Belmont Glass Company
|Predecessor(s)||Barnes, Faupel & Co.|
|Key people||John Robinson, Charles Henry Over, Henry Crimmel|
|Products||lamps, bar goods|
Belmont Glass Company, also known as the Belmont Glass Works, was one of Ohio’s early glassmaking companies. It was named after Belmont County, Ohio, where the plant was located. The firm began operations in 1866 in a riverfront village along the east side of the county, which is known as Bellaire. At that time, the community had resource advantages that made it an attractive site for glassmaking. Bellaire’s location at the intersection of the Ohio River, the National Road, and two railroads meant it had an excellent transportation infrastructure. Fuel necessary for the glassmaking process was also readily available, since Belmont County was part of the eastern Ohio coal region. Bellaire also had a workforce with glassmaking expertise located less than five miles away, since glass had been produced in Wheeling, West Virginia, since the 1820s.
The group of men that organized the Belmont Glass Company included men with glass making experience gained from the Hobbs, Brockunier and Company glass works located in Wheeling, West Virginia. Their new company made glassware such as chimneys (the glass surrounding the wick in a lantern), lamps, and bar goods. Originally the products were blown glassware, but later pressed glassware was also produced. Products with intricate patterns such as zipper were also made, and are valued today by collectors. The Belmont Glass works ceased operations in 1890. The economy at that time proved difficult for many manufacturers. In addition, many glass makers began moving to northwest Ohio in the late 1880s—lured by promises of free land, fuel, and cash.
The Belmont Glass works made a strong contribution to the American glass manufacturing industry, both during its period of operation and after the plant was closed. The company was Bellaire’s first glass works, and the second located in Belmont County. Bellaire soon attracted more glass manufacturers and became known as Glass City. Belmont County ranked sixth in the nation as a glass manufacturer by 1880. Men that gained or sharpened their glass making expertise working at Belmont Glass works continued to grow the American glassmaking industry, even after the Belmont works was closed, as they helped start more glass factories in Ohio and Indiana.
The history of Belmont Glass Company began in Wheeling, Virginia, as much of the company's glass-making talent came from that town. Wheeling was an early glass producing center in the American "west", where glass was first made in the 1820s. This success, supported by low cost fuel and the Ohio River as a transportation resource, encouraged other firms to make glass in Wheeling. One of the larger glass works on the south side of town was purchased by the Hobbs family in 1845, and operated under various names. This firm was still in operation in the 1880s under the name of J. H. Hobbs, Brockunier and Company.[Note 1]
In 1866, a new glass manufacturer called Barnes, Faupel and Company was organized in Bellaire, Ohio.[Note 2] The group consisted of men mostly from the South Wheeling Hobbs works, including George Barnes and Henry Faupel. The company incorporated several years later, and was named Belmont Glass Company. The company's directors were W. G. Barnard, Henry Faupel, Charles Henry Over, Henry Carr, and John Robinson.[Note 3] John Robinson and Henry Over had worked at the Hobbs plant, as had two brothers that joined the new company, Henry and Jacob Crimmel.
The Bellmont Glass Company began manufacturing in Bellaire, Ohio, and helped the community become a major glass-making center. The community of Bellaire is located in Belmont County, Ohio, along the Ohio River and not far from Wheeling, West Virginia. One of Bellaire's "public-spirited citizens", William G. Barnard, helped Belmont County become an industrial center. In addition to being one of the Belmont Glass Company's original directors, he was also president of Bellaire Nail Works, and later the Wabash, Chester and Western Railroad Company. Barnard was also Bellaire's leading coal dealer.
Belmont County is located in the Ohio coal belt. At one time, steamships traveling down the Ohio River knew Bellaire as the last stop for coal until Cincinnati. In 1866, the town also had railroad service from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the Toledo & Ohio Railroad. The National Road also ran through Bellaire. Given the town’s transportation resources, fuel resource, and experienced workforce nearby, Bellaire was an excellent location for a glass manufacturing plant. The Belmont Glass Company was Bellaire's first of many glass plants, and the second in Belmont County. In 1880, the state of Ohio ranked fourth in the country in glass production, and Belmont County ranked sixth among the nation's counties. By 1881, the town had 15 glass factories, and was known as "Glass City". At the beginning of the next decade, the state of Ohio was ranked second in the nation in glass production based on the value of the product.
Barnes, Faupel and Company began operations as a chimney (the glass that surrounds the wick in a lantern) manufacturer in December 1866.[Note 4] The company incorporated as Belmont Glass Company about two years later, and Henry Faupel was the company's first president. Belmont Glass was the first glass works in Bellaire, and the second glass works in Belmont County. An 1871 directory lists Henry Faupel as president, and William Gorby as treasurer. George Barnes was a machinist. Charles Henry Over and John Robinson are listed as glass-blowers. Jacob Crimmel, who started working at glass factories at the age of 11, is listed as a glass-presser.
In 1872, the plant's capacity was expanded, and its employee count reached 150. That same year, Charles H. Over, John Robinson, and Henry Faupel patented a seamless chimney mold—an improvement to the current version that left seams on the glass.
By 1884, Belmont Glass (listed as Belmont Glass Works by the state of Ohio inspectors) employed 225 men, 25 women, and 100 minors. During the 1880s, the company was producing sophisticated novelty items such as salt shakers with zipper patterns and translucent striped opalescent glass.
Several issues contributed to the eventual closing of the Belmont Glass Works. The company lost some talent as early as 1876, when John Robinson, C. H. Over, and William Gorby left to start the Bellaire Goblet Company. A bigger problem was the discovery of natural gas in northwest Ohio. In early 1886, a major discovery of natural gas occurred near the small village of Findlay. Soon communities in the area were enticing glass companies to relocate with promises of free fuel, free land, and cash. The new glass factories typically needed experienced glass workers to run the factories, and many of them came from Wheeling and Bellaire. A final blow to the Belmont Glass Works was the U.S. economy, which suffered through three recessions between 1882 and 1891. These factors affected all glass factories in the region. The city of Bellaire, which had 17 glass furnaces in 1884, had only have 3 furnaces remaining by 1891. The Belmont Glass Works closed in 1890, and the plant was torn down. In 1893, the Novelty Stamping Company began operating in a new building constructed on the site of the former glass works.
After the Belmont Glass Company/Works closed in 1890, the plant's legacy lived on—as former employees helped establish other glass factories in the region. Charles Henry Over left Belmont Glass in 1876 to form the Bellaire Goblet Company—which became nationally known for its tableware products. Joining him were Judge E. G. Morgan, William Gorby, John Robinson, Melvin Blackburn, and Henry Carr. C. H. Over, Robinson, and Carr were among the Belmont Glass Company’s founders and original board members. William Gorby had been Belmont’s secretary. Morgan was the new company’s president, Gorby the secretary, C. H. Over the manager, and Robinson the plant superintendent. By 1888, the plant employed about 300 people. In 1888, the Bellaire Goblet Company moved to Findlay, Ohio. Henry Over decided not to move to Findlay, and instead founded a new glass works in Muncie, Indiana—the C. H. Over Glass Company. This glass factory employed about 175 people.
John Robinson, who had been plant superintendent when working at Belmont Glass, was named factory manager (replacing Over) of Bellaire Goblet after the 1888 move to Findlay, Ohio. In 1891, Bellaire Goblet became part of the U.S. Glass Company conglomerate. While William Gorby remained with the parent firm for many years, Robinson eventually resigned his position. In 1893, Robinson started the Robinson Glass Company in Zanesville, Ohio. Financial assistance was provided by additional investors, including Melvin Blackburn—a partner from the Bellaire Goblet Company. The company produced tableware, bar goods, and novelties.
Henry and Jacob Crimmel moved from Bellaire to Fostoria in 1887 to help with the startup of the Fostoria Glass Company. Crimmel family members owned stock in the new company. Their “recipes” for various types of glass were used for the company’s early batches of the product.[Note 5] As part owner and plant manager, Henry Crimmel was also involved with the startups of the Novelty Glass Company of Fostoria and the Sneath Glass Company. Jacob Crimmel remained with the Fostoria Glass Company for many years. He was one of the founders of the American Flint Glass Workers Union, and wrote articles published in the union’s journal, American Flint.
Notes and references
- The Hobbs glass works was located on the south side of Wheeling, Virginia (later West Virginia). The community was originally called Richietown. The Hobbs works changed names multiple times over a 45-year period. One of the early names was Barnes, Hobbs and Company. It was also known as J. H. Hobbs, Brockunier and Company, and later Hobbs Glass Company.
- One source uses 1861 as a start year, but other sources use 1866. A bulletin from a collector's association used 1865 as the start date. Another source agrees with the 1866 start date, and says the company was known as Belmont Glass Company from 1866 to 1888, and Belmont Glass Works from 1888 to 1890. Jacob Crimmel, who worked at the Belmont Glass Company, wrote that the plant started December 1866. Since at least two of the glass men involved with the startup were Civil War veterans (John Robinson and Henry Crimmel), and someone that worked at the plant says "December 1866", 1866 is a more probable startup date than 1861.
- One source identifies Mr. Carr as "David Carr", while others use "Henry Carr".
- Faupel's name is misspelled in various publications as "Fnapel", and "Fauple". Another source spells the name as "Faupel", as does an 1871 directory, and his patent.
- Recipes for different types and colors of glass were rarely written, but the Crimmels had a written recipe book that still exists today. Some pages from the recipe book are shown in the book Fostoria, Ohio Glass II.
- Weeks & United States Census Office 1884, p. 78
- Weeks & United States Census Office 1884, p. 79
- Crammer et al. 1890, p. 323
- McKelvey 1903, p. 170
- "The Robinsons of Zanesville 1893–1900". The Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
- Lechner & Lechner 1998, p. 33
- Crimmel 1924, p. 11
- "Remembering Bellaire's Civil War Heroes". Bellaire Public Library. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- Crammer et al. 1890, pp. 580–581
- Paquette 2002, p. 56
- Paquette 2002, p. 57
- McKelvey 1903, p. 82
- Wiggins & Weaver 1871, p. 151
- Illinois Railroad and Warehouse Commission 1882, p. 286
- Crammer et al. 1890, p. 569
- McKelvey 1903, p. 79
- Bruno & Ehritz 2009, p. 7
- McKelvey 1903, p. 68
- Crammer et al. 1890, p. 484
- Weeks & United States Census Office 1884, p. 11
- Revi 1964, p. 69
- United States Census Office 1895, p. 315
- Crammer et al. 1890, p. 581
- Wiggins & Weaver 1871, p. 153
- US patent 129,679, "Improvement in Glass Molds", issued 1872–7–23
- Crammer et al. 1890, p. 485
- Wiggins & Weaver 1871, p. 156
- Cook 1927, pp. 11–14
- Wiggins & Weaver 1871, p. 152
- Ohio Department of Inspection of Workshops and Factories 1885, p. 110
- Paquette 2002, pp. 24–25
- Paquette 2002, p. 26
- "US Business Cycle Expansions and Contractions". National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved 2012-09-23.
- Unnamed 1903, pp. 123–125
- McKelvey 1903, p. 722
- Paquette 2002, p. 117
- Glass & Korman 2005, p. 26
- Paquette 2002, p. 60
- Murray 1992, p. 41
- Paquette 2002, p. 182
- Murray 1992, pp. 60–61
- Unnamed 1939, p. 26
- Cited works
- Bruno, Holly; Ehritz, Andrew (2009). Bellaire. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-6006-9. OCLC 320804618.
- Cook, Harry H. (1927). "A Sturdy Old Oak". American Flint (Toledo, OH: American Flint Glass Workers' Union) 19. ISSN 0002-8525. OCLC 3956009.
- Crammer, Gibson L.; Jepson, Samuel L.; Trainer, John H.S. and William Morrison; Taneyhill, R. H. (1890). History of the Upper Ohio Valley: with family history and biographical sketches. A statement of its resources, industrial growth and commercial advantages… Vol. I & II. Madison, WI: Brant & Fuller. p. 820. OCLC 49762897.
- Crimmel, Jake (Jacob) (1924). "Early Life in the Glass Industry". American Flint (Toledo, OH: American Flint Glass Workers' Union). ISSN 0002-8525. OCLC 3956009.
- Glass, James A.; Kohrman, David (2005). The Gas Boom of East Central Indiana. Image of America. Charleston, SC: Arcadia. ISBN 978-0-7385-3963-8. OCLC 61885891. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
- Illinois Railroad and Warehouse Commission (1882). "Wabash, Chester and Western Railroad Company". Annual report of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission of the State of Illinois (Springfield, IL: H. W. Rokker, state printer and binder) 11 (1881). OCLC 5912825.
- Lechner, Mildred; Lechner, Ralph (1998). The World of Salt Shakers: Antique & Art Glass Value Guide Volume III. Paducah, Kentucky: Collector Books. p. 312. ISBN 978-1-57432-065-7. OCLC 39502285.
- McKelvey, Alexander T. (1903). Centennial History of Belmont county, Ohio and Representative Citizens. Chicago: Biographical Publishing Company. p. 833. OCLC 318390043.
- Murray, Melvin L. (1992). Fostoria, Ohio Glass II. Fostoria, OH: M. L. Murray. p. 184. OCLC 27036061.
- Ohio Department of Inspection of Workshops and Factories (1885). Annual report of the State Inspector of Shops and Factories 1 (1884). Columbus, OH: Ohio Department of Inspection of Workshops and Factories. OCLC 13049618.
- Paquette, Jack K. (2002). Blowpipes, Northwest Ohio Glassmaking in the Gas Boom of the 1880s. Xlibris Corp. p. 559. ISBN 1-4010-4790-4. OCLC 50932436.
- Revi, Albert Christian (1964). American Pressed Glass and Figure Bottles. New York: Nelson. OCLC 965803.
- United States Census Office (1895). Report on manufacturing industries in the United States at the eleventh census: 1890. Washington: Government Printing Office. OCLC 10470409.
- Unnamed (1939). "Jacob Crimmel, Dean of Glass Workers, Called". American Flint (Toledo, OH: American Flint Glass Workers' Union). ISSN 0002-8525. OCLC 3956009.
- Unnamed (1903). "Glass Manufacturing in the Ohio Valley, A 1903 Review". Crockery and Glass Journal (New York: G. Whittemore & Co.) 58 (25, December 17, 1903). OCLC 4561501.
- Weeks, Joseph Dame; United States Census Office (1884). Report on the manufacture of glass. Washington: Government Printing Office. p. 1152. OCLC 2123984.
- Wiggins; Weaver (1871). Wiggins and Weaver's Ohio River directory for 1871–72 ... a full alphabetical record of ... the inhabitants and business directories of Wheeling, Parkersburgh, Marietta, Pomeroy, Gallipolis, Ironton, Portsmouth, Ripley, Bellair, Bridgeport, Harmar, Middleport, Martins Ferry, Maysville, Owensboro, Paducah, Lawrenceburg, Aurora, Madison, Cairo, Chester, Cape Girardeau.. Cleveland, OH: Fairbanks, Benedict & Co. p. 419. OCLC 13806479.