HUME — There were baseball games against teams from Cridersville and Lima during the summer and great “circular fox hunts” during the fall and winter. When the oil was flowing and the trains stopped there, the town had five filling stations, a grain elevator, two groceries, a blacksmith shop, two churches, a school, stockyard, coal yard and even a saloon.
There also was occasional excitement. A “cyclone” in 1893 blew the Methodist church “to atoms” while a fire in 1946 spurred the formation of a volunteer department. In 1911 a little girl in a buggy pulled by a runaway horse was saved in a scenario befitting a 1950s Western.
But before any of that there was the railroad.
Farmer William Andrews, who owned land in the southwest part of Shawnee Township, watched the Lake Erie and Louisville Railroad advance in the early 1870s, watched “brawny section hands as they brought their heavy sledges down on one spike after another,” The Lima News wrote in a Jan. 25, 1953, story. “For two years he watched the railroad as it began hauling freight and passengers past his farm. Then on Dec. 4, 1874, W.W. Andrews filed the original plat of the village of Hume in the Allen County Recorder’s office.” Andrews apparently named the village after Robert Hume, a Lima man who owned land on which the railroad was being laid.
The Allen County Democrat gave a glimpse of life in Hume in the late 1800s, running columns of news items provided by a local correspondent. In 1879, for example, readers learned Dock Shappell, who “for some time has been trying to catch a coon” for a pet, had succeeded and also that “there was a big fight here last week between two champions. Dave got the best of Charley.”
On a more practical note, the correspondent noted in December of the same year that “our farmers have got to shipping their own stock. Geo. McClintock and Wm. Hasting left here last Saturday morning for Buffalo with three car loads of cattle.”
Opinion often seeped into the column. When “Ross Hover, the saloonist,” closed his business and left town in December of 1880, the correspondent wrote that “it is to be hoped never to return again. He found out that a hell-hole in Hume won’t pay.” In January 1898, Shawnee Township residents voted 161 to 51 to ban hell-holes. “At present there is but one saloon in the township and it is at Hume,” the Lima Daily News reported. “It will have to go.”
Samuel Bowsher was taken to task on June 23, 1881, for slaughtering cattle too close to the road which caused a horse to bolt, injuring a woman and boy. “We would say to Mr. B. in the future he should take his stock away from the road, and not make a slaughterhouse of the public highway.”
Runaways were a persistent problem in a horse-drawn age. On July 13, 1911, the Lima Times-Democrat reported a horse belonging to John Suydam bolted while being watered in Hume, taking off down the Lake Erie and Western Railroad (successor to the Lake Erie and Louisville) right-of-way with the buggy and Suydam’s 8-year-old daughter, Marguerite, on a wild ride toward Lima with Suydam in pursuit. A little way into the chase, Suydam enlisted the aid of a railroad section crew with a handcar and they managed to get close enough to the buggy that Suydam was able to grasp his daughter’s hand and pull her onto the handcar.
Like horses, the weather could be unpredictable. A sudden, violent storm on May 23, 1893, “struck the little village and did great damage” according to a report in the May 24, 1893, Times-Democrat. “The Methodist church was blown to atoms. … Everybody thought the church was the safest building in town. Mrs. John Hull wanted to go to the church for safety, and just as she spoke of it, down it came.” The church was rebuilt in 1894.
A tornado on April 17, 1922, “not unlike the cyclone that swept through practically the same territory a year ago in March,” leveled “nearly everything before it,” The Lima News reported April 18, 1922. Orville Bowsher, his wife, and two children from near Hume “were blown about 50 feet by the wind” but not badly injured. When Bowsher regained his wits, he “found their baby James, 16 months old, had been hurled with them and was lying in his mother’s lap uninjured.”
Hume was not yet a decade old when oil was discovered in northwestern Ohio in 1884. “The oil field in the vicinity of Hume and southwest of there, is the best territory in the Lima field and some very good wells are being drilled in there,” the Lima Daily Democratic Times reported on December 3, 1888.
A big pool of oil was discovered near Hume in 1897. “The Hume field is one of the surprises of this territory, and the wells now coming in appear to bear out the assumption that the pool struck there some time ago will eclipse anything yet found in this region,” the Times-Democrat wrote on Aug. 16, 1897. “The big wells reported in Indiana, when the actual facts are known concerning them, are not nearly so productive as those recently drilled near Hume.”
By the time the oil men moved on around 1910, Hume area farmers like Fred Oen, James Culp and Charlie McClintock Sr. had made a pile of oil money. “Charlie McClintock Sr., alternates between his oil interests and looking up a good bargain in horse flesh,” the Daily News wrote on Sept. 28, 1891.
Although the oil fields around Hume were considered played out, the town still had the railroad and the farm equity business and grain elevator that had grown up beside it.
Around 1915, the News noted in 1953, “William Boogher built a little shed along the north side of the right-of-way and started an elevator business. He bought and shipped grain for several years, then expanded into the lumber and coal business.” By 1946 the business was owned by C.C. Craig and his son, Otis Craig, and now included an implement store in addition to the elevator and coal business.
When a fire in August 1946 nearly destroyed the business — the 100-foot high elevator was “the lone portion left standing this morning,” the News wrote Aug. 15, 1946 — Hume residents, who depended on firefighters from Buckland, Lima and Cridersville, decided it was time to organize a volunteer fire department.
For years the department, which preceded the Shawnee Township Fire Department and provided coverage for the western part of the township, supplemented its funding with a summer strawberry festival.
“From the first festival came the funds to purchase the first equipment, a war surplus trailer and two fire hoses. In addition to festival funds, 27 families donated $50 each, and more was added from nearby farming families,” the News wrote July 22, 1951. Shawnee Township took over the department’s station and equipment when the volunteers disbanded in 1986 and decommissioned the station in 2003.
On Oct. 13, 1950, the Craigs sold the Hume Equity Exchange, but continued ownership of a portion of the business that specialized in the erection of steel buildings. It survives today as the Hume Supply Co. The elevator, which was left standing by the 1946 fire, has been unused for years.
In 1922, the Lake Erie and Western Railroad was succeeded by the Nickel Plate Road, which ended passenger service to Hume in 1950. In the mid-1960s, 20 freight trains a day rumbled through Hume, but none stopped and the Norfolk and Western Railroad, which now owned the line, closed the 19th century station in 1965.
Reach Greg Hoersten at TLNinfo@civitasmedia.com.