My little one began pre-school last week. As we were scrambling around looking for a “show and tell” item, I was inspired to write this post. The glass bottle pictured above stands just three inches high. It has seams running down its sides, indicating that it was blown in a mold, most likely in the late nineteenth century. The embossed lettering on the front of the vessel reads, “Wooster & Adams. Wellington, O.” This fragile object is a tiny memento of a businessman who worked on Liberty Street (later West Herrick Avenue) for nearly four decades.
Erwin Wright Adams was born October 1, 1849. He was the only boy among Gideon and Bertia Adams’ seven children, twin brother to Ermina Fowler Adams. He was, therefore, brother-in-law to Noah Huckins twice over, as Huckins married Erwin’s older sister, Ellen Victorine Adams, in 1866; after the sudden death of Ellen and their infant daughter, Maud, Huckins later married Ermina. She was a decade his junior.
According to a family genealogy I discovered, Erwin allegedly studied medicine under Dr. John Houghton. In 1879, he entered into a partnership with Arthur Wooster to operate a pharmacy on Liberty Street called Wooster & Adams. (The storefront is today occupied by a chiropractor’s office.) The Wellington Enterprise was filled with promotional announcements and advertisements as the store opened in October of that year. “We ask the attention of our readers this week to the following new advertisement. Wooster & Adams, druggists and dealers in fancy goods, notions, etc. New store. New goods, and every thing [sic] in No. 1 order. Keep watch of their space each week,” the paper encouraged (10-30-1879, pg. 3).
Local historian Robert Walden knew the druggist and his wife, Mary Emma Mallory Adams. Walden described one of his early jobs purchasing tickets on behalf of other residents for performances at the Opera House, which were sold through Adams’ drug store for many years. I have also referred previously to Walden’s writings about the Adams homestead on North Main Street, a very early brick residence that remained in the family for over a century. Erwin and Mary Emma married in 1876 and lived in the house for more than fifty years. Mrs. Adams sold the property ten years after her husband’s death in 1929. It was sadly demolished in 2012.
Walden noted that “Mr. Wooster disposed of his interest to Mr. Adams and moved to California. This drug store, since the erection of the Vischer block, has always been located there, passing to the ownership of Eldo Lehman upon Mr. Adams’ death” (Notebook, #A69). The pharmacy did pass into Lehman’s ownership, but the transfer occurred twelve years before Erwin Adams died. The front page of the newspaper proclaimed: “Mr. E. R. Lehman has purchased the drug business conducted by Mr. E. W. Adams on West Main street for the past 30 years. Mr. Lehman has been in Mr. Adams’ employ for a long time, and is a very thorough and active druggist. THE ENTERPRISE is pleased to hear of his purchase and wishes him the best of luck” (9-12-1917). Lehman later served as mayor of Wellington.
There is at least one more remnant of the shop still remaining in the village. On the second floor of the Southern Lorain County Historical Society, “The Spirit of ’76” Museum, is a gorgeous carved wooden wall cabinet that was reportedly salvaged from the Adams drug store. If you are in Wellington, you should visit the museum and have a look at it. It is one of thousands of objects in the collection with fascinating stories to show and tell.