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History of Aultman & Taylor, Part I

The beginning of Dr. Lorin Bixler's in-depth history of Aultman & Taylor company

| November/December 2000

  • Cornelius Aultman
    Cornelius Aultman
  • Henry Hobart Taylor
    Henry Hobart Taylor.
  • Aultman & Taylor firm
    An old building of the once-great Aultman & Taylor firm.

  • Cornelius Aultman
  • Henry Hobart Taylor
  • Aultman & Taylor firm

Introduction by Dr. Robert T. Rhode

For years, I'd heard about Dr. Lorin Bixler's book on the history of the C. Aultman Company. It was published by the Stemgas Publishing Company in 1967. Long out of print, the book had all but vanished. Linda Weidman, managing editor of The Iron-Men Album Magazine, kindly provided a photocopy for me from her files. I was struck by Professor Bixler's conscientious research and his ability to tell a story. I also envied his having lived at a time when he could interview many people having firsthand knowledge of now distant events. The book with the ungainly title Cornelius Aultman, C. Aultman & Co., and the Aultman Co. adroitly portrayed an old-time manufacturer of farm engines. I could see why Dr. Bixler's book on C. Aultman prompted Elmer L. Ritzman, founding editor of the Album, to write, "We are quite proud of this book and recommend it very highly to you" (Album for July/August 1967, page 27). 

I'd also heard rumors about a second Bixler manuscript, the history of the Aultman & Taylor Company. Some said Dr. Bixler had planned to write the book but quit midway in his research. Others claimed he had begun composing the manuscript but hadn't finished it. I asked many steam hobbyists if they knew anything about the manuscript. No one did. No one, that is, until George W. Richey of Norwich, Ohio, wrote to me out of the blue: "I saw your request in the IMA for the history of Cornelius Aultman written by Lorin Bixler.... I would make you a copy at cost. 'Bix,' as we all called him, had quite a time with that old 16 HP Russell engine. It was in bad state when he purchased it. He was no mechanic, and I think every one in our club...sometime or other worked on that engine. After his death it was sold to somebody in western Pennsylvania. I have since lost knowledge of it. What most people do not know is that 'Bix' had searched and traveled extensively compiling a history of the Aultman Taylor company. He was ready to publish, but his health failed and it was never completed. I was told by his son that the manuscripts were given to the Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, Ohio. I never checked it out for certain ... I personally would like to see it published. He worked long and hard on documenting material." 

This was exciting news! At my earliest opportunity, I drove to Mansfield. Boyd Addlesperger, Reference Librarian, and Karen Furlong, Sherman Room Assistant, welcomed me to the special collections area of the library. Waiting for me on a table were four large three-ring binders. To a steam enthusiast, paging through Dr. Bixler's manuscript was like discovering a lost city of gold. 

In 1911, Dr. Bixler completed his manuscript. Twenty-three years later, it was time to publish it. I called Linda and asked her permission to serialize Dr. Bixler's work in The Iron-Men Album Magazine. She enthusiastically supported the idea. 

With this issue, then, the Album begins the project of publishing bimonthly installments of Dr. Bixler's book on the Aultman & Taylor Company. One of Dr. Bixler's strengths was his ability to put a face on a factory. When you've finished reading his book, you'll feel well acquainted with Aultman & Taylor. Even though Dr. Bixler had printed excerpts of one or two of the chapters in magazines, most of his book will be new to readers and there are plenty of surprises along the way! 


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