A HISTORY OF LUCKEY, OHIO
Boyd C. Broka
In the early days this part of Ohio was an almost impassable marsh widely known as the “Black Swamp.” The limestone ridges gave the only solid ground for the log houses of the early settlers and later those ridges furnished the raw material for one of the former important industries. Among the first families were the Krotzers, Landwehrs, O’Neills and others too numerous to mention.
The early history of Luckey dates back to 1879 when Captain James B. Luckey came here from Elmore, bought 180 acres of fine timber-land and built a sawmill, and later a stave factory. Associated with him in buying land, platting lots and building homes for workmen, were Isaac Krotzer and Lysander Ames.
The site for the town was surveyed in 1881 by George Kirk at the request of Isaac Krotzer, and the post office was established the same year, the first postmaster being George Luckey. He was followed the next year by S. P. Hathaway. Other postmasters were William Philo, Charles F. Greiner, Edward Myers, Dr. G. F. Peabody, G. F. Claus, again S. P. Hathaway, S. E. Goodell and Henry W. Myers. The present postmaster Boyd C. Broka, took office in 1955.
The first general-merchandise store to meet the needs of the early settlers was opened by Samuel P. Hathaway in 1871 when grading for the A&LE railroad was begun. This railroad was later named the Toledo & Ohio Central (T&OC), and was bought in later years by the New York Central. In 1881 he built on the site of the present Samson Plumbing Shop & Helm Insurance Agency, which building Mr. Hathaway sold to Myers Bros. He built another building on the site of the U.R.W. Local 861 offices, where he continued until his death.
The early economy was based largely on lime production. The lime plants of that era were single kiln plants built by F. Riddle, Isaac Krotzer and Joe Krotzer. These gave the impetus to others. N. B. Eddy, Doherty, Ohio Lime & Stone which were superseded by a large, modern, efficient plant constructed by the National Gypsum Co. National Gypsum closed its operation in the middle 1950’s. The property was then purchased by the France Stone Co. to fill their needs for stone in the construction industries. France Stone ceased their operations in the early 1970’s and the large quarry was allowed to fill with water.
The saw mill and stave factory remained until the timber supply was exhausted. Engelhart’s Ashery, a co-operative creamery, a picket mill, cement block plant and a number of other industries made Luckey a busy, thriving town, which reputation it still enjoys.
C. C. Layman, the town’s first lawyer located here in 1884 and moved to Woodville in 1891. Presently, John Cheetwood has offices located here above the Holcomb building.
There are many homes in and around Luckey that treasure the paintings of Sam Hauri. He came to Luckey first upon leaving the Evangelical Orphanage in Flat Rock, (Ohio), at the age of sixteen. Later he went to Toledo where he learned the watch-makers trade. He returned to Luckey and remained here, working at his trade and painting until his death in 1935.
The “Big Fire” on the afternoon of July 12, 1892, wiped out the two business blocks on the north side of Main Street, destroying Hathaway’s and Myers Bros. stores, Dr. Peabody’s drugstore, Claus’s shoe store, [and] a harness shop, Krotzer’s saloon, Rachel Waggoner’s millinery shop and Hathaway’s residence. Rebuilding began at once, and before the winter was over, the present larger brick building too the place of the former frame structures.
Luckey has won wide fame as one of the cleanest, brightest, best kept towns in Northwestern Ohio.
For many years, a unique feature that [done] did much to emphasize Luckey’s claim to distinction was the custom of whitewashing the trees and poles along the streets. A Mechanical Engineer from Toledo happened to come to Luckey while the whitewashing was in progress and had this to say in part: But the brilliant white and green of the well kept lawns, and the nicely painted homes made a nice appearance that other towns might copy.
I found this undated typewritten paper in my parents’ attic (Dale and Gene Gross) in July 2015. My father, Dale Gross, served in the USAAF in the Atlantic theater of WWII (Azores). I only did a couple spelling corrections to Mr. Broka’s writing, wanting to retain as much authenticity as possible. My father retired from France Stone in 1985, well after the Luckey plant had ceased operation.
Randy Gross (son of Dale and Gene)