The Match.

In September of 2019, Caeser Carrino wrote this article for the Wadsworth Area Historical Society newsletter. Since we are a couple of months away from Wadsworth’s largest festival, it may be interesting to review the history of the Ohio Match Company.

Whether you are a Wadsworth native or a recent resident, you have undoubtedly heard of the Ohio

Match Shop, an Ohio Company, and might refer to is as such. From the beginning of the 20th century until past the middle of that century, to natives, it was simply: THE MATCH.

Much history surrounds the Match, such as how it morphed into a single factory for making matches after Wadsworthites made matches in their homes for years before the Match was founded in in the early 1890’s. The reason matches were a popular cottage industry was that those who made matches had no way to insure they would not ignite spontaneously, therein having to carry them by hand to buyers in their neighborhoods. At one time, it was estimated there were dozens of places in Wadsworth that made matches.

With the start of the Industrial Age [mid- to late-1800’s] quick minds began to come up with ideas on how to make matches safer. It was not until sometime after 1910 that this was ‘perfected’. Here lies some intrigue as well as a turning point in what made Wadsworth the Match Capital of the World, as it was known at that time.

The Diamond Match in Barberton was eager to improve its chemical compounds to make matches safer and called upon German chemist, Hugo Shapiro, to assist them.

He had widespread respect as a Chemist in Germany and had devised some ways to mix chemicals in certain ways that made them less likely to ignite spontaneously. Diamond Match brought him from Germany to Barberton to guide them in their chemical processes. Meantime, in Wadsworth, the Match wanted that information as well, so they enticed Hugo from Barberton to come to Wadsworth to do the same. How this was done is not generally know, but several stories abounded that seemed to suggest Wadsworth was clever in its device.

While here, he not only made the matches so they would ignite only when needed, but became aware that some of the chemicals that were being used were dangerous to the health of workers. In fact, he thought some of the deaths of match workers could be attributed to these dangerous chemicals. Hugo corrected that, and, according to those who worked at the Match, wide-spread illnesses began to decrease to a point that it was no more a problem.

Match manufacturing required two huge commodities: chemicals and wood. Chemicals came in barrels and wood in huge logs. Barrels were somewhat manageable with hand-operated ‘trucks’ with two wheels and two handles, but big logs were a bit more problematic. Logs were shipped in by rail. Picking them up was difficult, so, when the logs arrived in Wadsworth, the train would stop at the crossing on Main Street, someone would push the logs off the railroad car and a couple men would roll them down to The Match. Rolling was the order of the day. Many years later, The Match had a rail spur that went right into the Match and continued to the Injector. Logs were rolled off the cars as before, but they would be within a short distance of where they would be cut, first in long timbers, and, by the end of their journey to matchsticks, into billions of sticks measuring about one-eighth inch in diameter by two-and-a-half inches in length.

There was a pecking order within The Match: Those who made the big matches as we know them [called Big Stick] was the highest order; those who made the smaller matches that fit into little boxes [called the ‘wee-wees’] were next; and those who made the matches that were in a folded paper covering [book matches] were at the end. The Match culture was strict: One did not demean an employee who was in the Big Stick department by asking if he worked in the wee-wee department.

There was pride in the hierarchy of match-making. Wadsworth is known for Blue Tip Matches. They also made matches with red tips – Rosebud Matches. Reason: Blue Tips did not sell well in the South, so they made the Rosebud [red] to accommodate the diehard southerners who still had the Civil War on their minds. Remember, The Match started only about thirty years following the end of the Civil War.

The Match was an equal-opportunity employer long before it was a word in our everyday conversations. At one time, The Match employed about 1100 workers, of whom 600 were women. It was not to be politically correct. Rather, it was because women had the dexterity to work in the book match department where the endless strings of ignitable tips were attached to a paper ‘stick’. A machine would cut them into shorter strips, fold them into a paper cover and stitch them to that cover. Those ‘books’ would fit into a paper box of a dimension that would hold twenty-five books of

matches. Women [called stitchers] would be on a long line standing behind the stream of books and would pick up twelve books, put them in the box, then thirteen the next time to fill the box. This was done in a rather fast cadence that would not dare to falter, or the entire line would be in jeopardy.

They did this for several minutes at a time, and then the machine would stop abruptly, giving the women a slight break. After a short pause all of them would go to their respective positions, and instantly the stitchers would resume the lock-step cadence. Men would stand at the end of the line and put the boxes into a large carton for shipping. The carton would then be slid to another area. It was not infrequent that the entire carton would catch fire, sending flames into the high ceiling. It was so common, that no one would turn to look at the flame.

Men usually filled the ranks of workers in big stick and wees. All manufacturing was done on the upper floors, with the ground floor reserved for the Shipping Department, lunch area and the Receiving area. Big sticks were put into manageable cartons and dropped on a two-story ‘slidingboard’. Men would be at the end to pick up the cartons and put them on fairly large wagons that were pushed by ‘mules’, or workers whose skills were limited and seasonal part-timers. The shipping area was immense and was completely filled each day, emptied onto rail cars during the later shifts, therein emptying the floor, only to have it filled the next day.

Wages at the Match were always low. When The Match first began manufacturing, employees made five cents per hour. Fifty years later, wages were in the range of one-dollar per hour. This being said, those who worked at the Match during the Great Depression never earned much money, but they had a steady income. There were few layoffs. The only reason people did not flock to the Match was that there were no job openings. People built their lives around the Match, in that they moved into the neighborhoods close to their work so they had no transportation costs, would go home for lunch and, as their children became of age, would try to get them jobs in the Match.

Of great nostalgia to many Wadsworth residents was the Match Shop whistle that blew at 6:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. The Injector whistle blew at 7:00 a.m. 12 noon and 3:30 p.m.

Wadsworth ran by those whistles. To many – most of Wadsworth worked at The Match or The Injector – those whistles also meant that food was on the table because of them.

History of Early Education in Wadsworth.

By Caesar Carrino

One-hundred-five years ago, Ohio mandated every child from age six to sixteen would have to go to school for at least 180 days a year. This became what was known as the Compulsory Education Act. Before that date in 1918, parents could choose to send their children to school, and, as a result, many children did not attend regularly and some did not attend at all. It was not unusual for families to keep their children home for farm work, weather conditions or myriad other reasons that were quite ‘legitimate’ at the time.

Massachusetts had the first compulsory education law in 1852 that required children to be educated in a public school setting. [When it was under British rule, the British passed a similar law in 1647.]Parents who refused to abide by the law were fined, and, in some cases, had their children taken from them. The cogent word here is ‘public’, because, at the time, most education was meted out in church related schools, principally Catholic, but Lutheran and other Protestant and Jewish denominations as well. The 1852 Massachusetts law had two platforms for passing the law: Fear that the religious schools would try to proselyte children, and fear that if children were idle, they would fall prey to being forced to work as adults.

Wadsworth was ahead of the game. One of the first efforts of the first families that arrived from Connecticut was to establish a school. The first settlers arrived in 1814, and almost before they had cleared all the trees or made any semblance of a road to get from one place to another, they built a school in 1818. The first school was at the end of what is now Hartman Road and Broad Street, almost directly east of the traffic light. It was so small, that the next year they built a school at what is now the other end of Hartman Road that meets Route 261. There was no road there, and the students – as well as the teacher – had to wend their way to the school through dense forests. Although the first settlers set up their first camp in what is now Western Star, there were families farther north, principally the Beach family whose original barn serves as the foundation of the Haynes barn on Route 261.

The ‘come when you feel like it’ that prevailed in other places did not take hold in Wadsworth. The first settlers came from English-dominated Connecticut, where the old English tradition of education was well established. As a result, even though there was no compulsory education law, students were all but forced to attend school. It might be said that going to school was the ‘cool’ thing to do, so parents and students alike made school attendance a priority.

Education was a priority for many. One that stands out is Burke Hinsdale, who became President of
what is now Hiram College, was a nationally known educator. He went to school only when farm
work on what is now Reimer Road waned. He confessed in his memoirs that he yearned to go to
school and found ways to do so despite overburdening chores. A brilliant student, his knowledge far
exceeded what he could have learned from the teacher who taught at the one-room school just north
of Wadsworth and into what is now Sharon Township, so he begged his parents to let him go to the
Western Reserve Eclectic Institute in Hiram, Ohio. The WREI became Hiram College, and its
President was James Garfield, who later became the President of the United States. Garfield’s
student aid was Burke Hinsdale, whose prowess as a stellar scholar shone even at a young age, so
much so, that the trustees of Hiram named him President.

However, not all were enamored with the new law: When the law was passed in 1918, many parents
rebelled, basing their opposition to the law on taking away the right of parents to educate their
children. Many accounts of ‘forcing’ children to attend school at least until age sixteen, but permitted
until age nineteen, was contested by many groups, especially the agricultural people who depended
upon their children to work the farms. Also, in 1918, the Spanish Flu became a pandemic and
parents were afraid to send their children to school. Although we have the same problem with the
Covid19 pandemic, there were no other options for purveying knowledge to students as we have today
through virtual means.

The Spanish flu lasted at least for a couple years, and many people died. Parents railed against the
school administrators who were forced to uphold the law. Parents also found every means imaginable
to keep their children from attending school. There are accounts of people not revealing birth of
children, citing religious reasons for keeping them home, feigning ill health, etc. School
administrators – usually Principals or Superintendents – would go to individual houses to ferret out
the students. Some parents complied, but others did not. The Wadsworth Town Marshall was
charged with the responsibility to ‘convince’ the errant students to return to school. At the time,
there were only about 4000 people living in Wadsworth, with only about 800 students between the
ages of six to nineteen. One account indicated that, at the height of the pandemic, many classrooms
had only five or six students in attendance.

In addition to students refusing to attend classes, there were many teachers who refused as well.
They were told to keep their students away from them and to apply a soap made with lye to wash
their hands, forearms and faces several times throughout the day, and to rinse their mouths with salt
water frequently. In the high school, P. V. Kreider, was Principal and an English teacher. There were
only six teachers, a minimal number that was appropriate for the inconsistent attendance that
existed before 1918 but a number that bloomed after the pandemic. Only twenty-five students
elected to graduate. Approximately one-third of the class that started in first-grade in 1908 dropped
out by age sixteen.

Seniors who were prominent in Wadsworth many years ago and who graduated at the height of the
Spanish Flu pandemic in 1920 were: Clara Beck Brenneman, a pharmacist; Elva Hartman
Brintlinger Baldwin, a teacher in Wadsworth schools; and, Mike Motzko, a barber. Although senior
activities were not as profuse as they are today, what few they had were curtailed during the

One of the conundrums that plagued Ohioans was that the Legislature enacted a tax on every home
owner in Ohio for education in 1825, despite the fact that there were few who attended schools
regularly. At the time there was an outcry from the general public about the tax, insisting that it was
totally unfair since only so few took advantage of it but every homeowner had to pay. Property taxes
supported other elements of local government, but today approximately 65 percent of all property tax
dollars go to education. The controversy still remains, with groups protesting having to pay property
taxes for education when there are so many disparities in the quality of education throughout the

The practice of the school administrator going to every home in Wadsworth for ‘census’ purposes
lasted from 1918 until about 1936 in the Township School District. The Wadsworth City School
District continued the practice for only a few years beyond the enactment of the law, principally
because fewer city students would not have the need to work on farms.

Human Nature is always and everywhere the same. People resisting being told what to do; people
resenting paying for someone else’s advantage; people fearing personal contamination through
disease; people agonizing over expected pleasure only to have it extinguished by a pandemic; and
people believing the government should not legislate any law that restricts freedom. All the above
occurred over one-hundred years ago. It could have been written today. All we would have to do is
change the dates.


During the past month the WAHS has been meeting to create a new strategy on how we may bring our history alive to our local residents. Many ideas are on the table at present, including more historical markings, interactive, having reenactors to bring the past face to face and bringing in representatives from area historical societies for cultural exchanges.

All in all we have nearly eighteen ideas we are looking at. As always we want to keep the children and young adults interested in our heritage. When we decide on how to best present our ideas we will be seeking our residents for volunteer work. Stay tuned as we progress on these ideas.

We also will be adding a railroad switch for our Erie Lackawanna tracks. It is vey heavy so finding the right location to display it is under consideration. The new pergola is still waiting for completion and Roger Havens is keeping us informed on the progress. Also the donated locks are still being repaired but we should have them displayed soon in the museum.

March First Friday was a very busy night at the Johnson House Museum. Art work from local students were displayed around town. We hosted the unique talents of the Franklin students. Of course the odor of doughnuts wafted all about town bringing in numerous hungry visitors.

Tonight, March 9th, Mike Burg, author of The Wadsworth Area Homicides will be giving his talk at 7:30 at the Wadsworth Library conference room.

April’s First Friday will be the British Invasion. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for more detail.

The history of the Wadsworth Area Historical Society

Wadsworth Area Historical Society (WAHS) was incorporated as a 501c3 organization in 1991. Our first president was Thomas Brown, who lived in historical house once owned by the late Ephraim Hunsberger, who was the driving force behind the establishment of the first Mennonite College once located on the grounds of the present day Isham Memorial School property.

Ephraim’s house was located on the corner of West and College Street. We know it as the “pink house” on the south side of the street.

In 1994 the City of Wadsworth purchased the pre-Civil War house from the estate Dr. Myra Johnson at 161 High St. next to the city hall at a cost of $96,000. The house sat dormant and neglected for six years. It looked as if the house would soon become another parking lot for the new City Hall.

A grass root effort by the Wadsworth Area Historical Society was started to save as a historical site due to its past. The house was originally the residence of a local businessman who operated a carriage/wagon manufacturing enterprise across the street. Future occupants included a pastor of the local Congregational Church and four local doctors.

The historical society desired to have the house saved for the purpose of turning it into our museum. The society rallied the troops under the leadership of Trudi McDaniel, a local resident and a Wadsworth school teacher. Over 700 signatures were gathered and turned over to the city council. Another driving force was Dr. Caesar Carrino who was the former president of the Evening School of the University of Akron and a lifelong resident.

Dr. Caesar eventually became mayor of Wadsworth during this same time period. After several years of debate, the city acquiesced and in 2001 voted to allow the society to establish their museum in the facility as long as the met the terms set forth in a written agreement which involved rehabbing the house to bring it up to an acceptable standard.

The city invested $5,000 in order to stabilize the foundation. The member’s worked diligently to replace rotting exterior boards, replastering interior walls and ceilings. They also removed the old carpeting and refinished the hardwood trim and floors.

The facility has been transformed into a comprehension local museum which houses relics from Wadsworth’s past including a database of electronically preserved photographs and newspaper articles. Visitors may have free access to theses records in the second-floor research room. A free wifi service is also available.

The museum is also open each Saturday morning from 9:30-11:30 am and during special events. Special tours can be arranged by contacting Fran at 330.334.1191. The museum is visited by well over 1,000 people a year.. It certainly is a jewel in Wadsworth’s crown.

Current and former residents are encouraged to visit the museum. No matter what age group, there is something for everyone to enjoy.