TWO CLUBS FOR BUSINESS MEN HERE IN OBERLIN
BOARD OF COMMERCE PRECEDED OBERLIN BUSINESS MEN’S CLUB
CIRCLE TRIPS WERE FEATURE OF PRESIDENCY OF J. L. EDWARDS
Oberlin has had for more than forty years organizations meant to promote business and to render civic service in the community. The two leading bodies of this character have been the Oberlin Board of Commerce and the Oberlin Business Men’s Club.
The Oberlin Board of Commerce was organized February 8, 1895, at a meeting held in the Royal Arcanum rooms. The secretary of the State Board of Commerce was present as a guest. By unanimous vote the men present determined to form the Oberlin Board of Commerce. The officers elected at this meeting were: president, O. F. Carter; first vice-president, M. G. Dick; second vice-president, A. Fauver; treasurer, H. J. Clark; directors, M. M. Squire, A. G. Comings, A. D. Booth, and L. T. Whitney. F. L. Fuller, who had been secretary pro tem, was at a later meeting elected as secretary.
A copy of the membership list for 1895 kept in a record book in the possession of J. L. Edwards, who served very acceptably both as president and as secretary of the organization, will be of interest. The names are G. W. Shurtleff, John H. Wood, M. G. Dick, H. J. Clark, B. O. Durand, D. D. Morris, W. P. Hatch, E. L. Burge, W. H. Rollin, E. H. Holter, A. M. Loveland, M. F. Edwards, M. M. Squire, Charles Seth Brown, Samuel Squire, A. Fauver, O. F. Carter, H. J. Clark, W. H. Pearce, A. D. Booth, A. Z. Tillotson, W. M. Eckert, W. L. Persons, L. T. Whitney, N. Huckins, A. G. Comings, F. L. Fuller, J. W. Steele, L. L. Munson, Q. R. Sage, M. J. Watson, J. M. Gardner, W. B. Bedortha, J. B. Hart, E. P. Johnson, J. F. Harmon, H. J. Morris, G. W. Preston, J. F. Randolph, W. H. Cooley, A. C. VanDeren, George E. Newell, A. J. Frederick, E. J. Goodrich, A. Deming, Arthur H. Johnson, H. G. Husted, S. M. Cole, G. C. Prince, C. T. Beckwith, W. B. Gerrish, J. D. Edwards, A. S. Root, F. M. Thompson, J. R. Severance, John Fisher Peck, Theodore E. Wood, M. D. Baker, H. M. Kennedy, H. A. Tennant, E. M. Ransom.
One of the first matters considered by the new body was a proposal by Colonel John W. Steele for the construction of a north and south railroad to use both steam and electricity. The secretary says: "The subject was quite enthusiastically discussed." At this same meeting the matter of a telephone exchange was presented by W. H. Pearce. Mr. Pearce’s suggestion at a meeting in May for the Incorporation of the Oberlin Telephone Company bore fruit and the exchange was established that year.
In April a committee reported recommending the following improvements: a brick pavement on East College street from Main to Pleasant street, the improvement of the southeast corner of the college square and the street adjacent by removing the hay purchasing market, huckstering and selling hogs in these locations, by removing the water trough and by transferring hitching posts to the business side of the street. The committee also recommended that the hedge around the "Monumental Square" be removed.
At the first meeting in 1896 A. G. Comings was elected president, N. Huckins and A. Fauver vice-presidents, M. M. Squire treasurer, and W. H. Pearce was made secretary. The Board of Commerce was a growing organization until war time in 1918, when the final general meeting was held. In the course of its existence it pursued in the main the policies of the present Oberlin Business Men’s Club. Membership was not in those days restricted to men active in business and the social side of the organization was emphasized in greater degree. The organization had uniformly strong officers at its head through the years and it accomplished much for the village.
One of the pleasant memories of those now living, who were active in the Board of Commerce, is the recollection of a number of "circle trips" taken by trolley over the Green Line through this section of the state on which Oberlin business men paid visits to other towns and cities of Ohio. The success of these was brought about largely by J. L. Edwards, who was then president of the body.
Aside from the
officers mentioned others who served the Board of Commerce as president
and secretary were:
S. Root, H. J. Clark, Louis E. Burgner, G. L. Durand, J. N. Stone, J.
The final action taken by the Board of Commerce was the hearing by the executive committee of the body with the mayor and members of council with reference to gas rates in Oberlin. This was held February 19, 1919. When the body dissolved E. K. Yocom was serving as president and Mr. Edwards as secretary.
In May 1920 the
Board of Commerce was succeeded by the Oberlin Business Men’s
Club. This latter organization was formed with a constitution providing
that members should be restricted to those actively engaged in business.
It was the wish of the members to emphasize the improvement of business
conditions in the town and to minimize to some degree the social side
of activities. I. L. Porter was chosen as the first president of the
club. Mr. Porter served for two terms. Others who have given service
at the head of this organization as president with the date of their
service are given here:
Louis E. Burgner was made secretary of the club and served in that capacity for two years. He was succeeded by J. N. Stone ho has been the able and efficient secretary of the association since 1922.
The activities of the Business Men’s Club have had to do mainly with business improvement in the town but the club has rendered conspicuously good service in supporting the community chest movement. In recent years this work has been in the hands jointly of the Oberlin Business Men’s Club and the Oberlin Exchange Club. Both the Business Men’s Club and the Board of Commerce were quite active in a movement to improve and beautify Westwood Cemetery. Not only were funds expended for this purpose but members of the two organizations on numerous occasions gathered at the cemetery and worked for periods of a half day or more on the grounds.