Driving on West Main Street in Cardington I pass the vacant lot just east of the railroad track on the north side of the street. Known in my growing up years as the Hart Oil Station and later Burggraf Mobil and the Fisher Mobil Station, research revealed that the lot was a hub of activity in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s when the Slicer Carriage Factory and Salesroom and Smythe Block were an active part of the business community. On the east end of the lot was the Brundage Building, also offering business rooms and upstairs apartment living.
In September, 1912, the carriage factory, salesroom and Smythe Block were destroyed in one of the worse fires in the village’s history. The Park View Restaurant and Clyde Kreis’ pool room occupied three rooms in the Smythe Block and were totally destroyed. Tenants and shop owners occupied some of the suite of rooms and although all escaped, they lost all of their belongings in the fire. According to the account in the September 12, 1912 Independent, James Slicer was the biggest loser.
His loss included the two story frame building on his own lot, east of the Smythe block and a one story sheet steel building. New buggies, completed repaired buggies stored in the building next to the railroad were saved. He carried $1800 insurance on the three buildings. The Brundage building, built in 1885, was heavily damaged and after 12 years of legal proceedings with no positive outcome it was dynamited in July, 1924. It was thought that the water poured on the Smythe Block and Slicer Factory, was also sprayed on the Brundage bullding and weakened the foundation rendering it useless.
Slicer chose to not rebuild and eventually moved from the area. A small station was built on the lot just east of the railroad tracks in 1920 with one pump. A series of oil stations serviced the station with Ashley Oil selling Indian Gas. In 1927 it was the Indian Service Station, just east of the railroad. It was owned by Carter and Cochran and later E. R. Cochran and Sons. It had become the Hart Oil Refining Company plant in August, 1934 when flames rolled up from an oil tank and threatened to wipe out the plant and spread to the village business district but the Cardington Fire Depart-ment held the damage to a minimum. Ralph Hart purchased the station in 1939 and sold Mobil Gas. In 1945 Carl Burggraf and Jake Click purchased the station and Jake sold his share to Carl in 1946. A new building was erected in 1957 and it became the Burggraf Mobil Gas Station Many readers remember Carl and his friendly greeting and many of you worked for him. Carl sold the station in 1976 to Jim Fisher, a long time employee. Jim kept it an active business until he sold it to Don Walter in 1987, who operated it as Main Street Motors. Don sold it in 2011 to Greena Pallithanan of Lewis Center. There is much more to the history of this lot – it can be found in many editions of the Morrow County Independent.
100 years ago, July, 1915: A huge birthday cake was baked by Gandee Bakery and placed in the window of Jay Smith Company, celebrating its 10th anniversary in the village. The cake contained 20 pints milk; 80 eggs; 26 pounds of flour, four ounces of flavoring; 32 pounds of sugar; 20 pounds of butter, salt, baking powder etc – 25 ounces.
90 years ago, July, 1925: The Marengo post office had been entered about 2 am in the morning and the safe blown “to pieces,” with $144 stolen in cash $272 worth of stamps and $25 worth of special delivery stamps. The explosion sound was muffled by using horse blankets.
70 years ago, July, 1945: Taking part in a play at Center Church were Thelma Hack, Dick Kanable, Ilene Mosher, Kenneth Hack, Wayne Mateer, Clayton Brandum, Martha Kanable, Dale Underwood, Danny Kanable and Noel Underwood
60 years ago, July, 1955: Ann Schwartz of Cardington was named Morrow County Junior Fair Queen. Attendants were Eilene Reed, Mary Hack, Inez Gordon and Wanda Jones, Cardington; Margaret Terman and Shirley Huvler, Steam Corners, Mauretta Beatty and Charlotte Mason, Marengo; Sue Rinehart and Yvonne Wiseman, Mount Gilead and Marilyn Bush, Edison.
30 years ago, July, 1985: Cardington Postmaster Merlyn Crisler told the Cardington Rotary Club the Cardington office had handled 2,100,000 pieces of mail in the previous year. He said the local office served 7,000 people at 2,018 locations. The office transacted $540,000 the previous year.