Yellow Springs: 1913-1928
Installment 6: 1913 to 1928
War I colored lives of many villagers and students—
World War I colored the lives of local residents in ways both large and small, from families sending their sons and brothers across the ocean to fight, to housewives collecting peach pits to help save soldiers’ lives. And at Antioch College, uniformed young men marched through campus several times a day as they received military training along with their regular studies.
From 1917 to ’18, more than 80 local young men took part in the war effort, according to “Our Roll of Honor,” a periodic listing in the News. Sons of well-known Yellow Springs families filled the rolls, including Captain Hugh Carr, First Lieutenants Lowell Fess and Homer Corry, Sergeants George DeWine and Sumner Fess, Corporals J. Corwin Adams and J. Alexander and Privates Warren Cordell, William DeWine, Robert Benning, Paul Pitstick and Fred Funderburg. Two local men, Clarence Smedley and Edgar Van Kirk, lost their lives in the fighting.
On its front page the News carried “Letters from Our Boys ‘Over There,’ ” from which readers learned the details of the daily lives of their boys at war.
“We are now billeted in an old deserted French village close to the front, so close, in fact, that we can hear the big guns roar at almost any time of the day or night,” wrote Private Lewis Reinwald in the Sept. 13, l918, paper.
In the Nov. 8, 1918, News, Corporal Alton Dunevant’s letter, from the French front, stated, “Everything back where I am is fairly quiet, lots of airplanes flying about and the guns making lots of noise but outside of that everything is going nicely. I had the blues so darn bad last night I didn’t know what to do or say — just felt like going out and shooting things up proper.”
In the kitchen, housewives had plenty to do to help the war effort. A front-page News article from Sept. 17, 1918, titled “May Save the Life of Our Soldiers,” announced a “campaign to collect certain fruit stones, pits and shells for they are needed to make carbon to protect the boys at the front from gas.” Peach stones, prune pits, olive pits, and Brazil, English walnut and hickory nut shells were requested, all dried, to be delivered to Finley’s “where all questions will be answered.”
Also on the home front, villagers were called on to ration their sugar “in order to make sure there is enough for the Allied armies,” according to an Aug. 30 News article subtitled “Hoarding is Unpatriotic!” News stories informed women of canning techniques that used corn syrup rather than sugar, and advised that “those who have bought beyond their needs should return to the channels of trade such sugar as they will not need for canning.”
Individuals were allowed two pounds of sugar a month, or a half pound a week, according to the article.
Children were also pulled into the war effort. For instance, a 1918 News article on the United Way War Work campaign announced its goal of raising $10,650,000 in Ohio, partially through the efforts of “Victory Boys” and “Victory Girls,” children who pledged to earn at least $5 each to send overseas.
“Five dollars will bring comfort and cheer to one American soldier for five weeks,” the News reported.
Local high school students also joined the Allied cause by not studying the German language. In an April 18, 1918, News article, school officials announced their decision to stop teaching German. “In a community as patriotic as Yellow Springs the above action is very fitting,” the article said, “for it is very inconsistent for any people to give aid and comfort to as great a foe to civilization as Germany by teaching its language.”
Antioch College supported the war effort by sponsoring a local unit of the Students’ Army Training Corps (SATC), sponsored by the U.S. War Department to provide college men with military training. The students had to live in barracks — a converted college dorm — and follow military discipline as they pursued their studies, according to an article in the Antiochian by Elmer Barr, an Antioch College graduate.
The college launched the program in October 1918, wrote Barr.
A part of each SATC student’s day was spent “drilling, marching and becoming familiar with army life,” Barr said. It didn’t take long for the young men to grasp the realities of their commitment, he reported.
“A half hour later, boys who were a few hours before care free and independent were now serving on detail, kitchen police and the like, under military discipline,” he wrote.
But the SATC didn’t last long, since the war ended only a month later, on Nov. 11. Villagers celebrated the Allied victory with, among other things, an auto “runaround,” the News reported on Nov. 15, 1918.
“Bells were rung during the day and flags and decorations were everywhere,” the article said. “After dinner the people collected on the intersection of Corry and Xenia Streets where the autos were assembled for the runaround.”
Over 50 “gaily decorated” cars took part, driving and honking their horns through town, then to Clifton, Cedarville and Xenia, then back home, according to the News, calling the celebration the “biggest stunt pulled off in the county.”
Arthur Morgan started Antioch School in 1920s
No one knows if the Antioch School is the oldest alternative school in the country, but it is surely one of the oldest. In a field where schools with new ideas appear and fade quickly, the Antioch School has for more than eight decades introduced Yellow Springs children to the joy of learning.
Providing a joyful learning experience was one of the school’s goals since 1921, when it was founded by the new Antioch College President Arthur Morgan. According to the Antioch School brochure from 1924–25, “The school ought to emphasize the joy of living. Youth is naturally exuberant. School experiences . . . in discovering the tempting secrets of science and in listening to the appeal of good literature, history, music and art, should help young people to acquire an appreciation of life which will carry over into their adult years the youthful joy of living.”
“These aims were to be realized in a framework of individual instruction, the student progressing at his own normal rate of speed, and a close, friendly relationship between the student and teacher,” Antioch College student Sue Palmer wrote in 1954 in a history on the school.
More than 80 years later, the school still holds these goals dear.
When he opened the school, Morgan sought to create an educational experience very different from the more rigid models of the time. No doubt he was influenced by his wife, Lucy Griscom Morgan, who as a child was educated in an alternative school, attending “one of the early experiments,” a New Jersey school.
Before coming to Antioch, Morgan had already dabbled in education reform. In Dayton, where he engineered a system of dams, he found the public schools to be poor and opened, with the help of his friend Charles Kettering, the Moraine Park system, a group of four experimental schools.
When he came to Yellow Springs, Morgan found that Antioch College already had a preparatory school, the Antioch Academy, and a primary school, Little Antioch. The secondary school was started by Horace Mann, the first president of Antioch College, reportedly because so few college applicants were, in his eyes, sufficiently prepared for the rigors of college.
Morgan hired new teachers and revamped the schools to include, according to the school brochure, “a close, open-minded observation of the children, with a moulding of the school program to suit the children’s needs, rather than forcing them to fit a rigid and artificial curriculum.”
Renamed the Antioch School, the primary school was housed in the Mills House, a “ten-acre wooded estate a short distance from campus, in the heart of the village,” Palmer wrote. The facilities were cramped, with 12 grades meeting in six small rooms. Still, Palmer reported “the school’s activities” appear to be characterized by a feeling of freedom and autonomy, the moveable desks, round tables, book corner, and liberal exhibition of the children’s handwork would seem to indicate that the school belonged especially to the children.”
According to its publicity material in 1921, the Antioch School did not use grades or report cards. Rather, Palmer wrote, “promotion was in the form of a progression of jobs in the various activities such as the store, library, post office, newspaper or community government. Animals played an important role in the school; dramatics, nature study trips, interior decoration, monthly partities and intramural sports all contributed to the program.”
Many of the Antioch School’s first students were children of faculty, including Dorothy Liddle, Manu Chatterjee and Morgan’s own children, Francie, Griscom and Ernest, according to Palmer, who also wrote that families began moving to Yellow Springs so that their children could attend the school. While many alternative schools accepted troubled or slow children, the Antioch School did not, according to its brochure. “The school is not for backward, subnormal children only those who are qualified to contribute constructively to group life,” the brochure states.
Influential administrators and teachers in the school’s early years were Arthur Hauck and Mrs. Eudell Everdell, who Morgan brought with him from Dayton, and later Hilda Hughes and a Mr. Sassman, “from a Columbia University experimental school,” according to Palmer.
While most children flourished in the school’s open atmosphere, it wasn’t for everyone. One of the school’s first students, Mary Doris Nosker, who Palmer interviewed for her paper, said that while she “enjoyed the liberty,” she “felt that too much freedom at the wrong time can be harmful. We were put in a situation like mice in a maze with no cheese at either end.” However, Dean Birch, whose son Jack was an early student, reported that the school “developed a sense of responsibility that the other children didn’t have.”
In 1922, day pupils from Yellow Springs paid $100 per year to attend the school, while out-of-towners paid $150. The secondary school included boarding facilities, and those students paid $800, according to Palmer. In the late 1920s Morgan closed the secondary school and those students began attending the local public schools.
tale of jealousy, murder
Haines was apparently jealous that Duncan “had paid attention” to Haines’s wife, the News reported on Sept. 17, 1915, in a story on the murder. “It is claimed that Duncan out of a spirit of generosity had shown her favors which surged the husband to the point of committing the awful deed,” the News reported.
Harold Igo, who wrote a series called “Haunted Houses” for the News in 1943, reported that Mrs. Haines was impressed with Duncan’s knowledge of ferns, bragging to her husband that Duncan had discovered 40 different varieties of the plant in Glen Helen.
Duncan was reading Les Miserables when Haines entered his cottage in his stocking feet, the News said. Duncan’s body was found in his residence on the old Yellow Springs Hotel property at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 1915, by a 4-year-old neighbor who reportedly was playing outside.
News of the discovery spread around town, and soon a crowd was gathered at the crime scene. A bystander found a hatchet, with the name “D. C. Duncan” written on it, in a pond on the property. By noon, an investigation was underway.
Haines and his wife were arrested on Sept. 15, 1915, after investigators, who included the Greene County sheriff and Marshall Lawson, searched the Haines’ apartment, where they found bloody rags and blood on the floor and on a pillow case.
Mrs. Haines told investigators that her husband had murdered Duncan. She was later released. Lewis Haines later confessed to the crime, admitting that he had killed his neighbor with a hatchet.
Scott Sanders, the Antioch University archivist, said that Haines was convicted and sent to a state penitentiary. It is unclear what happened to Haines, who before the murder worked at Carr’s Nursery and did odd jobs around town. “We lose track of him,” Sanders said.
Duncan was the son of Amos Duncan, who was the chair of physiology at Antioch and served as a physician for the Union Army in the Civil War. Denman Duncan worked as a painter and paper hanger. Both the News and Igo reported that he used drugs. The News described Duncan as “a man of unusual mind and attainment,” while Igo wrote, “Everybody liked Denman Duncan even though he had the drug habit.”
After Duncan was killed, the News reported, John Bryan, who owned the old Yellow Springs Hotel property, prohibited women from living in the building, which was located near where the Bryan Community Center stands today.
Three retail shops that became local mainstays
During the 1920s, three businesses were started in downtown Yellow Springs that, in one form or another, would become mainstays in the community for years: Joe Holly’s dry cleaners and alterations, Deaton’s Hardware and Erbaugh’s Drug Store.
Today, Joe Holly’s and Deaton’s are still in business.
Holly was drafted into the military during World War I from Clark County, though it is unclear how he got here from the East, said his son Joe, who now runs the business. Joseph Holly probably learned the sewing trade in New York and then headed west for the land of opportunity. He was very good at his trade, and soon after the war ended he got a job doing alterations for a men’s department store in Springfield.
“Dad was a fine tailor, he could make a suit to measurement for anyone,” Joe Holly said.
After Joseph Holly met and married Lena Bittner of Clifton around 1920, the couple lived outside of Springfield while Holly took the traction line to work every day for several years. But it wasn’t long before he saw the possibility of having his own business in Yellow Springs.
After moving to town around 1921, Holly purchased a lot at Dayton and Corry Streets along with the single-story building on the property, where he set up a tailoring business.
The Mrs. E. Smith dry cleaning company in Springfield was the only dry cleaner within traveling distance at the time, and Holly began accepting the local dry cleaning at his shop for pick up to and delivery from Smith’s five days a week, his son said. He fitted and sewed new clothing, altered existing garments, and pressed the shirts, suits and dresses as they came back from the cleaners.
Holly had some friendly competition on the opposite side of town from Chet Loe’s men’s clothing store, at 233 Xenia Avenue, where The Emporium is now located. Loe’s also began offering dry cleaning and then alterations, though it would have been hard to match Holly’s skill, Joe Holly said.
The Holly family lived on the corner of North Winter and Cliff Streets when Joe Holly was born in 1926. His father was a hardworking businessman and a money maker, Joe Holly said. And as his business grew, he began to buy property in Yellow Springs. Holly owned lots next to the family home, the house and lot directly to the east of his business and several additional empty lots around town. He rented the building next to the business to the U.S. government as the local post office.
He also owned the building on the corner of Corry Street and Xenia Avenue where the telephone exchange was operated on the second floor. The local undertaker owned a furniture store on the ground floor of the building for a time before it became a pool hall.
“When I spent time at the shop as a young boy I remember my dad running across the street to the pool hall for a quick beer,” Joe recalled.
After Joseph Holly died in 1934, his brother-in-law kept the shop going for several years. In 1938, an overheated boiler burned the building down, and it would be another 12 years before his son installed himself more or less permanently into the building just next door to the original Holly’s.
Providing villagers with the means for keeping their homes from falling apart, Deaton’s Hardware opened in 1927 in the building that now houses A-C Service, at 116 Dayton Street. At that time, Glenn Deaton of Springfield bought the business, which was previously Anderson Hardware. According to an article by the late Julie Overton, at the time of the purchase Deaton acquired an inventory of $2,697 along with $1,500 in debt.
Then 11 or 12, Wilbur “Bill” Deaton remembers hopping the Springfield-Xenia traction line from Springfield in the early 1930s to come visit his dad’s store. A fire blazed in the potbellied stove and, Bill Deaton said, “a lot of loafers” were hanging around.
The store carried “a lot of things they don’t carry today,” Deaton said, including buggy whips, horse collars, hog scrapers, shotguns, and shaving cream and brushes. Often Bill Deaton’s dad gave him a broom to start sweeping, or a box of nuts and bolts to put together, since at that time they came packaged separately. Deaton recalled receiving 5 cents a box for his efforts.
In 1936 the business moved to its current location, at the corner of Xenia Avenue and Short Street, a building Glenn Deaton purchased from Lilian Adams of Xenia.
In addition to selling all means of hardware, Deaton’s employees also provided upkeep for appliances, including the washers and dryers at Antioch College, according to Overton. And because one employee, Kenny Coffman, also operated a funeral home and ambulance service, Deaton’s employees sometimes got pulled into driving the ambulance when Coffman needed assistance.
On a Saturday evening in 1949, Glenn Deaton came to town to open his store for a “hardware emergency,” according to his son. While Deaton was standing in front of the Little Art Theatre waiting to cross the street, a drunk driver careened down Xenia Avenue, hitting Deaton, who died.
Bill Deaton took over the business and ran it for the next 50 years. He received help over the years from many local residents, including his son, Randy Deaton, who managed the store for many years.
In March 2000, Bill Deaton sold his family’s hardware to John Downing of Downing’s Do It Best Hardware in Springfield, who kept the Deaton’s name.
Asked at his retirement what he would miss most about his business, Deaton replied that mostly he’d miss the customers. “That I’ve thoroughly enjoyed,” he said in an article in the March 16, 2000, News. “We had many bake sales in the store many years ago. People all around would bring in baked goods and pounds of homemade butter.”
The owner of a drug store in Dayton before moving to Yellow Springs, Erbaugh had completed the “one year’s worth of education needed at that time” to be a pharmacist, Overton said. He purchased an already established drug store at 239 Xenia Avenue, where Glen Garden Gifts exists today, then moved to the corner of Xenia Avenue and Glen Street, where a drug store, now Town Drug, still stands.
In 1950 Doc Erbaugh was ready to retire, and cast around for a replacement. He sold the store to Bud Johnson in 1951, when the name changed to Erbaugh and Johnson’s. In 1967, Bud’s younger brother, Carl, joined the store, and Carl and his wife, Sue, ran the store following his brother’s 1984 retirement.
The Johnson brothers prided themselves on keeping the store constant over the years, and the News reported in 1996, “people often remarked that they felt comfortable coming back after many years to find the shampoo and candy bars in the same place.” The Johnsons also resisted the computer age, using a manual typewriter to type out prescription labels. While the typewriter may have taken more time, the store saved money on new equipment and stayed in business longer than did many small independent stores that became computerized, Sue Johnson said.
More than anything, the Johnsons provided friendly service. “People would say it was his laugh that made them well,” Sue Johnson said of her husband. “We tried to make it a happy store.”
In 1996, Carl and Sue Johnson retired. Not able to find an independent purchaser, they sold the stock to Revco, and the store remained empty for more than a year. Fred Messina of Jamestown’s Town Drug then opened a new business, which since 1999 has been managed by pharmacist Tim Rogers.
radical plans for ‘new’ Antioch
He was 42 years old and on his second marriage, and he had risen from the status of a wanderlust farmhand and occasional timber cruiser and land surveyor to the honorable chief engineer of the 1917 Dayton flood control project later named a national historic monument.
But Morgan once commented to his friend and biographer Walter Kahoe that “many of the events of his life were side-tracks and detours from his main interest, education,” Kahoe wrote in his book Arthur Morgan: A Biography and Memoir.
Arthur’s son Ernest Morgan also recalled in his own autobiography, Dealing Creatively with Life, his father’s early dream to create a school where students and teachers could learn, philosophize and grow together.
While Morgan was working in Dayton he met many influential and progressive businessmen, including Charles F. Kettering, inventor of the self starter, Colonel Deeds, who would become president of National Cash Register, and Fred Rike of the Rike-Kumler Department Store, all of whom were concerned about the public education system in Dayton.
While Morgan and his wife, Lucy, were collaborating from Dayton on a pilot school in Massachusetts, Morgan met a friend in 1919 who, Ernest Morgan wrote, told Arthur, “I see by the paper you’ve been made a trustee of Antioch.” Morgan responded, “Antioch? What’s that?” “It’s a college, at Yellow Springs,” the friend informed him.
The Unitarians had contributed an important sum of money to the college when it started, and the college recognized it by allowing them to appoint a member of the board of trustees. They chose Morgan, a longtime Unitarian, but they forgot to tell him.
Antioch was in its usual state of poverty-stricken idealism when Simeon Fess resigned his presidency in 1917 to concentrate on his political career, and the Young Men’s Christian Association almost swept the college off of its secular feet with the tantalizing sum of $500,000 for the endowment. The college had 50 students, and “Antioch was a moribund institution which seemingly was keeping its doors open from force of habit,” Kahoe wrote.
When the Morgans first visited Antioch they became inspired by the amount of work the college needed, and Morgan signed up for the presidency in 1920 so he could start implementing what Kahoe called “radically unconventional” plans for the “new Antioch.”
Though Morgan’s only college experience was limited to a six-week trial run at the University of Colorado, he had ideas of what higher education should be and what it certainly was not, according to Antioch College, by Algo Henderson, who succeeded Morgan at Antioch. Morgan believed most colleges produced narrow-minded specialists with no ability to relate their fields to the larger world and guide their lives in meaningful ways.
“The real purpose of college education in America is to prepare for life — not for some part of life, but for life as a whole,” Morgan wrote in “An Adventure in Education,” a booklet published around 1926.
What was needed, Morgan said, was a very broad balance, or “symmetry,” of general and specialized education, liberal arts and hard sciences, and academic study and practical work.
Every student would take required courses in all the major fields, thereby ensuring that, as Kahoe put it, “the program could not produce a Sherlock Holmes ignorant of and indifferent to the fact that the earth moved around the sun, nor an engineer indifferent to the social and ethical implications of his technological activities.”
Morgan started by recruiting new students and faculty and raising funds through former colleagues in Dayton and also through engineering work and speaking engagements. Kettering, for instance, loaned the college $250,000 to help it reopen.
Morgan then started the Co-op Program as part of the educational requirement each year.
In order to create businesses that students could apply their theories to, Morgan initiated a sort of business incubator on campus, and also worked to attract research institutions to the area to increase the resources available to students. The idea worked and within the first five years of the effort’s inception, over 10 businesses had sprouted, including the Antioch Press, the Antioch Art Foundry, Antioch Specialties Company and the Antioch Dairy. The Antioch Bookplate Company was also founded during this time, but not as a campus project.
At the time the Morgans came to town, Yellow Springs had a population of 1,300, as well as two small struggling industries, a sawmill and a canning factory, and it lacked water and sewer systems.
The new education regimen began encouraging the kind of free thought on campus that questioned things that were happening at Antioch. One student, Horace Champney, who at the time was the editor of the college newspaper, the Antiochian, and was generally considered a critic of the establishment, harshly criticized intercollegiate football at Antioch in a disguised letter to the editor.
The letter disrupted the sports schedule and Champney suffered corporal punishment before losing his position as the editor. But Morgan thought Champney’s thoughtful, subversive activity would keep the college engaged in self reflection, and he supported him when he rallied other like-minded students to establish an unofficial college magazine, the Blaze, the first of several students would publish during this period.
Ernest Morgan contributed to the Blaze with a group known as the League of Youth, or the Dying Intellectuals. The magazine lasted seven years, printing poetry and art and engaging in debates on religion, sexual and racial equality, politics and ethics.
Champney also used the Blaze to rail on the ineffectiveness of Student Government, proposing it be replaced by Community Government with representation from all bodies, faculty, staff and student, on campus. The change was eventually implemented and the model is still used to govern campus life today.
Arthur Morgan’s relationship with the college continued long into the 20th century, and Antioch College continued to blossom under his tutelage. His influence spread to Yellow Springs and to communities elsewhere in the U.S. and around the world.
The mid-1920s saw the start of two ventures that would become major businesses in Yellow Springs: Antioch Art Foundry and Antioch Bookplate Company.
The companies were influenced by an effort by Arthur Morgan, who became president of Antioch College in 1921, to develop Antioch-based industries in Yellow Springs that would be operated by students or faculty members.
The Antioch Art Foundry — which after World War II would be incorporated as Morris Bean & Company — was started in 1926 when Morgan wanted to set up an operation to practice the “lost wax” method of casting small bronze objects. The college purchased an unused barn on Corry Street for the foundry. Morgan then persuaded an Italian sculptor named Palisati to come to Antioch to teach and work with students in the foundry.
There is conflicting information about what happened to Palisati. An article on the early history of the foundry by Clarence Leuba that was published in the News in 1972, said that the sculptor left for New York soon after arriving at Antioch. A 2002 article on Morris Bean & Company in the Springfield News-Sun reported that Palisati briefly worked with another sculptor, Amos Mazzolini, who then took over after Palisati left. Several papers by Antioch students on the company reported that Mazzolini said that Palisati was difficult to work with, in part because he was secretive.
As Morgan envisioned, the foundry’s first managers were co-op students at Antioch. However, some of those initial students, Leuba reported, “saw no future in the enterprise” and like Palisati, left.
Then came along another Antioch student, Morris Bean, a physics major from North Dakota, who took over the responsibility of co-op manager at the foundry in 1928. At the foundry, Bean put “his scientific training ability along with his talent for business to work,” partnering with Mazzolini, according to a short paper on Morris Bean history, which the company put together.
After Bean graduated from Antioch in 1930, he became the full-time manager of the Antioch Foundry. A year later, Bean married Xarifa Sallume the day after she graduated from Antioch with a mathematics degree. Xarifa joined the foundry, heading the operation’s technical research and development.
By this time, the foundry was increasing its business and moved to a larger barn near the Antioch campus, the company said in its history paper. In 1932, Morris Bean, Mazzolini and Morgan incorporated the Antioch Foundry.
While the foundry would eventually specialize in more industrialized work, its early focus was on artistic and architectural projects. Examples include decorative work at the Springfield post office, panels depicting the growth of medicine at Community Hospital, a nine-foot tall base to a flagpole at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and several pieces at the Natural History Museum in New York, including four 30-inch eagles.
Three years after it was incorporated, the foundry received a $500 research grant from Goodyear Tire & Rubber to develop aluminum tire molds. During this period, the Beans’ research moved the foundry in the direction of industrial arts. The Beans and Mazzolini eventually ended their partnership, allowing Mazzolini to concentrate on artistic work, the Beans, on their industrial craft.
At the time Arthur Morgan was trying to get the Antioch Foundry going, his son Ernest teamed with another student, Walter Kahoe, to start the Antioch Bookplate Company, which is now called The Antioch Company. Kahoe and Ernest Morgan had become friends when they worked together on co-op for a printer in New York and at the Antioch Press.
It was Kahoe’s idea to start printing bookplates, after he decided to find something to do with the narrow strips of paper that were regularly cut away from larger sheets at print shops and discarded. “The only thing he could think of was bookplates,” Morgan wrote in his autobiography, Dealing Creatively with Life, which he published in 1999 when he was 94.
Morgan joined Kahoe as salesman. With the permission of the college, they named their venture the Antioch Bookplate Company in the spring of 1926. To raise capital, they held a sale on campus, during which they made $60.
That summer Morgan hit the road with samples, hitchhiking his way through Northern Ohio and parts of Michigan and Indiana over five days. He returned to Yellow Springs with 20 sales agreements. The company had $400 in sales during this first year, according to information provided by The Antioch Company.
Meanewhile, Kahoe, who had also started a publishing business, was asked to run the plant of the Antioch Press, after its manager died. Kahoe sold his interest in the Bookplate Company to Morgan for $200.
Morgan rented space at 222 Xenia Avenue for a print shop for $10 a month, purchased a used press and got a new partner, Jesse Emerson Rice Shelton, who joined the business in ’27. Morgan and Shelton expanded the dealers they did business with. Shelton, however, got in trouble with the local marshal, ending the partnership.
The business continued to grow, and in 1929, Morgan started an advertising push, financed with help from a deal he made with his two employees to defer part of their salaries, including Morgan’s, that year, and split any profits at the end of the year. The campaign started successfully and orders were rolling in.
Then the stock market crashed, just at the beginning of the holiday season, and orders “slowed to a bare trickle,” Morgan wrote.
The Bookplate Company survived the Depression by selling packaged bookplates on consignment, establishing a “contingent” wage for employees and bartering goods for bookplate orders. Morgan purchased the building at 220 Xenia Avenue, converting it into a print shop. Sales declined in 1933 and ’34, only to rebound in the later half of the decade. By its 10th year in business, the Bookplate Company had four employees and $10,000 in sales.