Paulding had three livery stables, two on West Perry Street close to the railroad station and one on East Jackson Street near the bridge leading east out of town. Each one kept fifteen to twenty horses in stalls along one side of a long barn-like building and harness and various kinds of carriages on the other. Most were one-horse buggies with a single seat and a top which could be raised in case of rain. Horses had to be fed and cared for every day whether you had any use for them or not so few people kept their own. If you needed to go more that tow or three miles from home you went to a livery stable and rented a horse and buggy. When I was eight or nine years old my father had to make a business trip to Antwerp, a small town on the Wabash RR about ten miles northwest of Paulding. He rented a horse and buggy for the trip and took me along.
Greeley Barnes had a surrey with fringe around the top- surrey tops did not fold down- and two black horses which he pastured in Gil's bottom. Uncle Will Straw had a special wagon which he used for hunting and fishing trips the back half of which was covered with black canvas. He took about six of us boys to the Auglaise River in it once on a fishing expedition, Raymond and I, our cousin Russell Moran, the Neeley boys were along, and our mothers fixed us a lunch which we placed under the seat. When it came time to eat it we discovered that somebody had put his bare foot right in the middle of a pumpkin pie. They all accused me as I had been sitting directly over where the pie was. We ate it anyway.
The only horse we ever owned was a big blind horse named Prince that was used to make deliveries of hay, flour, chicken feed etc. At the time my did owned and operated the feed store in Perry street. Being blind didn't seem to bother Prince much but I nearly ran him into a telephone pole once when Ike, the deliveryman, allowed me to drive him. I pulled the rein to turn a corner before we got to it.
Watering troughs for horses were to be found on all sides of the courthouse square and a number of people had them along the curb in front of their houses along with a hitching post. The hitching post in from of Gil Barnes' was of cast iron in the shape of a horse's head and was painted black like his fence. The courthouse square had a hitching rack completely round it made of two-inch iron pipe and just the right height for kids on their way to school to do a few trapeze acts. On Saturdays the whole square was filled with farmer's horses and buggies. Saturday was the day when the farmers and their wives from the surrounding countryside came into town to do their trading. On Sunday morning the square was empty except for an accumulation of fresh horse manure where the horses had stood. About once a month a crew of men would come along with wagon and shovels and clean it up. They couldn't get it all, however. Horse manure was something you had to live with.
A considerable part of the economic activity in Paulding at the beginning of the 1900's was connected to the horse and horse drawn vehicles. The three blacksmiths in town were kept busy shoeing horses and fitting iron rims to buggies and wagons, a process which I never tired of watching. The rims had to be heated red-hot in the forge to make them expand then fitted over the wheel and shrunk by cooling them with water. All of the kids had hoops of discarded buggywheel rims which we guided down the sidewalks with T-shaped sticks.
Leather workers, the men who made and repaired harnesses, were also very important in the age of the horse and the names of the various parts of the harness, checkrein, crupper, blinds, etc. were as familiar to everybody as carburetor, sparkplug and cylinder are to boys today. Many workers were entirely occupied with the feeding and care of horses. The horses in the livery stables, for example, had to be fed, watered, curried and brushed every day, manure and straw removed from the stalls and a fresh bed of straw spread. A large part of the business of the feed store was providing hay straw, oats and corn for the care of horses.
Last modified on 14 June 2009 @ 10:08