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Deshler Foundry and Machine Works
Deshler, Ohio
One branch of the Suber Family

 

To better understand how Deshler Foundry and Machine Works came about, I would like to offer a brief family history.

The first "Suber" we know about was Johann Petir Suber who died in Newton, Bucks County Pennsylvania on March 16, 1758 (245) years ago. Johann or John married Magdalena and they produced two children: George Suber and Johann (John) Georg Suber, both of whom acquired land in Pennsylvania around 1737 by purchase from the government. John married Catrina Van Horn on Jan. 12, 1764 at Reformed Nether Dutch Church in Southampton, Pennsylvania. From this union came a male child named Abner.

As a young man, Abner migrated to Washington County Ohio, where he married Sarah (Sally) Parker in Marietta, Ohio on March 8, 1813. Abner and his wife were among the first settlers of Wyandot County, Ohio which was then Seneca County. They purchased three tracts of land from the State of Ohio by 1835, around Carey, Ohio where Abner farmed his land and worked as a moulder in nearby foundries, in Findlay and Bucyrus. Abner died in 1840 in Crawford County. After Abner's death his widow remarried Mr. Peter Stephans.

History note: In 1842, two years after Abner died, the government removed the remaining Indians by to reservations in Oklahoma from the surrounding areas. This was the tail end of the infamous "Trail of Tears". On Feb 3, 1845, Wyandot County was formed the parts of Marion, Hardin, Crawford, and Hancock Counties.

Abner and Sally had the following children:

George                    married Sally Morgan
Paul                        married Margaret Long
Lucinda                   remained unmarried
John                        married Lydia Ann Parker
Catherine               married Michael Bowen

After John and Lydia were married, they stayed in the area around Carey, Ohio where John farmed, possibly part of it being his father's land from an earlier purchase. John and Lydia had four children:

Alfred Jacob
Albert Aaron
Benjamin F.
Amanda

On August 19, 1862, John enlisted for three years with the 123rd regiment of Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Company A. At 41 years of age he was the oldest enlisted man in Company A. John was detailed to guard the southern route of the B and O Railroad. He was captured at the second battle of Winchester on June 15, 1863 and paroled or exchanged in Dec. 1863. After his return to his regiment he was captured again at the Battle of Cedar Creek on Oct. 19, 1864. John was interred in Libby Prison to await transfer but died from wounds and starvation on Nov. 25, 1864.

History note: It is interesting to note that John was serving under Major General Phillip H. Sherman in Brigadier General George Crooks 8th Corps, against confederate Lieutenant General Jubal A. Early in this battle for the Shenandoah Valley. Also of note and serving in this battle were Rutherford B. Hayes, William McKinley, and George Armstrong Custer.

John's death left Lydia a widow with young children. Lydia later married a Knowles and moved to Iowa where she reportedly lived to a ripe old age. The children split up with Alfred staying on his fathers land in Carey. Benjamin hopped a freight train to Omaha, Nebraska. He reportedly arrived in Omaha with four dollars in his pocket, of which he spent $1.50 for a steak dinner and the rest for female companionship. The next day he got a job on the trolley line.

Amanda died on Sept. 22, 1865 in Wyandot County.

Albert went to Findlay in 1864 where he joined his Aunt Lucinda who was living as a live-in secretary, bookkeeper, and business partner of E.P. Jones, president of the 1st National Bank of Findlay. Albert finished his schooling and immediately began to learn the machinist trade, probably under William Marvin, who owned a machine shop. (Albert later married his daughter, Clara). In the fall of 1873, Albert came to Deshler, Ohio and started a small machine shop and foundry. Albert was 20 years old.

The A.A. Suber Machinery and Moulding was a small wooden structure without doors and very meager equipment. It is reported that stray pigs roaming the village would come in and bask in the warmth of the furnace. Whenever work was scarce Albert would walk to Hamler, a distance of eight miles, to work as an engineer on the railroad. He returned every night on a freight train to Deshler.

In December 1876, Albert married Clara Marvin at Findlay, Ohio. Shortly after marrying, they lost their infant son Willy. Having no money yet, Willy Suber was buried on the Marvin Family plot in Findlay in Maple Grove Cemetery.

Two years later in 1878, Albert and Clara's new home and business were destroyed by fire, leaving Albert penniless.

Albert and Clara moved back to Findlay and lived with Clara's father, William Marvin, who was now a machine shop owner and banker. While living with the Marvins, Albert and Clara lost their infant daughter, Nora M. Suber, who died on August 18, 1879. Still having no money, she was buried along side her brother in the Marvin family plot. The couple later had two more sons, John Cloyce Suber in 1881, and Earl L. Suber in 1884.

Albert repaired his fire damaged equipment in Mr. Marvin's shop and his Aunt Lucinda's employer, Mr. E.P. Jones, the Findlay banker, loaned him the money to rebuild his shop. By 1888 the A.A. Suber Machinery and Moulding had eight employees.

Clara later left Albert and married Edgar Harpley. Albert married Mary E. Kabel on December 28, 1893. Albert and Mary had two daughters, Geraldine Mathis and Lorene W. McDonald.

In 1895 Albert began the manufacturing of a self sharpening plow point which he was made to stop manufacturing on an infringement of patent. Albert then invented an improvement on the plow point, and received his own patent and continued his manufacturing of it. Around this time he also began the manufacturing of an automated steam ironer, or mangler, which was used in Chinese laundries from coast to coast. This resulted in the sale of hundreds of these machines across the country. They were primarily used New York, Chicago, and large cities. Several were exported to overseas destinations, the farthest going to Egypt.

Albert then started the manufacturing of a feed grinding mill. This grinding mill was considered one of the best in the world. The grinding mill can be found in the Henry Ford Museum at Greenfield Village. On top of this he also did a considerable amount of general repair in his shop.

Albert was the area dealer for the Overland Automobile (circa 1910) and owner of Subers Coal Company, which was eventually purchased by the Stafford and Lee Elevator.

By April 1897, Albert had offers to move his business to several towns including Napoleon and Van Wert. His business had expanded to the point he had to increase production and the size of his buildings. It is apparently at this time that the Village of Deshler donated land for him to build on if he would keep his business in Deshler.

In 1904 Albert built a new building out of brick to accommodate his need to expand. The new building was 40 x 200 feet.

In 1905 Albert now had 16 full time employees. In 1909 the old garage was raised and the new garage of the north end was erected in brick. This most likely where he sold his Overland Automobiles.

In July 1921 Albert sold his Coal Company to the Stafford and Lee Elevator.

By June 1921 there were rumors that Lima Locomotive had purchased Albert's business, but then it developed that it was a group of business men from Lima, and not Lima Locomotive as originally thought. Whatever was in the works must have fallen through, because Albert was still sole owner at the time of his death in October of 1924.

Albert was a member of The Knights of Pythias and served a number of years as Bartlow Township treasurer.

After his death the business passed to his oldest son John Cloyce Suber, but as most people called him: John C. Suber.

John was born April 20, 1881 at Deshler, Ohio and attended school at Deshler Public School. One morning he arrived at school after working two hours before in his father's shop as he did every day. His teacher, noticing that his hands were dirty, attempted to wash them in a bucket of water. John explained to the teacher that is was a result of "good honest work", kicked over the bucket of water, and left school forever.

John became a master machinist and a skilled pattern maker, producing almost all the wood patterns used in his father's foundry.

John owned and ran the Deshler Foundry and Machine Works, formerly know as the A.A. Suber Moulding and Machine Shop.

John continued the manufacturing of the popular laundry machine, but the plow point was almost gone.

A new customer was the Keenan Furnace Company of Napoleon, for which John was making the biggest share of their castings in the foundry. By 1927, Mr. Keenan was in financial difficulties and not interested in continuing in this endeavor any longer. Quite a sum of money was owed to the Deshler Foundry and Machine Works by now, for work and castings. John offered to pay off their debts in exchange for the rights to the furnace business. They accepted.

By May 12, 1927, facilities in the foundry were completed. Steel beams running the length of the pouring floor and a new ladle easily made runs from the cupola to the molds on the floor. On August 9, 1928, after an absence of almost 10 years, John once again began shipping out laundry machines for export. The First World War (1914-1918) caused the United States to enter into the conflict on April 6, 1917. They immediately prohibited the export of machinery to foreign ports. They stopped the shipping of the laundry machines outside the United States. The first export shipment was five machines to Newfoundland.

In 1928 John strengthened and relined his twenty-five year old cupola in the anticipated increase of castings required by the new furnace business.

On December 12, 1928 John took over the Keenan Furnace Company which was dissolved and all assets turned over to him. Actual production was started on the furnace on January 5, 1929. It was readily accepted the first year out and sold through dealers and agents under the name of the X-L All Furnace. Two of the local dealers were Mr. Don I. Collier of Deshler and Mr. B.F. Houser of McClure. One of their biggest customers was the Wade Furnace Company of Cincinnati.

John's oldest son Leo J. Suber joined his father upon graduating from Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio with a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1930.

The years between 1930 and 1942 were busy years with growing heating and air-conditioning. Occasional laundry machines were still being sold and the X-L All Furnace was in high demand, plus they were doing a lot of job shop machinery work, and the foundry was running every day.

On a typical day, the men in the core room would start work in making and baking the cores at 4:00 a.m. The moulders would start at 6:00 a.m. and fill the floor with moulds. Around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, John would blow a steam whistle in the foundry and the men in the machine shop would show up and help pour the new moulds on the floor. Immediately after the men pouring the molten iron, a man with a hot rod would follow and ignite the gases given off from the mould, resulting in a whooshing explosion of gases. All in all, it was an exciting display. After the pour was over for the day, John had a cask of cold beer waiting for his men.

1942 brought on the advent of World War II. Subsequently, John and Leo were unable to obtain enough steel for the fabrication of the X-L All Furnace and production was halted. It never resumed since they decided to use the Winkler and Bard furnaces instead of making their own.

The X-L All was used in many homes for years after and were repaired and serviced by Floren "Pistol" Leveck well in to the 50's and 60's. This is a flattering testimony to the quality of Wilbur Booker's welding skills.

During this time the foundry also set idle.

Business picked up in the early war years when Leo obtained contracts from Lima Locomotive for the machining of Tank parts and from Cooper Tire for the machining of helicopter parts.

After the war, they picked up Potdevin Manufacturing in New Jersey as a customer, to supply them with five different sized machined castings. Through an agreement with John and Smith's Foundry in North Baltimore, the Smiths would send John all their machining work and John would send them all his foundry work. This verbal agreement was honored for years on a handshake.

They also did all the repair work for Gar Wood in Findlay, while supplying machined castings and parts to Green Manufacturing and Henry Filters in Bowling Green, along with numerous job shop machining work.

The machinists during this time were: D.D. "Chub" Vanhor, Kenny Kitchen, Bill Burns, Francis Pittman, Cyril Coldren, and Forest Dishong on maintenance.

In 1946, a trio of Toledo foundrymen entered into a lease for the foundry, and pouring iron resumed once again under the name of Cast Metals. This lease was signed by Mr. Doyle Carbon as president and Mrs. Mildred Carbon as secretary witnessed by Leo J. Suber and A.S. Fergueson.

Cast Metals continued pouring iron until their new building was completed. At this time they moved out and the foundry once again set idle -- this time for good.

Around 1948, John allowed a young engineer a place to work and develop a new coiled steel feed machine. The first twelve or fifteen machines were built in the north end, the old garage. Mr. Al Groll obtained plant facilities in Napoleon for his new company: The Automatic Feed Co. Deshler Foundry and Machine Works continued the machining of parts and castings for many years for Mr. Groll after he moved out.

From 1947 through 1958, John and Leo manufactured a variety of machines including the Visco Mat, an industrial air compressor, the Bigelow Brake Bonder, and an etching machine for new print sold by Potdevin Corp.

Along with their numerous job shop work, they did most all of the repair work from the new company in town The Columbus Bolt Company, who had plants in Deshler and Stryker.

John Cloyce Suber died on September 29, 1958.

John had married Gertrude Matrudie Burk in July 1904. They had the following children:

Leo John                             married D. Eileen Harris
Leolo Clara                        married Orville Hawes
Leoto Gertrude                   married Paul Sloan
Leon Levon                        married Shirley Remmert

Leo continued the job shop business from 1958 to 1962. The Claude Sintz Corp. from Detroit required more room for their threaded rod and automotive linkage production and so, in 1962, Deshler Foundry and Machine Works was leased in its entirety to them for a period of ten years to be run hand-in-hand with their Deshler plant.

Leo tried retirement for a year, became bored with it, and held jobs in Gar Wood as an engineer, Ohio Department of Highways, as an inspector, and the Henry County Auditors office working under Mr. William Ahrns.

While driving home from work on January 5, 1973 with his wife of 42 years, Eileen, Leo was killed when a car driven by William Rowe of Findlay ran a stop sign on state routes 281 and 65.

Upon Leo's death, Deshler Foundry and Machine Works passed ownership to his three sons. Leo John Suber Jr., who was in Beavercreek, Ohio, William Delvin Suber who was with General Motors in Defiance, Ohio, and Robert James Suber who was in Florida. Robert was adept and experience in the art of metal spinning and wanted to start his own business in the spinning trade under the name of Deshler Metal Working. Through his business connections in Florida, he started producing hotel ashtrays, flower pots, and lamp fixtures, along with doing general machining. He was able to expand his business through industrial needs to the textile mills in the South.

On August 17, 1996, fire once again consumed Albert's buildings, completely demolishing all but the north end garage. Fortunately, most of Bob's equipment for metal spinning was in the north end and the business continued as usual.

Through the years, Bob has groomed and tutored his son James to the point where Jimmy now runs and manages Deshler Metal Working.

The name has changed several times and the products have also changed through the years, but the beat goes on.

 

By:
William Delvin Suber
Deshler, Ohio
2003

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