Jerome J. King was born May 4, 1842, in Troy Township, Richland County, Ohio to Squire Jacob and Polly King who arrived here from Pennsylvania. Squire King constructed a sawmill on the “branch of the Clear Fork of the Mohican that runs a short distance south of” King’s Corners. Jerome received his elementary education principally at the Lexington Union Schools and, when he was 17 years of age, he left his homestead. and For two years thereafter, he was employed as a salesman of dry goods in Jeromesville, Ashland County, Ohio. Two years later, in 1861, he came to Mansfield. Upon his arrival here, he continued in the same business in the store of P. & A. W. Remy. Mr. King was married in Mansfield, Ohio, Aug. 27, 1867, to Miss Mary G. Miller, by whom he had five children — Jerome Howard, Allen Miller, Clarence Catlin, Rufus Hobert, and Mary Louise. In the 1870s, King built his home on West First St., where St. Peter’s High School sits today. The building of the home was first mentioned on June 23, 1870, but, according to the Mansfield Herald, wasn’t finished until 1877 with the paper stating on July 18, 1877, that King had “built a very fine two-story frame house on West First Street.”
In a short time, he entered into a partnership with A. W. Remy in the retail grocery trade and the store for a number of years was known as Remy & King. In January of 1878, King bought the entire interest in the firm from Remy and continued the business under his own name. It wasn’t long after this that King expanded the business beyond groceries to include other items such as baby carriages. King’s store was located at what was then 32 N. Main St. Today that location is a parking lot next to Crowe’s Shoes at 56 N. Main St. Around 1891, King decided to build on the corner of Park Ave West and Walnut on a lot owned by his father-in-law, Dr. A. J. Miller. According to the Mansfield News, buildings like King’s were a “safe and lucrative source of investment” and “would enhance the city and property values.”
In June of 1891, during the excavation and construction of the foundation walls for King’s Building, a storm hit Mansfield causing flash flooding. Teamsters were unloading blocks at the time and had to take shelter, leaving the horses and carts. The rain fell so fast that they had to “unhitch the horses and drive them out, as the water was then reaching their bellies.” The wagons stayed and water soon rose above the wheels. It wasn’t until the following day that the wagon could be removed. A 1966 News Journal article by Paul White gives a detailed description of the building. Minnesota Granite was used to enhance the arched front entrance to the middle two of four ground floor storerooms. The second floor had space for nine offices and the third, as was customary at the time, had a public hall, lodge meeting room, and dance hall. The basement could be used for a barbershop, restaurant, or more offices. The Mansfield News reported the building was “done in plain magnificent style.” It cost $20,000 to build. One of the first tenets was the Maxwell Brothers’ Store, while other tenets over the years included Hecht and Casey Grocery, Miss M. Helen Wolf’s dressmaking shop, Dr. G. W. DeCamp’s Office, and Professor J. A. Hawkins dancing academy. One of the last businesses, before the building was razed in 1959, was the Parkway Restaurant.
It was shortly after the building of the King Building that Jerome King changed professions. At the age of 52, King left the grocery business and became an insurance agent. This venture, like most in his life, was successful. A letter from G. E. Tarbell, Second Vice President of the Equitable Life of N. Y. Company, published in the Mansfield News on April 1, 1905, said King had broken all records for the month of March, and that he assured “over one thousand more lives than any single month in society’s history.” On his 35th anniversary with the company, King was given membership into the company’s veterans’ society for employees who have demonstrated “long and meritorious service.” Jerome J. King died at his home at 104 West First Street on March 22, 1931, at the age of 88.