HUDSON, Ohio – Hundreds of area maple syrup producers will fire up their sugar houses in the next week and process tanks of maple sap. Most of these hard workers don’t know they can thank a German immigrant who developed the most popular and efficient evaporator in the U.S. 126 years ago.
But Gwendolyn Mayer, archivist for the Hudson Library and Historical Society, is dedicated to commemorating G.H. Grimm for his significant contributions to the maple syrup industry.
Hudson connection. Mayer, who has been researching Grimm’s life for more than a year, is amazed that modest Hudson was the incubator of the Champion Evaporator in the late 19th century.
“I kept finding stories” about Grimm, she said. “The more I found out, the more interested I became.”
Grimm, who came to Akron from Germany, moved to Hudson in 1870 when he married Esther Logan, Mayer said. He liked to tinker with mechanical equipment and took a job in John Chapman’s stove shop when the community boasted about 1,200 residents. Over the years he became known for his metal-working abilities.
1881 patent. When he and Chapman had a falling out, he opened his own stove shop at the other end of town, where he continued experimenting with heating technology, including gasoline stoves.
In 1881, he patented an efficient evaporator and proved its superiority over other evaporators of the day at a conference of maple syrup producers held in Garrettsville that same year.
Grimm proceeded to market his product in Ohio and up into Canada, expanding his business to 17 employees, Mayer said.
Pushed for market. An activist for his industry, he spent time in Washington D.C. lobbying Congress to repeal the McKinley Paris law that put a prohibitive tariff on maple syrup being sold to Canada.
Over the years he expanded the business, setting his cousin, R.H. Grimm, up in a shop in Montreal, Canada. His daughter, Nella, sold Champion evaporators in Rutland, Vt., for 80 years.
Recognition. For 115 years, Grimm’s was the largest producer of evaporators in North America – a contribution for which a state historical plaque will be erected Oct. 23 in Hudson at the site of Grimm’s factory.
When G.H Grimm died in 1914, his estate was worth $8 million. Nella died in the 1980s and left the estate, which had quadrupled in value, to the Rutland hospital and library, Mayer said.
Grimm’s business flourished partly because the Hudson inventor believed in protecting his own interests in the fledgling industry, as well.
“He had more patents than most people have socks,” Mayer said.
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