Tuesday, October 15, 2013

1923 NV Canning Factory Destroyed

Clipping obtained from the Clinton County Historical Society and transcribed below, is presumed to be from the Wilmington News-Journal, September 24, 1923.  The writer of the article is unidentified, but the phrase "nothing that savors of definiteness" seems fitting.  Interesting that the night watchman made "the rounds . . . shortly before being awakened by the fire."  Was he sleepwalking??
The canning factory was rebuilt after the fire though no details are currently available on that construction. The canning factory was constructed in 1916, seven years prior to the fire: "C.L. BAUGH [Carlton Baugh 1878-1937] is building a new canning factory at New Vienna at Railroad tracks.  John HULL has contract." --Clinton County Democrat 27Apr1916 as abstracted by Josephine Williams & Adrian Roberts.  In 1963 the property was sold by the New Vienna Packing Co. to the New Vienna Farmers Elevator, a mill operated by Mac LAUGHLIN and Charlie HART.  See below.

Fire of Unknown Origin Sweeps Plant; Warehouse is Saved
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Fire of unknown origin swept the plant of the canning company, at New Vienna shortly after midnight Saturday, and by early Sunday morning the plant was completely destroyed, entailing a lost of approximately $25,000, about 50 per cent of which was covered by insurance.

Efforts of the volunteer firemen, who were favored by the direction of the wind, resulted in saving the warehouse, in which was stored the portion of this year's crop which had been placed in tin, but the flames wiped out the main factory building completely, destroyed the scales and the silo, and ruined beyond repair all the fine machinery which had recently been installed in the plant.

Watchman on Duty
A watchman was on duty and his report to the owners of the plant –– George M. NEFFNER, Dr. MATTHEWS and James R. WEST –– was that he had made the rounds of the factory only a short time before he was awakened by the flames, and found that the discovery of the fire came too late to save the plant.  The fire was first detected about 1 o'clock in the morning, and the plant was soon burned to the ground, the flames licking up the wooden building and its contents in amazingly quick time.

Investigation has failed to show a cause of the fire.  It is pointed out that recently all the electrical wiring had been inspected and much of it renewed, and danger in that direction was not thought possible.  Whether spontaneous combustion could operate in such a circumstance, with so little storage, is doubted, it is said.  However, to date nothing that savors of definiteness can be found by the investigators of the catastrophe.

In Midst of Season
The factory was in the midst of a very busy season.  The crop of corn was said to be unusually good this year, and fully 350 acres of fine corn are yet outstanding, one of the owners said today.  An effort is being mad to secure the co-operation of canning plants in neighboring towns, and a call has been sent to the Bates plant, in Wilmington; to the Swaim Cannery, at Sabina; to Clarksville and Leesburg for help in putting into tin the immense crop of the New Vienna country.

"We understand that all these plants have their hands full with their own corn," said Mr. Neffner to a newspaper questioner, "but we feel that by dividing the crop around it may be possible to handle it without loss to the growers."

Had Cut Insurance
When the plant was reconditioned a short time ago, with everything put into ship-shape, the owners decided to cut the insurance, and $3,000 was taken off, it is admitted by the owners, who now argue that they should have added that much to the sum carried, rather than deducted it.  The plant has been under the management of James R. West, as one of the owners, and Charles ELLIOTT had been assisting Mr. West.  The men are at a loss to explain how the fire could have started.

The local firemen did valiant work and saved the ware-house, but so far advanced was the fire when it was discovered there was not chance to save the plant.

Hope is being expressed that the efforts to get help from neighboring canning plants may succeed and thus solve the problem of saving the fine crop that the farmers of the New Vienna country were rushing to the factory.

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New Vienna Ohio Cannery c1940, Pictured in front row behind the "L" is David MARTIN.  
Image Courtesy of Larry Martin.

The cannery was a noisy and smelly place, but a chance for seasonal employment for many New Vienna area residents.  The Hakes family was also involved in the operation of the cannery during the 1940s and 50s according to Phyllis Tilton White.

Other cannery tidbits:

1939 - H.G. BATES has an interest in canning factories at New Vienna, Wilmington, Spring Valley and South Charleston.  His son, C.E. BATES, owns the Blanchester canning factory. --Hillsboro Press-Gazette, 20Jun1939, p3

1942 - Charles ELLIOTT, New Vienna, is financing a new tomato canning factory in Lynchburg. --Hillsboro Press-Gazette, 27Jan1942, p1 

1944 - Homer, WILLIAMS, New Vienna, has been named to manage the Lynchburg tomato canning plant this year. --Hillsboro Press-Gazette, 11Apr1944,p1

1952 - W.T. CREAMER, Wilmington, part owner and operator of the New Vienna Packing Co., said that this year's [corn] crop was larger than last year's in spite of the drought damage to early corn.  The New Vienna plant closed last week. --Hillsboro Press-Gazette, 19Sep1952, p1

1963 - Transfer of Real Estate from New Vienna Packing Co. by C. T. VANDERVORT and W.H. ROBINSON to New Vienna Farmers Elevator, Inc.  Another parcel was transferred to the Elevator from Mary Elizabeth CREAMER. --Hillsboro Press-Gazette, 8Oct1963, p12

1976 - William E. COVERT & Sons advertise their lawn and garden tractor business located at the old canning factory. --Hillsboro Press-Gazette, 29Oct1976, p8

1 comment:

  1. "only a short time before he was awakened by the flames" oh no! When I was a kid I think there was a preacher at the United Methodist Church named Homer---I kinda remember being around him per Bible school, etc. fine work again here per this latest post---thanks!