Millersburg Factory Pictures
Rare pictures of the Millersburg Glass Company. These are picture post cards from about 1911.
The Farmer's Report of the Millersburg Glass Co.
As submitted by George Irving
This is reprinted from an issue of the ICGA Pump-late `80's or early `90's.
What once you could not give away in Millersburg is now a thing of value. That is the Millersburg Glass story.
In 1908 the Fenton Art Glass CO. of Williamstown, West Virginia sent a representative to Millersburg looking for a location to construct an additional factory for the manufacturing of their ware. They found enough of the best quality of glass, sand and rock which insured a clear, crystal glass, on the property of Holmes County Coal and Clay Products which would last a lifetime.
A committee was formed and placed an option for about 50 acres of land in the north part of town, and lots were sold in the Millersburg Glass Co. allotment to raise the necessary money to erect the factory. Over $75,000 was spent on construction and equipment of the factory. May 20, 1909, white tableware in Ohio Star, Hobstar and Feather patterns were produced. The production for the year 1909 was mostly white, described, “The finest quality, sparkling crystal glass, fine polish and rings clear as a bell.” January 13, 1910 the Millersburg Glass Co. headlines Millersburg's local newspaper -“The Millersburg Glass Co.-Their Display, the finest in Pittsburg.
President J.H. Fenton of the Glass Co. had experimented four years to produce the Queen of Iridescent Glass and was successful on January 4, 1910. The glass glowed and sparkled with a thousand varying tints and shades and the new “Radium Glass” was produced. A welcome addition. Every piece was a wonder. One showed a fish at the bottom. A punch bowl and vases were among the new lines brought out.
The glass factory used a quantity of clean oat straw baled for packing purposes. Local farmers sold their oat straw to the factory, but many additional tons were sent to Millersburg from Iowa. Tons of oat straw came into Millersburg, and car loads of the beautiful radium glass were shipped out each day for 18 months.
June 1910 the Holmes County Courthouse Plate was made as a souvenir to the people who helped him lay the gas lines to the factory. Fenton was noted for giving souvenir pieces of glass, the Courthouse Plate the most noted one. He gave away toothpick holders, and gave all churches and leading merchants of the day a large white punch bowl set that was still used by many of the local churches until the late 1960's when they seem to have disappeared from the scene. To large groups visiting the plant he would give beautiful water sets and vases. At Christmas time he always remembered his friends with a special handsome sample of glassware.
In 1910 when Millersburg glass was in full production, it melted 14 tons of glass every 24 hours and two shifts of workmen operated the plant, putting it on a virtual 24 hour work day.
For 18 months the glass company enjoyed success. The largest order was $80,000, and one car load was sent to Liverpool and London, England. The glass company went bankrupt in June 1911. Through a court sale, S.B.Fair of Millersburg purchased the company, and in Oct. 1911 formed the Radium Glass Co. They continued to produce glassware until forced to close its doors. May 28, 1912 was the last shipment, to F.W. Woolworth
Fair sold the plant to Jefferson Glass Co. of Steubenville, Ohio in Oct. 1913 (lack of natural gas was the cause of closing the Jefferson Glass Co.) The remainder of the radium glassware was peddled around Holmes County for eggs or other produce. Not too many years ago at a house sale you could not get people to bid on the glass. So, the auctioneer would mix it in stacks of other dishes to get rid of it. A short 30 years ago you could buy any bowl or plate for $7.50 to $15. Today they would cost you $150 to $5000. Other pieces have become valuable rarities in the last few years, some because they were easily broken, or are experimental pieces.
The Glass Plant building was an outstanding building in it's day. It was 100x300' without center support, the steel framework for the building was purchased at the Chicago World's Fair and shipped to Millersburg by rail.
The building is practically unchanged today except for the removal of the huge smokestack on the roof of the rear building. It has seen several businesses come and go in the intervening years since the glass factory closed production, but continues to serve the Millersburg community well.
G-T-R Land Co. now owns the factory land and building, and presently rents to a firm known as International Packaging and Specialties.
As recent as this spring a local excavator was digging for the present owners and was surprised to unearth several chips of radium glass at a depth of about 6 ½ feet.
John Fenton and his family stayed in Millersburg after the glass company went bankrupt. He and his wife and one daughter are buried in a plot in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Millersburg. Two of their other daughters married local men and they, too, are now deceased and interred in Oak Hill Cemetery.
Reprinted here for your enlightenment: Sept. 26, 2003 by Diane Fry
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