Madison County History and Genealogy

History and Genealogy

History of Madison County

"Push London and Prosper"

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

Prior to 1910 there had not been in London any organization of the business interests of the village. All cities and many villages of the size of London and some even smaller boasted their successful boards of trade.

In the fall of 1910 a citizens' committee of twelve men was appointed by H. M. Chaney, then mayor of the village, for the purpose of outlining a plan for establishment of a local business men's organization. This citizens' committee named a temporary organization, and a called meeting was held at the council chamber on Tuesday evening, October 25, 1910, of which M. E. Dwyer was temporary chairman and Roscoe G. Hornbeck temporary secretary. Rules and by-laws were adopted and two tickets for the officers of the organization were nominated. At the close of the meeting forty men signed the declaration to become members of the association to be known as the London Board of Trade, and paid their initial dues of five dollars each.

As stated in the constitution, the object of this organization shall be to collect information relating to manufacurers and commerce as may promote the welfare of the village of London and to protect, foster and develop the industrial and mercantile interests of the village." The slogan of the London Board of Trade, "Push London and Prosper," was chosen in February, 1911, by a committee appointed for that purpose from a number, submitted in competition.


The first president of the board was M. E. Dwyer; second, M. B. Armstrong; third, R. V. D. Coons. The secretaries have been Dr. H. M. Chaney and Judge R. G. Hornbeck. The present officers of the board are as follow: President, Chester E. Bryan; secretary, J. A. Gardner; treasurer, W. E. Farrar; first vice-president, M. L. Rea; second vice-president, T. J. Dwyer; third vice-president, Rea Chenoweth. Directors, George H. Van Wagener, R. G. Hornbeck, R. V. D. Coons, Robert W. Boyd, Frank E. Noland, A. G. Cartzdafner.

Work for the year 1914 was inaugurated at the annual banquet held at the Methodist church on Monday evening, March 23, 1914, with a membership of two hundred and three. The board had as its guests at this banquet a very distinguished company of men, including the governor and lieutenant-governor of the state of Ohio, members of the board of administration and penitentiary site commission, the warden of the Ohio penitentiary, the superintendent of the Mansfield reformatory, State Librarian John H. Newman, Hon. D. K. Watson and others of prominence. The annual banquets of the board have always been well appointed and a time of delightful social intercourse among its members.

On Thursday evening, April 29, 1915, the annual banquet was graced by the presence of United States Senator Atlee Pomerene, Gen. D. K. Watson, Hon. John Henry Newman and Hon. Beriah Williamson.

The first project of interest to London in which this organization interested itself was the proposal to issue bonds for the erection of a new high school building and the improvement of the old building. On November 22, 1910, the board at a special meeting adopted resolutions favoring this bond issue, and gave material assistance toward the successful determination of this proposition at the polls. The troublesome questions of the waterworks contract between the village and the company owning and controlling the plant and the matter of better telephone service in the village have received the consideration of the board.

This organization is directly responsible for the location of the Bates canning factory, which concern came to London in the year 1912. The board purchased at a cost of eight hundred dollars the site on which this factory now stands and presented same to Mr. Bates as a bonus for locating in London. This concern has been of much value in providing employment to many people in London and enabling farmers about the village to sell the produce used by this factory at a very good profit. The West Manufacturing Company and the Ohio Metallic Specialty Company while tendered no financial assistance, were given moral aid and encouragement by the board in their organization.


When the Legislature passed the act appropriating two hundred and fifty thousand dollars for the purpose of a penitentiary site and creating a commission for that purpose, the London Board of Trade secured an expression from its members relative to the desirability of including the commission to purchase land for the reformatory and the state farm near London. It was the sense of the majority of directors of the board that it would be of great business advantage if the institution were located in the vicinity of the county seat.

A committee was appointed to call on the governor of the state and the penitentiary site commission, and to invite them to inspect the land which the commission thought would be suitable for their needs. This committee succeeded in convincing the commission that the land which they inspected near London was ideal for a site on which to erect the proposed state reformatory and to carry on the farm work, with the result that the state did purchase the Ellsworth and Hardin land at a price of two hundred and fifty-four thousand dollars. It is estimated that the state of Ohio will spend in cash in addition to the great amount of labor of all kinds which will be done by the inmates of the reformatory, the sum of four million dollars, the benefit of a part of which will surely inure to London.

The board has been in communication at various times with individuals and companies desiring to establish factories and concerns of many kinds in London, and has held options on several sites with the purpose of locating one of these factories there. The local council has always received the hearty support of the board in its effort to improve and beautify the town, and has contributed in no slight degree toward bringing about the laying of cement sidewalks and the building of paved streets.

One event in which the board takes great pride was the celebration of the Madison county home coming and centennial, held the week of July 4, 1911. A five-days celebration with events appropriate to the anniversary occasion was carried on in a highly satisfactory manner. The parade held on Wednesday, July 5, 1911, woman's day, was a beautiful spectacle, showing much originality and variety in the design of the floats and was enjoyed by the thousands who congregated on both sides of the line of march.

Thursday, July 29, 1915, was signalized by the board by inaugurating London's first annual holiday. The project was received with unanimous enthusiasm by all business interests. All business houses, banks, offices, shops, factories and saloons were closed from six o'clock in the morning until six in the evening. The streets were entirely deserted and apparently everybody had left town. Various excursion parties were inaugurated, the largest being at Cedar Point, under the direct supervision of the board. A special train had been secured over the Big Four railroad and over four hundred Londoners spent the day on the breezy shores of Lake Erie. The Board of Trade's holiday is to become an annual event.

Besides these concrete examples of the work of this organization it is constantly in touch with matters affecting the business future of London, and has an eye single to its success. Better than the tangible results, which may be noted from the efforts of the London Board of Trade, is the kindly trade spirit which it has fostered between the varied business interests of the village. London is remarkably free from the petty jealonsies and factional disturbances which at one time were evident here and which always deter the mercantile growth of municipalities. That London is now about to enter on an era of increased business opportunity is the opinion of those who are observant of local conditions and the London Board of Trade will in the future, as in the past, do its valiant part to prove the truth of its slogan that "to push London is to prosper."

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