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1893 Chicago World's Fair drew from far and near

By Fred Steiner

In 1893 the village of Bluffton (population under 1,700) had no running water, no electric plant, no telephones, no rural mail delivery, and Central Mennonite College (Bluffton University) did not yet exist.

Despite this, it is reported that 109 residents of Bluffton traveled to the 1893 Columbian Exposition, known as the World’s Fair in Chicago. The actual number may have been higher.

For the record, from Beaverdam there were 16 attendees, Rockport 28, Pandora 7, and Mt. Cory 10.

How do we know this? An even more interesting question is: “How did all those people get to Chicago?”

Here’s the answer to the event that opened in May and ran through Oct. 30, 1893, drawing over 27 million visitors to Chicago.

And, after the fair ended, the News reported that 109 Bluffton visitors “signed in” when they entered the fair.

The News account attached to this story also listed the number of attendees from over 30 northwestern Ohio communities.

Throughout the spring and summer of 1893, the Bluffton News listed names of Bluffton residents who attended the fair.

One example follows: “Mr. and Mrs. A. Hauenstein, Will Hauenstein, Mrs. Thomas Murray, W.J. Staater and wife and Abe Wise constitute the World’s Fair party from Bluffton this week.”

(Be certain to read the story directly beneath this account. It concerns Bluffton boys hopping a freight train to watch a baseball game in Lima.)

When the Hauenstein-Murray-Staater-Wise party returned home, the News published the following:

A Blufftonian just returned from the World’s Fair tells of the following scene in the Midway: A turbaned fakir was vociferously plying his mysterious art, and had a crowd about him, when he espied the benevolent looking countenance of Abe Wise.

Read the entire story and view several photos at

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