James Baumgardner served as senior partner of Baumgardner and Company, a pioneer dry goods company in Toledo. As a prominent businessman in Toledo, he spent sixty years of his life with the company.
Born in Wooster, Ohio in 1859, Baumgardner grew up in his father's historic hotel and house. At the age of thirteen, he moved with his brother Edson W. Baumgardner to Toledo where he attended high school. At eighteen, James entered the dry goods business under the tutelage of his uncle, L.S. Baumgardner. Young Baumgardner began as clerk, but quickly advanced to a sales position that covered the area of northwestern Ohio. In 1881, the firm accepted him as a partner.
James Baumgardner married Mary Benson in 1882 and together they had a son and daughter. He worshipped at St. Mark's Episcopal Church and belonged to the Chamber of Commerce, the Toledo Country Club, and the Toledo Club. As a Mason, he belonged to the Sanford L. Collins Lodge.
At 78 years old Baumgardner fell victim to bronchial pneumonia. He died on January 10, 1937 and is interred in Woodlawn Cemetery. [Toledo Biography Scrapbook (Barbo-Bea), Local History Room, Toledo/Lucas County Public Library].
Baumgardner's three nephews (sons of brother Edson), Frank L., Edson, L. and Carleton M. Baumgardner all became members of the firm. Edson L. Baumgardner, better known as Ned was born in Toledo on October 27, 1880. He attended public schools, the Michigan Military Academy, and then Cornell University where he was a member of the Psi Upsilon fraternity. After graduating from Cornell in 1903, he became a member of Baumgardner and Company. [John M. Killits, ed., Toledo and Lucas County, Ohio 1623-1923. (Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1923), Vol. 3, pp. 376-77.]
Three years later he married Ms. Kaleannim and they became the parents of a son, Edson W. Like his uncle, Ned became active in several local sports and social clubs. He held memberships at the Inverness Club, Toledo Club, the Pere Marquette Rod and Gun Club, and the Middle Bass Island Club. He also enjoyed acting in amateur theater.
In November 1935, Ned Baumgardner fell ill from a heart ailment. The illness forced him to remain at home as an invalid until his death in June 1936.
Ned's brother, Frank L. Baumgardner, assumed the presidency of the Baumgardner and Company upon the death of his uncle. A native of Toledo, Frank was born on April 5, 1874. He obtained his early education in the Toledo area and then attended Peekskill Military Academy in New York during his adolescence and the University of Michigan. After graduation, Frank immediately joined the dry goods business. Until 1929, the company remained one of the leading dry goods wholesalers in the entire Midwest region.
Frank Baumgardner's active community life included membership in the First Congregational Church, the Toledo Club, the Chamber of Commerce, the Inverness Club, and many other organizations. He never married. Failing health forced Frank Baumgardner to sell the company. He died on October 9, 1939 at The Toledo Hospital and is interred at Woodlawn Cemetery. [Toledo Biography Scrapbook (Barbo-Bea).]
James Baumgardner's grave
(Photography of Woodlawn Cemetery by Josef Schneider.)