Biography of Isaac W. Hoover
Erie County, OH Biographies





ISAAC W. HOOVER. As the originator and developer of what is one of the most important manufacturing industries carried on within the limits of Erie County, a special interest attaches to the name of Isaac W. Hoover, who has done much to increase and build up those outside associations by which people in many diverse quarters of the world know of Erie County as the source of a certain type of agricultural machinery which has served to lighten the burdens of crop harvesting and at the same time has decreased the cost of production of one of the most common articles of food. Originally Mr. Hoover was a farmer who specialized in the potato crop. Out of his experience in harvesting that crop by the old fashioned and tedious and laborious method of the plow or potato fork he conceived the idea which he perfected in the manufacture of his first potato digger. Some thirty years ago he manufactured his first machine. Having tried and tested its availibility for his own purposes, he began on a small scale to manufacture for others. Since then he has been in increasing ratio a manufacturer, and his machines have lightened the burdens of men throughout the civilized world. Mr. Hoover was not only a good manufacturer, taking great pride in his output, but also had ability to sell his products His success has been the result primarily of getting out a machine which was of demonstrated practical value, and also has been due to his care in never letting one of his diggers go out of his shop unless it was perfect. He has prospered, and his success and prosperity have produced a permanent and far reaching benefit to mankind.

The Hoover Manufacturing Company, of which Mr. Hoover is president and treasurer, has served to give a name and prestige to the little Village of Avery, in which it is not only the largest institution but also the chief source of livelihood to the inhabitants. This company now makes thousands of potato digging machines every year, and its sales are made in practically every country that grows potatoes. Mr. Hoover patented his machine in April, 1885. After getting hips patent, he took none of the means so frequently employed to exploit his invention, but proceeded quietly, and his industry has been a growth more than a sudden creation. At first he intended his machine only for use in his own fields, and the first year manufactured only one. It did the work which he expected, and in the following year he made ten machines, all of which were marketed in Erie County. The third year the output of his shop was fifty machines, and from that time the business has been increasing almost every year, and is now the largest industry of its kind in the United States and one of the most important considered from any point of view in Northern Ohio. At the present time about 5.000 machines represent the output each year, an average of nearly twenty for every working day. These machines are shipped and sold to every civilized country. The great plant covers fully four acres of ground at Avery. Avery is a small station located in Milan Township on the Nickel Plate Railroad, and the machinery goes out frequently in carload lots from that station. From 75 to 100 employes find their chief source of livelihood in these shops.

Erie County may take pride in the fact that Mr. Hoover is a native son. He was born near Sand Hill in Groton Township, January 3, 1845, and grew up in that locality and gained a practical education in the local schools. About forty years ago he moved into Milan Township, and there became a practical farmer, but was soon developing the potato crop as his specialty. He inherited some considerable degree of mechanical ability from his father, and he exercised this faculty in producing his first potato digger, and from that has built up the great business already described.

His parents were John and Elizabeth (Woolverton) Hoover, both of whom were born in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. The Hoovers were of Holland ancestry, while the Woolvertons were New England Yankees. Both John Hoover and wife came to Erie County when young people, and were married in Groton Township. John Hoover was a stone mason by trade, having learned that vocation in Pennsylvania, and in Erie County was employed in the construction of a large number of houses in his time. In 1849, with perhaps half a dozen other friends and neighbors, he made the trip across the plains to California. His purpose in going West was inspired by a love of adventure and a desire to see the country rather than primarily as a gold seeker. He spent a year on the golden shores of California, and altogether was absent from Erie County eighteen months. After many interesting experiences in the West he returned by way of the Isthmus of Panama, and then settled on his farm in Oxford Township of Erie County. Living there until 1875 he removed to Bushnell, Illinois, where his brother Joseph Hoover was living at that time. Mrs. John Hoover died at Bushnell in 1891, when about seventy five years of age. Soon afterward the father returned to live with his son Isaac in Milan Township and also spent part of his time with his daughter, Mrs. A. H. Prout, then a resident of Oxford Township, but now of Cleveland. John Hoover passed away in this county in 1905 at the age of ninety two. He was a democrat in politics, and while not interested in offices was always progressive and public spirited, and enjoyed the reputation among his fellow townsmen for industry and most scrupulous integrity. Besides the two children already mentioned there were two other sons. Louis V. now lives in the vicinity of San Diego, California, where he is a fruit grower and also has interests in the city, and has a family about him. George, who lives in Alberta, Canada, owns more than two sections of land there, devoted to stock ranching, and is married and has sons and daughters.

After leaving the old home Isaac W. Hoover took up farming in Oxford Township, also lived in Huron County for a time, and in 1875 established his permanent home in Milan Township. There he bought seventy four acres of land, and was soon numbered among the extensive potato raisers, an industry which has long flourished in that section or the county. Mr. Hoover is now one of the largest land holders in Milan Township. His lands are divided into four large farms, each one supplied with a complete set of farm buildings His total acreage in Milan Township is nearly 700, and all of it is highly improved land, and producing besides potatoes all the staple cereals.

Mr. Hoover is also a director in the Farmers & Citizens Bank of Milan, of which his son Arthur L. is president and director. This bank has a capital of $25,000 and is a well managed and solid institution. Mr. Hoover is also a director in the Huron County Bank of Norwalk. In politics both he and his son are democrats.

In Oxford Township Mr. Hoover married Miss H. Jane Bear. She was born in that township in 1846, a daughter of Hiram and Abigail (Kelly) Bear, both of whom were born in Pennsylvania and came to Erie County about the same time as the Woolverton family. Mr. Bear died in 1860 in middle life, having been born December 24, 1819. His widow survived him many years and passed away at the home of her daughter Mrs. Hoovers April 18, 1900. She was born April 20, 1817, and at the time of her death was eighty three years of age. Mrs. Hoover's parents were members of the Baptist Church, and in. politics her father was a democrat. Mrs. Hoover was one of a family of six daughters and two sons, seven of whom married, and all are now deceased except Mrs. Hoover and Susan I., wife of George Laws of Oxford Township.

There are three children in the family of Mr. and Mrs. Hoover. Marian, born June 21, 1868, is the wife of Harry Mason, a farmer and sand dealer at Avery, and their children are Leonis, deceased, and Lloyd J., Grace D., Harry N., Donald M., and Merle M., whose twin brother Max L. died when nine months of age.

Arthur L. Hoover, the only son of Isaac W., was born November 23, 1871. He was well educated, attending besides the local schools the Milan Normal and the Sandusky Business College. He is now secretary of the Hoover Manufacturing Company. One other officer of this company is William F. Olemacher, vice president. Arthur L. Hoover was married October 11, 1898, to Harriet Woolverton. Their children are named Margaret, Fay and Mary Jane.

Helen Grace, the third child of Isaac W. and Mrs. Hoover, was born March 13, 1876. She attended schools at Milan, but graduated from the Art School at Cleveland and is now the wife of Dr. Ralph E. Garnhart, who is a graduate of medicine and is in active practice at Milan; they have a daughter named Eleanor Louise. Mr. and Mrs. Hoover are Baptists, though they attend the Methodist Episcopal Church at Milan. He is affiliated with the Lodge and Chapter of Masonry at Milan, with the Council and Knight Templar Commandery at Norwalk, and the son Arthur is affiliated with the sante branches of the order, has gone through the chairs of the lodge at Milan and is past high priest of the Royal Arch Chapter. Both Mr. Hoover and his son have employed their ample means for the development of the community in which they live. They have constructed two magnificent homes at Avery, and these homes represent not only the most modern type of architecture but also combine the beauties of effective landscape gardening, and each one is numbered among the choicest country estates in Erie County. Their homes are surrounded by large grounds, with beautiful lawns and drives and foliage of all kinds, and their garages are well supplied with some of the finest cars manufactured.

From:
A Standard History of Erie County, Ohio
By: Hewson L. Peeke
Assisted by a Board of Advisory Editors
The Lewis Publishing Company Chicago and New York 1916


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