By Patricia Patterson Allen
I never knew that there was a glass factory in my family until I became
interested in genealogy. My research led me to Steubenville and Tiffin, as
well as Columbus, Ohio. In documenting my descent to become a member of the
"First Families of Jefferson County (Steubenville) Ohio", I learned that my
great-great Uncle, Joseph Beatty and Edward Stillman started a glass factory
in Steubenville in 1845. Their Beatty Glass Works produced fine tableware,
many in opalescent colors, and tumblers (glasses).
Joseph Beatty's younger brother, my great grandfather, Alexander J. Beatty,
bought the plant in 1852 and stepped up production until 160 glass workers
were employed producing 36,000 tumblers a day, according to Doyle's "History
of Steubenville and Jefferson County," published in 1910.
During and after the Civil War, the Beatty Glass Works led all others in the
United States in glass tumbler production. It was said that Beatty "tumblered"
the tables of the world. They made it possible for Americans of modest means
to buy glassware which had formerly been hand-crafted and quite expensive.
One of the Beatty glass workers was John Ernest Miller who had started his
career in Pittsburgh at 10 years of age. After serving in the Civil War, he
returned to Steubenville to marry Elizabeth Blair and again worked at Beatty
glass until 1874. The couple moved to Pittsburgh where Miller joined the
George Duncan & Sons Glass Works and designed glass patterns of worldwide
renown. After a fire destroyed their factory, Miller joined James Duncan,
Sr. in building a plant in Washington, Pennsylvania. The Duncan & Miller
Glass Company survived for 55 years.
At Alexander Beatty's tragic death as the result of a train accident in
1875, his sons Robert J., 23, George, 21 and daughter, Mary Gill Beatty, 19,
my grandmother, inherited the ownership of the thriving business. It was
decided that Robert should go out on business trips and George and Mary
would "mind the store." George worked in the factory while Mary took care of
the mail, copied the orders into the order book, made out invoices and wrote
business letters. She also did the payroll. The letters and invoices were
then copied in a letterpress. Mary would also go into the sample room and
wash, rub, tag and mark samples.
Mary later wrote that: "I remember very clearly the puzzled and incredulous
look on the faces of elderly business men from large cities when they were
assured that this boyish, beardless, young man of 21 was the sole proprietor
of the establishment in the absence of his elder brother, age 23. 1 also
remember very clearly the feeling of pride and deep affection which warmed
my heart while I watched George talking with these older men and winning
their respectful attention."
During this period, the Beatty's resided in the old Beatty
homestead--Sycamore Hill--overlooking the river. Robert and Mary later
married but George remained a bachelor.
Competition soon came from other areas of Ohio which were able to offer
incentives to manufacturing companies to move to their area. In 1887, the
city fathers of Tiffin, Ohio, offered $35,000 in cash, land valued at
$15,000, and five years of free natural gas if the Beatty Flint Glass Works
would move their factory there. Tiffin was also on the Pennsylvania and
Baltimore & Ohio trunk lines which facilitated shipment of manufactured
On July 12, 1888, the Tiffin Daily Tribune announced the removal to Tiffin
of A.J. Beatty B Sons immense glass factory from Steubenville. "The Messrs.
Robert J. and George Beatty will conduct the business. Many of their skilled
glass workers will move with them." (As was the practice in those days.)
On the same date, the Seneca Advertiser of Tiffin announced that a contract
between A. J. Beatty & Sons and the City of Tiffin was signed and sealed,
securing the "famous Flint Glass Works" of Steubenville. The new factory
required a streetcar line as well as houses for employees. "One hundred
dwelling houses should be erected immediately for the skilled glass workers
coming from Steubenville."
On August 10, 1888, the Tiffin Daily Tribune appealed for 200 houses to be
erected at once by the "monied men" of Tiffin before the factory opened.
On January 3, 1889, the following dispatch was sent to J. A. Norton,
President, Tiffin City Council:
" What about houses for use of our men? Unless something is done
immediately, we can and will not move until next Fall. Wire me fully so we
may arrange accordingly." (signed) R. J. Beatty
Local newspapers blamed the syndicate controlling the Highland Addition
which had promised the houses would be built. Tiffin needed 200 new houses
by May 1,1889. "The wealthy men of Tiffin should take hold at once and see
that they are erected" wrote the Tribune.
On April 12, 1889, it was announced that A. J. Beatty 8 Sons, "the finest
and most complete glass works in the world" was ready March 1, 1889, but the
lack of housing for the glass workers postponed their move from
"BEWARE OF TIFFIN"
The following is from the Tiffin Daily Tribune dated July 30, 1889:
"Said a recent newcomer from Steubenville, one of the
Beatty Glass Workers: 'It has been mighty hard to prevail on many of our
people to consent to come to Tiffin. Steubenville papers, ever since the
Beattys decided to come here, have been running down Tiffin to the best
(or worst) of their ability. They have reported that Tiffin was surrounded
by swamps and that the Beatty factory was located in low, swampy ground.
They have asserted that ague and other malarial diseases were prevalent
and that more ague and kindred medicines were sold here than in any city
in the State. This had its effect on our people and none of them would
consent to come until they had sent someone to spy out the land. Those who
came in advance were astonished to find that, not only was Tiffin
possessed of the best natural drainage of any town in Ohio, but that it
also had a complete system of sewerage. They also found that so far from
being obliged to wear rubber boots to reach the Beatty factory, they could
go there dry shed, on foot, or by street car and that the Works were on
high ground. They also discovered that there were no swamps anywhere in
this section. Oh, yes, our people will come now, as they have discovered
that the Steubenville papers have been lying and that Tiffin is a much
healthier place than Steubenville and the finest city in Ohio.
On the same day, it was announced that "an entire carload of Steubenville
people arrived yesterday afternoon on the Pennsylvania railroad and were
soon distributed about the city at boarding houses and houses they had
rented. There were seventeen families, aggregating seventy persons. This is
the largest accession to the population that Tiffin has ever had in one day
and marks an epoch in its history. They are fine looking, well-dressed
people and we welcome them to Tiffin, knowing they will greatly like the
city and make it their future home with pleasure."
When the Beatty Glass Factory opened in August 1889, a full force of glass
makers were employed making pressed and blown glass, with 500 expected to be
working within one year. Much of the glass was colored or finely tinted
opalescent with artistic designs engraved on special pieces. The output of
the factory included tumblers, beer and wine glasses and fancy bottles.
In August 1889, the Pittsburgh Glassware Reporter referred to the new flint
glass factory of A. J. Beatty & Sons as being "undoubtedly the most perfect
and complete of its kind in the United States, as well as the largest of its
ANOTHER TIFFIN GLASS WORKS
Another glass factory started in Tiffin on July 20, 1888 near the Beatty
Glass Works and was operated by the Tiffin Glass Company. It employed 100
and was devoted to the manufacture of pressed glass, consisting of
tableware, lamps, salvers, globes, jellies, etc. The Pottery and Glass
Reporter of that time had an advertisement for donkey, dog and goat carts to
be used for mustard, spices, matches, toothpicks, ink stands, perfumery,
ornaments or toys.
Beatty produced the first glass in 1889 and, until the factory closed
permanently in 1984, the company continued in business producing high
quality, elaborately etched stemware, art objects and giftware under the
A. J. Beatty a Sons
United States Glass Company, Factory R
Tiffin Art Glass
Corporation Continental Can Corporation
Interpace Corporation (parent company of Franciscan)
Today, collectors usually refer to the production from the Tiffin factory
as Tiffin Glass (not to be confused with the other Tiffin Glass Company
which made collectible figurines). See above ANOTHER TIFFIN GLASS WORKS.
UNITED STATES GLASS
The United States Glass Company of Pittsburgh absorbed eighteen glass
factories in 1892. Beatty's new Tiffin factory became part of the much
larger organization. A. J. Beatty a Sons became known as Factory "R."
Commercial production was marked with the letters USG within a gold shield.
The early Beatty glass was not marked. After 1927, glass was marked with a
gold paper label with Tiffin within.
After the gas field petered out and U.S. Glass Company had taken over the
Tiffin plant, the Beatty Brothers "removed" to Columbus, Ohio, in 1900 where
they established the Federal Glass Company. Federal produced plainer
tableware and, in 1901, advertised only tumblers. In 1906, they made "Early
American pressed glass" and were listed as manufacturers of bottles and
jars. It appears they made clear flint glass--no colored glass at this time.
Most of the patterns produced during this period were made from molds
acquired from other manufacturers, primarily U.S. Glass. Their trademark was
"F" in a shield.
In addition to pressed glass tableware, Federal Glass produced packaging
items for grocery stores, such as salt, pepper, spice shakers, goblets,
measuring jugs and jars shaped like tumblers. Federal maintained their own
moldmaking department and continued to make handblown and decorated
tumblers. In 1958, the company merged with the Federal Paper Board and
closed in 1979.
Both Beatty and Tiffin glass is sought by collectors and is displayed in
two museums in Tiffin. The Tiffin Glass Museum opened in 1998 at 27 S.
Washington shows visitors why history "sparkles" in Tiffin. The museum was
the culmination of efforts by the Tiffin Glass Collectors Club to showcase
Beatty and Tiffin glass. Next door to the museum is the Tiffin Glass Shoppe
which sells Beatty, Tiffin and other glassware and china.
The Seneca County Museum housed in the home of Tiffin's first millionaire
opened in 1938. The Tiffin Glass Room represents the history of glass making
in Tiffin, starting with Beatty glass in 1889.
In 1983, after the close of production at the factory, a studio
shop--CRYSTAL TRADITIONS-was opened to keep the art of glass making alive.
They were able to purchase equipment, including 6,000 moulds, when the
factory closed. Tours of their manufacturing facility are offered which
include the ancient art of glass blowing and the intricate art of hand
cutting glass and crystal pieces.
BOWLING GREEN STATE UNIVERSITY
When the Tiffin Glass Company finally closed its doors in 1984, the
Center for Archival Collections at Bowling Green State University assumed
the job of preserving the history of Beatty/Tiffin glass. The Seneca
Industrial Economic Development Corporation which had acquired the
facilities and vacated property of Tiffin Glass donated the collection to
Pattern rubbings, mold designs, sketches, photographs and machinery
blueprints, as well as financial and production records, provided a
comprehensive record of the American pressed and blown glassware industry of
the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.
Researchers interested in the history and development of the glass industry,
as well as students of design, architecture and art, utilize this
Robert Beatty died in Columbus in 1914 and George Beatty died 2 years
later in Columbus. They are buried in Union Cemetery in Steubenville. Mary
moved to Oriando, Florida, with her second husband, my grandfather, James
Clifford Patterson, a wool merchant, in 1900. She became president of the
Equal Suffrage League and was the first woman to vote in Orange County,
Florida, in the presidential election of 1920. She died in 1924 and is
buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Orlando, Florida.
Editor Our thanks to Pat for sharing her
story with us.