The History of The Longaberger Company
In 1896, when the Longaberger family moved to Dresden, Ohio, the tiny village still enjoyed prosperity as a rural transportation and industrial hub in the rolling foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. There was a hotel on Main Street, three railroad stations, a woolen mill and a paper mill. In the not-too-distant past, a side-cut canal connected the community with the historic Ohio Canal, transforming the village into a bustling canal town.
In the early 1900s, baskets were as commonplace as paper bags and plastic containers are now. Ware Baskets, made at the Dresden Basket Factory, were used to carry pottery ware for the region's booming pottery industry.
In 1919, J.W. Longaberger (Dave's father) took a job with the Dresden Basket Factory. As a full-time apprentice he meticulously learned the basketmaking art by first crafting basket bottoms. Later he mastered the precise, tight weaving style that would become his trademark. J.W. grew to love the art of basket making.
While working at the basket factory, J.W. met Bonnie Jean Gist from the neighboring community of Trinway. Their courtship led to marriage in 1927. During the Great Depression, the Dresden Basket Factory closed. J.W. found work at the local paper mill, but continued making baskets after work and on weekends. In 1936, J.W. and Bonnie purchased the closed Dresden Basket Factory and the home on that property. J.W. then named his new business The Ohio Ware Basket Company, reflecting the importance of Ware Baskets and the pottery industry to his small side business.
The Longaberger family eventually grew to include 12 children - six boys and six girls. Bonnie worked full time at the woolen mill to help make ends meet and the older children helped their father by making basket bottoms, carefully arranging the upsplints for pottery Ware Baskets and even selling baskets to the neighbors.
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