Madison County History and Genealogy

History and Genealogy

History of Madison County

London Grave Vault Company

From History of Madison County, Ohio, Chester E. Bryan, Supervising Editor, B.F. Bowen & Co., Indianapolis (1915)

The London Grave Vault Company was not deterred by the knowledge that there were twelve other similar factories in the United States, nor did it bother the members of the company to know that nine of those factories were in the state of Ohio. With the firm conviction that they could furnish a grave vault better than the rest and could furnish it at a price decidedly favorable to all classes of trade, they faced the competition and began the fight. Now the London Grave Vault Company fears no competitor.

Metallic grave vaults are of somewhat recent origin. Mausoleums have been in use and certain types of metallic casket coverings have been made in former years, but the light, strong, water and burglar proof metallic vault has but recently come into its own. Its rapid rise in favor and the wonderful increased demand attest its value. The vaults made by the local company are indeed beautiful. But the decorative features are not the most important. Those who purchase vaults of this type seek above all the ones that are guaranteed water- and air-tight and which are practically burglar-proof. These features are what make the London vaults the leaders with the wholesale and retail trade the country over.

The vaults are made of heavy annealed sheet steel, which is of the standard United States government specification, such as is used for battleships. This steel is placed in an enormous press, exerting a pressure of over thirty tons. Here it is bent, forming one side and one-half of a vault top. The formed steel is then placed in another press, which places protective flanges on its edges and also punches holes for rivets and handles. The pieces are then placed on a frame and the seams are subjected to the terrific heat of an oxy-acetylene welder, which generates two thousand seven hundred degrees of heat. Four of these welding plants are in operation constantly, and so strong is the glare of white-hot steel that the workmen are forced to wear dark goggles. This heat welds the seams in such a manner that the top is practically formed of one piece of steel and is air-tight. One man now goes over each welded seam with a wire brush and removes all particles of melted steel and rust and leaves the surface smooth. Each vault, after the welding process, is tested for shape. Under such a high temperature the steel may be warped in spots, and before allowed to go farther the vaults are reshaped. Then they are sent on to the water test. A concrete tank of water is imbedded in the floor. The vault tops are placed on forms and lowered into the water, where they are left until it is determined whether there is any opportunity for water to enter. Those that leak are rewelded.


Next comes the painting and finishing rooms. Here the vaults are painted with a preservative coating, not flat paint. Then they are placed in ovens and baked with a slow heat. Again they are painted, this time with a special metallic copper solution and once more baked. The luster coating is now applied, and the vault is to all appearance made of burnished copper. In order to insure an even distribution of the copper finish. the latter is sprayed on by means of compressed air. The inside base of the vault is made of one-piece steel treated in the same manner as the tops. On this are placed three massive bronze rests to hold up the casket. These rests can be ornamented to suit the taste of the customer. The rests are high enough to insure a free circulation of air around the casket, which dries and preserves the casket indefinitely. Then locks are placed on each base forming a part of the decoration. Cast iron tongues and heavy steel rods lock the top and base together permanently, or, if so desired, the locks may be set so that the vault can be opened whenever removed from the grave. In no case can it be opened whiie in the grave. Thus the vault can well be called air and water-tight and burglar-proof.

Vaults are made by the London company in five sizes. The smallest is fifty-two inches long, twenty-two inches wide and twenty inches high at the center, weighing two hundred and twenty-two pounds crated, while the measurements of the largest size are ninety-two, thirty-four and twenty-seven inches, respectively, and weighs five hundred and ten pounds. The small vault is finished in satin, silver or copper, as desired.

Such is the product of the London factory. Their vault is not an experiment, as is proved by the fact that the company now operates branch warehouses in Columbus, Kansas City, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Peoria, Illinois, for the purpose of supplying trade in the thirty-two states in which the vaults are now sold. A warehouse on the Pacific coast and one on the Atlantic coast will be in operation in a few months.

The factory is able to supply a demand of two hundred vaults a week when operating at full speed. At the present time the pay roll numbers about thirty, including salesmen, and the gross business averages six thousand dollars a month. When it is remembered that the plant has been in operation but two years, these figures call forth praise for the men who are handling the business, and London has every reason to be proud of this growing industry.

The officers of the company are: F. H. Potts, president; C. C. Green, vice-president; E. P. Speasmaker, treasurer; C. L. Sherwood, secretary and general manager.

Back to London index


Ohio History & Genealogy

Other Counties