Rolling Along at the Coliseum

Tired of the bleak winter weather? Roll along with us through a few images of the old Coliseum.

The structure type of the American “coliseum” is based on the architecture of the Roman amphitheaters, most notably the Colosseum in Rome, and shared its entertainment purpose. Whereas the Colosseum was used for animal hunts and other displays of strength, the American coliseum was more usually a venue for dancing or expositions of a more peaceful nature.

The Mansfield Coliseum was built in 1921 by local Rupert Cox at Luna Park (now North Lake Park) after the original roller coaster at the park was taken down to make room for the large structure. The building was the home to many a fun event for the community, from the regular availability of the roller skating rink to fashion shows, cooking expositions, and even car shows!

The first Coliseum burned in 1967, and was rebuilt, this time with a second story with a meeting room, and continued to be the home for competitive and casual roller skating in Mansfield until 2005, when the new structure also suffered a fire. The building was demolished in 2006.

Compare the structures of Luna Park in 1914 (left) and 1921 (right). Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, Library of Congress Map Division.


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

Extra, Extra: Thousands of Pages of Unique Mansfield Newspaper Now Available Online

Newspapers have been printed since the early days of the printing press, and for decades, they were the most constant source for information in communities. Historic local newspapers provide a snapshot of a community, its businesses, and its relationship to the nation, with local news, marriages, and obituaries printed alongside national and international headlines, providing instant context of the local news against a larger historical events.

Since newspapers are such an important resource for local history research, we are excited to announce that there are thousands more pages of Mansfield newspapers available online through our digital newspaper archive!

The digital newspaper archive project started several years ago, in partnership with the Ohio Genealogical Society, the Mansfield Memorial Museum, and the Richland County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society, and was funded by an initial grant from the Gorman Foundation. This year, the Mansfield/Richland County has digitized an additional 31 reels of microfilm, making tens of thousands of additional historic newspaper pages freely available online.

The new additions include a portion of MRCPL’s holdings of the Mansfield Daily Journal (sometimes published as the Mansfield Journal) from September 1924 to December 1926. Prior to this digitization effort, the Daily Journal was only available in person at the Main Library, as there are no other known sources remaining for this newspaper.

In addition to the Journal, additional years of the Richland Shield and Banner and the Weekly and Semi-Weekly News (these are the same newspaper, but over the course of its publication years it changed its frequency) are now available online. For the Shield and Banner, newspapers from 2 May 1891 to 12 June 1913 are now available online. For the Weekly/Semi-Weekly News, newspapers from 8 January 1891to 29 December 1910 are now available online.

No library card or login information is required, and you do not have to be at the library to use the digital archive. The digital newspaper archive is keyword searchable, or you can browse by newspaper title or publication date. Find all our digitized newspapers online here: . There is also a link on the Sherman Room webpage under “Online Resources.”

Want to see a newspaper page that is not available online? As always, the microfilm archives are available in person during Sherman Room hours, or send a request with your specific request (names, dates, and pages appreciated) to

Snippets from the First Daily Journal Editions

Explore the first Mansfield Daily Journal issue, published 13 September 1924, in its entirety here.

W. E. Sefton: Reformatory Superintendent and Civil War Veteran

William Edgar Sefton was born in Norwalk, Ohio, February 11th, 1841, to Thomas and Jane (nee Weible) Sefton.

It was only shortly after he was born that his parents moved to Ashland county, where Sefton grew up working on the farm and attending the local schools. When he was eighteen, he began working to become a blacksmith, but this pursuit was never to be. His studies were interrupted by the outbreak of the Civil War, and in 1861 he enlisted with the newly formed company G of the Twenty-Third Ohio Infantry Regiment. The Twenty-Third is a well-known unit for many reasons, the first of which is that two soldiers from this regiment would later become United States presidents and a third would become a United States Senator. In fact, William McKinley specifically served in Company G, the same company as Sefton. The other future president who served in the Twenty-Third was Rutherford B. Hayes.

One of the other reasons Sefton’s company is well-known is because of the number of important battles they served in. Sefton personally fought in the following battles: Carnifex Ferry, West Virginia, September 10, 1861; Princeton, West Virginia, May 15, 1862; South Mountain, September 14, 1862; Antietam, September 17, 1862; Cloyd Mountain, May 9, 1864; New River Bridge, May 10, 1864; and Buffalo Gap, June 6, 1864. Sefton was injured at the Battle of Cloyd Mountain in 1864, but continued to serve as a corporal until his term of service expired June 10th, 1864.

After the war, Sefton took up work with the Etna Manufacturing Company, then became a traveling salesman and agent for the C. Aultman Company of Canton for about thirteen years. From there, he worked in several capacities for the Princess Plow Company, eventually becoming the general manager before leaving the company.

It was at this point that Sefton changed his line of work, and 1896 he was elected as the first assistant superintendent of the newly-opened (though still under construction) Ohio State Reformatory, under the supervision of the first Superintendent W. D. Patterson. Even as Assistant Superintendent, his duties were significant, as was apparent in the first two months of his tenure, during which there were multiple escapees from the Reformatory. In October 1896, William Kelly took advantage of a guard’s negligence to escape through a cellar door while he was supposed to be washing windows. The guard failed to report the escape to Deputy Superintendent Sefton immediately, and after this incident Sefton changed the way in which guards patrolled the border and tightened up security.

Less than six months after being elected, Patterson resigned as the Reformatory Superintendent, and Sefton took over the position. He established a prison library of more than 300 volumes, and continued to manage a staff of more than 30 people with 350 inmates in residence at the Reformatory.

Although Sefton’s tenure as superintendent was longer than Patterson’s, it was only three years after taking the position that Sefton resigned, citing ill health. He returned to his home in Mt. Vernon and returned to the apparently less strenuous work of a salesperson, continuing on in this field until he became ill, and died on December 9th, 1918 from complications of the illness.


  • Baughman, A.J. Centennial Biographical History of Richland County.
  • Roster of Ohio Soldiers, War of the Rebellion, Vol. III
  • Butler Enterprise, 22 October 1896, page 1.
  • Mansfield News,  17 December 1900, page 1.
  • “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images, FamilySearch
  • Mansfield News, 10 December 1918, page 4.