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Thursday, February 14, 1985


Pix #1 - Gray Printing Co., founded in Fostoria in 1888, has grown along with changes in the Industry, and expanded to meet customer needs in a wide geographical area.

Pix #2 - Robert A. Gray, fourth generation of Gray family, now active in management of the company. Officers, reading left to right: Thomas M. Gray, executive vice president, James G. Gray, president; George A. Gray, chairman of the board; Robert A. Gray, vice president of sales and treasurer.

Author's Note: The many photos and copy overflowed the available space in last week's article, fourth in the series, starts with the copy deleted pertaining to homes and residents in the 200 block of North, and continues with the changes that have taken place on that street, and more about people in the 300 block.

In boyhood days, I often played with Mary Elizabeth Ward, living at 231. She had an older brother, Charles who still redies in the Cleveland area, having retired from Union Carbide. Mary Elizabeth married Wynn Hosig, deceased, also a Carbide employee.

In the Ward's backyard there waa a very large mulberry tree...good for playing a swing to take us high into the air. Mary E. also had a trapeze in which we "skinned the cat"

Howard Youngston lived at 231 after the Wards moved. Howard worked for Ohio Bell as an installer of phones and repair, until retirement. The Youngston's daughter, Jean who lived there too, married Frankie Hines. They now live in the New Jersey area.

Carl Otten lived with his parents at 220. He was another of my boyhood friends. Much larger than me, he was my protector from the kids who liked to pick fights.

Tod Stevenson, who lived with his parents at 237 (the corner) was older than me, but we often punted the football in the street in front of their house. He settled in California in later years, but Mr. and Mrs. Henry Garry kept in touch with him and visited on their trips west. Stevenson died several years ago. Mrs. Garry, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. F. Serfoss grew up across the street from Stevensons on Poplar.


The Gray Printing Co., established in Fostoria just 34 years after Risdon and Rome merged to officially become Fostoria, has been in continuous operation, except for the time in 1917 when the plant was destroyed by fire. Even then, they were only out of production for the time it took to move the salvaged equipment to one of the defunct glass factories, and continue operation until the plant at East North and Cadwallader streets was rebuilt.

Photo #1 with today's article shows one view of the present printing plant near the main entrance on North Street, at Cadwallader, looking west.

George M. Gray, the founder of the 97 year old company came to Fostoria in 1888 to establish his printing shop, having been attracted to this town because of the oil-gas boom and the opportunities which were there.


First introduced to printing in Pentwater, MI, in 1875, where his parents lived at the time, he later became an apprentice in the A.I. Root Co., in Medina. Later he became the partner in the publication of The Medina News. When that venture ended after a fire, he visited Fostoria to look over the town, decided he like what he saw, and made the move.

Mr. and Mrs. George M. Gray had five children. Two of their sons, Gordon and Merton, were involvedin their father's business and continued until their deaths. James, the third son, died at Camp Chillicothe during World War I. Of their daughters, Thelma and Marguerite, only Marguerite survives. She was the subject of a Potluck article on January 26, 1984, having founded Peggy Gray Candies in Erie, PA.

Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Gray's sons George, James, and Tom, and Robert, son of Mr. and Mrs. George Gray, have continued to carry on the family tradition.


The printing plant which was rebuilt after the 1917 fire has been expanded many times since. The East North Street Lumber Co., which once was on the southeast corner of North and Cadwallader, is now part of the establishment and the street itself from North to Center has been vacated and is also part of the steadily growing operation.

All the houses on the south side of North from Cadwallader to Poplar have been demolished and the land awaits future construction of buildings as the operation grows.

If George M. the founder could come back and look at the changes and the growth of the business he started, he would be amazed. Back then printing was done from movable hand-set type, onto sheets of paper which at first were hand-fed into the press. Later, came Linotype machines, and automatic-fed presses.

Today, the printed word is transformed from the original copy by sophicated machines which scan it and then produce a printout in whatever type and size is desired. The copy is then photographed and the image is transferred from negatives to printing plates, which are used on sheet-fed or continuous web presses.


The Gray Printing Co., which once produced many school and college annuals and a high volume of top grade catalogs, plus the normal smaller types of printing jobs, has changed greatly in recent years.

According to George Gray, chairman of their board, 60 to 70 percent of their printing is now in the field of trade magazines, all of which are produced on large, high-speed, multi-color web processes.

Gray's printing operation today is a highly automated, competitive business, where they continually are looking for ways to reduce cost by shortening time, handling and reduction in waste or materials.

The Gray physical plant extends to the fact, the old New York Central depot is now part of their operation, being used as a warehouse. The east side of Cadwallader Street is one of their parking lots, as is the land where two houses once stood on the north side of North Street, west of Cadwallader.

In-depth articles about The Gray Printing Co. and that family appeared in Potluck articles on Feb 16, and 23, 1977.

Mention of where the "two" houses once stood, reminds me to mention some of the families who once lived on North from Poplar to Cadwallader. Here they are, as registered in old city me recollections of many of them.


Going back to Poplar said previously, all of the houses on the south side of North have been demolished, the land belonging to Gray Printing Co., Nevertheless, I will reconstruct from memory and old city directories memories of the residents who lived in those houses years ago.

No. 303 - The larger two story brick house on the corner was a duplex (up and down). Some of the residents names, starting in 1915, were: C.O. Cheney, Willis Good, Frank Babcock, Harold A. Davis, Goldie E. Wyant, Anna L. Krabill

No. 309 - That house was the family home of Lewis J. Eissler, a well-known name about town. He was in the wagon and buggy business, with other Eisslers at a time when their product was in demand. Corrine Eissler, a daughter, married Harry Mumma. The other daughter, Lou, never married. They are all deceased. His sister, Virginia, and I, had our picture taken in the Wissler backyard at about the age of four or five. Until a few years ago, no one but the Eissler family lived there.

No. 313 - Herbert N. Shook, with his wife and two daughters, Margaret and Catherine, lived in the next house. He sold cars and had his own agency. I was a schoolmate of Margaret and my sister of Catherine. The entire family is deceased.

In that same house, Mrs. E. Bemisderfer lived with a daughter Lou, who worked at the Jackson Underwear Co. Others to live there were Leonard O. Loeffler and Lonnie Brookover.

No. 317 - In the next house, I lived with my mother, grandmother, and sisters Ruth, the elder, and Virginia. I was probably 3 or 4 years old at the time, but remember my elders pointing out Haley's Comet in the heavens. Also, I recall gathering multi-colored sheets, showing women's fashions, etc., which were im-perfect and discarded in a trash box outside of Gray's. Others to live in that house were: Peter Baumunk, C.L. Good, Jacob Preis.


No. 321 - W.M. Ralston and his family lived next to us. He was the ticket agent for the Hocking Valley railroad. A Socialist, he was elected mayor in 1912. He was tough on law offenders and drunkards, whenever jailed, giving them only bread and water. Their son, Bryon, was an officer in the U.S. Navy and became a New York Lawyer after retiring from service. Much older than I, his mother would allow me to play with som of Byron's games. The Ralston daughters were Ruth and Marguerite. As far as I know there are no survivors of that family. Mrs. Ralston was the last resident of that property. After her death, it was purchased by Gray Printing and used as part of their facilities.

No. 327 - N.E. George, a well-known business man who had a restaurant, also a fresh fruit grocery store in town, lived there. The George's had three children: Joseph "Jo", Bob and Anna. Mr. George was an astute business man, with a business also in Detroit, as well as here. The family once lived in the beautiful house on West Fremont Street, near the waterworks, which in earlier years was built for the president of the Fostoria Academy. In more recent years Bob Twells owned and lived there. As far as I know all members of the George family are deceased.

Others to live in that house were: H.H. Thurber, Clemens C. Cook, Harvey F. Wilcox, Leonard B. Schell, a Gray employee. The latter was probably the last one to live there prior to it being demolished.

No. 331 - That house next to Gray Printing was once the resident of Gordon Gray, after his marriage. In fact, Jane, there first child, was born in that house. I recall being in that house shortly after Jane's birth.

Gordon Gray was my Sunday school teacher, and on one occasion had his class of boys to his house for an evening of entertainment. I won a pocket knife as first prize, as the checker champ that evening. I still have the knife. The boys present that evening were: Bob Snyder, Bill Lockhart, Park Burtscher Tom Faulhaber, Harry Thompson, Howard St. John, and one or two more who's names I can't recall.

Sammy Croft, featured in a Potluck article on Nov. 8, 1984, also lived in that house at one time.

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