Miami County, Ohio Genealogical Researchers -- Sponsored by the Computerized Heritage Association


    JOHN G. BATTELLE To say of him whose name heads this sketch that he has risen unaided from comparative business obscurity to rank among the most successful and prominent representatives of the industrial interests of western Ohio, is a statement that seems trite to those familiar with his life, yet it is but just to say in a history that will descend to future generations that his business record has been one that many men would be proud to possess. From the commencement of his business career he has advanced steadily step by step until he is now occupying a position of prominence and trust that many might envy. Through his entire business career he has been looked upon as a model of integrity and honor, never making an engagement that be has not fulfilled, and he stands to- day as an example of what determination and force, combined with the highest degree of business integrity, can accomplish for a man of natural ability and strength of character. A list of the important enterprises with which he is connected indicates that his has been a potent influence in the successful management of many of the leading industries, which have contributed largely to the material prosperity and development of Miami county. Colonel Battelle was born in Clarksburg, Virginia, in 1845, and is a son of Gordon Battelle, long prominent in the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal church. He exerted a strong influence, not only in religious circles, but in political affairs as well and was recognized leader of thought and action in the community in which he resided. His grandfather had been one of the heroes of the Revolutionary war and as colonel of a Massachusetts regiment had loyally aided the colonies in their struggle for independence. The same patriotic spirit dominated the Rev. Gordon Battelle and during the Civil war he went to the front as chaplain of the first loyal Virginia Infantry. He was a member of the Virginia convention, held in Wheeling, which resulted in the establishment of West Virginia in 1863, but before the war ended his death occurred in Washington, so that he did not live to see the firm establishment of Union supremacy. John Gordon Battelle, whose name forms the caption of this article, spent his boyhood days in various towns in West Virginia, for his father belonged to the West Virginia conference and by his conference was assigned to various pastorates in that state. He enjoyed the refining influences of a good home and his common- school training was supplemented by the lessons of industry, integrity and honor which he learned under the direction of his parents. In 1866 he became interested in the manufacture of iron in Wheeling, West Virginia, being at that time about twenty-one years of age. Later he continued in the same business in Memphis, Tennessee, and throughout this period acquired a comprehensive and accurate knowledge of iron manufacture in all its various departments and he was thus well equipped for the management of extensive iron enterprises, and in that capacity he came to Piqua to assume control of the works now conducted under the name of the Piqua Rolling Mill Company and the Cincinnati Corrugating Company. Of the former he is president and of the latter vice-president and manager. The plants and main offices of these companies are at Piqua and for the past ten years Mr. Battelle has lived in this city, having the management of these two extensive industries, which employ more than three hundred men. Although the business is conducted under two names it is in possession of the same stockholders and a half million of dollars is invested in the enterprise, which is one of the most extensive in this line in the state. Their plant was among the first to manufacture tin plate in the United States, and William McKinley, now the honored president of the nation, operated the mechanism wherewith was manufactured the first plates. The product of the factory includes steel and iron plates for roofing, siding and ceilings, and their output is sent to all portions of the country, for the excellence of the product and the reliability of the companies are widely known. The Corrugating Company was incorporated in 1884 and the Piqua Rolling Mill Company in 1889. Its leading stockholders are J. G. Battelle, James Hicks, W. P. Orr, Louis Leonard and Joseph H. Frantz all of Piqua. While Mr. Battelle is very active in the management of these extensive enterprises, his efforts have by no means been conformed to one line. He is a man of resourceful business ability and his counsel and labors have proved important factors in the successful control of many others industrial concerns. He is president of the Piqua Wagon Company and is treasurer of the Midland Steel Company, at Muncie, Indiana, and both are carrying on extensive business, his sound judgment having done much to secure desirable results. In 1881 Mr. Battelle was married to Miss Annie Norton, and they have one son, Gordon. Their home is in Piqua and their residence has become the center of a cultured society circle. His inherent interest in military affairs, his patriotic spirit and his love of historical research is indicated by his connection with the Loyal Legion, the Sons of Veterans and the Sons of the American Revolution. He is also a member of the Sacred Covenant of Massachusetts and is now serving on the staff of Governor Nash with the rank of colonel. His well known interest in educational matters is shown by his position on the school board of Piqua. It is a widely known fact that he is one of the leading supporters of the Republican party of the county, his connection therewith beginning in 1868, when he cast his first presidential vote for General Grant. While in West Virginia he was a member of the state convention, which met in Parkersburg and nominated General Nathan Goff for governor, and was once a candidate for commissioner of Ohio county, West Virginia; but political offices have had little attraction for him, as he has always preferred to give his time and attention to his business affairs. With a just appreciation of his duties as a citizen, however, he has given close and earnest thought to political questions and is always able to support his position by intelligent explanation. He has aided in the work of the state organization, his executive ability being brought into good play in the management of campaign forces. He made an address to the ways and means committee of congress on the tariff question --a most masterful argument showing the effect that certain measures would have on the trade of the country as seen from the practical standpoint of a reliable business man. He has been a delegate to most of the state conventions since his arrival in Ohio. His life history forms an integral part of the annals of Miami county and finds an appropriate place in the record of those men of business and enterprise whose force of character, sterling integrity and good sense in the management of intricate affairs and marked success in establishing large industries and bringing to completion great schemes of trade and profit have contributed in an eminent degree to the development of the vast resources of this noble commonwealth. In the prosperity of the city of his home he has been an invaluable factor and his public spirit and his progressive ideas have been of inestimable worth to the community, while to public enterprises and everything looking toward the advancement of his fellow citizens he con-tributes with an open hand and is a prime mover in most of them. He is a man to whom the most envious can scarcely grudge success, so well has he earned it, so admirably does he use it and so entirely does he lack pride of purse. He is kind, unaffected and approachable and every comer has a claim upon his attention. Endowed by nature with a sound judgment and an acutely discriminating mind, he has not feared the laborious attention to business so necessary to achieve success, and this essential quality has ever been guided by a sense of moral right, which would tolerate only the employment of such means as would bear the closest examination.