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Lake Erie Islanders: Nicholas Fox of South Bass Island

 

Sketches from the 1917 History of Northwest Ohio 

(reference 4a in the Bibliography)

 

NICHOLAS FOX. Many of the improvements and much of the business industry of Put-in-Bay have had a close association with the name of Nicholas Fox for the better part of a half century. Mr. Nicholas Fox is now senior member of the firm of Nicholas Fox & Sons, and is living practically retired at Put-in-Bay, the various business interests being carried on under the active management of his sons.

A native of Bavaria, Germany, Nicholas Fox emigrated to America in 1863, and lived for a time on South Bass Island. While there he was employed in the fishing industry by Lawrence Miller. He soon progressed so far as to buy out his employer, and he was one of the operators of a fishing equipment in and around Put-in-Bay. Later in order to have constant employment throughout the year he bought a vineyard and combined the two occupations. About 1879 Nicholas Fox gave up the fishing industry altogether, and applied himself exclusively to the growing of grapes until 1886.

In that year he leased from Lemuel Brown a dock which had been erected by Brown but which for several years had not been maintained in good repair and was hardly available for first class service. It was nothing more than a pier of pilings. The purpose of Mr. Fox in purchasing this dock was to erect a building for the sale of refreshments and also secure facilities so that he might realize a better price for his vineyard products. After leasing the dock for some years he bought it in 1890 and since then for a period of more than a quarter of a century it has been under the ownership and management of members of the Fox family. Many improvements have been added and it has been practically rebuilt throughout, now constituting a fine wharf. Nicholas Fox and sons also carry on an extensive business in the handling of coal, feed and building materials. The Fox dock is now used by the following steamship lines, D. C., C. and B., and Ashley and Dustin. Since 1910 Mr. Nicholas Fox has lived practically retired.

In September, 1869, he married Mina Buddenhagen, daughter of Charles Buddenhagen of Middle Bass Island. Charles Buddenhagen came from Mecklenburg, Germany, when Mrs. Fox was an infant. For several years he worked at Sandusky, but about 1865 moved to Middle Bass Island. Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Fox were the parents of the following children: Henry, who was born in August, 1870; George A., who married Julia Ingold and has three children, named Maria, Vernor and Anita; Andrew, a successful dentist at Monroeville, Ohio, and the father of a daughter by his marriage to Miss Ashton of Monroeville; and Louise, still at home.

The sons, Henry and George, are now the active partners in the firm of Nicholas Fox & Sons. The son Henry married Anna M. Haller, a daughter of Jacob Haller, and has a son Ethan Oliver. Both the brothers, Henry and George, take an active part in local affairs, and are republican voters, while their father is a democrat. Henry Fox served two terms as mayor of Put-in-Bay and is now president of the board of trustees of public affairs. Fraternally he is affiliated with the Masonic Order and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

Both Henry and George, during their early youth, were employed in the fishing and other lines of industry about the island, and in 1889 they bought a 100 acre farm on Pelee Island. They were actively engaged in farming this for several years, then leased it, and finally sold out a few years ago. Before buying the farm Henry Fox had worked on the Doller Dock, and was thus familiar with the operation of such a plant when his father secured the Brown Wharf.

 

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