Fostoria Glass Company Workers, 1896

Submitted by Mary Jo Hunsberger,, gr-granddaughter of William P. Clarke.



A little something about the family of Patrick Clarke (Irish immigrant) and Moundsville and the Fostoria Glass Works:

Patrick Clarke and his family moved to Moundsville, WV from Fostoria in December of 1891 when the then "modern plant" was built. Practically all the Fostoria employees made the journey. The Clarkes lived in a house on Western Avenue until May 1, 1892, moving to a new (?) house located at 1217 First St. In the fall of 1893 they moved to 318 Morton Avenue and stayed there until they moved to Muncie, Indiana on March 1, 1899. The reason they moved follows in the words of William P. Clarke excerpted from his book, The History of the Clarke Family:

"In the early part of 1898 a cruel, unjust and unprincipled manager made things so disagreeable for the Clarke boys, especially the author (William P. Clarke), and without any justification except their extending charitable acts to two fellow workmen whom the manager disliked, it was decided that if we were to retain our self-respect and a fair degree of contentment it was imperative the boys seek employment elsewhere...

With this all the Clarke boys had severed their relations with the Fostoria Glass Company. Four years later the president of the Fostoria Glass Company, Mr. L. B. MARTIN, came to the author in the Stevenson Building in Pittsburgh and expressed his regret that the Clarke boys had left the employ of his company and added "it would be a good thing for both the manufacturers and workers if there were no such managers as we had when you boys quit us." Here it may be well to relate that many other workmen left the plant as a rebuke to the same manager, and I shall name a few: John COOK, John DEFOSSET, James MADDEN, M.J. SHORT, Hillman CROWE, John L. PELKEY, George PATTERSON, George BRYSON, Chris HIGGINS, George HIGGINS, Frank CARNEY, Philip CARNEY, Joseph CARNEY, Patrick KEATING, James M. O'NEIL, Charles HOUSE, Charles SCHAFFER, Charles MORRIS, Charles VAUPLE, William STEWART and several others whose names I do not recall at the moment...

There was a spring not far from the coal shaft and glass factory at Moundsville. It was called Wolf Spring. It was claimed that anyone who drank from the spring would return to Moundsville regardless of the distance they went and it was freely predicted that if the Clarke's departed, as we contemplated, we would gladly return.

Well, we departed and we all returned to Moundsville many, many times, but on visits only - not seeking employment as predicted, and this notwithstanding that we all drank from Wolf Spring. We used to pass the spring going to and coming from work when we lived on Western Avenue.

Several of those who left Moundsville as a protest against the management returned but not until the management was changed. John PELKEY, Hillman CROWE, George PATTERSON, George BRYSON, C. C. VAUPLE, William STEWART and Frank CARNEY returned. John COOK returned before the management was changed but under an arrangement that he took orders from the then secretary of the company, W. S. BRADY, and not from the manager.

March 1, 1899, father, mother, sister Catherine and the wife and daughter of the author bade farewell to Moundsville and their many friends..."

William P. Clarke was born August 20, 1874 in Elm Grove, WV and died in Toledo, Ohio in 1958. He was a self-made, self-educated man. He worked his way up to leadership in the glass union from his first job in a glass factory at the age of 10. He also had worked as a newsboy, teamster, carpenter, bricklayer, cleark and railroader. At the time of his death in 1958 he was the former president of the American Flint Glass Workers Union (from 1916 to1932) and former director of employee relations for the Libbey - Owens Ford Glass Co. He retired in 1940. He had an unsuccessful run for Congress on the Alfred E. Smith ticket and became a close personal friend of many distinguished leaders in the labor field - Mr. Gompers, William Green, Phillip Murray and Mr. John L. Lewis. His obituary is over 12 inches long (single column). I just knew him as "Gramps", a gentle soul with a big heart, devoted to his community, church and family.