The Henry County, Ohio, Historical Society
P.O. Box 443
Napoleon, OH 43545
Good morning and welcome to this month’s edition of “Historically Speaking” by the Henry County Historical Society. I am Tom Jenny, president of the Henry County Historical Society.
Well summertime has hit. It was good to have the rain and relief from the heat. We have lots going on this summer. First of all, let’s recap our Strawberry Festival. The weather was perfect and we had a record crowd. Unfortunately we ran out of food a little earlier than anticipated, but it is hard to predict how much is needed. We had many people go through the Bloomfield Home Museum and Carriage House and they had lots of positive comments. Our thanks go out to the River City Rodders and the VMCCA Antique Car club for showing their cars. Also, I would like thank the Second Street Stringers for their hammered dulcimer music.
Yesterday, Sunday, we had the first of our speaker series with Leroy Grubaugh discussing his Heisey Glass collection. Leroy was kind enough to put some of his collection on display in the Bloomfield Home. We had a nice group of people that came and enjoyed the presentation on Heisey Glass.
Our next speaker will be Kurt Van Meter from Liberty Center. Kurt has been restoring the old log cabin at the north end of LC and has a big interest in history. Kurt will present a program at 2:00 on Sunday, July 10 at the carriage house. The program is titled "Mysteries of Abraham Lincoln". He will present an 1862 Lincoln family lithograph bathetic depicting Washington welcoming Lincoln into Heaven. The audience will hear little-known facts about Lincoln and his family and will then discuss whether these stories are indeed fact or fiction? So, join us in the carriage house on Sunday, July 10 at 2:00 for this fascinating presentation.
The Ohio State Historical Society has encouraged local historical societies to have “Open Doors-This Place Matters” events to encourage residents to check out some of the local historical buildings in their areas. On Sunday July 24 we will have an Open Doors event at the historic complex at the Henry County Fairgrounds. We will feature Taylor Moyer at 11:00 in the Schoolhouse. Taylor will discuss what type of families would have lived in the log house, used the one room schoolhouse, and enjoyed the historic gazebo. In the Gazebo, will have Brian and Mandie Heil sing some period songs—a little jazz, some blues and some rock/popular songs. Then we will have a string ensemble from the Toledo School for the Arts perform some music from the civil war era. Part of this ensemble recently performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City. While enjoying the music, you can help yourself to some food. There will also be period games for the children. So bring your lawn chairs, and sit and enjoy the beautiful setting we have created at our fairground site.
We recently were visited by the great grand children of Dr. John Bloomfield from Massachusetts and Connecticut. They drove to Ohio to enjoy the Strawberry Festival and go though the museum. They we very impressed with the Bloomfield Home Museum. I mention this because they also noted how welcoming and warm the citizens were everywhere they went in Napoleon. This reflects well on the residents of Napoleon and who we are.
Speaking of cars and road trips, our fast fact about Henry County today starts with this question-- When and how long was the NAPOLEON TOURING CAR made in Napoleon, Ohio?
The Napoleon, Ohio automobile industry had its start in 1917. A contract with a Philadelphia Manufacturing House had been signed calling for 1000 chassis of the Napoleon car to be delivered by August 1, 1917. The Napoleon Automobile Company was located on Hobson Street in the former Morningstar factory building. The Napoleon car was advertised in the March 29, 1917 issue of the Napoleon Northwest-News as the Napoleon Model 17-34 Touring car for $795.00. Unfortunately some Traverse City, Michigan civic leaders heard about the plant and persuaded the company to locate there in Traverse City. The civic leaders of Traverse City helped sell company stock to local citizens. In 1918 the plant assembled 95 passenger cars and 25 trucks. The following year the company produced 125 of each. Their trucks were more popular than its cars and they stopped production of the cars. A post World War I steel shortage and a decline in railroads began to take a toll. Those problems, combined with the fact that Traverse City was too far from supply sources and markets, put the Napoleon car out of business in 1923. In all, a very short lived industry for Napoleon, OH.
This concludes this month’s edition of “Historically Speaking”. As always, we thank you for helping us keep history alive in Henry County.
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The Henry County Historical Society was formed
in 1970 to perpetuate the history of Henry County, Ohio, to learn about and preserve
the artifacts of the county, and to generate interest in the past of the county.
Our primary focus at this time is the completion of the restoration
work on the beautiful Dr. John Bloomfield Victorian home, built circa
1879. This house is located at the corner of West Clinton and Webster streets
in downtown Napoleon, across from the Napoleon Public Library. The house has been completely restored and is decorated with authentic period furnishings.
Work is in progress on the carriage house
and gardens. The home is open for special events, educational programs
and private tours. We welcome new and old members alike to lend a hand and help us in our
many programs and activities.
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