William H. Gardner has found in his native county ample scope and opportunity for successful business exploitation and is one of the representative figures in the mercantile circles of the county seat, where he is president of the Bryan Hardware Company. He is a member of a family whose name has been identified with the history of Williams County for more than three-fourths of a century and was born on the parental homestead farm, in Center Township, this county, August 10, 1860, a son of Moses and Jane (Taylor) Gardner, who were born and reared in Pennsylvania and whose marriage was there solemnized. In 1842 the parents came to Ohio and established their home on a pioneer farm in Center Township, where the father reclaimed much of his land from the native forest and where he continued as a prosperous and influential exponent of agricultural industry until his death. He was a man of high principles and marked business acumen. He purchased land in the early days at a low price, and accumulated a large landed estate, which became very valuable with the passing years. He was an active advocate and supporter of the principles of the democratic party and was one of the influential and public spirited citizens of Center Township, of which he served as treasurer for a number of years. His devoted wife proved his able coadjutor in the achieving of independence and prosperity and their names merit a place of honor on the roster of the sterling pioneers of the county. Mr. Gardner died when about seventy-one years of age and his widow passed the closing period of her life at Bryan, where she died when about seventy-three years of age. Of their eight children three are living: Curtis D. is vice president of the Farmers National Bank of Bryan and is individually mentioned on other pages of this volume; William H., of this review, is the next younger, and Ira E. is a resident of the City of Toledo, this state; Mollie married Aaron Brannon and both are now deceased.
The invigorating environment and activities of the old home farm compassed the boyhood and youth of William H. Gardner, and he continued to attend the public schools until he had completed schooling in Farmers Center. That he made good use of these advantages is shown by the fact that he became a successful teacher and taught in the district schools during the winter terms for five years. He thereafter became the owner of an excellent farm of eighty acres in Center township, and he erected good buildings on the place, besides making other high-grade improvements and adding forty acres to the area of his farm. He continued his active association with the basic industries of agriculture and stock growing for ten years, and in 1892 he removed with his family to Bryan, primarily for the purpose of giving his children the advantages of the excellent schools of this village. His is not the nature that enjoys inactivity, and he has found ample demands upon his time and attention in connection with the substantial business of the Bryan Hardware Company, of which he is president. He has been an active and loyal member of the Bryan Business Men’s Association and has given liberal support to its progressive policies and movements, which have proved specially potent in furthering the civic and industrial advancement of Bryan. Of this association he served for a time as president. His political convictions are indicated by his unfaltering support of the cause of the democratic party, he and his wife are zealous members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in their home city and he is serving as a member of its official board. Mr. Gardner is past master of the Bryan Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, besides being affiliated also with the local chapter and council, and with the commandery of Knights Templar at Defiance, the while both he and his wife are members of the Order of the Eastern Star.
Mr. Gardner married Miss Blanche Tomlinson, who likewise was born and reared in Center Township, this county, and they have three children: Ethel, who was graduated in the Bryan High School and later in the Boston Conservatory of Music, has established and is successfully conducting a school of music in the State of Washington; Walter T., who likewise was graduated in the Bryan High School, is now manager of the Bryan Motor Service Company and the Auburn Garment Company. He is high priest of the Bryan Chapter of Royal Arch Masons at the time of this writing, in the spring of 1920, and is also worthy patron of the local chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star. He married Miss Bessie Updyke, daughter of Emerson B. Updyke, a representative farmer near Bryan. Harry W., the younger son, is the active manager of the Bryan Hardware Company, of which his father is president, as already noted. He likewise continued his studies in the Bryan schools until his graduation in the high school, and both he and his brother are numbered among the progressive and popular young business men of their native county. He wedded Miss Alice Killits, whose father is presiding on the bench of the Federal District Court in the City of Toledo.
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.