50 Years as An “Ohio Brass Girl”: Sarah Alice Sloane and the Women of Ohio Brass

Women’s History Month is coming to an end, but we still have some interesting history to share with you! Today’s “Little Chats” interview was with Sarah Alice Sloane, who worked for the Ohio Brass Foreign Trade (essentially, international sales) department. It may be useful to read the interview (included below) before reading this post.

Ohio Brass plant from the air, 1930. From OB Observer.

Although she wasn’t born in Mansfield, Sarah Alice Sloane was a dedicated Mansfield woman, and participated in and made her mark in Mansfield’s community in many ways.

As with many of our “Little Chats” interviewees, she was an Ohioan, born and raised. She was born in Ashland County to Harrison A. and Anna Maria (Clark) Sloane on 28 April 1879. Harrison was born in Ashland County, but Anna had been raised in Mansfield, and they were married in Richland County 18 March 1875. Their first child, Benjamin Howard, was born about a year later. In total, they would have seven children: Ben Howard, Mary Ethel, Sarah Alice, Rollin Clark, Clarence (who died shortly after his birth), Florence Lyle, and John Beaird.

In the 1880 census, when Sarah was just about a year old and the youngest child at the time, the family was living in Mohican, Ashland, and occupied a farm. In addition to the five Sloanes, there were also two “domestics” and a boarder living in the household.

By 1900, the family had moved to Mansfield, although Harrison was still listed as a farmer. Ben was no longer in the household, having married and moved to Lorain, and Rollin had similarly moved on. Younger siblings Florence and John were still at school, but Mary and Sarah had begun pursuing their own careers: Mary as a milliner (women’s hat-making and/or selling), and Sarah as a stenographer at Ohio Brass, a position she held at a minimum beginning in 1899, based on a Mansfield City directory entry from that year.

Sometime around 1904, Harrison packed up the rest of the family (Anna, Florence, and John) and moved to Youngstown to pursue a work opportunity there. Sarah remained in Mansfield to continue her work at Ohio Brass. Unfortunately, in 1907, Harrison became sick with typhoid fever, and he died.

The family returned to Mansfield, and in 1908, Anna, Florence, John, and Sarah were all living together there, and John was also working at Ohio Brass (precisely what department or position he held was not listed). About seven years after Harrison died, Anna also passed away, in 1914, and sometime shortly after that John left Mansfield to pursue his career, leaving Florence and Sarah together in Mansfield. They shared a home for a number of years as Sarah pursued her career at Ohio Brass.


As previously established, Sarah Alice Sloane began work at Ohio Brass in or before 1899, when she would have been twenty years old, and she began work as a stenographer. Based on her interview with Nita Branson, it does not seem that she had much formal education beyond high school, although she may have taken stenography classes in high school or at the local business college. Regardless, she progressed through the ranks of the department, from stenographer to sales order clerk, from sales order clerk to assistant department head, and eventually she was the head of the sales order department for foreign sales. She retired from the company in 1947, with almost 50 years of experience there, and having worked at the company through both World Wars. In her retirement she continued to be close with her family. Her brother, John, had settled in Arizona, and she would go out to visit with him and his family, and those and other family members would come to Mansfield to visit with her as well.

A Peek at the Ohio Brass Cafeteria

Making her Mark in the Community: Women’s Voting, and the Friendly House

In addition to her career, Sarah was active in the community, certainly by the 1920s if not much earlier. In the fall of 1921, just a year after the 19th amendment was passed allowing women to vote across the United States, Sarah was the president of a Republican Women Voters club, which met weekly in the lead-up to the election to hear from the candidates. The group organized a women’s voting registration drive to encourage all the women in Mansfield to register and vote in the election, exercising their rights under the law. Notably, this was the first local election in which women were permitted to vote– 1920 was the first presidential election, but there was not a local election in that year.

Later in her life and career, we again see Sarah’s leadership and involvement in the community. It seems highly likely she was more involved in the community than we have a good record of, because by 1937 she had been elected the vice president of the Board of Directors of the Friendly House, a position to which she was re-elected, and in which she occasionally served as acting president.

The Ohio Brass Girls

Sarah’s particular story is interesting for a number of reasons, but she was far from the only woman who worked for the Ohio Brass Company. And while her position was still relatively office-based, many women who worked for Ohio Brass worked in the factory itself. In particular, it seems that in the Malleables division, the Core Department was a particular home for female employees, as shown by a dedicated issue of the O.B. Observer in 1929.

Close-up of the Core Department from the “Malleable” Issue of the Ohio Brass Observer

As with many companies of the time, Ohio Brass strove to provide good facilities and social opportunities for its employees, as evidenced by their new cafeteria as shown above and by their participation in industrial league sports. The industrial leagues were not just men’s teams–there were women’s teams as well, when there was interest in them. Ohio Brass’s women’s bowling teams were especially successful in 1929, winning the championship, and the same year the company was working to start up a women’s “kittenball” (an early name for softball) team as well.

By the mid-1920s there were enough women working for Ohio Brass, across the entire company and not just in the office positions, that Mr. and Mrs. Charles Kelley King (the president of the company) began hosting an annual party for the female employees of the company to thank them for their important contributions to the company. The first such party was hosted in 1924, and about 40 women attended, including Sarah herself, who had been working for Ohio Brass for approximately 25 years at this point. These were just women who worked at the factory themselves–not wives of male employees.

The female employees of Ohio Brass at Kingwood in 1924.
A close-up image of Sarah Alice Sloane

Ohio Brass “Girls” at Kingwood

The parties continued to be an annual tradition, and grew over time. Even in 1925, at just the second party, there were reportedly over a hundred women present–which suggests that the first party probably was not attended by all the female employees at the company. In 1929, over 125 women were in attendance at the annual Kingwood party.


Barnes Manufacturing’s Innovative Designs Earned Patents 100 Years Ago

100 years ago, local inventor and manufacturing expert J. C. Gorman started the year off right by patenting two new inventions for the Barnes Manufacturing Company.

The Barnes Manufacturing Company was started by T. R. Barnes in 1895 for the manufacture of water pumps. In the early days of the company, the facilities were relatively simple: a foundry building for preparing the metal and a machining and painting shop for shaping and putting final details on pumps and other parts. Over time the operation became more complex and expanded its purview into enameled ware and a broader array of pumps, including designing its own schemas for new kinds of pumps.

A group of workers, likely in Barnes Manufacturing. Sherman Room Photo File 480.

By 1917, one James Carville* Gorman had begun working for Barnes Manufacturing. Apparently quickly finding place as a leader in developing innovative designs, Gorman received his first patent for the Barnes Manufacturing Company in 1919, for a diaphragm pump. That same year, when the Mansfield Daily Shield wrote a profile expounding the methods and processes of the Barnes facilities, Gorman was listed as the mechanical engineer for the company [1]. The plans and patterns for the pumps and operations of the facility, including his patented designs, were important and valuable enough that in 1908 Barnes had built a fireproof building specifically to house its patterns, which were under the care of Anthony Fuessner. Continuing his climb in the company, in 1922, Gorman was elected as a member of the board of directors after the death of a previous member, John Krause [2].

Apparently undeterred by the added responsibility of becoming one of the directors, Gorman received two patents for his designs in January of 1923. The Mansfield News announced that patent was granted “on a convertible power diaphragm and plunger trench pump of unique design. This new pump is much more simple and practical for draining excavations, trenches and the like, and is extensively used by bridge and sewer contractors”[3]. Within two months, Gorman had received another patent, this time for “a convertible open spout and plunger force pump” [4].

The Barnes Manufacturing Company closed due to bankruptcy in 1933 (although it would re-incorporate in 1934 as Barnes, Inc.), but Gorman was not yet finished with the field of pump manufacturing. He partnered with H. E. Rupp to create the Gorman Rupp Company, which was incorporated on April 20th, 1934 and manufactured power pumps [5]. The first factory space was in Alta, but the offices were at 330 East First Street in Mansfield.

Barnes Manufacturing Company Facilities Over Time

Click through the following galleries to compare how the Barnes Manufacturing facilities looked in 1897 and 1921.



*Carville was spelled several different ways in different sources. Carville, Carvil, Carval, etc.


  1. Mansfield Daily Shield, 25 May 1919
  2. Mansfield News, Jan 11 1922, page 3
  3. Mansfield News, 08 January 1923, page 12
  4. Mansfield News, 26 February 1923, page 18
  5. Mansfield News-Journal, 20 April 1934, page 8

A Goddess is Crowned in Mansfield: The Feast of Ceres

115 years ago around this time of year, as October became November, Mansfield was the scene of a unique and spectacular multi-day event called the “Feast of Ceres.” The idea of “a colossal exposition of the industries and possibilities of Mansfield” was the brainchild of the Mansfield Mercantile Association early in 1907, and it took months of labor and innumerable people to plan and execute, beginning with involving the whole community in choosing just the right name for the grand event [1].

Naming a Festival

The Mercantile Association decided to host a contest to determine the name of the planned festival, its “hope and pride.” As advertising went, this was apparently a good strategy, because name suggestions came “flooding” in to the offices all in search of the perfect name that would earn the recognition of the Mercantile Association. None of the unsuccessful suggestions have survived, but the winning name “Feast of Ceres” was sent in by one Miss Anna Snyder of Wood Street, who was a teacher in Mansfield. Miss Snyder won the ten dollar prize for her suggestion, and her suggestion was praised for its appropriateness in the newspapers:

“The name is particularly appropriate for the great street fair to be held in Mansfield next fall. The name is in honor of Ceres, the goddess of harvests, loved and honored by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Ceres was the daughter of Saturn and Rhea and dwelt in Olympus till she was incensed by the abduction of her two daughters. She wore a garland of corn [grain] and held a sceptre in her hand. When the people received her hospitably she smiled on them and brought them bounteous harvests. The Mansfield Mercantile Association will erect a temple in which they will have an altar where they will lay their costly sacrifices and pray the goddess, Ceres, to send a bountiful harvest and a big crowd to the fair.”

Mansfield Daily Shield, 23 May 1907, page 2.

Different images of the goddess were created and used by advertisers around Mansfield to tie into the theme of the festival, like this depiction of the goddess from an ad by the A. C. Lantz Company on Fourth Street.

Mansfield Daily Shield, First Feast of Ceres Edition 26 October 1907, page P04.

The Festivities

The Feast of Ceres involved many different opportunities for revelry. The highlight of the Feast was to be the industrial parade, featuring the manufacturers and businesses in the city and county, but other activities planned included a band tournament, a horse parade, a parade of the German societies of Mansfield, free shows with acrobats and trapeze performances, and a masked carnival.

Mansfield Daily Shield, 08 October 1907, page 2.

Black and white photograph showing Main Street in Mansfield. Large crowds of people line both sides of the street, some even standing on the balcony of the Foresters building, while a parade passes through the street The parade includes people on horses and hors-drawn wagons.
Parade of the Feast of Ceres. Sherman Room Photo File.

The Goddess is Crowned

The biggest event at the Feast of Ceres was the crowning of the goddess, who was selected by popular vote. Several Lutheran pastors were “bitterly opposed” to the crowning, and published a resolution that the crowning was “heathenish in its whole bearing and utterly out of keeping with this enlightened age and the name of this city of churches” [2]. Despite the objections, a lavish ceremony was planned to begin the final afternoon of the Feast. It was intended that the queen would be paraded to Central Park with her maids of honor and flower girls. In Central Park, there was a large platform that she would be enthroned upon, and she would be serenaded by 400 schoolchildren singing harvest and patriotic songs.

Unfortunately, as one newspaper put it, “the goddess of rain and the Goddess of the Feast clashed and the latter was vanquished,” and the grand reveal of the Goddess was dampened by rain. Even though the expected thronging crowds did not appear, the procession and performances were held, and in what was apparently a great surprised, the Goddess who had won the vote was revealed to be Miss Nellie Lawrence of Daisy Street, “one of the city’s handsomest young women” [3].

After the Feast

Although there was speculation that the Feast of Ceres would become an annual event, it was never held again. This may have been a result of the timing. In 1908, the city was very busy with planning the celebration of the city’s centennial. For whatever reason, the Feast of Ceres was a monumental event that occupies a unique space in Mansfield history, as a grand celebration of the manufacturing and industry of the city and county.


  1. Mansfield Daily Shield, 26 October 1907, page 2
  2. Mansfield Daily Shield, 28 October 1907, page 2
  3. Mansfield Daily Shield, 08 October 1907, page 2


Newspapers from the Feast of Ceres

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. https://archive.org/details/historyofhanover00vogl_0

[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