Who knew that some local towns and their merchants were listed in the R.G. Dun Mercantile Agency Reference Books years ago? I guess I never thought about it, but they are. Willshire, Schumm, and Chattanooga are all listed and are called Banking Towns in their publication.
Yes, this is the same R.G. Dun who eventually became Dun and Bradstreet. They have rated merchants for over 100 years and their annual published directories were made available by subscription to businessmen to learn the credit ratings of their clients. Information, categorized by city within a state, includes merchants, tradesmen, and manufacturers with their financial worth and credit rating. They also give the population of the villages.
1914 R.G. Dunn Mercantile Agency Reference Book
These books are searchable on the Library of Congress website. Below I have transcribed the information they published for Willshire, Schumm, and Chattanooga in 1914.
The letter after the merchant’s name is the Estimated Pecuniary Strength. Their key: AA/over $1,000,000; A+/over $750,000, etc. Our local towns mostly fall below those levels and their village merchants are in these areas:
M/less than $500
After the Estimated Pecuniary Strength is a number, which is the General Credit rating: High, Good, Fair, or Limited. Most of our area fell in the 3/Good, 3½/Fair, or 4/Limited ratings.
Some merchants/businesses have no letter or number listed.
WIllshire, 1914 R.G. Dun Mercantile Reference.
Willshire, Van Wert Co.-4A
Population 653-A Banking Town
Acheson, W.W.—Livery; K 3½
Allen, K. (Mrs. PW)—Restaurant; M
Althoen, Fred—Boots & Shoes; G 3
Avery B.H.—Blacksmith; L 3½
Bauer, J.A.—Jewelry & c.; M 4
Brown, A. & J.—Dry goods, Builders’ supplies & c.; G 3
Buchanan, James S.—Blacksmith; K 3
Colter & Johnson—Harness & Vehicles; J 3½
Cowan & Roller—Groceries; L 4
Craine, F.D.—Publisher; M
Dull, Wilbert A.—Flour Mill, Grain, & c; F 3
Erie Stone Co (Branch of Toledo); C 1½ [$75,000-125,000; High]
Foreman, V.A.—Confectioners & c.; M 4
Geisler & Riley—Groceries; K 3½
Hofstetter, John & Co—Restaurant, Notions & c.; L 4
Lotter Bros—Meat; K 3½
Major S.—Lunch; M [not sure what Lunch means; lunch not in key]
Mercer, G.D. & Co—Flour & Feed; K 3½
Parks, W.W.—Drugs, Wallpaper & Paint; H 3
Peters, Burton W.—Confectioner; M
Rex Hardware Co (not inc.)—Hardware & Implements; G 3
Rogers, P.S.—Cobbler; M
Spitler, Wm E.—Groceries; M 4
Stetler, Wm—Billiards, Cigars & c.; M
Straubinger, Adam—Hotel; K 3
Wagner, J.C.—Coal; L 3½
White, Jesse W.—Varieties; M 4
Willshire Hardware Co (not inc.)—Hardware, Implements & c.; G 3½
Willshire Lumber Co (not inc.) (Also People’s Lumber Co, Wren); F 3
Willshire Motor Co (not inc.)—Garage; M 3
Willshire Packing Co; 3
Willshire Telephone Co; 3
Schumm, 1914 R.G. Dun Mercantile Reference.
Schumm, Van Wert Co.-4A
Population 25-Banking Town Willshire
Behymer Bros–Elevator (Branch of Rockford); D+ 1½ [$50,000-75,000, High]
Colter, Henry—Saw Mill & c. (Branch of Bobo, Ind); F 3½
Two businesses in these towns had a higher than area-average Estimated Pecuniary Strength and Credit Rating: Erie Stone Co (Branch of Toledo), with C 1½ [$75,000-125,000; High] in Willshire, and Behymer Bros Elevator (Branch of Rockford), with D+ 1½ [$50,000-75,000, High]
And, I am proud to announce that Chattanooga, Ohio, was included in the book! Actually, Chatt was much larger than Schumm.
Chattanooga, Ohio, 1914 R.G. Dun Mercantile Reference.
Chattanooga, Mercer Co.-4A
Population 250—Banking Town Rockford
Andres, John H—Meat & Groceries; M 4
Baumgartner, J.W. & Son—Sawmill; J 3½
Chattanooga Hardware Co (not inc.)—Retail; J 3½
Germann, A.—Shoes, Restaurant & Groceries; K 3
Gibbons, Perry—Saloon; K 3½
Heffner, Fred—Saloon; H 3½
Merkle & Egger—General merchandise; H 3½
Regedanz, Chas—Blacksmith; M 4
Riesen, S.L.—Restaurant & Barber; M
Smith, John F.—Tinner; M 4
Interesting that Heffner’s saloon was valued higher than Gibbon’s.
Just some more interesting area information from a source I had never looked at.
Source: 1914 R.G. Dun Mercantile Agency Reference Book, Vol. 183, part 2; Dun & Bradstreet Reference Book Collection, Library of Congress, www.loc.gov, viewed 19 May 2022. Willshire, Ohio: p.130, image 254/776; Schumm, Ohio, p.110, image 244/776; Chattanooga, Ohio, p.19, image 198/776.