From Authors, to Inventors, to Manufacturers. . . OH MY!
Greenfield is the birthplace of Otway Curry—carpenter, farmer, legislator, editor, lawyer, and foremost poet of the pioneer period. He was born (March 26, 1804) on what was the corner of First and South Streets in a one-room cabin and was the son of Colonel James Curry. At the age of eleven, the family moved to Marysville.
One of his poems, “The Lost Pleiad” appeared in McGuffey’s Sixth Reader. Curry served in the state legislature in 1836-1837 and again in 1842. He was one of the signers of Ohio's state constitution in 1841. He died on February 17, 1855.
The Great Hereafter‘Tis sweet to think when struggling
The goal of life to win,
That just beyond the shore of time
The better days begin.
When through the nameless ages
I cast my longing eyes
Before me, like a boundless sea,
The Great Hereafter lies.
Along its brimming bosom
Perpetual summer smiles,
And gathers like a golden robe,
Around the emerald isles.
There in the blue long distance,
By lulling breezes fanned,
I seem to see the flowering groves
Of Old Beulah’s land.
And far beyond the islands
That gem the wave serene,
The image of the cloudless shore
Of holy heaven is seen.
Into the Great Hereafter -
Aforetime dim and dark -
I freely now and gladly give
Of life the wandering bark.
And in the far-off heaven
When shadowy seas are passed,
By angel hands its quivering sails
Shall all be furled at last.
Frank Raymond Harris
He was born the son of David M. and Sarah Shrock Harris. He graduated in the Class of 1897, Greenfield High School. He served the Greenfield Schools as teacher, principal and superintendent. He was the author of
He became an extensive traveler visiting 128 countries and even flew on the Hindenburg. When Edward Lee McClain was interested in donating a modern, up-to-date high school building he sought out Harris to lead the planning. Mr. Harris was involved in the organization and founding of the Greenfield Historical Society. He died April 1, 1965. In his will he left "a bequest of $20,000.00 to the Greenfield Historical Association - to acquire the property known as "Travellers Rest Inn" at 147 Jefferson Street. His bequest was honored and Travellers Rest was purchased, moved and reconstructed.
Helen Hoover (1910-1984) is the author of several books, including The Years of the Forest, A Place in the Woods, and The Gift of the Deer. Before moving to the remote wilderness of northern Minnesota in 1954, she was an accomplished chemist. Adrian Hoover, Helen’s husband, was an artist and illustrated several of her books.
The Gift of the Deer - The classic story of a family of deer and the humans who loved them. Illustrated by Adrian Hoover.
A Place in the Woods - A beloved Minnesota author tells her tale of everyday life in the woods. Illustrated by Adrian Hoover.
Great Wolf and the Good Woodsman- A classic story with a message of peace, tolerance, and kindness—illustrated by Betsy Bowen.
Her obituary published July 7, 1984 read:
Violet Morgan was born in Highland County, Ohio October 15, 1895, to V.E. and Lilla (Copes) Morgan. Her grandfather was a Virginia Civil War veteran. She graduated from Hillsboro High School in 1914, and attended Miami (Ohio) University and Wilmington College. She began her teaching career in Carmel (Highland County). Her book, "Squaw Winter" is a novel, based on the Indian comunity near Carmel. She taught in several Highland County schools, including Penn Township and Mowrystown (possibly others). Her book, "Folklore of Highland County" is a collection of historical stories of the area. Her books captured the interest of author Jesse Stuart, of Kentucky. Partly through his influence, she received a nomination for a Guggenheim Award. She died, in Hillsboro, after a lengthy illness, March 16, 1983.
Margaret Plyley Murray
As a country correspondent for the Chillicothe Gazette, Mrs. Murray reported the happenings of the little community of Fruitdale, near her stately old home of “Forestwild Farm” on Route 41. Her service covered a period of 50 years, and at the time of her retirement in 1959, she wrote to the Editor Howard C. Oyer: “I enjoyed every minute of it.” Margaret was born to Francis Plyley and Eliza Ann Collier in 1873 and she married Mitchell James Murray. She died June 12, 1960. “Echoes of Forestwild”, one of her noted works, represented the impressions of the 86 years that she lived on the Paint Township Farm in Ross County.
Elizabeth Hyer Neff
Author and lecturer; Class of 1873, Greenfield High School.
Class of 1888, Greenfield High School. Journalist, lecturer and author. One of the leaders of the equal suffrage movement in New York.
Mack Sauer, Jr., 81, left this earth July 11, 2016. Born in Greenfield, OH, he graduated from Fairfield High School in Leesburg, OH, and received his bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Ohio University. He was a member of Phi Kappa Tau.
Class of 1910, Greenfield High School. Attended Cincinnati Art School.
Charles Richard Patterson (C.R.) founded the C.R. Patterson & Sons Company in Greenfield, in 1865. Born into slavery in Virginia, his family made it to Greenfield (circa 1842) and was living here according to the 1850 Census. For many years, the Patterson company produced numerous types of horse-drawn vehicles. In 1873 he went into partnership with a white man, J.P. Lowe. Patterson assumed sole ownership a decade later upon the death of his partner. The product line included buggies, backboards, phaetons, rockaways and surreys — the era's most popular wagons. His son Fred joined the firm and with Fred’s direction the firm turned its attention to the automotive age that was taking over the carriage trade. It became the first African-American automobile manufacturer with the introduction of the Patterson-Greenfield automobile in 1916. This new line of the business was dependent on having a lot of capital and that was not easy to acquire so the Patterson-Greenfield automobile never reached the mass-production level. Pattersons also turned their attention to the production of school buses which were in big demand by Ohio schools.
Fred D. Patterson, graduated Class of 1888, Greenfield High School, and married Estella Postell. Here is a chart showing three generations of Pattersons involved in the manufacturing process.
Albert J. Beveridge was born October 6, 1862 in Highland County, Ohio and his parents moved to Indiana soon after his birth. He was the cousin of E. L. McClain. Beveridge was admitted to the Indiana bar in 1887 and began the practice of law in Indianapolis. He first attracted national attention by his eloquent speeches defending the increasing power of the federal government and advocating U.S. territorial expansion overseas. In 1899 he was elected as a Republican to the U.S. Senate (1899–1911), where he supported the progressive legislation sponsored by President Theodore Roosevelt. Breaking with the conservative wing of his party, he served as chairman and keynote speaker of the emotion-packed convention that organized the Progressive Party and nominated Roosevelt for president in 1912.
Beveridge never again held public office, devoting much time after 1912 to the writing of history. His The Life of John Marshall, 4 vol. (1916–19), was widely acclaimed and won a Pulitzer Prize. At the time of his death (Indianapolis, Indiana, aged 64) he had completed two volumes of a biography of Abraham Lincoln, published in 1928.
In the twilight of his life, he came to repudiate some of the earlier expansion of governmental power that he had championed in his earlier career. In one notable address, delivered before the Sons of the Revolution's annual dinner in June 1923, Beveridge decried the growth of the regulatory state and the proliferation of regulatory bodies, bureaus and commissions. "America would be better off as a country and Americans happier and more prosperous as a people if half of our Government boards, bureaus and commissions were abolished, hundreds of thousands of our Government officials, agents and employees were discharged and two-thirds of our Government regulations, restrictions and inhibitions were removed."
Henry Dickey was born in South Salem, Ohio, and moved in 1836 to Washington Court House, Ohio. At age 15 he moved to Greenfield where he attended the Greenfield Academy. He pursued his vocation of civil engineer, and was in charge of the construction of the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad in Vinton County. Resigning in 1855, he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1857. He graduated from the Cincinnati Law School in 1859 and commenced practice in Greenfield. He served as a member of the State House of Representatives in 1861 and he served in the State Senate in 1868 and 1869. After serving in Congress 1877—1881, he resumed practice of law. He was admitted to practice before the US Supreme Court in 1877.
In addition to patents awarded to more recognizable Greenfielders such as Waddell, Harps, and McClain, numerous patents were also awarded to Greenfield inventors as shown in the list below.
Thomas F. Browder
Thomas F. Browder owned a laundry in Greenfield on Mirabeau Street in 1894. He also worked on a lifesaving net which he received a patent for in 1887. He held a public demonstration in downtown Greenfield in 1900 when a young man by the name of Otis Long jumped off a three story building into the net. Browder advertised his net all over the country and sold them to many fire departments. In 1901 twenty people were rescued from a New York City fire by jumping into a Browder net. Many letters were printed in the Greenfield Republican newspaper about how people were rescued from burning buildings. Mr. Browder was highly praised. Orders came in from all over the country. The United States government ordered nets for all fire departments in Washington D. C. Orders for nets came in from as far away as Australia.
The Greenfield Historical Society has an original Browder lifesaving net on display. To read more about this amazing device, see the
Eugene L. Arnott and J. S. Arnott, of Greenfield designed a kerosene can with a pump on it so that kerosene could be pumped and not poured thus lessening the chance for spills and waste. They sold the rights to C. W. Price who went into the business of manufacturing the cans and selling them across the country as the Run Easy Kerosene and Gasoline Can. When one of these cans made its way into the general store of James A. Harps of Ackermanville, Pennsylvania, Mr. Harps became quite interested in it. He saw a chance to develop a product that everyone would have a need for. Harps visited Greenfield, and purchased the factory and the rights to manufacture the cans from Price and moved his family to Greenfield. He formed a manufacturing company, and in 1907 built this factory on S. Fifth Street next to the B&O railroad. His important product was the Never-Fail Oil Can as he now called it. With the proper advertising, such as the slogan which “even a lady could use without soiling her gloves,” sales increased dramatically. At one point the factory produced 1,000 oil cans per day. The company employed 40 workmen plus office and sales staffs. Mr. Harps was civically active, as he served on the Greenfield Board of Education and was president of the Peoples National Bank.
E.L. McClainBiography of E.L. McClain appearing in the 1934 edition of the Dragon
When Edward Lee McClain was growing up in Greenfield he worked in his father's saddlery shop. Many times he watched customers putting old blanket or burlap pads on their horses to protect them from the rubbing of the leather harness collar. Young Edward decided that there should be a better pad that was low cost and easy to put in place. He designed a pad made of cloth and stuffed with cotton. It was open at the bottom so it would be easy to fasten on the horse’s neck. He also designed clips to hold it in place on the horse's collar and had a local blacksmith make some of them. He received a patent for the clips from the U. S. Patent Office. In 1881 he went into the business of manufacturing these new horse collar pads with two employees in a rented 10 by 12 foot room above a bank. By 1887 the E. L. McClain Manufacturing Company was putting out 300 dozen (3600) collar pads every day and 250 people were employed. McClain pads were sold all over the world.
See more information about E.L. McClain High School here.
McClain's business grew and expanded with several factories across the country and even into Canada. He built the town of Atco, Georgia, with factories to supply the cotton he needed. In 1912 he announced the gift of a new high school for the town of Greenfield. Construction was begun in 1914 with the dedication in 1915. The first class to graduate from McClain High School was in 1916.
E. L. McClain expanded his products into other areas. One item he received a patent on was this rat trap. As time went on, the automobile gradually replaced the horse as the means of transportation and trucks replaced horse and wagon as the means for hauling things. The need for horse collar pads gradually shrunk. The company had to find another product it could make to sell. During World War II the company manufactured thousands of sleeping bags and jungle hammocks. 2,827,000 life preservers were made for the armed forces. TAPATCO life preservers saved many lives of soldiers and sailors on torpedoed American ships. After World War II and the Korean War the main products of TAPATCO were sporting goods. The company made everything from life vests and boat seat cushion life preservers to hunting coats, sleeping bags and water skis.
Interesting note about Mr. McClain and Mr. George
Mr. George had received the news of the death of Mr. E.L. McClain in the morning mail. He sat in his office for a long time, holding the letter that announced the death of his friend, very quiet, tears in his eyes. He than went about his daily duties. In the evening, they found him in his studio—dead. He was attired in the artist’s smock which he always wore when at work. Near by was the brush he had just been using; on the easel, an unfinished painting. He had died, as he would have desired it, doing the thing he loved best. His death occurred on 9 May 1934. Mr. McClain died 2 May 1934.
John M. Waddell
John M. Waddell had a remarkable industrial career. In 1888 he founded the John M. Waddell Manufacturing Co. It is said the company was the outgrowth of a domestic incident—one morning, in the absence of the cook, Mr. Waddell found himself in need of ground coffee and began to use the old box coffee mill. This contraption had to be held between your knees and was a struggle to use. This gave him the idea to produce a new and improved coffee grinder which he began producing in 1889. He later added the manufacture of a cash register (the “Simplex”). The company joined into a partnership with E. L. McClain and others which lasted several years. McClain bought out Waddell, changed the name to the Sun Manufacturing Company and moved it to Columbus. It was later sold to the Columbus Showcase Company. He then organized the Waddell Wooden Ware Works (incorporated in 1901) which manufactured cash registers, money drawers, coffee mills, animal traps (the Kodak Rat Trap and the Surprise Rat Trap), toys, puzzles, games, novelties and other items. His X-Ray Egg tester was used to check eggs to see if they were fresh. The Waddell Company also made show cases for stores to display their products for sale. Post Office furniture was an important product of the Waddell Company. Waddell also designed and patented cases for phonographs. It may be best known for its showcases and rural delivery tables and cases.
Revolutionary War, War of 1812
In 1814, Captain James Collier moved on the farm just east of town. Capt. Collier was a Revolutionary soldier and during most of the time he was in the service he belonged to the "Flying Camp" (a body of men used to make rapid movements on the enemy).
Much of the time he was in the service he was with General Washington; was with him in the retreat throuogh New Jersey, and the suffering of Valley Forge. He took an active part in the battle of Long Island, helped to fight the battle of White Plains, assisted in the capture of the Hessians at Trenton and was in the battle of Brandywine.
For his gallant services he was presented by Gen. Lafayette with a fine sword. In 1832 the government granted him a pension of forty dollars a month. He died January 30, 1844; buried in Section 1/lot 99 of the Greenfield Cemetery.
When James Curry came to Greenfield he had been a soldier and an army surgeon. No means of sharing news existed in the village and the only collections of books belonged to local clergy. To Curry, that was not much of a choice.
He was born in Ireland Jan. 1, 1752. Once arrived in America he took up residence in Staunton, VA and married a cousin of Scottish poet Robert Burns. Between them they began to develop a collection of books, works by Milton and Plato's Republic graced their bookshelves.
Curry enlisted in the Continental Army and served under fire at Brandywine, Valley Forge and Germantown. He apparently had at least a speaking acquaintance with his commander Gen. George Washington.
Although his medical training was based solely on what he read, Curry developed a knack for setting broken bones. He treated not only his fellow soldiers, but also their horses and mules as well, and was assigned as assistant to a regular surgeon. In this capacity he learned much practical medicine that would later stand him in good stead on the western frontier.
Curry was taken prisioner by the British at the battle of Charleston (now WV) and remained some time with them. He served a total of six years, six months in the Continental Army before coming to Ohio to collect on his Revolutionary land grant.
In 1806, Curry was elected to post of brigade inspector for the newly formed Ohio Militia. He settled his cultured wife in a new cabin on the edge of a Highland County meadow and became a colorful figure in the early population of Greenfield.
With them the Currys brought their books, a collection of leather-bound newspapers that the colonel sewed together himself, and a belief that reading should be for everyone. It was this belief that led the Currys to invite their neighbors to use the books and papers and as funds allowed they had new volumes shipped from the East to enlarge the collection. It was Greenfield's first library.
It is no wonder with this literary background that Curry's son, Otway became a talented poet. When his father insisted he study law, the young man ran away from home and pursued his writing career under the pen-name "Abdalla". Although he eventually became a lawyer and served several terms in the Ohio legislature, it is for the verses which appeared in newspapers, anthologies, school readers and later on pbulic buildings and monuments that Otway is remembered.
General John Edwin Hull
General Hull was born May 26, 1895, a few miles outside of Greenfield. He graduated from Greenfield High School in 1913. He left Miami University to enlist in the first officers' training school at Ft. Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. He stayed with the army through the peace between the two world wars and was a Lieutenant Colonel when we entered WWII. He became full colonel December 24, 1941; brigadier general, June, 1942; major general January, 1943; lieutenant general June, 1945; attained the rank of full general.
He acted as Chief of Operations of the War Department General Staff during WWII. He was assigned to Hawaii as commanding general of the US Army in the middle Pacific. He is Highland County's highest ranking officer in the Army.
Noble Edward Irwin
Noble Irwin was born at Greenfield, Ohio on September 29, 1869. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in June 1891, and was wounded in action 1 May 1898 while aboard the USS Baltimore in the Battle of Manila Bay. Irwin was also mentioned in the Executive Officer’s official report for “intelligent personal work” on vessel repairs after the battle. Noble Irwin commanded USS New Orleans in 1914 during the Fourth Battle of Topolobampo, a naval battle between Mexican forces during the Mexican Revolution. Captain Irwin was awarded the Navy Cross for meritorious service as Director of Naval Aviation during World War I. Thereafter he was in command of battleship USS Oklahoma, and Destroyer Squadrons of the Scouting Fleet, and was Chief of the Naval Mission to Brazil (1927–1931).
Rear Admiral Irwin became Commandant of the 15th Naval District in March 1931 and was transferred to the Retired List 1 October 1933. He died at Warner Springs, California on August 10, 1937.
General Duncan McArthur – June 14, 1772-April 29, 1839
General Duncan McArthur obtained a position with Nathaniel Massie in 1793, and worked with Massie on a surveying expedition in the Northwest Territory. In 1796, he worked with Massie to lay out the new town of Chillicothe, Ohio, which was to become the state capital in 1803. His first recorded visit to Greenfield was 1796, leading a group of surveyors. In the fall of 1799 he began layout out the town (190 lots). First settlers began arriving spring of 1800. It was his desire that Greenfield would become the county seat when new counties were being formed. He even donated a square for a court house and jail and a plot for a cemetery. However, that would not be the case because Greenfield was not near the center of Highland County when it was carved out, and a county seat must always be centrally located.
In 1805 he was elected to the State Legislature. In 1808 he was elected major general of the State militia. After the outbreak of the War of 1812 he was given the commission of colonel of Ohio volunteers. In the fall of 1812 he was elected to Congress and the following March he was commissioned brigadier general of the army. As General, he was 2nd in command to General William Henry Harrison. When Harrison resigned in 1814, he succeeded to his command of all the armies of the Northwest Territory. He also served as the 11th Governor of Ohio (December 18, 1830 – December 7, 1832). He died at his estate, Fruit Hill, near Chillicothe, April 29, 1839. He is buried in Grandview Cemetery, Chillicothe, Ohio.
Born in Greenfield, Donald Eugene Lytle (May 31, 1938 – February 19, 2003), better known by the stage name Johnny Paycheck, was a country music singer and Grand Ole Opry member most famous for recording the David Allan Coe song "Take This Job and Shove It". He was a major force in country music's "Outlaw Movement" popularized by artists such as David Allan Coe, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Billy Joe Shaver, and Merle Haggard. In the 1980s, his music career suffered from his problems with drugs, alcohol, and legal difficulties. He served a prison sentence in the early 1990s but his declining health effectively ended his career in early 2000.
George Braxton, born a slave on an Od Virginia plantation, was a familiar figure on the streets of Greenfield. He had the gracious and courtly manners of an old plantation slave, the innate courtesy of one who had been chastened by misfortune, sweetened by adversity and inspired by a great and abiding faith in God and his fellowmen. He was the pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church for many years. In addition to his preaching, he had a great ability to install draining tiles for farmers.
When questioned by a census enumerator in Columbus in 1940, he could offer no certified proof that he was 113 years of age, but based his claim on memory of a notched stick. He recalled that from year to year his birthdays were carved on a “birthday stick” carried by his master. He remembered that when he came home from the Civil War, his master told him there were 42 notches on the stick. He said he was the first negro married in Ohio, and was the father of 17 children. He died in Columbus 6/22/1942.
It was said that he saved the Greenfield town hall from burning when the kerosene chandelier fell, scattering its oil over the floor and chairs. He beat out the spreading flames with his coat and for his heroism, the town took up a collection and bought him a new suit of clothes. The citizens of Greenfield erected the monument 1949.
Born in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, Samuel Crothers was raised in Kentucky from 1787 until 1804. During his youthful days in Kentucky he developed an uncompromising hatred for slavery. Dr. Croothers was the first writer west of the Alleghenies to take such a stand. In 1804 he moved to New York to attend the Presbyterian theological seminary under the charge of Dr. J.M. Mason. In 1809, following his seminary training, Crothers was licensed to preach. He soon accepted a call to serve as pastor of both the Associate Reformed Church of Chillicothe, Ohio, and the Hop Run Church just southeast of Greenfield. This post lasted until 1813, when he devoted his time fully to the Hop Run Church. In 1818, Crothers joined the Presbyterian Church. When the General Assembly of the church in 1818 took a somewhat equivocal stand on the slavery issue, he persuaded the Chillicothe Presbytery to adopt a resolution that "slave-holding is a sin against God and man, that justifying it by an appeal to the Scriptures is blasphemy of Almighty God and prostitution of His Word, that we cannot have fellowship with an ecclesiastical body which tolerates those sins in its communion".
Rev. Crothers returned to Greenfield in 1820 to organize the Greenfield Presbyterian Church where he preached for 35 years.
Rev. Crothers is notable for having spent much of his lifetime writing and speaking against those who had made a biblical case for slavery, especially in his articles published in the Quarterly Anti-slavery Magazine. Crothers, a well-respected theologian and debater, debated the issue with theological giants of the era including Charles Hodge. Noteworthy among Crothers' work are fifteen letters published in the Cincinnati Journal, an “Appeal to Patriots and Christians, in Behalf of Enslaved Africans”. In addition, Crothers published several books, including "The Gospel of the Jubilee" and "The Life of Abraham".
In 1833, Rev. Samuel Crothers and the Greenfield Presbyterian Church hosted the first meeting of an abolitionist society, which was later reorganized in 1836 as the Greenfield Anti-Slavery Society. Rev. Crothers and other society members also operated the Greenfield station of the Underground Railroad, helping thousands of runaway slaves, including, it is said, "Eliza Jane Harris of Uncle Tom's Cabin fame".
Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, c. February 1818 – February 20, 1895) was an African-American social reformer, orator, writer and statesman. After escaping from slavery, he became a leader of the abolitionist movement, gaining note for his dazzling oratory and incisive antislavery writing. He had escaped slavery to the sanctuary of Massachusetts where he defeated all efforts to return him to his Maryland master.
Although not a resident of Greenfield, he visited Greenfield in 1844 at the beginning of his career and gave great impetus to the abolitionist movement. He visited and stayed a week with Dr. Milton Dunlap, one of the leading abolitionists. During his stay he delivered several impassioned addresses in local churches and made many converts to the cause of abolition. When he left, he was presented with a good riding horse and saddle.
Did You Know?
Ohio and Highland County were important in the Undergournd Railroad system. The area was geographically located between Ripley and the Ohio River and Sandusky, Ohio, to the north. It has been said that Harriet Beecher Stowe gathered information for her Uncle Tom's Cabin story while staing at the Rankin house in Ripley. The story is of Eliza and George Harris being helped by the UGRR through Ohio to Sandusky and eventually to Canada. Historians tell that is was Greenfield where Eliza stayed until George arrived to join her and continue their journey.
Also in the above book, it is said that the first Negro person to live in Greenfield was one named Rachel. This information was taken from F.R. Harris' A Greene Countrie Towne. Although information is scarce about Rachel, she was an emancipated slave, done so by court order per her "owner" Samuel Gibson. It is believed that she took the last name of Stafford while living with a William Stafford family in the Fall Creek area. She later became a housekeeper in the Dr. Samuel Crothers home and appears in the 1850 Census records as a member of the Crothers household. Our Old Burying Ground records lists a Rachel Stafford d. May21, 1858, a. about 80yrs. Her gravestone was found, repaired and cleaned.