultman & Co., and the Aultman Co. Stemgas Pub. Co. Enola, Pa.