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Lake Erie Islanders: Frank Fox and Stewart Fox of North Bass Island

 

Sketches from the 1917 History of Northwest Ohio 

(reference 4a in the Bibliography)

 

FRANK W. FOX AND STEWART A. FOX. Considering the many natural advantages to be found on the little group of islands situated in Lake Erie, off the coast of Ohio, it is somewhat remarkable that they were left practically uninhabited, except by a few Indians, until as late as 1827, that being the year when John Fox and family located on Peelee1 Island. They were among the two or three white settlers and for many years the Indian population predominated, maintaining themselves by fishing and hunting through the heavy timber that then covered all this land. The pioneer to the islands, John Fox, was the grandfather of Frank W. and Stewart A. Fox, who control the largest fishing plant on North Bass Island and are otherwise prominent and substantial. Both were born on North Bass Island and are sons of Simon Fox, who was one of the most prominent men of this island and had much to do with the settlement and early development of the entire group. An extended sketch of Simon Fox will be found elsewhere in this work.

Frank W. Fox was born September 17, 1867, in the old home in which he yet lives, never having removed from its accustomed comforts and conveniences. He was married to Miss Millicent Wardrow, of Sandusky, Ohio, and they have had three children: Inez, who is deceased, Simon and Clayton.

Stewart A. Fox was born on the old homestead on North Bass Island, November 13, 1873. He married Clara Gosser, of Sandusky, and they reside on a part of the old family farm.

Both sons of Simon Fox were sent to school until well grounded in the fundamentals and then began to assist their father, who had numerous interests. They learned many practical lessons before they were very old, these including the best methods of conducting an island farm and the most profitable times, seasons and places to carry on their fishing enterprises. They proved so capable and reliable that their father willingly paid them the wages of men and they prospered, not through any favor, but on account of their industry and reliability. For a time they were sailors, as were the most of their companions, one time or another. After serving as foremen of the fishing fleet for their father for a time they determined to go into business for themselves, but in an entirely different line. One of the enterprises they built up successfully was a business in fuel and building material and they transported their equipment and supplies by scow from Sandusky.

The young men gradually succeeded to a number of their father's island interests. The farm and vineyard has been under their management for many years and when their father retired from the fishing industry, they again entered this line and have developed a business of large volume. They own a complete equipment of twine, nets and boats and all the other appurtenances necessary in the business and give steady employment to at least four men and their annual sales average from $7,000 to $8,000. On February 20, 1911, they had the misfortune to lose their twine house and all its contents by fire. This happened just at a time when all of their winter repair work had been completed and their nets made all ready for setting. But men of their type are not easily discouraged and by May 1 following they had thirty new nets back in the lake and other repairs under way. In 1916, with five others, they organized the United Fisheries Company, of Sandusky, Ohio, with a capital of $25,000. Their practical experience has been a very helpful asset and prosperity has attended the company from the start.

The young men have brought their farming land to a high state of cultivation and have increased the acreage of grapes to thirty- five acres. A few years ago, through slack business methods, the price of grapes fell below normal but since the organization of the Bass Islands Vineyard Company, of which the Fox brothers are stockholders, things have changed, this company being one of the largest producers of grape juice in Sandusky and the greatest factor in the maintenance of price for grapes.

While not especially active in politics, the Fox brothers take an intelligent interest in all the concerns the islands, the state and the country. They vote the republican ticket and Frank W. is a member of the school board as formerly was Stewart A. They belong to the order of Maccabees.

1: Incorrect spelling in the original material. Should be spelled "Pelee".

 

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