If we still had a foundry today, in Bellville or Butler, that is, do you know what you would find there? What is a foundry?
A foundry is a place for casting metal. Molten metal is poured into a mold that matches the final dimensions of the finished product. We still have foundries today, just not in nearly every town, as they once were found.
One U.S. foundry wrote of in its company’s history:
“As settlers plowed through the American prairie, stronger metals were required to cut through the turf, shoe horses, create buggies and eventually lay the rail tracks that opened the west. Today, cast iron is found in almost all durable goods and machinery. From the machines that make the vehicles we drive and the materials in our homes, we live and travel on cast iron.”
At one time Bellville had at least two and Butler had at one.
A 1961 Bellville Star story gives pause to look back at local foundries. 1961? That wasn’t so long ago that one was still in operation in Bellville, but it wasn’t the first.
A 1961 Bellville Star story reported that the Goodreal Manufacturing Company acquired the Bellville Foundry and installed equipment for steel fabricating operations. The U.S. Ordnance Department, the story stated, awarded Goodreal an orfer for small cargo trailers as part of the government’s plan to reduce unemployment.
In December 1961 The Bellville Star showed a shipment of trailers being loaded on a B.&O. freight car.
But long before that local foundries were producing goods.
Israel and MIller Moody, sons of John Moody, relocated to Bellville from Knox County (though they had originally been born in Bellville) and entered the mercantile business in 1844. They later operated a tavern and a foundry in Bellville. In 1855, Miller bought out Israel and operated the foundry on his own. At the time of this writing, the location of that foundry is not known.
The foundry the Moody brothers operated may be the same one that Wilson Harrington took over, but that’s only speculation. Maybe it’s a different one; after all, the settlers needed buggy wheels, plows, axes, stoves, and more.
The History of Richland County, Ohio: Its Past and Present includes the biography of Wilson S. Harrington and notes that he became a partner in a foundry at Bellville in 1864. The firm, according to the history, continued for two and a half years and was succeeded by L.F. and W.S. Harrington. In 1875, Wilson Harrington became the sole proprietor and continued the manufacture of bells, plows, and a general line of casting.
A foundry was also located in Bangorville, but those two foundries and the one at Butler, are not the subject of this sketch. The Bellville Foundry, once located on the west side of north Markey Street near the railroad tracks, is the one that was still in operation in the 1960s.
The Bellville Foundry & Machine Co. was incorporated with $100,000 by James P. Wood, Thomas H. Jones, Grover Higgins, H.G. Mosier and W.B. Cockley, according to Vol. 1 Raw Material, March 1919.
In Iron Age, Vol. 104 it was listed with the same men but was called Bemiller Foundry & Machine Co.
A 1950 map marks the Bellville Foundry’s location and notes: “No watchman, operates 24 hours a day except Sunday. Heat stoves, fuel, gas & oil, power electric.”