Last week’s column was based on an 1887 edition of the Board of Trade, published by the Fremont Daily News. It told the story of the birth and beginnings of the company that became Henkel-Clauss, a world-renowned Fremont-based cutlery company.
The post also shed some interesting light on Fremont as a young city.
The trade edition boasted a list of what “Fremont has”. This included a boom, natural gas, electric light, three parks, wide avenues, 10 churches, a free library, three banks, three railroads, an ex-president, a telephone exchange, fine hotels, progressive people, a chamber of commerce, yachting and fishing, elegant resorts, fine public schools and (don’t miss this one) 18 secret societies.
He also listed 78 factories, the Light Guard Band, 12,000 residents, miles of paved streets, 30 natural gas wells, huge waterworks, 300 trading houses, stately public buildings, and the “best Catholic church.” German from Ohio. (I can only wonder if anyone was a parishioner as there were other fine churches at the time.)
Predicted town would add railroad, 500 new homes by 1888
From there, the publication predicted what the city would have in 1888: free delivery, another opera house, a streetcar line, another water reservoir, a new railroad, more cobbled streets, 500 new houses. , a new courthouse, an increase of 5,000 residents, a number of new business blocks, a wonderful housing boom, and more new factories than many major cities.
I have no way of judging exactly the quality of the publication’s predictions, but I guess those predictions were more optimistic than the reality. I will point out, however, that while there was no new courthouse in 1888, construction of the new jail and sheriff’s residence, which now houses the offices of the commissioners, began in 1890.
Curiously, while the publication listed “three” parks, it provided details of four under “The City’s Pleasure Parks.”
“Cities like individuals, during the period of early growth, must prepare for the contingencies of full maturity. The villages, surrounded or rather scattered over vast commons, do not need resorts and open-air amusements. But it’s very different with a city whose inhabitants are forced to spend the day in closed rooms or dusty shops. It is very important for such attractive resorts to be provided where an occasional hour can be devoted to health-enhancing exercise and the indulgence of aesthetic appetite.
The publication states that Fort Stephenson Park is “the most conveniently located and interesting of Fremont’s four parks.
Naturally elevated, it included not only the library, but also the town hall and heavy stone stairways leading to circular promenades.
City Park, now known as Veterans Memorial Park across from the courthouse, “was set apart by Platt Brush from Brush’s addition to Lower Sandusky”. It included the aqueduct fire hydrant at the time and was formerly known as Standpipe Park. The park also included a bandstand. Platt Brush was among the first settlers in the community and also donated the land where the courthouse now stands.
Diamond Park (now Triangle Park) and Birchard Park, both on land donated by Sardis Birchard, were also listed.
Roy Wilhelm began a 40-year career with The News-Messenger in 1965 as a journalist. Now retired, he writes a column for The News-Messenger and News Herald.