By Thomas Palmer
On many occasions over the last 200 years, local civic leaders have set their sites on existing companies considering relocation.
In 1890, for instance, Galion offered Egbert M. Freese the sum of $15,000 to move his brick making machinery manufacturing plant from Plymouth, an offer he gladly accepted. The resulting history of the Freese Family is one known even by current generations.
A handful of years earlier, however, local leaders went fishing for an even larger company.
In 1886, a committee of Galion business leaders traveled to Cincinnati to meet with leaders of a business that had indicated an interest. The Dueber Watch Case Company of Newport, Kentucky was looking for a new home.
Galion’s representatives included banker Otho L. Hays, a man who would find himself imprisoned later in life, and jeweler Joseph Kesselmeier. Upon their return, committee members shared a very favorable report.
Other cities joined in the hunt, including Mansfield.
The Galion Inquirer joined in promoting relocation here, sharing in May, “A pointer for the Dueber people: Galion pays less taxes than other competitors for the works and is the cleanest city of its size in the state.”
John C. Dueber had founded the company in 1864 to manufacture cases for fine watches. He had worked through antitrust legislation to purchase a competing company, which he combined with his own. As a result, Dueber moved not to Galion, but to Canton, lured by a $100,000 purse and substantial free acreage.
And just what did Galion lose? During its first year of operation in Canton, the company employed approximately 10% of the city’s population. By 1930, however, the company had gone into receivership and then sold to another company which transferred all of its assets — including 28 boxcars of machinery — for relocation to Russia. Its successor continues in operation today.
Each Saturday, we share a post about local history. We call this series “Galion History Corner,” and we will be sharing not only stories about our shared heritage but also updates on history news here in southeast Crawford County.
This series is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Bernard M. Mansfield, whose “Your Historical Galion” was a fixture in weekend editions of the Galion Inquirer. Dr. Mansfield was a friend and family physician, and he inspired the current generation of Galion historians to continue his work.