A few years ago in a description of Coshocton's business resources, in a list of a score or more plants, factories and productive industries, the largest single group was that represented by the Novelty Advertising Works, which numbered half a dozen and gave a distinctive character to the city's business. This business, which in the aggregate involves an immense amount of capital and affords employment to hundreds of the city's population had its beginning in a very modest and humble way, in the original mind of the late Jasper Fremont Meek. A brief sketch of his career, with some notice of his family connections, has an appropriate place in the History of Ohio.
He was born on a farm in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, July 20, 1856, son of Sylvester and Lucretia (Davis) Meek, grandson of Daniel Hitt Meek, great-grandson of Isaac J. Meek and great-great-grandson of Isaac S. Meek, whose father, Guy Meek, a native of England, came with his brother Samuel Meek, to America in Colonial times and settled in Virginia. Isaac J. Meek became a soldier in the Continental Army during the American Revolution, and the military record of the family through all the generations is impressive. Isaac S. Meek was born in Virginia and became a pioneer on the western border of the state, along the Ohio River. His son, Isaac J. Meek, was born in Ohio County, West Virginia, near the present City of Wheeling, and his name appears in western history as second in command under Colonel Broadhead, when Broadhead made his treaty with the Indians within the borders of what is now Coshocton County. It was Daniel Hitt Meek who founded the family in Ohio, locating in Tuscarawas, where he spent the rest of his years. His son, Sylvester Meek, was a native of Tuscarawas County, and at the time of the Civil war became a Union soldier in the One Hundred and Tenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He was with Sherman on the march to the sea, and in one of the last battles of the great war was killed on the field. He married Lucretia Davis, a native of Tuscarawas County, who survived him with their four children, of whom Jasper Fremont Meek was the oldest.
Due to the death of his father on a battlefield in the Civil war Jasper Fremont Meek as a boy had to assume heavy responsibilities in assisting his mother and the three younger children. When he was only fifteen years of age he had made himself so proficient in telegraphy as to be appointed a telegraph operator in the service of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. He continued that occupation for several years, but in 1875, at the age of nineteen, came to Coshocton, where he bought a small newspaper. While in the newspaper business he formulated some of the plans that proved the foundation of the advertising novelty industry. His experience as a printer and publisher was an indispensable asset in this new business.
In 1886 he started to manufacture under the name of the Tuscarora Advertising Company some school-book bags and horse blankets, acquiring the printed means, and of course had to establish his product's popularity and sale. His efforts to secure the cooperation and financial interest of others in the enterprise were unavailing. For several years he struggled along under difficult circumstances. His supermanagement and determination to succeed brought him in time a fairly successful business. In 1900 he consolidated with the Standard Advertising Company, owned by Mr. H.D. Beach, and the firm became The Meek and Beach Company, but two years later Mr. Meek bought out his partner and then established the Meek Company. In 1905 he sold this business, on account of ill health, to what is now the American Art Works, the largest advertising novelty company in the world.
About forty-five years ago the industry was stared with the manufacture of school-book bags made from gunny cloth. To this experimental line was soon added another article, a horse cover made from gunny cloth, and likewise carrying advertisements. Other articles were subsequently added. From 1905 for eleven years Mr. Meek was not connected with the business, but in 1916 he established the J.F. Meek Company, manufacturers of calendars, a business he continued under his direct management until his death on November 25, 1918. The business is continued as part of his estate, its active manager today being his son, Daniel C. Meek.
The late Mr. Meek had very little schooling when a boy. However, he loved books and studies and intellectual pursuits and all his life he was making up for the lack of his early advantages by reading and contact with literature and practical affairs. He accumulated what many have been called the most complete private library in Ohio, made up of books of history, biography, economics, philosophy and the classics in literature. He was a pioneer in the prohibition movement in Ohio. He lectured on that cause, and was on the lecture platform frequently on other more general subjects, particularly pertaining to the philosophic and economic phases of life and affairs. He was a Methodist and a Master mason.
Jasper F. Meek married din 1878 Miss Ella Bosley, a native of Tuscarawas County. She died, leaving one son, Guy Sylvester Meek, who is now proprietor of the Guy S. Meek Company, advertising novelties at Coshocton. In 1885 Jasper Fremont Meek married Emma Coe, a native of Coshocton County. She continues to reside in Coshocton. She is the mother of three children, Daniel Coe, Sarah and Mary Meek.
Daniel Coe Meek, son of the late Jasper Fremont Meek, was born at Coshocton, May 24, 1889. Unlike his father, he had the advantages of some of the best schools and colleges in the country. He finished his college education in the University of Michigan, graduating with the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1912 and receiving the Master of Arts degree in 1913. He then became associated with his father's business, and for the past five years has been the active manager of the J.F. Meek Company, Calendar Manufacturers. He also has a record as an ex-service man, having enlisted in May, 1918, in the Tank Corps, and was in training at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He was mustered out with the rank of first sergeant, December 25, 1918. He belongs to the American Legion Post and is a Knight Templar Mason and Shriner. Daniel C. Meek married in 1917 Marie Frederick, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W.W. Frederick, of Coshocton.
History of Ohio, The American Historical Society, Inc., 1925, Volume V