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HANCOCK COUNTY was formed April 1, 1820, named from John Hancock, first President of the Revolutionary Congress. The surface is level; soil is black loam, mixed with sand, and based on limestone and very fertile.  Its settlers were generally of Pennsylvania origin.  Area, about 540 square miles.  In 1887 the acres cultivated were 169,013; in pasture, 44,809; woodland, 77,310; lying waste, 1,569; produced in wheat, 567,704 bushels; rye, 38,264; buckwheat, 764; oats, 491,677; barley, 1,376; corn, 1,667,873; broom-corn, 2,000 pounds brush; meadow hay, 26,271 tons;  clover, 10,351 bushels seed; flax, 2,839 pounds fibre; potatoes, 74,601 bushels; butter, 686,107 pounds; sorghum, 3,544 gallons; maple syrup, 16,598; honey, 14,803 pounds; eggs, 647,165 dozen; grapes, 11,445 pounds; sweet potatoes, 363 bushels; apples, 10,435 bushels; peaches, 486 bushels; pears, 652 bushels; wool, 206,987 pounds; milch cows owned, 8,316.  School census, 1888, 11,316; teachers, 274.  Miles of railroad track, 129.




And Census





And Census

















Big Lick,














































Van Buren,












Population of Hancock in 1830, 813; 1840, 10,099; 1860, 22,886; 1880, 27,784, of whom 23,102 were born in Ohio, 2,209 Pennsylvania, 270 New York, 252 Virginia, 143 Indiana, 35 Kentucky, 882 German Empire, 89 Ireland, 76 France, 64 England and Wales, 47 British America, 11 Scotland. 


The central and southern part of this county is watered by Blanchard’s fork of the Auglaize and its branches.  The Shawnee name of this stream was Sho-po-qua-te-sepe, or Taylor’s river.  We state on the authority of Col. John JOHNSTON that Blanchard, from whom this stream was named, was a tailor, or one that sewed garments.  He was a native of France, and a man of intelligence; but no part of his history could be obtained from him.  He doubtless fled his country for some offence against its laws, intermarried with a Shawnee woman, and after living here thirty years, died in 1802, at or near the site of Fort Findlay.  When the Shawnees emigrated to the West, seven of his children were living, one of whom was a chief.  In the war of 1812 a road was cut through this county, over which the troops for the Northwest passed.  Among these was the army of Hull, which was piloted by Isaac ZANE, M’PHERSON and Robert ARMSTRONG.


Findlay in 1846.—Findlay, the county-seat, is on Blanchard’s fork, ninety miles northeast of Columbus.  It contains one Presbyterian and one Methodist church, one academy, two newspaper printing offices, thirteen mercantile stores, one foundry, one clothing, one flouring and one grist mill, and 112 families.  A branch railroad has been surveyed from Cary, on the Mad river railroad, to this place, a distance of sixteen miles, which probably ere long be constructed.  Findlay derives its name from Fort Findlay, built in the late war by James FINDLAY, who was a citizen of Cincinnati, a colonel in the late war, and afterwards a member of Congress.  The fort stood on the south bank of Blanchard’s fork, just west of the present bridge.  It was a stockade of about fifty yards square,


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with block-houses at its corners and a ditch in front.  It was used as a depot for military stores and provisions.


About 9 o’clock one dark and windy night in the late war, Capt. William OLIVER (now of Cincinnati), in company with a Kentuckian, left Fort Meigs for Fort Findlay, on an errand of importance, the distance being about thirty-three miles.  They had scarcely started on their dreary and perilous journey, when they unexpectedly came upon an Indian camp, around the fires of which the Indians were busy cooking their suppers.  Disturbed by the noise of their approach, the savages sprang up and ran towards them.  At this they reined their horses into the branches of a fallen tree.  Fortunately the horses, as if conscious of the danger, stood perfectly still, and the Indians passed around the tree without making any discovery in the thick darkness.  At this juncture OLIVER and his companion put spurs to their horses and dashed forward into the woods, through which they passed all the way to their point of destination.  They arrived safely, but with their clothes completely torn off by the brambles and bushes, and their bodies bruised all over by contusions against the trees.  They had scarcely arrived in the fort when the Indians in pursuit made their appearance, but too late, for their prey had escaped.


The town of Findlay was first laid out by ex-Gov. Joseph VANCE and Elnathan CORRY, in 1821, and in 1829 relaid out, lots sold, and a settlement systematically commenced.  In the fall of 1821, however, Wilson VANCE (brother of the above) moved into Findlay with his family.  There were then some ten or fifteen Wyandot families in the place, who had made improvements.  They were a temperate, fine-looking people, and friendly to the first settlers.  There were at this time but six other white families in the county besides that of Mr. VANCE.  Mr. V. is now the oldest settler in the county.  For the first two or three years all the grain which he used he brought in teams from his brothers’ mills in Champaign county, about forty miles distant.  To this should be excepted some little corn which he bought of the Indians, for which he occasionally paid as high as $1 per bushel, and ground it in a hand-mill.


There are some curiosities in the town and county worthy of note.  At the south end of Findlay are two gas-wells.  From one of them the gas has been conducted by a pipe into a neighboring dwelling and used for light.  A short distance west of the bridge, on the north bank of Blanchard’s fork, at Findlay, is a chalybeate spring of excellent medicinal qualities, and from which issues inflammable gas.  In the eastern part of the town is a mineral spring possessing similar qualities.  Three miles south of Findlay is a sycamore of great height, and thirty-four feet in circumference at its base.  Ten miles below Findlay, on the west bank of Blanchard’s fork, on the road to Defiance, are two sugar-maple trees, thirty feet distant at their base, which, about sixty feet up, unite and form one trunk, and thus continue from thence up, the body of one actually growing into the other, so that each lose their identity and form one entire tree.—Old Edition.


FINDLAY, county-seat of Hancock, about 85 miles northwest of Columbus, about 45 miles south of Toledo, is on the L. E. & W.; T. C. & S.; and I. B. & W. railroads.  The largest natural-gas wells in the world supply manufacturers here with fuel at a nominal cost; private consumers pay fifteen cents a month per stove while in use, and for illuminating purposes five cents per month per burner.  Oil is abundant, is piped elsewhere, and some refined here.


County officers in 1888: Auditor, William T. PLATT; Clerk, Presley E. HAY; Commissioners, Isaac M. WATKINS, George W. KROUT, Calvin W. BROOKS; Coroner, Jesse A. HOWELL; Infirmary Directors, James M. CUSAC, Alexander R. MORRISON, WM. R. McKEE; Probate Judge, George W. MYERS; Prosecuting Attorney, James A. BOPE; Recorder, John B. FOLTZ; Sheriff, George L. CUSAC; Surveyor, Ulysses K. STRINGFELLOW; Treasurer, Andrew J. MOORE.


City Officer in 1888.—Wm. L. CARLIN, Mayor; Jacob H. BOGER, Clerk; Jacob HUBER, Treasurer; J. W. BLY, Marshal; Jas. A. BOPE, Solicitor; Godfrey NUSSER, Street Commissioner.


Newspapers.—Courier, Democratic, Fred. H. GLESSNER, editor and publisher; Jeffersonian, Independent Republican, A. H. BALSLEY, editor and publisher; Gas-


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Top Picture



Bottom Picture

Drawn by Henry Howe in 1846

FINDLAY, 1846.


This shows the central part, including the Court-House, which occupied the site of the present structure.



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light, E. D. LUDWIG, editor; Republican, Republican, E. G. DeWOLF, editor; Star, Independent, HAMMAKER & BEECH, editors and publishers; Wochenblatt, German Democratic, WEIXELBAUM & HEYN, editors and publishers.


Churches.—1 Roman Catholic, 1 Lutheran, 1 Methodist Episcopal, 1 Disciples, 1 Evangelical, 1 Presbyterian, 1 Reformed, 1 Congregational, 1 United Brethren, 1 English Lutheran, and 1 Church of God, sometimes termed the Winebrennarian Church.  The church of God College is located here.


Banks.—Farmer’s National, Peter HOSLER, president, J. G. HULL, cashier; First National, E. P. JONES, president, Charles E. NILES, cashier.


Manufactures and Employees.—The Union Brass Co., brass goods, 13 hands; Findlay Woollen Mills, woollen goods, 25; BUSHON & CRAWFORD, sash doors, etc., 9; PALMER & ARNOLD, flour, etc., 6; Findlay Lumber and Wood-working Co., sash, doors, etc., 12; W. H. CAMPFIELD & Son, sash, doors, etc., 12; The Eagle Machine Works, general machine works, 4; A. BOEHMER, Excelsior, 5; E. B. HARTWELL, handles, 8; The Columbia Glass Co., table-ware, 177; The Western Rapid Type-Writer Co., type-writing machines, 12; Geo. E. GOBRECHT & Sons, architectural iron work, 4; Findlay Rolling Mill Co., bar-iron, etc.,  113; The Findlay Window Glass Co., window glass, 113; C. D. HAYWARD & Co., planing mill, 15; Buckeye Window Glass Co., window glass, 50; The Findlay Iron and Steel Co., bar-iron, 126; W. P. DUKES, sash, doors, etc., 7;  The Bellaire Goblet Co., goblets, etc., 312; DALZELL, GILMORE & LEIGHTON Co., table glassware, 270; Model Flint Glass Co., crystal and colored glass, 192; Findlay Clay Pot Co., glass-house pots, 12; Findlay Hydraulic Pressed Brick Co., pressed brick, 115; Findlay Stave & Handle Co., handles and heading, 25; Findlay Church Furniture Co., church furniture, 9; Findlay Table Manufacturing Co., dining-room tables, 63; VANCE & BIGELOW, sash, doors, etc., 12; Ohio Lantern Co., lanterns, etc., 43; VINTON, JONES & WERNER, castings, 6; J. J. BRADNER, bee-keepers’ supplies, 3; David ROUND & Son, chains, 31; SHULL & PARKER, sash, doors, etc., 32; FUNK & LATSHAW, tanks, etc., 5; ADAMS Brothers, general machine work, 35; American Mask Manufacturing Co., masks, 45; Findlay Iron and Boiler Works, boilers, 22; WALTZ, BARR, & Co., grain elevator, 3; The LIPPENCOTT Glass Co., lamp chimneys, 130; John SHULL Novelty Works, ironing tables, etc., 8; McMANNESS & SEYMOUR, rakes, 31; The Ohio Window Glass Co., window glass, 50; McMANNESS & SEYMOUR, linseed oil, 4; 102; The Findlay Bottle Company, bottles, etc., 102; David KIRK, flour, etc., 12; The WETHERALD Wire Nail Co., steel-wire nails, 136; Ireland and McCOUGHROY, oil-well tools, etc., 8; The HIRSCH-ELY Window Glass Co., window-glass, 52..—Ohio State Report, 1888,


Population, 1880, 4,633.  School census, 1888, 3,404; J. W. ZELLER superintendent.  Capital invested in industrial establishments, $329,500.  Value of annual product, $741,000.—Ohio Labor Statistics, 1887.  Census, 1890, 18,674.


GEN. JAMES FINDLAY, from whom Findlay was named, was born in Franklin county, Pa., in 1770, of an eminent family.  “About the year 1795 he removed to Ohio, by way of Virginia and Kentucky, eventually settling in Cincinnati.  There he for a number of years filled the position of receiver of public moneys in the Land Office.  In 1805-6 and in 1810-11 he served as Mayor of Cincinnati.  In the war of 1812 he served as colonel of a regiment, and was present at Hull’s surrender of Detroit.  For his meritorious conduct in the war he was shortly afterwards promoted to the rank of brigadier-general of the Ohio State militia, in which capacity he served for a considerable period.  He erected Fort Findlay, from which Findlay was named.  Naturally reserved in manner, he presented to strangers an air of austerity, but he was the soul of kindness and geniality; had great decision of character and an unsullied reputation.  He died in Cincinnati in 1835.


There died at Findlay, May 12, 1856, at the age of 68 years, ANDREW COFFINBERRY.  He was born in Virginia; came to Mansfield about 1808; after the war he studied law there with John M. MAY, and then for nearly half a century


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he practiced in nearly all the counties of Northwestern Ohio, beginning with their organization.  He was, says KNAPP, conspicuous among the old-time lawyers of the Maumee valley, and beloved by his professional brethren and by all with whom he came in contact.


He obtained the soubriquet of the good Count COFFINBERRY by reason of his kindly nature, genteel address and extra ordinary neatness of dress.  When traversing the circuit from county-seat to county-seat, the journeys always being on horseback, he carried considerable apparel.  From his resemblance to the German Count or Baron Puffendorf, he was sometimes called Count Puffendorf.  Many comical stories are told of him. 


In 1842 the count came before the public in the role of a poet in a small volume printed by Wright & Legg at Columbus.  It was entitled, “The Forest Rangers: a Poetic Tale of the Western Wilderness in 1794, connected with and comprising the march and battle of General Wayne’s army and abounding with interesting incidents of fact and fiction, in seven cantos.”


The scene of the book is of course the “Black Swamp Region,” the Maumee country, wherein the words of the poem:


“Mustered strong the Kas-Kas-Kies,

Wyandots and the Miamies,

Also the Potawatamies,

The Delawares and Chippewas,

The Kickapoos and Ottawas,

The Shawanoes and many strays

From almost every Indian Nation,

Had joined the fearless congregation,

Who after St. Clair’s dread defeat

Returned to this secure retreat.”




The main subject is the story of the capture, captivity and final rescue of the maiden Julia Gray and the wedded Nancy Gibbs.  The poem gives personal narratives, dialogues, Indian speeches, drinking-songs of Waynes’s soldiers, death-songs of savages, etc.  It also describes natural scenery wherein Hog creek for the purposes of euphony appears under the name of “Swinomia,” thus:


“From Blanchard to Swinomia, he

Hied o’er to see, who there might be.



To make it true to nature the illiterate frontier characters speak their own vernacular in doggerel rhyme.  For instance, Mrs. Nancy Gibbs, who states her “maiding name was Nancy Jarred,” in describing her courtship by Gibbs, says:



“His ways was all so dreffle nice,

What maiding could reject the splice?”




The book stretches out for 200 pages, and is such a curious conglomeration of intensely realistic jingle, and as a whole, is such a strange eccentric conception that any allusion to it in the presence of those acquainted with it seldom fail to bring a twinkle in their eyes.  His old friends on the bench and at the bar, and they were a host, at the time of its appearance, now nearly half a century gone, enjoyed it hugely, for it brought the good count and his oddities so vividly before them.




In our first edition as among the curiosities of this region we said, “At the south end of Findlay are two gas wells.  From one of them the gas has been conducted by a pipe into a neighboring dwelling and used for light.”  The public did not imagine that the little obscure town stood over a great reservoir of natural gas and petroleum, which, on discovery, was to render it one of the most famed spots geologically considered on the globe.  The following history of its discovery and the development at Findlay up to May 20, 1887, is copied from carefully prepared articles by Mr. Frank B. LOOMIS, published at the time:


The tendency of people to grasp with frantic eagerness every business or social sensation that presents itself is powerfully illustrated by the widespread interest which the recent discovery of natural gas in large quantities has attracted.  A few years ago no geologist or practical driller would have advised a friend or patron to put down a well in Western Ohio.  But conditions change with dramatic celerity in this country, and today Northwestern Ohio is the scene of an intense and contagious excitement.


A few days ago the largest gas well in the world was struck near Findlay.  Its daily output of gas is 20,000,000 cubic feet. There are in the aggregate forty-five wells in and about Findlay.  Together they pour forth 100,000,000 cubic feet of gas daily, an equal amount in heating capacity to 3,000 tons of coal.


The Ohio natural gas is said to be richer in heat producing properties than the Pennsylvania gas by fifteen per cent, according to the tests and estimates of scientific men.


There is a very important and significant geological fact in connection with the Ohio gas and oil discoveries.  Both fluids come from the Trenton limestone, a widespread


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Zay, Photo, Findlay.



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formation of the lower Silurian age.  In order that gas or oil may be given forth in valuable quantities there must always be some structural peculiarity in the Trenton limestone formation so that an arch will be formed to serve as storehouse for the fluids to accumulate in.  The town of Findlay, which is the centre of the gas region, is built over such a fold or arch in the limestone.  The western extremity of this arch is coincident with the north and south line made by the Main street of Findlay, so that a well may be drilled anywhere east of that street, and dry gas will be found in abundance at a depth of about 1,150 feet.  A person cannot dig a cellar or well without setting some gas free, and it is said, in jest, that difficulty is found in setting fence posts on account of the pressure of gas from beneath.


The people of Findlay saw indications of gas for half a century without suspecting the remarkable treasure underlying them.  One man in the town, a German physician named Charles OESTERLEN, read the signs with an intelligent and prophetic eye.  Forty years ago he became convinced that and enormous reservoir of natural gas lay beneath the town of Findlay.  He told his belief and was scoffed at—men called him the “gas fool,” and until 1884 he was regarded as a vain dreamer.  But patience and perseverance at last prevailed, and three years ago he succeeded in organizing a stock company to drill for gas.  The well was a successful one, and when the gas gushed forth with a panting roar and shot a column of flame sixty feet into the air, people were alarmed for a time.  But the faith of Dr. OESTERLEN was vindicated and the truth of his theories established.


Findlay was a small and almost unknown town when gas was struck.  It took a year for the news of the wonderful discoveries to spread, and it was not until 1886, when the great Karg well, with a capacity of 15,000,000 cubic feet daily, was struck, that the attention of the public was arrested by the developments and possibilities at Findlay.


The great Karg well was discovered on January 20, 1886, by a boring of 1,144 feet.  The gas was conducted forty-eight feet above the ground through a six-inch pipe, and when lighted the flame rose from twenty to thirty feet above the pipe: with a short pipe the flames ascended to the height of sixty feet.  The gas leaves the well with a pressure of 400 pounds to the square inch, and with so much force that it has raised a piece of iron weighing three tons more than 100 feet above the ground.


It is difficult to imagine the magnificent effect of this burning well at night.  The noise of the escaping gas which, at the rate of forty million cubic feet per day, is like the roar of Niagara or like the thunder of a dozen railroad trains, drowning all conversation.  On the nights of the first winter it was opened the ground was frozen and the people not being used to it within the radius of half a mile were disturbed in their slumbers, especially when there was a change of wind.  The sound under extraordinary conditions of the atmosphere had been heard fifteen miles away, and on a dark night the light reflected on the clouds discerned for fifty miles.


Prof. G. Frederick WRIGHT, who visited on an evening a month after it was opened wrote: “Although the snow had covered the ground to a depth of several inches, in every direction for a distance of 200 yards in circumference the heat of the flame had melted the snow from the ground and the grass and weeds had grown two or three inches in height.  The crickets also seemed to have mistaken the season of the year, for they were enlivening the night with their cheerful song.  The neighborhood of the well seemed also a paradise for tramps.  I noticed one who lay soundly sleeping with his head in a barrel, with the rest of his body lying outside on the green turf, to receive the genial warmth from the flame so high up in the air.”  Cold as it was he slept in perfect comfort, with no danger of suffering so long as he was within the charmed circle.


The daily amount of heat from this single well is said to equal that from the burning of one thousand tons of soft coal.


The cost of drilling a well is about $1,500, but gas is supplied so cheaply to consumers that no one thinks of drilling a well except for a factory or mill.  The city owns a number of fine wells and has pipes under all the streets.  Gas is furnished to consumers for fifteen cents a month for each grate or stove, and the consumer is permitted to burn as much or as little as he chooses.


The gas has a distinct and penetrating sulphuric odor, so that it safer for household use than manufactured gas, as it cannot escape without being quickly detected.  Gas is a great luxury as a fuel.  There is no smoke, dirt or expensive manipulation connected with it.  It is easily managed and burns with a beautiful blue flame that emits an intense heat which never varies in degree. 


There was a great deal of speculation in farms in the gas belt, and one agent told me he had sold the same farm ten times.  Hundreds of farmers have been made rich, but I cannot think they have gained as much in contentment as they have in wealth.  One odd character sold his farm for $75,000 and came to the town to live.  He brought with him three strapping daughters, and this strange quartet, in garments cut in styles that were popular a quarter of a century ago, wander about the streets in a helpless and hopeless sort of way, wondering what to do with their money now that they have got it.  The land which Senator SHERMAN paid $30,000 for has advanced in three months to $150,000 in value.  The population of Findlay has grown from 5,000 to 15,000 in a year.


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On the second week in June, 1887, three days—Wednesday, Thursday and Friday—were given to celebrating the first anniversary of the practical application of natural gas to the mechanical arts in Findlay.  It was on the 9th of June, 1885, that the Biggs Iron and Tool Company first welded iron and steel together in Northern Ohio with natural gas.  It was a novel occasion—the first jubilee of its kind in history.


“Forty thousand visitors poured into the town to participate in the natural gas jubilee.  The bustling city was ablaze with light and decorations, radiant in all the glory of flags, evergreens, bunting, and flowers.  The main street was spanned by fifty-eight arches, bearing jubilant mottoes illuminated by the flame of thousands of gas jets.  Thirty thousand such jets were burning all over the city and turning night into day.  The first day (Wednesday) was devoted chiefly to the reception of distinguished guests.  On Thursday morning the exercises consisted of the laying of the corner-stones for four new manufacturing establishments, in addition to those which had been laid the day before.  Early in the day Senator John Sherman and other dignitaries arrived, and in the afternoon Gov. Foraker, accompanied by Adjutant-General Axline and staff, and the regular army officers who were to act as judges of the military contest, reached the city, and were accorded a most hearty reception.  Other arrivals were about 1,000 uniformed members of the Knights of Pythias from Springfield, Toledo, Dayton, Cleveland, Sandusky, Bluffton, and other points, all accompanied by bands of music.  The $1,000 prize drill, later in the day, attracted 5,000 spectators.


“All day long the burning gas on the street arches flared in the light rains.  It was cheaper to let it burn than to employ men to put it out and light it again.  In the evening there was a grand banquet, at which appropriate addresses were made by Senator Sherman, Gov. Foraker, Charles Foster, Murat Halstead, Gen. Thomas Powell and others.  The evening’s illumination was a grand success.  Hundreds of sheets of flame leaped from the arches, and the brilliancy of the burning gas flooded the city in a blaze of light.  A continuous display of fireworks was made from seven o’clock until midnight, while 70,000 people packed roadway, walks, windows and roofs, and manifested in repeated applause their admiration of the spectacle.  Friday, the last day, was occupied with processions, military parades, prize drills, band contests at the Wigwam, the laying of various corner-stones, and of the first rails of the belt and electric railroads; the festivities concluding in the evening with the awarding of prizes and a display of fireworks.  In the drill the first prize of $1,000 was won by the Toledo Cadets, while the State University Cadets won the second prize of $500, and the Wooster Guards the third prize of $250.”


MT. BLANCHARD is 10 miles southeast of Findlay.  It is on the line of the C. & W. Railroad.  It is in a fine farming and wool-growing district, and oil and gas are found in abundance.  Churches: 1 Methodist Episcopal, 1 Methodist Protestant, and 1 Presbyterian.  Population in 1880, 285.


MCCOMB is 85 miles northwest of Columbus, 40 miles south of Toledo, and 116 miles west of Cleveland, on the line of the N. Y. C. & St. L. and McC. D. & T. Railroads.  It is surrounded by fine farming lands.  Oil and natural gas are found in abundance.  Newspaper: Herald, S. B. DAVIS, editor and publisher.  Churches: 1 Presbyterian, 1 Methodist Episcopal, 1 Disciples, and 1 German Lutheran.  Principal Industries: Manufacturing handles of all kinds, planing mills, etc.  Population is 1880, 417.  School census, 1886, 337; H. Walter DOTY, superintendent.


ARCADIA, on the L. E. & W. and N. Y. C. & St. L. Railroads, is 9 ½ miles northeast of Findlay.  It has 1 Methodist, 1 Presbyterian, and 1 Lutheran church.  Population in 1880, 396.


VANLUE, on the I. B. & W. Railroad, 10 miles east of Findlay.  Population in 1880, 364.  School census, 1888, 142.


VAN BUREN is on the T. C. & S. Railroad, 7 miles north of Findlay.  Population in 1880, 130.


BENTON RIDGE is 8 miles southwest of Findlay.  Population is 1880, 179.  School census, 1888, 96.





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