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Henry Crimmel
File:Henry Crimmel about 1914 closeup.JPG
circa 1914
Born February 14, 1844(1844-02-14)
Hesse, Germany
Died Template:Death date
Hartford City, Indiana
Cause of death Heart failure
Nationality American
Known for Glassmaker, American Civil War Veteran
Religion Presbyterian, German Lutheran
Spouse(s) Catharine Hammond
Children 2 sons, 1 daughter

Henry Crimmel (February 14, 1844 – October 10, 1917) was an American glassmaker who became well known in Ohio and Indiana. A German that came with his family to America at the age of eight years old, the American Civil War veteran started at the lowest level in glass making, and learned every aspect of the business.[1] A skilled glassblower known for his glassmaking expertise and the recipient of two patents, he also worked in management in at least three glass factories – and was one of the co-founders of the Novelty Glass Company (of Fostoria) and the Sneath Glass Company. He retired with over 50 years in the industry.

Identity and origins[]

In 1852, the Crimmel family emigrated from the Hessen region of what is now Germany to Bellaire, Ohio. Bellaire is located across the river from Wheeling, West Virginia – and Wheeling had a German population that may have attracted the family.[2] Immigrants from this time period often, upon arrival in the United States, would ride trains to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and then ride in boats down the Ohio River to settle in cities along way. An alternative route to Bellaire/Wheeling (from Baltimore) involved the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and/or the National Road.[3] Although Hessians had been making glass since the Middle Ages,[4] it is not known if the Crimmel family members learned glassmaking skills in Europe. However, Henry Crimmel’s father and both brothers were also glassmakers.[5]

American Civil War[]

File:Henry Crimmel Civl War.JPG

Henry Crimmel in uniform about 1862.

On December 20, 1860, the state of South Carolina adopted an ordinance to secede from the Union of the United States, and six more southern states seceded in the next three months. On April 12, 1861 the Battle of Fort Sumter marked the start of the American Civil War. More southern states rebelled and voted to secede from the union, including Virginia on April 17, 1861.[6] These “rebel” states organized themselves into the Confederate States of America.

The city of Bellaire, located in Ohio across the Ohio River from the state of Virginia and the city Wheeling, assumed some strategic importance because of the railroads on both sides of the river and the fact that the Ohio River served as the border between the state of Ohio (pro-Union) and the state of Virginia (voted to secede from the Union). Bellaire became a staging area for Ohio and Indiana Union troops to cross into the South and move by rail using the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. There was some fear that rebels from Virginia would cross into Ohio through Bellaire. A training camp was located in the city, and numerous soldiers passed through the town to fight in the south.[7] It is therefore not surprising that 17-year-old Henry Crimmel enlisted to fight in the Civil War.

File:Monument to Civil War Veterans of Blackford County2.JPG

Blackford County Civil War monument in Hartford City, Indiana.

Henry Crimmel was part of Company I of the Second Virginia Volunteer Cavalry, which fought for the Union instead of the Confederacy. It is not extraordinary for someone that lived in Bellaire to identify with Wheeling, since some of those citizens of Ohio worked on the Virginia side of the river. Although the city of Wheeling was part of the state of Virginia, the city is located in the north, and there was dissent in the Wheeling area about secession.[8] The western portion of Virginia, which included Wheeling, eventually became a separate state known as West Virginia, which was loyal to the Union.

Henry Crimmel began his military career as a private, and finished as a bugler.[9] By the end of the war, Crimmel’s cavalry unit was known as Company I of the 2nd Regiment, West Virginia Cavalry. During the war, the Regiment lost a total of 196 men that were killed, mortally wounded, or died from disease. The 2nd Regiment West Virginia Cavalry served in West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland – including a battle in Lynchburg against an army under the command of Confederate General Jubal Early that involved a total of 40,000 troops. A battle in Winchester (a.k.a. Opequon) matched a total of 54,000 troops under command of General Philip Sheridan for the Union and General Jubal Early for the rebels. This Union victory is considered by many historians to be the most important battle of the Shenandoah Valley campaign.[10] Crimmel served in the cavalry from 1861 until November 1864, when he was honorably discharged.

File:Henry Crimmel on Civil War Monument in Hartford City.JPG

Henry Crimmel’s name on Blackford Civil War monument.

After the war, Henry Crimmel joined the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization for Union Civil War veterans. He was the original officer of the guard for the local chapter.[11] His name is on at least two monuments honoring veterans of the Civil War. One is located in his original American hometown of Bellaire, Ohio. Eleven of the 41 soldiers listed on the Bellaire monument fought for West Virginia units instead of Ohio. At least two of these West Virginia soldiers (Henry Crimmel and John Robinson) were known to have worked in the glass business.[12] The other monument with Henry Crimmel's name on it is the Blackford County Civil War monument (see photos), located in Hartford City, Indiana. Mr. Crimmel spent the last 23 years of his life in Hartford City, and he is buried in the city’s main cemetery.

Glassmaking – the early years[]

Before and after the war, Henry Crimmel and family members lived in Bellaire, Ohio.[13] The Wheeling-Bellaire region was a good location for manufacturing because of its fuel and transportation resources. Bellaire (Belmont County) had coal, railroad service, and the Ohio River. Wheeling also had railroad service and the Ohio River. The National Road went through both cities. The first known glass factory for which Henry Crimmel worked was the Hobbs works in Wheeling, (West) Virginia.[14] Glass had been made in Wheeling as early as 1821, and there were three “glass houses” by 1886.[15] The Hobbs plant had a transportation advantage because it was located very close to the Ohio River. Henry Crimmel's brother Jacob also worked at the Hobbs plant,[16] and there is a high probability that older brother John also worked at the same plant – simply because there were not many alternatives at the time. Many years later, one of Jacob Crimmel's American Flint magazine articles described working for the Hobbs Glass Works in 1861, meaning that he was about 13 years old when he starting working there.[17] In the 1860s, duties for youngsters just getting started at glass works often involved adding coal and/or wood to furnaces.

File:RR Map of Belmont County 1873.jpg

Bellaire-Wheeling 1873

Bellaire, Ohio became known as “Glass City” during the period of 1870 to 1885 because of the number of glass factories in the area.[18][19] One of the first glass factories in Bellaire was the Belmont Glass Company (a.k.a. Belmont Glass Works), and some of the Belmont’s founders were former employees of the Hobbs works in Wheeling – including Civil War veteran John Robinson. Both Henry and Jacob Crimmel worked at the Belmont Glass works, and Henry was a manager. Older brother and Bellaire resident John Crimmel is also believed to have worked at that works. The plant began as a maker of chimneys, but changed to a maker of pressed glassware. Some of the well known glassmakers of the West Virginia-Ohio-Indiana area worked there before they gained their fame.[20] Eventually, the Belmont factory closed in 1890 after an economic recession.

Natural gas was discovered in 1887 in the Findley-Tiffin-Fostoria area of Ohio, and this caused many of the glass houses elsewhere to relocate to be near this low-cost resource. The Fostoria Glass Company started in December 1887, and both Henry and Jacob Crimmel were considered important craftsmen in its early years.[21]

Although Jacob Crimmel would remain with Fostoria Glass through its eventual move to West Virginia, Henry Crimmel became involved with Novelty Glass Company of Fostoria.[22] Novelty was a restart of the Buttler Art Glass Company, which was destroyed by fire in 1889. The plant opened on a new site with a new name. Henry Crimmel and his son, A. C. Crimmel were among a group of six listed as the “incorporators”. Henry Crimmel was the plant manager, while son A. C. Crimmel was the new company’s secretary.[23] The works opened in early 1891, making items such as figurine salt shakers, punch bowls, cups, and other blown-ware. Glass bottles were also one of the plant’s products, and in 1892 Henry received a patent for a bottle and stopper combination that could be resealed but not refilled.[24] The original Novelty Glass Company was short-lived: it became part of the U.S. Glass Company (as Factory T) in mid-1892, and was destroyed by fire a few years later.

Glassmaking – the later years[]

File:Lantern made by Sneath Glass Company.jpg

Lantern made by Sneath Glass Company

Shortly after the closing of the Novelty Glass Company, Henry Crimmel partnered with Ralph Sneath and others to form what eventually became known as the Sneath Glass Company.[25] Similar to the transformation of Fostoria after the discovery of natural gas in the area, the Indiana Gas Boom in east central Indiana caused many factories to move to Indiana. Sneath Glass relocated to Hartford City, Indiana in 1894, and Henry Crimmel was manager of the new plant. He was also part owner and a member of the company’s board of directors.[26] Mr. Crimmel had about 30 years of experience by then, and he applied his glass-making skills toward making his employees more efficient. Glassblowers at the Sneath plant were aided by a unique system of air hoses that enabled them to be more productive. Henry Crimmel also received another patent in 1904 for a “Glass Drawing Machine” that was an improvement for glass blowing and prevented irregularities in the glass.[27] The Sneath Glass plant made lantern globes and founts during its early years. During the 1905 to 1915 period, the company began to put less emphasis on lantern-related blown-ware, and more production involved glass canisters for portable kitchen cabinets. By 1910, the factory employed about 150 people.[28]

Glassmaking was a family business for the Crimmels. Brothers John, Henry, and Jacob Crimmel were glassmakers, and at times two or more of them worked at the same plant. One of Henry Crimmel’s sons was a partner with his father in the Sneath Glass Company, and two grandsons also worked at the Sneath plant and eventually became part of management. Three of Henry Crimmel’s great-grandsons eventually spent time at the plant long after Henry Crimmel’s death, and a great-great grandson worked briefly at Indiana Glass Company. Both John and Jacob Crimmel also had children that worked in the glass business.[29]

In 1916, Henry Crimmel suffered a stroke, and was forced to completely retire. Although he recovered enough to take walks around town, he also had heart trouble. On October 10, 1917, he died from heart failure.[30]


  1. This information is from his front-page obituary in the Hartford City News - "H. Crimmel Drops Dead on Street". He was described as “prominent in the glass industry, and was well and favorably known throughout the country.” Additional information can be found in the Twelfth Census of the United States (1900), which confirms that he entered the country in 1852 from Germany.
  2. According to Wheeling's Centre Market web site History of Centre Market, one out of every five residents in 1850 was born in Germany. Market
  3. Although the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad did not reach Wheeling until the end of 1852, the National Road was completed from Cumberland, Maryland to well-beyond Wheeling by 1839. Thus, immigrants arriving in Baltimore could take the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad as far west as possible, and then they could finish their journey on the National Road. By the end of 1852, the B&O Railroad service reached Wheeling. See “Primer on Emigration, Immigration & Associated Subjects”, “Tips for Determining Your Ancestor’s Probable Port of Arrival”, and “City of Baltimore Comprehensive Master Plan – The History of Baltimore” for general information on immigration.
  4. Hessian glassmaking is exhibited in Germany's Immenhausen Glass Museum. Museum
  5. In addition, to various books and articles on glass that mention the Crimmels, the 1870 (among others) U.S. Census lists John, Henry, and Jacob Crimmel as glassblowers living at different addresses in Bellaire, Ohio. H.Crimmel 1880 Henry's father, Johannes, was employed in the glass business -- see page 1 of A. Clyde Crimmel's The Glass Business and the Crimmels.
  6. See web site.-Virginia Secedes from the Union. There are numerous books and articles written about the American Civil War. One of the more thorough writings is a three-volume set written by Shelby Foote titled The Civil War: A Narrative.
  7. Camp Jefferson was the training camp located in Bellaire. See web page titled Camp Jefferson.
  8. The Wheeling Convention was an important milestone for the creation of West Virginia. See "A State of Convenience: The Creation of West Virginia" web site by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.
  9. Because of misspellings, he is listed three times in the National Park Service Civil War Directory, as (1) Henry Cremmel; (2) Henry Crimmell; and (3) Henry Crimmil. All “three” of these soldiers are listed as part of the 2nd Regiment, ‘’West’’ Virginia Cavalry, Company I. The National Park Service labels this regiment as a ‘’West’’ Virginia Cavalry, which is the name used toward the end of the war. Crimmel should not be confused with the Henry Grimmel that fought in the Missouri cavalry (union) or the Henry Grimmel that fought in the Virginia Infantry (Confederate).
  10. The National Park Service Civil War web site[1] lists service for various units. Search the Regiments selecting Union, West Virginia, Cavalry, and 2. Some of the service for the 2nd Regiment, West Virginia Cavalry included battles at Lynchburg (June 17–18, 1864) and Winchester (September 19, 1864). Although Crimmel was already discharged by 1865, the 2nd West Virginia Cavalry was at Appomattox for General Robert E. Lee’s surrender.
  11. See page 183 of McKelvey’s A Centennial History of Belmont County, Ohio, and Representative Citizens. This book was first published in 1903, and has been republished since then. Portions have been posted on the internet.
  12. See "Remembering Bellaire’s Civil War Heroes" web site. John Robinson worked at the Hobbs, Brockunier & Company glass works in Wheeling before the war. He also co-founded the Belmont Glass Company, Bellaire Goblet Company, and Robinson Glass Company. (See web article by Iwen.)
  13. All three Crimmel brothers are listed by the 1870 U.S. Census as glassblowers living in different locations in Bellaire, Ohio.
  14. This glass works was reorganized several times under various names. In 1849, it was called Hobbs, Barnes & Company. In 1856 the name was changed to Barnes, Hobbs & Company. In 1857, it became Hobbs & Barnes. In 1863, it was named J. H. Hobbs, Brockunier & Company. In 1881, the name became Hobbs, Brockunier & Company. See “Glass – South Wheeling Glass Works” web site.
  15. See page 8 of Bredehoft’s "Hobbs, Brockunier & Co. Glass: Identification and Value Guide". See also the “Glass – South Wheeling Glass Works” and “Glass – The Glass Houses” web sites for history on Wheeling’s first glass factories and the Hobbs, Brockunier & Company.
  16. On page 174 of Venable’s China and glass in America, Henry and Jacob Crimmel are mentioned having previously worked at the Belmont Glass Company and Hobbs, Brockunier & Company.
  17. See Jake Crimmel’s "Early Life in the Glass Industry" in the May 1924 edition of the American Flint.
  18. See page 170 of McKelvey’s ‘’Centennial History of Belmont County’’.
  19. Data from the 1880 U.S. Census confirms that Henry Crimmel, with a wife and three children, lived in Bellaire at that time.[2]
  20. See page 174 of Venable’s "China and glass in America", and see also Jake Crimmel’s "Early Life in the Glass Industry".
  21. See page 174 of Venable’s ‘’China and glass in America’’.
  22. See page 144 of Lechner’s ‘’World of Salt Shakers III’’. Pages 144 and 145 also discuss the opening and closing of the plant, and show some of the company’s products.
  23. The incorporators were R. Crocker, A.C. Crimmel, Charles Olmsted, C. German, A. Emerine, George Flechtner, and H. Crimmel. R. Crocker was the President and A. C. Crimmel Secretary. See Murray’s “History of Fostoria, Ohio glass 1887-1920”, pages 10 and 11.
  24. United States Patent Office No. 482,230, patented September 6, 1892.[3] The patent describes him as living in Fostoria, Ohio.
  25. Mr. Ralph Sneath, of Tiffin, Ohio, was the capitalist of the group, while Henry Crimmel supplied the glassmaking expertise. The Sneath family had many business interests in the Tiffin area, including grain and railroading. Eventually, the family also became involved in banking.
  26. See Sneath Glass Company section in ‘’Hartford City Illustrated’’.
  27. United States Patent Office No. 759,159, patented May 3, 1904
  28. The Indiana Department of Inspection lists the plant as employing 129 males, 30 females, 10 boys age 14 to 16, and 1 girl age 14 to 16.
  29. Henry Crimmel's second son, Alva (a.k.a. Alvie) Clyde Crimmel, was a co-founder of Sneath Glass Company along with Henry Crimmel, Ralph Davis Sneath, and J.W. Geiger. Alvie Clyde's two sons, Henry Hays Crimmel and John Richard Crimmel eventually became part of Sneath Glass management. All three of Henry Hays Crimmel's sons also worked part time at the Sneath Glass plant, and a grandson worked briefly at Indiana Glass Company. See ‘’The Glass Business and the Crimmels and The Sneath Glass I Remember’’, by A. Clyde Crimmel (II). Census records from 1900 indicate that the sons of John and Jacob Crimmel were involved in the glass business as mould makers in West Virginia.
  30. See obituary "H. Crimmel Drops Dead on Street".


  • Bredehoft, Nelia; Bredehoft, Tom (1997). Hobbs, Brockunier & Co. Glass: Identification and Value Guide. Paducah, Kentucky: Collector Books. pp. 176. ISBN 0891457801, 9780891457800. OCLC 37340501. 
  • Crimmel (II), A. Clyde (2004). The Glass Business and the Crimmels and The Sneath Glass I Remember. pp. 110. 
  • Bottle and Stopper. 
  • Glass-Drawing Machine. 
  • Crimmel, Jake (Jacob) (1909). "Early Life in the Glass Industry". American Flint (Toledo, Ohio: American Flint Glass Workers' Union). ISSN 0002-8525. OCLC 3956009. 
  • "H. Crimmel Drops Dead on Street". Hartford City News: pp. Page 1. October 10, 1917. 
  • Hartford City Illustrated: A Publication Devoted to the City's Best Interests and Containing Half Tone Engravings of Prominent Factories, Business Blocks, Residences, and a Selection of Representative Commercial and Professional Men and Women. Chicago: [S.l.] : Daulton & Scott. 1896. OCLC 11382905. 
  • Lechner, Mildred; Lechner, Ralph (1998). The World of Salt Shakers: Antique & Art Glass Value Guide Volume III. Paducah, Kentucky: Collector Books. pp. 311. ISBN 1574320653, 9781574320657. OCLC 39502285. 
  • Venable,, Charles L.; Jenkins, Tom (2000). China and glass in America, 1880-1980 : from tabletop to TV tray. Dallas, TX: Dallas Museum of Art. pp. 496. ISBN 0810966921 9780810966925. OCLC 42960630. 

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