History of Hocking Valley Bridge Works John Bright Iron Bridge No. 1, Carroll Ohio

The Hocking Valley Bridge Works was started by Augustus Borneman, a Prussian immigrant. He is listed as being 35 years old in the 1880 census for Fairfield County. In July 1876 he is mentioned in the Fairfield County Commissioners Journals as being a partner in the firm of Black and Borneman (or Black Borneman & Co.). Within two years of this entry Borneman was working on his own. Little is known of his partner, William Black, who seems to have been the son of an Irish immigrant who emigrated to America in 1790. Black died in 1887, and although he did patent at least one bridge design used after their partnership by Borneman, his name seems to have been quickly eclipsed by that of his partner.

The firm of Augustus Borneman and Sons began building bridges in about 1880, and the Hocking Valley Bridge Works (HVBW) began operating in 1881. An entry dated 27 June 1884 appears for the company in the Pairfield County Individual Partnership and Traders Records, necessitated by "An Act Requiring Individual and Partnership Traders to Record their Names" which was passed on 10 April 1884, several years after the establishemnt of the Bridge Works. It is stated in the records that "Augustus Borneman" was "carrying on a Manufacturing Business" know as the Hocking Valley Bridge Works. The only owner or partner listed is Borneman himself. The Works had no connection with the Hocking Valley Manufacturing Company which was operating in the same area of Lancaster during the same period.

Borneman died on 23 March 1889, and his widow, Mary, sold the HVBW to Benjamin Dum. Bum was horn in Amanda Township, Fairfield County on 16 March 1845. He went to school in the township and in Lancaster, and taught school for eight years before farming full-time. In 1877 he became deputy auditor for the County Commissioners of Fairfield County, becoming auditor in 1885. Four years later he took over Hocking Valley Bridge Works, which, by 1901 was said to be manufacturing bridges as well as architectural and prison iron work.

The Bridge Works was located on a piece of land known as Lot 300 (or Old Lot 103) in Lancaster on the corner of High and Canal Streets. Borneman had bought Lot 300 on 1 November 1882 from William B. Pearce and his wife for $800. Seven years later Bum paid Borneman's widow $3000 for the site, which presumably included buildings and equipment. On 2 January 1907 Bum declared to be bankruptcy in the District Court of the United States for the Southern District in Ohio. His real estate was to be sold at auction on May 27 of the same year. It was necessary for the real estate to be advertised in the local paper (the Lancaster Gazette) prior to the auction. In both the deed book in which the notice of bankruptcy is recorded, and in the newspaper, the contents of the HVBW are listed. The Gazette's list is as follows: "Twenty horse power Bessemer gas engine; "18" lathe by 72", with tapper attachment and one set lathe dogs; one power hack saw; one grindstone, complete; one double wheel emery grinder, complete; one blower; one bolt and nut cutter, taps and dies; one punch and sheers; one power drill press; shafting and pulleys; belting and two anvils; blacksmith tools; erection tools; five cranes; one angle former. Appraised at $1,952.00. Also material for iron structural work, consisting principally of "I" beams, channels, angles, plates, bars and rods, platform scales, office desk, drafting table, copying press, scrap iron and many other minor articles used in and about the manufacture of bridges and other iron structural work. All being in and constituting a part of the personal property used in the said The Hocking Valley Bridge Works."

John Jos. and Wm. H. Dum (sons?) bid $3714 for the site, and it was sold to them for that price. John Jos. and William H. Bum sold the site only four years later, however, to Moris Mogilewsky and J. Werlinsky for the sum of $1250. No list of contents is given in the 1911 sale, and as the price had dropped considerably it would appear that the Bridge Works was no longer operational, or that it was at least failing badly. The Sanborn Insurance Maps for Lancaster for the late nineteenth/early twentieth century show that the company expanded only slightly during its life. It acquired one or two additional workshops in the grounds between 1884 and 1899, and on the 1904 map the main building appears to have been extended. It must always have been a small company, however (it was never listed in the directory Iron and Steel Works of the US for example), and it states on the 1904 map that it had only seven employees. It last appears in 1910, which would suggest that John Jos. and Wm. H. Bum did continue to run the Bridge Works, although the map information could perhaps have been out-of-date. The site is marked as being a junk yard on later maps.