Biography of Martin V. Garver
Northwestern Ohio Biographies


This gentleman, who is secretary and treasurer of the Bryan Manufacturing Company, at Bryan, Williams county, deserves special mention in a volume which aims to preserve for future generations a faithful record of our leading men. Few of our citizens have taken as prominent a part in the practical work of developing the commercial and industrial interests of this section, his name being associated with various important enterprises.

He was one of the organizers of the Bryan Manufacturing Company, which was founded as a stock company, in 1870, by citizens of that locality for the purpose of placing upon the market the Champion wheel barrow. now known and used in all parts of the civilized world. His brother, John A. Garver, was the original patentee of this invention, but later our subject patented valuable improvements which have done much to bring the barrow into the universal favor that it now enjoys. For the first ten years after the organization of the company he was a member of the board of directors, for the succeeeding ten years was a stockholder only, and for five years following he held the office of president; but since that time he has served as secretary and treasurer, taking upon himself also the general management of the business. The institution is of great benefit to Bryan, employing about thirty five men with an average weekly pay roll of two hundred and fifty dollars, while the lumber used is purchased mainly in that vicinity, putting into circulation nearly one thousand dollars per week for labor and material. The capital stock is thirty four thousand two hundred dollars, three fourths of which is owned by our subject and the estate of his brother, the late D. A. Garver, and they turn out, on the average sixty five thousands dollars worth of goods per year. Their tasteful and attractive catalogues, of which they issue one hundred thousand annually, show forty different kinds and sizes of barrows, ranging in price from twelve dollars to one hundred and fifty dollars per dozen, one grade being made entirely of steel. The plant includes two large warehouses for storing the product; a main factory two stories high and eighty by one hundred and fifty feet; a tray factory forty by seventy five feet; a blacksmith shop twenty five by forty feet; a building containing a room for the iron department, and an elegant office building twenty five by thirty five feet. Mr. Garver has also been actively interested in the Farmers' National Bank, at Bryan, and he and his brothers were at one time the owners of four hardware stores located at Bryan, Wauseon, and Edgerton (Ohio), and Butler (Indiana). Our subject and his brother, D. A. Garver, were the promoters of the Central Union Telephone Company's line from Toledo to Bryan, and in 1883-84 they built the Williams County telephone line connecting Bryan, Pioneer, West Unity and Montpelier, which they subsequently sold to the Central Union Company. About 1887 they were interested in the construction of the line from Bryan to Defiance, Paulding, and Hicksville; in fact, a list of their interests in various directions would include most of the business operations of the section for many years past.

The Garver family originated in north Germany, where, according to tradition, its members were engaged in agricultural pursuits. The name was formerly Gerber, but in later days among the American branches of the family it has assumed its present form. During the seventeenth century several members of the family came to this country, locating in Virginia, New York, and New Jersey. our subject being descended from the latter branch. As the frontier line was gradually extended west his ancestors removed to Pennsylvania, and his grandfather, Martin Garver, made his home near Connellsville, Pennsylvania, upon a farm, where he resided many years. In his old age he went to Bucks township, Tuscarawas county, Ohio, to reside with a daughter, and there he died at the age of eighty eight. He and his wife reared a family of ten children, seven daughters and three sons.

Martin Garver (2), the father of our subject, was born in 1804, and in early manhood engaged in farming. Later he became a merchant at Williams Center, Ohio, and he was much esteemed among the pioneers of that locality. The family has been identified with the German Baptist Church for generations, and he died in that faith on January 10, 1864, his remains being interred in Fountain Lawn cemetery at Bryan. His estimable wife, whose maiden name was Susan Shaffer, passed away January 31, 1897, and was buried by his side. Her paternal grandparents were natives of Scotland, and her ancestors in both lines were early settlers in this country, both grandfathers having served as soldiers in the Revolutionary army. Our subject was the youngest in a family of eight children, the others being Jacob, who owns a farm of two hundred and sixty acres one and one half miles south of Bryan; John A., a resident of Des Moines, Iowa, who owns six or eight farms, and is also engaged in business as a banker, hardware merchant, and sewer pipe manufacturer; George, who resides in Des Moines, and is engaged in a real estate and coal business; Mary, who died at the age of eight years; Anna, who died at the age of five; Benjamin, who died when three years old; and David A., mentioned above, who died at Bryan October 26, 1891, aged forty five years.

Our subject was born June 17, 1848, in Bucks township, Tuscarawas county, Ohio, and in 1832 was brought by his parents to Bryan. He was educated in the academy at Williams Center, where he took a complete course, and during the first thirteen years of his life he resided upon a farm, enjoying the freedom of a typical country home. At thirteen he became a clerk in a hardware store at Bryan belonging to his brother John A., and continued in that capacity until he was taken into partnership, the latter arrangement lasting thirty years without interruption. During this time he and his brothers became stockholders in the Bryan Manufacturing Company, and in the Farmers' National Bank, of which our subject was cashier for five years. On the death of his brother, D. A. Garver, in 1891, he resigned that position in order to devote his attention to the management of the manufacturing plant. Notwithstanding his business cares he has always taken much interest in local affairs, being especially active in educational work. For nine years he did effective service as a member of the Bryan school board, holding the office of president during seven years of that time. He is also prominent in religious work as a member of the First Universalist Church at Bryan, and although he has never united with any temperance society he is an earnest advocate of that cause, his efforts being directed to the practical reformation of drunkards through personal work. In a number of instances he has succeeded in saving men from the debasing power of drink through his kindly influence. In politics he is a stanch Republican, as he believes firmly in the doctrine of Protection and Reciprocity, and although he is not an aspirant for official honors he gives liberally of his time and means toward the work of the party. He has a pleasant home at Bryan, and he and his family are prominent in the best social circles of the city. In 1872 he married Miss Ella E. Lane, and the union has been blessed by two charming daughters, Mabel, now (1898) aged seventeen, and Olive, aged thirteen.

Commemorative Biographical Record of Northwestern, Ohio
Including the counties of
Defiance, Henry, Williams and Fulton
Published by: J. H. Beers and Company
Chicago, Illinois

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