Alfred Pelig Edgerton
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J. M. Ainsworth
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Hicksville, Ohio 1909
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From the Commemorative Biographical Record of Northwestern Ohio, including the counties of Defiance, Henry, Williams, and Fulton.

John Marion Ainsworth was a third generation Irish American and was said to have inherited the “best characteristics of that ancient and high spirited people.” In financial and commercial circles, he was known for his wisdom, business acumen, and upright dealings with associates. He took pride in the betterment of his community and worked to promote education and religious causes.

The oldest of William and Susan Ainsworth’s eight children, John was born September 10, 1835 in West Jefferson and attended school there until the age of thirteen. The next five years were spent working on his father’s farm. At eighteen, he moved to Fort Wayne and became clerk at N. B. Freeman’s dry goods company. He was such a success that his employers sent him to Hicksville in 1857 to open a branch store. More success prompted John to go into partnership with Hon A. P. Edgerton in 1859, opening a general mercantile store under the name of J. M. Ainsworth & Co. Like Edgerton, Ainsworth was an influential and enthusiastic Democrat. This partnership continued until 1872 when Ainsworth, Boon, and Bevington formed a company known for their selection of farm products.

Ainsworth combined his organizational skills with his own sense of public service when he formed the Hicksville Detective Society in 1867. All was not well in the city. With horse thieves making a mockery of law and order, J. M. gathered leading citizens into an association that would address the problem in a logical manner. James Casebeer was president, Ainsworth the treasurer, and Dr. Kinmont was the secretary. After Daniel Hilbert had a large number of horses stolen, area residents were ready to “treat the thieves with severity.” Two men were apprehended in a woods north of the city after a well directed Ainsworth-led two-day search. Association members anxious for a confession hung the two out of the Ainsworth store upper windows which nearly killed them. When reason prevailed, the thieves were eventually let down from the windows, tried by due process, and convicted. In all five men were sent to the penitentiary.

In December of 1869, J. M. married Sarah Parker, daughter of the first couple married in Hicksville, and by 1873, had built a sizable home at the corner of Smith and Maple Streets. The Ainsworths had four daughters and remained socially prominent members of the community. Mr. Ainsworth’s genial manner and popularity made his store a gathering place for town leaders, travelers, and any interested citizens willing to discuss politics, city concerns, or news of the day. J. M. provided pipes and tobacco as the best storytellers and debaters held court every evening at his store. This was the place important news reached first and in the days of scarce newspapers, where important news was first given out.

In the spring of 1894, partnership with Boon and Bevington was dissolved and J. M. organized a stock company, the Ainsworth-Shepard Company, in a two story double store. This successful general mercantile business had the distinction of grossing an additional $200,000 annually as the section’s largest buyer and shipper of grain and stock.

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