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Four Short Features


by Mayor Robert Longsworth

Located in an agricultural area, Hicksville, O., lies two miles east of the Indiana–Ohio state line, about 26 miles from Fort Wayne. Its history dates back to the Hicks Land Co. in the 1830’s. When the village was incorporated in 1875, it had a population of 1,212; its population now is 2,647.

Our town, which is on the main line of the B & O between Washington and Chicago, has two industries, a farm equipment company and a tomato canning factory. It boasts a new grain elevator, a new library and a new hospital, and two schools. We have nine churches with one going up, and there are three doctors and three dentists in our town.

Our government consists of myself, the city council (16 members), and the clerk. Carl Hoffman began his duties as Justice of the Peace in September. By March, 1955, the telephone company plans to have completed a change-over to the dial system. Right now, nine operators and one chief operator handle all calls through the switchboard in downtown Hicksville. Our sewage disposal system was constructed in 1935 and we are now in the process of repairing and extending it—a $65,000 job. We’re going to vote this fall on a proposed 4 1/2 mill levy for a new grade school building at a cost of $506,000.

A police chief, night marshal, and meter policeman make up our police department, while our fire department consists of the chief, 25 volunteers, and three trucks.

Corresponding Photos
(Click the thumbnails below to view a larger version of each image.)

From the intersection of Main and High Streets, the business district of our town looks like this. We are looking east on Ohio State Routes 2, 18, and 49 here.

Mrs. Carma Rowe donated the $50,000 Johnson Memorial Library to our town in honor of her parents; it was dedicated in December 1953.

Robert Longsworth, who gives us this story of his town of Hicksville, O., is a 39-year-old native of the village and is serving in his third consecutive term as mayor. He operates a farm and canning factory at the north edge of the village.

It’s 3:30 p.m. and school’s out for the students in our elementary and high schools. There are about 880 pupils in the two schools.

People in our town are looking forward to the completion of our $45,000 swimming pool next spring. Studying plans here are Blaine Thornburg, contractor, right, and William Handy, construction worker.

 

The Hicksville Community Hospital, with 16 beds, opened a year ago and serves a district of three townships besides our village.

 

The Hicksville Bank, established in 1946, is undergoing some remodeling and construction work right now.

 

We have a new grain elevator in our town; it is the highest structure in Defiance County and was built last year with a capacity of over 100,000 bushels.

 

Mrs. Elsie Williams is buying some stamps from Postmaster Wayne H. Smith.

 

Mrs. Verda Drummond is welding a poultry basket at the Ideal Manufacturing Co.

 

Chief of Police for 13 years, F. K. McCurdy fills in lax moments by using the grader on some of our streets. He is the street commissioner, too.

 

Formerly the land agent’s office for the Hicks Land Co. when this area was under development, the Building, Loan, and Savings Co. structure stands as a landmark in our village today. That’s Hollis Grover, manager of the elevator, talking to me.

   
 

Hicksville Has Handle Factory
by Ken Weaver (News-Sentinel editor)

A plant of veteran employees, the Miller Manufacturing Co. in Hicksville, O., is one of the largest independent handle factories in the country. Employing about 50 persons, the Ohio firm makes handles for shovels, rakes, hoes and forks, as well as special wood turning items. Employees of the factory, all residing in the immediate Hicksville area, range in tenure from three to 47 years. Most of them have been working at the company for 25 to 30 years.

The first plant on the present site of the firm was started in 1878 by Fish, Maxwell, and Miller. James Maxwell, an early pioneer of this area was the great-grandfather of one of the present owners, LaVon Miller. Mr. Miller and his father D. J. Miller, succeeded Maxwell in 1929. A corporation was formed in 1939.

Corresponding Photos
(Click the thumbnails below to view a larger version of each image.)

 

Reproduced from an old-fashioned tin-type, this picture shows the original plant of the handle firm in Hicksville, O. At the far left is David Miller, one of the three founders of the firm. He is the grandfather of LaVon Miller, one of the present owners.

 

Carl Miller, who has been employed by the Miller handle firm for three years, rolls the white ash logs into the pit on their way to the “drag saw.”

 

Coming out of the pit, the log is cut into the required lengths by this drag saw. John Manon, a veteran of 15 years with the company, calls it a mechanized cross-cut saw.

 

Employed by the Ohio plant for 26 years, Fay Walters operates the dowling machine. Walters feeds the square dowel into the tubular lathe, and it comes out round on the other side.

 

A three-man operation cuts the log sections (bolts) into planks on a planking saw. Leonard Evans (right), with the firm 33 years, feeds the bolt to the saw while Earl Goller (center), a 32-year veteran, operates the saw, and Casey Jones (left), a six-year man, removes the bark and slab pieces.

 

A. W. Dotts, who is sanding a rake handle here, has done “just about everything” in his 47 years with the company. Besides sanding and grading, he has run a binding machine and a rip saw.

 

Turning short handles on a center type lathe in the special wood turning department is Jim Rhodes, who has been with the firm 33 years. Notice the round section and the turned handles on the lathe.

 

From these white ash logs come such products as this rake, held by LaVon Miller, who forms the executive branch of the Ohio firm along with his son, Lee, and Forest McCalla, a 32-year veteran employee.

 

Another veteran, Chris Koch, has been employed by the plant for 37 years. Here he is bending split “D” handles for shovels, spading forks, and scoops.

   
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