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1977197819791980198119821983198419851986198719881989

 

$300 IN CAPITAL STARTED LOCAL MILL
March 23, 1978



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PIX #1 - Fostoria City Mills PIX #2 - August Franke PIX #3 - Charles Franke PIX #4 - Perry Bigham

This is the story about a name and a site in Fostoria which was well known at the turn of the century and for some years later...FOSTORIA CITY MILLS

This is another "growth" story...showing how individuals with foresight and courage helped build Fostoria.

Many older Fostorians will remember the Franke brothers...Charles, August and James. Charles came to Fostoria in 1893, and with his brother, August, who had been with the Harter (milling) Co., in this city a little over a year, opened a small retail flour and feed store in the Longfellow block on East North Street. They started with only $300 capital.

You may wonder how in the world could anyone start with such a small amount of money, and how could they make a living selling flour and feed. A dollar went further and was worth much more then today.

Back then, the housewife baked homemade bread, and made biscuits and cakes "from scratch".

Also, in that era many peole kept chickens...maybe some ducks, a cow or two and maybe a horse. So they needed feed. Also, the farmers surrounding Fostoria came to town to buy feed for the cattle-herds, and horses which they used for plowing.

In 1898, August and Charles Franke made their first real estate venture, purchasing the middle room in the Ghaster Block on East North Street. The building still stands and the name "Ghaster Block" can still be seen at the top of the structure. The "middle room" is the one occupied by Ohio State Beverage Store. For many years a feed and grain store was located there, run by James Franke, the other brother.

By 1898, the Franke brothers Charles and August, were operating a grist mill on East Tiffin Street near the T and OC (Toledo and Ohio Central) railroad tracks, which later was known as The New York Central, and still later Penn Central.

I could tell many interesting tales about the railroad yards in the east end of town...and will some day.

The brothers had also been operating a mill at Creston, Ohio, which was destroyed by fire, which put them out of business for about a year.

In 1899 they purchased the old elevator which was located on North Main Street, previously owned by Dr. J.W. Smith of Pontiac, Michigan.

Franke brothers remodeled the old mill and installed new and modern machinery to operate an up-to-date flour mill, with a capacity of 125 barrels per day. And, they called it FOSTORIA CITY MILLS.

This is the mill where we purchased freshly ground whole wheat for your morning hot cereal when I was a boy.

In 1900 the two brothers built the Franke Block on North Main Street, now owned by George Pappas, in which his Candyland Restaurant is operated. Richard Abowd owned the building prior to the purchase by Pappas.

In their new building the Franke brothers established their retail store for flour, feed and grain.

Incidentally, Candyland is an old reliable name in Fostoria too. Older residents will recall that Pappas, father Nick operated the same business at other locations...I may be prejudiced, but Candyland is the only place I know where you can get a good old-fashioned ice cream soda.

Back to the mill story and the Frankes.

The milling business prospered for the two Franke brothers, so much so that according to William J. Franke, son of August, still living that his father owned four farms in the vicinity of Fostoria by 1917 or 18 and sold his interest in the mill...after which he spent his time overseeing the farms.

In about 1919 or 20 Fostoria City Mills was sold to another local group and the name was changed to Fostoria Milling Co. The new offiers were: J.L. Newson, pres.; Charles Fraver, V.P.; Harry Hoffmaster, Secretary; Oscar Slosser, Treasurer; Later on Andrew Emerine Jr. became treasurer and Fred C. Smith, secretary and general manager.

The new owners marked their flour under the name of Triumph and Tri-Co. Flours...names old timers may remember.

The records do not indicate when Fostoria City Mills ceased operation, but by 1922 the city directory no longer carried a listing. Some time later the old mill was purchased by Perry Bigham and demolished.

Bigham was a Fostoria lawyer, with offices in the Security Building. He was the father of the present Mrs. Pat Marchion, and sister Evelyn Kuhn, both still residing here, and present owners of the building.

Mrs. Marchion and the editor reviewed memroies of bygone days when this story was being researched. She remembered yards and yards of silk fabric was retrieved when the old mill was demolished. The silk was used in processing the flour.

Mr. Bigham had the present building constructed which now occupies the old mill site. Contractors were Luther Tyler and Harry Barnes, with Jim Rowles handling the plumbing.

When the building was completed, The Star Glass and Supply leased the ground floor room which they not occupy, as well as the whole second floor, and they have continued in the same location.

Lottie Bloom had a restaurant in the room now occupied by Dave's Bicycle Shop, and the Kroger store was located where Apple-A-Day is now.

August Franke continued to live in Fostoria on the south-west corner of Center at Countyline Street until he died in 1953 at age 82.

Charles Franke who lived at 130 Elm Street, moved to Chicago in his later years to live with a daughter Ann Parsh.

William J. Franke, son of August, graduated from Fostoria High School and later became a doctor in Akron. He just retired from practice in 1976.

Other members of the August Franke family that Fostorians will remember... Nelle, who married Floyd Kinnaman and after his death Carl Dever, passed away in December of 1976; Ruth worked for Chet Klinepeter at Commercial Press for many years...married a Mr. Stauffer, and died in 1967; Pearl worked at Allen Motor until she married Clarence G. Smith and moved to Akron. She died in 1976.

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