Akron Iron Company

From Ohio History Central
Buchtel College.jpg
Buchtel College, Akron, from "Catalogue of Buchtel College," 1883-1884.

Lewis Miller, Cornelius Aultman, and some of their associates formed the Akron Iron Company during the 1870s. Miller was a partner in Aultman, Miller & Co., a business that produced farming implements. The men created the Akron Iron Company to provide Aultman, Miller & Co. with the iron that this firm needed to produce farm machinery.

During the 1870s, John R. Buchtel served as general manager of the Akron Iron Company. This firm owned approximately two thousand acres of land in the Hocking Valley that were rich with coal and iron ore. Buchtel assumed responsibility for developing this land, establishing an iron furnace in the area in 1877.

The Akron Iron Company established the town of Buchtel around the iron furnace to provide workers with housing. By late 1877, thirty-five buildings existed in the town, where no town had existed just one year before. These structures housed seventy families. Almost two hundred workers called Buchtel home. By 1880, 470 people resided in the town. Roughly sixty of these residents worked in the Akron Iron Company's coal mines, while another fifty-four worked primarily at the iron furnace. John Buchtel donated land for a community cemetery and two additional parcels for churches. He also contributed financial support for several fraternal organizations. He provided the community with three thousand dollars from his personal finances to build a public school building. Most interestingly, Buchtel appears to have allowed several chapters of the Knights of Labor, a union, to operate in the community. Buchtel's tolerance towards the Knights of Labor was uncommon among most business owners during the late nineteenth century.

Buchtel's actions as the Akron Iron Company's general manager spared the company labor unrest. In 1883, the Akron Iron Company merged with several other firms, creating the Columbus and Hocking Coal and Iron Company.

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