Tuesday, January 3, 2012
The Civil War and the C. Emrich Stove Company of Columbus both began in 1861. The War is gone with the wind but my father, Ben Hayes, visited the stove company in 1957, when it was still going strong and “continuing to warm the soul as well as the backside.”
The “C” is for Christopher Emrich, the founder, an immigrant boy who became a molder’s apprentice at age twelve. Christopher was born in Germany in 1828, and arrived in Columbus in 1840, probably by canal boat. The company’s address was 127 West Fulton Street.
Iron kettles, ornamental urns, and other hollow ware were made by Emrich’s, but wood-and-coal-burning stoves eventually became the big product. Christopher built his own foundry after working twenty-one years for others. The company was run by succeeding generations of Emrichs. Employees stayed for fifty years and longer.
My father was given a tour of the premises by a fourth-generation Emrich. The shops and warehouses had changed little since the startup of the company. There was an old, worn sign of shop rules. They warned that shop employees should not become too boisterous. They were allowed two pints of beer each day. The first pint was to be imbibed at 9 a.m.; the other came in the afternoon. Emrich’s men did not travel far for their beverage; the brewery was next door.
They stood beside a Tall Hot Blast Air Tight Florence. It burnt coal and had a “lower abdomen of cherry red,” my father wrote. Other names of stoves were like those of automobiles: Cannon, Protection, Iron Sides, Report, Parlor Scout, Sapphire, Mystic Oak, Hocking Valley. Ben and Emrich went down some worn wooden steps to view a tiny parlor heater molded in flutes, scallops, and arches. It was named Rink No. Four and dated from 1868.
Dad was shown Ohio State Fair medals won by Emrich products. “Best Base Burner for soft coal 1883” and “Best Cooking Stoves for wood 1884.” Kitchen ranges grew bigger through the years and features added were mica windows, tea shelf, warming oven, reservoir.
The stoves were distributed to Nelsonville, Logan, and Circleville. Bet you can still find those stoves in use. So Columbus was not just known for its buggies and football. The very heart of Columbus warmed people heading out to the country.