Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Portraits of Huron’s Past: George E. Rhinemiller

Ingenuity and good business sense never go out of style and are necessary components for success. Yet, success may not be all that it seems. One of the successful businesses owners of Huron, Ohio’s past was George Edward Rhinemiller. George was born on September 25, 1883 to John and Margaret Rhinemiller. The Rhinemiller homestead was located on Berlin Road in Huron. George attended the public schools in Huron and then completed a technical course through the International Correspondence School of Scranton, Pennsylvania. In addition, George likely received practical training from his father who was known as a respected and prosperous farmer who always employed the latest farm implements.

George’s first adventure in the business world was in 1908 when he established a farm implement trade in Huron. He sold the most innovative and modern farm implements available, including the Hoover Potato Digger, which was produced in Avery, Ohio. George’s next venture was a sand and cement business. George’s greatest business success, however, came when he established an automobile sales and service business. In 1912, he erected a three-story, brick building at 607 South Main Street, Huron, which housed a showroom, garage and repair shop that had the most modern mechanical equipment. George was an agent for Oldsmobile, Chandler, and Chevrolet motor cars and Vim light delivery cars.

By 1915, George had abandoned his other ventures to focus his efforts exclusively on his automobile business. George became known as one of the most successful automobile salesmen in northern Ohio. In addition, he employed assistant agents in both Berlin Heights and Norwalk.

Around 1904, George married Bertha Jarratt, the daughter of Isaac and Martha (Harris) Jarratt of Huron. A son, Edward George, was born to George and Bertha in 1909. In 1910, George and Bertha built “an attractive and modern house of nine rooms” located at 513 Williams Street. Of course, the Rhinemillers also constructed a garage for their automobile.

Though success came for George Rhinemiller in the form of a profitable business, his personal life was struck by tragedy. In 1917, George’s son, Edward, died at the age of eight after a short illness. This tragic event seemingly sent George’s life into a downward spiral. By 1918, George and Bertha were living at the Reiger Hotel in Sandusky, and George was running the Rhinemiller Garage located on Jackson Street in Sandusky. In 1920, George no longer had his own business and was employed as the manager of an auto store. By 1925, George and his wife, Bertha, had divorced.
According to the 1930 census, George had married a woman named Florence, fathered two children, Betty Jane and George, Jr., was living in Rochester, New York, and working as an automobile banker. (Bertha Rhinemiller had moved to Cleveland and worked as a waitress.) The difficult times of the Great Depression greatly affected the profitability of the automobile industry with automobile sales down by 75%. This decline personally affected George Rhinemiller. On May 24, 1933, apparently despondent over failed business transactions, George committed suicide. His body was returned to Huron for burial in the McMillen Cemetery. George’s life, like so many others during the Great Depression, ended so pointlessly.

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