Some communities are built on the legacies and lives of men and women who changed the world. Here in Warren County Ohio, we live in one of those communities.
Gershom Peters was 8yrs old when he watched a 2yr old brother die. A scant year later his mother too, was dead. At the outbreak of America’s Civil War, Gershom left his Circleville, Ohio home and enlisted with the Union Army. Almost immediately, while serving in Kentucky he contracted tuberculosis. Gershom himself was sent home to die at age 18.
But young Peters refused to cooperate with his prescribed fate. He recovered, enrolled at Denison Univ. and upon graduation entered the Rochester Theological Seminary. It was 1873 when Gershom accepted an internship with a Baptist Church in Xenia, Ohio. It was there that he met and married Mary Elizabeth King. Gershom soon received and followed a full-time call to serve a Baptist church in New York.
It was 1881 when Gershom was contacted by his father-in-law, J.W. King. Mr. King had settled along the side of Ohio’s Little Miami River and was in the process of starting the King Powder Company, as well as a small company-owned town he called Kings Mills. Mr. King, who had no sons of his own, used the Vice Presidency within his new company as the carrot to lure Gershom and Mary Elizabeth back to Ohio.
J.W. King knew that his son-in-law was a gifted visionary. Gershom, who had earned a patent on an earlier invention, was challenged by Mr. King to steer his efforts toward the development of a machine that could be used to load his explosive powder into cartridges. And that is exactly what Gershom did! His newly started Peters Cartridge Company quickly became Warren County’s largest employer. During WWI, 3000 people worked around the clock along the banks of the Little Miami to keep America’s armed forces properly equipped.
By the time he had retired in 1911, Peters had accumulated 35 patents in a ceaseless march to improve and fine-tune his company’s craft.
Ultimately Gershom’s heart returned to spiritual matters. He authored a book entitled, The Master. He dedicated the book:
To My Sainted Mother, Long Since Departed.
Who first led me to know the Master, and Whose Life to me was the
Highest Embodiment of his Spirit and Teaching.
It was my dear friend, Dr. Karen Dinsmore, who introduced me to Gershom Peters and his legacy of loss, life, and love.
During June of this year Warren County will see the placement another new historical marker. This one will be down the hill from Kings Mills, along the bike trail and the shore of the Little Miami River, adjacent to Peters Cartridge Factory. The marker will honor Gershom Peters, J.W. King and the thousands of people who worked in their factories. Together they changed the world!
Maybe you have a relative who was a part of this story. Maybe you just appreciate those whose efforts and sacrifices still make a difference today. All donations are tax deductible and should be made out to the “Warren County Foundation” earmarked “Peters Cartridge Marker”. Send your check to: Warren County Foundation, Box 495, Lebanon, OH 45036. Be certain to mention any person you wish to honor through your gift. Memorials will be listed in the program used at the marker dedication.