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Hartville, OH

Early settlers in Hartville faced significant financial hardships. The first settlers were often well-off financially, as migration required monetary resources, and was often only an option for those with such resources. However, establishing themselves in a new area often exhausted their resources faster than they were able to earn money. Once their financial reserves were drained, a barter system was developed for exchanging supplies. This led to the development of a "cash price" and a "trade price" for buying and selling goods. Some families invested their resources well and maintained or grew their wealth. Most settlers struggled to establish themselves, but managed to survive and establish their new homes. In some cases, early settlers suffered hardships so great they were forced to return to their original home. [A History of Hartville Ohio, written by James W. McPherson III, (The Knowles Press, 1976)]


Hartville Elevator

The Hartville Elevator, the mill serving the greater Hartville area, was established over 100 years ago in 1909. The Elevator got its start as a feed mill, and served as a hub of local activity. Local farmers would come to the Elevator and line up to sell their corn. The corn would be dumped into a hammer mill, where it was ground into a fine grain. A freight elevator would lift the grain to a machine that mixed in molasses and other ingredients. The mixture was then bagged for sale as animal feed in the front office of the Elevator.

The founder and original owner of the Elevator was William Royer.  Royer also owned the livery stable in Hartville, located behind the Hartville Hotel (now the Pantry Restaurant). In 1906, Royer purchased the land adjacent to the railroad, and by 1909 he opened the Elevator for business, and soon expanded the business to include flour. In 1913, Floren Brumbaugh bought the Elevator from Royer. Brumbaugh sold the business to his father, who in 1916 sold it due to poor health to the Canton Feed and Milling Company. Charles Kannal managed the Elevator for the Canton Feed and Milling Company in 1917.  Charlie Axx took over management of the Elevator from 1918 to 1924, and made several improvements to the mill, including more powerful chopping machines so substantial that they required installation of new transformers and additional electrical lines. 

In 1924, Charles Kannal returned and purchased the Elevator from the Canton Feed and Milling Company, and soon took on Louis Pontius as a partner, although Cloyd Brumbaugh owned the land. The local railways and expanded building space made it possible for Kannal and Pontius to expand the Elevator to include the sale of grain, coal, feed, building block, tile, brick, cement, and fertilizer. 

In 1936, Kannal and Pontius tore down the original building that Royer had constructed, and replaced it with the building that still stands today. During the 1940's, Pontius sold his interest in the business to Kannal. In 1950, Hubert Brumbaugh and Virgil Ringer purchased the Elevator from Kannal. Brumbaugh and Ringer replaced coal sales with oil delivery, added the ability to mix molasses into the feed mix, and began selling fertilizer. In the 1960's, Brumbaugh and Ringer expanded the mill by adding a corn sheller, new feed mixers, grain pits, improved rail car loading, and a new hammer mill.

In 1980, Ed Ringer (Virgil Ringer's son) and Craig Wellsrping (Hubert Brumbaugh's son-in-law) took over the business, and continue to operate it today. Now, grinding corn into feed is no longer the core business at the Elevator, as supplying other necessities, like home heating oil, coal, other farming supplies, and even pet food, has become a larger part of the business. The Elevator has also become a distributor of wholesale feed, including its "Just Right" brand, throughout northern Ohio.

[Kyle Brown, The Suburbanite, July 17, 2009]
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