Br. Barnes died in 1849, and Mr. Hobbs in 1881. When Messrs. Hobbs & Barnes commenced to lend their energies to reviving the works they had to contend with more than the ordinary discouragements which generally fall in the pathway of a new business, the defeat of Henry Clay, the high protective candidate for President of the United States, having a very depressing influence on manufacturing enterprises. The outlook, in fact, was so discouraging that a few capitalists who had agreed to join Hobbs & Barnes in the event of Clay's election, declined to lend their aid when it was known that the Whig candidate was defeated.
Wheeling at that time had done little towards developing manufacturing interests and utilizing the advantages she possessed over other communities. The start of this idle glass house was to mark an era in the history of the city, which would make her famous throughout the length and breadth of America, and renowned in the markets of the Old World for the quality and extent of the glass manufactured.
It will generally strengthen the perspective of this sketch to relate that the price of bar iron was from 3 to 5 cents; sheet iron sold at 10 cents,; nails brought $4 per keg, and letter postage was 25 cents. The prices paid skilled labor ranged from 75 cents to $1 per move. On the first pay rolls are the following: Chas Butler, 75 cents per move; Henry Leasure and Wm Elson, 15 1/2 cents per move; Andrew Baggs, 25 cents per move; Peter Cassell, 13 3/4 cents per move; William Kryter, mould maker, $30 per month. The articles manufactured then were solar chimneys, jars, vials, tumblers, pungents, tinctures, lamps for lard oil, salts and cologne bottles.
IN 1849 James B. Barnes died, when the firm became Hobbs, Barnes & Co.; being composed of John L. Hobbs, James F. Barnes and John H. Hobbs. The South and West increasing rapidly in wealth and population, were opening up a great market for the wares of this firm, enabling them not only to keep more constantly at work, but compelling them to increase their capacity.
In 1856 the firm again changed to Barnes, Hobbs & Co., composed on John L. Hobbs, James F. Barnes, J. H. Hobbs, and J. K Dunham. Under this firm name the business was continued until 1857, when the firm changed to Hobbs & Barnes. In this year the discovery of the illuminating property of petroleum, and the distillation of illuminating oils from from coal in Kentucky and elsewhere, added a new branch to the manufacture of of lamps and chimneys. The demand was so great for this class of goods that it was impossible to produce enough to supply it.
In 1863, when Mr. Leighton, sr., was admitted into the firm and took charge of the manufacturing department, he entered readily into the prospect of finding glass pure in color and durable without lead being a component part of its composition. After numerous experiments, sand from Berkshire county, Mass., Spanish whiting or chalk, bi-carbonate of soda, with the other ingredients, were found to make a brilliant and durable glass. Every glass works at this time, East and West, of any importance, was making lead glass.
When Thomas Webb, of England made his first shipment of coral, or peach, blow ware, to New York, Mr. Wm. Leighton, Jr., secured a piece of the ware and before the second shipment had been opened in New York, the always interprising firm was turning out the same ware, which is being sold by some dealers as imported goods.
The best imitation of the famous $18,000 Morgan vase is manufactured by this firm, and although the first imitation was put on the market early this spring, the sales have been enormous and the demand for them is on the increase.
With the introduction of natural gas into this factory and its vast superiority over coal, wood and benzine, it is hard to say what may the South Wheeling works not yet accomplish in their line of goods.
The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, Sept. 14, 1886.
Service provided by the staff of the Ohio County Public Library in partnership with and partially funded by the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation.