JOHN HOVER, UHRICHSVILLE.
Few citizens of Tuscarawas County [Ohio] will fail to
recognize in the caption of this article the name of one of her youngest,
yet most energetic business men, whose history, though extending over a
period of hut few years, has nevertheless been quite eventful.
The biographer, therefore, begs the privilege of
speaking somewhat in detail of those circumstances and transactions in
which the more prominent traits in his character have been especially
He is the eldest child of Henry Hover and Sarah Ann
Roff, and was born in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, May 5, 1845. His father
was born in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, February 16, 1821; and his mother
in same County, December 29, 1824. They were married January 18, 1844, and
have had five sons and four daughters: John, James (died in infancy),
Henry, Jr , Sarah Ann, Alice, Mary, Albert, Augustus, and Naomi.
The family came to Ohio in the latter part of 1852,
and, after a short residence in Mahoning County, removed to New
Philadelphia in May, 1854. Mr. Hover has been a wagon-maker by trade for
the past twenty-five years.
In the boyhood of Mr. John Hover were exhibited
elements of character that are particularly worthy of notice. He
possessed a more than ordinarily active nervous temperament, and his
thirst for knowledge, as well as for something to do, was literally
insatiable. When very young he would frequently ask his parents to get him
a job of work, so that he could be earning something. As early as nine
years of age he applied at the Tuscarawas Advocate office for a position
to “fly” the papers. As he was very small, it was feared he could not
“fill the bill,” but a trial was granted him. His small stature was
supplemented by a box upon which he was elevated, and the “infant”
apprentice soon proved himself fully equal to the emergency, and in this
and other work, including the “carrying” of the papers, found employment
there for several years.
His desire for learning was such that, after working
busily all day, he would often pursue his studies after night. His school
privileges were very limited, and after the age of twelve ceased entirely.
This may be partially explained by the fact that just previous to their
coming to New Philadelphia his parents met with such financial reverses as
reduced them to poverty, and even distress, and John, being the oldest
boy, naturally had to shoulder the heaviest burden and endure the chief
privations. While upon one of his trips in carrying papers one bitter cold
day, he froze his feet, from the annoyance of which misfortune he has
never fully recovered.
When about twelve years old, he went to work in the
brick-yard of his uncle John Robb, and for several summers was employed in
“off bearing” the brick from the mill where they were moulded to their “
drying place,” which work, considering the fact that he possessed an
unusually delicate constitution (so delicate that, when younger, his
parents despaired of ever being able to raise him), was severely trying
upon his fragile frame. Every one knows that such heavy labor demands the
strength of robust manhood. Young Hover performed this unequal task for
the small pittance of twenty-seven cents per day. Upon other occasions he
might have been found in the harvest-field binding his row of grain after
the cradler. Probably no young man in the County has performed a greater
variety, nor, for his strength, more of hard labor that he.
Upon the breaking out of the war in 1861, a large
club was formed for the daily Ohio State Journal, and a responsible
manager being needed for the same, the enterprise was offered to young
Hover, then in his fifteenth year. He accepted, and soon became the chief
news-boy of the town. He set up a regular news stand, and as his business
increased he added to his stock of papers sheet music, stationery, toilet
articles, and notions of various kinds, and ere long his store room, which
was a model of neatness and order, became a favorite resort for the elite
of the village. At an early stage in his newspaper trade, as an
illustration of his enterprise, shrewdness, and business tact, it may be
mentioned that at times of special rush for the news, when the demand for
papers was greater than his supply, he would slip out in town and buy up
some of the papers from parties to whom he had sold them but a few hours
before ; and in this way he met the extra demand.
He once had two subscribers to the weekly New York
Staats Zeitung who lived a mile beyond Dover, to whom he carried the
papers a distance of four miles each way, and his profits upon them were
two and a half cents! When asked why he took that long walk for so
insignificant a pittance, he replied, with an air indicative of remarkable
business shrewdness, “ It’s just so much profit; and more than that, it’s
an advertisement for me; it shows I’m doing something!”
As might be expected, his business rapidly increased;
and here it may appropriately be stated, as complimentary to his filial
regard, that in 1862-63, in connection with his brother Henry, he assisted
to erect the house in which his parents now reside.
In 1864 Mr. Hover sold out his store goods, and
enlisted in the 98th O. V. I Was employed as clerk in the general muster
office at Columbus for some three months, and could have remained longer,
but, preferring to “go to the front,” served under General Sherman in his
famous “march to the sea.” He was mustered out at Louisville, Kentucky, in
In the fall of this year he entered the County
Recorder’s office, as Deputy, where he remained one year. In the fall of
1866 he engaged in the grocery trade in Uhrichsville, which he carried on
for nearly seven years, and in the fall of 1873 he bought out the Dennison
Store Company, and is now conducting a general merchandising trade,
together with a tailoring and gents’ furnishing establishment. For size,
convenience of arrangement, finish, and beauty, his store is second to
none in Tuscarawas County The Post-Office Block, which he has erected, is
a credit to the place, and Mr. Hover is the Postmaster.
Mr. Hover’s business tact is for his age seldom
equaled, and his energy far outruns his physical strength, while his
perseverance knows no such thing as letting up, and already he is spoken
of as the “Irrepressible Hover.” Said a gentleman to the writer, “You may
temporarily cripple him, but you can never financially kill him.”
His brother Albert, assistant Postmaster in the
Dennison Post-Office, is a “chip of the same block.” He possesses a
remarkable versatility of genius. Though only sixteen years of age, he
conducts, to the full satisfaction of the public, the whole business of
the office, and also runs a book, stationery, and news department. His
future is full of promise.
May 2, 1867, Mr. John Hover married Miss Mary Hay,
daughter of Henry Hay, an old merchant of New Philadelphia.
Before closing, the biographer would mention one
thing more; and that is, that Mr. Hover often alludes with special pride
and a deep sense of gratitude to the faithful moral and religious training
that he received from his parents in his tender years, and it is not a
little remarkable that he has never made use of tobacco in any form, nor
of intoxicating drinks. This noble example is worthy of special attention
on the part of all young people. It may also be set down as a rule that
the filial son will make the faithful husband.
Combination Atlas Map of
Tuscarawas County, Ohio, Strasburg, Ohio: Gordon Print., 1873, pages