The Village Blacksmith

The village blacksmith was considered the most valuable craftsman in colonial times.  Without his skill, the other tradesmen would not have tools they needed to make their products. Following a seven year apprenticeship, the blacksmith made his forge and set his anvil he was in business.  He borrowed Vulcan’s flame from his master to start his forge. See more about this ceremony at History of the Ceremony for Christening of a New Blacksmith Shop by Rick Helwig, blacksmith.

A blacksmith creates objects from wrought iron or steel by forging the metal, using tools to hammer, bend, and cut. Blacksmiths produce objects such as gates, grilles, railings, light fixtures, furniture, sculpture, tools, agricultural implements, decorative and religious items, cooking utensils, and weapons.  Black refers to the black fire scale, a layer of oxides that forms on the surface of the metal during heating.   Smith is derived from the German “smithaz” or skilled worker.

While there are many people who work with metal such as farriers (shoe horses) , wheelwrights, and armorers, the blacksmith had a general knowledge of how to make and repair many things, from the most complex of weapons and armor to simple things like nails or lengths of chain.

Since the early census records do not show occupation, it is not known who the earliest blacksmiths in the community were.  However the 1866 Beers Atlas shows 11 blacksmith shops in the Big Walnut area.  There were two in Sunbury - one on the east side of the square names W. Grover of Glover and C. Wilcox on the west side in the north half of the Payne Insurance parking lot.

Crandall Wilcox (born July 4, 1806 in New York the son of Isaac Wilcox) married Mary Kennedy (born about 1807).  Some of their children were Elizabeth (b. 1831), Franklin (b 1833), Cornelius (b.  1834), Mary (b. 1837), James Crandall (b.1838), William H. (b. 1841), Nancy (1843), Sarah (b. 1845) and at least 4 others who died as infants and are buried in Stark Cemetery with mother Mary who died in 1858 and Crandall who died in 1860.

Crandall was a shoemaker and his son B. Franklin followed in his footsteps in the 1860 census.  Unmarried Cornelius was a blacksmith in the 1860 census living with his brother Franklin his wife Harriet and daughter Emma. In 1866 he had the blacksmith shop on the west side of Sunbury square.  In 1870 Cornelius had moved to Galena with his wife Margaret S. (McAllister).  Later he returned to Sunbury and opened Wilcox Carriage Factory on Harrison Street.  He retired to Columbus and considered himself a carriage smith. He and his wife are buried in Sunbury Memorial Park.

In 1870 Crandall's son James Crandall Wilcox was also a local blacksmith who lived with his wife Cordelia (Landon) in Sunbury and possibly had his shop in his brother's former shop near the Myers Inn.  Edwin Hempstead was another blacksmith living before the future overpass on SR 37.

William Cutler was a blacksmith in 1860 as well as John Siple.

Long John Roberts was a blacksmith in Galena

See also Dedication of the Myers Inn Forge
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