Biography of Walter S. Tomlinson of Williams Center, Ohio

Walter S. Tomlinson, breeder of Holstein Friesians and a farmer upon an extensive scale, owns one of the best stock farms in Defiance County, which is located three-fourths of a mile southeast of Williams Center, Defiance County, Ohio. He was born at Bryan, Ohio, on June 16, 1843, a son of Giles Hawkins Tomlinson.

The Tomlinson family is traced back to 1600, when George Tomlinson was married to Mariah Hyde in January of that year, at Saint Peter’s Church, England. Their son, Henry Tomlinson, born in Derby, England, came to the American Colonies in 1652, and died at Stratford, Connecticut, in 1681. Jonas Tomlinson, the son of Henry Tomlinson, married Alice Hannak and lived on Grant Hill, Derby, Connecticut, where he died in 1693.

Isaac Tomlinson, son of Jonas Tomlinson, was born in 1687, married Patience Taylor in March, 1712, and died in 1754. Their son, Noah, who was born in 1727, was married on July 2, 1747, to Abigail Beers, and lived and died at Derby, Connecticut. In 1749 Noah Tomlinson became the father of Daniel Tomlinson, and he served as an officer in the American Revolution. In 1774 he married Susanna Hotchkiss, and died near Marbledale. Connecticut. His son, Abijah Tomlinson, was born in 1780, and he married Betsey, a daughter of David and Ruth (Hawkins) Tomlinson, in 1805, and died at Marbledale, Connecticut in 1862, aged eighty-two years. His wife died in 1875, aged ninety-two years. To them were born the following children: Ruth, George, Giles Hawkins, Daniel, Charles, Eliza, Agnes and Nancy, Giles Hawkins surviving them all.

In 1842 Giles H. Tomlinson was married to Eunice Ensign, a daughter of Oren and Nancy Ensign, and a sister of Oscar, Henry, Dwight, Frank and Elbridge Ensign, all of whom were at one time or another residents of Farmer Township. Mr. and Mrs. Tomlinson began their married life in a log house which was located just north of the Eaton property at Bryan, and in it their eldest son, Walter S., was born. Later removal was made to the old Carter building which stood on the present site of the Farmers National Bank. In 1848 Mr. Tomlinson moved his family to Williams Center, and there his wife died in 1854, and in 1856 he was married to Electa, a daughter of Lyman and Mary Anna (Baker) Hemenway. In addition to the sons, Walter S., Dwight, Oren and Frank Abijah, born of his first marriage, Mr. Tomlinson had by his second marriage the following children: Mrs. Ida Hoffman, who lives at Williams Center, Ohio; Mrs. Betsey Blanch Gardner, who lives at Bryan, Ohio; William, who lives at Lima, Ohio; Charles, who lives at Barlow, North Dakota; and Irwin, who remained with his parents on the farm. Mr. and Mrs. Tomlinson celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary on April 28, 1906.

Giles H. Tomlinson was a highly educated men, and for a time was a teacher of mathematics, and among his pupils were the Goodrich brothers who later attained to a worldwide celebrity as manufacturers of rubber goods. He was a merchant in the village of Marbledale, Connecticut, for a time, but came to Ohio, and while at Columbus, became acquainted with the Mr. Bryan for whom Bryan is named, and was induced to come to Bryan to superintend the construction of the courthouse. Owing to the failure of Mr. Bryan, Mr. Tomlinson was involved in a long and costly lawsuit which left him but little means, but he settled at Williams Center and established himself in a small way as a merchant. From that beginning his business interests multiplied and expanded until at one time he was one of the wealthiest men in Williams County.

With the outbreak of the war between the states he was far-sighted enough to see that the demand for foodstuffs would be greatly increased, and he went into the beef and pork packing business, and secured army contracts. While he lost on these contracts, he built up a business of large proportions.

For over forty years Mr. Tomlinson was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Williams Center, and when the church edifice was in process of construction he contributed every seventh dollar until the necessary amount was raised. Every legitimate interest of his community received his hearty support and he was in the best and broadest sense of the word public spirited. His death occurred at Williams Center, Ohio, on July 23, 1906, and his funeral services were held in the church his benefactions had helped to build. His widow survived him.

Family of Walter S. Tomlinson

Walter S. Tomlinson was reared at Williams Center and attended its schools and academy. After completing his studies he taught school for fifteen terms, but in 1899 began to turn his attention to agricultural matters. He had 225 acres of land and set out to operate it just as a banker would conduct his financial interests, systematically and expertly. His farm now comprises 700 acres and it is equipped with as fine buildings and machinery for the several purposes for which they are required as can be found in the state. He has operated his land so as to pay him a fair dividend each year on his investment, and feels certain that anyone who went about the matter as he has done could accomplish the same results. He values his farm and improvements at $100,000. His herd sires are Ona Clothilde DeKol Pontiac Hartog No. 189146 and Royalton Ormsby Second No. 186457, and he has about sixty-five in his herd of registered Holsteins at present. Mr. Tomlinson has been a valued contributor and editor of the Ohio Farmer, and is a writer of authority on hogs, sheep and dairy cattle.

Mr. Tomlinson was married to Emily Lane of Williams County, Ohio, and they had two children, namely: Eva, who is the wife of Prof. W. H. Bender of Des Moines, Iowa, a graduate of the Ohio State University, is now occupying the chair of agriculture in the Iowa State University, his duties taking him all over the state to the different high schools where he gives special instruction on agriculture to the pupils; and Orla L., who is deceased. Professor and Mrs. Bender have four children, namely: Walter D., who is an extensive farmer of Washington Township, Defiance County, Ohio; Marian, who is the wife of Myron Lankworthy, is a teacher in the Bryan High School; Roger T., who is a resident of Des Moines, Iowa; and Eunice, who is attending the Iowa State University. The first Mrs. Tomlinson died on December 10, 1905. In 1908 Mr. Tomlinson was married to Loretta Coy, widow of Albert Coy, who was born in Melford Township, Defiance County, Ohio, on January 24, 1853. She was educated in the Bryan High School and taught school for two terms prior to her marriage. Mr. and Mrs. Tomlinson are members of the Presbyterian Church, of which he is an elder. Well known in Masonry. Mr. Tomlinson belongs to Bryan Lodge No. 215, Free and Accepted Masons, and is also a’ Chapter Mason, and he and his wife belong to the local chapter of the Eastern Star. In politics Mr. Tomlinson is a republican.

During the war between the North and the South Mr. Tomlinson served in the Union army as a member of Company A, Thirty-eighth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, enlisting on August 26, 1861, and he remained in the service until the close of the war. He belongs to Evans Post, Grand Army of the Republic, at present, but formerly belonged to Lew Bowker Post No. 725, Grand Army of the Republic, at Farmer Center, and served it as commander. Without any question Mr. Tomlinson is the leading breeder of Holstein cattle in this part of the state and has been largely instrumental, through his own efforts and results and his writings, in awakening and maintaining an interest in registered cattle of this strain, which has brought about a most remarkable improvement in the herds and increased the prestige of this locality for dairy production.

Source: Bowersox, Charles A. ed. A standard history of Williams County, Ohio: an authentic narrative of the past, with particular attention to the modern era in the commercial, industrial, educational, civic and social development , 2 vols. Publisher Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co. 1920.

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