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Bluffton, a boom town

By Fred Steiner

Bluffton’s golden age may well have been the decade of the 1890s. You might call Bluffton a boom town during this decade.  


• Oil and natural gas was discovered in Findlay 10 years earlier

• Town hall built in 1887

• Water plant in service in 1896

• Telephone arrived in 1898

• Central Mennonite College opened in 1889

• Population in 1900 was 1,783; 50 years earlier the town has 12 families

• Northern Ohio Railway with passenger and freight service

• Lake Erie and Western Railroad with passenger and freight service

• Bluffton was one of the largest shipping points for dressed poultry in the United States, according to an news item in the Bluffton News. 

A detailed Allen County Assessor’s report of statistics from 1895 is included at the bottom of this story.

Looking at a copy of the Bluffton News in 1896 you will discover an incredible variety of retail items available on Main Street. Here’s a partial list, based upon a full page listing from a copy of an 1896 Bluffton News: 

Bixel & Welty’s –

Eyes tested, bargains in ladies belts and waist sets, all watches repairing done quickly and fine work guaranteed, Parker pens, gold watches

Scheid & Bixel –

First class work our motto only, Kitchen sinks and pumps,  wood and iron pumps of all sizes or kinds, milk cans, creameries, gasoline, roofing, spouting and guttering done on short notice, new line of porcelain basins, repairing gasoline stoves, new line of bath tubs, lavatories and closets, we reline creameries and make all styles of milk cans to order, agents for Steiner’s improved copper creamery, hot air, steam and hot water heaters. 

Simon Herr –

We sell The Crescent bicycle is the fastest wheel on earth and holds the one mile record, made March 27, 1896, time one minute, el1ven and three-fifths seconds 

Bixel & Basinger’s –

Salt fish of all kinds, just received, the best coffee on the market is San Marto, pickles, five cents per dozen, just received, a car of Michigan salt, which we guarantee not to get hard in the barrel, seven pounds of good rice for 25 cents

Variety Bazaar –

Hammocks 18 feet long for 50 cents, lawn mowers cheap, ladies belts for ten cents, cups and saucers 25 cents a set

Wilson & Co. –

Prepped to give you low prices on clothing

A.J. Owens –

Brick business room for rent, next door to post office

J.E. Lugibill’s –

Most complete stock in all kinds of notions

Go to for the rest of this feature.

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