LIMA — The Maire family — Edward, Frank, Louisa and Frances — were progressing quite nicely in this area. The brothers had found enough oil and gas in the fields around Lima to bolster the family’s financial standing, and the sisters were working on social obligations of their own.
The turn of the last century found the Pennsylvania natives struggling in business no more, having put together enough funds to buy the Faurot Opera House from John D. Rockefeller as a downtown headquarters for the oil business.
There was still plenty for Edward and Frank Maire to do to keep the cash flowing, but by this point they also had more time for leisure pursuits. The sisters also entertained on a lavish scale around town and at their West Market Street home.
“Miss Julia Maire chaperoned a box party to see Bertha Galland at the Faurot last evening. The party was in honor of Miss Georgia Booth of Bolivar, N.Y.,” a March 29, 1906, newspaper story reported. Galland was a stage actress. There were 10 other ladies listed in attendance.
“The card party given on Tuesday evening by Messrs. E.J. and Frank Maire and Misses Julia and Frances Maire for the pleasure of their guest, Vira Anna Attley, of Bradford, Pa., was a most delightful affair. The rooms of this beautiful home were artistically decorated with autumn leaves and flowers, the autumn colors being used as the color scheme. Dainty paper shades in shapes of flowers were used in the different rooms corresponding with the floral decorations. Twenty tables were filled for six-hand euchre, high score being held by Mrs. F.C. Beam, who was given a cut glass dish, and Mr. R.L. Bates, who received a euchre deck in leather case,” an Oct. 27, 1906, Lima Times Democrat story reported.
Julia and Frances Maire helped serve at a party held by Mrs. W.W. Curtin that year. The notice gives a glimpse into the types of food served at such parties: fruit cocktail, Nabisco wafers, pressed chicken, mushroom patties, creamed asparagus, creamed potatoes with Mexican peppers, hot rolls, olives, shrimp salad, cheese wafers, ice cream, cake, coffee and mints.
Julia and Frances Maire hosted a party at their home, and the Lima Daily News carried this description published June 11, 1911:
“The wide porch of the Maire home was beautiful with banks of palms and masses of field daisies while within the house, great bowls of lovely roses grace each nook and corner. The tables, each seating six guests, were placed throughout the rooms and were decorated with quaint baskets of various flowers, forget me nots, wild roses, bachelor buttons, roses and other flowers, the brides’ table being decorated with fragrant lilies of the valley. The place cards were cunning little cupids, all save that of the bride, in which case the card bore a bridegroom wearing the ‘conventional black.’ The favors were tiny slippers upon which perched little cupids. Miss Welch was also presented with a handsome moire bound volume, ‘The Bride and Her Book,’ a gift of the hostesses.”
Two days later, the women held a reception — again, at their home — for several hundred guests who called between 4 and 6 p.m. It was an open house, popular during the time as kind of formal social visiting hour.
The brothers’ role was to deal with the business of the day. Their interests had expanded to Kansas and Oklahoma, but they continued to make time for Lima. Frank Maire was involved in the Lima Progressive Association, the forerunner of the chamber of commerce. Later, he became president of this group.
Edward Maire developed a race horse hobby, which became a business when they entered into partnership with the Steiner Bros. and bought a stallion named Mobel from Lexington, Ky. The trotter became the main breeding male in their stables, and his offspring became highly desirable on the market.
In 1909, eight of Mobel’s offspring had also raced very well, “making him one of the leading sires of speed in the year,” a Nov. 21, 1909, Lima Daily News story reported. “And as he is a young horse, he has a bright future before him.”
Just two years later, the name Mobel was even bigger.
“The colts by the Steiner-Maire stallion Mobel, 2:10 1-4, are spreading the fame of Lima far and wide as a breeding center,” an Aug. 20, 1911, Lima Daily News story reported.
The next year, a pastor voiced his displeasure about gambling over the horse races at the fair. In 1917, Dr. David Steiner died, 70 acres of the farm were sold for a new reservoir, and the Maires decided to leave the horse racing business.
The men also worked on starting a newspaper, The Lima Morning Star. Frank Maire was elected to the Old National Bank board in 1910, becoming president a few years later. He is credited with being key in the Cook Tower project. Edward Maire was very involved in the Lima Driving Park Association, race horses still being a hobby. They also dealt in real estate, planning to build a business block at the southwest corner of High and Union.
The Maires found time for travel, as well.
“Mr. and Mrs. John W. Roby, Miss Julia Maire and Mr. Ed Maire motored in the Maire auto to Delaware, Ohio, where they are enjoying Sunday,” a story reported Sept. 19, 1909.
“Frank L. Maire and sister, Miss Frances, leave today for a stay of several weeks in the south,” a story reported March 7, 1911.
The entire family and a female friend of the sisters left for Jacksonville, Fla., in 1912.
“Several weeks will be spent in cruising along the coast of Florida and a visit at Key West will also be a pleasant feature of the journey,” a Feb. 9. 1912, a Lima Daily News story reported. They were planning to use their private houseboat.
They decided they liked the area so much that the family bought a 70-acre tract with summer home in Miami later that year. That added to their other summer home in Michigan.
And then, a surprise: Frank Maire married Pearl Grosjean. The bride was the daughter of James Eugene Grosjean and was raised in Lima. The ceremony was held at 5 p.m. April 30, 1912 — a Tuesday — in her parents’ home at 112 N. McDonel St.
“Miss Grosjean has long been a popular society girl and the happy groom is well known as one of the city’s most prominent oil operators now active in western fields, director in the Old National Bank and co-owners with his brother of the Faurot Opera House block. It is stated the honeymoon will be a far-western trip,” an April 21, 1912, story reported.
The ceremony featured Hunter’s Orchestra as entertainment. The theme was yellow and white. Each had one attendant, Maire his brother Edward and Grosjean, a friend. The Rev. David H. Jones, former pastor of Market Street Presbyterian Church, was the officiant. Dinner for 75 guests was served following the ceremony.
“The bride will be superbly gowned in a creation of antique Spanish lace over white satin, and will be shrouded by a long filmy tulle veil, fastened among the locks of hair by a cap of lace trimmed with pearls and orange blossoms. In her arms, she will carry a huge bouquet of fragrant Easter lilies. The maid of honor will wear a gown of white marcome lace over yellow, while her hair will adorned with a cap of lace with yellow rosebuds,” an April 30, 1912, story reported.
The bride’s mother wore a “superb” gown of black crepe meteor trimmed with jet, a May 1, 1912, story reported. This fabric was a type of lustrous silk. The groom’s wedding gift to his wife was a gold watch encrusted with gems.
Would the new addition to the family upset the balance? See next Wednesday’s Reminisce for the final part of this story.
The Maire family home on West Market Street