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The Suburbanite
  • The Monday After: Canton a city that made things

  • Automobile axles. Beer. Cooking utensils. Bath robes. Mattresses. Saddles. Saw mills. Pillows. Door screens. Eaves troughs. Elevator cars. Scissors. Jewelry. Monuments. Mouse traps.



    These are a few of the hundreds of products that Canton’s schoolchildren found to be made in the Canton area’s factories a century ago.

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  • Automobile axles. Beer. Cooking utensils. Bath robes. Mattresses. Saddles. Saw mills. Pillows. Door screens. Eaves troughs. Elevator cars. Scissors. Jewelry. Monuments. Mouse traps.
    These are a few of the hundreds of products that Canton’s schoolchildren found to be made in the Canton area’s factories a century ago.
    “The 450 manufacturing establishments in Canton made 1,058 different articles, according to a list prepared by pupils in the grade schools under the direction of John K. Baxter, superintendent of schools,” The Repository reported in March 1913.
    “The list includes a wide variety of things from machinery down to the smallest parts of a watch,” the newspaper noted.
    Students spent several months compiling the list of Canton-made products. Much of the information was gained by visits to factories, The Repository’s article said.
    A FEW EXAMPLES
    Included on the list were many items that the casual observer might never have guessed came from their hometown. Barn door hinges, window shutters, horse-riding reins, roll-top desks, hangman’s traps, bulldozers, library tables, picture frames, water bottles and yardsticks.
    When the products were published in a list in the newspaper, they were gathered in alphabetical order. The only product that began with the letter “k” had a paragraph of its own, setting apart what was perhaps the most unlikely of articles to come from a Midwest city.
    “Kimonos.”
    Other items seemed far more appropriate to people of an industrial city that sat in the middle of an agricultural area of Ohio — milk vats, ice cream, butter churns, grinders, hunting knives, galvanized roofing, hoists, rolling mill machinery, paints, pneumatic tools, fencing, pulleys and punches.
    Many of the products give a glimpse into the period of history in which the students lived — butter churns, carriages, coal chutes, gas arc lamps, horse boots, pocket knives, rug racks, wagon covers and water bottles.
    Still more products will seem familiar to area residents who have even a cursory knowledge of the manufacturing history of their community — agricultural implements, bricks, pretzels, embroidery hoops, lamp standards, dental furniture, bread products, safes, suction sweepers, sanitary milk, tonics, watch cases, revolving book shelves and roller bearings.
    THE LIST PUBLISHED
    In addition to publication of the list in The Repository, the products were to be identified in a brochure that would be used by both school officials and community leaders.
    “The names of the various articles will be printed in pamphlet form to advertise Canton,” Baxter told the newspaper. “It was good experience for the boys who aided in securing the list of products. It is possible that a few articles were overlooked and the list will be revised before it is published in the pamphlets.”
    The list of products made it possible to compare the Canton community with other cities, to determine the depth of its manufacturing base.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Since we started the work, I received from the Minneapolis schools a partial list of things made in that city which was also prepared by schoolchildren,” said Baxter. “The number of manufacturing plants was given as 1,102 with 40,000 employees, but the city has a population of nearly 300,000, so that Canton has more plants with more employees in proportion to its size than Minneapolis.”
    Reach Gary at 330-580-8303 or gary.brown@cantonrep.com.
    On Twitter: @gbrownREP