Canton Glass Company
Canton Glass No. 1
Tragedy struck the Canton, Ohio plant in 1892. A glass company’s worst nightmare came to life. A terrible fire destroyed the Canton Glass Factory. Their plant was destroyed but they managed to salvage portions of their molds. Since the molds were still in working condition, the management decided to move to an existing plant at Beaver Falls, PA instead of rebuilding right away. In fact, when they decided to rebuild, the board chose to relocate altogether. Marion, Indiana was the optimal choice due to the city’s plentiful natural gas collection. The plan for the factory was published in China, Glass and Lamps on December 17, 1890 and were as follow: it would be located on the 1800 block of Spencer Avenue, there would be the main building consisting of an 80’x 164’ main room, a 12’ x 12’ shipping room, a 20’ x 30’ packing room, a 24’ x 40’ blacksmith shop, and a 40’ x 100’ machine shop with a mold room and grinding/polishing room. There was a 15-pot furnace in the main room. Also in the proposition but never built were a 20’ x 50’ cooper shop and a 250-barrel water tank. Another innovation at the Marion plant was its corrugated iron structure of the buildings and its steel roofs (Iwen 21-2)(APPENDIX C).
There was a newly remodeled staff at the Canton Glass now. There was Henry W. Harter, the president; Charles J. Bockius, the secretary and treasure; Charles H. Henderson, the superintendent; and the previous David Barker, the designer. (APPENDIX D). This new location came with a new variety of products. They produced new tableware, lamps, knob pulls, tumblers, lantern globes, bird cups, birdbaths, decanters, beer mugs, percolator tops, druggist goods, mortars and pestles, fish globes, roofing tiles, candy jars, Canton Domestic Fruit Jar, and the patented Ribbed Filtering Funnel (Iwen 20)(APPENDIX E). Most of these they proudly would promote in their extensive letterheads. (APPENDIX F). Another notable product that was manufactured there was the infant glass coffin weighing any where between 42 and 60 pounds and was blown by James Cline (Iwen 21).
Canton Glass Company was unusually fortunate during the early years of the twentieth century. The businesses crème de la crème meeting of demands of customers and their vast variety of products proved to be the premier combination for success.
Mild tragedy struck for the Indiana business in September 1894. The company’s superintendent, Sanford Hamilton, was on a business excursion when a train struck his carriage. The accident killed his horse and fatally wounded the latter but Hamilton walked away with minor, yet painful injuries. By October 10, he was nearly back to work and ready to begin his business traveling again. He sold many orders to companies all across the United States. In the September 9, 1892 edition of Marion Chronicle it was stated the Canton had so many orders for their products that the company simply could not fill due to not having enough man capacity to fulfill such a task. The company responded to the acclaims by enlarging land from the Marion Real Estate Addition to 41 additional lots selling for $200 a piece. This added a second 15-pot furnace, four new lehrs, and an increase in the work force from 150 to 235. Canton’s glass was so precise that it won the California Mid-winter Exposition in San Francisco, in 1894.
A Nearing End
The industry was becoming more and more uncertain and indefinitely workers fears grew. Their worst fear came to life on May 3, 1902, when National announced it would close the Canton factory. Manager James Bockius claimed it would move to Cambridge, Ohio, and indeed some of the equipment was moved to a plant there. Unfortunately one furnace shut down the very day it opened and then the next on July 1. Nearly 300 workers found themselves out of work. Many found new jobs in Jeannette, Pennsylvania while others went to nearby Greentown, Indiana. The empty plant remained abandoned in Marion for several years until in 1908 when David Lloyd, from Pittsburg, PA, bought the plant from the NGC for $55,000. The plant was converted to the Roberds Manufacturing Company and began producing wallboard. Most would consider this conversion as the end of Canton’s reign forever, but the determination and committed demeanor of the city of Marion would help Canton rise again.
Canton Glass No. 2
Berthold M. Nussbaum, Leo’s son, died on December 1, 1945 and with this came a shift in control on the Canton Company. Earl Kightlinger became president with William M. Wright as vice president, and J.D. Wright as secretary. A few years after William Wright became president. In March of 1958, he moved the Canton plant to Hartford City to the former Sneath Glass Company (Iwen 79). In 1971 Glass Factory Directory listed the company as David Lilly and Company, Inc; and had F.R. Hodges as president. It still remains listed respectively the same today. No glass is being made in the plant today but an office still remains open. All that remains of the famous Canton factories in Marion is nothing more than part of a Canton No. 2’s ware shed. (APPENDIX I). Without a doubt it can be said that Canton Glass Company helped lay a foundation and shape our glorious city.
- Grant County and Who's Who.
- Iwen, Marg. "Canton: the Glass Comany That Refused to Die! Part I." Glass Collectors Digest 01 Jan. 1999: 18-27.
- Iwen, Marg. "Canton: the Glass Company That Refused to Die! Part II." Glass Collectors Digest 01 Mar. 1999: 73-82.
- Johnston, Joyce J. "David Barker's Elephant Pattern Glass." Glass Collectors Digest 01 Sept. 1987: 58-69.
- Paul, F.L. Letter to Board of Directors of the Marion Federated Welfare Assn.. 15 Nov. 1922. Glass and Glass Manufactures. Marion Public Library, Marion.
- "Price of Canton Works." China, Glass, and Lamps 21 June 1902: 3.
- Roller, Dick. Indiana Glass Factory List. Grant Co. Marion, 1976.
- Sanford, Jo. The Canton Glass Co. DeLeon Springs, FL: Researched Glass Facts, 1998. 1-31.
- "The Canton Glass Company." Advertisement. China, Glass and Lamps 16 Dec. 1891.
This article was written by Mike Raabe and submitted on June 4, 2007 for Mr. Munn's ACP US History Class at Marion High School.