Business and Commerce
Business enterprise in the township began along traditionally humble pioneer lines, with barter the first form of business.
One history book tells us, "John Hulet and his multitude of boys were excellent mechanics, able to turn their hands to one process or another so their skills were in great demand."
It was the order of the day for ladies to trade goods for cotton dress material - the local ladies weaved linen or linsey-woolsey. Millie Tillotson, daughter of the family which settled at what is now Mapleside Farms, shocked the area when she appeared in a pink cotton calico dress because most of the days' apparel was of drab, dark colors. She had traded her drab woven stuff for the material and then paid the local milliner, Nancy Stevens, to make the dress and matching hat.
When Archibald Mills opened his store in 1824, it was with $1,500 worth of goods of general assortment. And saw mills began to flourish because of the influx of families. Nathan Clark operated a saw mill. One built by a man named Entiton was built on Plum Creek and was water-powered. Isaac and Fletcher Hulet had a saw mill on a dam near the area which is not Brunswick Lake. Bennett and Stow had the first steam-operated mill about two miles north of the center. The best one, according to historians, was build by Hiram Brooks in Bennett's Corners and operated for many years.
In 1838, Willis Peck built a tannery about two miles north of the center with five vats in which he dressed skins of all kinds. Solomon Deming built a large treadmill a mile west of the center, but the product was inferior flour or meal. Most farmers waited for dry weather to travel to a better mill in Millersburg. Nathan Clark opened a sort of cabinet shop in the village and made coffins and other useful items, while an unnamed businessman manufactured Windsor and other chairs for several years.
With the horse predominant, blacksmith shops sprang up all over. One was operated by Gene Miner at the site of what has been Ray's American Station, Bennett Tire and now, Midas Muffler. South of there, Earnest Wilkey owned a shop and Jack Smith was Beebetown's blacksmith. Perry Loomis operated a shop at Bennett's Corners and Dwight Smith handled business down near Substation Road.
And in 1901, the Cleveland Southwestern Interurban cam through Brunswick and was operated for 30 years, bringing many goods and services to the community. John Randall, with horse and wagon, transported goods from the interurban to the post office and "new fangled" baker's bread came in the station each morning in wicker cases and was sold at the local stores.
The first telephone office started in 1899 with the first toll line between Cleveland and Brunswick. Local lines were installed two years later. The line went from Brunswick to Valley City B&O depot so residents could find out if the goods had been delivered by freight. By 1918, telephone manager (installer, repairman, etc.) Dennis M. Johnson had over 100 customers.
For many years, the Aylard Brothers had a store in a wooden building at the center. In about 1909 they bought the bricks from the Congregationalists when their church was torn down and built the brick building which stands in the southwest corner of Routes 303 and 42. Finally, Usher and Waite bought the store and through the years there have been various owners.
In 1911, the old wooden building on the opposite corner which was the IOOF hall, was torn down and replaced by the two story brick building many remember near the Methodist Church. Perkins and Ridiker sold their general store at Bennett's Corners and moved into the first floor of the building while the IOOF lodge kept the upstairs rooms. Many Brunswick people remember Carl Zimmerman as the owner of the store before it was sold to a realty company and then, torn down with the widening of Route 303.
In about 1915, Farnum Gibbs built a business and apartment building near the substation with feed and implements on the first floor and living quarters upstairs.
In 1924, Corte Carlton bought the Arthur Mellert Garage at 1420 Pearl Road and with brother Blake, opened a Ford agency and garage. (In 1930, a Model ! two-door sedan sold for $535). In 1956, the showroom was built at 1191 Pearl Road and is now occupied by the Harley Davidson Motorcycle dealership. Later, the Ford agency, then Frank White Ford, moved to 1633 Pearl Road. In 1976, the new Ford agency, now Midwest Ford, was constructed on Route 303 near I-71. The old dealership was then occupied by a Nissan dealership. In 1987 Karg Brunswick Auto World built its spacious new facility on Route 303 east of I-71.
A black, horse-drawn hearse was the symbol of George Pitkin, the local funeral director. Services were held in church or home as there was no funeral parlor until the Carlson family began its business here in the early 1960's.
Barber shops (there were no beauty parlors) were strictly for men and Bernie Hunt had a shop at the Aylard block while George Sharvat had one at Bennett's Corners. Frank Case had an ice cream parlor in the front room of his home in the site now occupied by Walt's Pizza at Pearl Road and Manhattan Circle. The first "real" restaurant was started in the 1930s by Tom and Irene Hogue. "The Village Inn" was just south of the center.
In 1931, the Chamber of Commerce was organized. Charter members were Ralph Strong, Elmer Eyssen, Earnest Waite, Morris Perkins, John Kilgore, Corte Carlton, Dennis Johnson and Martin Lutz. Strong, a lifetime resident of Brunswick, began processing eggs for wholesale and retail purposes at Longview Farms in 1934 and his expanded business has prospered since.
Today there are literally hundreds of businesses in Brunswick. Some are located in commercial buildings along Routes 42 and 303, some nestled in homes. The Chamber of Commerce has stuck it out through good times and bad and has come into its own as strong voices in the community. In 1975 the Chamber hired its first manager and membership numbered over 50 businesses. By 1986, the membership was close to 100, and growing.